United States

Cannabis front in Western water wars?

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

WashingtonCannabis cultivation is emerging as an issue in the American West's interminable conflicts over control of water. On May 20, the US Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec), which supplies irrigation districts across the western states, issued a policy memo saying its water may not be used for marijuana. BuRec staff would document "all activities and communications" regarding "known or potential uses" of its waters for cannabis cultivation—and "will report such use to the Department of Justice." Washington state's Roza Irrigation District, which supplies BuRec water to some 72,000 acres in Yakima and Benton counties, in early April issued a "precautionary message" warning cannabis growers that they could get cut off. But the practical effects of the policy are unclear. If the Justice Department were to target irrigation districts for supplying water when it's not targeting the folks actually growing the cannabis, it would have a lot of angry corn and apple farmers on its hands.

Did Missouri decriminalize?

Posted on May 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

leaf Missouri has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country, but became the latest state to remove criminal penalties for simple possession arrests on May 13, when a bill passed earlier this year by the legislature became law without Governor Jay Nixon’s signature. The new law, Senate Bill 491, eliminates jail time for possession of up to 10 grams on a first offense. The new law also reduces possible sentences related to sale and cultivation, lifting the current ban on probation or parole for those with third felony offenses. However, it will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, and the protections against incarceration only apply to those without prior marijuana convictions. Additionally, a possession charge will remain a criminal offense, merely reduced to a Class D misdemeanor from a Class A misdemeanor. The Marijuana Policy Project is saying the new law counts as "decriminalization," but Missouri attorney and NORML board member Dan Viets, who helped draft the bill, says, "Nobody should call this decriminalization." (CelebStoner, May 16; Daily Chronic, May 15)

Feds block Kentucky hemp seed shipment

Posted on May 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

leafThe Louisville Courier-Journal reports May 9 that a 250-pound shipment of hemp seed is being held up by US Customs and Border Protection at the city's airport—despite the fact the seeds had been ordered by Kentucky's state government for pilot projects that are allowed under the federal Farm Bill that Obama signed into law in February.  If the seed isn’t released and planted by July, some of the projects could be significantly limited or delayed entirely, said Holly VonLuehrte, spokesperson for Kentucky agriculture commissioner James Comer. She told the newspaper that the state Agriculture Department may go to court to have the seeds released in time for this year’s growing season

Hash oil explosions in the news...

dab rigOK, here comes the latest media blitz in the backlash against the recent gains for cannabis legalization... The Associated Press on May 6 runs a lurid story (one of several suddenly in the news), topped by a photo of a forelorn burn victim petting his dog for comfort, entitled "Hash Oil Explosions Rise With Legalized Marijuana." The lead: "The opening months of Colorado's first-in-the-nation recreational marijuana industry have seen a rise in fiery explosions and injuries as pot users try to make the drug's intoxicating oil in crude home-based laboratories. Since Jan. 1, when sales began, the state's only certified adult burn center has treated 10 people with serious injuries they suffered while making hash oil, compared with 11 in 2013 and one in 2012." Firefighters in Colorado have responded to at least 31 hash-oil explosions so far this year, compared with 11 all of last year, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area—a slightly questionable claim, given that the number of explosions and number of casualties for last year are identical. A police sargeant in the Denver suburb of Thornton, which saw its first such explosion in January, is quoted: "These today are the meth labs of the '90s."

SCOTUS deals new blow to Fourth Amendment

Posted on April 26th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

SCOTUSThe US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on April 22 in Navarette v. California that a traffic stop that led to a marijuana arrest was constitutional because police had reasonable suspicion the driver was intoxicated. In 2008, California Highway Patrol officers stopped Lorenzo Prado Navarette's pickup truck on a Mendocino County road based on a 911 tip about reckless driving. The officers said they smelled marijuana when approaching the vehicle. They conducted a search and found 30 pounds of cannabis. Navarette and a passenger were arrested and charged. At trial, they moved to suppress the evidence on grounds that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights because the officers lacked reasonable suspicion when they pulled Navarette over. But in the opinion authored by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the majority found that while an anonymous tip will not always lead to reasonable suspicion, in this case it did. The court found that "under appropriate circumstances, an anonymous tip can demonstrate sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop." Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito lined up with the majority, as did swing voters Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. (Sacramento Bee, This Week, Jurist, April 22)

Five Washington state medical marijuana patients go to trial

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington state are to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients. The federal trial of the "Kettle Falls 5" is scheduled for May 12, pending several pretrial motions which will be heard on April 22 before US District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane, Wash. Because of marijuana's illegal status under federal law, patients like the "Kettle Falls 5" are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court..

Cannabis contributes to California drought?

Posted on April 12th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CaliforniaThe latest boost to anti-cannabis propaganda comes in the form of California's crippling drought. The dought is no joke. For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project has cut off the flow to towns and farmland because there simply isn't enough water. But is cannabis a major factor here? An April 10 report on the Weather Channel, "Marijuana: Another Contributor to California's Drought," reads: "Along the coast of Northern California, where there are thousands of pot plants hydrated by a single, stressed water source, each plant requires as much as six gallons of water per day in the summer months... As an already extensive drought likely gets even more dire this summer, marijuana farms are going to guzzle up a lot of the state's water if dry, sunny conditions persist." Compare this with rice—a key crop of California's heavily-irrigrated Central Valley, and one of the world's most water-intensive crops, at some 435,000 gallons per acre per year according to a UC Davis study. Not counting water lost due to irrigation ineffiiciencies. Cannabis is water-thrifty in comparison. Also highly water-intensive is another key California crop, alfalfa—used almost entirely as an animal feed. As Scientific American noted, "The relatively low-value crop uses up about a quarter of California's irrigation water but contributes only 4% to the state's total farm revenue." Not to mention the water-profligate suburban sprawl in the interior deserts of Southern California, complete with private swimming pools and year-round emerald-green golf courses. Pointing to cannabis almost seems designed as a distraction from some far more critical points.

Maryland passes decrim law, expands medical program

Posted on April 8th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

cannabisPossession of personal quantities of cannabis will no longer be a crime in Maryland under a law passed April 7 and sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley. Adults caught with less than 10 grams will get a citation and be fined, but will no longer face jail. O'Malley has pledged to sign the law—a reversal from views he held as Baltimore's tough-on-crime mayor. "As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety," O'Malley said in a statement. "I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health. Such an acknowledgment in law might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”

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