[Editor’s Note: Calaveras County may be more famous for jumping frogs, but they’re also notoriously famous for the cannabis ban put into place at the beginning of 2018. The anti-cannabis county supervisors have been voted out and the county is taking steps to move into the modern era.]
Calaveras County growers in Northern California may have been tentatively enthused last week when the Board of Supervisors directed staff to prepare regulatory ordinances that would allow the area to rejoin the state’s cannabis industry.
The county’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban cannabis entirely from the county in January of 2018, right when the rest of the state was celebrating the legalization of recreational weed. The decision was devastating for local growers, who were given just three months to halt production on their property. No concessions were made for refunding the various fees the growers had already paid to the county to set up their businesses.
But on Tuesday, months after November’s elections displaced some of the county’s most fervent anti-pot elected officials, Supervisors spent most of the day on the process of revamping cannabis policy. They discussed the finer points of what re-legalization would look like in the county. Among the items up for analysis were the size of permitted grows, potential centralized facilities for processing marijuana, and application requirements for growers. No immediate conclusion was reached on any of these items.
The day started with presentations from the sheriff, public works, building and safety, code enforcement, waste management, the treasurer, and the auditor-controller on how their offices operated the first time that marijuana production was regulated in the county, from May 2016 to January 2019. Recommendations were asked from each entity about what it would need to once again oversee a legal cannabis system.
Supervisors also heard from the public, from Calaveras County individuals who were both for and against the year-old ban. Not everyone thought that the county’s quest to establish its own regulatory system was the best plan.
“Seems like why reinvent the wheel,” said Al Segalla of the Calaveras County Taxpayers Association. “Let the state take care of regulation and we can focus on land use and zoning. Let the state regulate it and be done with it.”
The Board’s about-face may have everything to do with the will of county voters, who swapped out two pro-ban candidates for supervisors who had expressed openness to reconsidering the prohibition on weed. In November, supervisors Ben Stopper and Merita Callaway won their challenger campaigns. 53 percent of Calaveras County voters approved Prop 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults.
County officials were the subject of much censure when they took the step to reverse their policy on medical cannabis last year. Farmers that had spent thousands of dollars stepping up their growing operations were left without recourse, and those familiar with the state of marijuana in the county knew the measure would do little to correct illicit market growers.
In January, the Board of Supervisors took the first step towards securing justice for the growers who had been left high and dry by the ban, voting to refund almost $1 million in medical marijuana program registration fees after farmers sued for $16.3 million over the county’s hypocritical about face on cannabis production.
Of course, the ban did not have the intended effect of halting cannabis production in the county. In late January, a woman was taken to the hospital when a gas explosion rocked an outbuilding of a marijuana grow operation. In that incident, police confiscated over 1,000 pounds of cannabis.
Once Virulently Anti-Cannabis, Calaveras County is Reconsidering Commercial Ban was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: We’re optimistic Federal laws will soon overturn prohibition. Until then, it you are not in your own home, your cannabis use must be discreet or you’ll be answering to the courts.]
No matter the state, you can still get evicted from public housing for using cannabis.
Underlining the role that economic class plays in one’s experience of the cannabis legalization movement, Maine resident Olanian Jackson saw his eviction upheld by the state’s Supreme Court after his landlord discovered that Jackson was using state-legal medical marijuana in his home.
The court’s decision highlights the fact that for anyone who lives in federally subsidized housing, the progress that has been made in state-by-state cannabis legalization in the US is simply not enough to ensure one’s safety. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made it clear that recipients of Section 8 vouchers, or anyone who lives in public housing can be evicted or denied a home based on marijuana usage, regardless of state and local laws.
The injustice led Rolling Stone to ask “If you can’t legally use cannabis in your own home, is weed really legal for you?” in an article profiling Washington DC resident and fibromyalgia patient Sondra Battle. Battle was shocked when her apartment manager posted a notice informing residents that they would be evicted with no appeal should they be found using marijuana, regardless of whether they had a doctor’s recommendation.
In Jackson’s case, the Supreme Court was able to avoid addressing the conflict in state and federal laws by focusing on the related criteria for his eviction. As reported by Bangor Daily News, these included “intimidating behavior, denying access to his apartment, and illegally installing a lock”.
The feds say that the weed alone was grounds for him to be shut out of his home in the Fairfield Family Apartments. A 2014 HUD memo states that “Regardless of the purpose for which legalized under state law, the use of marijuana in any form is illegal under the [Controlled Substances Act] and therefore is an illegal controlled substance.”
The memo also states that landlords are required to deny federally assisted housing to applicants known to be using federally banned substances, and must “establish policies which allow the termination of tenancy of any household with a member who is illegally using marijuana.”
Last year, Washington DC member of Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would have made it legal for residents to consume cannabis in federal housing located in states and districts which allowed for their usage. The bill went nowhere.
In the United States, over five million people live in federally subsidized housing. In large part due to the country’s history of racist redlining bank policies that curtail housing choices, half of them are people of color. Anti-cannabis policies in federal housing is yet another area in which the malignant War on Drugs falls on the shoulder of communities of color.
And in what should be seen as a severe handicap to existing medical marijuana laws (present in 33 states), of the five million people, one quarter are disabled and 35 percent are elderly.
There have been several high profile cases of marijuana-based eviction. In California’s Humboldt County, Emma Nation was evicted from her publicly subsidized housing when a maintenance worker reported seeing cannabis in her apartment to her landlord. In September, the Billings Gazette told the story of Montana breast cancer survivor Lily Fisher, who was denied Section 8 vouchers after detailing her medical marijuana usage on a screening questionnaire.
Maine Supreme Court Upholds Eviction of Man Growing His Own Medical Marijuana was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: It’s interesting that Russia wants to import cannabis to study it’s addiction-causing capacities. They’re decades behind the times. This is a fascinating insight into the mindset of the Russian mindset.]
Russia may be en route to more scientific studies on marijuana. Last week, Russia’s health ministry proposed a bill that would raise the amount of cannabis that’s legal to import into the country— for the study of the plant’s “addiction-causing capacities,” RT.com reports.
The proposed legislation would make it legal for the ministry to import 1.1 kilograms of cannabis, 300 grams of hashish, and 50 grams of hash oil. The amount of THC the ministry is legally allowed to import would rise from 10 grams to 50 grams per year.
No other usage besides scientific purposes would be allowed under the proposed regulations.
The regulation draft cited recent studies that have compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct its first review of cannabis’ scheduling since the 1961 and ’71 International Drug Conventions. The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence released a report last year underlining its belief that CBD is a low-risk substance that has documented health benefits, and called marijuana a “relatively safe drug.” The report also gave credence to scientific data that’s been published suggesting cannabis can play a role in fighting cancer.
In recent years, Russia has taken a hard line on the legalization of cannabis, even going so far as to chastise other countries for regulating the plant. When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances.
Russian press also takes an active role in demonizing the drug. In 2017, Russian news network Rossiya 24 aired coverage pinning actor Morgan Freeman’s statements against Russia’s tampering with the US election on Freeman’s marijuana-use.
In 2015, Russian governmental agencies responsible for regulating the country’s media ordered a Wikipedia page to be restricted that contained references to marijuana. Wikipedia acquiesced to the demands so that Russia would not block its population from accessing the rest of the site. Reddit has also come under fire from the Russian government when it discovered a thread “on the cultivation of growing a narcotic plant” in 2015.
As recently as last December, Putin has gone on the record with some rather off-the-mark views about cannabis consumption. Marijuana Moment reports that at a meeting with cultural leaders, Putin agreed with a music producer that hip-hop’s presence on the radio in the U.S. promoted drug use.
“I am most worried about drugs,” the president reportedly said. “This is the way towards the degradation of a nation.” Putin stopped short of suggesting rap music be banned entirely, but did express an openness towards regulating hip hop genres.
Nonetheless, the Moscow Times reports that the proposed measure will be up for public discussion until Feb. 8.
When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances.
Russia May Authorize Cannabis Imports for Scientific Research was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: We wish more politicians would visit with their constituents and truly hear what we have to say. Good for Pennsylvania.]
His pro-pot lieutenant governor will spearhead a 67-county listening tour.
Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s Democrat governor who’s signaled openness towards recreational cannabis legalization, has OK’d a series of town hall meetings to explore the future of marijuana in the state. His recently sworn-in lieutenant governor John Fetterman will be spearheading the 67-county listening tour, the natural next step given Fetterman’s pro-pot campaign promises from last year.
“We are actually trying to figure out this issue, where the people of Pennsylvania are, what is it we can learn from them in terms of what we ought to be doing here,” ABC6 Action News reports Wolf saying at a news conference on Thursday. Wolf made the initial announcement about the town halls earlier that day at an Associated Press interview.
“I am looking forward to the culturally conservative areas,” Fetterman told Pittsburgh City Paper. “I am excited to hear these views.” The lieutenant governor explained that the ambitious survey project was an attempt to get away from “echo chambers” when envisioning the form cannabis could take in Pennsylvania. It’s also a way in which for him to prioritize areas that may not be fully won over when it comes to recreational cannabis in the state.
Fetterman says he wants to open the door to bi-partisan communication, despite the fact that many Republicans have come out against further regulation of cannabis.
“I am happy to meet with any representative and they will be invited,” he said. “I would be honored to share a stage with state [Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman]. This is about listening.” Corman has gone on record calling the legalization of recreational cannabis “reckless and irresponsible.”
Wolf, now in his second term, has his own record of supporting marijuana legalization. During his administration in 2016, the state got its first medical cannabis program, with its first dispensary opening at the start of 2018. Last month, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board approved a process that could expand the list of qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient.
Under Wolf’s guidance, Pennsylvania is also licensing commercial hemp farmers, in accordance with the recently passed US Farm Bill.
It may be an uphill battle getting the state’s legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to approve recreational cannabis laws— despite a 2017 poll that reported 59 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of pot legalization. But Pennsylvania’s laws do not permit any ballot referendum that would make it possible to bypass the legislature via the creation of new bills.
But between popular opinion and the promise of legalization’s financial gains, Republicans may soon be feeling the squeeze. In July, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that the state could face a $1 billion financial shortfall — which could partly be assuaged by the $580 million in tax revenue the state could reap from recreational cannabis.
“Pennsylvania’s budget challenges are now a consistent factor in all state policy decisions,” wrote DePasquale in that summertime report. ”Taxing marijuana offers a rare glimmer of fiscal hope, providing a way to refocus the state budget process away from filling its own gaps.”
Governor of Pennsylvania Plans Town Hall Meetings to Discuss Pot Legalization was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: A cautionary tale about those who want to keep adult use of cannabis in the closet. Every single fact stated in this article can be repudiated. And the article explains why too.]
Legislation that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years old and over has been slowly advancing in Connecticut, but an association of groups raised their voice on Wednesday in a presentation in state capitol Hartford to express concern over the issue.
Their concern is the children. ”I see it every day in the people I go to school with,” local news channel WTNH reported high school senior Elizabeth Abernathy saying at the press conference. “By legalizing it for people over the age of 21, you are just opening the gates for people of all ages to gain access as it will be easier to obtain.”
Other activists like Madison Youth Services’ Scott Cochran claimed that “new products will evolve” that are especially appealing to young people.
The presentation also included the voice of a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist that claimed that states with regulated cannabis have the highest rates of teen marijuana users in the country. “It’s just a matter of time that if we were to legalize, we would see the same trend,” cautioned Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza before adding that teens were more likely to develop mental illnesses when they use cannabis at an early age.
Of course, not all are in agreement with that statement. In 2017, a study was released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the rate at which adolescents were using cannabis had actually fallen in the post-legalization years. The study found that only nine percent of Colorado teens reporting using the drug, the lowest reported number in almost a decade. After cannabis legalization in the state — which was the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana — teen usage of alcohol, tobacco, and heroin also fell.
Colorado is among the states that are taking extra steps to make sure teens are wise to facts on cannabis. The state has developed a game show-style program called “Weeded Out” that is funded by a small portion of the the state’s yearly cannabis taxes, which rang in at $45 million last year.
Connecticut is already a medicinal marijuana state — in 2012, its Senate approved a medical marijuana program in a 21-13 vote. In August, the state’s Regulation Review Committee voted to expand that program, adding eight new health conditions that allowed people aged 18 and over to qualify. Small-scale marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the state since 2011, when Connecticut eliminated the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of weed.
Last year there was a legislative push in the state to legalize recreational marijuana. After passing approval in the House Appropriations Committee, the bill stymied before it was able to be passed into law, despite protests outside the Capitol Building in Hartford.
The state’s new-in-2019 governor Ned Lamont has stated that he is in favor of cannabis regulation. “I don’t want the black market controlling marijuana distribution in our state,” he told WSHU Public Radio. “I think that it is a lousy way to go. Canada, Massachusetts, others are doing it and that is going to lead to some enforcement things. In the meantime, we enforce Connecticut law.
Anti-Pot Groups Urge Connecticut Lawmakers to Keep Cannabis Illegal was posted on High Times.