Each new year brings new driving or transportation-related laws in
California and 2018 is no exception. We'd like to share these new laws
with readers in the next few columns.
Marijuana and edible cannabis use in vehicles, Senate Bill 65:
Recreational marijuana/cannabis is now legal to be purchased and
consumed in certain places, but that doesn't mean you can light up a
joint on your daily commute.
Consuming cannabis while driving or while riding as a passenger in a
vehicle in California is illegal. This new law is similar to the "open
container" laws that outlaw drinking alcohol while driving, though
having some alcohol in your system while driving isn't outlawed.
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Marijuana legalization arrives Monday in California with lots of
hoopla, but only a handful of cities will initially have retail
outlets ready to sell recreational pot.
By Thursday afternoon, California had issued only 42 retail licenses.
Another 150 applications were pending and regulators planned to work a
second straight weekend to review them.
Los Angeles and San Francisco were late to approve local regulations,
meaning no recreational pot shops there will open their doors Monday.
The lucky few outlets with licenses -- mainly in San Diego, the San
Francisco Bay Area, Palm Springs area and Santa Cruz -- think they
have an edge being first out of the gate.
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SPRINGFIELD - Two Central Massachusetts men were charged in federal
court in Springfield Friday with commercial growing of marijuana.
Federal agents learned of their operation when one of them was
featured in a magazine article talking about his business. Mr. Vallee
was featured in an article in High Times published in February.
In the article, Eric Vallee, 38, of Auburn, spoke of regularly
harvesting 10 pounds of marijuana per month. Based on that number,
federal agents determined that he was harvesting a substantial amount
of marijuana per year. The article also noted he worked with Peter
Molle, 35, of Holland.
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California legalizes marijuana for recreational use Monday, but that
won't stop federal agents from seizing the drug -- even in tiny
amounts -- on busy freeways and backcountry highways.
Marijuana possession still will be prohibited at eight Border Patrol
checkpoints in California, a reminder that state and federal laws
collide when it comes to pot. The U.S. government classifies marijuana
as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.
"Prior to Jan. 1, it's going to be the same after Jan. 1, because
nothing changed on our end," said Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of
the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. "If you're a federal law
enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws."
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In advance of the legalization of recreational marijuana sales on Jan.
1, there have been lots of debates over the details of the cannabis
business. How many feet should pot shops be from schools or daycare
centers? How many acres may a marijuana farmer cultivate? Who should
be eligible for a license to sell and who shouldn't?
But there's been much less discussion over an equally important question
raised by the end of prohibition in California: What is the right public
health message to send to adults who can now legally buy and use
marijuana? Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64 last year and
polls continue to show broad support for legalization. But just because
marijuana is legal doesn't mean it is risk-free.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - At a state briefing on environmental rules
that await growers entering California's soon-to-be-legal marijuana
trade, organic farmers Ulysses Anthony, Tracy Sullivan and Adam Mernit
listened intently, eager to make their humble cannabis plot a model of
sustainable agriculture in a notoriously destructive industry
dominated by the black market.
In line with a 2017 study that found marijuana grows are more
damaging, plot for plot, than commercial logging in Northern
California forests, Anthony said he has seen too many destructive
grows. Trash-strewn clearings. Growers heaping fertilizer at the foot
of a centuries-old sequoia tree, needlessly endangering it. Wild
streams diverted for irrigation.
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Cannabis 101: Here's what you need to know about recreational
With recreational marijuana becoming available for sale on New Year's
Day, you may be asking yourself: Do I want to try this stuff?
If you have never used cannabis, or if it has been a long time since
you have, you need to know that pot isn't just consumed through joints
and bongs anymore. Consumers also use vape pens, edibles and other
And marijuana has higher amounts of THC -- pot's psychoactive
ingredient -- than it once did. In the early 1990s, the average amount
of THC in confiscated marijuana samples was roughly 3.7 percent,
according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Now, many retail
strains test in the high 20s and some even top 30 percent.
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Some details of legalized recreational marijuana have changed since
California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016.
California is days away from launching a legal marketplace for adults
to buy and sell recreational marijuana. On Jan. 1, the state will
carry through on a vision voters endorsed by passing Proposition 64
Yet as legal cannabis moves from campaign pitch to reality - amid lots
of lobbying by industry groups along the way - some details of the
plan have changed. State regulators approved the official rules last
month and will update them in about a year.
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For Jack in the Box Inc., the warm smell of marijuana is rising in the
As California prepares for legal recreational pot on Jan. 1, the
fast-food chain is partnering with a digital media company backed by
rapper Snoop Dogg on a new "munchie" meal aimed at cannabis
enthusiasts. While marijuana's connection to fast food is
well-established, Jack in the Box will become the first national chain
to explicitly embrace the drug.
The "Merry Munchie Meal," which will be available at three California
locations for a week in January for $4.20, features two tacos, french
fries, onion rings, five mini churros, three chicken strips and a
small drink. The price isn't random: The number 420 is used as a code
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - With the state Legislature expected to take up
legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the upcoming session,
several doctors and other marijuana opponents on Friday urged the
state not to legalize it.
The move would normalize the use of marijuana, leading to more people
using it and in turn to more intoxicated people and more automobile
crashes, said Dr. John Hughes, a University of Vermont psychiatrist
and professor, at a Statehouse press conference on Friday.
"To me, we got it right with decriminalization," according to Hughes,
who added that legalization and describing it as recreational use
would send the wrong message.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates
to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22
pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far
Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted
weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit.
James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.
The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California's
famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police
dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was
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In a dark room, Jahful Price slowly worked a row of pungent plants
guided by his headlamp.
He wore a white biohazard suit, methodically picking up cannabis
plants by their stems and hanging them upside down on a rack with
plastic clothes hangers.
Price, a 31-year-old Oakland resident who is black, is getting
hands-on experience in cannabis cultivating that he hopes will help
him run his own business one day.
Since July, he's had a paid internship at NUG, a cannabis business
owned by Bloom Innovations, a horticulture consulting and management
firm in Oakland. NUG chose Nine Mile Tribe, a business owned by
Price's family, as one of its equity partners.
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A runaway teen to mother: 'I'll be fine mommy. I love you.' Hours
later she and two others were dead
NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. deaths from drug overdoses skyrocketed 21 percent
last year, and for the second straight year dragged down how long
Americans are expected to live.
The government figures released Thursday put drug deaths at 63,600, up
from about 52,000 in 2015. For the first time, the powerful painkiller
fentanyl and its close opioid cousins played a bigger role in the
deaths than any other legal or illegal drug, surpassing prescription
pain pills and heroin.
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The United States' overall rate of hepatitis C infection more than
doubled from 2004 to 2014 -- and among people under 40, it increased
by 300 to 400 percent.
The reason for the jump? Transmission through injecting opioid drugs,
said a report published Thursday in the American Journal of Public
Lead author Jon Zibbell, senior public health analyst in the
Behavioral and Urban Health program of North Carolina-based RTI
International, said public health officials have long presumed the
link, but the research, performed in conjunction with a number of
other agencies, provides data to back it up.
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At the two malls in town you can buy key chains and Christmas
ornaments shaped like marijuana leaves. Along a downtown shopping
corridor, paintings of cannabis plants grace storefront windows.
Even Kmart stocks its shelves with T-shirts and mugs decorated with
the signature green leaf and "Colorado est. 2012" -- the year the
state legalized recreational marijuana.
But that is the one pot product you can't buy in Colorado Springs.
When Coloradans voted overwhelmingly to make non-medical marijuana
legal, they left it up to cities whether to allow sales. Colorado
Springs, home to five military bases and known for its conservative
politics and religious values, blocked recreational cannabis sales.
Now some in town want to change that, saying the state's second
largest city is missing out on sales taxes that are enriching cities
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Medical marijuana dispensaries and other portions of the medicinal
cannabis supply chain could be legal in Fresno as the result of a
unanimous vote Thursday by the City Council.
The 7-0 vote begins the process of rewriting the city's complete ban
on commercial marijuana operations that was adopted earlier this year.
It will likely be several months, however, before drafts emerge for
ordinances and rules that will govern where and how businesses that
cultivate, process, manufacture, distribute or sell medical marijuana
can operate within the city.
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MANCHACA, Texas -- When California rings in the new year with the sale
of recreational pot for the first time, Texas will be tiptoeing into
its own marijuana milestone: a medical cannabis program so restrictive
that doubts swirl over who will even use it.
Texas is the last big state to allow some form of medical marijuana,
albeit an oil extract so low in the psychoactive component, THC, that
it couldn't get a person high. Though it might seem that Texas
policymakers have softened their attitude toward the drug, bringing
them more in line with the U.S. population as a whole, they have not.
A joint could still land you in jail in Texas, and the state's embrace
of medical marijuana comes with a heavy dose of caution.
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Beantown Greentown is trying to build a 100-foot-long joint this
weekend at a marijuana expo event in Worcester. This is a practice
Keith Laham and his friends have been practicing for the past few
They have gathered in his cellar, in other people's cellars - you name
it, the 42-year-old West Roxbury native said.
But this weekend will mark the true attempt, and Laham, cofounder of
Beantown Greentown, a medical marijuana advocacy group, lifestyle
brand, and cannabis club, has high ambitions for it.
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When Anne Arundel police seized 158 grams of kratom, a plant from
Southeast Asia used medicinally for centuries, it was the first time
it was seized in a county investigation, according to police.
Officers arrested Michaela Elizabeth Gran, 21, and Chase Seven Gran,
23, both of Glen Burnie, on Tuesday after they said the two were found
with small amounts of narcotics as well as the 158 grams of kratom.
Its seizure caused some confusion, as the drug is legal in Maryland
and can be bought for $1 for a pill-sized capsule in local smoke
shops. That, and how many people have ever heard of kratom?
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LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Charles Grugan's drug addiction took a toll on
They tried to help him, but on Oct. 12, 2011, Grugan 33, overdosed on
heroin. He never recovered.
While on life support in a regional hospital, doctors approached his
family and showed them his driver's license.
Grugan had made the decision to be an organ donor when he was 18 years
His heart, liver and kidneys were successfully transplanted into three
"It was a silver lining for us," Grugan's' mother, Eileen Grugan,
said. "Donating Charles' organs to others was the thing that kept our
family together and pulled us through this grief.
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