Legal Marijuana Sales Begin this Week in Uruguay

This week Uruguay will officially begin legal sales of marijuana for those 18 and older, over three and a half years after the law legalizing the plant was initially approved by lawmakers.

The legalization of marijuana was first proposed by former-President José Mujica in 2012 as part of a comprehensive package of proposals aimed at improving public safety. Uruguay’s parliament gave final approval to the measure in December 2013, making Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize cannabis for retail distribution. This week – over 3.5 years later – legal sales will finally begin.

“This is a historic moment,” says Hannah Hetzer, Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “In recent years, Latin American leaders have decried the staggering human, environmental and financial costs of the War on Drugs in their region. Uruguay is boldly demonstrating that concrete alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies are possible.”

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Colorado Court Rules Smell of Marijuana Not Enough to Search Vehicle

Drug-sniffing police dogs in Colorado may need new training if they can detect marijuana, after a ruling last week by the Colorado Court of Appeals that sets a new precedent for drug cases.

A three-judge panel agreed that if a drug-sniffing dog is trained to alert officers to marijuana and other drugs, cops need more cause to search a vehicle without permission.

The decision came out of a 2015 case in Moffat County, where a drug-sniffing dog named Kilo alerted officers to the presence of an illegal drug in a truck driven by Craig resident Kevin McKnight, The Grand Junction Sentinel reported.

But because Kilo could not tell officers whether he smelled cannabis or other drugs, the search was illegal, judges wrote. The dog was trained to identify to detect cocaine, heroin, Esctasy, methamphetamine and marijuana. Marijuana possession by adults over 21 is legal in Colorado.

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California Assembly Committee Votes Unanimously to Urge Federal Rescheduling of Marijuana

A joint resolution asking Congress to reschedule marijuana on the federal level has been passed unanimously by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Senate Joint Resolution 5 was passed by the Assembly Public Safety Committee yesterday with a 7 to 0 vote. In April the resolution was given approval by the state’s full Senate with an overwhelming – though not quite unanimous – vote of 34 to 2.

The resolution “formally requests the United States Congress to pass a law to reschedule cannabis, marijuana, and its derivatives from a Schedule I drug, and for the President of the United States to sign such legislation”.

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U.S. Senate Committee Approves Allowing Medical Marijuana for Veterans

The United States Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment that allows Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where the medicine has been legalized.

The amendment was approved with a bipartisan 24 to 7 vote (with even a majority of Republicans voting in favor, 9 to 7); it’s attached to a larger spending bill that funds the VA. The amendment allows VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients in states where its legal, changing current policy which prohibits “V.A. providers from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a State marijuana program.”

Last year a similar amendment was passed by a 20 to 10 vote, following by a 233 to 189 vote in the House. However, the amendment was eventually removed from the larger bill it was attached to before becoming law.
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Study: THC May Help Prevent HIV from Becoming AIDS

According to a new study being published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may help prevent the progression from HIV infection to the development of AIDS.

“Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) play a crucial role in host antiviral immune response through secretion of type I interferon”, states the study’s abstract. “[P]rolonged pDC activity has been linked with progression from HIV infection to the development of AIDS.”

The study states that; “Patients with HIV in the United States routinely use cannabinoid-based therapies to combat the side effects of HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy. However, cannabinoids, including Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are well-characterized immunosuppressants.” In this study, researchers report that “THC suppressed secretion of IFNα by pDC from both healthy and HIV+ donors through a mechanism involving impaired phosphorylation of interferon regulatory factor 7.” These results suggest that “THC can suppress pDC function during the early host antiviral response by dampening pDC activation.”

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Michigan: Over 100,000 Signatures Collected on Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Less than Two Months

In less than two months supporters of a Michigan initiative to legalize marijuana have collected over 100,000 signatures.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol must collect 252,523 signatures by May 30th of next year in order to put their marijuana legalization initiative to a vote of the people during the November, 2018 election. They are clearly on track to reach this goal, having already collected 102,425 signature in less than a two-month period (the group began collecting signatures in late May).

“The support we are seeing across the state has been fantastic” says Josh Hovey, a spokesperson for the coalition. “We are getting calls and emails everyday from people who understand that marijuana prohibition is a massive failure and asking where they can sign and how they can help. If we can keep up this momentum, we will have all signatures in four months rather than the six months required by state law.”

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Nevada Legal Marijuana Running Out, Governor Endorses State of Emergency

A state of emergency has been declared in Nevada due to a dwindling supply of marijuana.

Legal marijuana sales began in Nevada just 10 days ago, but the state is already running low on the plant. This has led to the Department of Taxation to declare a state of emergency, a declaration that has now been endorsed by Governor Brian Sandoval.

“Based on reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry’s expectations at the state’s 47 licensed retail marijuana stores and the reality that many stores are running out of inventory, the Department must address the lack of distributors immediately,” says department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein. “Some establishments report the need for delivery within the next several days.”

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Oregon Legislature Passes Bill to Defelonize Possession of Ecstasy, Heroin, Cocaine and Other Drugs

Legislation to defelonize the personal possession of several drugs has been passed through Oregon’s full legislature and sent to Governor Kate Brown for consideration.

The proposed law, House Bill 2355, “Reduces punishment for possession of certain controlled substances [including ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine] from felony to misdemeanor”. Possession would remain a felony if the defendant possesses a useable quantity of a controlled substance and one of four factors are in play: “1) The defendant has a prior felony conviction of any kind; 2) The defendant has two or more prior convictions for possessing a useable quantity of a controlled substance; 3) The offense is a commercial drug offense; or 4) The defendant possess more than specificed amount”.

The legislation also directs the Criminal Justice Commission to “study effect of reduction in possession penalties on criminal justice system, rates of recidivism and composition of convicted offenders”, and “Reduces maximum length of Class A misdemeanor offense to 364 days”, Under current law, possessing certain drugs can result in imprisonment of up to 10 years.

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Oregon Legislature Votes to Create Cannabis Commission

Lawmakers have voted in favor of creating the Oregon Cannabis Commission to oversee the state’s medical marijuana program.

marijuana retail outletsOn Wednesday Oregon’s House voted 48 to 11 to approve House Bill 2198, which was followed by an 18 to 12 vote in the Senate the next day. The proposal will now be sent to Governor Kate Brown, who has the option of signing it into law, vetoing it or allowing it to become law without her signature.

The proposal would establish the Oregon Cannabis Commission within the Oregon Health Authority, along with other changes. If the measure does become law, the commission would consist of the Public Health Officer or designee, along with eight members appointed by the governor as follows:

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Almost 6 Months Into Trump Presidency, Little to No Effect on Marijuana Laws

It’s been almost 6 months since President Donald Trump took office, but despite a lot of fear, it’s had little to no impact on marijuana laws throughout the country.

When Donald Trump won the election for president of the United States, many in the marijuana community were worried what it might mean for state-level marijuana laws. But for many others, there was a sense of quiet optimism. After all, Trump has said before that he’s “100%” in favor of medical marijuana, and that he supports state rights. Although it was many years ago, he’s previously stated his support for legalizing all drugs.

However, it wasn’t long before fear, rightfully so, began to increase. Trump began making subtle, but certainly worrisome comments, and he hired longtime prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to be the nation’s attorney general. Despite this, nothing much has came of this fear, and there’s reason to believe it will stay this way.

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