U.S.: Record-High Support for Legalizing Cannabis Use, Gallup Poll Finds

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Americans are warming up to legalizing cannabis, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support a Gallup poll has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.

The latest figure, based on an Oct. 5-11 Gallup poll, follows shifts in the U.S. legal landscape regarding marijuana since Gallup’s 2016 measure. While still illegal at the federal level, the issue was featured on a number of state ballot initiatives in 2016, and with eight states and the District of Columbia having fully legalized marijuana, more than one in five Americans live in a state where they can legally enjoy use of the drug.

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Illinois: High School Newspaper Confiscated For Cannabis Content

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, prohibitionist administrators at Evanston Township High School confiscated an issue of the student newspaper, declaring it glorified drug use, drug dealing and promoted illegal conduct. Last week, at the meeting of the District 202 school board, the student journalists and first amendment legal advocates argued that the school may have violated state law by failing to show justification before confiscating the paper, which included coverage on cannabis use and policy.

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U.S.: Northern Michigan University Offering Cannabis Degree

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Northern Michigan University in Marquette is offering a cannabis degree. The four-year medicinal plant chemistry degree geared toward the emerging cannabis industry includes classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, bio-statistics, genetics, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, accounting, financial management and perspectives on society.

Other colleges and universities in the U.S., namely Harvard, Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University and University of Denver, offer a variety of classes on cannabis policy and law.

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Georgia: Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that he signed the historic city council ordinance decriminalizing marijuana.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” Reed said. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

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Canada: Quebec Sets Minimum Age for Cannabis Consumption at 18

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Thursday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the call that the minimum age for the consumption of legal cannabis in Quebec will be 18.

After several caucus meetings, where everyone was allowed to express their views on the hot issue, Couillard made a ultimate decision, opting for 18 instead of 21 as some requested, government sources confirmed on Friday.

The opposition Coalition, led by Avenir Québec, had also been calling for age 21 because they believed smoking cannabis at such a young age can have negative effects on the brain. Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette was pushing for age 21, but voted for 18, after reconsidering.

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Georgia: Atlanta City Council Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis in an unanimous decision. After the historic 15-0 vote from the City Council, the proposed ordinance was sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to either sign or veto the legislation. If the mayor signs it, which he said he intends to, the ordinance will become city law.

After the vote, Mayor Reed indicated that he was interested in signing the legislation. In a tweet, the mayor thanked council members for their “leadership on marijuana reform.”

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Lesotho: Kingdom Becomes First African Country to Legalize Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Lesotho, a country of two-million people surrounded by South Africa, is perfectly situated to produce large volumes of high quality, low cost cannabis due to its expertise in high altitude cultivation.

For many years, Lesotho’s farmers have been growing cannabis for consumption at home and exporting their harvest across the border in South Africa. Similarly, in Swaziland, growing cannabis and exporting the herb to South Africa has provided for many families, despite the plant being outlawed.

Cannabis is not yet fully legal in South Africa, so citizens cannot legally cultivate, sell or smoke, and how the court ruling applies is still somewhat obscure, but it seems, globally, cannabis culture is becoming more tolerated.

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U.S.: FBI Reports 653,249 Arrests for Cannabis in 2016

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

An estimated 653,249 arrests were made nationwide for cannabis in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. The staggering data equates to one person being arrested for cannabis approximately every 48 seconds on average in the United States.

In the U.S. today, arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty that needs to end.

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