Washington family faces federal charges for marijuana despite state law
Category: News | Posted on Mon, May, 12th 2014 by THCFinder
The Justice Department announced last year that nonviolent, small-time drug offenders should not face lengthy prison sentences. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP
The green-cross storefronts of medical marijuana dispensaries are common in much of Washington, and the state is ploughing ahead with licensing people to grow and sell recreational pot to adults.
But a federal trial for five people in Spokane, scheduled to begin in the coming weeks, suggests not all is OK with weed in the state.
Larry Harvey, a 70-year-old medical marijuana patient with no criminal history, three of his relatives and a family friend each face mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in prison after they were caught growing about 70 pot plants on their rural, mountainous property.
The Harveys had guns at their home, which is part of the reason for the lengthy possible prison time. They say the weapons were for hunting and protection, but prosecutors say two of the guns were loaded and in the same room as a blue plastic tub of pot.
Medical marijuana advocates have cried foul, arguing the prosecution violates Department of Justice policies announced by Attorney General Eric Holder last year – that nonviolent, small-time drug offenders should not face lengthy prison sentences.
"This case is another glaring example of what's wrong with the federal policy on cannabis," said Kari Boiter, Washington state coordinator for the medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access.
Assistant US attorney Joe Harrington, a spokesman for the US attorney's office in Spokane, said he could not discuss the trial or the office's general approach to pot crimes.
But the case illustrates discrepancies in how law enforcement officials are handling marijuana cases as Washington, with the Justice Department's blessing, moves ahead with its grand experiment in pot legalisation.
Medical marijuana gardens the size of the Harveys' rarely draw attention from authorities in the Seattle area.
Marijuana usage won't disqualify U.S. vets for healthcare
Category: News | Posted on Fri, May, 9th 2014 by THCFinder
DENVER — War veterans in Colorado seeking relief in the form of legal marijuana will not face any resistance from the Veterans Administration Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.
“Use of state-approved marijuana does not disqualify a veteran for healthcare, and it will not result in any sort of retaliation or denial of services,” VA spokesperson Dan Warvi said in an interview with FOX31 Denver.
Warvi’s statement squashed long-running speculation that veteran’s might have their federal health plans revoked if any marijuana was found in their system, considering the drug is still illegal at a federal level.
Trying to dissuade those fears, Warvi urged vets that VA doctors in fact want them to disclose any marijuana usage, as some prescribed medications can react violently with THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“We want to sit down with veterans and say, ‘Look, you told us you’re on this. What can we do for you now? We want to help you get better.’” Warvi said.
That was apparently big news for a growing number of veterans, who say marijuana can ease the pain of injuries and post traumatic stress disorder.
On Thursday, a day after Warvi’s interview with FOX31 Denver, Roger Martin said he got an avalanche of interest in his nonprofit, Grow4Vets, which offers free marijuana to veterans, along with equipment to grow marijuana plants.
Martin started Grow4Vets to offer a way to get around medical marijuana requirements that have restricted veterans in the past. He called Warvi’s statement on Wednesday a “watershed moment.”
“To have someone from the VA tell veterans in Colorado that they’re not going to lose their benefits if they use medical marijuana, it was huge,” Martin said. “We had over 300 veterans contact us by email and sign up online for our program after they heard your interview with the VA.”
Candidate Proposes Legalizing Marijuana to Raise School Money
Category: News | Posted on Tue, May, 6th 2014 by THCFinder
Democratic candidate for state superintendent of education Sheila Gallagher is proposing that South Carolina legalize marijuana as a way to raise new tax money for schools.
"Between the tax dollars you could bring in and stop putting some of our kids in prison and such, we could probably raise about $188 million a year, and if that would be the case that would be great because we could have the best schools in the nation, and that's what we're really looking for," she says.
Right now, Colorado and Washington are the only states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
Colorado estimates it could bring in $98 million in marijuana tax money this year. The first $40 million is earmarked for school construction, but where the rest of the money will go hasn't been decided.
Washington estimates it could bring in $190 million over four years. Its marijuana tax money is earmarked for health care, youth drug prevention, public health and research.
Gallagher knows it will be tough to get lawmakers in a conservative state like South Carolina to pass legalizing marijuana, but her plan is to get them to pass a constitutional amendment referendum, so it would be up to voters to decide. She says, "I'd like to turn it over to the people and say, 'Here's an opportunity. Let's look at this whole idea of legalizing marijuana and see what it can do for us.'"
However, he says the additional money is needed. "I think it's enough to make a difference. Currently, we are underfunding, according to state law we are underfunding our public schools by roughly $700 million per year," he says.
Obama Administration Puts in an Order for 1,430 Pounds of Marijuana
Category: News | Posted on Mon, May, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
The Obama Administration needs hundreds and hundreds of pounds of marijuana this year, more than 30 times the amount of pot it originally ordered for 2014.
But don’t get any funny ideas. The pot is medicinal, and it’s needed for research purposes.
The Obama administration needs hundreds of pounds of marijuana… for research purposes. (AP Photo)
The Drug Enforcement Administration put out a rule on Monday that adjusts the annual production quota of medical marijuana for the U.S. government. That pot, produced by the University of Mississippi, is used by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse to conduct research on medical marijuana.
The NIDA’s research is in demand as states around the country consider legalizing medical marijuana, and as pressure is growing on the federal government to decriminalize it.
And that demand means the federal government needs a lot more pot than it thought it needed. The DEA had originally set out a production quota of 21 kilograms of pot for 2014.
But the new regulation bumped that quota up to 650 kilograms, or about 1,430 pounds.
The price for a kilogram of marijuana varies from state to state, but hovers around $1,000 in many states — using that price, that puts the street value of the government’s order at about $650,000.
The DEA rule says the production increase is needed to ensure NIDA has enough product on which to conduct its research.
“NIDA recently notified the DEA that it required additional supplies of marijuana to be manufactured in 2014 to provide for current and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana,” the rule stated. “The DEA was unaware of NIDA’s additional need at the time the initial aggregate production quote for marijuana was established in September 2013.
“The aggregate production quote for marijuana should be increased in order to provide a continuous and uninterrupted supply of marijuana in support of DEA-registered researchers who are approved by the Federal Government to utilize marijuana in their research protocols.”
The rule shows the government can get as much pot as it needs, something most Americans still cannot do given that marijuana is a controlled substance. Many Democrats have proposed legislation that would take medical marijuana off this list, and several Republicans are also on board with this policy change.
Marijuana DUI Law Killed in California Legislature
Category: News | Posted on Mon, May, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
A law that would have meant a DUI conviction if you had trace amounts of THC in your blood failed in the state legislature last week.
AB 2500 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier would have meant you could be convicted of driving under the influence if any amount of THC metabolites were found in your blood stream.
But the legislation was later amended to reflect a 2 nanograms-per-millileter blood limit, which is much lower than the 5-nanograms limit being discussed by many prosecutors and lawmakers.
Medical marijuana advocates argue that no limit is really fair because the metabolites can stay in your system for days. They've said that marijuana DUI limits will ensnare users who might have medicated a day or two before driving but who are not high.
Because THC remains detectable in the bloodstream for hours or days after use, well after deleterious effects have faded, the bill would make marijuana users liable for DUI regardless of whether they were actually impaired at the time.
The bill was defeated in the Assembly Public Safety Committee 4-2. One of the no votes came from a longtime advocate for sensible cannabis policy, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
The proposed law also targeted cocaine, meth, heroin, morphine and other drugs. NORML says such legislation is not necessary when it comes to cannabis, though:
Even while marijuana usage has been increasing over the past decade, accident rates and DUI arrests in California have been declining. Some experts speculate that this may be because drivers are substituting marijuana for alcohol. In any case, the evidence seems clear that marijuana isn't causing an epidemic of accidents.
Colorado Veterans Suffering From PTSD Denied Medical Marijuana In Colorado
Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 30th 2014 by THCFinder
DENVER – Yesterday, a bill failed to pass the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee that would have added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of ‘debilitating medical conditions’ that qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation. This timely bill (HB14-1364) would have addressed a major gap in access to medical marijuana in Colorado for veterans and all those suffering from PTSD. The bill sought to ensure that veterans won’t lose their VA benefits for following their physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana.
On average a veteran commits suicide every hour in the United States – and medical marijuana has been proven to reduce suicide. But, Colorado veterans who use marijuana to manage their symptoms of PTSD risk losing their Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. VA policy permits veterans in compliance with their state medical marijuana law to continue to receive all their benefits and remain eligible for care in the VA medical system.
“It’s insane that in a state with legal marijuana veterans don’t have the same right as anyone else over 21 – especially considering how many lives are at stake,” said Art Way, senior Colorado policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “No veteran should have to risk benefits or feel stigmatized when they use medical marijuana.”
Iraq war Veteran Sean Azzariti of Denver, a Marine who testified in support of the legislation yesterday, said “It saved my life and I truly believe that every veteran should have that choice of medication.”
The Drug Policy Alliance, in coalition with medical marijuana industry groups and patient advocates, stood in support of the measure. “This issue is especially important in a state like Colorado that has a large veteran community. The last thing that should happen in Colorado is for individuals to be punished for using medical marijuana that has been recommended by their doctor to reduce their symptoms,” added Way.
Presently 10 medical marijuana states include PTSD as a qualifying condition for eligibility — including 4 states that have added PTSD to their programs in the last 6 months alone. And a survey published last month in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugsreports that people with PTSD in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program show a greater than 75% reduction in severity of their symptoms when patients were using cannabis compared to when they were not.
The Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office launched the Freedom to Choose campaign to advocate for veterans’ access to medical marijuana for PTSD and other wounds of war.
“Veterans deserve the freedom to choose the safest treatment for their debilitating conditions,” said Jessica Gelay, who is the policy coordinator for DPA’s New Mexico office and the coordinator of the Freedom to Choose campaign. “When our veterans come home they deserve access to the medicine that works for them. We are asking lawmakers not to turn their back on Colorado veterans.”
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