Seattle Hempfest Review

10 09 2012

Hempfest 2012On August 17th was official opened the twenty-first Hempfest in Seattle, the biggest event in the marijuana industry! More than 300.000 persons attended what is now the biggest hemp fair in the USA. Many hemp products were on presentation and lectures were held.

As the organizers describe it on their website, “Each year, we give birth to a beautiful, bouncing Seattle Hempfest. Each year her gestation is different, The City and Parks Departments remold her and force us into a model of constant redesign. It’s amazing how it almost becomes Hempfest from scratch each year. Not a year has gone by in the past decade where they didn’t impede us with a construction project or other restriction that threatens our existence.” And this year was no exception!

Ballot measures to legalize marijuana are sprinting toward the polls in three Western states in November. Marijuana supporters say Washington’s vote on Initiative 502 is important to maintain national momentum on an issue that is beginning to see steady gains in popular support.

But the pro-marijuana community here is deeply divided over the measure. Beneficiaries of the state’s medical marijuana law fear that legalizing and regulating pot use would subject pot patients to potential arrest under the measure’s strict impaired-driving provisions.

Source: Huffington Post





Cannabis in California: A local and federal divide

1 12 2011

The recent history of cannabis in California  demonstrates a split between state and federal law that is rapidly widening. The first U.S. state to have, in 1913, prohibited the use of the devil’s herb imported by Mexican immigrants that was “marijuana”, California was also the first to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 1996.

15 years of legal ambiguity on medicinal marijuana

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

2 weeks ago, medicinal marijuana users celebrated 15 years of Proposition 215, the law legalizing therapeutic use of cannabis in California. The law allows patients in possession of a prescription to grow their own medicine or designate a legal grower (also known as a caregiver) to grow it for them, according to California state law.

Federal law, meanwhile, still does not recognize the therapeutic applications of cannabis, and logically the state laws can not override national laws. Since 1996, however, thousands of clinics have opened across the Golden State.  This  was not accomplished without legal difficulties and not all the dispensaries have remained open, but despite the paradox in legislation, the state’s entrepreneurs still managed to establish an industry of cannabis in California that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Local economy at risk

Given the very special status of the plant at federal and international levels, the medical cannabis industry in California is exclusively local, from production to distribution. For years the federal government has been trying to destabilize this market by various means.

On October 7th 2011, four District Attorneys in the Golden State claimed in a press conference that their goal was to address the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis in California. Shortly after, they sent dispensary owners an injunction to close their shops within 45 days.

Since then, the IRS has decided to claim retroactive taxes from the dispensaries in addition to new taxes on the sales of something that is still an illegal substance at a national level. This use of the tax system to put an end to an industry that seems to bother Washington is eerily reminiscent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed cannabis suppliers all over America.

Even the banks are threatened with charges of money laundering if they agree to open accounts for business people  involved in the thriving Californian economy  of producing and distributing medical marijuana!

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries targeted

The legal status of dispensaries is comparable to the Dutch coffeeshop system, with one major difference: dispensaries go against American national policy, whereas coffeeshops have been licensed by the Dutch government. Some Californian cannabis clinics have become essential businesses for their local economy thanks to local taxes, while the federal government prefers not to touch a dime of this revenue.

It is these medicinal cannabis dispensaries which are the target of the Obama administration.  A complaint has been  filed by a group of activists and lawyers to stop this crusade against the clinics, targeting the Attorney General of the United States, the director of the DEA Michelle Leonard and the four District Attorneys who acted without authorization from their supervisors.

A confrontation between Washington and L.A?

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California

The current situation creates a schism between local power and federal power. California’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and cannabis in California allows the Golden State to prosper at the expense of the federal government and its repressive policies.

Californians have recently re-elected their former Governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has always supported medical marijuana, and has even introduced legislation to improve the legal status of patients with prescriptions for cannabis. He also proposed that the distribution should be taken care of by non-profit organizations.

The support from Governor Brown, the complaint filed against representatives of the federal government and the choice of the people at the polls are all clear indicators of opposition to the policies of the federal government.

All that remains to be seen is how much wider the divide between state and federal law will be allowed to grow before one of the two sides makes a decisive move on the future of cannabis in California.





Copenhagen plans for legal cannabis!

24 11 2011

Copenhagen aerial byThe Copenhagen City Council want (yet again) take control of the Danish marijuana market! A market with an annual worth of 1.5 billion kroner, or 200 million euros.
Copenhagen Social Affairs Head Councillor Mikkel Warming said the new proposal is to completely legalize the sale of cannabis, in contrast to the Dutch model which tolerates but doesn’t control or regulate sales, and makes no provision for production or supply of cannabis to coffeeshops. The Danish capital sees the paradox in this approach – it’s hard not to – and instead plans to legalize and regulate the entire process.

” Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from?”

They want to create stores where vendors are not interested in making money, but in their customers, Mikkel said. ” Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from? A drug pusher, who wants them to use more, who wants them to buy hard drugs, or a civil servant?”

Turning ‘going to score drugs’ into something as exciting as visiting a council-run café should also deter adolescents from beginning to use cannabis while still too young, although this hasn’t been mentioned by the Head Councillor.

The council voted on the proposal, with the support of Mayor Frank Jensen, on Thursday 17th November 2011 and it was approved by a significant majority: 39 votes in favour and only 9 against. The next step is the creation of a committee to explore possible ways to legalize and control the sale of cannabis in state-run shops or cafés.
Their findings will then be presented to the Danish parliament, which currently seems more open to finding a better approach to cannabis than a prohibitionist, outdated, and inefficient system.

The Danish capital has actually hosted an alternative since 1971 as it is home to Christiania, a neighborhood with a self-proclaimed independent status where the sale of marijuana and hash takes place daily. Christiania’s famous ‘Pusher Street’ could soon become a lot quieter if the civil servants do decide to corner the Danish cannabis market!





The War On Drugs Has Failed!

7 06 2011

The global war on drugs has failed, a high-level commission comprised of former presidents, public intellectuals and other leaders studying drug policies concluded in a report released Thursday.

International efforts to crack down on drug producers and consumers and to try to reduce demand have had “devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy said.

The commission, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, challenges the conventional wisdom about drug markets and drug use.

Among the group’s recommendations:

End of criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do not harm others

— Encourage governments to experiment with drug legalization, especially marijuana

— Offer more harm reduction measures, such as access to syringes

— Ditch “just say no” and “zero tolerance” policies for youth in favor of other educational efforts.

The theory that increasing law enforcement action would lead to a shrinking drug market has not worked, the report says. To the contrary, illegal drug markets and the organized criminal organizations that traffic them have grown, the group found.

The report comes as countries such as Mexico suffer from widespread drug-related violence. More than 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico in the past four years as rival cartels battle each other over lucrative smuggling corridors and as the army fights the cartels.

The commission’s findings add more high-profile voices to a growing movement calling for a radical approach to drugs. Other leaders, such as former Mexican President Vicente Fox, have called for drug legalization as part of a solution to his country’s woes.





Medicinal cannabis patients classed as ‘drug addicts’ by Oregon sheriffs

13 04 2011

Despite the amount of illegal firearms and genuinely harmful drugs that America seems to be knee-deep in, police in Oregon are concerned that card-holding medicinal marijuana users might be legally carrying guns.

Under the U. S. Gun Control Act of 1968, guns may not be sold to drug addicts. Most people would agree that this is a good idea, as the mental image of a ‘drug addict’ is almost always negative: shaking, dirty, paranoid, and incapable of rational thought. Nobody wants to arm that person.

An elderly medicinal marijuana user

An elderly medicinal marijuana user in Oregon (image courtesy of NORML)

Concealed Handgun Permits are refused

The sheriffs of Oregon, however, are classing medicinal cannabis users as drug addicts and refusing to issue concealed handgun permits to them. The sheriff’s office, by state law, should not refuse to grant such a license provided a list of conditions is met. These conditions usually  include U.S. citizenship, completing  a gun safety course, no criminal record, no mental illness or substance abuse problems. Again, these are all reasonable requirements, but the medicinal cannabis patients who fulfill them are still being refused the permit.

Use of prescribed marijuana should not limit a person’s rights

Retired school bus driver Cynthia Willis is one such patient, and along with three co-plaintiffs she is part of a potentially landmark case currently under consideration by the Oregon Supreme Court. Cynthia likes to carry a Walther P-22 automatic pistol, which she says she’s never had to draw, for self-defense. She also uses cannabis to control muscle spasms and pain from her arthritis, but says she never uses it when she plans to carry her gun (or drive). So far she’s won two court cases on the argument that prescribed drug use does not disqualify a person from holding a concealed gun permit, and medicinal cannabis is a prescribed drug like any other.

Outdoor medicinal marijuana

An outdoor medicinal marijuana crop in America

More at stake than the right to carry a concealed firearm

What is at stake here is not just the right of medicinal cannabis users to carry (concealed) firearms: by Oregon law, if someone doesn’t have a concealed gun permit but does have a gun license, they can simply carry the gun openly, as Cynthia plans to do if she loses her case. Given the tragic events in Alphen aan den Rijn on Saturday as the latest in a long line of horrific shootings by licensed gun owners throughout the world,  it can be argued that gun licenses should be revoked altogether.

How do you abuse your own medicinal cannabis crop?

The underlying issue of concern in Oregon is the classification of medical marijuana patients as ‘drug addicts’, with all the negative connotations of this epithet. Although cannabis seeds have never been illegal in Oregon, and it was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of bud back in 1973, courts recently decided that employers had the right to fire medicinal cannabis users. The sheriffs of this county openly argue that the majority of medicinal card holders are abusing the right to use ganja as a medicine, despite the fact that buying, selling, and dispensaries are still prohibited so patients must grow their own (or have someone grow it for them without profit) in order to do so.

Flyer for the Oregon NORML Cannabis Cafe, with buds

NORML is active in Oregon, which was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Defending the rights of medical marijuana users

Executive Director of NORML Allen St. Pierre is focused on defending the right of every medicinal marijuana card holder to be treated like any other citizen: “A person who uses medical cannabis should not have to give up their fundamental rights as enumerated by the Constitution,”‘ St. Pierre said.

Source material for this article here .





French newspaper Le Figaro warns of cannabis cyber-police and fictional worldwide cannabis seed shipping

31 03 2011

In these times of increasing repression in France, national daily ‘Le Figaro’ shows its true colours as a propaganda tool rather than a source of factual information.

An article published on the website of Le Figaro last week (23rd March 2011)  aroused our curiosity as, in addition to vague threats about cyberpolice, it mentioned the well-known cannabis seed company Sensi Seeds on several occasions.

Picture used to illustrate what you can buy online, according to the paper

Fact or propaganda? An extract from the beginning of the article states:

“ [Based] In the Netherlands, the Sensi Seed website unapologetically advertises their ‘cannabis seedbank’ in all languages. They sell complete culture tents, similar in size  to wardrobes, ‘bloom boosters’ and even teach how to ‘grow with the Moon,’ to optimize growth according to the lunar calendar. From “Shiva Shanti” at 20 euros for ten seeds to the “Marley’s Collie”, 120 euros, “a strain of ganja celebrated by the great Bob Marley”, the bank offers hundreds of varieties. And even accessories: caps, t-shirts, playing cards. Everything is available worldwide, sent in express parcels.” Read the rest of this entry »





10 Facts about medicinal cannabis

17 02 2011

The best way to make change is by sharing your knowledge about cannabis and a top ten list is easy to remember and can help to convince sceptic people, so here is a list of the most notable benefits of marijuana.

  1. Treats Migraines
  2. Slow Tumor Growth
  3. Relieves Symptoms of chronic disease
  4. Prevents Alzheimers
  5. Treats Glaucoma
  6. Prevents Seizures
  7. Helps those with ADD and ADHD
  8. May treat multiple sclerosis
  9. Helps relieve PMS
  10. Helps calm those with Tourettes Syndrome and OCD

10 major health benefits from cannabis

Source: Medical Insurance





Cannabis Debates Begin Tomorrow

4 02 2011

In response to the current plans for limiting the right to buy cannabis to Dutch residents, and other related restrictions, a series of debates are taking place throughout the Netherlands during February and March. Beginning tomorrow (05/02) at the Cannabis College in Amsterdam, the Cannabis Debates are open to everyone over the age of 18 and attendance (14:00 to 17:00) is free.

Workable Cannabis Policy
The Cannabis Debates are organized by the VOC (lit. Society for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition) and THC (Taskforce for Cannabis Management), an independent work-group including members of the National Platform of Coffeeshop Unions (LOC) and the VOC. Their aim is to present a workable and well supported alternative to the potentially disastrous schemes favoured by the Cabinet.

This alternative is a clear and regulated management of cannabis, including growing, for personal use and would effectively remove the ‘back-door’ criminality from the ‘front-door’ legal sales. The contradiction between illegal wholesale supply and decriminalized personal supply is the root of the problems with the tolerance policy, caused not by going ‘too far’ as many politicians seem to think, but by not going far enough.
Concept model 'Van Gedogen Tot Handhaven'

Be part of the Cannabis Debates
The management concept presented by THC sets out a practical and safe system for regulating the cannabis trade and is entitled ‘Van Gedogen Naar Handhaven’ (‘From Tolerance To Management’). Contributions and suggestions are welcome from everyone who attends the debates (please bear in mind that the main language will be Dutch). Considering that the Tweede Kamer began their own debate on moving from cannabis tolerance to zero tolerance exactly a year ago today, the Cannabis Debates offer an essential opportunity to find a saner solution that must not be missed.

Other debate dates:

Zaterdag 26 februari:
Coffeeshop The Pink, Willemstraat 35, Eindhoven

Zaterdag 5 maart:
Koffieshop De Os, Korfmakersstraat 2, Leeuwarden

Maandag 21 maart:
Live 330 / Cremers, Korte Molenstraat 2, Den Haag

Source: VOC Nederland, Zaterdag 5 februari eerste cannabis debat in amsterdam





Czech police wants to use seized cannabis for treatment

2 02 2011

Well it’s definitely an idea only a cop could come up with, but while being surrealistic, it seems to reignite the debate on medical cannabis in a country where all drugs are already decriminalized in small amount.

Obviously the Justice Minister of the Czech Republic sees in this idea an opportunity to lower costs for his ministry not to dismiss it, but the expert quoted in the original article is right about the quality of the cannabis grown in illegal operations. It’s just not grown for such purpose.

cannabis farm police
Rather than seizing it, why not grow it?

The junior government Czech Public Affairs (VV) party supports the idea of marijuana being legalised for for medical purposes. But while first thinking about importing  cannabis from Holland, they now appear to be tempted by the cut in costs such initiative would create, not seeing any troubles in using weed from the black market to provide for patients’ treatment .

Maybe this is the opportunity to think about the legislation in a different way for medical marijuana since more and more Czech state institutions and politicians support the use of hemp for medical purposes.

Well even if the idea is not a safe one for patients, at least it opens the debate on medical cannabis. Let’s just hope this will lead to a new law legalising the medical use of cannabis in yet an other European country. And if police wants to help, they could provide with the grow equipment from previous seizure rather than the weed itself.

Sources: Cannabis Culture





What Will My Grow Room Smell Like?

29 01 2011

The City Council Can Help!

30,000 cannabis-scented cards have been distributed to residents of Den Haag and Rotterdam by their city councils. This disturbing plan aims to help people recognize the smell of grow rooms and report on their neighbours.scratch-card

We have very little confidence that asking people to rat on their neighbor will actually improve the standard of living in any given city. Luckily this plan is doomed from the start as the cards smell as much like weed as Magic Tree air fresheners smell like an actual pine forest.

For people who already know what a grow room smells like, here are a few suggestions of other things that can be done with a card that smells of cannabis:

  1. Hang it from the rear view mirror of your car. If the police ask why your car smells of marijuana, simply point at it and smile.
  2. Emergency deodorant. Rub armpits quickly while no-one is looking.
  3. Take it to a festival- your tent will smell fantastic, attract new friends, and be easy to find in the dark (it’s the one that smells like a grow room).







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