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VICE founder Shane Smith interviews President Barack Obama, discussing a host of issues important to Americans, from foreign policy and marijuana legalization to college affordability and global warming.
In this excerpt, President Obama discusses the issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana.
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News Today: Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high.
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Stoned Girls Presents: High Finance
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Lost in the shuffle on Election Day, voters in two states legalized industrial hemp, setting the foundation to further nullify federal prohibition in practice.
Provisions authorizing the cultivation of industrial hemp were included in the voter initiatives legalizing marijuana in California and Massachusetts.
The new Massachusetts law prohibits any state interference with hemp production in the state.
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person 21 years of age or older shall not be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, sanctioned or disqualified and is not subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for possessing, producing, processing, manufacturing, purchasing, obtaining, selling or otherwise transferring or delivering hemp.
The new law does not require any license to grow hemp, and it creates no state regulatory structure. This will have a similar effect as a bill passed in Connecticut last year removing hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. In short, the state will treat industrial hemp like other plants, such as tomatoes. By ending state prohibition, residents of Massachusetts have an open door to start industrial farming should they be willing to risk violating the ongoing federal prohibition.
Provisions in California’s Prop 64 allow the cultivation of industrial hemp as an agricultural product for agricultural or academic purposes. The law also creates a structure to regulate hemp production in the state. The California law does not require growers to get federal permission to cultivate hemp in the state.
FEDERAL FARM BILL
Early in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
In short, current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions only, for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. The new California and Massachusetts laws ignore federal prohibition and authorize commercial farming and production anyway.
By rejecting any need for federal approval, state legalization of hemp sets the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. California and Massachusetts join with other states – including Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Vermont and others – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.
While prospective hemp growers would still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal pe [...]
Denver has approved a first-in-the-nation law allowing people to use marijuana at bars, restaurants and other public spaces such as art galleries or yoga studios.
The catch: Patrons could use pot as long as it isn't smoked and the locations would have to seek the approval of neighbors.
Denver voters approved Proposition 300 as eight other states legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes last week. The Denver vote was so close that it took an entire week for supporters to claim victory and opponents to concede.
"It's the sensible thing to do," said Emmett Reistroffer, a Denver marijuana consultant and campaign manager for the pot-in-bars measure. "This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis."
The city measure takes effect immediately, but it has a lot of caveats.
First, interested bars and restaurants would have to show they have neighborhood support before getting a license to allow marijuana use. In addition, patrons would have to bring their own weed to comply with state law banning the sale of both pot and food or drink at a single location.
Patrons at participating bars could use pot inside as long as it isn't smoked. The law does provide for the possibility of outside smoking areas under restrictive circumstances.
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project and a Denver proponent of the consumption law, said the measure would reduce instances of tourists smoking pot on sidewalks and in parks because they have nowhere private to consume weed.
A Denver billboard promoting the measure featured a large arrow pointing to a sidewalk below, telling voters that without a provision for social pot use, folks will keep smoking pot in plain view.
"We are setting up a system that is still more restrictive than what we see with alcohol consumption," Tvert said.
Supporters of the measure had no guess on how many establishments would apply for the permits or how long it would take for them to demonstrate community acceptance and receive permits. So it could take many months before Denver sees any Amsterdam-style coffee shops.
The measure sunsets in 2020, unless city officials renew the licenses or voters make the pot-in-bars measure permanent.
Current Colorado law does not allow or ban public marijuana use. The result is a hodgepodge of local ordinances related to marijuana clubs.
Denver is the first city to allow use in bars and restaurants. The state Legislature is expected to consider a bill next year to clarify that communities can allow on-site pot consumption if they wish.
Alaska is the only state that allows on-site consumption at pot retailers. However, the state doesn't allow use in bars or restaurants, and it's still working on rules for how those pot shop "tasting rooms" would operate.
California's recreational marijuana measure approved last week specifically allows pot clubs, and legalization measures approved in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada don' [...]
© Andres Stapff
California has voted to sanction cannabis for recreational use, and Florida has approved the use of the drug to alleviate symptoms of illness, as a raft of US states endorsed loosening their marijuana legislation through ballot initiatives.
Needing at least 60 percent approval to pass, Amendment 2 received 71 percent of the votes from Floridians.
“This is a major tipping point,” said Tom Angell, from the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority. “With Florida’s decision, a majority of states in the U.S. now have laws allowing patients to find relief with medical marijuana, and these protections and programs are no longer concentrated in certain regions of the country like the West and Northeast."
Nearly two-thirds of the voters in North Dakota backed Measure 5, which allows doctors to prescribe cannabis. Arkansas passed a similar law. Montana previously ratified the use of medical marijuana and has now voted to liberalize the oversight of doctors prescribing the drug.
Fifty-five percent of voters in California approved the recreational use of marijuana in a state which first allowed its medical use in a ballot two decades ago.
Recreational use legislation was approved in Massachusetts and Nevada as well. Arizona voted against the measure while Maine is currently backing the proposal by a margin of 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent with 89 percent of votes counted.
California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada were among the 25 US states that already allow the use of medical marijuana, which voted on whether to join four states, and the District of Columbia, which already allow recreational use.
Voters cast ballots as early absentee voting began ahead of the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. October 12, 2016. © Aaron Josefczyk
Death, taxes and condoms: Bonanza year for hot-button ballot issues
The various propositions, separately drafted in each voting region, allow the use of cannabis by adults aged 21 and older. All five sought to legalize possession of small quantities for personal use, and sanction residents to grow a personal supply at home.
Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota, where cannabis remains illegal, voted on the first step towards legalization, which allows its medical use for serious conditions such as AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and [...]
Food Services of America, a subsidiary of Services Group of America is funding efforts to keep marijuana illegal. It makes sense, considering that a vast majority of America’s prisoners are locked in prison on marijuana charges, and the company stands to gain a lot of business from the laws staying the same.
The influence that the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries have on keeping marijuana illegal has been well documented, but the influence of prison contractors is rarely discussed.
The prison industry is one of the fastest growing and top-earning businesses in the United States. In the past three decades, this enterprise has grown into a monstrous system of oppression that now houses over 2 and a half million people in the US. This number is, by far, the largest prison population in the world. No country on earth has as many inmates as the “land of the free.”
Ironic isn’t it? Since 1991 the violent crime rate in America has dropped at least 20%, while the amount of people in prison has increased by 50% in that time. These numbers show that the rapid growth in the prison population is primarily due to over prosecution of nonviolent crimes.
This has nothing to do with “cleaning up the streets” or making our society safer — it is all about money and control. The prison system as it stands now does not make our society any safer but instead turns average nonviolent offenders into hardened criminals by exposing them to such a harsh environment.
The sad truth is that the way our prison system has been structured has actually outlawed more than half of the US population. Nonviolent offenders have no place behind bars. The savage conditions of prison will turn most people into violent offenders once they get out. Which is exactly what the prison establishment wants – return customers.
This establishment is the collection of state and quasi-state/private industries that make up the “prison industrial complex.” Billions of dollars are made every year in this industry. One company, Wackenhut Corrections, makes over a billion dollars a year and they aren’t even the biggest prison service in the country.
These numbers also don’t take into consideration the many satellite businesses that surround this industry. There are over 1,000 vendors that specifically sell correctional paraphernalia. Even local phone companies cash in on the operation. The companies install payphones for free because those phones can generate $15,000 per year from each inmate making a phone call every day.
Those companies are just the tip of the iceberg. That isn’t even counting the police, lawyers, wardens, politicians and food distributors that line their pockets through the incarceration of peaceful Americans.
All of these organizations have a distinct interest in keeping nonviolent people in jail. So, it should come as no surprise a prison contractor is working to keep marijuana illegal. [...]
Germany-based pharmaceutical giant Bayer has finally sealed the deal with Monsanto, purchasing the seed giant for $66 billion following months of negotiations and various offers.
The merger is reported to be one of the biggest of all-cash deal on record.
There are many effects of this huge merger but as usual, the consumer loses out. Firstly, it strengthens the monopolization of the world’s food supply. It also means more GMOs and chemicals to be sprayed on them.
Some are now predicting the merge could also mean the takeover of the marijuana industry.
According to Big Buds Mag:
Monsanto has an intimate business relationship with Scotts Miracle-Gro, a convicted corporate criminal– and Scott’s Miracle-Gro is trying to take over the marijuana industry,
Is Monsanto Going After the Pot Industry?
In states where the plant has been legalized or decriminalized, Scott’s Miracle-Gro has looked to capitalize on the ever expanding cannabis industry.
CEO of SMG, Jim Hagadorn, stated his intentions – spend up to $500 million to completely buy out the marijuana industry.
A Scott’s Miracle-Gro front group has already purchased General Hydroponics, Botanicare and Gavita:
Major hydroponics nutrients, lighting, soil, and other grow equipment manufacturers report they’ve also been offered takeover bids by Scotts Miracle-Gro or its ‘Hawthorne’ front company. Maximum Yield Magazine, which bans marijuana hydroponics nutrients company Advanced Nutrients from its indoor gardening expo events, welcomed a Monsanto affiliate into its Boston gardening expo several years ago.
Of course, Bayer play a leading role in this pre-planned monopolization.
The German chemical lords do business with GW Pharmaceuticals, a company based in the United Kingdom that grows cannabis and produces medicines from its compounds.
Monsanto and Bayer Share Information on How to Genetically Engineer Cannabis
Bayer sells some of GW Pharmaceuticals’ products, including Sativex, a costly medical cannabis spray that’s reported to work less effectively than naturally grown pot.
Both Monsanto and Bayer have a history of producing chemical weapons used in war and toxic products, including PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Roundup and GMOs.
Members of the cannabis industry have seen the writing on the wall in terms of the world’s seed monopolies’ interest in marijuana.
“Michael Straumietis, founder and owner of hydroponics nutrients company Advanced Nutrients, has constantly warned the marijuana community about Monsanto, Scotts Miracle-Gro, GMO marijuana, and corporate takeover of the marijuana industry.”
The two corporations, which have now merged into one, have agreed to share trade secrets about plans to produce genetically modified marijuana.
Monsanto investor George Soros attempts to legalize pot in Uruguay
“Bayer is partnered with GW Pharmaceuticals, which grows its own prop [...]
A very dank Gallup poll found that 13 percent of American adults currently smoke marijuana. That comes out to 33 million Americans, meaning if they all gathered to make their own state, it would have a higher population than Texas – probably chiller, too.
The percentage of Americans who smoke weed has nearly doubled in the past three years, according to a recent Gallup poll. In 2013, the pollster found 7 percent of Americans were actively toking. By July, that number had increased to 13 percent.
A large part of this increase may be due to the decriminalization of marijuana on a state level. While the federal government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug – grouped with heroin, date rape drug GHB and bath salts, nearly half the states have legalized medicinal use of pot.
The Gallup poll confirmed that legalization does play a part in the increase, noting that residents of the Western states where four states have legalized marijuana were significantly more likely to smoke than in the rest of the country.
The study found that the most likely group to smoke marijuana are male adults aged 18 to 29, who earn under $30,000 a year with either some college or a college degree and who rarely attend church and live in the West.
It is worth noting that, while those who earned under $30,000 were the most likely income bracket to be marijuana smokers, annual incomes for both the $30,000 to $75,000 group and those who earned $75,000 and above were equally likely to have smoked. In addition, 9 percent of both groups were regular smokers.
The polls also looked at groups that have tried marijuana, but aren’t currently using it. When looking at the earning groups, the mostly likely to have tried marijuana earned about $75,000.Nine states will vote on legalizing marijuana in November for recreational use, not just medicinal. The results could have a huge impact on the current number – and the tobacco industry.
The Washington Post pointed out that there are 40 million cigarette smokers in the US, and that number is decreasing. Given that there are currently 33 million active pot smokers in the country, marijuana could [...]