$2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port

$2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port

Original Post: High Times: $2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port

[Editor’s Note: Technology has gotten advanced, making it extremely difficult to get illegal cannabis (or any other illegal shipment) into the country. They measured the density of the shipment!]

The 614-pound shipment was one of the largest marijuana busts in the Philadelphia port.

Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized more than 600 pounds of marijuana at the Area Port of Philadelphia last week, according to media reports. The pot was discovered on March 7 in a shipping container that had been transported to the City of Brotherly Love from Puerto Rico. Agents found approximately 614 pounds of weed, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million, in the container.

“This is one of the largest seizures of marijuana that Customs and Border Protection have encountered in the Area Port of Philadelphia,” said Casey Durst, the director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection in Baltimore. “This is an outstanding example of how CBP keeps our communities safe from illegal drugs.”

Customs agents found 252 bricks of cannabis in the container, which was bound for New Jersey. Steve Sapp, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, confirmed that the seizure was unusual for the port.

“Philadelphia is not a common drug trans-shipment port, but we do get an occasional ‘ripload’,” said Sapp. “A baggage handler may have a friend in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica or Puerto Rico put a load on a plane. When it arrives here, they’ll have someone divert it from the international baggage belt to the national belt, then send somebody out from the street to run in and pick it up. Something like this is not common.”

High Tech Bust

The shipment of pot was discovered after sensitive Customs and Border Patrol x-ray scanners determined that the density of the cargo in the container was not consistent with what would be expected for the reported contents.

“All containers get some level of scrutiny,” Sapp said.

A drug-sniffing dog was then brought to investigate the shipping container further and alerted to officers. When agents then searched the shipment they found the bricks of cannabis hidden under the floor in the container. Officers then extracted a “green leafy substance” from one of the packages. The sample was analyzed and tested positive for marijuana.

Sapp noted that despite the continued reform of marijuana laws, interstate cannabis commerce is still not legal.

“Marijuana may be legal for medicinal use in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” Sapp said. “But it’s not legal federally and it’s certainly not legal to smuggle in 614 pounds.”

The investigation into the illegal marijuana shipment has been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the confiscated marijuana will be destroyed. Customs and Border Protection seizes an average of 4,657 pounds of narcotics every day in the United States. The agency announced on Tuesday that it had confiscated 3,200 pounds of cocaine worth $77 million in a shipping container at the Port of New York and New Jersey in Newark on February 28. The bust was the largest seizure of drugs at the port in more than 25 years.

$2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port was posted on High Times.

Children’s Book Aims to Start the Conversation About Cannabis

Children’s Book Aims to Start the Conversation About Cannabis

Original Post: High Times: Children’s Book Aims to Start the Conversation About Cannabis

[Editor’s Note: Bringing cannabis into the light of day demands changes in day-to-day life. One necessary component is teaching our children to respect the cannabis plant. This book will start the dialogue.]

What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden was written to help parents start a dialogue about responsible cannabis use.

A Southern California cannabis activist has written a book, titled What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden, that she hopes will help parents talk with their kids about cannabis and is currently raising the funds necessary to publish the book and offer it to the public. Susan Soares, in an interview with High Times, said she has dedicated her life to educating people about cannabis.

“First and foremost, I’m an advocate for the cannabis plant,” says Soares. “It saved my life and completely turned my life around.”

Soares explained that in 1993 she was a young mom with three children. She was an active leader in the Mormon Church and an Orange County conservative Republican. She was so anti-cannabis, she had once called the police on some neighborhood teenagers simply for smoking pot.

But then during a church broom hockey game, Soares was tripped by an opponent and crashed headfirst into a cinderblock wall. She was knocked unconscious, suffering a ruptured eardrum and a concussion.

“As a result, I had a migraine headache that lasted two years,” she says.

When coupled with the stress of a divorce from an abusive and unstable husband, the constant pain Soares suffered left her desperate. When she was at her lowest, her young children were the only thing that kept her going.

“I would have killed myself if I didn’t have those kids,” Soares remembers.

But then a friend who she gardened with, who was growing a few cannabis plants in her back yard, suggested that the herb might offer Soares some relief from her constant pain. She says she was tempted and intrigued, but afraid as well.

“It scared me because I knew that if it worked, that my family would turn their backs on me and the Church would turn their backs on me, and when you’re a Mormon that’s your entire community. That’s your life. You’re not supposed to hang out with anybody that’s not a Mormon unless you’re trying to bring them into the Church. But I didn’t have any choice. I was at the end of my rope.”

Despite her reservations about cannabis, Soares had to do something to find relief.

“So I tried it. And I kept using it for about six weeks and my migraine went away—never, never to return.”

After her amazing success with cannabis, Soares says she decided that once her children were grown, she would dedicate herself to cannabis education, eventually founding the nonprofit CARE (Cannabis Awareness Rallies and Events). As she had feared, she was rejected by her family and church over her medicinal use of marijuana. She moved to Long Beach and is now a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat.

Advocate Becomes Author

Soares says she was first inspired to write a book about cannabis for children after she appeared as a guest on a radio program. When she asked how she talked about cannabis to her kids, she confessed she had kept it from them. The exchange got her thinking, and she began asking parents who currently had young kids how they approached the subject. She couldn’t find anyone who talked about cannabis with their children.

“It’s crazy, even people in the industry, I think especially people in the industry, they don’t really want to talk their kids about it because they still want it to be a secret.”

Soares found the strong taboo against cannabis interesting since so many of the same parents had no problem drinking around their kids.

“Alcohol has enjoyed many decades of marketing to the point where it’s almost obligatory to have alcohol at holidays and celebrations. But cannabis doesn’t have that luxury.”

She decided that a children’s book could help overcome that stigma.

“Cannabis is mainstream now, we need to have a conversation about it,” Soares says.

So she wrote What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden. The story, she says, is told from the point of view of a young boy.

“He comes over and he loves Grandma’s garden. They plant together, he loves pulling out carrots and eating them while they’re so fresh. And they talk about good bugs and bad bugs and they go roly-poly hunting.”

Grandma also has a greenhouse with cannabis plants. Grandma explains that “you can look but not touch.”

Of course, the lad wants to know why, so Grandma explains that just like the plants in the garden, his brain is still growing. So, he has to wait until he is grown up to try cannabis. Like most books for kids, Soares story has a happy ending.

“Then they have a family barbecue, and they’re in the backyard, in the garden, and they’re eating the fresh veggies. And someone’s drinking a beer and somebody else has some wine. And Grandma is sitting downwind with the wind blowing in her hair and she’s smoking a joint.”

Soares has found an artist, Gustav Davies of Switzerland, to illustrate the book. She’s currently raising the money via Facebook to hire Davies to complete the art, with a goal of $10,000. With another $20,000, she’ll be able to have the first 1,000 “beautiful, hardbound” books self-published. She’s hoping the cannabis community will help her and is offering a free copy of the book when it is published to those who donate $50 or more. Once the first run is produced, she plans to have the book carried at licensed cannabis dispensaries to encourage dialogue about cannabis.

“It’s time for this conversation,” Soares says. “Nobody’s talking to their kids. And the kids are aware of what’s going on and you hide it, you’re giving them such a bad message.”

Children’s Book Aims to Start the Conversation About Cannabis was posted on High Times.

Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank

Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank

Original Post: High Times: Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank

[Editor’s Note: Very Important Lesson: Never spike someone’s food without their knowledge. Just don’t do it.]

Four people in Australia were hospitalized after a man served a birthday cake with cannabis-infused chocolate to family members at a recent gathering. The man, who is in his late twenties, “thought it would liven up the family birthday party,” according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

One woman who was hospitalized told a radio station on Monday that the family had gathered for lunch and to celebrate a birthday.

“Everyone was having a lovely time and cake was passed around at dessert with fruit and cream and some nice little chocolate chunks sprinkled over it,” she said. “And it turns out the chocolate chunks contained marijuana.”

The woman, who is in her fifties, said that the group started feeling the cannabis a while later.

“The effect was not immediate which I now know is the case with edibles,” she said. “I’ve learned all about marijuana and edibles. Within an hour I was experiencing throat swelling and dizziness, within three hours myself and four other family members were hospitalized with overdose.”

The woman said that she had even gone into anaphylactic shock and had to be treated with adrenaline.

“Apparently, I’m allergic to cannabis or whatever it was in that very high dose,” she said.

‘We Didn’t Really Know We Were High’

Three other party-goers, including the woman’s octogenarian parents, suffered “really nasty vomiting.”

“One was vomiting, the other had an extremely high heart rate,” she said. “We were all terrified because we didn’t know for some hours what was going on.”

After emergency services responded and transported the stricken members of the family to the hospital, healthcare workers were at first unsure just what they were dealing with.

“[The hospital staff] were frustrated because we were all talking nonsense. Everyone who was at the event was calling one another and we didn’t really know we were high.”

The man who had laced the cake with the cannabis-infused chocolate confessed hours later, saying that he had obtained the marijuana edible from “a mate who gets it in the US.”

“The prankster fessed up which was great, in the end, as we were able to pass the information onto the hospital and the ambulance,” she said.

The woman said that the family had been told at the hospital not to drive for 24 hours, but she felt the effects of the cannabis for three days. She and her partner ended up taking off a few days from work to recover completely. She is still not sure how much THC she had ingested.

“My point is we don’t know the quantities in it,” she said. “It’s very unusual to have such severe reactions and no one ate a lot of chocolate, it was just sprinkled over the dessert.”

Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank was posted on High Times.

Pennsylvania Lawmaker to Introduce Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Pennsylvania Lawmaker to Introduce Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Original Post: High Times: Pennsylvania Lawmaker to Introduce Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

[Editor’s Note: The attitude of cannabis legalization happening sooner or later, seems to make it happen sooner, rather than later. Go Pennsylvania!]

Rep. Jake Wheatley announced his plans to introduce the legislation Sunday on Twitter.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis by adults in the state. Democratic Rep. Jake Wheatley announced in a tweet on Sunday that he would be introducing a recreational cannabis legalization bill at the state capitol on Monday. Under the measure, adults at least 21 years of age would be permitted to purchase and cultivate marijuana.

“Tomorrow in Harrisburg I’ll introduce House Bill 50, my plan to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania. HB 50 is more than legal cannabis—it’s a social justice framework to rectify decades of injustice,” Wheatley said.

If successful, Wheatley’s bill would also expunge convictions for marijuana crimes, release inmates currently behind bars for such offenses, and return drivers’ license revoked or suspended for cannabis crimes. Public consumption of cannabis and driving under the influence would still be prohibited.

A regulated retail cannabis infrastructure would be created that “would require that diverse groups have equal opportunity in the permitting process to be growers/processors and dispensaries,” according to the tweet.

Wheatley’s bill calls for some state tax revenues to be invested in affordable housing, school-loan debt forgiveness, and after-school programs. County governments would be allowed to enact an optional tax of 3 percent on cannabis sales to fund public defender and children’s programs.

Governor Considering Legalization

Wheatley praised Gov. Tom Wolf when he announced in December that it was time to consider cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania.

“Today I join with many Pennsylvanians to applaud our governor for finally publicly recognizing that our commonwealth needs to take a hard look at the numerous social, economic and medical benefits legal adult-use cannabis would bring to our state,” Wheatley said in a press release.

“Pennsylvanians have spoken,” he continued. “They want the commonwealth to progress and for legislators to be creative and forward thinking. The legalization of cannabis with social justice reforms and investments in our future will strengthen the people and bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”

In August, Wheatley launched an online petition to support cannabis legalization and listed some of the benefits of the end of marijuana prohibition.

“There are tremendous benefits to legalizing marijuana and few downsides,” Wheatley said. “It’s estimated that legalization would generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to balance our budget, strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce, and improve our schools.”

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in 2016, with legal sales beginning in February 2018.

Pennsylvania Lawmaker to Introduce Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis was posted on High Times.

Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee

Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee

Original Post: High Times: Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee

[Editor’s Note: Tennessee elected a conservative Governor in 2018. Still, there is plenty of motivation to legalize medical cannabis for Tennessee citizens.]

Two marijuana decriminalization bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature, according to media reports. One would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of pot, while the other would protect holders of medical marijuana identification cards from other states. Both bills were sponsored in the Tennessee Senate by Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle and in the House of Representatives by fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson.

The first measure, SB256/HB235, would amend state statute to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. The second bill, SB260/HB234, would permit holders of medical marijuana program identification cards from other states to possess up to one-half an ounce of cannabis. The bill also removes criminal penalties for medical marijuana cardholders who transfer cannabis to other cardholders.

Johnson told local media that she decided to sponsor the bills, which were written by Kyle, partly due to the personal experience of her father, who had multiple sclerosis.

“I still believe he would have benefited from medical marijuana in treating the tremendous pain he was in,” Johnson said. “And if we have something who can benefit folks visiting family in Tennessee, they shouldn’t be punished for taking their medication.”

Johnson also believes that decriminalizing marijuana is a matter of criminal justice reform and treating simple possession appropriately.

MMJ Bill Also Pending

The bills from Kyle and Johnson come less than three weeks after two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis, announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

After introducing the measures, Bowling said in a press release that she believes cannabis can be part of the solution to the nationwide epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.

“I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans,” Bowling said. “Our constituents can use a natural and effective option for pain relief that is not controlled or pushed by Big Pharma. When I see medical studies showing that states with medical cannabis programs had an average 23 percent drop in opioid prescription use and overdoses, I see a real option we can use.”

If the bill succeeds, patients with certain qualifying health conditions would be able to obtain a medical marijuana identification card to allow them to legally purchase cannabis. A commission would be created to regulate patient access and license cultivators and retailers. Bowling said the experience of other states was called upon to draft this medical cannabis solution for Tennessee.

“I wanted a new bill that is Tennessee-specific and takes the best of what worked in other states and leaves out what did not. This bill delivers what I wanted,” Bowling added. “The legislature has not yet had that kind of bill to consider. The Bowling-Travis bill creates a fully functioning framework to license growing, producing and dispensing operations.”

All four cannabis bills are now pending before the Tennessee legislature.

Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee was posted on High Times.

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