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US MI: 2 Medical Marijuana Bills Stall In Michigan Senate

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 02/03/2015 - 08:00
Detroit Free Press, 03 Feb 2015 - LANSING -- Supporters of medical marijuana were thrilled last year when two bills making it easier for people to buy a variety of medicinal cannabis -- including edibles -- passed the House of Representative with large bipartisan majorities. But those cheers may turn to frustration as the two bills have stalled in the state Senate with no visible sign that they'll move anytime soon.
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US PA: Column: Something Obscene About Civil Asset Forfeitures

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 08:00
Standard-Speaker, 24 Jan 2015 - Imagine this: You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext. Using that pretext, they ask permission to search your car for drugs. You give permission and they search. Or you decline permission, but that doesn't matter, either. They make you wait until a drug-sniffing canine can be brought to the scene, then tell you the dog has indicated the presence of drugs - and search anyway.
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US NY: Column: Civil Forfeitures Obscene

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 08:00
Buffalo News, 24 Jan 2015 - Imagine this: You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext. Using that pretext, they ask permission to search your car for drugs. You give permission and they search. Or you decline permission, but that doesn't matter, either. They make you wait until a drug-sniffing canine can be brought to the scene, then tell you the dog has indicated the presence of drugs and search anyway.
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US HI: Column: New Asset Seizure Policy Won't Make Much

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 08:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 24 Jan 2015 - Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Jan. 6, which suggests it's a move in the right direction. But contrary to initial press reports, the new policy represents a modest change to the rules governing civil forfeiture, which allows the government to take people's assets without accusing them of a crime.
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US AK: Legislators Want to Put Marijuana Rules on the Fast

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 08:00
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 24 Jan 2015 - JUNEAU - With legalized marijuana a month away, lawmakers are hoping to fast track legislation they hope will clear up legal gray areas. On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced Senate Bill 30 to address underage consumption, what constitutes a public place (because public consumption of marijuana will still be illegal) and addresses driving with marijuana.
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Chronicle AM: WY Decrim Bill Killed, More MedMJ Bills, CDC Warns on Women and Pain Relievers, More (1/23/15)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 20:49

Marijuana-related activity is ratcheting up at statehouses across the land, Massachusetts' governor rejects legalization, and the CDC issues a warning on opiate pain reliever use among women of childbearing age. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left]Marijuana Policy

Massachusetts Governor Rejects Legalization. New Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said Thursday that while he supported Democratic Senate President Stanley Rosenberg's decision to create a special Senate committee to examine issues around marijuana legalization, he is "always going to be opposed to legalizing" the drug for recreational use. His stance and his veto power make a 2016 effort to legalize through the initiative process more likely.

Push for Virginia Decriminalization Bill. Supporters of a bill that would decriminalize pot possession in the Old Dominion held a press conference Thursday to rally support. The bill is SB 686, prefiled back in October by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria). Decrim bills have been a perennial feature of the legislature in recent years, but have never gone anywhere. But those bills were all in the House of Delegates, while this one is in the Senate.

Wyoming House Kills Decriminalization Bill. The House voted 38-22 to kill HB 29, which would have replaced criminal penalties for small-time pot possession with a civil fine. The measure had passed the House Judiciary Committee 7-2 last week.

Medical Marijuana

Kansas Medical Marijuana Opponents Testify. The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee heard from opponents of pending medical marijuana legislation Thursday. Eric Voth, chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, said marijuana is harmful and legalization measures would threaten public health, while a spokesman for the Kansas Association of Police Chiefs said marijuana has caused problems wherever states have reformed marijuana laws. Supporters of the bill testified earlier this week.

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Filed. State Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) last week formally introduced a full-blown medical marijuana bill, H3140, that he had prefiled back in October. It would allow registered patients to use medical marijuana for "a debilitating medical condition," and patients or caregivers could possess up to six plants and two ounces of usable marijuana. It is now before the House Judiciary Committee.

Texas CBD Medical Marijuana Bills Filed. State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Ft. Worth) and Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) today introduced identical bills that would allow children with epilepsy to be treated with low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oils. The House version is HB 892.

Opposition to Messing With Washington Medical Marijuana System. Some patients and patient advocates, including Sensible Washington are not happy with efforts to fold the state's existing medical marijuana system into its new recreational marijuana system. Some spoke out against pending legislation at a hearing yesterday, while Sensible Washington said in a release that it believes the proposed changes "will increase prices, decrease access and ultimately put a heavy, unnecessary burden on patients." Click on the link for more.

Opiates

CDC Warns of High Number of Women of Childbearing Age Taking Opioid Pain Relievers. Too many women of childbearing age are using narcotic pain relievers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday. The CDC reported that 39% of women age 15-44 who were enrolled in Medicaid filled a prescription for opioids each year between 2008 and 2012, while 28% of privately insured women did so. "Taking opioid medications early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and serious problems for the infant and the mother," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. "Many women of reproductive age are taking these medicines and may not know they are pregnant and therefore may be unknowingly exposing their unborn child. That's why it's critical for health care professionals to take a thorough health assessment before prescribing these medicines to women of reproductive age." Taking opioid pain medications during pregnancy can also expose mothers in some states to criminal liability if they have bad pregnancy outcomes.

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US VA: Legislators Push To Decriminalize Two Forms Of Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 23 Jan 2015 - RICHMOND - State Sen. Adam P. Ebbin wants Virginia to join more than a dozen states that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The lawmaker is pushing a bill that would downgrade the offense from a criminal charge to a civil one with a fine of up to $100.
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US MA: Baker Staunch In Opposition To Legalizing Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 08:00
Boston Globe, 23 Jan 2015 - But Governor Still Sees Value in Review by State Senate With marijuana legalization advocates considering a ballot measure campaign in Massachusetts in 2016, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday that he is "going to always be opposed to legalizing" recreational use of the drug.
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US AK: North Pole Grapples With Marijuana Laws at City Council

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 08:00
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 23 Jan 2015 - NORTH POLE - The City Council is divided over whether to allow marijuana to be sold here. The panel agreed at a workshop on Thursday to deal with personal use of pot first. "I think the first thing is public consumption, defining that, narrowing it down," North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward said.
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Chronicle AM: VA Forfeiture Reform, Jamaica to Decriminalize, Supreme Court Drug Dog Case, More (1/22/15)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 21:19

There's medical marijuana action in the states, the Supreme Court hears a case about drug dogs, Jamaica is about to decriminalize ganja, an asset forfeiture reform bill is moving in Virginia, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Washington State "Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act" Filed. State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) is filing this week legislation designed to bring the state's existing medical and recreational marijuana systems into agreement. "The main intent of my bill is to simplify and unify the two systems so that complex gray areas and dangerous illicit markets will eventually cease to exist," she said. The bill would eliminate unregulated dispensaries and collective gardens, but it would also direct the state Liquor Control Board to increase the number of retail outlets by and adopting a competitive, merit- and experience-based licensing application system.

Medical Marijuana

Kansas Parents Get Senate Hearing on Medical Marijuana Bill. The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee heard Wednesday from parents of chronically ill children were speaking in support of pending medical marijuana legislation, SB 9, introduced by Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City). Click on the title link for hearing details.

Maine Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana in Hospitals. State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) has filed LD 35, which would allow registered patients to use medical marijuana in hospitals. It does so by adding hospitals to list of eligible primary caregivers, the list of places where patients can store and use medical marijuana, and barring hospitals from prohibiting the use of smokeless marijuana by patients.

Nebraska Medical Marijuana Bill Filed. State Sen. Tommy Garrett (D-Bellevue) has filed LB 643, a full-blown medical marijuana bill that allows patients or caregivers to grow up to 12 plants and possess up to six ounces, envisions a dispensary system, and allows the plant to be used for a specified list of diseases and conditions.

Opiates

New Jersey Legislators Tackle Package of Heroin and Pain Pill Bills. State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodridge), chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, announced Wednesday that legislators from both parties had introduced a package of 21 bills aimed at confronting widespread heroin and prescription pill use. The bills are designed to increase access to treatment and recovery. Click on the link for more details.

Asset Forfeiture

Virginia House Panel Approves Bill Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture. A bill that would require a criminal conviction before asset forfeiture could take place has passed the Criminal Law Subcommittee of the House Committee for Courts of Justice. HB 1287, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania) now heads for a full committee vote.

Criminal Justice

Vera Institute for Justice DC Event Next Week Features Sen. Cory Booker. The Vera Institute is hosting "Justice in Focus: The Path Forward," in Washington, DC, next Tuesday. The event will feature a keynote interview with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), as well as panels with other major figures in criminal justice reform. Click on either link for more information and event details.

Drug Testing

Wisconsin Governor Moving Forward With Public Benefits Drug Testing Scheme. Republican Gov. Scott Walker today announced more details of his plan to require drug screening and testing of people seeking public benefits, including food stamps and unemployment benefits. He said that those who fail the drug test would get a chance for free drug treatment and receive job training. More details will come when he unveils his budget proposal on February 3.

Search and Seizure

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Roadside Detentions While Awaiting Drug Dogs. How long can a police officer detain you on the side of the highway while waiting for a drug-sniffing dog to come sniff your vehicle? That was the question before the Supreme Court Wednesday. The case is that of a man pulled over in Nebraska. He was issued a warning ticket and asked to consent to a search of his vehicle. He refused, but rather than allow him to go on his way, the officer detained him for eight more minutes until a drug dog arrived. From their questions, it doesn't appear the justices are inclined to side with the defendant; click the link to get the flavor of their comments. The case is Rodriguez v. US.

International

Jamaica is About to Decriminalize Ganja. The island nation most closely associated with marijuana is about to decriminalize it. The Jamaican cabinet Monday approved a bill that would do just that, as well as allow for the creation of medical marijuana and hemp industries. The bill, the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act of 2015, goes to the Senate tomorrow and will be debated there next Friday. It would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of ganja; allow its use for religious, medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes; prohibit smoking it in public places; and provide for the granting of licenses for the development of a legal hemp and medical marijuana industry.

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Jamaica is About to Decriminalize Ganja

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 18:22

This article was published in collaboration with AlterNet.

The island nation most closely associated with marijuana is about to decriminalize it. The Jamaican cabinet Monday approved a bill that would do just that, as well as allow for the creation of medical marijuana and hemp industries.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]The bill, the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act of 2015, goes to the Senate tomorrow and will be debated there next Friday.

It would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of ganja; allow its use for religious, medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes; prohibit smoking it in public places; and provide for the granting of licenses for the development of a legal hemp and medical marijuana industry.

While Jamaica is home to the Rastafarian religion, whose sacrament is marijuana, and has high usage rates (9.8% of the adult population, ranking it 10th worldwide, according to the UN), it has been slow to move forward on marijuana law reform.

It's been 14 years since a government-appointed National Commission on Ganja recommended decriminalization. At the time, Jamaican politicians were able to point to baleful threats coming from Washington as a reason not to move forward.

But things have changed. The United States is no longer wielding international drug control treaties as clubs with which to beat down reform efforts and, in fact, is moving unevenly toward marijuana legalization itself. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized it, and 14 more have decriminalized it.

The situation in the hemisphere is similar. Uruguay has already legalized it, while Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico have decriminalized the possession of small amounts. The land of the legendary Lamb's Bread pot strain and the home of ganja icon Bob Marley is in danger of being left behind when it comes to bringing marijuana laws into the 21st Century.

Groups such as the Ganja Law Reform Coalition, the Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association, and the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Task Force have been urging the government to loosen the island's pot laws not only for the sake of social justice, but also for fear that failure to act will hurt Jamaica's competitiveness in what is foreseen to be an emerging international legal marijuana market.

Now, while they're not getting full legalization, they are getting decriminalization and the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a legal marijuana industry.

"The development is long overdue and comes after years, and, in recent times, heavy pressure from what is now a diverse and broadening group of stakeholders on human rights, social, economic, scientific and medical grounds," cannabis taskforce director Delano Seiveright said in a statement.

For Prime Minister Michael Golding, it's less about social justice than economics. Marijuana law reform could boost the island's already significant tourist industry, he said.

"We need to position ourselves to take advantage of the significant economic opportunities offered by this emerging industry," Golding said.

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US IN: Parent Program On Drugs And Children Set Jan. 28 At GHS

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
Banner Graphic, 22 Jan 2015 - The Greencastle Community School Corporation will present the program "What Parents Should Know: Drugs and Their Children" on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at Greencastle High School's Parker Auditorium. Any parent who has a child from fourth grade up is invited to attend.
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CN AB: Half A Million Needles Handed Out As Harm-Reduction Program

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
Metro, 22 Jan 2015 - More than 1.8 million clean needles distributed over past four years Nearly half a million needles were handed out in Calgary last year as uptake of safe injection services offered through Alberta Health Services' Safeworks program continues to rise.
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CN ON: Sharps Containers Coming

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
The Record, 22 Jan 2015 - City Says the Installations Are Not Tied to Anti-Needle Push KITCHENER - The City of Kitchener says its decision to install sharps containers in 25 city facilities has nothing to do with a city woman's recent campaign to rid downtown of what she calls a glut of discarded drug needles.
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CN ON: Inquest Into Possible Ecstasy Death

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
The Recorder & Times, 22 Jan 2015 - KEMPTVILLE - Provincial police here are assisting a coroner's investigation into the death of a 23-year-old woman that may have been related to the use of ecstasy, also known as MDMA or Molly. Grenville OPP say that just after 3 a.m. on Sunday, they were called to a Kemptville home to assist with a woman who had no vital signs. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
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CN BC: Jodie Emery to Keep Fighting for Liberals Despite Being

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
The Georgia Straight, 22 Jan 2015 - JODIE EMERY SAYS she remains a supporter of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals after the party dropped her from its nomination race in Vancouver East. "This doesn't change anything for me," the advocate for marijuana reform told the Straight. "There are a lot of people who feel this is backtracking by the party, but most people understand that this is a high-stakes election and any sort of distraction could do a disservice."
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US CO: Column: Creating a National Cannabis Brand Might Be

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
Boulder Weekly, 22 Jan 2015 - I ran across several stories about Bethenny Frankel, a reality show personality, who, after apparently being spotted coming out of an Aspen dispensary and tweeting her delight at the experience, is rumored to be wanting to cash in on the cannabis business. Frankel developed the Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktail line, and "insiders" say she wants to sell a special strain that would not induce the munchies. This is hardly news. Google "munchies and pot" and you'll find recommendations for strains that don't necessarily force the unsuspecting into wolfing an entire giant bag of jalapeno potato chips in 15 minutes. Recent studies are indicating that cannabis opens olfactory receptors, which then helps activate appetite. But really, "the munchies" concept seems little more than a marketing device, developed and perfected from the 1970s, when pot was highly illegal yet flourishing and depicted in a long parade of stoner movies and advertising, from Cheech and Chong and Animal House to Jeff Spicola in Fast Times at Ridgemont High up through Seth Rogen's Pineapple Express.
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US NJ: Column: 'Selma' Was a Great Film, but More Work Is

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
The Trentonian, 22 Jan 2015 - I went to see Selma on Monday, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day." I smoked two joints on the way and after seeing it, I gave it a 420 on the NJWeedman movie scale. A 500 means it's right on the money, but a 420 is as close as you can get in my THC-enhanced movie evaluations. Other movies that I gave a 420 to were Half Baked, Soul Plane, Friday, How High, and of course Cheech & Chong's Next Movie. I'm a history and news buff; I love to read history and current news events worldwide, and this movie Selma is a historical example of a worldwide news event.
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US CA: Column: What's Up, Doc?

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:00
North Coast Journal, 22 Jan 2015 - I got my 215 card on a drippy early afternoon. It took about an hour and a half, but a good portion of that was spent in the waiting room - - even though I had an appointment. The whole business felt doctory and friendly - if a little rougher around the edges than your average clinic visit. Let's back up. I, like many people who grew up in Humboldt County, started experimenting with marijuana for fun in my teens. That continued through my early 20s until I realized that getting high just wasn't for me - it brought on, or at least exacerbated, anxiety and a general young-adult malaise.
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Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 22:45

California localities continue to deal with medical marijuana, bills are showing up in the states, the Kettle Falls Five want their prosecutions ended, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:right]Federal

On Monday, a member of the Kettle Falls Five sought dismissal of his federal marijuana case. The widely watched case out of Washington state has been proceeding despite passage of the "CRomnibus" appropriations bill barring the use of federal funds to pursue medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Now, Larry Harvey, 71, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, with his attorney arguing that "federal prosecutions take away Washington's authority to determine for itself whether someone is in compliance with its laws or not."

California

On Monday, Berkeley began accepting applications for a fourth dispensary. The deadline for applications is March 20. Click on the link for more details.

On Tuesday, the San Diego city council tightened dispensary rules. The council approved requiring employee background checks and testing of products for mold and pesticides, but didn't move to regulate deliveries or create stricter rules for edibles or concentrates. The rules come as the city's first permitted dispensary is supposed to open in the spring. Numerous un-permitted ones exist, but the city has been trying to shut them down.

Also on Tuesday, the Rancho Cordova city council approved a ban on outdoor grows and indoor grows if children are present. The measure was approved 5-0 and will take effect in 30 days.

Also on Tuesday, the Redding city council decided not to try to prohibit outdoor grows. Councilmembers said they wanted to wait for the state and the federal government to figure out their medical marijuana policies first.

Florida

On Monday, the state chose its medical marijuana rulemakers. The state Office of Compassionate Use has selected a 12-member panel to craft rules for growing and distributing low-THC, high-CBD medical marijuana under a state law passed last year. The panel will meet during the first week of February to set up a regulatory structure for five nurseries that will be selected to grow, process, and distribute the medicine.

Georgia

Last Friday, a CBD medical marijuana bill died. Rep. Allen Peake's House Bill 1, which would have allowed for the use of high-CBD cannabis oil to treat seizures in children, has died before even being introduced. The bill died after Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced his support for another CBD bill, which is yet to be written.

Hawaii

On Wednesday, the Health Department took over the medical marijuana program. A 2013 law transferring control of the state's medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health is now in effect. Although the program officially became part of the Health Department on January 1, it took until now for the transfer to be complete. For more detail on other program changes, as well as times for public hearings on new regulations, click on the link.

Kansas

Last Friday, medical marijuana supporters rallied in Topeka. Several dozen medical marijuana supporters were joined by a pair of Democratic lawmakers at a statehouse rally to call for legalizing the medicinal use of the herb. The two legislators, Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita) and Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), filed medical marijuana bills prior to the start of this year's legislative session. Similar measures have been filed since 2009, but none of them have made it to the discussion stage in committee.

Minnesota

Last Thursday, a Minnesota Indian tribe okayed a study on medical marijuana. The tribal council for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians has approved a study what economic benefits could accrue to the tribe by allowing the production of medical marijuana and hemp. Tribal leaders weren't interested in recreational marijuana, but saw job growth and economic development opportunities in producing medical marijuana or hemp. The federal government cleared the way for Indian reservations to participate in marijuana business last month, but so far, only one tribe, the Pinole Pomos in Northern California, has announced plans to move forward.

Rhode Island

On Saturday, the state's first vapor lounge opened. Rhode Island patients can now have a place where they can gather and enjoy their medicine together. The Elevated vapor lounge opened in Providence Saturday.

Virginia

As of Wednesday, there were at least three medical marijuana or CBD bills before the legislature. There are at two new bills aiming to make the use of high-CBD, low-THC medical marijuana legal in the Old Dominion. Filed by Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax), Senate Bill 1235 would legalize CBD cannabis oil and THC-A oil. Delegate David Albo (R-Fairfax) has filed House Bill 1445, which would also legalize CDB cannabis oil. A third bill, House Bill 1605, filed by Delegate Kenneth Plum (D-Reston) would legalize marijuana.

Washington

Last Monday, a state law banning medical marijuana advertising was ruled unconstitutional. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Martin has ruled unconstitutional a state law that prohibits the advertising of medical uses of marijuana. The law was both vague and overly broad, she ruled, concluding that it violated both the state and federal constitutions. The case is Havsy v. Department of Health.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

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