Thursday, March 28, 2013

Problems Found with Colorado's Regulation of Medical Marijuana

According to a report recently released by the Colorado State Auditor's office, Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division -- which falls under the Department of Revenue -- hasn't been following the law when it comes to regulating the industry in the state, has been underreporting tax revenue and has not been spending its money wisely. Here are the details. 

* The Division was established in July 2010 to license and regulate businesses that grow, cultivate and sell medical marijuana products. As of October, the Division was charged with overseeing about 1,440 medical marijuana businesses, with the majority of its funding coming from medical marijuana business application and licensing fees. 

* According to the auditor's report, the Division took an average of 23 months to issue final licensing decisions by the Aug. 1 effective date of a two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses. 41 percent of the original license applications received by that date were still pending as of October.

* Some of the approved applications revealed potentially disqualifying information about the applicants, the auditor reported.

* Additionally, the Division spent about $1.1 million in the years 2011-12 to develop a marijuana plant tracking system. However, it fell short about $400,000 due to financial difficulties and still has not implemented the system.

* The auditor also found that the Division doesn't use the prescribed statutory process when confiscating marijuana due to disciplinary actions against a medical marijuana business and "has inadequate controls to ensure that seized marijuana is destroyed properly," the report stated.

* According to the report, the Division suffered 19 consecutive months of net losses, including a loss of $2.3 million in June 2011 because of large capital purchases including furniture, computer equipment and software for the marijuana plant tracking program.

* Some of the furniture purchases included $28,000 for seven desk extenders, $16,000 for three cubicles and $4,200 for four office chairs.

* "We reviewed these purchases and found that the Division did not take sufficient steps to ensure that these expenses were reasonable and appropriate," the report stated. "Specifically, the Division did not use a competitive bidding process to outfit its four offices and instead purchased the bulk of its furniture from Colorado Correctional Industries." 

* The auditor's report also revealed that about $760,000 of sales tax revenue generated by 56 dispensaries in 2011-12 was not reported by the state's Department of Revenue.

* Due to financial difficulties, the Division laid off most of its staff in 2012, the report stated, adding that weaknesses in fee-setting, strategic planning and expense controls contributed to those financial problems.

* According to the Denver Post , when presented with the audit on Thursday, the legislative committee in charge of drafting a bill on recreational marijuana regulations began questioning whether the Division could handle the added responsibilities of recreational marijuana.

* "If they couldn't handle the little piece they have now," said Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, "there's no way we can trust them to handle more.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Medical marijuana proposal would legalize (and tax) pot in New York for approved growers, patients

 Quality - Legal - Cannabis Seeds

source: syracuse

Teri Weaver | By Teri Weaver

Savino.JPGphoto -  State Sen. Diane Savin

 Syracuse, N.Y. – Medical marijuana would be legal – and taxed – under a proposal today from state lawmakers who say New York should join with the 18 other states that have approved pot for seriously ill patients.

But, in New York, medical marijuana supporters have a strong litmus test to pass: winning support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appears dead set against this expansion of drug use.

“I’m not in favor of it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last year, and his position has not changed, a spokesman said today.

That hasn’t dissuaded Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, who today introduced otheir latest version of a medical marijuana bill.

The proposal would allow medical providers to recommend marijuana use by patients suffering from serious conditions, such as cancer, AIDs, glaucoma and epilepsy. Terminally ill patients would also qualify for marijuana use.

Specifically, doctors, physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners could recommend patients for marijuana use to the state’s Department of Health. The department would create a registry of approved patients, who would have a photo identification card to buy up to 2.5 ounces of pot at a time from certified growers or dispensaries. The card would be valid for a year or less, depending on the recommendation from the healthcare provider.

The department would also be in charge of approving growers and sellers. Growers must cultivate pot at indoor, secure locations; sellers must ensure their distribution allows for no sales to anyone other than approved patients or caregivers.

And, this being New York, entities growing and selling would be taxed up to $250 a pound, according to the proposal.

The bill contains no additional penalties for patients, sellers or growers who take advantage of the legalization of medical marijuana. It also allows for children 17 and younger to apply to be an approved patient.

The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State support using marijuana for treatment; the Medical Society of the State of New York also supports it, specifically when all other options have failed.

Contact Teri Weaver at:, 315-470-2274 or on Twitter at @TeriKWeaver.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

US recreational cannabis use would violate international laws, UN anti-narcotics panel says

source: United Nations News Centre

14 March 2013 – Implementing the decisions of popular votes held in the United States in Colorado and Washington to allow for the recreational use of cannabis would be a violation of international laws, the United Nations body tasked with monitoring the production and consumption of narcotics worldwide said today.

 The move “would be a violation of international law, namely the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is party,” the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, told the 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

In November 2012, the electorate in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in their states. Medical marijuana businesses operate in Colorado, Washington and 16 other states, but the US Government continues to oppose any decriminalization of the drug.

Medical Marijuana 101 (Quick American)The Office of the US Attorney General said in December 2012 that regardless of any changes in state law, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remained illegal under federal law.

Mr. Yans called the statement “good but insufficient” and said he hoped that the issue would soon be addressed by the US Government in line with the international drug control treaties.
Based in Vienna, the INCB is an independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body mandated to implement UN international drug control conventions.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

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The Cannabis Breeder's Bible: The Definitive Guide to Marijuana Genetics, Cannabis Botany and Creating Strains for the Seed Market

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Copenhagen looking to import cannabis from the US

source: COPENHAGEN post
Justin Cremer

Part of the city's plan to legalise cannabis, which will be presented at a conference on Friday, is to explore importing from two US states that recently legalised use of the substance

Ahead of a City Council cannabis conference on Friday, Copenhagen officials say they are ready to make another push to legalise the substance.

According to prepared documents from the council, the city is proposing a three-year trial, arguing that “the legal sale of cannabis will result in decreased gang criminality, more prevention and a better life for average cannabis users”.

img_srcAn intriguing element of the plan calls for the possible import of cannabis from the US states of Colorado and Washington, where voters in November legalised its recreational use.
The Copenhagen Post spoke with the deputy mayor for social affairs, Mikkel Warming (Enhedslisten), about the city's plans.

“If we get the three-year trial, it will be important to work as quickly and effectively as possible, so we are looking abroad for where we could import cannabis,” Warming said. “Yes, we are looking at Colorado and Washington, but we're also looking at places like Great Britain, where there is state-controlled production of marijuana for medical purposes.”

“We realise of course that there are a lot of international conventions and regulations to deal with, but we think it is possible,” he said, adding that despite the production of heroin being illegal, Denmark is still able to legally import it for use in municipal injection rooms.

“The US states of Colorado and Washington recently legalised marijuana for recreational use, so it makes sense to learn from their experiences and to explore the possibility of importing from them.”
Warming said that at this point there has been no formal outreach to officials in Colorado or Washington about the legality or practicality of importing cannabis, but one of the main speakers at Friday's conference will be Peter Holmes, the city attorney of Seattle, Washington.

“It would be strange not to use the occasion to address practicalities with Mr Holmes,” Warming said. He added that Copenhagen would not make any arrangements with Colorado or Washington without discussing the issue with the appropriate federal authorities in the US.

“It is vital that the production and import is legal on all levels,” he said, adding that although cannabis is still an illegal substance on the federal level in the US, he still thinks a solution could be found. “It's possible if there is the political will for it in the United States.”

Regardless of the feasibility of importing cannabis from the US, Warming said that the conference aims to put pressure on the national government to convince parliament that the legalisation of cannabis is a good idea.

“This is common sense,” he said. “As local politicians, we are closer to reality. The ban on cannabis has failed. People can get it anywhere, it is mixed with harder drugs and it finances crime.”
“If we get the trial, which would be a three-year experiment, we will try it and then see what the results are,” Warming said. “If it is successful, we will work towards permanent legalisation in Copenhagen and the whole of Denmark.”

Warming said that, in addition to questions about how to get legal cannabis if the proposal is approved, there are still several details to work out, including who would be allowed to purchase cannabis from city-run dispensaries. Warming said that, due to concerns over “hash tourism”, sales would only be made to residents of Denmark over the age of 18. However, Warming said sales could further be restricted to residents of either the Greater Copenhagen area or just residents of the city itself.

Mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession would be eradicated in new bill

By Lauren McGaughy,

Legalizing marijuana.jpgPossessing marijuana in Louisiana would not be subject to mandatory minimum sentences under the state's "three strikes" law if a bill filed in Baton Rouge on Tuesday passes during the legislative session that begins April 8. The bill would also lessen penalties for repeat offenders.

House Bill 103, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, would significantly reduce penalties and incarceration time for those convicted more than once of possessing natural or synthetic cannabis products, and remove possession of these products from mandatory minimum sentences under the state's habitual offender, or "three strikes" law.

Under that law, a state resident arrested on a charge of marijuana possession who had been charged with three previous felonies would receive a mandatory sentence of 20 or more years in jail. Such was the case for Covington's Patrick Carney, who was sentenced
to 30 years in 2011 for selling $25 worth of marijuana.

Badon's bill would bring current state law more in line with a provision passed by the New Orleans City Council in 2010 that makes marijuana possession, as well as other minor crimes, a municipal offense. Under this provision, police have the option to issue a fine rather than make an arrest.
Proponents of the change, which went into effect in January 2011, said it could reduce the caseload of the judges and prosecutors who handle serious felonies, and could spare the city the expense of housing and feeding these offenders in city jails.
Russian Ladies
However, the New Orleans lawmaker could encounter problems with the bill because it would allow for reduced penalties for the possession of marijuana as well as synthetic cannabinoids.
Often called "K2" or "Spice," synthetic cannabinoids are natural herbs sprayed with a chemical composition that mimics the effects of tetrahydrocannibol, or THC, the active constituent in marijuana.

In 2010, a state law was passed adding synthetic cannabis, which has been recently linked to acute psychosis in some users, to the list of Schedule I drugs. Badon co-sponsored this bill.

Badon's bill piggybacks on a law passed last year, which allows non-sexual, non-violent offenders to seek reduced sentences if they complete certified treatment and rehabilitation programs. Calls to Badon's office on Tuesday were not immediately returned.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has also expressed his intent to support legislation allowing for the conditional early release of non-violent first-time and second-time drug offenders who complete a 90-day detox program.

House Bill 103  
  View full size Marijuana possession penalties and incarceration time would be reduced significantly under a new bill proposed Tuesday by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans.

Marijuana Cases Dismissed In Michigan, More To Come

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michigan marijuana cases dismissed 



1  6 cases dismissed, more to come as Oakland County admits dispensary raider went rogue; gutless Bouchard makes McCabe take the heat, refuses to issue charges


Michigan has seen some bad press lately- ranked the 7th worst state for corruption and the Michigan State Police Crime Lab having their marijuana test results ruled to be not up to scientific snuff. The cannabis community has been abuzz with news that one of Oakland County’s drug warriors was fired by his superiors for lying to them, to prosecutors, to judges and to the people- and probably has been for years.

Former Detective Mark Ferguson, according to the January 29th Detroit Free Press, was fired from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department for breaking into a suspicious shipping container, discovering drugs, resealing the container and then swearing out a warrant to open it legally. During the trial, when he was under oath and directly asked if the container had been opened prior to obtaining the warrant, Ferguson denied it.

The Oakland Press revealed more details. “One of the witnesses said ‘The officer opened that package in my presence,’” Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said. A second witness confirmed this. “At one point, detective Ferguson (asked) my client ‘What do you got in the box, 78 pounds of marijuana?’ That was before the box was allegedly searched,” defense attorney James Gaylon said. ” I was convinced Detective Ferguson was lying on the stand. I was convinced he was lying in order to keep his case solid.”

Complicating this story is the complete absence of Sheriff Mike Bouchard. He seems to delegate the duty of addressing bad news to his unfortunate subordinate Undersheriff McCabe, who is left to explain why Ferguson will not be charged with any crime. Perjury, breaking and entering, filing a false police report, conspiracy- the potential number of crimes committed is staggering- but McCabe claims no charges will be filed because Ferguson could get his job back if he is acquitted of the charges. “We can’t take the chance that the jury will acquit,” McCabe is quoted as saying.

In 2010 and 2011, the Oakland County NET team raided medical marijuana distribution centers in the entire southeastern Michigan area. Accusations of misconduct surrounding those raids has circulated continuously since that time. Ferguson admitted to making a fake medical marijuana card using his police computer and used it to gain entry to dispensaries that had previously rejected other NET team members. I have firsthand knowledge of this, since I was at Big Daddy’s in January 2011 when Ferguson, his partner Derek Myers and the NET team raided the Oak Park establishment; that court case is still ongoing.

Oakland County Prosecutors supposedly learned of Ferguson’s corruption in September of 2012. The Free Press report says prosecutors quickly dismissed the drug trafficking charges involving Anastacio Payan of California and the 78 lbs of marijuana, then reevaluated 100 open drug cases. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper elected to dismiss 16 of them due to potential misconduct by Ferguson.

The Free Press reports that in the Payan case Ferguson called other team members to the shipping yard, and then picked the lock on the container. Ferguson was the only person on the squad that reported an overpowering smell of cannabis coming from the container. These facts were revealed after prosecutors, preparing for the Payan case, interviewed the witnesses involved and discovered the officer’s criminality. Where is the disciplinary action against the other narcotics team members that knew of, but did nothing to stop, Ferguson’s criminal behavior?

Ferguson, and other members of the NET narcotics team, are notorious for playing outside the boundaries of the law. The article notes that charges were dropped in the Kelley case from 2011 after it was revealed that Ferguson and Myers conducted a raid on a Pontiac home then obtained a search warrant afterward. Court documents obtained by The Compassion Chronicles detail Ferguson’s rebuke by the Michigan Court of Appeals for the improper questioning of Sylvester Giles. Per the COA document: “Detective Ferguson’s question to defendant constituted an interrogation under Miranda,” and, “…defendant was not read his Miranda rights prior to this interchange.”

In the Clinical Relief case there was a question of appropriate use of police force; court transcripts show Myers was asked under oath about a long rifle being held to the head of a restrained suspect. Myer’s response: “I don’t remember.” Detective Myers was involved in a tax evasion case: his accountant, Mr. Redinger, “admitted to willfully assisting in the preparation of a false 2001 Federal income tax return for Derek Meyers… an OCSD deputy, by claiming false unreimbursed expenses as itemized deductions.” Redinger plead guilty to falsifying 34 tax returns.

Yet another case involves Ferguson and fellow officer McLaughlin. During a traffic stop the officers were accused of inappropriately searching a vehicle, inappropriately towing that vehicle, and threatening “to have other officers falsely pin a murder charge on (the accused) when he initially indicated that he wanted an attorney.” That threat coerced the accused into making a confession, per the court documents. There is no evidence that Ferguson was disciplined for any of these offenses.
Attorneys involved in these dispensary cases knew that there was something amiss all along. Thomas Loeb, one of nine attorneys hired to represent the Clinical Relief defendants, said, “I think Oakland County is trying to make a political point and they are doing it in the wrong way.”

The shipping yard involved in the Payan case is all-too familiar to medical marijuana advocates. It is this location where Ferguson in 2011 trapped Dryden dispensary operator Randy Crowell and a female associate when they came to pick up a container sent from out-of-state. According to the Free Press report, the same employee clued Ferguson in on both the Payan and Crowell raids. It is reasonable to assume Ferguson used the same dirty tricks to trap Crowell that he used with Payan. A lawsuit against the Oakland County Sheriff Department seems likely- and the unfortunate taxpayers of Oakland County will be footing the bill.

“Everything he did is now going to be subject to scrutiny, and at great administrative costs,” said constitutional law professor Peter Henning from Wayne State University to the Free Press, in reference to Ferguson. “Sure, getting a warrant is a hassle, it slows down police work, but you don’t cut corners. It’s one of the reasons we had a revolution. It is at the core of the Constitution.”
The Oakland County dispensary purge in 2010 raises questions of conduct and credibility regarding the raid team’s methodology. All charges against the Clinical Relief dispensary operators were dropped in 2012.

The court documents detailing the undercover surveillance and surreptitious buys generated broad criticism in the media and the courts. Sheriff Bouchard held a press conference in which he told the world about an alligator being used to guard a medical marijuana grow room; the alligator, named Chubbs, was later revealed to be about eighteen inches long and living in a room separate from the plants.

The fake medical marijuana cards and alligator story became news fodder for ABC, CBS, NBC and every cable/Internet news outlet.

When the NET team raided Big Daddy’s they did not know who was in charge, who were employees and who were patients. They did not even know we ran the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine from those offices. They swore out a search warrant for the home of the business owners- and then served it at the wrong house.

This Keystone Cops routine may not have been their fault. In January 2011, a new Attorney General was sworn in and he immediately agreed to share private and protected information with the DEA, information that his predecessor Mike Cox had refused to surrender. In response, the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers (MACC) hit the AG with a restraining order to halt the transfer of information. A few days later the Oakland County Raid Team was bursting into the offices of MACC- located in Big Daddy’s Oak Park facility, after what was obviously insufficient surveillance and investigation. The suggestion that the raid was ordered by Ferguson’s superiors- perhaps even from Lansing- has never been disproved, and these new revelations make it more likely that this was the case. Perhaps this is the real reason why Ferguson faces no criminal charges- is this final act of protectionism from Bouchard a desperate bid to buy his silence?

It’s not a crime to be used as a tool by people like Bouchard and the current Attorney General; it is a crime if you break the law to enforce the law. Convicted felons whose cases were made by Ferguson and the NET team are legitimately interested in suing the County and having their cases re-opened. Oakland County residents, prepare yourself for a long, expensive, embarrassing battle. I suggest you insist on your newly re-elected Sheriff to actually stand before a microphone and address you on the issue instead of watching Undersheriff McCabe do the denial dance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

“Legal Highs” Are Greatest Global Threat, Not Marijuana


The UN Admits Chemists In Asia Create One New Lethal Designer Drug Per Week But Still Choose To Focus On Marijuana Prohibition


New designer drugs are emerging in the global marketplace that simulate the effects of drugs like cocaine and heroin- but are completely legal, according to a new report issued by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

designer drugs spice k2 marijuana prohibition united nationsThe pair of reports, which were issued on March 5, 2013, covering the year 2012 and analyzing statistical data from 2011, points a finger at chemists in southeast Asia as the creators of these new psychoactive drugs that are not subject to normal international treaties or other forms of control.

INCB President Raymond Yans identifies the United Kingdom as the origin point for much of the proliferation of legal psychotropics since the market developed there via online pharmacies, which then spread to America and the rest of the Western world.

The United States has struggled to keep up with the flood of new psychotropic drugs. The DEA has banned several of the precursor chemicals and individual states have taken steps to block sale or distribution of the drugs. K2, Spice, bath salts- these are just some of the chemicals Americans are familiar with from seeing videos of crazed users on network television and on cable news stations.
The British news source The Guardian reports: “Yans said

legal highs were now multiplying at an alarming rate, with more than one a week appearing on the market – almost 10 times the number that were being marketed a decade ago.” Yans cites Japan as a leader in combating the designer drugs- they have banned 53 of the emergent substances already. The UK has a system in place to identify and restrict these new drugs as they appear on the market.

The reports are also critical of United States marijuana policy- specifically the legalized personal use of cannabis in Washington and Colorado.  The INCB also took issue with medical marijuana in states like Michigan and California. “In some US states they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the (international drug) conventions,” the report claims.
Yans describes the medical marijuana laws as “a back-door to legalisation for recreational use”. He reported that the INCB has been reassured by US Attorney General Eric Holder that federal laws prohibiting cultivation and use of marijuana would stand. Yans described the personal use and medical use of cannabis as “a threat to public health and wellbeing.”

Read the full text of the UN Narcotic_Drugs_Report_2012
Read the full text of the UN psychotropic substances report 2012
Source: The Compassion Chronicles

Monday, March 11, 2013

Australian producers concerned about moves to set up a US hemp industry

By Belinda Tromp

Phil Reader, president of the Industrial Hemp Association of Tasmania Australia's hemp farmers fear they will be left behind by moves in the United States to kick-start a hemp industry there.

A bill recently introduced into the US Congress is aimed at removing a federal ban on hemp growing, and there's strong congressional support from farming states, including Kentucky and Oregon.
Non-drug hemp seed products are a popular food ingredient in the US but have to be imported from Canada and overseas.

Phil Reader, from the Industrial Hemp Association of Tasmania and a hemp grower at Longford near Launceston, says he's frustrated that government authorities in Australia are delaying a final decision on whether to approve hemp as a food ingredient here.

"If that goes ahead, if things aren't changed in Australia, we're well and truly going to be left behind the eight ball with development of the industry, because it means there'll be more producers out there, more people looking for export markets out of the US, so they

PHOTO: Phil Reader, president of the Industrial Hemp Association of Tasmania. (Rose Grant)


Pot and politics mix at Colorado Springs bring-your-own-marijuana smoking club


by Tony Spehar -

 Pot and politics mix at Studio A64, a bring-your-own-marijuana smoking club open in downtown Colorado Springs.

Owner KC Stark opened Studio A64 three-weeks ago, the club is members only and no marijuana sales are allowed on the premises. The club only sells drinks and snacks, members can smoke their own pot from vaporizers inside or through traditional means on the outside deck.

"According to our research we are the first private, licensed, insured, brick-and-mortar cannabis club in America," Stark said.

Stark said he is often worried the club may be shut-down by authorities, but so far that hasn't happened and leaders with the Colorado Springs Police Department say for now the club is legal.
"Until we get some direction from the state we're not really going to really enforce anything other than we can," explained Deputy Chief Vincent Niski.

So Studio A64 has a "green-light" of sorts and said he will continue to operate responsibly. Security is tight at the club and Stark is strict about public health, keeping pipes and mouth-pieces thoroughly cleaned after use. He claimed his club could be an example of how marijuana business could benefit the city.

"Regulate it, tax it, control it, acknowledge it, accept it," he said.

Studio A64 has become a headquarters of sort for a new force in city politics, the marijuana industry.
"We hope that we can leverage enough to create a voice and to show that our issue is important to the region," explained Mark Slaugh of iComply, a marijuana regulatory affairs company.

Slaugh, Stark and other marijuana business owners are trying to influence voters to pressure city leaders to allow the cannabis industry to grow. They've even put together a voting guide called "Cannabis Candidates" which endorses candidates for city council who are friendly to the marijuana industry, just like many other business sectors do to try and get supportive leaders elected.

"We have a new city council coming on board who will decide the responsible way to move forward with regulating this industry or banning it completely," Slaugh explained.

In the coming weeks before the city council election Studio A64 will be hosting fund raising events for their campaign.

Marijuana Ban Ignored on Nepal's Holiest Holiday

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By Chris Roberts

1362907070-maha-shivratri-celebration-in-holy-city-of-amritsar_1859234.jpgEvery once in a while it's good to remember that this magic plant milked for tax dollars and for reefer votes in America has an ancient history elsewhere in the world.

In Nepal, where some land-race strains of the cannabis plant we know today originated, marijuana is downright religious.

The Shivaratri festival was underway on Sunday in Kathmandu, and a central aspect of the Himalayan nation's holiest time is consumption of cannabis -- even though the plant once spread by Shiva in a time of mourning is still illegal, as Reuters reported today.

How do you get around the Nepalese police and consume ganja in public? It's as easy as becoming an ascetic.

For Hindus, Shiva is the god of destruction. His day -- Maha Shivratri, or the "night of Shiva" -- became a time for public cannabis consumption because, it is said, he sowed forests in Nepal with the cannabis plant following the death of a lover.

Supplied by nature or supplied by God, cannabis is denied nonetheless by wordly authorities, whose bounds are denied by the otherworldly seeking holy men. But it wasn't always this way.

According to Reuters, "authorities supplied the drug to holy men in the past but the practice was discontinued in the 1990s after critics said it amounted to promoting its consumption." So nowadays, the holy men have to provide their own supply, and are discouraged from sharing with with mere pilgrims.

As the news service reports:

Cannabis is illegal in Nepal, but permitted as a religious ritual for ascetics during the festival, which took place at the weekend. The only explanation for this is that the ascetics are imitating Shiva.

The ban is ignored during the festival for the ascetics, who are allowed to smoke inside the temple complex but not sell or distribute it to pilgrims.

One million people visited the city for the festival, Reuters reported. Imagine the hubbub -- and the accompanying pipe sellers and Bob Marley flag salesmen -- if this was in the States.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Maryland Medical Marijuana Bill Backed By Joshua Sharfstein, State's Health Secretary


Maryland Medical MarijuanaANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland's health secretary is expressing support for a measure to allow medical marijuana in the state.

Secretary Joshua Sharfstein told lawmakers on Friday that Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration has changed its position from last year. He says that's because the federal government has not brought charges against any state employees in other states who may have been involved with distributing medical marijuana.

Last year, the administration didn't support a similar proposal, citing concerns about potential federal prosecution of state employees.

Sharfstein says the administration is supporting the bill sponsored by Democratic Delegate Dan Morhaim of Baltimore County, with some amendments.

The bill would create a commission to oversee the program at academic medical centers. Morhaim says it would be "the tightest and most controlled of any state" medical marijuana program.

 We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hawaii Hemp Bill Passes House, Advances to Senate

By Sativa Galore

HONOLULU, HI — A bill that would establish a two-year hemp pilot program in Hawaii has advanced to the Senate after passing unanimously on the floor of the House last week.
If passed, House Bill 154 HD2 would allow the Board of Agriculture to establish a two year industrial hemp research and biofuel crop pilot program.

A primary focus of the proposed research would be phytoremediation, a process by which the hemp plant draws toxins out of the soil and processes them safely through its roots, stalk, branches, and leaves.

House lawmakers passed an amended version of the original bill, which expands the research to include hemp’s value as an alternative biofuel for Hawaii.

“People now understand how industrial hemp can benefit Hawaii,” said State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R-Kaneohe Bay), who cosponsored HB154. “The hemp plant itself uses phytoremediation to cleanse the soil of pesticides, heavy metals, oil, and other toxins.”

hemp growing in berliin“Adding industrial hemp as a source of biofuel is another avenue worth pursuing,” Thielen said. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil through the use of a renewable resource would be very good for Hawaii.”

The bill was introduced by Thielen, Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, and Representative Angus McKelvey in January.

Cultivation of industrial hemp is currently prohibited by the federal government, but legislation has been introduced in Congress to allow the commercial production of hemp in the United States, the only industrialized nation in the world to prohibit the cultivation of hemp.

Hemp products can legally be sold in the United States, but the hemp must be imported from other countries.