Apr 152015

A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to remove marijuana from the list of most dangerous drugs. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the ruling in response to a motion by defense attorneys to dismiss charges in a case that authorities say involves a marijuana growing operation. The case was unusual in that Mueller decided to consider marijuana’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug. Legal experts said it marked the first time in decades that a federal district court judge seriously considered marijuana’s classification. Mueller said during a 15-minute court hearing that she was initially prepared to grant the defense motion but then decided from the facts of this particular case that “this is not the court and this is not the time.” She said she decided it was up to Congress to change the law if it wishes.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that as president he would “crack down and not permit” legalized marijuana to continue in the states. Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, Gov. Christie added, “Marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.” Just yesterday, Pew Center released a poll showing that 54 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats, and 64 percent of Independents said the federal government should not do what Gov. Christie promises to do. While only 27 percent of Republicans support legalization, 65 percent believe it is a matter that should be left up to the states to decide.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has withdrawn its petition to unionize the employees at the medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, ending what would have been legal battle with national implications for the burgeoning cannabis industry. David Knowlton, a co-founder and board chairman of Compassionate Care Foundation alternative treatment center, said he was notified by the board of the cancelled proceeding but did not receive an explanation on why it had occurred. Knowlton said he could not find a lawyer willing to represent him before the board because the rules of professional conduct say attorneys cannot advise or assist their clients engage in “conduct a lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.” “If you make the argument we can’t be represented by counsel and we are committing a felony, how can the (National Labor Relations Board) use its weight as a federal agency to force us to unionize our workers to commit a federal felony?” Knowlton said.

The Iowa Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for ailing Iowans, although the proposal faces strong resistance in the Republican-controlled House. Senate File 484 would allow Iowans with a range of health problems to obtain medical marijuana. Those conditions could include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic and debilitating ailments. The bill would allow up to four producers to grow marijuana in Iowa with oversight from state officials. It would also allow independent dispensaries to sell the drug. The legislation was approved 26-19 with five lawmakers excused from voting. The 26 yes votes represented the minimum required for a bill to be passed under the Iowa Constitution. The bill now heads to the Iowa House, where House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, has repeatedly said he has no plans to consider approving medical marijuana this session.

Oregonians 21 and older would be able to purchase dried marijuana flowers from regulated medical marijuana dispensaries after July 1 under a proposal being considered by lawmakers. Sen. Ginny Burdick, speaking Tuesday on a panel organized by The Oregonian editorial board and held at the University of Oregon, said recreational consumers would not be allowed to buy marijuana concentrates or cannabis-infused edibles until regulated recreational shops open sometime next year. The provision would address the lag between the time when marijuana possession is legal and when Oregonians can buy pot from a regulated store. Oregonians 21 and older will be able to possess marijuana and grow it at home beginning July 1, but the Oregon Liquor Control Commission won’t launch the regulated retail market until 2016. Sen. Ted Ferrioli said recreational consumers would resort to the black market unless the state provides a legal way for them to obtain cannabis.