Jul 102014

420RADIO News for 2014-07-10 (Thursday)

A new study of actual sales figures from marijuana in Colorado has yielded a market demand of 130 metric tons per year.  A metric ton is one million grams.  The new estimate is a third higher than previous estimates that had relied on self-reported use on questionnaires.  121 metric tons represents the annual demand for marijuana by Colorado residents, meaning residents of the Centennial State consume 10 tons of marijuana per month.  Visitors to Colorado racked up another 9 metric tons of annual demand.  These figures represent both medical and recreational use of marijuana that goes for an average of $220 per ounce.  In Denver, visitors make up 44 percent of recreational sales, but at ski resorts and other vacation spots, visitors make up 90 percent of demand.  About 9% of Colorado residents are consuming marijuana at least once per month, with 22% of those cannabis consumers using 70% of the marijuana in Colorado.  Very few medical consumers made retail purchases, leading the study authors to conclude, “the retail demand is derived primarily from out-of-state visitors and from consumers who previously purchased” black-market or illegal weed.  Colorado has collected $34.8 million in marijuana taxes and fees so far this fiscal year.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has thrown out the conviction of a man busted for weed based on its smell.  In two unanimous rulings, the Justices said the decriminalization of one ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts in 2008 means that the odor of fresh marijuana cannot be used to justify a warrantless search of a person’s car.  In 2011, the court unanimously ruled that police couldn’t justify a search based on the smell of burnt marijuana, since that smell couldn’t validate that a person held a criminal amount of marijuana over one ounce.  On Wednesday, the court applied the same logic to fresh marijuana in a case where a man was found to have a baggie of marijuana in the glove box of the car he had just crashed.  Based on “a very strong odor of unburnt marijuana,” police searched and found a backpack containing much more than an ounce of marijuana.  The court ruled that the police couldn’t possibly distinguish between a decriminalized ounce and a criminal amount by scent alone.  Furthermore, the court ruled that the federal illegality of marijuana makes no difference; police may not search based on marijuana smell alone.

An Iowa jury convicted a terminal cancer patient yesterday for growing marijuana plants, effectively sentencing him to death.  Benton Mackenzie suffers from an aggressive form of cancer called angiosarcoma and was rushed out of the courtroom on Monday for emergency treatment of the extreme pain and hallucinations his cancer produces.  Mackenzie was growing 71 marijuana plants to produce a cannabidiol oil to treat his tumors.  Despite Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signing legislation in May allowing CBD oil for epileptic children, the judge rules that law doesn’t apply to Mackenzie.  Mackenzie was not allowed to mention his medical use as a defense nor was he allowed to tell the jury about his medical condition.  Before his arrest, CBD oil helped Mackenzie put his cancer into remission; since then, it has returned to Stage 4.  Mackenzie faces a minimum of three years in prison, which at Stage 4 with no medical cannabis, will likely kill him.  In a recent poll, 81 percent of Iowans support legalization of medical marijuana.

Rhode Island’s governor has signed legislation to further restrict the state’s medical marijuana program.  Most of the changes concern medical co-operative grows, which now are limited to five ounces, two dozen plants, and a dozen seedlings in residential areas.  Non-residential co-ops may harvest twice that amount: ten ounces, four dozen plants, and two dozen seedlings.  All co-op grows must now comport with zoning and municipal safety codes, and a new right of landlords to refuse to rent to and to evict medical co-op grows has been added to the law.  Also, new standards for criminal background checks for caregivers has been established.  JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that “this is not the time to be talking about a reduction in the plants,” because of patients who “need a lot of plant matter to make those [cannabis] oils.”

While the University of Arizona just fired the first researcher to win federal approval to study medical marijuana use for PTSD, Arizona’s top health official has approved medical marijuana use for PTSD.  Will Humble, the state Health Services Director, announced on Wednesday that “I [have] issued a Director’s Decision that will authorize the use of marijuana … for patients that are currently undergoing conventional treatment for a diagnosis of PTSD.”  The policy won’t take effect until January 1st, when Arizona will join California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Michigan, and Nevada in allowing medical marijuana use for PTSD.  Last month, an administrative law judge ruled that PTSD patients should have access to marijuana, countering Humble’s previous decision to continue to ban medical marijuana for PTSD due to insufficient research.

The District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, has effectively decriminalized marijuana possession.  DA Ken Thompson announced Wednesday that “thousands of low-level marijuana arrests… weigh down the criminal justice system,” so those caught with less than 25 grams will have their cases dismissed prior to arraignment.  This has already been the outcome of most low-level pot possession cases and Thompson has simply made it the new standard.  However, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton says this will not change how his police officers deal with low-level possession on the street, presumably meaning pot offenders the DA won’t charge would still be arrested and booked.  Furthermore, the NYPD insisted that the dismissal of charges won’t apply to violent offenders, gang members, those with open warrants, or those smoking marijuana in public, “particularly around children, such as a park, playground, bus, subway or school yard,” according to an NYPD press release.