State lawmakers and advocates pushing to legalize marijuana this year
aren't just touting legalization as a way to raise tax revenue and
regulate an underground pot market. They're also talking about fixing
a broken criminal justice system and reinvesting in poor and minority
communities that have been battered by decades of the government's war
The focus on justice and equity has sharpened over time, longtime pot
advocates say, as it's become clear that such issues should be
addressed and that doing so won't alienate voters -- most of whom,
polls consistently show, support legal marijuana. Civil rights groups
also have raised their voices in legalization discussions.
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U.S. health regulators on Monday approved the first prescription drug
made from marijuana, a milestone that could spur more research into a
drug that remains illegal under federal law, despite growing
legalization for recreational and medical use.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the medication, called
Epidiolex, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy that begin in
childhood. But it's not quite medical marijuana.
The strawberry-flavored syrup is a purified form of a chemical
ingredient found in the cannabis plant -- but not the one that gets
users high. It's not yet clear why the ingredient, called cannabidiol,
or CBD, reduces seizures in some people with epilepsy.
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A British pharmaceutical company is getting closer to a decision on
whether the U.S government will approve the first prescription drug
derived from the marijuana plant, but parents who for years have used
cannabis to treat severe forms of epilepsy in their children are
feeling more cautious than celebratory.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide by the end
of the month whether to approve GW Pharmaceuticals' Epidiolex. It's a
purified form of cannabidiol -- a component of cannabis that doesn't
get users high -- to treat Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes in
kids. Both forms of epilepsy are rare.
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If you'd like to know more about what modern hemp farming looks like,
the Mount Holly Farm owned by Laura Freeman will have an open-house
party on Saturday.
From 1 to 4 p.m., you can see the newly planted hemp crop, which is
grown for grain, and see the CBD hemp crop as well. The CBD crop
provides cannabidiol oil used in a variety of products.
The farm store, Laura's Mercantile, will be open, with Laura's Hemp
Chocolates available for purchase. The party also will have samples of
the chocolates as well as hemp beer -- New Belgium's new Hemperor IPA
- -- and Kentucky Hemp Dawgs.
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Kentucky agriculture commissioner: 'It's time to legalize the crop'
Kentucky is again king of hemp, according to officials who spoke at
the first Kentucky Hemp Days event on Saturday.
Held in Cynthiana, the festival will be an annual celebration of the
crop's revival, which began after Kentucky lawmakers cleared a path
for legal cultivation beginning with the General Assembly in 2013 and
in Congress in 2014.
On Saturday, as a crowd turned out to hear the latest developments a
day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., inserted
language in the federal farm bill that will remove hemp from the
controlled substance list, distancing it from marijuana.
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Cannabidiol products are coming back to Kansas after lawmakers
approved to bring back the marijuana extract often used as alternative
Lawmakers voted in April to exclude cannabidiol, or CBD, from the
state's definition of marijuana as long as the oil contains no THC,
the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. The vote
effectively makes CBD an unrestricted substance, the Kansas City Star
The state's decision came after Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued
a January opinion saying any form of marijuana is against the law in
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Hawaii is another step closer to finding out whether industrial hemp
could be a major crop.
The state Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that
it is accepting applications for state licenses to grow hemp.
This comes nearly two years after the state enacted a law to establish
a pilot program for commercial production.
"Many believe that industrial hemp can be an important crop in
Hawaii," Gov. David Ige said in a statement. "This pilot program is a
strong and prudent step in helping to determine the viability of this
crop in Hawaii."
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The number of hemp farmers in SC is growing fast. How high will it
Less than a year into the program, the number of farmers growing hemp
in South Carolina could double.
That's because the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is making
more permits available for farmers looking to participate in the
Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.
The SCDA will select up to 40 farmers to receive permits to grow
industrial hemp. That's twice the amount of the 20 farmers chosen in
the inaugural year of the program.
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WASHINGTON - The massive farm bill that helps determine what farmers
grow and Americans eat is poised to get some major momentum thanks to a
not-yet-legal crop: Hemp.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pushed hard to make
hemp a legal product in the United States, is asking for his hemp
legalization bill to be included in the sweeping farm bill. That would
help give the farm bill, whose prospects have been considered iffy,
more support in the Senate.
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The Senate's top Democrat announced Friday that he is introducing
legislation to decriminalize marijuana, the first time that a leader
of either party in Congress has endorsed a rollback of one of the
country's oldest drug laws.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement called
the move "simply the right thing to do."
"The time has come to decriminalize marijuana," Schumer said. "My
thinking - as well as the general population's views - on the issue
has evolved, and so I believe there's no better time than the present
to get this done. It's simply the right thing to do."
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State Rep. Jim Neely's bill that would legalize medical marijuana in a
smokeless form for Missourians with terminal illnesses has been
criticized as too restrictive and narrow.
But the measure could jump-start the push to make Missouri the 30th
state to allow medical marijuana.
More than 20 lawmakers, including three Democrats, have signed on as
co-sponsors of the bill. It passed out of committee this week and
awaits consideration in the full House.
The legislation would permit the use of hemp extract for terminally
ill patients. The state's current "Right to Try" law allows patients
with terminal illnesses to try experimental drugs without approval
from the Food and Drug Administration. It doesn't include marijuana.
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WASHINGTON -- A medicine made from the marijuana plant moved one step
closer to U.S. approval Thursday after federal health advisers
endorsed it for the treatment of severe seizures in children with epilepsy.
If the Food and Drug Administration follows the group's
recommendation, GW Pharmaceuticals' syrup would become the first drug
derived from the cannabis plant to win federal approval in the U.S.
The 13-member FDA panel voted unanimously in favor of the experimental
medication made from a chemical found in cannabis -- one that does not
get users high. The panelists backed the drug based on three studies
showing that it significantly reduced seizures in children with two
rare forms of childhood epilepsy.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca on
Thursday called for the expansion of New Mexico's medical marijuana
program and for legalization of recreational use, saying the
poverty-stricken state is missing out on millions of dollars in tax
revenues and jobs that could be spurred by the industry.
Apodaca released his plan solidifying his position as a supporter of
legalization as the race for governor heats up.
Apodaca pointed to New Mexico's history as the first state to allow
for research and experimentation with marijuana as a therapeutic drug.
It was his father, then-Gov. Jerry Apodaca, who signed that
legislation in 1978.
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America's marijuana supporters have a lot to celebrate on this 420
holiday : Thirty states have legalized some form of medical marijuana,
according to a national advocacy group.
Nine of those states and Washington, D.C., also have broad
legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason.
Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this
Yet cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and it still has many
Here's a look at what some advocates and critics have to say about the
state of marijuana in the U.S. today:
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WASHINGTON - Embracing the hemp industry was a savvy political move for
Kentucky Rep. James Comer, the only Republican to win statewide in 2011
during an otherwise tough year for his party.
The political message got through. Now taking up the charge to make it
easier -- and completely legal -- for U.S. farmers to grow and market
hemp products, including trendy cannabidiol or CBD oil: Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell, R-Ky., who pledges to give the legalization effort
"everything we've got," is expediting the legislation and lining up
key support from across the aisle as backers seek to convince
otherwise tough-on-drugs Republicans to come along.
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Hemp, which was Kentucky's biggest cash crop for a century before
tobacco, is poised for a comeback thanks to bipartisan legislation
introduced Thursday in Congress. It's about time.
Regular hemp cultivation in this country was banned in 1937. That's
when federal law enforcement officials, who feared the repeal of
Prohibition would leave them nothing to do, launched the first war on
With a lot of "reefer madness" hype, the government banned marijuana.
Also swept up in that ban was industrial hemp, a botanical cousin in
the cannabis family that looks similar to pot but can't make you high
no matter how much you smoke.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Anne Armstrong, 58, knows exactly how many joints
she has smoked at Providence's Roger Williams National Memorial --
153, all rolled with "kosher" marijuana harvested in the backyard of
her West Greenwich home.
As "deaconess" to The Healing Church, a cannabis-centered Catholic
sect that boasts about a dozen members, Armstrong believes smoking in
the park is a religious obligation, the equivalent to a sip of wine at
Anointing members with hashish-infused oil and blowing a shofar so it
billows marijuana smoke are, likewise, ceremonial duties. (It should
be noted that Armstrong refuses to use the word marijuana, which she
calls racist slang. She prefers to refer to the plant as cannabis,
spice, or hemp.)
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As one of the first lawyers in Pennsylvania to venture into the legal
world of medical marijuana and hemp, I have had the pleasure to work
and assist with the development of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana
program. I could not be happier to see these dispensaries opening and
helping the sick get relief.
However, a problem has developed that will make it very difficult for
many of the patients who most need the medicine to receive it.
The problem stems from the law's requirement that a medical marijuana
dispensary cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or day-care
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Veterinarian Katherine Kramer remembers an 18-year-old cat she
recommended be put on hemp-based cannabidoil (CBD).
"It had heart disease and pancreatitis so painful the traditional
amount of pain medication knocked him out and he had no quality of
life," says Kramer, a veterinarian at Vancouver Animal Wellness
Clinic. "So, I contacted the [medicinal marijuana] Compassion Club."
Kramer says with not much to lose, the owner agreed to work together
and very soon the cat was eating and playing again.
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Medical marijuana cleared a key committee on Thursday and headed to
the floor of the S.C. Senate.
But the 8-6 vote by the Senate Medical Affairs Committee came as
enforcement leaders are hardening their opposition, saying it is
another step toward legalized recreational marijuana in the Palmetto
"That's what we've seen in every state," State Law Enforcement
Division Chief Mark Keel told The State after the committee vote.
"There's not a state that hasn't (gone) in steps. And we've seen our
state go through the same steps. From CDB oil to hemp to medical
marijuana to recreational marijuana. And that's what we've seen in
every state . So I have no reason to think its going to be any
different in ours."
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