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U.S. Marijuana Party - Organizer U.S. Marijuana Party Kentucky Sheree Krider, LLC Cave City, Kentucky 42127 270-834-7332

The Challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline Isn’t Over: Cheyenne River Sioux Take Battle to Court


Posted on Mar 25, 2017

By Emma Niles

Harold C. Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, outside a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., in late February. (Cliff Owen / AP)

The camps once occupied by self-named “water protectors” in the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) have been cleared out, but the fight against the controversial oil pipeline continues in a much different setting: the courtroom.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, often called a “silent sister” to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe during the #NoDAPL battle, has gone to court. Although the oil is expected to flow any day, the tribe is resilient.

“We aren’t backing down,” Harold C. Frazier, the tribal chairman, told Truthdig.

At stake is Lake Oahe, which is sacred to the tribe and its only source of drinking water. The DAPL is set to carry oil beneath the lake. A pipeline rupture would be devastating to the tribe and numerous others in the area.

The tribe is using two legal strategies, said lawyer Tracey Zephier of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP. She is a member of the Cheyenne River tribe.

The first lawsuit is based on treaty and environmental rights. It argues that the easement permit for construction beneath Lake Oahe was “hasty” and didn’t take tribal treaty rights into consideration.

“The federal government had this responsibility to us, and they have not upheld it,” Zephier said. The case has not yet had a hearing, but she is optimistic that the urgency of the situation will cause it to be heard sometime in April and decided by late April or early May.

The second suit is a claim filed by the tribe under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), arguing that the pipeline would infringe on its religious rights—a claim questioned by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in court last month. Boasberg denied the claim March 7.

“Had we been successful in making that argument, we could have stopped the construction of the pipeline and stopped the flow of the oil immediately,” Zephier said.

The Cheyenne River tribe is appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to Zephier.

But funding legal battles isn’t easy, which is why the tribe is turning to the mass of #NoDAPL activists who once pledged to fight the DAPL alongside them. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has launched a funding campaign on CrowdJustice, an online platform built to help people cover their legal costs. The tribe hopes to raise $10,000 by April 16.

“I think the election has made a lot of people recognize the value of the courts,” CrowdJustice CEO Julia Salasky told Truthdig. While her organization stays neutral on the cases it accepts, Salasky remarked that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s case is “perfect for crowdfunding.”

“This is a tribe that’s using technology to try and bring people into their issue,” Salasky said.

“We’re concentrating a lot of resources on this battle,” Zephier said, “so any little thing that could be contributed financially helps a lot.”

The fight against the DAPL at first received minimal media coverage, drawing headlines only when thousands of “water protectors,” including U.S. veterans, traveled to North Dakota to protest. Now that most of the demonstrators have left, the tribe hopes the legal battle will receive recognition.

“There’s so much happening on the legal side, even though it’s not really in the media,” Zephier said. “There’s still very much a fight.”

“We don’t have the media that Standing Rock had,” Frazier acknowledged. “The average North Dakota and South Dakota people don’t even know what’s going on.”

Local media, in particular, have made it difficult for local tribes to get their message across to other residents. The Young Turks’ Jordan Chariton, for instance, took a local North Dakota news anchor to task for biased reporting, accusing the anchor of “misinforming [his] audience.”

“The media machine,” Zephier agreed, “has been spewing inaccuracies.”

Both the federal government and mainstream media have underreported the pipeline threat by spotlighting Standing Rock. In fact, the DAPL would affect numerous tribes in the area, and an oil spill would harm tribes “all the way to the south of Mexico,” Frazier said, because Lake Oahe feeds into the Missouri River, which feeds into the Mississippi and ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have as much stake up there as Standing Rock,” Frazier said. “Everybody’s been excluded. We have never been consulted, and don’t we have a lot at stake?”

He noted that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe did not receive the government’s environmental assessment report on the project until last July.

“The Nebraska tribes, they’re chomping at the bit,” he said. “There’s no mention of South Dakota or [anywhere] downstream.”

The fight has only become more difficult in the time since Donald Trump became president. Frazier charged that law enforcement began to increase the rate of arrests of water protectors once Trump took office.

Reversing President Obama’s decision at the end of his presidency to halt the pipeline construction, Trump immediately took aggressive action in favor of the DAPL. Several days into his term, Trump signed an order directing the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve” the pipeline “in an expedited manner.” His administration gave final approval to the construction in early February.

“I see a big change,” Frazier said. “I told the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs], ‘Ever since Trump’s come in here, you’ve done a 180 in attitude.’ ”

The BIA (which falls under the Department of the Interior) helped clear water protectors from #NoDAPL encampments in early February. And new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has expressed support for oil drilling on federal lands.

“In the courtroom, it’s definitely more difficult,” Zephier added. “Any other administration would not put forth some of the outrageous arguments or assertions of authority that Trump is trying to put forward.”

The tribe is determined to keep fighting, however. “By no means does anyone feel defeated,” Zephier said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

She and Frazier hope the energy and passion of the #NoDAPL activists will translate into support for their legal campaign on CrowdJustice.

“The American government has failed us,” Frazier said, “but the American people have not.”

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DEA Approves Synthetic Marijuana for Company That Spent $500K to Keep Weed Illegal


https://i2.wp.com/theantimedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DCMarijuana.jpg

March 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Written by Alex Thomas

(ANTIMEDIA) Lobbying in the nation’s capitol is a billion dollar industry, but sometimes, companies dip their toes into state and local politics, as well. When giant corporations want to influence bills and national elections, they generally spread their money around, cozying up to a number of politicians and shaking hands with numerous government officials. However, at the local level, high-dollar financing is a bit more transparent.

Insys Therapeutics is a small player on the national scale. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that they spent only $120,000 lobbying in D.C. in 2016. But in Arizona, where the company is based, they forked over $500,000 — and they did it to keep marijuana illegal in the traditionally Republican state.

Last September, the Washington Post first reported the large donation, which was one of the largest single contributions to any anti-legalization campaign ever.” Insys’ money was given to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a localized political action committee that opposed the state’s ballot measure to legalize cannabis in 2016. That measure was ultimately defeated, and now the group is fighting the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, a bill that could hit Arizona ballot boxes on November 8, 2018.

According to the full text of the bill, acquired by Anti-Media via ballotpedia.org, the application was filed at the beginning of March. It states that “marijuana and cannabis have been used safely for thousands of years for recreational, medical, religious and industrial purposes.” The bill also cited a study funded in part by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that “did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs.”

The bill proposes a number of changes that would essentially legalize marijuana. These include:

“There shall be no limit on the number of cannabis plants in a personal grow that are not yet in a state of florescence.”

“All persons at least twenty-one years of age are authorized to maintain a home garden provided the person obtains a transaction privilege tax license.”

“Commercial grows, home gardens and cannabis sales are not authorized within 1,000 feet of a school.”

According to the Washington Post, Insys has “developed a drug based on a synthetic ingredient, THC. Called Syndros, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July for treatment of AIDS and cancer patients’ symptoms.”

Insys was just given preliminary approval for Syndros from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) this week.

However, Insys has a shady history as a big pharmaceutical company, as they manufacture Subsys fentanyl, a deadly painkiller. An NBC report found that as of 2015, Insys had enjoyed sales of $147.2 million for their high-risk drug. They also came under investigation for the aggressive manner in which they were marketing and selling their drug. The NBC study quoted the Oregon assistant attorney general, who stated, “I’ve been investigating drug cases for about 15 years now, and the conduct that we saw in this case was among the most unconscionable that I’ve seen.”

For Insys, the fight against marijuana legalization has been long and arduous. In 2011, they retained the lobbying firm Hyman, Phelps & Mcnamara to nudge the DEA against legalization. In a statement to the Post, the company claimed they oppose marijuana legalization because “marijuana’s safety hasn’t been demonstrated through the federal regulatory process.”

Safer Arizona, the group fighting for legalization, features the tagline, “We don’t have a drug problem, we have a political problem,” on their website. Marijuana legalization in Arizona would be a huge step for nationwide legalization, as the state is seen as a stronghold of traditional American values. However, if big pharma continues to bankroll the opposition, the political action groups fighting against legalization will have more money to fund campaigns for local politicians who share their sympathies.

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Opinion: Trump’s decisions to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines could actually slow them down


Published: Mar 20, 2017 5:28 a.m. ET

Cutting regulatory or procedural corners on the oil pipelines increases the risk of successful court challenges and trade disputes

President Donald J. Trump’s new actions intended to expedite approval of energy and infrastructure projects were hailed by industry groups and decried by environmentalists. If those actions are implemented in ways that cut regulatory or procedural corners, they likely will slow down infrastructure development by increasing the risk of successful court challenges and trade disputes.

If the agencies reviewing Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines don’t take the time to provide justifications for their recent decisions on those projects—influenced by Trump—courts may invalidate pipeline approvals. Implementing explicit local-content requirements for steel in pipelines could embroil the United States in trade disputes. Further, the administration’s memorandum to expedite federal infrastructure review and permitting creates uncertainty about the application of a more carefully thought out process Congress established in 2015.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Trump signed a memorandum designed to reverse the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to withhold the last permission the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) needed to complete construction until it undertook additional review of an alternate route and conducted additional tribal and public engagement by preparing an environmental impact statement, or EIS.

The Corps of Engineers has now rescinded the environmental review and granted the easement to those constructing the pipeline, citing Trump’s directive as its basis for action. The reviewing court has denied a request for a preliminary injunction from the Standing Rock Tribe. While the court didn’t rule on the tribe’s motion for partial summary judgment, there is still some risk the court could halt or delay operation of the pipeline and order the army to proceed with more environmental review.

The main issue with the Corps of Engineers’ decision is that while an agency can change its mind about a policy decision, that agency must provide a reasoned justification for that change, particularly when it is changing its determinations about the underlying facts and circumstances of an issue. The Corps of Engineers should have explained why there was a basis to change its mind about producing an EIS before the comment period on scoping for the EIS had finished. While its analysis in support of reversing course went over the procedural history of the environmental review, it provided no explanation for changing its decision to conduct an EIS, however, other than referring to the president’s memorandum. Court cases indicate that a change in administration itself isn’t a reasoned justification for changing an agency’s decision about the underlying facts and circumstances of that decision.

If the court finds the Corps of Engineers’ change in decision to be arbitrary and capricious, it could order an EIS to be completed and may order pipeline operations be halted pending the completion of that EIS. In the rush to move forward immediately after the inauguration, the administration may have slowed down DAPL’s progress.

Keystone XL

In addition to his executive action on DAPL, Trump signed a memorandum inviting TransCanada to resubmit its application for the Keystone XL project and directed agencies to make a permitting decision within 60 days. TransCanada resubmitted its application on Jan. 26 and submitted a new application for the route in Nebraska on Feb. 16.

This accelerated timeline significantly increases the risk that a court could block any decision to grant Keystone XL a permit.

First, despite the 60-day time limit in the memo, the U.S. Department of State needs to follow the same considerations the Army Corps of Engineers must follow in DAPL to ensure that any change in its decision is supported in the record or it will face legal challenge that its actions are arbitrary and capricious. The State Department would have an additional legal defense in court that is not available to the Corps of Engineers in DAPL because two out of three district courts that have considered previous presidential permits have found the permits unreviewable. There is no guarantee that subsequent courts will follow those precedents, however, and if the court reviewing this action doesn’t, it will judge State Department actions as arbitrary and capricious.

Second, one of the key decisions that the State Department will need to make in that process is whether there is a change in circumstances that would alter the environmental impacts of Keystone XL described in the supplemental environmental impact statement, or SEIS. Litigants could assert, at minimum, that the collapse in oil prices since the SEIS was concluded may change the SEIS conclusion that Keystone XL was unlikely to affect production and thereby greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands.

Third, the State Department has previously stated that it couldn’t adequately evaluate the impacts of Keystone XL without a final approved route in Nebraska. TransCanada won’t complete the process in Nebraska for at least several months, well after the 60-day deadline for the department to make a decision. The department will need to justify why it has changed its consideration of the facts and can now adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of the pipeline without a settled route in Nebraska.

Fourth, the president’s suggestion that he might impose additional conditions could make the project uneconomic. While the administration has stated it will not require the pipeline to be constructed from U.S. steel, in the current low-oil-price environment even more modest additional conditions could challenge the project’s economics. TransCanada has agreed to temporarily suspend its $15 billion North American Free Trade Agreement claim against the United States, but it has not yet dropped the claim. If it does decide to pursue the Nafta claim instead of complying with uneconomic additional conditions, TransCanada could cite the imposition of conditions by the current administration to buttress its claims that the United States has treated the company unfairly and arbitrarily.

The domestic content plan

Trump also signed a memo directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to develop a plan under which pipelines in the United States are required to use materials and equipment produced domestically. As with the other memorandums, this one leaves the hard work to the agency in question, and Ross will face significant challenges in crafting a plan that avoids creating additional legal uncertainty in a World Trade Organization challenge or harming U.S. industry.

WTO agreements generally prohibit requirements giving preference to domestically sourced goods over imported goods. The United States has long been a champion opposing local-content requirements, or LCRs, having won a landmark pre-WTO proceeding that overturned many Canadian local-content requirements in its Foreign Investment Review Act, and recently won a challenge against India’s LCRs in its solar industry.

Any plan that supports using U.S. steel and equipment in pipelines will need to be carefully designed to avoid being invalidated at the WTO. In addition, LCRs generally harm the economy of the country implementing them by increasing costs in the economy as a whole and harming international competitiveness.

Expediting federal permit reviews

The most unusual of Trump’s memorandums is the one expediting reviews of infrastructure permits. The memorandum creates a process for expediting permitting reviews headed by the chair of the Council of Environmental Equality (CEQ). The memo, however, doesn’t describe how it relates to existing measures to streamline infrastructure review processes, most importantly the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The bipartisan FAST Act provides authority to an interagency Federal Infrastructure Improvement Steering Council, controlled jointly by the Office of Management and Budget and CEQ, devoted to streamlining federal permitting reviews.

In contrast to Trump’s memo, the FAST Act takes a comprehensive approach to addressing permitting delays. OMB’s inclusion in the process is important because its mandate and expertise is in overall management of the executive branch, including the budget. By contrast, CEQ’s expertise and mandate is primarily devoted to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Expediting federal permitting isn’t simply a matter of speeding up the NEPA examination, but also often involves efficiently mediating interagency disputes about limited resources and overlapping statutory authorities, which is the purview of OMB.

Better pathways

Federal permitting of pipelines and energy infrastructure should be improved, and improving pipeline safety by replacement of aging pipelines should be encouraged.

For cross-border pipelines, the executive order governing the State Department’s process for moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline could be amended:

• to clarify cross-border pipelines are subject to FAST Act procedures;

• to allow existing permits to be amended for a change in control of the owner (or a change in the name of the line) without requiring a new permit; and

• to allow pipeline improvements (such as replacement, upgrade, or improvement with collateral equipment) to require notice but not issuance of a new permit. The administration may also consider whether the environmental review of cross-border pipelines should be led by a different agency with greater capacity.

However, for DAPL, the Army Corps of Engineers should still be prepared to proceed with additional environmental review by developing a plan that can be immediately implemented if the court rules against it on the still-pending motion for partial summary judgment.

For Keystone XL, the State Department should do a rapid but thorough review of SEIS to consider and evaluate if changed circumstances impact the NEPA assessment. The administration should consider changing the deadline for decision on the Presidential Permit to 30 or 60 days after Nebraska finishes its process.

On domestic content, the Commerce Department should evaluate alternatives to supporting U.S. steel production other than implementing an explicit local content requirement that is inconsistent with WTO obligations.

Finally, on overall expediting of federal permitting, the administration should clarify that it is not creating a new, competing system for expediting infrastructure reviews and clarify how the recent order can be integrated with the existing FAST Act requirements.

The administration can best expedite approval of pipelines and other energy infrastructure without sacrificing environmental, safety, or economic concerns by ensuring that agencies have sufficient resources to meet expedited timelines while still complying with existing laws.

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WV Senate committee passes medical marijuana bill


The West Virginia Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee narrowly passed a bill Friday morning that would allow certain patients to be prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The bill (SB386), called the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes there, it would also have to pass a full vote in the state Senate and then in the House of Delegates.

Several amendments were passed Friday before it was ultimately approved on a 6-5 vote.

Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone and a doctor, offered amendments related to monitoring by the state Board of Pharmacy, allocating 10 percent of contracting proceeds to drug prevention and rehabilitation, and specifying that if enough veterans are interested, at least 10 percent of contracts be given to veterans participating in a state agriculture program.

An amendment from Senator Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, which would allow people with prescriptions to grow two marijuana plants, also was adopted.

“We’re talking about a weed here that anybody could grow,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to establish a group of “legal drug dealers.”

Senators Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, and Mike Azinger, R-Wood, spoke against the bill. Azinger said that marijuana “destroys the mind” and “destroys life” and Maroney said the bill was too “broad.”

Stollings said “I think it’s time for us not to be the last implementer but to go ahead and move this forward and I urge passage of the bill.”

Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, the bill’s lead sponsor, has said he does not believe House leaders support the bill. House spokesman Jared Hunt said earlier this week that House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, wouldn’t have time to speak that day about medical marijuana. Friday, in an email, Hunt noted that “the House did have a lengthy debate and vote on an amendment related to the matter earlier this year which was defeated by a roughly two-thirds majority, signaling there isn’t strong support on this subject.

“That being said, if the Senate were to approve and send the bill over, the Speaker would — as he does with all legislation — discuss the matter with his leadership team and gauge interest from the caucus before deciding a course of action,” he said.

Ojeda, a 24-year Army veteran, said he wants veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – his “brothers and sisters” — to have access to the drug. He said he also worries about the thousands of people in West Virginia who could find relief through access to the drug.

“We shouldn’t have them have to continue suffering because of any issues concerning leadership,” Ojeda said.

He said he believes the bill has plenty of support, although some lawmakers didn’t want their names attached.

“Marijuana has not destroyed communities and it hasn’t killed people,” he said. “Big Pharma doesn’t have their hooks on medical marijuana. What they have their hooks on is the opioids. Therefore they have to do everything in their power to make sure medical marijuana stays illegal.”

Ojeda also questioned legislative priorities. “We are going to deny thousands upon thousands of people relief but we can now hunt a wounded bear with a collared dog,” he said. “You can now play Keno at the gas stations, which means what normally took you a long time — to get through the 7-Eleven — will take even longer.”

“Everybody wants to cry about a light. Give me a break,” he said, referring to Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to light the Capitol dome, a move that usually signals a state of the emergency.

“We are a state that is absolutely broke,” he said. “Coal is coming back, but it ain’t coming back the way we want it to come back and it ain’t going to be here forever.”

The bill, which has Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, would create a West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission and a special revenue fund. The commission would license no more than 15 growers and issue patient and caregiver identification cards, among other responsibilities.

The commission’s purpose “is to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner,” the bill states.

Qualifying conditions include “a chronic or debilitating condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care,” or chronic or debilitating diseases or conditions that produce: cachexia, anorexia or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain that does not find relief through standard pain medications; severe nausea; seizures; and severe or persistent muscle spasms. Refractory anxiety was also added during the committee meeting.

The bill also says that a “public criminal justice agency” would be the primary testing laboratory, and sets requirements for becoming a prescribing physician.

Legislative staff said they could not provide a tally of senators’ votes. Two senators representing Kanawha County, Tom Takubo, a Republican and the committee chair, and Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, were on the committee. Takubo voted against it and Palumbo voted for it.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5163, Facebook.com/erinbeckwv, or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

– See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-politics/20170324/wv-senate-committee-passes-medical-marijuana-bill-#sthash.0RjGGgl3.dpuf

Moving Beyond Cannabis Culture: An Interview with Jodie Emery


By Jon Hiltz on March 23rd, 2017 at 8:20 am

6 ways

 

It’s impossible to look at the history of marijuana activism in Canada and not think of Marc and Jodie Emery. Their decades-long fight with the powers that be have culminated into a good part of the reason we are heading toward adult-use cannabis across the nation.

Throughout this battle, they have lost everything, and regained it again, just to lose it once more. The perfect example of this would be the four years Marc Emery spent in a U.S. prison for openly selling mail-order seeds across the border.

Canada’s unwillingness to stop this extradition of a nonviolent “criminal” was a stark example of a government not supportive of the needs of cannabis users everywhere.

Now, we are at a point where Canada is scheduled to legalize marijuana for everyone 18 and older. Despite that fact, the Emerys have once again been targeted by authorities; and this time, the government has taken away a most precious possession — their life’s work.

This week, as part of their bail conditions, Marc and Jodie have been forced to cut all ties with their brand Cannabis Culture.

Yesterday, Marijuana.com reported the facts on the ground as Jodie Emery headed to Vancouver to remove herself as director of the company. Once that task was complete Jodie took the time to speak with us about the reality she and her husband must confront.


What does it feel like to hand over something that you essentially put your blood, sweat and tears into?

When I moved to Vancouver in 2004 I wanted to do activism so I started working with Marc Emery at Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot TV. In 2005, I was made the Assistant Editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine. I spent every day slaving away over that beautiful print publication and also engaging in activism because that very same year Marc was facing life in prison. I took great pride in what I did.

It’s not just a magazine, a head shop, a vapour lounge or dispensaries, it’s an idea of what legalization looks like. It’s a mission statement for people who believe that we shouldn’t go to prison for a plant. So, it is deeply upsetting to have to give up my involvement with what really has been my identity since I became an adult.

Now that you are free and clear of your business obligations, what are your next steps?

Marc and I are going to do a cross-Canada tour, because we need to have a marijuana truth tour. Right now [MP] Bill Blair is going across Canada and telling all of the police to enforce the [current] laws.

We need to educate the public on the facts about marijuana and remind them that this is a civil liberties issue. We have to make sure no one is being arrested anymore before people are able to profit. We need to talk about how marijuana is a safer choice for recreational consumption than alcohol and talk about the opioid crisis which is extremely newsworthy right now because so many people are dying.

How is Marc handling all this? I know he spent years locked up in a U.S. prison, which by comparison is much harsher, but how is he taking the loss of Cannabis Culture?

Marc is very used to this. He has been arrested, raided and jailed so many times. Marc has had everything taken from him numerous times and he always comes back, builds up again and fights for the cause.

He’s taking it well and he is giving me a hard time because I haven’t been arrested and put in jail before, except for Montreal, but I was arrested for four hours at a hotel, not too hard. This time I actually went to jail so I experienced what people go through and that was upsetting.

At the same time, Marc is wondering what to do next. He’s had many decades of work behind him and he’s tired of all this prohibition nonsense. I’m sure he would like to finally just retire and relax.

Are you concerned about your charges? Do you think they will be dropped?

My concern about our charges is that they’re conspiracy charges. That is a very broad charge to lay on somebody because you don’t even need to commit a crime to be found guilty. The fact that three people agree to break the law makes a conspiracy. They have chosen a very easy way to give us tough punishments and these allegations are very serious.

This government very much wants to shut us up, since they were unable to do so even when they called in the U.S. government to do it for them [through Marc’s previous sentence]. Our [case] will be in the court for a number of years and we do intend to fight it to the fullest. That will probably include a Charter challenge, where we will try to go to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge the validity of prohibition entirely.

Do you think that the severity of the charges against you were because you were selling adult-use cannabis to anyone 19 or older, as opposed to at the very least, only selling to those with a prescription?

[Our]  stores being for 19+ adults and not pretending to be recreational was groundbreaking and a lot of people thought we were very courageous to do that.

It was something we wanted to do differently than everyone, but we were also addressing the concern people had about Canadians faking their illnesses or paying doctors for access. We thought we could just do away from that model, which was half farce and half unfairness for those who are [actually] sick.

We said time and time again, this is what legalization looks like. For the government and the licensed producers and police, they don’t like that model of legalization. They don’t want people to see that vision, they want people to accept their limited oligopoly.

We don’t have a liquor registry where if you want to drink booze you have to sign up with the government and give them your information, but for marijuana right now that’s what they are doing.

For myself, part of my bail conditions say that I have to use government-approved marijuana medically if I am going to possess any marijuana. In a very sad irony, what they are doing to me is what they are trying to do to Canada.

Do you have hope that things will change? Do you think that when adult-use marijuana comes into play that the government will have listened and that dispensaries will be a part of the mix?

It will take a lot of engagement for people to change the rules. Once it’s legal federally, it’s going to be up to the provinces and municipalities to do most of the regulating. We are going to need people to engage with their provincial governments to tell them what kind of model of distribution we should have.

Change will come, but it only comes when you keep pushing and campaigning. If you sit back and wait they will never do anything. That’s why it’s so important to push the envelope.

So to end on a happy note, what is your fondest memory of running Cannabis Culture?

The people. The wonderful love that we all have for this plant and this culture. It is almost spiritual in a way. It’s a calling that we know this plant is not just a simple little garden flower or vegetable.

We know that cannabis can help save lives. It can prevent people from dying, from sickness, or hard drugs. It’s endless the way this plant can truly help people. It sounds insane, but it’s more true than any god that I have ever heard of.


As Canada edges closer to some form of adult use cannabis, however that may emerge, the Emery’s will do everything in their power to ensure Canadians are given the access they deserve.

It’s clearly not just about being able to get high in peace, it’s about what we are allowed to do as adults in a free society. From Jodie’s point of view, marijuana may be the focus, but freedom to choose is and always has been the ultimate goal.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

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Federal Marijuana Sentences Plummet: Report


 

Cannabis Penalties

by Paul Armentano,

NORML Deputy Director

March 23, 2017

The number of federal offenders sentenced for violating marijuana laws has fallen significantly since 2012, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Just over 3,000 federal defendants were sentenced for marijuana violations in 2016, according to the Commission. That total is roughly half of the number of federal defendants that were sentenced in 2012. The total has fallen year-to-year since that time.

The 2016 total is nearly equal to the number of federal defendants sentenced for violating powder cocaine laws, and less than the number of federal defendants sentenced for heroin. Some 96 percent of federal marijuana defendants were sentenced for trafficking, with an average sentence of 28 months in prison.

Of those sentenced, 77 percent were Hispanic, 11 percent were Caucasian, and eight percent were African American. Fifty-six percent were categorized as non-US citizens.

In 2015, over 5,600 federal defendants were sentenced for violating marijuana laws, a total equal to some 25 percent of all federal drug sentences.

Click here to email your lawmakers on various pieces of legislation related to marijuana reform.

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California lawmakers want to block police from helping federal drug agents take action against marijuana license holders


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Patrick McGreevy

With federal authorities hinting at a possible crackdown on state-licensed marijuana dealers, a group of California lawmakers wants to block local police and sheriff’s departments from assisting such investigations and arrests unless compelled by a court order.

A bill by six Democratic legislators has drawn strenuous objections from local law enforcement officials, who say it improperly ties their hands, preventing them from cooperating with federal drug agents.

“It really is quite offensive,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., who said he objected to lawmakers “wanting to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”

But proponents say the measure is needed to assure marijuana growers and sellers that applying for state licenses will not make them more vulnerable to arrest and prosecution under federal law, which designates cannabis as an illegal drug.

“Prohibiting our state and local law enforcement agencies from expending resources to assist federal intrusion of California-compliant cannabis activity reinforces … the will of our state’s voters who overwhelmingly supported Proposition 64,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), the lead author of the new bill.

The act of resistance is similar to legislation that would prevent California law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials in the deportation of people in the country illegally. Senate Bill 54 would address that concern and make California a so-called sanctuary state for immigrants, while Jones-Sawyer’s legislation would similarly make the state a sanctuary for the marijuana industry.

The immigration and marijuana issues have been given new focus by the administration of President Trump, who state officials fear is breaking from the policy of former President Obama, who took a more hands-off approach to both issues.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has indicated in public comments that he thinks marijuana is a danger to society. Last month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer caused a stir when he said, “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement” of laws against the sale and use of recreational marijuana.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the growing and sale of marijuana for recreational use. State agencies plan to begin issuing licenses early next year.

The new legislation would prohibit state and local agencies, unless served with a court order, from using agency money, facilities or personnel to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” any person for actions that are authorized by state law. California authorities would also be unable to respond to requests by federal agencies for the personal information of anyone issued state licenses.

The measure has angered some local law enforcement officials — including Youngblood, who sees it as improperly meddling in law enforcement decisions in the same manner lawmakers are proposing with immigration law.

“This is ridiculous that this looks like a solution to somebody,” he said.

The sheriff said his agency frequently works with federal drug agents in task forces targeting illegal marijuana grows in forested areas of the county. He said he doesn’t want to be prevented from working with federal authorities, even if the state starts licensing pot farms.

“[Growing and selling marijuana] is still a federal felony and we are still in the United States of America, and the state of California cannot take over the United States,” Youngblood said, predicting that “at some point the federal government is going to have to step in and say, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”

The legislation has garnered initial support from marijuana industry leaders, including Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Assn.

“The election of Mr. Trump as president, and subsequent confirmation of Mr. Sessions as attorney general, has been perceived by many of our members to have increased the risk of doing business,” Allen said. “Businesses will need to feel confident that the state will protect them from the federal government.”

Current protocol and law obligates local law enforcement to cooperate with federal drug agents, he said.

“It is very hard for federal agents to go into a rural county and kick down a bunch of doors and arrest a bunch of people without the local sheriff being a part of it.” Allen said. “It’s dangerous, actually. This is about giving them legal standing to actively not participate.”

Updates from Sacramento »

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), a coauthor of the measure, said the legislation is needed because of a threat that the Trump administration might withhold federal funds from states that do not cooperate with federal authorities, although that threat has so far been limited to immigration enforcement.

“As this administration has threatened to defund California, we should not be expending scarce local and state resources to assist the federal government in ways that run counter to the crystal-clear wishes of California voters,” Bonta said, adding that the measure, Assembly Bill 1578, “will reassure responsible operators” that the state won’t turn them in to federal authorities.

The assemblyman said it is important that the bill also protects the personal information of license holders so that they are willing to share it with state regulators.

“California is committed to not sharing licensee information with the federal government and thereby upholding the will of the voters in creating a safe marketplace for medical and adult use,” Bonta said.

The current policy of the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation would be to treat any request for personal information as a formal request under the California Public Records Act. The agency “would determine, based on the information being requested, what is required to be released and what is exempt from disclosure under the law,” said Alex Traverso, a bureau spokesman.

Allen expects California to follow the lead of states such as Colorado, which makes public on a website the names of businesses and addresses of those who are given licenses to grow and sell marijuana.

The Colorado website lists growers and sellers by the names of limited liability corporations and does not list who the individual investors and partners are.

Allen said industry attorneys have advised him that some basic information about license holders will have to be made public.

The bill’s provision on personal information “is good symbolically and well-intentioned,” Allen said, “but we are not relying on anonymity as our pathway forward.”

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Kentucky congressman says ‘Hell No’ to Obamacare replacement bill


Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., listened during a committee session in 2013.

By Fernando Alfonso III

falfonso@herald-leader.com

A tweet from a Northern Kentucky congressman went viral Wednesday afternoon after he used his voting card to double down on his disdain for the American Health Care Act, the Republicans’ attempt to replace Obamacare.

Rep. Thomas Massie’s tweet features a photo of his “new” voting card and the words “HELL NO” on it. Within two hours after sending the message, Massie, who manages his own Twitter account, could not believe it had collected more than 8,200 likes and 3,000 retweets.

“I didn’t expect it to go viral. I thought maybe we’d get 5 percent of that,” Massie said over the phone in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s another version of Obamacare, in my opinion, and it’s not as well thought out. We need to leave the socialism to the socialists. If I thought the bill were a glass half full proposition, better than the status quo, I’d vote for it. But I think it will make insurance premiums go up.”


Sen. Rand Paul predicts House will vote down GOP health plan

“It’s important for Republicans to understand that once we pass something, we will own it,” Sen. Rand Paul said of the GOP health care plan. “If what we pass is not going to work, it’s a bad thing to own.”

jbrammer@herald-leader.com


The AHCA would replace the subsidies in Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, with a flat tax credit that would not account for income or local insurance prices. The new law would also allow insurers to charge older people five times what they charge younger customers, compared to three times under Obama’s health care law, according to the Associated Press.

Massie, a Republican, has made his displeasure over AHCA clear on Twitter over the past week through hashtags like #sassywithmassie.

“(The proposal) just won’t work and Republicans will get blamed for escalating health insurance costs,” Massie said. “The bill doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of health care. I feel the momentum is against the bill. I don’t see any of my colleagues changing their votes and they’ve had 24 hours to switch people from a no to a yes to no avail.”

Angry constituents confront U.S. Rep. Andy Barr about GOP health care bill

U.S. Rep Andy Barr faced angry constituents in Richmond, Ky., during a town hall on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Barr was defending the Republican proposal to replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

Daniel Desrochers ddesrochers@herald-leader.com

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

Related content

5 things to know about the CBO’s report on Paul Ryan’s ACA replacement

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The Best Recipe for Maximizing the Medical Effects of Marijuana


CBD-only preparations lack the synergies available when marijuana’s other cannabinoids and its terpenes are kept in the game.

 

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By Phillip Smith / AlterNet

March 22, 2017

CBD (cannabidiol) is getting a lot of attention these days as the medicinal cannabinoid in marijuana. CBD-only products are all the rage in the ever-expanding medical marijuana market, and CBD-only medical marijuana laws are becoming a favorite resort of red state politicians who want to throw a sop to those clamoring for medical marijuana, but are hesitant to actually embrace the demon weed.

But is CBD the miracle molecule on its own? Or would users benefit from using preparations made from the whole pot plant? Not to knock CBD, which even by itself clearly provides succor for many people, but advocates of “whole plant medicine” make a strong case.

That case is based on the entourage effect, which posits an interactive synergy between the components of the plant, and not just the major cannabinoids, such as THC and CBC, but also the lesser-known but still therapeutically active cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, THC-a, and THC-v, and even the terpenoids, the molecules that make pot plants smell and taste lemony (limonene) or piney (pinene), earthy (humulene) or musky (myrcene). The entourage effect suggests that if people want to unlock the full benefits of medical marijuana, they need to be using whole plant medicine.

“CBD and THC seem to work better together. They lessen each other’s side effects,” said Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, director of the American Cannabis Nurses Association.

“CBD has value, but its value can be enhanced with the whole plant and we can develop more individualized medicine,” said Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, and president and co-founder of Patients Out of Time.

And again, it’s not just the cannabinoids.

“THC seems to potentiate all the effects of CBD and conversely, CBD affects THC,” explained Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD. “Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This ‘phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,’ as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and even cancer,” he said.

“Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the ‘downer’ neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the ‘upper’),” Solomon continued.

The entourage effect makes whole plant medicine the preferred means of ingesting therapeutic marijuana, the trio agreed.

“I think that any whole plant medicine is more effective than any CBD-only product,” said Solomon.

“Whole plant medicine is the only way to go,” echoed Theisen.

“It’s safer and more effective, and tolerance will develop more slowly—if at all,” Mathre concurred.

The traditional method of consuming whole plant marijuana has been to smoke it, but that’s not an especially favored route among medical marijuana advocates. And there are other options.

“Vaporization or tinctures of whole plants. Any sort of extraction method that isn’t going to deplete it,” said Theisen.

“Delivery methods vary greatly in terms of their efficiency and their effects. I heard a colleague say that smoking a joint for therapeutic effect is akin to opening your mouth in the rain to get a drink of water,” said Constance Finley, founder and CEO of Constance Therapeutics. “Our preferred methods are buccal (cheek) ingestion or sublingual ingestion, vaping from a vaporizer or vape pen whose hardware is safe to use with cannabis extracts, and topical for additional localized impact.”

With whole plant superior to single-cannabinoid preparations, people living in states that have only passed CBD-only laws are not able to enjoy the full benefits of medical marijuana. That’s a damned shame, said an exasperated Mathre.

“We have lawyers and politicians practicing medicine without a license—they don’t know what they are talking about,” she said. “Clearly there may be some patients who need little to no THC, but the vast majority will benefit from it. Patients should have all of the options open to them and research needs to continue to help determine how to best individualize cannabis medicine.”

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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(IL) Illinois lawmakers propose legalizing recreational marijuana


Illinois recreational marijuana

 

Robert McCoppinContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Lawmakers are proposing to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois but say the legislation probably won’t come up for a vote until next year.

Sponsors on Wednesday introduced bills that would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow and buy limited amounts of marijuana.

The state would license and regulate businesses to grow, process and sell the plant, and it would establish safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements, sponsors said.

The measure would also allow residents to possess up to 28 grams of pot, or about an ounce, and to grow five plants.

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce wholesale, plus the state’s standard 6.25 percent sales tax.

Based on sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, estimates sales in Illinois could generate about $350 million to $700 million per year.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan reserved judgment, as they typically do with new bills. But the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police opposes legalization, saying marijuana poses a threat to public health and safety, and causes potential enforcement problems because it conflicts with the federal prohibition on marijuana.


Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Robert McCoppin

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

(Robert McCoppin)


The co-sponsors, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Democrats from Chicago’s North Side, said they don’t plan to call the bill for a vote this session but will hold hearings to get feedback and see whether some version of a legalization bill can get support next year.

“If we bring this out in the open, we can generate revenue legally rather than for the black market,” Steans said.

Cassidy said marijuana prohibition creates far more problems than it prevents. “Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer,” she said.

Eight states have allowed the sale of the drug, generally by referendum. But in Illinois, it’s very difficult to get a binding vote on the statewide ballot, so it probably would take legislative action to change the law.

If approved, the plan would make Illinois the first state in the Midwest to allow the general public, including out-of-state visitors, to buy marijuana, though it would remain illegal to transport it across state lines. The proposal also calls for dividing the tax revenue, with half going to the state’s general fund and the rest to schools and drug abuse treatment and prevention.

Legal marijuana sales can generate windfall tax revenues, but the social and health costs are largely unknown, cautioned Rosalie Pacula, a senior economist at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization.

“The tax revenue comes right away,” Pacula said. “The data on emergency room visits, car crashes, graduation rates and absenteeism takes a lot longer.”

As with any new industry, marijuana can be regulated, but there are many variables, such as what pesticides should be allowed, Pacula said, so there should be provisions for new laws to expire or be changed along the way.

For more than a year, Illinois has had a pilot program allowing the sale of marijuana to patients with any of about 40 debilitating diseases, such as cancer or AIDS. But without a broad qualifying condition like chronic pain, as some other states have, the number of patients has been limited to about 17,000, with current retail sales of about $5 million a month.

The proposed new law would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot for one year before newly licensed businesses would be allowed to enter the market.

Last year, a new state law also decriminalized the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, punishing it instead with fines.

Police have not noticed any significant problems with either law, according to Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger Jr., who is first vice president of the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, which opposes legalization. But he said the medical marijuana law is limited, and a lot of municipalities had previously decriminalized cannabis, so the effects were muted.

Kruger cited a rise in emergency room visits for medical marijuana ingestion among children in Colorado and studies showing the drug’s harmful effects on developing brains.

Advocates for legalization say kids are already getting marijuana illegally, but legalization would allow it to be more closely regulated.

“I think this does a good job of being very reasonable,” Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn said. “It’s a realistic approach.”

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