Releaf Magazine
1Feb/150

Jamaica considers marijuana legalization and production

Rastafarians revere marijuana, or ganja as they call it, and smoke it regularly.

The Jamaican cabinet has approved a bill that legalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

It means that for the first time the country's Rastafarian community, which uses the herb for religious purposes, could be able to smoke it legally.

The bill also envisages a licensing authority for the cultivation, sale and distribution of marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes.

It goes to the senate this week for approval.

The bill also proposes that the smoking of marijuana will be banned in public spaces.

Decriminalization spreading
South and Central America and the Caribbean countries have been battling the impact of drug trafficking and drug use for decades.

Cocaine and marijuana produced in the region is transported through many countries, their citizens turned into consumers by the trade.

But the BBC's Candace Piette says that as trafficking and drug consumption have continued to grow, many governments have begun to recognize that heavy-handed tactics and the crackdown on drugs has failed.

Elsewhere in the region:

• In Mexico, Colombia and Argentina marijuana possession in small amounts was decriminalized a few years ago, and Argentina is drafting a set of proposals to loosen restrictions on possession
• In Guatemala, President Otto Perez Molina is proposing moves to push for the legalization of marijuana and potentially other drugs
• Chile and Costa Rica are also debating the introduction of medical marijuana policies
• Uruguay last year became the first country in the world to approve the growth, sale and distribution of marijuana

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VIA BBC News

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30Jan/150

Eager To Imprison Medical Marijuana Users, Prosecutors Hide The Truth From Jurors

Imagine you are a juror in the federal trial of five people charged with growing and distributing marijuana in northeastern Washington. The prosecution cannot present any direct evidence that the defendants sold marijuana to anyone, and the defendants say they were growing all 74 plants for their own personal use. A bit of arithmetic reveals that the total number of plants comes to just under 15 per defendant, which happens to be the presumptive limit for patients under Washington’s medical marijuana law. Yet no one says anything about medical marijuana during the trial.

What you don’t realize is that the defense attorneys have been forbidden to discuss their clients’ reliance on Washington’s law, since federal law bans marijuana for all purposes. You also do not realize that each of the defendants faces at least 10 years in federal prison, because their lawyers are not allowed to talk about that either. And despite your suspicion that the defendants were growing marijuana for medical use, you are told that your job is to determine whether they violated federal law, which they undeniably did.

That is the situation jurors will confront when they sit down to hear the evidence against the Kettle Falls Five, whose trial is scheduled to begin on February 23 in Spokane. Larry Harvey and his co-defendants—his wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey; Rhonda’s son, Rolland Gregg; his wife, Michelle Gregg; and a family friend, Jason Zucker—are gambling that at least one juror will figure out what is really going on and vote for acquittal in the interest of justice, federal law be damned. That is their only hope of avoiding prison unless a federal judge agrees with defense attorneys that the prosecution is barred by a spending restriction Congress enacted last month or the feds suddenly decide to drop a case they have doggedly and inexplicably pursued since August 2012.

The Kettle Falls Five outside the federal courthouse in Spokane (Image: CNN)

On the face of it, the Kettle Falls Five case defies Justice Department policy. Since 2009 the DOJ has been saying that prosecuting patients who use marijuana in compliance with state law “is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” Deputy Attorney General James Cole confirmed that policy in an August 2013 memo that extended the department’s forbearance to state-licensed suppliers of recreational marijuana, provided their activities do not implicate “federal enforcement priorities.” As a result of this policy, businesses growing far more than 74 plants operate openly throughout Washington, including the very city where Harvey et al. are to be tried, without federal interference.

That situation makes the feds’ persistent pursuit of the Kettle Falls Five all the more puzzling. By federal standards, this would be a small-time case even if the defendants were supplying the black market, and there is no real evidence that they were—no customers, no deliveries, no undercover buys, no neighbors reporting suspicious visitors. All five have medical conditions that their doctors said could be treated with marijuana, including gout, osteoarthritis, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain from severe back injuries. They made no attempt to hide their plants, which they grew outside the Harveys’ house in a garden marked by flags bearing the green-cross symbol for medical marijuana. They clearly strove to stay within the state’s presumptive limit of 15 plants per patient, although Washington’s law would have allowed them to argue that more was medically necessary.

Harvey et al.’s lawyers, in a February 2014 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, said Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, was unimpressed by the evidence of medical use. “In a meeting with the United States Attorney in late 2012,” they wrote, “a member of the defense team went to painstaking lengths to explain the exact nature of the defendants’ medical marijuana usage. A dual-board-certified doctor who is internationally recognized as being an expert witness on cannabis as medicine described in detail how the amount and various forms of marijuana seized [are] clearly indicative of patient consumption. Unfortunately, the USAO insists on proceeding with this unnecessary indictment at great expense to taxpayers and against the DOJ’s direct orders.”

In framing that indictment, prosecutors made sure the defendants would qualify for prison sentences of at least 10 years. Speculating about previous harvests, they charged Harvey et al. with growing a total of at least 100 plants, which triggers a five-year mandatory minimum. They also noted that the Harveys, like many people in eastern Washington, had guns in their house, which according to the government means the defendants possessed firearms “in furtherance of” a drug trafficking crime. That qualifies them for another five years, and the two sentences must be served consecutively. Three other charges in the indictment—conspiracy to grow marijuana, distribution of marijuana, and “maintaining a place…for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, and using marijuana”—could make the defendants’ sentences even longer.

Although it seems mindlessly vindictive, such charge stacking is standard operating procedure for prosecutors after a defendant turns down a plea deal. Last year Harvey et al.rejected a deal that would have guaranteed them sentences of no more than three years. “The family is convinced that they haven’t done anything wrong,” says Phil Telfeyan, a lawyer who represents Rolland Gregg, “so pleading guilty to any federal felony is out of the question. They are good, law-abiding citizens. Why would they go to prison for a year, or even a month?”

The original indictment included an additional count of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, but prosecutors dropped that charge, possibly because raising the issue of intent would have invited rebuttal testimony about medical use. “They removed that charge so they could hide from the jury the medical marijuana [recommendations] that all five of these individuals had,” Telfeyan says. “I think the DOJ was worried that when you have an intent-to-distribute charge, motive becomes relevant: Why were these people growing marijuana? They don’t want the jury to hear the truth.”

Despite repeated assurances from Holder and Cole that they are not interested in targeting medical marijuana users, prosecutors seem determined to see the case through, unswayed even by the news that Larry Harvey has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. “You’ve got a family that’s dealing with something very, very difficult in their lives, and they also are facing minimum 10-year prison sentences for doing something that is not illegal under state law,” says Telfeyan. “DOJ enforcement priorities at the top level should set guidance, but on the ground individual prosecutors end up having a ton of discretion.”

Larry and Rhonda Harvey (Image: Americans for Safe Access)

Larry and Rhonda Harvey (Image: Americans for Safe Access)

 

Assuming there is no last-minute change of heart at Ormsby’s office, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice still can prevent a trial if he decides a new congressional edict requires that result. The omnibus appropriations bill enacted by Congress last month includes a rider that tells the Justice Department it may not spend money to “prevent” states from “implementing” their medical marijuana laws. One could argue that the Kettle Falls Five case does not have that effect, since it does not stop Washington from making medical exceptions to its own marijuana laws. But in motions for dismissal filed last week, lawyers for the defendants argue that prosecutions like this one prevent Washington from fully implementing its law.

“Prosecuting persons who may be operating in compliance with state medical marijuana laws prevents states from implementing their own laws in at least three ways,” writes Robert Fischer, a federal public defender who represents Larry Harvey. Fischer argues that such prosecutions create uncertainty about whether patients will be able to obtain their medicine, “take away Washington’s authority to determine for itself whether someone is in compliance with its laws,” and deny the medical value that Congress acknowledged by approving the spending restriction. Fischer also notes that during the House debate over the rider both supporters and opponents said it would bar prosecution of patients who grow marijuana for their own medical use.

Even if federal prosecutors doubt that Harvey et al. were complying with state law, Telfeyan argues in a separate motion, it is not their job to make that call. Congress has told the Justice Department it must let Washington implement its medical marijuana law, which necessarily includes determining who is complying with it. “DOJ’s attempt to decide which Washington businesses and citizens violate state law and which do not inserts the federal government into the business of interpreting state law, resulting in disastrous consequences for the authority of local communities,” he writes. “Such interpretation of state law by the DOJ is exactly what Congress has prevented in Section 538 of the Appropriations Act.”

In a response filed on Thursday, prosecutors argue that Harvey et al. exceeded Washington’s limits on “collective gardens,” which are allowed no more than 45 plants under a 2011 provision explicitly authorizing such operations “for the purpose of producing, processing, transporting, and delivering cannabis for medical use.” But the Harveys never claimed to be relying on that provision; instead they looked to the affirmative defense that patients have had for home cultivation since 1999, when Washington’s medical marijuana initiative took effect. The default limit for that is 15 plants per patient.

Even if we assume that five patients growing plants together in one place must comply with the rules for a collective garden (which is not what the law says), that does not mean federal prosecution is appropriate. After deputies from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department found 74 plants on the Harveys’ property in August 2012, they consulted with the local prosecuting attorney, who advised them to treat the grow as a collective garden. The deputies therefore confiscated 29 plants, bringing the total down to 45, which they had been advised was the legal limit. They did not arrest the Harveys, who have never faced local charges. As far as local officials were concerned, they were now complying with state law, and that was that. The feds took a different view. According to Fischer and Telfeyan, this is precisely the sort of second-guessing that Congress sought to prevent by telling the Justice Department not to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Telfeyan is not very hopeful that Judge Rice—who worked in the office that is prosecuting the Kettle Falls Five from 1987, the year after he graduated from law school, until he was appointed to the federal bench in 2012—will be sympathetic to the argument that the medical marijuana rider compels the Justice Department to drop the case. Assuming the trial proceeds as planned next month, Telfeyan says, “I am hoping that jurors will notice something’s not right here”—that they will wonder, whenever Rice stops the defense from eliciting testimony about the defendants’ motivation for growing marijuana, “Why are defense attorneys being cut off?”

Even if jurors surmise what is going on, that does not necessarily mean they will vote to acquit. Polling shoppers at a local mall, Telfeyan found that many thought prosecuting marijuana growers was “ridiculous,” especially given the current reality of a state-licensed, federally tolerated cannabis industry. But most of the people he buttonholed said they would nevertheless feel obligated as federal jurors to vote “guilty” if the defendants had in fact grown marijuana. Then again, Telfeyan says, “we actually need just one juror to feel convinced they should vote ‘not guilty.’ If the jury is hung in this case, the DOJ is going to have a really hard time justifying a retrial.”

[This article has been updated with information about the prosecution's response to the motions for dismissal.]

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VIA FORBES

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28Jan/150

Colorado Residents Could Get Tax Refund from Legalized Marijuana

By Associated Press

DENVER, CO — When voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, taxing and legalizing marijuana was intended to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but some of that tax money may now go directly into residents’ pockets.

Colorado’s state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal cannabis sales. It’s a situation so complex that it has gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.

Even some pot shoppers are surprised that the state may not keep all the taxes that were promised to go toward school construction when voters legalized marijuana in 2012.

“I have no problem paying taxes if they’re going to schools,” said Maddy Beaumier, 25, who was visiting a dispensary near in Denver.

But David Huff, a 50-year-old carpenter from Aurora, said taxes that add 30 percent or more to the price of pot, depending on the jurisdiction, are too steep.

“I don’t care if they write me a check, or refund it in my taxes, or just give me a free joint next time I come in. The taxes are too high, and they should give it back,” Huff said.

Legal sales of marijuana has collided with the tax limitation movement because a 1992 voter-approved constitutional amendment called the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights requires all new taxes to go before voters.

The amendment also requires Colorado to pay back taxpayers when the state collects more than what’s permitted by a formula based on inflation and population growth. Over the years, Colorado has issued refunds six times, totaling more than $3.3 billion.

Republicans and Democrats say there’s no good reason to put marijuana taxes back into people’s pockets, and state officials are scrambling to figure out how to avoid doling out the money. It may have to be settled by asking Colorado voters, for a third time, to cast a ballot on the issue and exempt pot taxes from the refund requirement.

Republicans concede that marijuana is throwing them off their usual position of wanting tax dollars returned to taxpayers. But they also tend to say that marijuana should pay for itself – that general taxes shouldn’t pay for things like increased drug education and better training for police officers to identify stoned drivers.

“I think it’s appropriate that we keep the money for marijuana that the voters said that we should,” said Republican Senate President Bill Cadman. His party opposes keeping other refunds based on the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights but favors a special ballot question on pot taxes.

“This is a little bit of a different animal. There’s a struggle on this one,” said Sen. Kevin Grantham, one of the Republican budget writers.

After legalizing marijuana in 2012, Colorado voters returned to the polls the following year and approved a 15 percent excise tax on pot for the schools and an additional 10 percent sales tax for lawmakers to spend.

Voters were told those taxes would generate about $70 million in the first year. The state now believes it will rake in about $50 million.

But because the economy is improving and other tax collections are growing faster, Colorado is obligated to give back much of what it has collected. Final numbers aren’t ready, but the governor’s budget writers predict the pot refunds could amount to $30.5 million, or about $7.63 per adult in Colorado.

“It’s just absurd,” said Democratic state Sen. Pat Steadman, one of the Legislature’s budget writers.

The head-scratching extends to Colorado’s marijuana industry. Several industry groups actively campaigned for the pot taxes but aren’t taking a position on whether to refund them.

Mike Elliott of the Denver-based Marijuana Industry Group said it isn’t pushing for lower taxes, but that’s an option lawmakers don’t seem to be considering. State law doesn’t bar lawmakers from cutting taxes without a vote.

Lawmakers have a little time to figure out how to proceed. They’ll consider pot refunds and a separate refund to taxpayers of about $137 million after receiving final tax estimates that are due in March.

When they talk about pot refunds, they’ll have to figure out if the money would go to all taxpayers, or just those who bought pot. Previous refunds have generally been paid through income tax returns, but Colorado also has reduced motor vehicle fees or even reduced sales taxes on trucks.

Lawmakers seem confident that the refund mechanism won’t matter because voters would approve pot taxes a third time if asked.

“This is what the voters want, and if we’re going to have (pot), and the constitution says it’s legal, we damn well better tax it,” Steadman said.
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Via The Daily Chronic

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28Jan/150

ReLeaf Issue #49 Now Available!

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27Jan/150

O.penVape CEO: This is why Colorado pot is working so well

Jon Ferrar, sales associate, exhales from his vaporizer at Boulder Vapor House in Boulder in November. (Mark Leffingwell, Boulder Daily Camera)

Jon Ferrar, sales associate, exhales from his vaporizer at Boulder Vapor House in Boulder in November. (Mark Leffingwell, Boulder Daily Camera)

As Oregon and Alaska gear up to implement the will of their voters to legalize recreational cannabis use, they would be well served to look to Colorado for guidance. After years of hearings and task force meetings, Colorado has created a sound template for regulating the retail cannabis industry. It simultaneously balances the need to ensure public safety and creates free market conditions allowing the industry to thrive. While there is still work to be done in certain areas, we are on a solid path forward.

This historic feat was accomplished, in part, because government leaders avoided the temptation to regulate in a bubble — instead, they actively welcomed industry input on the rules that shaped how Colorado’s foray into cannabis legalization would play out. That collaboration continues to this day, resulting in a set of industry regulations that can nimbly address the unforeseen needs of this market.

All eyes were on Colorado at the beginning of 2014, as the first legal sales of non-medical marijuana in the United States to adults 21 years or older happened in Denver. While just a handful of retail stores opened that day, there are now more than 300 statewide. There’s a total of about 750 retail and medical stores now. Colorado collected more than $36 million in tax revenue (through October) on the sale of $121.6 million worth marijuana. As far as jobs, there were 5,492 people licensed to work in a cannabis business at the end of 2013. Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division issued 18,666 licenses to workers by September. That doesn’t include job growth in industries supporting cannabis, like construction, lighting and security companies.

With two additional states and Washington, D.C., approving full adult-use legalization in November, and at least six other states pursuing adult-use legislation in 2016, industry analysts are predicting $8 billion in cannabis sales nationwide by 2018. Many will rightly look to Colorado as the gold standard for cannabis industry regulation.

The non-partisan research organization Brookings Institution in a July 2014 report, titled “Colorado’s Rollout of Marijuana is Succeeding,” praised the state’s strong regulatory framework for the cannabis industry:

“Colorado’s early implementation decisions will be considered the Colorado Model; that model will inform and influence marijuana policy, potentially, for years to come.”

Those next in line to regulate cannabis sales should follow the lessons of Colorado and not fear a robust process that includes the voices of the regulated community. Companies entering the market should not run from regulation.

The Brookings report continued: “Much of this report has praised the innovation, professionalism, competence, leadership, and execution of the implementation of marijuana legalization in Colorado. The broad success of the state in putting into effect a policy that had no true precedent was a difficult task, and Colorado largely did well.”

To be sure, there is room for improvement, as with any new law. But Colorado is confronting this matter directly, and its approach of bringing responsible players in this industry to the table, as opposed to continued ostracization of an industry seeking to come into the daylight, will ensure the harmonious and responsible co-existence of cannabis in our 21st century society.

Gary Ross is chief executive officer of O.penVape (National Concessions Group). Denver-based O.penVape distributes its products for use in states where cannabis sales, use and possession are legal.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by e-mail or mail.

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VIA The Cannabist

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25Jan/150

As soon as one ‘Uber for weed’ startup gets cut down, another grows in its place

The 'Uber for weed' market is here to stay
By Nitasha Tiku

It was only a matter of time before someone spun the "Uber for __" wheel and landed on WEED. More and more states are voting in favor of legalization. Congress recently instructed the feds to back off medical marijuana. Peter Thiel's venture capital fund just bet millions that legal cannabis is gonna be huge. Why not pair pot with our newfound appetite for on-demand delivery via smartphone?

"Uber for weed" was so inevitable that at least six startups attempting to deliver medical marijuana to your door launched in the past eight months: Eaze, Nestdrop, Meadow, Grassp, Time for Dave, and Canary. That doesn't include standard offerings like the "dozens" of delivery services in Seattle, for example, that will let you call in and place an order.

Even Uber itself has partnered with Weedmaps, a popular dispensary locator, as well as a Denver-based pot shop called the Clinic, in order to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. Would you believe there's something in it for Uber, too? The partnership lets Uber sow the seeds for its rumored API, which would insert a "Get an Uber" button into every app on Earth.

The only thing more obvious than the demand for these apps is the inevitable crackdown. Imagine Uber's bitter clashes with city governments and then factor in the political pressure around a federally controlled substance.

Last month, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge shut down Nestdrop, which tried to argue that its weed delivery app was "simply a communication technology" — just as Uber used to argue that it was a tech company that didn't own any cars. Before the ruling against Nestdrop, LA's city attorney publicly announced his intention to squash the startup. Time for Dave was supposed to launch in Seattle last month, but try to download the app in the Google Play store and you'll find the link has been disabled for "violating our Terms of Service."

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed reports that Instagram and Apple's App Store have been heavily policing accounts by "ganjapreneurs." Silicon Valley fears being held liable, when laws vary from state to state and from medical to recreational use:

With a flick of a switch, a digital marijuana business can lose access to its entire customer base. Not just cannabis dispensaries, hash oil extractors, and edible makers, but any individual who posts a lot about weed or business that sells marijuana-related products, like Fairbrother’s Medtainer.

Canary, Seattle's most recent "Uber for weed" contender, is a good example of the next wave of pot startups hoping to side-step disjointed regulations and glide by legal gray areas while everyone is still confused by how the new rules will be enforced.

The app, which was founded by two students from the University of Washington and launched earlier this month, has a slippery path. Washington Initiative 502 legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it bans delivery. And The Seattle Times makes the city sound as unwelcoming to weed apps as LA; Mayor Ed Murray promised a crackdown on marijuana delivery, while City Attorney Pete Holmes called the growing for-profit marijuana industry illegal.

But Canary co-founders Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakharia claim they've found a way to get officials to leave them alone by using a strict verification process and the industry's favorite buzzword: "ancillary." (Since "ancillary" products and services don't touch the plant directly, there's less risk involved.) As a preventive measure, for example, Canary did a demo of the app for Murray's office before launching in Seattle and tried to emphasize that it is a tech company. Over the phone, Tullis told me it was "very similar to Postmates," the pricey delivery app that relies on independent contractors.

The independent contractor defense hasn't insulated Uber and seems even shakier when there's weed involved. John Strait, an associate professor at Seattle University's law school explained the risk to the Times:

He said prosecutors could view Canary’s actions as aiding and abetting or conspiracy. "The key will be whether they profit from the independent contractor’s decision to break the law," Strait said.

Nonetheless, Canary's verification process sounds relatively rigorous. To sign up, users have to send a photograph of their state ID, medical marijuana card, and collective garden agreement through the app. Then, some human at Canary calls the user's issuing doctor to make sure the user is verified.

Even without the delivery aspect, Washington's laws are complicated. The state doesn't technically allow dispensaries, but there's a loophole that allows for "collective gardens." Under the "collective garden" rule, medical marijuana can only be delivered by someone from the same collective, so Canary has its network of couriers sign up for all the partnering collectives when they start. Tullis also claims Canary is HIPAA compliant. (Meadow, San Francisco's version of Canary, claims the same.)

Tullis told me Canary already partnered with eight dispensaries during the few weeks it was in private beta. Businesses pay Canary $500 to create a digital storefront with product photos in the app. Users can search for and filter by things like flowers, edibles, and concentrate, and Canary takes a cut of sales driven through the app.

Uber became a $40 billion behemoth while breaking the rules. Likewise, while politicians plan on turning the 2016 election into "the pot primary," tech founders and investors are busy trying to make weed into the next premium consumer product.

Tullis and Vakharia told me they got the idea after hearing a local venture capitalist from Kinzer Capital talk about investing in the cannabis industry. A couple days before Canary launched, Founders Fund, the firm co-founded by Facebook investor Peter Thiel, participated in a $75 million round of fundraising for Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity company that invests in marijuana businesses.

At the time of the announcement, Founders Fund partner Geoff Lewis, who initially discovered Privateer, told The Verge that the legal cannabis industry was "complex," but "will become an incredibly important and profitable industry within the next decade," adding:

Privateer only operates in jurisdictions where cannabis is fully legal, in contrast to many other players in the space that, until recently, have operated illegally. The company’s ability to successfully navigate the regulatory complexities in this space over the last 4.5 years was a big differentiator from other companies we looked at.

Canary's co-founders sped up the process a little. Once they had the idea, the students taught themselves a 10-month "crash course" in regulations. Tullis thinks proactively involving regulators will help them avoid the same fate as Nestdrop, which wasn't "very transparent," he said. Tullis estimated that half the people with medical marijuana cards are using them recreationally. But Washington's focus right now, he said, is illegal delivery to unauthorized patients. "We're very low priority to them."

In fact, Vakharia seems less concerned with the law and more concerned with Canary's image as a "lifestyle brand." The marijuana industry is going to look different in five or 10 years, and "brands are going to have to rise up" and meet artisanal expectations. That means "no Bob Marley, no pot leaves, no joints. I guess no throwback to what pot was five years ago or what it will be five years from now," Vakharia said.

Privateer is taking a more traditional approach. In November the company launched a global pot brand "based on the legacy of Bob Marley." Either way, Founders Fund will be just fine. By investing an unspecified number of "multimillions" in Privateer, the firm has already associated itself with venture capital's next Bitcoin; where the potential upside is so big, the volatility is worth it. They're not regular VCs, they're the cool VCs.

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VIA The Verge

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24Jan/150

Marijuana Legalization: President Obama Says More States Will Move To Legalize, Federal Government Won’t Stand In The Way

Marijuana legalization efforts got a giant boost this week when President Barack Obama said he expects more states to move toward legalization, and he won’t have the federal government stand in the way.

In an interview with YouTube personalities, Obama indicated that though marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance by the federal government, he doesn’t have much intention to stop states from legalizing it.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue,” Obama said.

“My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Nationwide, attitudes toward marijuana legalization have been gradually shifting. A poll late last year found that 51 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalization, part of a long-term trend toward support. When Gallup polled Americans in 1969, just 12 percent of adults were in favor of legalizing marijuana. That grew to 28 percent in the 1970s, and 34 percent in 2003.

More Americans don’t want to see drug users prosecuted. A father, recently arrested for giving medicinal marijuana oil to his cancer-stricken daughter, found widespread support, with 130,000 people signing a petition asking that charges be dropped.

Obama also added that federal drug policy would be shifting toward ending the so-called War on Drugs and focusing on treating it instead as a public health issue. Obama added that he has bipartisan support on the issue.

“What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders.”

“Because I think you’re right, what we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused say with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. And I think that it’s been counterproductive and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law and that has to be changed.”

President Obama’s prediction on marijuana legalization has already come true, in large part. There are now 23 states in which marijuana is at least partly legal.

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VIA Inquisitr

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21Jan/150

Australian dad arrested, prevented from seeing daughter after giving her cannabis treatment

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 6.40.55 AMAUSTRALIA - An Australian dad was arrested January 2nd for administering medical cannabis to his 2-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Adam Koessler's daughter Rumer Rose is battling stage 4 neuroblastoma. Koessler believed the cannabis treatment was improving his daughter's health.

“Her skin color came back, her eyes were sparkling again and we just looked at each other in complete amazement,” Koessler told the Newcastle Herald.

According to Metro.co.uk, Koessler was arrested when he was meeting with Rumer's oncologist in Brisbane. He was charged with supplying dangerous drugs to a person under 16 and possession of dangerous drugs.

According to a change.org petition, "Adam's bail conditions prohibit him from having direct or indirect contact with his own child who is in the Lady Cilento Children's hospital - South Brisbane. On the 9th January 2015, Rumer was moved to Intensive care after having seizures."

The petition claims it's inhumane and unjust to keep a parent, who acted out of love for his child, away from her during this illness.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 125,000 people had signed the petition.

Koessler's next court date is set for January 20th.

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VIA KTVU

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19Jan/150

Smoking Marijuana Reduces the Risk of Obesity and Diabetes

It was already more than proven that cannabis could provide benefits in the treatment of multiple diseases. This is why medicinal marijuana use has been approved in so many countries, or is in the process of decriminalization. Now diabetes and obesity have been added to the list and they further clarify the only possible course: legalization.

While some are busy setting up obstacles for marijuana decriminalisation, many more are focusing their efforts on presenting positive new arguments backed by science. If authorities have had to adapt their laws to allow for the medicinal use of this plant across the globe, it is because its positive effects are more than proven, whether you like it or not.

There are several problems that can be alleviated with the correct variety of pot. From anxiety to insomnia, even inflammation of the bones causing arthritis, to the spasms and tremors produced by such a devastating disease as Parkinson.

And that is not all. There are other well-known medicinal uses for cannabis, such as alleviating nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer treatment or by medication used to combat the effects of AIDS.

However, little did we know till now about the relationship between blood sugar and marijuana use. A study published by the American Journal of Medicine has confirmed the positive effects of cannabis consumption in avoiding two of the most common disorders in 21st century societies: obesity and diabetes.

They are two diseases that specially worry health authorities for several reasons. The new pace of life, multiple irregularities in our daily diet and low amounts of physical activity have caused the number of overweight people in the most advanced societies to increase exponentially in recent years.

Don’t be afraid to eat that pastry
Everyone knows that your appetite increases after smoking and in many cases, we cannot resist the temptation to eat something sweet – a pastry, sweets, etc. Despite the sugar supplement in your diet, studies from various countries have found lower rates of obesity and diabetes among cannabis users compared to non-users. However, thus far, everything we knew on the matter was the result of conventional wisdom.

To delve into this question, researchers from the University of Nebraska, Harvard School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston conducted a study involving 4,657 adult men and women. Among them, 579 were cannabis smokers at the time and 1,975 had used it previously. The rest had never used marijuana at any time in their lives.
The authors of this study evaluated levels of blood glucose, insulin resistance and other related diabetes factors among the cannabis users. To do so, they divided the respondents into three groups: those who had never smoked cannabis, those who had done so within the last 30 days and those who smoke regularly. Their goal was to evaluate their levels of blood sugar while fasting, cholesterol, as well as blood pressure, body mass index and waist circumference.

The results were conclusive: marijuana users had lower levels of insulin when fasting, lower levels of insulin resistance and the smallest waist circumference. By contrast, they had the highest levels of HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good” cholesterol because it helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

All this goes to show that marijuana helps control the effect of sugar in blood. Apparently, this beneficial effect could be related to the improvement in the activity of the hormone adiponectin, which is responsible for modulating different metabolic processes, among which is the regulation of glucose.

Thus, the researchers who participated in this study have been able to corroborate previous research on the matter that had already pointed out that marijuana helped govern insulin levels and body mass, which would explain why smokers are less likely to be obese and, therefore, diabetic.

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VIA DINAFEM

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15Jan/150

Texas lawmakers to consider lower marijuana possession penalties

EL PASO, Texas -- State Representative Joe Moody told KFOX14 Texas spends too much money punishing low level drug offenders and wants to decriminalize marijuana.

Moody is proposing a bill that, if approved, would reduce the penalties associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already passed laws that remove jail time for low-level drug offenses. The Texas legislature is expected to weigh in on the issue during the 2015 legislative session which started Tuesday.

“It is difficult to pass any bill in the Texas legislature,” said Moody. “There are 7,000 that are filed every session. Only a handful of those make it to the finish line.”

Moody said Texas spends $740 million a year to arrest and prosecute low-level drug offenders.
He told KFOX14, “I think it makes a lot of fiscal sense. I think it makes a lot of sense for law enforcement.”

One resident told KFOX14 “I think the penalties could be a little bit more lenient since we’re realizing most of the other states in the country are moving towards
Under Moody’s bill, possessing one ounce of marijuana would result in a $100 fine. Currently, possessing up to two ounces of marijuana could land an offender six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Moody told KFOX14 his bill would consider the violation a civil matter. That way, the offender wouldn’t have a criminal record. Lawmakers will also consider legalizing medical marijuana and the use of recreational marijuana.

Moody said he’s already heard from other lawmakers who support his bill.

“In fact, just sitting on the House floor for the first day, I had three or four Republican members snag me and just say 'hey, I’ve been getting a lot of emails about your bill.' ”

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VIA KfoxTV

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