Federal agents this morning conducted multiple raids on Denver-area VIP Cannabis. The dispensary and three other buildings were raided over what feds allege is a conspiracy to launder a half million dollars in Colombian money to buy a grow site in Denver. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Marshals Service along with officers from the Denver Police Department and state and local law enforcement participated in the raid that also included Denver firefighters cutting open two safes. One of the buildings was linked to one of the four suspects, David Furtado, an attorney. Three other men, Gerardo and Luis Uribe and Hector Diaz, are charged in the indictment. VIP Cannabis was raided back in November and Hector Diaz was charged on weapons violations after authorities obtained a Facebook photo of Diaz wearing a DEA cap and brandishing two assault rifles.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has a signed into law a bill that requires passage of a drug test in order to collect food stamps and welfare benefits. Previous attempts in Florida to maintain a drug-test-for-welfare law have been struck down as unconstitutional and proven to cost taxpayers more than they save in benefits denied. Georgia’s law avoids the constitutional question by requiring “reasonable suspicion” that an applicant may be using drugs. Triggers for this “reasonable suspicion” include, but aren’t limited to, arrest records, prior failed drug tests, termination from a job for drug use, previously applying for or working in a job where drug testing was conducted, missed appointments, or “an applicant’s or recipient’s demeanor”. The applicant is forced to pay for the drug test and if failed, he or she becomes ineligible for benefits for a month to a year and thereafter must test negative.
A US representative has introduced a federal bill to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia, has introduced the “Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act.” Virginia has a law from 1979 that allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain conditions, but marijuana’s Schedule I status forbids its prescription anywhere in the United States. This is why the 21 medical marijuana states rely on doctors’ “recommendations”, which the Supreme Court upheld as a First Amendment right. “Isn’t it cruel,” Rep. Griffith asked, “to not allow real doctors, real drug companies and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients? We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.” If the bill passes, marijuana would join other prescribable Schedule II drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, Oxycontin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Yes, under current federal law, meth and coke are prescribable and pot is not.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is jumping into the recreational marijuana green rush. The Orchestra announced new fundraising concerts called “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series” organized by Edible Events Company’s Jane West, will be open to adults 21 and over and tickets will cost $75. The first three shows will take place with a small ensemble in a downtown Denver gallery and the series culminates with a fourth full-orchestra concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. The gallery will feature a separate area for adults to consume cannabis and Red Rocks was notorious for open pot smoking long before even medical marijuana was approved in the state. While one musician and a few symphony supporters have voiced concerns, many sponsor was excited about the idea, with one telling Associated Press, “You can be intelligent and savvy and enjoy cannabis as well.”
This just in from Marijuana Policy Project: The Vermont Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that will expand access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. It will now be sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has expressed support for the measure. S. 247, sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), will eliminate the cap on the number of patients who are allowed to access medical marijuana dispensaries. Currently, only 1,000 total patients are able to access dispensaries. The measure will also increase possession limits for dispensaries, allow them to deliver medical marijuana to patients, and permit naturopaths to certify patients for the program. The bill was amended by the House to initiate two studies: one to explore the possibility of adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical marijuana program, and one to evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.
This Saturday is the Global Cannabis March all across the world! Join me and Urb Thrasher and most of the Portland-area’s marijuana reformers for our march and speeches to begin and end at “Portland’s living room”, Pioneer Courthouse Square. I began my career in activism at the 2005 March, so this will be my tenth opportunity to march the streets of Portland to demand our cannabis rights and hemp heritage. It’s free, but please leave your dog, your drugs, and your alcohol at home – this is about freedom, not partying.