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Philadelphia Activists Brace for Smoke Down Prohibition VII

July 18th

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Final preparations by marijuana reform activists in Philadelphia are underway for Smoke Down Prohibition VII, the seventh in a series of monthly protests held at Independence National Historic Park.

Smoke Down Prohibition VIIAfter six successful rallies, The Panic Hour and Philly NORML, joint organizers of the event, will return to Independence National Historic Park, home of the Liberty Bell, to peacefully protest cannabis prohibition starting on July 26.

Unlike previous editions of Smoke Down Prohibition, which were one-day demonstrations, this event begins at 4:20 pm on a Friday, and taking a page from last year’s Occupy movement, will continue for as long as necessary — even if it stretches for days, weeks, or months.

“We ask you to join us and peacefully sit in at the Liberty Bell to stand up against cannabis prohibition,” organizers said in a press release about the event.

There will be speakers, activities, arts and crafts and workshops thro. . . . . READ MORE

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Study: 8 out of 10 Arrested for Drug Possession in DC are Black

July 13th

WASHINGTON, DC – A study by a group of civil rights lawyers found black people in Washington are arrested for minor drug offenses at a higher rate than other races.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs presented its study, which analyzed arrest statistics from 2009 through 2011, Friday, The Washington Post reported.

The authors of the report found that eight of 10 adults arrested in Washington are black, and nine of 10 people arrested on the charge of simple drug possession are black. However, only 47 percent of the city’s population is black, the study found.

“Police are spending an enormous amount of time resolving behavior that is not life-threatening,” said Roderic V.O. Boggs, executive director of the lawyers’ group.

The report a month after the American Civil Liberties Union found Washington police were arresting people for marijuana possession 60 percent more in 2010 than 2001.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said her department has “not prioritized marijuana arrests. Since day one, my priority has been combating violent crime, and the District is safer as a result.”

Study: 8 out of 10 Arrested for Drug Possession in D. . . . . READ MORE

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BUSTED: Over 70% of All Major US Drug Seizures Are Marijuana Related

July 13th

A new study has found that over 70% of recent seizures of illicit drugs in the United States are marijuana related, painting a picture of the American drug landscape and a mis-prioritized, failed, war on drugs.

The study, “Busted: Analyzing America’s Most Recent Drug Hauls,” looked at major drug seizures as reported by over 1,500 media outlets in the United States during a 13 month period from March 2012 – April 2013.

The study found that of the 5,000 most recent drug busts reported in the news, 70.5% involved marijuana — 140% more than all cocaine (13%), heroin (10%) and methamphetamine (6%) busts combined.  The study did not look at prescription medication abuse or other designer drugs, only the “big four.”

The study found high concentrations of methamphetamine and meth labs in the Midwest, an abundance of heroin in the Northeast, especially in the tri-state area, and a lot of cannabis in California and North Dakota.  Cocaine busts were virtually non-existent in Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota, and in a reality check for Breaking Bad fans, New Mexico wasn’t anywhere near the top ten in meth busts.

The study’s author, John Millward, admits that the study represents only a fraction of the total number of seizures made by the DEA, FBI, U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Border Patrol on a yearly basis, but because each of the busts were large eno. . . . . READ MORE

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US Approves ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery’s Transfer to Canada

July 11th

VANCOUVER, BC — The United States government has approved a prisoner transfer application for Mar Emery, a Canadian marijuana activist serving a five year sentence in a US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet to fund efforts to legalize marijuana.

Emery’s wife, Jodie, said she was informed of the approval by email Wednesday afternoon, shortly after speaking to her husband over the phone.

“It’s great news that the US Department of Justice has approved Marc’s transfer home,” Jodie Emery told Cannabis Culture, a magazine Emery founded. “I hope the Canadian Conservative government quickly approves the paperwork on their end so it becomes official and Marc can come home to Canada.”

The prisoner transfer must still be approved by Canadian authorities before Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot,” would be eligible to return to Canada.

Emery was sentenced to five years in US federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and is serving his sentence at the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex in Mississippi.

Emery was indicted in 2005, but wasn’t extradited to the United . . . . . READ MORE

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US Approves Marc Emery’s Transfer to Canada

July 11th

VANCOUVER, BC — The United States government has approved a prisoner transfer application for Mar Emery, a Canadian marijuana activist serving a five year sentence in a US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet to fund efforts to legalize marijuana.

Emery’s wife, Jodie, said she was informed of the approval by email Wednesday afternoon, shortly after speaking to her husband over the phone.

“It’s great news that the US Department of Justice has approved Marc’s transfer home,” Jodie Emery told Cannabis Culture, a magazine Emery founded. “I hope the Canadian Conservative government quickly approves the paperwork on their end so it becomes official and Marc can come home to Canada.”

The prisoner transfer must still be approved by Canadian authorities before Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot,” would be eligible to return to Canada.

Emery was sentenced to five years in US federal prison in 2010 for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and is serving his sentence at the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex in Mississippi.   Emery was indicted in 2005, but wasn’t extradited to the Uni. . . . . READ MORE

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Judge Rules Harborside Can Stay Open While City of Oakland Fights Feds

July 4th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A medical marijuana dispensary billed as the world’s largest cannabis store may stay open while the city of Oakland fights a U.S. government effort to shut it down or seize the property, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday in an ongoing tug-of-war in Caifornia between federal authorities and the medical marijuana industry.

In February, Magistrate Maria-Elena James, the same judge who issued the ruling on Wednesday, said the city had no right to intervene in a federal prosecutor’s civil-forfeiture action against the Harborside Health Center, which was previously featured on the Discovery Channel reality TV show “Weed Wars.”

The city appealed the ruling, and James’s latest order allows the dispensary to continue to sell medical marijuana to individuals carrying a doctor’s recommendation while the appeal is under review.

James called the question of Oakland’s legal standing in the case “a matter of significant public interest.”

Attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing . . . . . READ MORE

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City of Berkeley Fights Federal Action to Seize Medical Marijuana Dispensary

July 3rd

BERKELEY, CA – The City of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday in the action brought by the federal government in May to seize the property used by Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California.  Berkeley Patients Group has been providing medical marijuana to patients within the City since 1999.  It is in full compliance with the City of Berkeley’s medical marijuana ordinance, regulations, and zoning laws.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California has used federal asset forfeiture laws to target and close numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, even when those dispensaries have long track records of working with the cities in which they are located, responsibly providing medical marijuana to patients, and complying with state and local law.

The city’s claim was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In its claim, the City asserts that the closure of Berkeley Patients Group will harm the City through the loss of substantial revenue.  Berkeley Patients Group has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City in taxes over the years.  The federal government’s action also undermines the City’s comprehensive plan to regulate and control medical marijuana, which was designed and implemented to positively impact the health and well-being of all Berkeley residents and to which the City has devoted a significant amount of time and resources.

The claim, filed on Ju. . . . . READ MORE

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Florida Bong Ban Takes Effect, But Is It Enforceable?

July 1st

TALLAHASSEE, FL —  As of today, the sale of most pipes, water pipes and bongs will be banned in Florida as a bill passed by lawmakers in April and signed by the Governor earlier this month takes effect.  But are they really banned?

Under the new law, it is now a first-degree misdemeanor for any retailer “to knowingly and willfully sell drug paraphernalia.”  Second and subsequent violations jump to a third-degree felony.

As initially drafted, House Bill 49 was intended to ban the sale of the following smoking devices:  metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes, with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; chamber pipes; carburetor pipes; electric pipes; air-driven pipes; chillums; bongs; ice pipes or chillers.

The only pipes that the bill specifies will still be allowed for sale in Florida must be made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob.

The bill establishes five new crimes: use or possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia, delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor, transportation of drug paraphernalia, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia.

“Rather than just regulating them, let’s just ban them,” Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), a recovering crack addict turned lawmaker who authored the bill. “If we can make people drive to Georgia and Alabama and South Ca. . . . . READ MORE

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CA Medical Marijuana Dispensary Numbers Shrink in Two-Pronged Attack

June 30th

LOS ANGELES, CA — California medical marijuana dispensaries — and their patients — are under a sustained, two-pronged attack, and that is having a dramatic impact on patient access across the state. Under pressure from the federal government on one hand and newly-emboldened local officials on the other, dispensary numbers are shrinking and ever larger swathes of the state that legalized medical marijuana nearly 17 years ago are without anywhere to get medical marijuana.

Anyone who is following the situation in the Golden State at all closely has seen a numbing litany of reports of dispensaries forced out of business, including from some of the most venerable, respected, and law-abiding operations in the state.

What had been the occasional raid or prosecution by the DEA or federal prosecutors during the early years of the Obama administration has turned into a heightened onslaught since the issuance of the notorious Cole memo, written by Assistant Attorney General James Cole, two years ago next week and the announcement by California’s four US Attorneys that fall that they were declaring open season on dispensaries.

And while recalcitrant city and county law enforcement and elected officials had managed to make access to medical marijuana a pat. . . . . READ MORE

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Michigan Police Raid 3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

June 28th

SPRINGFIELD, MI — Michigan police raided three medical marijuana dispensaries and the homes of the operators Wednesday as part of an investigation that began last year.

Police say the three dispensaries raided — The Karmacy, Southwest Compassion Care Center and Happy Daze — are suspected of selling marijuana illegally, claiming undercover officers were able to purchase marijuana at each dispensary.

Michigan State Police  Detective Lt. Wayne Edington said that all three dispensaries were “operating outside the scope of the medical marijuana law.”

The three dispensaries were raided simultaneously at about 10:45 am Wednesday. Police also searched the homes of the dispensary owners later in the day, and served a search warrant for offices of the City of Springfield seeking documentation about licenses issued to the three businesses and any financial records.

In the combined raids, police seized a little over five pounds of marijuana, 150 plants seven handguns, 57,000 rounds of ammunition and 21 improvised explosive devices described as “homemade fireworks.”

It was not immediately clear if the weapons and ammunition were seized from one or all three dispensaries, or the homes of the owners.

Police say they have been investigating the dispensary operations since 2012 and claim that undercover officers were able to purchase marijuana.

Bruce Leach, lawyer for The Karmacy, says the business was operating legally and . . . . . READ MORE

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