What’s In The Historic Medical Marijuana Bill Being Unveiled On Tuesday

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The historic medical marijuana bill a trio of senators plan to unveil on Tuesday has a bit of something for everyone.

The bill, which activists describe as a first for the Senate, would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and implement a number of critical reforms that advocates of both medical and recreational marijuana have been seeking for years, according to several people familiar with the details of the proposal. It would reclassify the drug in the eyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration, allow for limited inter-state transport of the plant, expand access to cannabis for research, and make it easier for doctors to recommend the drug to veterans and easier for banks to provide services to the industry.

“It’s the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill in Congress,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, one of several groups consulted for the bill. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) act grew out of an amendment proposed last year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is being introduced by those two senators in conjunction with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Colorado Begins $5.7 Million ‘Good To Know’ Campaign For Marijuana Awareness

COLORADO:  The state of Colorado is spending $5.7 million to educate its citizens about the responsible use of marijuana in a major public campaign beginning this month.

The “Good to Know” initiative will utilize radio broadcasts, newspapers and the Internet, USA Today reports.

The campaign apparently has a folksy and relatable tone to it, with one of the radio spots featuring a rhyming cowboy and banjo music. Colorado’s chief medical officer Dr. Larry Wolk says its goal is to educate without alienating.


Will Congress Let D.C. Legalize Pot?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Imagine your state just passed a law legalizing marijuana in small amounts. If you are at least 21 years old, you can possess up to two ounces, give as much as one ounce to other adults, and grow as many as six marijuana plants at home. Because you enjoy consuming pot recreationally, you plant some cannabis seeds under a grow lamp in your living room, waiting for the high times it will bring.

Then, several weeks later, you learn that Congress has attempted to block your state from implementing the law. It has passed a “resolution of disapproval,” or maybe sneakily attached a “rider” to the following year’s appropriations bill that prevents your state from spending funds to execute said law.

Theoretically, any state’s marijuana law is under threat from the federal government; Washington state and Colorado legalized marijuana last year and have enacted an uneasy truce with the feds, who have agreed not to enforce laws for now. But it’s of particular concern in Washington, D.C., where the relationship between the federal and local governments poses unique jurisdictional challenges. Although D.C. gained significant independence with the Home Rule Act of 1973, all its laws and budgets still need to be sanctioned by Congress, a body in which it has no voting representative. This set-up renders the district especially vulnerable to the whims of national politicians, some of whom—historically, at least—have prioritized partisan interests over D.C.’s right to self-determination.

Senators Seek Uniform Guidelines On Recreational Pot

WASHINGTON:  Spurred by the recent Interior Department decision to block the use of federal irrigation water to cultivate marijuana, the four U.S. senators from Washington and Colorado want the White House to direct federal agencies to adopt uniform guidelines impacting recreational pot.

In a letter Monday to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the lawmakers said the water ruling conflicts with earlier guidelines issued by the Justice and Treasury departments that seek to enforce the federal ban on marijuana only selectively.

The appeal is signed by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado. All four are Democrats and represent the two states that have legalized and regulated the recreational sale of marijuana.

The letter is part of an effort to prod Congress to eventually amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to allow states to operate legal marijuana markets – and remove the possibility of federal prosecution on a range of activities related to selling and using pot.

Money Is Flowing To A New Social Network For Weed Smokers

MASSACHUSETTS:  Although Isaac Dietrich didn’t win the top spot of The Peter Thiel Fellowship, he was among 40 finalists which was enough to encourage his dream to be an entrepreneur. While Thiel co-founded Paypal during the tech boom, Dietrich founded the cannabis social networking site MassRoots.com which secured funding from Boston-based hedge fund manager Doug Leighton.

“I didn’t go to college,” Dietrich told MainStreet. “I felt it was a waste of money, because I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.”

The 21-year old attended a legal studies academy in Virginia Beach for high school.

“You either have that entrepreneurial drive or you don’t,” said Dietrich, who is an unabashed pot smoker.

Colorado Court Rules Some Marijuana Convictions Can Be Overturned

COLORADO: A Colorado judge ruled on Thursday that some people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana could have their convictions overturned.

The ruling has to do with the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012.

Judge Gale T. Miller, writing an opinion for the three-judge panel, found that the constitutional amendment legalizing possession of less than one ounce of pot “applies retroactively to defendants whose convictions under those provisions were subject to appeal or post-conviction motion on the effective date of the amendment.”

In English, that means this is a fairly narrow ruling that affects those who fought charges in court and whose appeals were in process when the amendment went into effect.

O.PenVape: ‘Google of Marijuana’ NOT Publicly Traded

NEW YORK: Message to pot stock speculators: O.PenVape, the company featured on CNBC in a feature about the marijuana industry, is a private and not publicly traded. So if you are buying shares in a pot stock this morning, it is NOT stock in O.PenVape.

On Wednesday evening, CNBC aired an hour-long feature ‘Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush,’ which included interviews with a handful of pot-industry companies. O.PenVape, a pen cigarette that vaporizes hash oil, stood out as one well-positioned company in Colorado’s green rush. The company’s pen heats up a cartridge of hash-oil, making it a sort of e-cigarette of pot.

CEO Todd Mitchem told CNBC Open Vape sells its cartridges for as much as $40 a pop and that it receives about 270,000 orders a month. Mitchem also told CNBC, as they toured O.PenVape’s offices, that the company grew 1600% in 2013 and he believes it will become “the Google of cannabis.”

The Mysterious History Of ‘Marijuana’

Marijuana has been intertwined with race and ethnicity in America since well before the word “marijuana” was coined. The drug, my colleague Gene Demby recently wrote, has a disturbing case of multiple personality disorder: It’s a go-to pop culture punch line. It’s the foundation of a growing recreational and medicinal industry.
Yet according to the ACLU, it’s also the reason for more than half of the drug arrests in the U.S. A deeply disproportionate number of marijuana arrests (the vast majority of which are for possession) befall African-Americans, despite similar rates of usage among whites and blacks, the ACLU says.

Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always use the plant’s formal name, cannabis. Numerous accounts say that “marijuana” came into popular usage in the U.S. in the early 20th century because anti-cannabis factions wanted to underscore the drug’s “Mexican-ness.” It was meant to play off of anti-immigrant sentiments.

A common version of the story of the criminalization of pot goes like this: Cannabis was outlawed because various powerful interests (some of which have economic motives to suppress hemp production) were able to craft it into a bogeyman in the popular imagination, by spreading tales of homicidal mania touched off by consumption of the dreaded Mexican “locoweed.” Fear of brown people combined with fear of nightmare drugs used by brown people to produce a wave of public action against the “marijuana menace.” That combo led to restrictions in state after state, ultimately resulting in federal prohibition.

But this version of the story starts to prompt more questions than answers when you take a close look at the history of the drug in the U.S.: What role did race actually play in the perception of the drug? Are historical accounts of pot usage — including references to Mexican “locoweed” — even talking about the same drug we know as marijuana today? How did the plant and its offshoots get so many darn names (reefer, pot, weed, hashish, dope, ganja, bud, and on and on and on) anyway? And while we’re on the subject, how did it come to be called “marijuana”?

Let’s start with the race question. Eric Schlosser recounts some of the racially charged history of marijuana in his 1994 Atlantic article “Reefer Madness” (some of the source material for the best-selling book):