May 012015

The House rejected a proposal Thursday to allow doctors at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to discuss the use of medical marijuana with patients. Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) amendment to the first fiscal 2016 appropriations bill of the year, which funds the VA and military construction projects, failed narrowly by a vote of 210-213. A total of 35 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, while eight Democrats voted against it. Boos ensued from the Democratic side of the House chamber when Republicans closed the vote despite the razor-thin margin. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. But VA doctors are prohibited from completing patient forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding medical marijuana to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress. A 2012 VA report found nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress or depression.

The Italian army has unveiled its first cannabis farm, set up to try to lower the cost of medical marijuana in the country. The army’s foray into cannabis production was first announced by the government in September, and its first crop is coming along nicely. The plants are being grown in a secure room at a military-run pharmaceutical plant in Florence, and the army expects to churn out 100kg (220lb) of the drug annually. The site also houses drying and packing facilities. Medical marijuana is considered beneficial to treat a variety of conditions, particularly for managing chronic pain. While Italian doctors can legally prescribe the drug, the cost isn’t covered by the state. At the moment medical marijuana is imported from abroad – primarily from the Netherlands – and costs up to 35 euros per gram.

Lawmakers on the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee spent Wednesday evening debating marijuana legalization. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Scott Slater, D-Providence, would allow individuals over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, five grams of hashish, sixteen ounces of marijuana infused products in solid form — often baked goods or candy — and 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form. Individuals over 21 could also possess two plants — one mature and one immature. A plant can yield up to a pound of marijuana a year. Marijuana would be taxed at $50 an ounce wholesale. A 10-percent tax would be imposed on retail sales. This is the fifth consecutive year that legislation has been introduced to legalize and regulate marijuana. For years proponents have argued that legalized marijuana could provide a new source of much-needed revenue for the state.

The Denver Broncos traded up to select Missouri’s Shane Ray, who was cited for marijuana possession the same week of the NFL draft. “I don’t think weed is something that controls my life, nor has it controlled my life or been an issue,” Ray said Thursday night, when I asked him if starting his professional career in Colorado, where marijuana is legal, would be an issue by creating a temptation for him. “So I think really that’s not a concern at all.” Before sacking a quarterback in the NFL, going through his first practice with the Broncos or even being officially drafted, Ray earned the distinction of being placed in Phase 1 of the league’s substance-abuse program when he was cited for possession of 35 grams of marijuana after a traffic stop early Monday near Columbia, Mo., where Ray played in the Southeastern Conference and recorded 38½ sacks during three seasons for the Tigers.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has confirmed to multiple media sources that he will sign a bill legalizing the medical use of cannabis oil bill. The bill was passed April 13 without opposition by both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. The legislation is expected to reach the governor’s desk by the end of this week. The bill allows people diagnosed with conditions that create seizures or with epilepsy to use cannabis oil as a treatment. The person must have a recommendation from a doctor to use the oil; the bill doesn’t establish a legal method for processing the oil in Tennessee, so those who want to use it will have purchase it from one of the roughly two dozen states where the oil and other marijuana products are legal for medicinal purposes and have the oil shipped here.

Tomorrow is the Global Cannabis March taking place in cities all across North America and around the world. Visit to find your city’s march and join us in fighting for legalization and equalization!