Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Prisoners Marijuana

Since voters in Colorado and Washington approved the tax and sale of recreational marijuana in 2012, the cognitive dissonance of America’s drug penalties has become even more absurd.

America imprisons people for growing and selling marijuana, but is it still appropriate to imprison the majority of people that use, grow or sell marijuana when millions of people can now legally use, grow or sell it?

Congress voted to change federal penalties for crack cocaine in 2012 with the Fair Sentencing Act. Prior to the law’s passage, 5 grams of crack cocaine triggered the same mandatory minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine.

The repeal of federal marijuana laws could likely leave us with thousands upon thousands of federal marijuana prisoners serving sentences longer than what they’d receive in a post-marijuana-reform courtroom.

According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in fiscal year 2013, more than 40% of all people who received life without parole sentences in federal courts were drug offenders, and 6% of those were marijuana sellers.

If Congress changes marijuana laws without allowing currently imprisoned marijuana-related offenders to seek new sentences, should this president or the next simply throw open the gates?

Federal and state legislators will eventually have to address poor drug policies and then establish a clear route to resentencing marijuana-related offenders as well as other drug offenders.

First Church of Cannabis

A religious organization in Indiana known as the First Church of Cannabis was awarded nonprofit tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The founder of the church, Bill Levin, was notified by the IRS last week of his organization’s newly approved 501(c)(3) status, which will allow individual federal tax write-offs for people who make charitable donations to the church.

Members of the First Church of Cannabis believe that smoking marijuana is a religious observance. In Indiana, the use of marijuana is still illegal, whether for recreational or medical purposes. But using marijuana for religious purposes is a legal loophole.

Levin told the media that he decided to found the church this year partly because he wanted to test out Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is meant to protect all people’s religious practices from government intervention.

Worshippers at the First Church of Cannabis, known as “cannaterians,” have their own set of 12 commandments that refer to cannabis as the “Healing Plant.”

“It brings us closer to ourselves and others,” says the church’s mission statement. “It is our fountain of youth, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.”

Senate Marijuana Medical

In yet another major victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would protect state-legalized medical marijuana operations from federal crackdowns.

The amendment passed by a vote of 22-8 and mirrors one that passed in the House last week 242-186. Essentially, it blocks the Department of Justice – which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration – from using funds to interfere with state-legalized medical marijuana programs.

The committee’s passage of the amendment also follows its approval of a historic measure from May that would allow Department of Veteran Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients.

There is still some road to travel before the medical marijuana amendment becomes law. President Barack Obama still has to sign the bill, and has threatened to veto this bill along with others. But if the bills are vetoed, the medical marijuana protections are still likely to make it into a larger bill later this year because it appears in both the House and Senate versions of the bill.

“This is another resounding victory for medical marijuana patients, their families and their care providers,” said the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the DEA have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws.”

Sativex

More pharmaceutical companies are starting to take notice of the healing properties marijuana, and the FDA is finally approving pharmaceuticals that use or mimic the healing abilities found in marijuana.

Below are four pharmaceutical companies that now have products containing synthetic marijuana or are derived from marijuana and are rising in popularity among the ill.

Sativex
Sativex is a mouth spray with a chemical compound that is derived from natural extracts of the cannabis plant. Sativex contains the cannabinoids THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Sativex treats neuropathic pain and spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Analgesic treatment in adult patients with advanced cancer with moderate to severe pain.

Marinol
Marinol contains synthetic THC and is used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting for patients in cancer treatment as well as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients and a analgesic to ease neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis patients.

Nabilone / Cesamet
Nabilone / Cesamet contain a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC and is used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Dexanabinol
Dexanabinol contains a synthetic cannabinoid that is a neuroprotectant used after cardiac surgery and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to regain memory and other high-level function. It also has possible future use as an anti-cancer drug.

Denver Marijuana Dispensary

Denver home prices have shot up by double-digits, inventory has decreased drastically, and bidding wars with multiple offers have become commonplace among home buyers.

One major factor driving the housing demand: legalized marijuana. The legalization of marijuana has impacted home prices since the Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012.

“There has been a huge bump in real estate prices due to the legalization of marijuana” and it has “massively pushed up raw land and industry prices,” according to a Denver-based realtor.

Denver experienced the second-largest jump in annual home prices at 10%, in March, just trailing San Francisco, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

The legalization of marijuana isn’t the only force driving the housing market, but it has certainly contributed to job growth in the area which has got people flocking to Denver.

“The pot industry is creating jobs we didn’t have before,” said a Re/Max real estate agent working in the Denver area for 24 years. “It’s brand new, it adds a whole new factor to the area; you have real estate needs, housing needs, job needs.”

The industry has created jobs beyond growers and dispensaries. Legal marijuana has also been a boon for existing businesses like security, manufacturing and HVAC companies. “Electricians have grown from mom and pops to big-time electric companies,” said an agent at ‎Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

Inventory has become scarce in Denver. Typically, Denver has around 24,000 listings, but now that figure is closer to about 4,000.

Postal Service Marijuana

A new report indicates that marijuana reform has led to a decrease in illegal shipments of marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

The U.S. News and World Report recently collected statistics from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The data shows a significant decrease in people shipping marijuana through the mail since Colorado and Washington began taxing and regulating medical and recreational marijuana markets.

The federal government also saw a 12% decrease in marijuana shipments in 2014, as well as a 12% decrease in marijuana poundage seized by postal inspectors.

“Most of the shipping that’s being done is by people in the illicit market, and those are the people we’re trying to get out of business,” said Diane Goldstein, a board member with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also reported a decline in marijuana seizures since state-legalized marijuana markets began. In 2014, the DEA took control of less black market marijuana than they have in nearly 30 years.

AZ Marijuana Legalization 2016

An recently released independent poll has revealed that a majority of Arizonans support the legalization of marijuana.

The Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll found that 53% of Arizonans support making possession of a small amount of marijuana legal for personal use, while 39% opposed. Support was strong in all three geographical areas surveyed by the poll: 53-38 in Maricopa County; 47-43 in Pima County; and 58-38 in Rural Arizona.

“Arizonans are fed up with the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said a member of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting a statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. “They do not think adults should be punished just for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. It’s time for a more sensible approach, and that’s what our initiative proposes. The poll reflects what we’re finding out on the street while collecting signatures. We’re finding that most voters agree it’s time for a more sensible marijuana policy in Arizona. Even those folks who are still on the fence seem to agree that our current prohibition laws aren’t working.”

The campaign has collected more than 15,000 signatures since launching its petition drive a month ago. It must gather more than 150,000 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.

Nevada Hemp

Nevada lawmakers have passed a bill to authorize hemp cultivation. The bill will now be sent to Republican Governor Brian Sandoval for final approval.

Senate Bill 305 passed with a 41-0 vote. The measure was approved 19-0 by the Senate in April.

Bill 305 will allow universities and the state Department of Agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes under an agricultural pilot program. Hemp cultivation programs have to be registered and certified by the Department of Agriculture.

The bill defines industrial hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on a dry weight basis.

The State Board of Agriculture can begin adopting regulations regarding the licencing and oversight of hemp cultivation once the bill is signed by Gov. Sandoval.

Hemp cultivation can begin as early as January 2016, once the regulations are in place.

Marijuana Ice Cream

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, recently stated in an interview that if marijuana becomes legalized nationwide, they are very open to creating a marijuana-infused version of their premium ice cream.

When asked about his thoughts on the idea, Cohen replied, “Makes sense to me. Combine your pleasures…”

The hopeful marriage of Ben & Jerry’s and marijuana would make perfect sense because of its status as a premium, go-to ice cream for the munchies and for their past tongue-in-cheek innuendos to marijuana. The company has released flavors such as “Half Baked” and “The Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies Encore Edition”.

So when the day comes that marijuana is legalized nationwide, you’re likely to see grocery store freezer aisles stocked with cartons of Ganja Ganache or Cookies and Chronic.

US House Marijuana

The House of Representatives voted to reauthorize an amendment that would protect state-legalized medical marijuana programs – including businesses and patients – from federal interference.

The amendment would stop the Justice Department, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to undermine state-legalized medical marijuana programs.

“Our founding fathers didn’t want criminal justice to be handled by the federal government,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. “This is absolutely absurd that the federal government is going to mandate all these things even though the people of the states and many doctors would like to have the right to prescribe to their patients what they think will alleviate their suffering. This is states’ rights issue. Our founding fathers didn’t want a police force that can bust down people’s doors. They wanted individual freedom.”

The same amendment passed in the U.S. House last year, and it ultimately made it into the final federal spending bill signed into law by President Obama in 2014.

The Senate will likely consider its own appropriations bill for the DEA, and the House amendment would have to survive a joint conference before it could go into effect.