By Chris Roberts January16, 2017
Enumerating the vulnerable Americans threatened by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is like running the guest list for formal dinners aboard Noah’s Ark—almost everybody’s invited. Based on the attorney general nominee’s record, racial minorities, women seeking an abortion, survivors of sexual assault and many others all have something to fear from the U.S. Justice Department.
Aware of this, even if protesters in Klan hoods hadn’t crashed his confirmation hearings, the Alabama senator put on a smooth conciliatory show, assuring his detractors, one-by-one, that he would respect peoples’ rights and not use the Justice Department to carry out Donald Trump’s personal Twitter vendettas. It all sounded nice—so nice that the Washington Post wondered aloud if it was all a calculated act.
Marijuana falls below voting, racial and reproductive rights as a priority for most Americans. But it may yet become a new focus for a Sessions Justice Department—we just have absolutely no idea, and Sessions deftly and slyly avoided providing one.
On weed, Sessions managed a particularly slick two-step. Answering questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sessions stated the obvious: marijuana remains illegal thanks to an act of Congress, and as attorney general, it’s his job to enforce the laws of the land. If Americans don’t like the laws, he added, they should convince their representatives in Congress to do something about it.
“The U.S. Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state—and the distribution—an illegal act,” Sessions said last week. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”
Reaction from marijuana advocates was mixed, as is often the case when someone is asked to react to nothing and guess blindly at what that nothing means. Some were thrilled that Sessions didn’t use his confirmation hearing to declare all-out war on marijuana and put an end to the widening experiment of states allowing adults to use cannabis legally. Others noted that he didn’t say much of anything at all. That’s not entirely true, but it highlights the problem.
What Sessions did say was deliberately disingenuous.
Americans absolutely want Congress to change the country’s outdated, punitive and politically motivated marijuana laws. They are on record saying this, clearly and without question, in every major poll and at the ballot box. In November, red state and blue state alike voted to relax marijuana prohibition or end it outright. States that helped elect Donald Trump, the man who picked Sessions to give the DEA its marching orders, also voted to allow their citizens easier access to cannabis.
So, about Congress.
Read more here.
Marijuana and its derivatives can be effective medicines for treating pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms and other conditions, but cannabis is not harmless, and more research is needed, the nation’s top scientists concluded in a landmark review of research released Thursday.
The nonprofit National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued their report, “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” summarizing the current state of evidence for the efficacy of medical marijuana and recommending new studies.
The 395-page report will stand as the most official medical review of the botanical drug, which an estimated 8 percent of Americans used in the last month.
Chief among the peer-reviewed findings, the scientists criticized cannabis’ placement atop the U.S. government’s list of dangerous, medically useless drugs.
Even though marijuana has no lethal overdose level, the federal government ranks marijuana as “Schedule 1” — above prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin that were linked to more than 180,000 deaths from 1999 to 2015.
Cannabis’ Schedule 1 designation is a regulatory barrier that “impedes the advancement of ... research,” the study found. “It is often difficult for researchers to gain access to the quantity, quality, and type of cannabis product necessary to address specific research questions on the health effects of cannabis use.”
The report is likely to increase pressure on lawmakers to reschedule marijuana. The drug, the study found, does have medical uses.
“Conclusive or substantial evidence” confirms cannabis can treat chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity. There is moderate evidence cannabis can improve sleep, and limited evidence pot or its derivatives can help manage post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
“Our government should de-schedule marijuana,” said Berkeley-based physician Dr. Frank Lucido, who specializes in medicinal cannabis.
Read more here.
By Christopher Ingraham
January 11 at 10:06 AM
(Brett adds - The full Pew Research Center survey and report is online @ http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/behind-the-badge/.)
A Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 police officers finds that more than two-thirds of them say that marijuana use should be legal for either personal or medical use.
The nationally representative survey of law enforcement, one of the largest of its kind, found that 32 percent of police officers said marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 37 percent said it should be legal for medical use only. An additional 30 percent said that marijuana should not be legal at all.
Police are more conservative than the general public on the issue. Among all Americans, Pew found that 49 percent supported recreational marijuana, 35 percent supported medical marijuana only, and 15 percent said the drug should not be legal.
Pew also found a generational divide among cops on the marijuana issue, although not as large as the one that exists among the general public. Officers under age 35 were more likely to support recreational marijuana (37 percent) than those between the ages of 50 and 60 (27 percent). Among the general public, those numbers stand at 67 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Law enforcement groups have often been among the staunchest opponents of marijuana legalization measures. In 2016, such groups made small but significant contributions to oppose legalization measures in California and Arizona, citing concerns over issues such as underage use and intoxicated driving.
“You hear people say it’s not as bad as alcohol,” George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, told the Orange County Register last year. “But if you smoke marijuana and drive, it does impair you.”
But as the Pew survey indicates, there's considerable variation in views on marijuana use among the rank-and-file. The group LEAP — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition — was founded in 2002 for active-duty and retired police officers to speak out “about the failures of our existing drug policies.” The group has been particularly active in campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington and elsewhere.
Diane Goldstein, a retired Lieutenant Commander for the Redondo Beach Police Department and LEAP board member, said she's not surprised to see that police officers have more conservative attitudes than the public on marijuana legalization. “Law enforcement continues to represent an outlier view on this issue because police are trained with outdated, unscientific, drug-war-oriented materials.”
But she added that “the poll reflects a positive attitude shift when you see that it’s only 1 in 3 police officers who believe marijuana should remain illegal.”
Read more here.
By Evan Halper
If marijuana users were looking for reassurance that the incoming Trump administration is not going to turn back the clock on pot legalization, they didn’t get it.
Trump’s pick for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, was noncommittal when asked if the federal government would continue to take a hands-off approach to enforcement of marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal. Pot is now permitted for medical use in the majority of the states, and voters in eight states, including California, have approved laws allowing the sale of cannabis for recreational use.
“I won't commit to never enforcing federal law,” Sessions said at his confirmation hearing Tuesday. “But absolutely it's a problem of resources for the federal government.” He noted that his predecessors have laid out policies that enable states to pursue legalization unfettered. But then he pointed out that those policies are out of sync with federal law.
“One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act,” he said. “If that's something that is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change [it]. ... It is not so much the attorney general's job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
The remarks leave the door open for Sessions, who has been an unabashed opponent of marijuana use, to authorize resumption of raids on marijuana growing operations and dispensaries that many who are engaged in the business had hoped would be history. But Sessions was deliberately noncommittal. Such law enforcement actions would likely prove deeply unpopular in the states that permit marijuana use, and Trump has signaled that he has no desire to reignite this particular part of the drug war.
Bill Piper, a lobbyist for the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, declared on Twitter that the comments by Sessions were “wishy washy” at best.
Marijuana advocates are now likely to turn their focus to Trump, trying to pressure him to continue the Obama administration’s policy of permitting states to pursue their own path on pot. Though marijuana remained classified as one of the most dangerous narcotics throughout most of the Obama administration, the Justice Department opted years ago to give states the freedom to continue their experiment with legalization.
Should Sessions opt to change course, it could put him in a political pickle. The Alabama Republican is among the most deeply conservative politicians in Congress, and a longtime crusader for state’s rights. Using federal law enforcement agents to pressure the states to change course on their drug policies risks coming off as heavy-handed, and would likely put Sessions at odds with several of his GOP colleagues who argue the states should be free to pursue their own policies regarding cannabis use.
Read more here.
Executive Director of C.A.R.E., Susan Soares is honored to be asked to participate in the High Times Business Summit this month on January 19th and 20th. The panel is Social Media Management. Buy your tickets here and follow these rules to win a FREE vape.
Uniting the worlds of politics, entrepreneurship and legalization, the HIGH TIMES Business Summit 2017 will feature esteemed guest speakers and symposiums tailored to meet the needs of cannabusinesses, policy makers and health care providers.
Discover how to enter the industry, how to adapt your existing business to changing regulations, as well as how to continue to innovate and evolve within the ever-changing cannabis space. Whether you cultivate, extract, distill or cook with cannabis, you'll find valuable information and connections that will allow you to harness your talents and expand your business.
Each ticket comes with access to the big industry show
By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS / STAFF WRITER
The online ad for Green Light District – a pot shop in a brick office building 5 miles from Disneyland – was clear: Anyone 21 years and older was welcome to buy weed with only a “valid ID.”
During a visit to the unlicensed Anaheim dispensary Tuesday, a worker behind tinted glass in the lobby did ask to see a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. But when I told him I didn’t have one, he said my driver’s license verifying I was over 21 was fine so long as I still signed a form stating “under penalty of perjury” that I was a legitimate medical marijuana patient.
I declined, reminding him I was not in fact a patient. So he declined to let me into the locked shop, where a steady stream of visitors was greeted by dance music and a distinct herbal smell.
Green Light District in Anaheim. Mr Nice Guy in Downtown Los Angeles. Smoking Loud Society in Highland. They’re among the dozens of pot shops throughout California advertising that, since voters legalized recreational marijuana under Proposition 64 two months ago, they’ll now sell cannabis without the doctor’s recommendations that have been required under the state’s medical marijuana law for 20 years.
Many of these shops are billing themselves as being “compliant” or “friendly” with Prop. 64, which made it legal as of Nov. 9 for Californians 21 and older to consume marijuana in private, carry an ounce of weed and grow six pot plants per home.
However, Prop. 64 also makes it clear that businesses can’t start selling recreational cannabis until the state establishes a licensing system, which is expected to take until Jan. 1, 2018.
Read more here.
by Jacob Margolis | Take Two January 06, 05:49 PM
Proposition 64 passed in November, but you still can't find any recreational pot shops anywhere in California. That's because the system that's supposed to regulate how marijuana is grown, transported and sold, hasn't been built yet.
Since the new law passed, it's been hurry-up-and-wait for business owners across the state, who remain in a sort of legal purgatory as regulations are established.
"When the license is figured out we all breathe a giant sigh of relief because we actually finally feel like we have a piece of paper that protects us," said Carlos de la Torre, who runs the Cornerstone Research Group, a medical marijuana collective in Los Angeles.
According to the new law, licenses for marijuana-related businesses are supposed to be issued by Jan. 1, 2018.
Between now and then there's a lot for multiple departments in Sacramento to work out, including how to regulate dispensaries, the distribution system, testing laboratories and the transportation of marijuana. Add to that the fact they'll have to determine guidelines for cultivation and manufacturing, as well as labor and environmental issues.
The intergovernmental task is further complicated by the fact that this has to happen between multiple departments, including the Department of Consumer Affairs, Food and Agriculture and Public Health.
"Although it’s an aggressive timeline, we are confident that we will make that deadline," said Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, the agency responsible for building a large part of the licensing system.
"We’re looking at, probably, early March, proposing most of our regulations. At this point we’ll have, I think, a large chunk of it mapped out so people can get an idea of what direction we’re taking. And then there’ll be a chance for them to provide public comment to the bureau."
Ajax has been with the Bureau since February, 2016, shortly after California passed the MMRSA. Since the fall she said they've been listening to stakeholders in communities across the state.
"One of the things we heard loud and clear was people are worried about overregulation," Ajax said. "Folks have been operating for a couple of decades ... in the shadows, but if this is going to be successful we have to do a good job of bridging that ... making sure that they trust us. That they can tell us what’s going on and hopefully we can get them in the regulated market, cause I think that’s a good thing for everybody."
An-Chi Tsou, a former senior policy advisor with the bureau who now runs a consulting firm, says, "I think now with Prop 64 it’s going to be difficult to make that deadline."
Read more here.
By Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday nominated Xavier Becerra to be California’s next attorney general, beginning what is likely to be a smooth confirmation for the longtime Democratic congressman who has taken a combative stance against President-elect Donald Trump.
The state Legislature will have 90 days to confirm Becerra, who was nominated the same day Kamala Harris resigned from the post to take her seat in the U.S. Senate. She was elected in November.
Becerra, the highest-ranking Latino in Congress and a prominent surrogate for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has represented parts of Los Angeles for 24 years but faced a less appealing future in Washington following Trump’s election.
As Brown’s pick for attorney general, he has promised to defend California’s liberal policies on recreational marijuana, climate change, health care, immigration and criminal justice.
The state Assembly will begin Becerra’s confirmation process with a committee hearing Jan. 10, said Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Democratic Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Last week, the Assembly Committee on the Office of the Attorney General asked Becerra to detail his plans to tackle issues including immigration, civil rights, the environment, policing and consumer protection.
Plans for Senate committee hearings are still in the works, said Anthony Reyes, a spokesman for Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.
Rendon and de Leon have both spoken highly of Becerra as an experienced and tenacious public servant.
Becerra lives in Los Angeles but recalled last month growing up in Sacramento as a son of poor, hard-working immigrants. He noted that he was the first in his family to graduate from college, obtaining both bachelor’s and law degrees from Stanford University. He said his goal is to offer the same opportunities to others.
Read more here.
by Robin Abcarian
If ever you needed proof that we live in an age of confusion about marijuana laws, let me share with you the story of Ted Hicks and Ryan Mears, two Sacramento-area entrepreneurs who decided to start a legal medical cannabis business last year and ended up on the business end of assault rifles wielded by officers from a multi-agency, anti-drug task force.
I first heard about the case from Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor in September, at a “State of Marijuana” conference aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Saylor, who was on a panel discussing how cities and counties were dealing with cannabis regulation, said that Hicks and Mears and their business, Big Red Farms, were considered by county officials to be “shining stars” in the cannabis licensing arena.
“They looked for guidance, they complied, they set up irrigation systems, drainage, applied for Water Quality Control Board permits, all in place, then something like this happens,” said Saylor, who compared the raids, which took place simultaneously at four locations, to “terrorist activity.”
“The children are traumatized,” he said, “and the grown-ups are still shaking from the experience.”
Read more here.
$24 billion is no joke.
By Phillip Smith / AlterNet
January 3, 2017
California's agricultural bounty is fabled, from the endless olive and almond groves of the Central Valley to the world-class grapes of the Napa Valley to the winter vegetables of the Imperial Valley to the garlic fields of Gilroy, and beyond. But the biggest item in California's agricultural cornucopia is cannabis.
According to report last week from the Orange County Register, California's marijuana crop is not only the most valuable agricultural product in the nation's number one agricultural producer state, it totally blows away the competition.
Using cash farm receipt data from the state Department of Food and Agriculture for ag crops and its own estimate of in-state pot production (see discussion below), the Register pegs the value of California's marijuana crop at more than the top five leading agricultural commodities combined.
Here's how it breaks down, in billions of dollars:
Read more here
Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.