Releaf Magazine

Thousands show up for marijuana seed share in DC


WASHINGTON: The first of two seed shares in D.C. this week was held Thursday in an effort to help residents grow pot inside their homes.

Under Initiative 71, it's officially legal to grow and possess marijuana in the District.

Since it passed, the D.C. cannabis campaign says they've received many requests for cannabis seeds for home cultivation.

To help out, the group is hosting two seed shares to give D.C. residents access to seeds. Thousands of people showed up to the first seed share Thursday at Libertine on 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

Here's what you need to know: They're free and open to D.C. residents, 21 and over, with a government issued ID.

Keep in mind; you cannot bring more than two ounces of seeds to share with others.

The second seed share is on Saturday at the D.C. Cannabis campaign headquarters.

Initiative 71 allows possession of up to two ounces of pot and permits users to grow up to three plants.

Residents, however, can only smoke marijuana at home. They cannot smoke marijuana in public, nor can they buy or sell the drug.-



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Bill to limit marijuana screening by D.C. employers advances in council

An overview of the exhibitors and customers at the cannabis expo and job fair at the Holiday Inn Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 28. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

A D.C. Council committee on Wednesday unanimously advanced legislation to ban employers in the nation’s capital from testing prospective employees for marijuana until after a job offer is made.

But the law won’t free employees to light up without consequences. Employers will retain the right to screen for drugs after making a job offer — and to enforce their own drug policies with employees. The law’s primary function, supporters said, is to give prospective workers the time to prepare for a job in a workplace that prohibits marijuana use.

“It’s time for employers and employees to get used to the idea of marijuana being legal,” said Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), referring to a voter-approved ballot measure that took effect last Thursday. The measure legalized the possession, smoking and cultivation of the drug, albeit with heavy restrictions on public use.

The bill, which Orange sponsored, amounts to a first in what could perhaps be dozens of legal changes council members say they expect to undertake in coming months as they grapple with balancing marijuana’s new status as a legal intoxicant in the District against decades of laws aimed at preventing the use of the drug and punishing those found with it. Most council members have indicated that they will approve it.

Late last year, foreseeing the hiring process as the first pitfall, Orange persuaded council colleagues to approve a temporary block on such screenings, but that measure will expire soon. He said a permanent measure was needed quickly to draw employers’ attention to the matter.

Nothing in Orange’s bill upends the prohibition on federal workers using marijuana. Government contractors who must certify a drug-free workforce and those who hire for sensitive security positions could continue to test for marijuana before extending a job offer.

Employers also could still set their own terms for employment and require random or periodic drug testing of employees.

The D.C. Chamber of Commerce said last week that it would not oppose the legislation as long as employers could continue to require drug testing after making a conditional offer of employment.

According to marijuana advocates, five states — Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island — have similar protections but only for those using medical marijuana.

Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who voted for the bill, said she thinks it strikes the right balance.

“Recreational use should not be a barrier to employment,” she said.

The bill would require Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s administration to “establish a public information campaign aimed at educating the public on the impact of marijuana use and abuse.”

Under the law, Bowser (D) would also have to report to the council on a promise she made last week: to begin to address marijuana legalization in public classrooms. Within six months of passage, the legislation would require an analysis of the “type, frequency, provider, and school grade level of health education programs in public schools related to substance abuse, including programs designed to address alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use.”

Orange, however, said the prime goal is to begin to address potential discrimination in the hiring process.

“It is imperative that people who choose to use marijuana are not stigmatized when looking for employment,” his committee report on the bill concluded. D.C. law, it said, needs to “ensure that District residents are able to act within the bounds of the law and not be discriminated against.”

Orange said he looked forward to full regulation and taxation of the drug in the District. Until then, he said, laws like those limiting marijuana testing for job applicants would help the city find its way forward.

“We’re in the preliminary stages,” Orange said. “We are going to learn a lot as we go along.”


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Closer look at legalized recreational pot use

People 21 and older can now legally possess recreational marijuana in Alaska, Colorado, D.C. and Washington.

All places prohibit public consumption of marijuana, but the laws differ on buying, selling, growing, testing and taxes.

Possession: For adults 21 and older, up to 1 ounce

Grow: Up to six plants per adult 21 and older allowed in home for personal use. Can give up to 1 ounce to other adults 21 and older.

Sell: No system of recreational retail sales yet; expected late 2015 or early 2016

Testing: Rules not yet developed. Industry will be regulated by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Taxes: None yet.

Possession: Adults 21 and older, up to 1 ounce

Grow: Up to six plants for personal use. Can gift up to 1 ounce to other adults 21 and older.

Sell: Network of state-regulated but privately owned stores. Stores opened Jan. 1, 2014.

Buy: For residents 21 and older, up to 1 ounce at a time. Non-residents 21 and older may buy only 1/4 ounce at a time.

Testing: Mandatory potency testing for all products sold in stores.

Taxes: High at both wholesale and retail level, generating more than $70 million last year.

Possession: For adults 21 and older, up to 2 ounces.

Grow: Up to six plants per adult 21 and older allowed in home for personal use; 12 plants total per household. Can give an ounce to another person 21 and older.

Sell: Sales prohibited.

Buy: Buying prohibited.

Testing: No testing.

Taxes: No tax revenue because there's no system for selling marijuana.

Possession: For adults 21 and older, up to 1 ounce

Grow: No personal plants allowed.

Sell: Small number of state-regulated stores, which began opening July 8, 2014. Stores allowed only one sign.

Buy: Tourists and residents 21 and older can buy up to 1 ounce at a time.

Testing: Mandatory potency, contaminant testing

Taxes: State levies 25% excise tax at each sale: grower to processor, processor to retailer, retailer to customer.

Source: NORML; USA TODAY research



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Mayor touts ‘home grow, home use’ for marijuana

Drug legalized despite blocking effort in Congress

Marijuana will be legal to smoke privately but not to be bought or sold in the District starting Thursday, despite Congressional efforts to block a voter-approved measure that allows recreational use of the drug. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By Andrea Noble

Marijuana will be legal to smoke privately but not to be bought or sold in the District starting Thursday, despite Congressional efforts to block a voter-approved measure that allows recreational use of the drug.

The city’s mayor and police chief, touting the motto “home grow, home use,” on Tuesday offered additional guidance for how the city will move forward with implementation of the new laws, which allow for home cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana but not sale of the drug.

To help curb the potential for a free-for-all environment due to the lack of a legal way to buy marijuana in the city, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will seek to restrict the operation of so-called “cannabis clubs” — private organizations that would facilitate the open exchange of marijuana through memberships.

The restriction would put the kibosh on pot entrepreneurs who have discussed the possibility of opening such clubs in the District, a practice popular in Spain, to skirt what are widely viewed as incomplete marijuana regulations.

“Existing law prevents the consumption of marijuana in any public space or anywhere that the public is invited, and that includes restaurants, bars and coffee shops,” Ms. Bowser said. “We believe that we’ll need to clarify that also includes private clubs — private clubs that don’t charge a daily admittance but may have membership fee. We’ll need to clarify that membership cannot include marijuana.”

Addressing D.C. Council members Tuesday, Ms. Bowser said she plans to submit emergency legislation to provide the clarification and asked members for a quick approval.

Initiative 71, a ballot measure approved by voters in November, is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday at the conclusion of a congressional review period required of all D.C. laws.

The District is following Alaska, Colorado and Washington to become the fourth jurisdiction to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Nearly 30 states and the district already have legalized the distribution of medicinal marijuana.

While some Republicans on Capitol Hill have taken the legal stance that federal legislation enacted in December blocks Initiative 71 from taking effect, D.C. lawmakers believe nothing will prevent it from becoming law.

“I don’t know what the Congress will do, but I do know what my job is at this point, and that’s to make sure that we have clear rules and guidelines for the people of the District of Columbia and the agencies of our government,” Ms. Bowser said.

It remains to be seen whether the matter will be challenged in court.

Initiative 71 will make it legal for people 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for recreational use, grow up to six marijuana plants inside a D.C. residence, and to transfer up to an ounce of marijuana to others. Regulation of the sale of marijuana is a task left up to city lawmakers, who have thus far been unable to enact any legislation due to the prohibitions enacted by Congress.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said police officers are being trained to handle a variety of potential scenarios involving marijuana, but added the department will take a hard line against both public smoking of marijuana and driving while under the influence.

“It’s not as complicated as it seems,” Chief Lanier said.

The patchwork of federal and District-owned property in the city, including public-housing complexes, does create a tricky scenario for those looking to stay on the right side of the law. Possession or use of marijuana on federal property remains an arrestable offense. Federal law enforcement agencies are not required to recognize the District’s legalization and could still make arrests for possession of any quantity of marijuana, Chief Lanier said. Possession or use in public housing complexes would likely put tenants at risk of eviction or arrest, noted D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat.

In private apartment complexes or under other rental agreements, landlords could enforce nonsmoking policies, officials said....

Adam Eidinger, head of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign that got Initiative 71 on the ballot, said that if D.C. officials wanted to provide a safe space for residents to use marijuana they should endorse the cannabis club concept rather pursue additional regulations to ban it.

“There is a public interest is allowing people to go and use marijuana in a social setting,” he said, noting that parents may not want to use marijuana around their children at home.

Without a setting to use marijuana other than in a private home, Mr. Eidinger believes people will just use marijuana discreetly in public.

“I think if you did give people a place to go, they would go there,” he said.


VIA Washington Times

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Republican Congressman to Introduce Legislation to Block D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law

WASHINGTON, DC — The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing Friday on legislation recently passed by the District of Columbia that eliminates criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

The panel, chaired by Rep. John Mica (R-FL), heard testimony describing severe racial disparities in the enforcement of D.C. marijuana laws and strong support among D.C. lawmakers and residents for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

In testimony Friday before the subcommittee, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) criticized the decision to hold a congressional hearing on D.C.’s decision to reform its local marijuana laws as a step towards reducing racial disparities in its criminal justice system.

Congresswoman Norton, and Seema Sadanandan, another witness who testified on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, described how people of color are disproportionately targeted and arrested for marijuana law violations in D.C. and thereafter experience lifelong barriers to employment, housing and other necessities on account of a marijuana arrest record.

Speaking to a reporter with CQ Roll Call, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) indicated he plans to introduce a congressional resolution to overturn D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization law and Rep. Mica said that his views on whether Congress should intervene are “evolving.”

In closing remarks during Friday’s hearing, Rep. Mica indicated he might soon hold an additional hearing on the D.C. measure.

“It’s outrageous that Congress is trying to sabotage D.C.’s success in ending marijuana arrests,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Congress should follow the lead of lawmakers in D.C. and reform federal marijuana laws.”

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights and Urban Affairs released groundbreaking reports documenting enormous racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession in D.C.

These reports found that the majority of all drug arrests in the District are for simple possession of marijuana and the vast majority of the thousands arrested each year in the District are African American. African Americans in D.C. are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people – even though government surveys show that both groups use marijuana at similar rates.

The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (Council Bill 20-409)” was passed 10-1 by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Vincent Gray prior to its transmission to Congress.

It eliminates the threat of arrest for possessing marijuana and ensures that people are no longer saddled with life-long convictions that make it difficult to obtain employment and housing. The legislation also prohibits law enforcement from using the smell of marijuana as grounds for stopping and searching a person.

Instead of arresting people, the bill would impose a $25 civil fine for possession as well as forfeiture of the marijuana and any paraphernalia used to consume or carry it. This legislation is widely viewed as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Under federal law, legislation passed by the District of Columbia cannot become law until it is first made available to Congress for a predetermined period of time. Barring action by Congress, the D.C. Council projects this legislation will take effect on July 17th.

“It is inexcusable that congressional time and resources are being spent to criticize local officials for eliminating racist and ineffective marijuana laws when large swaths of the American public support an end to marijuana prohibition,” added Smith. “Members of Congress like Rep. John Fleming who say they are earnest about advancing public health and safety should take a hard look at the devastation wrought by marijuana prohibition.”

Friday’s hearing before the Subcommittee on Government Operations was the third in recent months to examine marijuana policy. Although the first two hearings examined the Obama administration’s response to state-and-local level marijuana law reforms and called only federal witnesses, Friday’s hearing was the first to call up local witnesses.

Last week, a floor amendment that would have prohibited the Veterans Administration from spending federal funds to enforce a directive prohibiting VA medical staff from recommending or even discussing medical marijuana with their military veteran patients was supported by 195 members of Congress including more than twenty Republicans.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), two members of the subcommittee that held Friday’s hearing, are cosponsors of the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013.” House Bill 1523 would amend federal law to exempt any person acting in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state from prosecution for violating federal marijuana laws.

Authored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), this legislation has received bipartisan support from more than two dozen members of Congress. Rep. Rohrabacher recently announced in Congress plans to introduce an amendment on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending federal funds to prosecute persons who are in compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their state.

A poll conducted in April 2013 by Public Policy Polling, and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project, found three out of four D.C. voters support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket.

A poll conducted in January by the Washington Post found 63 percent of D.C. residents in support of not just decriminalizing marijuana, but also taxing and regulating it like alcohol. Recent national surveys by Gallup, Pew Research Center, CNN/ORC, CBS News and other outlets found a majority of Americans support legally regulating the production and sale of marijuana.


Via The Daily Chronic

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Supreme Court rules Drug Companies exempt from Lawsuits


Drug companies failed to warn patients that toxic epidermal necrolysis was a side effect. But the Supreme Court ruled they're still not liable for damages.

July 7, 2013. Washington. In case readers missed it with all the coverage of the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act, the US Supreme Court also made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.

In a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling and award for the victim of a pharmaceutical drug’s adverse reaction. According to the victim and the state courts, the drug caused a flesh-eating side effect that left the patient permanently disfigured over most of her body. The adverse reaction was hidden by the drug maker and later forced to be included on all warning labels. But the highest court in the land ruled that the victim had no legal grounds to sue the corporation because its drugs are exempt from lawsuits.

Karen Bartlett vs. Mutual Pharmaceutical Company

In 2004, Karen Bartlett was prescribed the generic anti-inflammatory drug Sulindac, manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical, for her sore shoulder. Three weeks after taking the drug, Bartlett began suffering from a disease called, ‘toxic epidermal necrolysis’. The condition is extremely painful and causes the victim’s skin to peel off, exposing raw flesh in the same manner as a third degree burn victim.

Karen Bartlett sued Mutual Pharma in New Hampshire state court, arguing that the drug company included no warning about the possible side effect. A court agreed and awarded her $21 million. The FDA went on to force both Mutual, as well as the original drug manufacturer Merck & Co., to include the side effect on the two drugs’ warning labels going forward.

Now, nine years after the tragedy began, the US Supreme Court overturned the state court’s verdict and award. Justices cited the fact that all generic drugs and their manufacturers, some 80% of all drugs consumed in the United States, are exempt from liability for side effects, mislabeling or virtually any other negative reactions caused by their drugs. In short, the Court ruled that the FDA has ultimate authority over pharmaceuticals in the US. And if the FDA says a drug is safe, that takes precedent over actual facts, real victims and any and all adverse reactions.

Court ruling

The Court’s ruling a week ago on behalf of generic drug makers is actually a continuation of a ruling made by the same Court in 2011. At that time, the Justices ruled that the original inventors and manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, also known as ‘name brand’ drugs, are the only ones that can be sued for mislabeling, fraud or adverse drug reactions and side effects. If the generic versions of the drugs are made from the exact same formula and labeled with the exact same warnings as their brand name counterparts, the generics and their manufacturers were not liable.

The Court ruled, “Because it is impossible for Mutual and other similarly situated manufacturers to comply with both state and federal law, New Hampshire's warning-based design-defect cause of action is pre-empted with respect to FDA-approved drugs sold in interstate commerce."

And that ruling flies in the face of both common sense and justice. And as Karen Bartlett can now attest, it leaves 240 million Americans unprotected from the deadly and torturous side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. As a reminder, the number one cause of preventable or accidental death in the US is pharmaceutical drugs.


The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent - Whiteout Press



Critics react

Immediately upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, both drug manufacturers and Wall Street investors were celebrating. As one financial analyst pointed out, drug company profits should skyrocket going forward. Not only do the pharmaceutical companies no longer have to worry about safety or side effects, they are exempt from the multi-million dollar court-imposed settlements awarded to victims of their drugs.

One industry critic was quoted by Reuters after the verdict. "Today's court decision provides a disincentive for generic makers of drugs to monitor safety of their products and to make sure that they have a surveillance system in place to detect adverse events that pose a threat to patients," Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group told the news outlet.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was quick to react to the ruling by writing a stern letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, "A consumer should not have her rights foreclosed simply because she takes the generic version of a prescription drug.”

But an attorney for the drug companies, Jay P. Lefkowitz, took the opposing position saying, “It makes much more sense to rely on the judgments of the scientific and medical experts at the FDA, who look at drug issues for the nation at large, than those of a single state court jury that only has in front of it the terribly unfortunate circumstances of an adverse drug reaction."

In other words, if the FDA says something is safe, it doesn’t matter if that decision is wrong or the result of lies, fraud or deception on the part of the world’s pharmaceutical companies. And there’s no way to sue the FDA for being wrong and costing millions of unsuspecting Americans their lives. That result leaves 240 million Americans unprotected from an industry responsible for more preventable deaths in the US than any other cause.


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