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For years police officers have gone through extreme lengths to keep drivers detained while awaiting back up in the form of a German Shepherd with a keen nose for marijuana in hopes of finding illegal drugs. There are countless instances of cops pulling over drivers for any number of reasons only to call for K-9 back up at the very last moment.

Luckily for motorists in the US, the Supreme Court has announced that it will review a case which could potentially change how these “routine” traffic stops play out.

The case comes in the form of an instance in Nebraska where a man was pulled over in 2012 for a minor traffic infraction. The kicker was that it took only 21 minutes for the officer to issue Denny Rodriguez the traffic ticket; however, they proceeded to hold him for an additional 6 minutes while waiting for a K-9 unit to arrive.

Once the dog sniffed Rodriguez’s car, it instantly alerted the officers that there were drugs in the car and after searching the vehicle they found a small amount of methamphetamine.

Rodriguez subsequently plead guilty to the drug charges; however, his attorney later filed an appeal because the search occurred after the officer had already issued the ticket which is a direct violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in regards to this case at the beginning of 2015, with a decision being made no earlier than June of 2015. This case is of extreme importance because whatever the Supreme Court decides will ultimately set the standard for how long police officers will be allowed to detain drivers during basic traffic stops.

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Vanita Gupta Marijuana
President Obama is planning on nominating the current director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, Vanita Gupta, to head up the civil rights sector of the Department of Justice.

Gupta has received wide praise from both political parties for her work with civil rights. A large amount of her focus has and will remain on the war on drugs and how it effects minorities in America. She stated in 2011 that, “the war on drugs has been a war on communities of color.”

She has also openly defended mandatory minimum sentencing laws in regards to drug charges. She says that, “This country has spent 40 years relentlessly ratcheting up the number of people going to prison and dramatically expanding the time we hold them there. We’ve spent decades criminalizing people with drug dependency, passing extreme sentencing laws, and waging a war on drugs that has not diminished drug use.”

In the early 2000s Gupta spent time defending black men who were wrongfully charged with minor drug offenses in Texas. She has also worked towards ending police incentives to arrest bystanders for minimal amounts of personal-use marijuana.

Most importantly, Gupta strongly supports marijuana decriminalization and legalization at a state level. She was quoted in an op-ed for CNN this year as saying, “states could follow Colorado and Washington by taxing and regulating marijuana and investing saved enforcement dollars in education, substance abuse treatment, and prevention and other health care.”

Marijuana advocates are extremely pleased with the nod to Gupta. A spokesman with the advocacy group, Marijuana Majority, said that, “Hopefully she can convince the next attorney general to initiate the process of rescheduling marijuana under federal law.”

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Ethan Orr Marijuana
A state lawmaker in Arizona is looking into legalizing and taxing marijuana in an attempt to increase revenue for the state.

Ethan Orr, a Republican from Tuscon, took a look at the amount of money Colorado has been pulling in via their recent marijuana legalization, and the numbers are hard to ignore. Revenue projections reveal that Arizona will end this budget year roughly $520 million in the hole, and that number could double by 2016.

Orr went on to say, “Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and think this is a logical place we need to look. I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it [legalization].”

The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona plans to model their initiative on the recreational marijuana program already underway in Colorado which has allowed adults age 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a regulated amount of retail shops.

The Legislative Council in Colorado suggests that the state will bring in close to $175 million before the fiscal year in 2017 comes to an end.

Orr hopes that he will gain some support from his fellow colleagues, but he is also preparing for the worst. He says that, “If I don’t think I’ll have the votes, I won’t take it forward.”

Marijuana is already legal in Arizona on a medicinal level, and just over 50,000 residents are enrolled in the program.

Orr also worries that there will be opposition not just from law enforcement officials in regards to legalizing marijuana recreationally, but also from owners of medical marijuana dispensaries who have put in a lot of time and money into modeling their businesses around the state’s medical marijuana laws.

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Jamaica Marijuana

The Justice Minster of Jamaica recently announced that legislation is under way to decriminalize marijuana.

The majority of the world views Jamaica as a place where marijuana is widely used and accepted, but that is far from the case. Jamaica has prohibited the use of marijuana for the last 100 years.

Justice Minister, Mark Golding, has suggested to lawmakers that they should make possession of 2 ounces or less a simple ticket before year’s end. He also hopes that marijuana use for religious purposes will be legalized as well. The Rastafarian religion, which views marijuana as a “holy herb,” smokes marijuana in a ceremonial fashion on a regular basis. Golding believes that they should be permitted to partake as they please.

Golding also believes that Jamaican scientists may hold the key to unlocking some of the vast therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Jamaican researchers even came up with a medication made from marijuana to help treat glaucoma over 20 years ago that has received little to no attention from the medical world.

In the midst of the legalization movement, Golding stresses that the government will continue to battle drug trafficking, organized crime, and keeping marijuana out of the hands of the youth.

Golding mentioned that while they do not plan on setting a maximum plant number on marijuana growing operations, the government wants to make sure that all small scale farmers “are not excluded and it does not just become something exclusively for major capital-intensive investors.”

The leader of the Drug Policy Alliance said of Golding’s legislation that it is “both noteworthy in that Jamaica is reforming policies on possession, religious use and medical use at more or less the same time, and politically important to providing leadership in the Caribbean.”

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New York Times Marijuana

The New York Times has endorsed the legalization of recreational marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. in their editorial released on October 5.

This is the second time this year that The New York Times has publicly stated their support for marijuana reform in the United States.

In an excerpt from the Times’ recent editorial, “Yes to Marijuana Ballot Measures: Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia Should Legalize Pot,” they repeatedly touch on the argument that marijuana is still “far less dangerous than alcohol” and that medical marijuana is now available in nearly half the states in the US.

The editorial said in regards to the legalization in Colorado: “Opponents of legalization warn that states are embarking on a risky experiment. But the sky over Colorado has not fallen, and prohibition has proved to be a complete failure. It’s time to bring the marijuana market out into the open and end the injustice of arrests and convictions that have devastated communities.”

In closing, the editorial stated, “Ideally, the federal government would repeal the ban on marijuana, so states could set their own policies without worrying about the possibility of a crackdown on citizens violating federal law. Even though a majority of Americans favor legalization, Congress shows no sign of budging. So it’s better for the states to take the lead than to wait for an epiphany on Capitol Hill that may never come.”

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Marijuana Seniors

A broad study looking into the effectiveness of medical marijuana on patients in California has come back with very positive results; 92% of patients polled said that using marijuana helped to alleviate their symptoms, which ranged from chronic pain stemming from migraines and arthritis to cancer.

The California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System’s data concluded that 5% of adults in California admitted to using medical marijuana in order to treat a serious medical condition.

The study’s author noted that, “The most common reasons for [marijuana] use include medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist, such as for migraines, or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer.”

The author of the study also mentioned: “Our study’s results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group.”

Even with medical marijuana being legal in 23 states in the US there are still a large number of hurdles to overcome. One political hurdle comes from former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who has referred to marijuana as “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.”

It seems like listening to patients, the people actually living with these chronic ailments every day, are the ones with the most valid input, not the politicians.

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Marjuana and Alcohol

The anti-marijuana legalization movement seems to always come back to one argument which they believe helps their cause: that emergency room visits involving marijuana have risen over 175% since the mid 1990s.

The DEA even went so far as to state that nearly half a million emergency room visits in 2011 were a direct result of marijuana, with cocaine being the only drug responsible for more. But one large problem with this data is that there are roughly 70 times more marijuana users than cocaine users in the US, which would certainly result in more hospital visits for marijuana users. On a “per-user basis” marijuana causes drastically less emergency room visits than cocaine, and even less than alcohol.

Because the Drug Abuse Warning Network does not provide any information on emergency room visits related to alcohol, we will instead have to take a look at those numbers from a National Institutes of Health report which shows all alcohol-related emergency room trips. The report clearly reveals that marijuana is much less likely to end in a hospital visit than heroin, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs or alcohol.

The report goes on to show that for every thousand people who consume alcohol regularly, there are eight more trips to the hospital than when compared with marijuana.

These numbers were taken directly from the federal government’s records and they clearly prove that marijuana is a much safer substance than alcohol and other drugs.

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Warren Buffett Marijuana
Warren Buffett, the man who made billions from soda and candy, is now shifting his keen investment eye onto the marijuana industry.

Cubic Designs Incorporated, a subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is a business which optimizes warehouse floor space. They recently delivered roughly 1,000 fliers to marijuana dispensaries over the last month hoping to catch the attention of cultivators looking to maximize their grow space. The fliers read in large lettering: “Double your growing space” and “Grow your profits.”

Shannon Salcrecht, Cubic Designs Inc.’s marketing coordinator, realized the potential business opportunity after being contacted by a number of marijuana growers looking for information. Retail cultivation space has become sparse in places like Denver and Seattle, where growers are hoping to maximize their yield which in turn has caused landlords to raise the rent.

The hardest part for Cubic Designs has been trying to locate the actual growers since they don’t intentionally advertise their names or whereabouts. Salcrecht said, “The one thing with this industry that’s kind of tough is that it’s somewhat still secretive.”

Buffett amassed his fortune through acquiring large stakes in companies like Coca-Cola and Dairy Queen when the time was right. It only makes sense that he would get in on the thriving legal marijuana industry as it begins to develop.

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AZ Dispensary Marijuana
Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed legislation this week which addresses the right-wing media’s attempts to demean pro-marijuana programs through accusations that low-income Americans are using their government benefits in order to purchase marijuana.

There are currently two bills making their way through the Republican-heavy House which connects government assistance for low-income families with the legal purchase of marijuana. The Preserving Welfare For Needs Not Weed Act, which made its way to the House yesterday, hopes to stop the use of individuals using government granted cash cards provided by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in order to purchase marijuana from dispensaries. The No Welfare for Weed Act is a similar bill that was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), but instead hopes to ban the purchase of marijuana with food stamps (SNAP benefits).

These bills come as no surprise following the recent efforts by Fox News to blame impoverished Americans for using money from the government to purchase recreational marijuana. According to the National Review Online, “welfare beneficiaries withdrew thousands of dollars in public assistance cash from ATMs at weed shops” just after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.

These are accusations that the conservatives have continued to push on the public. Republican Dave Reichert claimed, “We are seeing new abuses of these benefits. In these states, a person can walk into one of the newly opened pot shops and use their welfare benefit card to pay for pot…this isn’t an idle concern. Reports examining welfare transactions in Colorado revealed over $5,000 in welfare benefits were accessed in stores selling marijuana in the first month such stores were open.”

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families blog has so far been unable to prove that any of this money has actually been used to purchase marijuana because many of the shops where the money was withdrawn sell products other than marijuana. Furthermore, many welfare recipients use marijuana as their medicine, so revoking their right to use their welfare money on marijuana is the same as stopping them from buying prescription drugs or herbal remedies.

Currently, Arizona’s medical marijuana program provides a 50% discount to SNAP recipients for their medical marijuana card and many Arizona dispensaries also provide SNAP discounts.

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NY Marijuana Legalization
New York state Senator Liz Krueger just revealed plans to introduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in January which could very well lead to New York legalizing and taxing marijuana for adults as soon as 2015.

If the senator’s bill passes, it would allow retail marijuana stores to open under the supervision of the State Liquor Authority. Adults 21 years and older would in turn be allowed to possess two ounces of marijuana for personal use as well as to grow up to six plants in their home.

New York has been in the medical marijuana news recently for becoming the 23rd state in the US to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Krueger says that, “The real motivation for this bill comes from the fact that we have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color and having them go into the criminal justice system and come out with the kind of citations that limit their access to financial aid for college and exposes them to a criminal justice system that, frankly, I do not believe they should have been exposed to in the first place, for simply using a drug that is proved to be less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. It is a win-win to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it and tax it.”

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