Obama has spent over $300 million to block medical marijuana from patients

By Kris Hermes

WCL News — President Barack Obama’s administration has spent 50% more tax dollars in its effort to block medical access to cannabis by patients in states that have legalized its use than Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined. Likewise, three out of four federal civil forfeiture cases against medical marijuana-related properties were filed by his administration.

Far from his 2008 election promise not to waste federal resources going after state-legal marijuana and his 2009 pledge to respect state law, Obama has committed nearly every federal agency to focus on medical use and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has made the war on patients its highest priority.

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a June 14, 2013 report detailing the costs of the federal government’s years-long enforcement effort in states that have adopted medical marijuana laws. Notably, the report, which is entitled “What’s

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US Mayors tell Feds to let localities decide on cannabis

By Tom Angell, marijuanamajority.com

The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution June 25, 2013 criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.

“Enforcing the costly and ineffective prohibition on marijuana drains limited resources that could be better spent on programs that more effectively serve the public and keep our cities safe from serious and violent crime,” notes the resolution, and “federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference” so that localities can “set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.”

“In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” said Mayor Steve

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US Court empowers juries in sentencing issues

By Phillip Smith, stopthedrugwar.org

The US Supreme Court dealt a blow to mandatory minimum sentences (MMS) on June 17, 2013 by ruling that any facts used to trigger MMS are “elements” of the crime that must be proven to a jury, not left to a judge. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that, “… mandatory minimums heighten the loss of liberty.”

Until the 5-4 ruling in Alleyne v. US, judges had been able to find certain facts that would trigger MMS, such as quantities of drugs involved in an offense, based on a “preponderance of evidence” in post-conviction sentencing hearings. Now, those facts will have to established by juries in the course of the trial, using the higher standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The case is the latest in a line of cases that began with the groundbreaking 2000 Supreme Court decision, Apprendi v. New Jersey,

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Federal court orders California to reduce prison population; DPA calls for release of nonviolent drug offenders

By Lynne Lyman, drugpolicy.org

A federal US District Court ordered California to take immediate steps June 20, 2013 to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity, or about 110,000 inmates. After 18 months of reductions, primarily through the Public Safety Realignment Act, the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison population plateaued at 120,000 before trending up in the past month.

In a sharply worded brief, the panel made it clear that the state’s proposed plan did not comply with its earlier order, and it ordered additional measures, such as expanding good-time credits. If those measures are deemed insufficient by Dec. 31, the Court ordered the state to release inmates identified as low-risk (a list that the CDCR is now required to develop).

A 2012 Tulchin Research poll found that 75% of Californians favor alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenses such as marijuana.

People of color —

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Congress approves hemp, then votes down farm bill

By Chris Conrad, westcoastleaf.com

The House of Representatives solidly rejected a last-minute lobbying bid from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) June 20, 2013 and adopted a farm bill amendment in a 225-200 vote to legalize growing hemp for research purposes. Soon thereafter, it voted down the $940 billion bill by 195-234. Most Democrats voted against the bill because it cut food stamps by more than $20 billion. Many Republicans voted no because the country is already $17 trillion in debt.

The vote is a blow to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has failed to move farm policy forward for two years in a row. A new and more conservative farm bill is expected to be put forward, but even if it is not, there’s a good chance the hemp amendment will get inserted into other legislation now that the full House has approved it.

Despite the full bill being

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Move to list cannabis as a right in Ohio

By Jeremy Daw, westcoastleaf.com

The Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment (OCRA), a 2014 ballot initiative to amend the Buckeye State’s constitution and establish a civil right to use cannabis for medicinal purposes and to grow industrial hemp, passed its first procedural milestone May 17, 2013.

State Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the Amendment’s description as “a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law or constitutional amendment” and confirmed that it was accompanied by more than 1,000 valid signatures, as required by law. The Ohio Rights Group, which drafted and promoted the proposed amendment, submitted it with a total of 2,058 signatures and 179 written petitions. Next the state Ballot Board must determine whether the proposed language covers only a single issue, after which the OCRA campaign will return to the body politic to gather the more than 385,000 valid signatures needed to put a constitutional amendment on an Ohio ballot.

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Study: Legal medical use has no measurable effect on teen use rates

By Paul Armentano, norml.org

Once again a new study has affirmed that the enactment of statewide medical marijuana laws is not associated with increased rates of adolescent use.

According to a report published online in June, 2013 by the American Journal of Public Health, the passage of medical use laws has had no “statistically significant … effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” by adolescents in those states.

Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine studied data from the years 2003 and 2011 and “found no evidence of intermediate-term effects of passage of state MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on the prevalence or frequency of adolescent nonmedical marijuana use in the states evaluated.” Authors concluded, “Our results suggest that, in the states assessed here, MMLs have not measurably affected adolescent marijuana use.”

The study’s findings rebut the myth that passage of medical cannabis adversely impacts

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Polls: Surge in public support for cannabis reform

By Chris Conrad, westcoastleaf.com

Public opinion polls show a surge of support for cannabis reform in the first half of 2013. Even many Republicans and young Christians favor more progressive policies than the Obama administration has delivered, but federal officials lag far behind.

Industrial hemp — while not well known — is nonetheless widely supported. Fifty-six percent of Americans support legalizing industrial hemp farming and production of low-THC strains, according to national polling data released in May by YouGov.com and The Huffington Post.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll in early April that found 52% of Americans favored marijuana legalization, compared to 45% for keeping it illegal. This was the first time in the history of the Pew poll that legalization has been favored by a majority.

A lot depends on how the question is framed. More than nine out of 10 US

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California dispensaries get mixed news from high court

By Jeremy Daw, westcoastleaf.com

Licensed and permitted cannabis dispensaries are legal in California — but local governments can also ban dispensaries — after the state Supreme Court handed down a double-edged ruling May 6, 2013. The City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. ruling, S198638, held that state law “implicitly permits local regulation of medical marijuana facilities.”

Whereas hundreds of local dispensaries are in compliance with the state’s Medical Marijuana Program (commonly known as SB420), the ruling now gives a green light to the more than 80 municipal governments seeking to use land-use ordinances to block cannabis storefronts from operating.

The case revolved around the decision by the Southern California city of Riverside to ban dispensaries as a prohibited land use and demand that the IEPHWC close its doors. The center fought the injunction in court, where both the trial and appellate judges ruled against

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Michigan Court upholds patients’ driving rights

By Paul Armentano, www.norml.org

Michigan’s state-authorized cannabis patients have legal protection from criminal prosecution for having THC in their systems while driving, the state Supreme Court ruled on May 21, 2013. In its unanimous opinion, People v Koon, the Court held that patients who comply with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) may not be criminally convicted of being ‘under the influence’ (DUI) absent evidence of behavioral impairment.

Michigan’s zero tolerance traffic laws classify the operation of a vehicle with any amount of THC in one’s system to be a criminal offense — whether or not one is impaired. Under these types of traffic safety laws, motorists are guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation if they engage in the act of driving while detectable levels of certain controlled substances, or, in some cases, if their inert metabolites (byproducts) are present in the defendants’ blood or

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Nevada plans one or more cannabis dispensaries per county

By Phil Smith, stopthedrugwar.org

Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, signed a new state law on June 12, 2013 allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries. Senate Bill 374 establishes a state-regulated system of dispensaries and envisions up to 66 dispensaries across the state, with up to 40 in Las Vegas, 10 in Reno and at least one in each county.

“We applaud Gov. Sandoval and the legislature for their leadership and commend those law enforcement organizations that expressed support for this much-needed legislation,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, who testified in support of the bill.

“It will make Nevada a safer and healthier place not only for medical marijuana patients, but for the entire community. This new law will provide patients with the safe and reliable access to medical marijuana that they deserve,” O’Keefe said. “Regulating medical marijuana sales will also generate revenue and take

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Two states take different approaches to legalization

Colorado legislates legal cannabis rules, Washington hands task to Alcohol Board

By Jeremy Daw, JD, weedthepeoplebook.com

Since two states legalized adult cannabis sales and use last November, they have taken different approaches to the voter mandates. Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, an appointed body of experts and bureaucrats, has released its final recommendations for how to treat cannabis businesses in the state’s new legal regime. By contrast, Washington State has outsourced much of its implementation of Initiative 502 to an outside group.

Colorado’s A-64, approved by a 55-45 margin by voters, placed a constitutional imperative on state bureaucrats to regulate so-called “recreational” cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, but many of the specific regulations like tax rates and cultivation restrictions were left unaddressed by the voter-approved ballot initiative. The Task Force’s recommendations, which are preliminary and non-binding, are thus the first proposed rules for many specific situations.

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