New Jersey Cannabis Reformer Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill


By Michael Chazukow 

NEW JERSEY:  Most cameras in Trenton were fixed on Governor Christie’s scandal hearings last week.   The “Bridge-gate” controversy as well as allegations that he misused Sandy Relief funds has been so dominant in the news that the excellent work of our legislature was being overlooked.  Controversy hearings dominated our capitol last week, and the Governor’s second term inauguration events were also well covered.  So as usual, mainstream media was too pre-occupied to report Chris Christie’s actions to double-down on our state’s draconian cannabis laws.

Last week, two cannabis reform bills were passed through the NJ Legislature:  S1220 would have “required registered qualifying patient’s authorized use of medical marijuana to be considered equivalent to use of any other prescribed medication and not the use of an illicit substance that would otherwise disqualify a qualifying patient from needed medical care, including organ transplants.”  Continue reading

Billionaire Peter Lewis, Advocate Of Marijuana Legalization, Dies At 80


FLORIDA:  Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, died on Saturday afternoon at his home in Coconut Grove Florida apparently due to natural causes. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday on November 11.

Marijuana Legalization is Dangerous


By Pebbles Trippet

Marijuana legalization is dangerous. It will make us a threat to our government. Or so we are told.

But according to Jeffrey Miron, Harvard University, it costs close to $20 billion annually to outlaw marijuana. The country could not only save that by ending marijuana prohibition, but could also reduce prisoner populations, which are alarming and climbing : 1.5 million in China, 2 million in the US. There has been an 80% increase in US federal prisoners since 1970, caused by mandatory sentencing laws, not higher crime rates.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement about reforming drug policy, expected this week, may include giving judges discretion in applying mandatory minimum sentences and perhaps further reducing the shockingly racist  and disproportionate sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine vs crack cocaine. These are obvious long overdue reforms, and would result in releasing a fraction of prisoners, largely the poor and people of color, but it is not enough.

These reforms are piecemeal, and do not come from an enlightened government that wants to admit its culpability in a 40-year long unpopular drug war, but rather from dangerous incarceration consequences of a bloated prison system largely stemming from “drug crimes”.

So many bodies locked in cages piling on top of each other under tortuous conditions has led to the current hunger strike in California prisons, with many prisoners feeling they have nothing to lose if they die from taking a stand. This heartbreaking situation makes me yearn for the days of public stockades where people faced their accusers and public scorn one on one. Now millions of prisoners are locked away in cages, like dungeons, based on their drug stash.

Out of sight, out of mind will never bring justice.

The entire drug war needs to be rethought, reversed & renounced by policy visionaries who assess drug issues from a medical, rather than a criminal perspective.  Marijuana should be removed from Schedule I of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (“no medical purposes”), with prescription access and research approval restored. Cannabis prohibition should be repealed altogether with police priorities shifted away from non-violent to violent crime.

There has been a definitive cultural shift in the past couple of years, where the popular majority in poll after poll is embracing reasonable regulation to replace marijuana prohibition. Imagine that.

Festive Crowd Gathers To Celebrate 10th Anniversary Of Olympia Hempfest


WASHINGTON: Mellow was the mood as the dedicated followers of cannabis converged onto Heritage Park — a modest chunk of field in the shadows of the gilded dome of the Washington State Capital building — for the first day of the 10th Anniversary of  Olympia Hempfest.

There will be many cannabis celebrations happening this summer, but it is important to remember that Olympia Hempfest was the first such event when it debuted a decade ago.  These days, however, Olympia Hempfest is overshadowed by Seattle Hempfest — an hour north and three weeks away. While the Seattle festival expects to attract upwards of 100,000 attendees, a mere 2,500 will stop by Heritage Park this weekend.

For many of the Washington-based vendors and exhibitors, today and tomorrow serve as a dress rehearsal for “the largest hemp festival in the country” next month.

booth at Olympia Hempest

booth at Olympia Hempest

Real Legalization was circulating a petition in support of home growing, sharing and amnesty

Real Legalization was circulating a petition in support of home growing, sharing and amnesty

Still, there was plenty to see, eat and do. A giant stage offered speakers and live music, though the posted schedule was more suggestion than strictly adhered agenda. Many in attendance spread out blankets on the lawn to enjoy the weather, or strolled along the bench-lined waterfront path.

Hundreds in tee-shirts, shorts and bandanas browsed the dozens of exhibitor booths that ringed the waterfront park.  Beneath green leaf-emblazoned banners and neat tables of  symmetrically laid-out marijuana-related merchandise, grizzled vendors stood next to pierced-and-tattooed Kush Girls hawking their wares.

And while every manner of pipe,  bong and beautifully-crafted glassware items were on display and for sale — you could not buy the herb itself at Olympia Hempfest.  The voters of Washington State may have overwhelmingly passed a law legalizing recreational marijuana in November, 2012, but the Washington State Liquor Control Board won’t release final regulations until next month, and weed won’t be available in stores until sometime in 2014.

So instead, local political activists like Keith Henson, Director of the Pierce County chapter of NORML and Jared Allaway for Initiative 584, circulated petitions, recruited volunteers and solicited donations for the next phase of reform.

Real Legalization booth

Real Legalization booth

Libertarians call for Jury Nullification in Marijuana trials

Libertarians call for Jury Nullification in Marijuana trials

Vendor Olympia Hempfest

Vendor Olympia Hempfest

Kush Girls and Booth Babes shared the venue with veteran activists from NORML, and the Libertarian Party.

Kush Girls and Booth Babes shared the venue with veteran activists from NORML, and the Libertarian Party.

Bongs, pipes and all manner of glassware was available at Olympia Hempfest

Entertainment included performances by The Herbivores, Troupe O WA belly dancers, Unhailoed, Corson Swift, C*F*A (Cody Foster Army).

Scheduled speakers included Jodie Emery, John Davis, Cat Jeter, Steve Phun, Jared Allaway, Kitty Miller, Vivian McPeak, Paul Stanford, John Parr, Brian Stone, Justin Kover, Gideon Israel, Joe Grumbine, Julia Peter McWilliams Tribute, Ed Saukkooja, Kristin Flor, Adam Assenburg, Jeremy Miller, Melissa Hysom and Sharon Whitson.