President Barack Obama says he won't go after pot users in Colorado and Washington, two states that just legalized the drug for recreational use. But advocates argue the president said the same thing about medical marijuana - and yet U.S. attorneys continue to force the closure of dispensaries across the U.S. Welcome to the confusing and often conflicting policy on pot, where medical marijuana is legal in many states, but it is increasingly difficult to grow, distribute or sell it.
The Czech Republic already has one of the world’s most liberal approach to recreational drug possession. And it will get more liberal still: beginning next year the government will allow marijuana to be distributed by pharmacies for patients with a prescription. Lawmakers in parliament’s lower house overwhelmingly passed a bill clearing the way for legal, but regulated medical marijuana on December 7.
A showdown over the fate of the country's largest medical marijuana dispensary heads to federal court, and the outcome could hint at what lies ahead as a growing number of states opt for legalization. This fall, Oakland became the first municipality to sue federal prosecutors in an attempt to block them from shuttering a medical cannabis facility.
The sequential strategy will look familiar to Coloradans: first, pass a medical-marijuana law; then put dispensaries in place; then go for recreational legalization. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is pushing medical-marijuana laws in New York, Illinois and New Hampshire, along with contemplating a ballot initiative in Idaho. The true test for marijuana activists will come in 2016, the next presidential election year. That is when MPP hopes to run legalization initiatives in California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maine.
Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but at a government-approved medical marijuana farm at a secret location near the city of Safed, is at the cutting edge of the debate on the legality, benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. When Zach Klein, a former filmmaker, made a documentary on medical marijuana that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2009, about 400 Israelis were licensed to receive the substance. Today, the number has risen to about 11,000.
Vigorous regulation of a thriving medical-marijuana industry in Colorado offers the best glimpse of what is coming to Washington when it launches its voter-approved social-use market. With continuous surveillance, bar-coded plants and strict financial background checks, Colorado's rules allowed capitalism to be unleased, creating an instant $200 million industry. With retail prices — averagingabout $7.50 a gram — among the cheapest in the country.
A federal magistrate judge ruled that a medical-marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the world's largest can continue to operate, at least for now, in Oakland and San Jose despite a bid by federal prosecutors to shut it down. The ruling marks the latest move in a tug-of-war between local and federal authorities over medical marijuana dispensaries. The judge ruled that the government, not the landlords, must move to evict Harborside for its alleged violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. (See als: Landlord can’t shut down nation’s largest pot shop, judge says)
In a case that highlights the growing clash between the federal government and those states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, the United States Justice Department indicted Matthew R. Davies six months ago on charges of cultivating marijuana, after raiding two dispensaries and a warehouse filled with nearly 2,000 marijuana plants. The case illustrates the struggle states and the federal government are now facing as they seek to deal with the changing contours of marijuana laws and public attitudes toward the drug.
Marijuana will continue to be considered a highly dangerous drug under federal law with no accepted medical uses, after a U.S. appeals court refused to order a change in the government's 40-year-old drug classification schedule. The decision keeps in place an odd legal split over marijuana, a drug deemed to be as dangerous as heroin and worse than methamphetamine by federal authorities, but one that has been legalized for medical use by voters or legislators in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. For years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute for Drug Abuse have made it all but impossible to develop a robust body of research on the medical uses of marijuana. For a muscular agency that combats vicious drug criminals, the DEA acts like a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.
The Czech Senate approved a bill allowing for the legal sale of cannabis for medical purposes, affirming a decision of the country’s lower house of parliament. The proposal, which enjoys very strong support from all political parties in both houses of parliament, should become law later this year, pending an expected presidential signature. But there’s a catch: the text of the bill says that only imported cannabis will be allowed for sale in the first year “to ensure standards.”
Canada’s ban on marijuana was effectively upheld when Ontario’s top court struck down the country’s laws related to medicinal pot much to the chagrin of activist groups. In overturning a lower court ruling, the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had made numerous errors in striking down the country’s medical pot laws. The Appeal Court found the judge was wrong to interpret an earlier ruling as creating a constitutional right to use medical marijuana. Doctors are allowed to exempt patients from the ban on marijuana, but many physicians refuse to prescribe on the grounds its benefits are not scientifically proven.
Medical marijuana may soon be legally sold and available via doctors' prescriptions, with senators overwhelmingly approving the legislation in a 60-7 vote Jan. 30. The bill, which now awaits a presidential signature, marks a major step toward official acceptance of marijuana use in the country, after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Fischer decriminalized possession of "small amounts" of marijuana for personal use in 2009.
The California Supreme Court appeared inclined to uphold municipal bans against medical marijuana dispensaries. Meeting for oral arguments, the state high court considered the legality of a ban on dispensaries by the city of Riverside. Several justices noted that the state Constitution gives cities wide policing power over land use and suggested that the state's medical marijuana laws have not undercut that authority. (See also: Marijuana dispensary curbs likely to stand)
More than a decade ago, after several court rulings, the federal government was forced to create regulations allowing people with legitimate needs to possess or grow cannabis for personal medical use without facing criminal charges. Yet it seems Canadians will have to wait longer for a truly workable system that ensures access. Unfortunately, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected the latest constitutional challenge to the current marijuana medical access regulations (MMAR).
A U.S. magistrate judge on Thursday sided with federal prosecutors in dismissing a lawsuit by the city of Oakland that challenged as illegal federal attempts to shutter the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary. In filing the suit last October, Oakland became the first city to take on federal enforcement actions that have led to the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in recent years.
The Conservative government's new medicinal pot system may lead some patients to illicitly grow their pot outdoors. Under proposed changes taking effect next year, personal-use production licences will be eliminated, making it illegal for patients to cultivate their own marijuana. Only commercial producers will be licensed in the new system. The new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations estimates the current $1.80-a-gram cost for marijuana will rise to $8.80 a gram when the program takes effect. (See also: Medical marijuana users protest at Winnipeg MP's office)
In the summer of 2010, after legislators passed a law legitimizing dispensaries, there were 1,117 medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado. By the end of that year, as a "green rush" of cannabis entrepreneurs reached its apex, the total ticked up to 1,131. Today, there are 675. In terms of sheer numbers, Colorado's medical-marijuana industry has shrunk by more than 40 percent.
A French man suffering from a muscular disease since childhood had his request to be given the right to use cannabis for medicinal reasons rejected by a French court. To make matters worse he was fined €300 for possession. “I’ve been condemned – my disease is incurable, and only cannabis can give me any relief,” Dominique Loumachi told French TV TF1, before the verdict.
A number of businesses in the burgeoning U.S. cannabis industry are trying to enlist Wall Street's help. Some entrepreneurs see marijuana heading down the same path as Prohibition, which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol from 1920 until it was repealed in 1933. "More and more people see the inevitability," said Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of the Seattle private equity firm Privateer Holdings, which targets cannabis-focused start-ups. "They see that the Berlin Wall of cannabis prohibition is going to come down."