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Small drop in marijuana arrests, US still near record high

By Martin Williams

WCL News — Police in the US conducted one drug arrest every 20 seconds and one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds in 2012, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report released September 16, 2013. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program report counts one arrest for each separate instance in which a person is arrested, cited, or summoned for an offense.

It shows that 82.2% of all drug arrests in 2012 were for possession only and 42.4% of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession (88% of all marijuana arrests). This amounts to almost 750,000 marijuana arrests and more than 1.5 million total drug arrests in 2012. The total represents a slight decrease from years past. During the years 2006 to 2010, police annually made over 800,000 arrests for cannabis violations.

By comparison, police made 757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the annual Uniform

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US Senate hearing seeks path for Feds to coexist with state-legal marijuana

By Betty Aldworth and Darby Beck

WCL News – Deputy US Attorney General James Cole told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 10, 2013 that in states where marijuana has been decriminalized or made legal, implementing a strictly regulated system in which cannabis is sold is the only way to prevent criminal activity such as diversion to youth and across state lines and empowerment of criminals and cartels. Cole did not challenge states’ rights to make their own drug laws, only restated the federal government’s right to challenge their regulatory schemes in pursuing certain priorities, such as preventing sales to minors, trafficking to other states, impaired driving, and increases in violence.

Committee members Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) were fully supportive of the new state laws and repeatedly stated the need for greater clarification of federal policy, particularly in relation to guidelines which prohibit financial institutions, security

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US report shows cannabis use up, but not among teens

By Martin Williams

WCL News — A new federal review and report has illuminated the failures of prohibition as a tool for controlling drug use. Despite hundreds of thousands of arrests and billions of dollars spent to reduce marijuana supply and demand, usage rates remain relatively unchanged while support for legalization has grown by leaps and bounds.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health on Nov. 4, 2013, along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In the wake of the longest, broadest and most sustained attack in US history against the cannabis plant and its consumers, medical and otherwise, currently being waged by the Obama administration, social use has become more accepted and actually increased.

Despite the blanket ban being foisted by the federal government, two states voted to legalize marijuana last year and the social

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Memo may effect major shift in banking for cannabis businesses

By Chris Conrad

WCL News — A major shift in federal banking policy may have been ignited with the August 29, 2013 US Dept. of Justice policy memo. According to reports from CNN.com and the Huffington Post, the agency offered leeway to banks and other financial institutions to provide banking services to marijuana-related businesses that comply with eight priorities that were outlined in Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s memo. Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association have reported closure of personal and business bank accounts, discontinuation of merchant processing services, and even the termination of armored car services. Yesterday’s apparent reversal opens the door to allowing the estimated $1.5 billion regulated marijuana market access to business checking and savings accounts, merchant processing, and other vital services.

“Our NCIA members and others in the regulated medical and adult-use marijuana industry across the nation have gone to great lengths to ensure they

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Feds give “green light” to Washington State to implement I-502

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee receives the word from US Attorney General Eric Holder. Photo courtesy of Gov. Jay Inslee

By Jeremy Daw and Darby Beck

WCL News — Washington Governor Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson have reached an agreement with US Attorney General Eric Holder to allow marijuana legalization to go forward in the Evergreen State. The announcement confirms the existence of long-rumored collaborative talks between state government and the federal Department of Justice on the implementation of the voter-approved Initiative 502 to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults.

“Today we received confirmation Washington’s voter-approved marijuana law will be implemented,” wrote Inslee and Ferguson in an August 29, 2013 press release. “We received good news this morning when Attorney General Eric Holder told the governor the federal government would not pre-empt Washington and Colorado as the states implement a highly regulated legalized market for marijuana.”

The

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Senado quiere poner fin al conflicto entre las leyes estatales y federales de marihuana

By Tony Newman, drugpolicy.org

El presidente del Comité Judicial del Senado, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) anunció el 25 de agosto 2013, que él se ocuparía de las discrepancias entre las leyes federales y estatales de marihuana en una audiencia del 10 de septiembre. Con 20 estados con marihuana medicinal y dos adultos que permiten el uso legal, Leahy ha invitado a Fiscal General de EE.UU., Eric Holder, y la Vice Fiscal James Cole a declarar.

En una carta de diciembre de 2012 a EE.UU. zar antidrogas Gil Kerlikowske, Leahy había pedido que el gobierno federal tiene la intención de hacer frente a estados como Colorado y Washington, que han legalizado el uso de adultos no médico, y sugirió que la legislación federal podría introducirse para legalizar hasta una onza de marihuana, por lo menos en los estados que han legalizado. También había pedido garantías de que los empleados estatales no serían

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US Senate to hold hearing on resolving state, federal cannabis laws

By Tony Newman, drugpolicy.org

WCL News — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced on August 25, 2013 that he would address discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws at a September 10 hearing. With 20 medical marijuana states and two allowing legal adult use, Leahy has invited US Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify.

In a December 2012 letter to US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, Leahy had asked how the federal government intends to deal with states like Colorado and Washington, which have legalized non-medical adult use, and suggested that federal legislation could be introduced to legalize up to an ounce of marijuana, at least in states that have legalized it. He had also sought assurances that state employees would not be prosecuted for implementing state laws.

There are several bipartisan bills in the US House that would reform federal marijuana laws, but so

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Seattle HempFest takes bite out of prohibition

The Emerald City of Seattle is more green than ever since Washington voters passed I-502. Photos by Chris Conrad.

By Chris Conrad

WCL News — Seattle police made peace with the world’s largest “protestival” for cannabis reform, the Seattle Hempfest by passing out 1,000 packs of Doritos to festival goers August 16 to 18, 2013. Each bag contained a greeting and a message to alert people to the new legalization law and the policy of the city’s police department.

This year’s annual event, which draws well over 100,000 attendees to the Emerald City, was the first since voters approved I-502. The initiative, which legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, was controversial at last year’s event because of its tight restrictions, including a ban on cultivation and an arbitrary (and probably much-too-low) per se limit of 0.5 ng/ml of THC in the blood for drivers.

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Feds tell security, armored car companies not to serve cannabis industry

By Gaynell Rogers

WCL News — On the heels of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s endorsement of medical cannabis and Eric Holder’s speech advocating Drug War reform, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency  informed US security and armored car services on Aug. 22, 2013, that they can no longer render services to state-legal cannabis providers. The announcement poses grave risks to medical cannabis patients and the general public alike, according to experts in the field.

“We need to provide financial institutions certainty they can make their own business decisions related to legal, financial transactions without fear of regulatory penalties,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee. He cited “public safety, crime and lost tax revenue”  concerns in an Aug. 29 statement. “Currently, under federal banking laws, many legal, regulated legitimate marijuana businesses operating legally according to state law are prevented from maintaining bank accounts and

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Legal marijuana may improve roadway safety

By Julie Patterson, WestCoastLeaf.com

WCL News —With Illinois becoming the 20th medical marijuana state in 2013 and broader legalization on the forefront of US news, data is being studied that explores what effects the drug may have on communities as a whole, with some surprising results. Analysts of health related behavior  claim that in states where medical marijuana has been legalized, road fatalities experience a dip in numbers, from around 11% in the first year of legalization. This could be good news for the states that are pressing for medical legalization laws to be passed.

The team of economists is careful about their claims, stressing that due diligence should always be taken when driving and that no one should drive under the influence of drink or drugs, however, these findings are more significant in revealing the effects of marijuana on society as a whole.

The Study

Led by Daniel Rees, an

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Federal court recognizes sacramental use of cannabis

Rev. Roger Christie is fighting for his religious belief in sacramental cannabis use and the right to share with his congregants. Photos courtesy of Share Christie.

By Chris Conrad, WestCoastLeaf.com

WCL News — The THC Ministry church became the second non-Rastafarian church recognized by a US court to use cannabis as a sacrament on Aug. 5, 2013, when a federal judge in Hawai’i held that its founder was entitled to a defense in federal court under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA was adopted by Congress in the 1990s, then partially struck down as being unconstitutionally restrictive on state authorities. However,  it remains in effect regarding federal prosecutors.

Rev. Roger Christie, 64, has been held without bail in the Honolulu Federal Detention Center since July 8, 2010, fighting for his First Amendment religious freedom defense, ever

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Microsoft tycoon seeks to legalize, legitimize

By Julie Patterson, Business Correspondent

US Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), and 16  cosponsors introduced The Marijuana Business Banking Act, HR 2652, in Congress July 10 to address the multiple concerns cited by financial institutions when denying or revoking the accounts of state-legal marijuana businesses and owners. Stronger measures will ultimately need to be taken to fully support legalization so that cannabis can be sold without compromising federal law, but many entrepreneurs already see ground-floor opportunities in the industry.

Investors seek to develop marijuana brands

With the latest legalization strides gaining headline news in the media across the US, investors are beginning to show interest in developing cannabis as a commercial brand. Jamen Shively, who headed up Microsoft’s corporate strategy department for six years, is seeking investment to the tune of $10 million to develop a successful cannabis brand in Washington State. Shively is hoping to build a

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