Woody Harrelson Goes Cannabis-Free

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Woody Harrelson Goes Cannabis-Free

Woody Harrelson Goes Cannabis-Free

Actor Woody Harrelson has sworn off cannabis, although he maintains it’s “a great drug.”

Harrelson told Vulture that he hasn’t smoked cannabis in nearly a year, citing “30 solid years” of partying for his decision quit. “I am a party animal,” the Oscar nominee said. “But on the other hand, I haven’t… I’m now extremely moderate, and… I actually stopped smoking pot almost a year ago.”

He also said he felt cannabis was “keeping me from being emotionally available.”

Harrelson was arrested in 1996 for planting hemp seeds in Kentucky in order to challenge a state law. He also once served on the board of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). He also once applied to open a medical cannabis dispensary in Hawaii.

Harrelson, however, still supports cannabis. “I don’t have a problem at all with smoking. I think it’s great. I think it’s a great drug, in terms of… Even cops say that the side effect is euphoria. Or the … what do you call it?… The effect of it is euphoria,” he said. “But when you’re doing it all the time, it just becomes … Well, you know. I feel like it was keeping me from being emotionally available. I really don’t want this interview to turn into a whole thing about that.”

Study: 27% of U.S. beer drinkers switching to weed

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Study: 27% of U.S. beer drinkers switching to weed

Study: 27% of U.S. beer drinkers switching to weed

A new study shows that Americans are increasingly opting for pot bellies over beer bellies.

Roughly one in four of 40,000 surveyed Americans are now spending their cash on cannabis instead of suds, researchers from Cannabiz Consumer Group found. Twenty-seven percent of beer drinkers are now legally purchasing pot instead, or suggested they would if it were legalized in their state. The research group last year.

Those purchases will take many forms, infused beverages among them. If cannabis were legalized nationally, the beer industry would lose more than $2 USD billion in retail sales.

About 24.6 million Americans legally purchased pot in the U.S. last year and that number is expected to grow. Numerous states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and a smaller number of states have legalized it for recreational use. Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada all passed measures to legalize recreational use in 2016, and more than half of U.S. states now permit the medical use of marijuana. The Department of Justice under the Obama Administration also relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it is legal, but the Trump Administration may reverse that trend.

Still, the group predicts the cannabis industry will grow to $50 billion. The U.S. beer market sells over $100 billion in beer each year, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Over 100 Detroit medical marijuana shops closed down, more in jeopardy

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Over 100 Detroit medical marijuana shops closed down, more in jeopardy

Over 100 Detroit medical marijuana shops closed down, more in jeopardy

DETROIT — Detroit’s medical marijuana centers are finding difficulty in fulfilling the city’s list of strict requirements and regulations.

New figures released this week by the city reveal that only two prospective Medical Marijuana Caregiver Centers out of more than 260 applicants have been approved to operate, The Detroit News reported.

Green Cross opened in February as Detroit’s first licensed center. Manager Simon Berro said its operators were the first to apply under the law that went into effect last March and completed the “vigorous” zoning and licensing process Feb. 3.

“We went to the city. We listened to what they said. We followed their rules,” Berro said. “We took all precautions, and it was a vigorous process, but nonetheless, it worked out in the end.”

The Green Genie also has its license, but no staff was in attendance Thursday.

The new rules allowed Detroit to shut down marijuana shops failing to seek compliance under the ordinance or dispensing medical marijuana in unapproved zones. So far, 136 shops have closed down.

National Patient Rights Association official Robin Schneider said she’s disappointed in the lack of progress after a year.

“(Detroit) has the most exclusionary zoning practices of anything I’ve ever seen in the state,” she said. “I think the fact that patients still do not have access to licensed facilities is a disservice to patients.”

Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell said the zoning legislation will allow about 50 shops overall.

“There will be an appropriate number of locations that will be made available for people to sell the medicine,” he said. “We just want to make sure that as they are opened, they are opening in an orderly fashion and meeting needs of patients required for treatment.”

Information from: The Detroit News


Published at Fri, 17 Mar 2017 20:57:36 +0000

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Sessions triples down on marijuana as dangerous drug, not opioid crisis solution

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Sessions triples down on marijuana as dangerous drug, not opioid crisis solution

Sessions triples down on marijuana as dangerous drug, not opioid crisis solution

RICHMOND, Va. – Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday pledged aggressive criminal prosecution of drug dealers and gun-toting felons to combat what he described as a troubling rise in violent crime.

Related: Is Jeff Sessions at odds with President Trump on medical marijuana?

“I am determined that this country will not go backwards,” Sessions said as he addressed law enforcement officials in Richmond. “President Trump gave us a clear directive. It’s the policy of this administration to reduce crime in America, not preside over an increase in crime, but reduce crime.”

Sessions traveled to Virginia’s capital to highlight Project Exile, a two-decades old federal program slapping felons caught carrying guns with mandatory five-year prison sentences. Trump has said he would make crime-fighting a priority and has taken steps, including ordering the creation of a task force to recommend strategies.

“The crime rate in our country remains at historic lows,” Sessions acknowledged in his remarks. “But we’re beginning to see an increase again.”

He attributed that increase to less forceful prosecutions and lower sentences, a declining prison population and a growing opioid epidemic. He also said that “in this age of viral videos and targeted killings of police,” police officers in many communities were afraid to do their jobs.

The solution, he said, is to “hammer” drug dealers and other criminals while bringing back the drug abstinence campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s.

“We have too much of a tolerance for drug use,” Sessions said. “We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.’ There’s no excuse for this, it’s not recreational. Lives are at stake, and we’re not going to worry about being fashionable.”

Sessions scoffed at the idea, promoted by some doctors and researchers, that medical marijuana can be used as an alternative painkiller to prevent or treat opioid addiction.

“I’ve heard people say we could solve our heroin problem with marijuana,” he said. “How stupid is that? Give me a break!”

After his speech, Sessions told reporters he was “dubious” of medical marijuana in general.

“Medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much,” he said. He added that his office may rethink parts of an Obama-era policy largely allowing individual states to legalize marijuana use.

Critics of Project Exile said the five-year mandatory minimum disproportionately affected poor black Americans. Sessions told reporters he was “sensitive to these issues,” but that most people in low-income African-American neighborhoods want tough criminal penalties.

Recalling his own time as an assistant U.S. attorney in Alabama, Sessions said “the people in those communities were pleading with us to. . .get the thugs off the street.”

Sessions’ visit to Richmond came amid questions over Trump’s wiretapping claims and Sessions’ own communications with the Russian government. The Justice Department asked this week for more time to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee any information that might back up the allegation that former president Obama spied on Trump during the campaign.

Sessions told reporters he had recused himself from that issue because of his involvement in the campaign and thus had no information on any possible wiretap. He added that he didn’t consider his meetings with the Russian ambassador to be “improper” because they discussed international issues like the Ukraine. “We didn’t talk about the campaign,” he said.

(Article continues below video)

But Sessions largely focused on his office’s role in prosecuting violent crime.

FBI Director James Comey helped create Project Exile in 1997 when he was an executive assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The idea behind the program, which was started to combat the surging gang violence in Richmond, was to seize guns from people who were carrying them illegally and were most likely to use them in other crimes. At the time that Project Exile was launched, Richmond had one of the highest five murder per capita rates in the nation.

Its name came from the fact that, if convicted, a suspect would immediately be sent away to federal prison, often far from home.

During Project Exile’s first year, Richmond homicides declined 33 percent and armed robberies declined 30 percent.

By 1999, the project’s second year, homicides declined another 21 percent.

But sentencing reform advocates have criticized the program, which was replicated in some other cities, such as Rochester, New York..

“It’s far from clear that Project Exile produced any of the benefits supporters attribute to it,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, in an interview. “That’s no surprise. One-size-fits-all federal programs don’t work, even in criminal justice. The American way of doing justice is making the time fit the crime, not giving the same cookie cutter sentence to everyone.”

Ring said that national studies are mixed on the program’s results. Gun crime fell over the same period in cities that didn’t use Project Exile, he said.

Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott, D-Va., who has opposed Project Exile for many years, said the crime rate actually fell further in parts of Virginia that did not use the program. “Everyone knows that mandatory minimums don’t work,” he said. “They have been studied extensively and fail to reduce crime and waste taxpayers’ money. . . . The only people they work for are politicians yelling at crowds trying to get a standing ovation.”

Project Exile continues, according to Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr, but Sessions said the number of cases brought under the policy has been declining.

“This downward trend is going to end,” he said. “We’re going to attempt to bring more of those cases and exile people out of Richmond to some federal penitentiary for a while.”

Here’s the portion of Sessions’ prepared speech that focused on marijuana:

There are three main ways to fight the scourge of drugs: criminal enforcement, treatment and prevention.

Criminal enforcement is essential to stop both the transnational cartels that ship drugs into our country, and the thugs and gangs who use violence and extortion to move their product. One of the President’s executive orders directed the Justice Department to dismantle these organizations and gangs – and we will do just that.

Treatment programs are also vital. But treatment often comes too late to save people from addiction or death.

So we need to focus on the third way we can fight drug use: preventing people from ever taking drugs in the first place.

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse.


Published at Wed, 15 Mar 2017 17:26:02 +0000

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Colorado House OKs efforts to crack down on illegal marijuana

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Colorado House OKs efforts to crack down on illegal marijuana

Colorado House OKs efforts to crack down on illegal marijuana

In a bid to crack down on drug trafficking, the Colorado House on Monday voted to put new limits on home-grown marijuana that would dramatically reduce the number of plants people can legally grow in residential areas.

The bill would impose a blanket 16-plant per home limit — whether the pot’s grown for medical or recreational purposes.

That represents a significant reduction from the current cap, which goes as high as 99 plants for medical marijuana patients and caregivers — a limit that law enforcement officials say has been exploited by large-scale, international crime organizations.

“Colorado voters did not envision massive, commercial-grade home-grow operations in residential areas and those who maintain that this is in some way permitted by the State Constitution are flat out wrong,” Police Chief John Jackson of Greenwood Village said in a statement supporting the bill. “The current limit of 99 plants is a massive loophole in our state law that attracts criminal elements from across our nation in search of a quick buck.”

Licensed caregivers could still grow more than 16 plants under the bill, but they would have to grow the excess number in areas zoned for large-scale, commercial grows.

The measure — and a companion bill that the House gave a preliminary nod on Monday — is part of a broad effort this session by Gov. John Hickenlooper to step up the state’s enforcement of the gray market, in which marijuana is grown legally but sold illegally.

The new limits in House Bill 1220 were approved with bipartisan support Monday, 55-10, after a flurry of amendments — one of which relaxed the proposed cap from 12 to 16 plants.

It also would allow local governments to impose further restrictions by ordinance, something many already do. Denver, for instance, has a 12-plant limit.

The bill still needs Senate approval and the governor’s signature to become law.

Also on Monday, the House gave preliminary approval to a companion measure, House Bill 1221, which would create a $6 million-a-year grant program to help local law enforcement crack down on illegal grows. It will be paid for using unspent money in the state’s marijuana cash fund, which is funded by marijuana sales taxes.

The two measures come amid growing uncertainty over how the Trump administration will handle states like Colorado that have legalized a drug that the federal government still considers an illegal, Schedule 1 narcotic.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an outspoken critic of legalizing marijuana, and Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the White House, has said to expect “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws under President Donald Trump. But it’s not yet clear what that will mean.

The hope among Colorado officials is that any efforts the state takes on its own to limit the spread of marijuana will help stave off any unwanted federal intervention.

With House Bill 1220, Colorado would bring itself closer in line with the 28 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. Today, Colorado is the only state that allows more than 16 plants in a caregiver or patient’s home.

“I can think of no quicker way to jeopardize Colorado’s billion-dollar industry than to allow our state to become a significant source of marijuana in other states where it isn’t legal,” said House Majority Leader KC Becker, D-Boulder, one of the bill’s sponsors.

While the bill passed with wide bipartisan support, many lawmakers expressed deep reservations over unintended consequences.

Marijuana patients have been flooding lawmakers with complaints that the bill would restrict their access to legal medicine, and force them to buy marijuana from more expensive commercial dispensaries. The first hearing on the measure lasted until almost midnight.

“We need to do something,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Boulder, who voted no. “The question is are we casting too wide of a net?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com


Published at Mon, 13 Mar 2017 19:29:54 +0000

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Canada's marijuana czar pours cold water on hype of imminent legalization

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Canada's marijuana czar pours cold water on hype of imminent legalization

Canada's marijuana czar pours cold water on hype of imminent legalization

As investors flock to Canada’s burgeoning marijuana sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is signaling recreational pot sales aren’t imminent.

Lawmaker Bill Blair — the former Toronto police chief leading Trudeau’s legalization effort — confirmed a bill is due in parliament this spring, but it won’t be the last hurdle as ample regulatory work remains. The federal government will take its time and work with provinces, territories and cities to build a framework and develop specific regulations, he said.

The government is also looking for ways to control production, distribution and consumption of legalized marijuana, while testing it for quality and keeping it out of the hands of minors, Blair said.

“We will take as much time as it takes to do it right,” Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s justice minister, said in an interview Monday. “I’m pretty reluctant to suggest a specific time frame, frankly, because I don’t know how long this will take in each of our 10 provinces and three territories.”

Blair’s comments come as Canada’s nascent marijuana industry balloons, with investor optimism being fueled by analyst estimates that recreational sales could start as early as 2018.

The government’s plan to introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 “could pave the way for the legal sale of recreational cannabis by 2018,” Canaccord Genuity analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka said in a November research note. Canada’s recreational pot industry has the potential to reach C$6 billion ($4.5 billion) in sales by 2021 if legalization occurs along “expected timelines,” according to the note.

Canopy Growth Corp. became the first marijuana unicorn in 2016 and had a valuation of C$1.9 billion on Monday. Other producers, including Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Aphria Inc., have seen their share prices surge more than 400 percent in the past 12 months.

Canopy closed down 4.2 percent in Toronto on Wednesday while Aurora tumbled 5 percent and Aphria slid 5.1 percent.

“If they delay, there’s going to be a lot of eggs that are going to break in this business,” Chris Damas, editor of the BCMI Report in Barrie, Ontario, said by phone Monday. “The valuations are extreme.”

Licensed marijuana producers are in the midst of expanding their capacity and there will be a “huge amount” of excess cannabis if Canada delays legalization, Damas said. The analyst said Blair’s previous comments suggest it’s unlikely the government will introduce a bill by June and companies with huge valuations “won’t have any serious business” if the recreational market takes longer to come to fruition.

“There could be a lot of disappointment,” he said.

In a separate interview Monday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Blair said the government was going to design a legalized marijuana system that included measurement and testing of products, as well as enforcement. While the proposed legislation is due this spring, “it’s not sufficient to simply come forward with a bill,” he said.

The government may also explore ways to direct revenue from marijuana sales to funding additional drug treatment, including for fentanyl as Canada grapples with an opioid crisis, he added.

Since taking a position on legalization ahead of the 2015 election, Trudeau has gradually turned toward emphasizing safety, saying regularly it shouldn’t be easier for youth to buy marijuana than to buy beer. Putting the file in the hands of a prominent law-enforcement veteran is another signal the government is approaching legalization with an eye to tight regulation.

Blair declined to comment on whether the regulations could be finalized by 2018 — an expected election year in Ontario, home to Canopy and other companies — or 2019, when the next federal election is scheduled.

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation issued a report in December that recommends the Canadian government regulate the production of marijuana while provinces control the distribution and retail sales, including through dedicated storefronts with well-trained staff or by mail.


Published at Thu, 09 Mar 2017 18:00:23 +0000

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What is the Supremacy Clause and what does it mean for states' rights to legalize marijuana?

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What is the Supremacy Clause and what does it mean for states' rights to legalize marijuana?

What is the Supremacy Clause and what does it mean for states' rights to legalize marijuana?

When it comes to laying down the law on marijuana, it’s a convoluted dispute.

Amid the renewed attention on state legalization by new Department of Justice leader Jeff Sessions, here’s a refresher.

Marijuana in the age of Trump: A Cannabist special report

Part 1 | ‘Something’s going to have to give’: An untenable conflict between feds, states

Part 2 | Federal marijuana law enforcement: What you need to know

The idea of federal preemption of state law is based on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2), which states that the Constitution “shall be the supreme law of the land.”

The Supremacy Clause’s relations to state-enacted marijuana laws has been addressed in a handful of legal articles, including a UCLA Law Review report from 2015:

“The constitutional question that will determine the outcome of any preemption lawsuit seeking to invalidate state marijuana laws is whether state laws allowing the sale, cultivation, and use of limited amounts of marijuana creates an impermissible “conflict” — as that term has been defined by the Supreme Court — with the (Controlled Substance Act) provisions prohibiting marijuana altogether.”

However, there exists a “significant constitutional counterweight” in the Tenth Amendment’s anti-commandeering doctrine, the authors note and reference a 2009 paper by Vanderbilt Law School professor Robert Mikos titled, “On the Limits of Supremacy: Medical Marijuana and the States’ Overlooked Power to Legalize Federal Crime.”

The anti-commandeering principle constrains the preemption power of the government, wrote Mikos, an expert on federalism and drug law.

“That rule stipulates that Congress may not command state legislatures to enact laws nor order state officials to administer them. To be sure, the rule does not limit Congress’s substantive powers but rather only the means by which Congress may pursue them. For example, Congress may designate the sites for new radioactive waste dumps, though it may not order state legislatures to do so; and it may require background checks for gun purchases, though it may not order state law enforcement officials to conduct them. All the same, the anti-commandeering rule constrains Congress’ power to preempt state law in at least one increasingly important circumstance — namely, when state law simply permits private conduct to occur — because preemption of such a law would be tantamount to commandeering.”

A preemption would be unprecedented and, very likely, unsuccessful, Mikos said in an interview with The Cannabist.

“Sessions might prefer that Colorado roll back the clock and go back to 2011, but he can’t do that,” he said.

While the Supremacy Clause has been cited previously in marijuana-related cases — including a January Colorado Supreme Court decision on the asset forfeiture of marijuana and the 2015 Coats vs. Dish Network lawful termination case — there’s not yet been legal precedent involving the relationship between federal preemption and state marijuana laws, drug policy and law experts say.

The Supremacy Clause is referenced in an ongoing consolidated federal appeals court case against Colorado marijuana laws.

“The federal law is crystal clear,” Campbell University law professor Zachary Bolitho said, noting that if state law conflicts with and interferes with the overall goal of the federal government, “the state law should give way.”

When Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in late 2014, the case they presented to the U.S. Supreme Court alleged that an outflow of marijuana from the 420-friendly state created a burden for their law enforcement agencies.

At the time, Bolitho likened the case to legal actions taken in Arizona in 2012. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder successfully argued in Arizona vs. the United States that federal law preempted the southwestern state’s immigration law. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Bolitho wrote that the same rule should apply in
the states’ marijuana dispute.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Nebraska and Oklahoma’s case and the two states subsequently intervened to join the consolidated preemption/racketeering case that’s pending a final decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Erasing regulation

If the federal government were to win on the grounds of preemption, Mikos argues that it could create a situation where a state would be stripped of its marijuana regulations but not the law allowing for the sale, possession, cultivation and distribution.

“That’s shooting themselves in the foot,” he said. “That’s not going to clamp down on the industry, that’s just going to free this marijuana industry of all those hassles of state law.”

It would be a “legal free-for-all,” said Sam Kamin, who also served as an author of the UCLA Law Review article. Kamin is the Vicente Sederberg professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.

Kamin said: “You’d end up in a far worse situation if you win that lawsuit than if you lose it. … That sort of lawlessness is exactly what Colorado and the federal government don’t want.”

But other federal actions — be it legal maneuvers or a series of selective raids — could have unintended consequences, said Mark Bolton, the state of Colorado’s acting marijuana adviser.

“My concern would be it’s going to drive producers underground; it’s going to drive consumers to the black market,” he said. “With that, you’re going to see a new wave of dangerous activity.”


Published at Wed, 08 Mar 2017 14:29:48 +0000

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