U.S. News Updates
State officials informed the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol that its petition, submitted with more 258,000 voter signatures, has officially qualified as Proposition 205 and will appear on the November ballot. A news conference will be held Thursday morning in Phoenix to announce the kickoff of the Yes on 205 campaign. The group needed more than 150,642 signatures to qualify, a number that organizers blew out of the water. Opposition against the campaign remains strong, with the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy leading the charge against legalization in the Grand Canyon State.
The race towards legalization is growing fiercely competitive in California, with legalization supporters accusing opponents of using false or misleading language in official election materials. The group Yes on Proposition 64 has objected to a number of claims made by the opposition, including claims that the initiative would “roll back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV” and that children “will be exposed to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.” Part of the initiative specifically states that marketing efforts must be aimed at adults over the age of 21, and there is a federal ban on televised smoking ads that will remain in effect. “Defenders of the failed war on marijuana are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.” Prop. 64 spokesman Jason Kinney said in a statement.
After months of delays, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted unanimously to give initial approval to 15 medical marijuana growers and 15 processors, plus at least five alternates in each category. Although the preliminary process for awarding licenses has begun, it will be several months before any company receives final approval. The commission made the decisions based on a review by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies institute, but if other states are any indication, it may face backlash from applicants that didn’t quite make the cut. The names of the companies will be made public on Aug. 15.
A group seeking to place medical marijuana on the general election ballot will go to court in an attempt to overturn a decision to reject the proposed constitutional amendment. New Approach Missouri submitted 40,745 signatures, but just 32,337 were validated, leaving the campaign 2,200 signatures shy. The campaign has said it will challenge the decision, and if the group can prove that at least a fifth of the discarded signatures were wrongly rejected, the initiative still stands a fighting chance at certification.
Back in 2014, the New York City district attorney and the NYPD announced the city would no longer make arrests for low-level cannabis possession, but the latest numbers show that marijuana arrests are actually up nearly 30 percent from the same period last year. After the change, in November 2014, the number of cannabis-related arrests did initially drop. But outgoing NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has been vocal about his opposition to legalization, claiming that “the vast majority” of violence in the city is cannabis-related. Bratton is preparing to leave office in September, and observers are watching how his exit impacts cannabis arrests in the city.
A South Dakota court has rejected a courtroom effort to put medical cannabis on the November ballot. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs rejected the proposed ballot initiative based on a lack of valid signatures. The campaign sued, claiming the measure had been wrongly rejected. The campaign says it submitted 16,631 signatures, far more than the 13,871 needed. The court rejected the latest challenge, however, ruling that Krebs did not act erroneously and that the campaign failed to prove it had gathered enough valid signatures to earn a spot on the ballot.
A Seattle dispensary is breathing a sigh of relief after an attempted robbery — which turned into hostage situation — ended peacefully. Have a Heart’s Greenwood location was preparing to close shop for the day when its security guard was ambushed during a perimeter check. Two masked gunmen forced their way inside the shop, zip-tied the employees, and raided the store safe. Luckily, security protocols require the store manager to monitor the nightly closing routine, and store manager Damon Martinez contacted the police, who arrived within minutes. When the burglars exited the building, they walked right into the hands of law enforcement. All parties are safe and the goods have been returned to the business. The incident has spurred conversations about security for cannabis retailers as well as the need to establish banking services for cannabis businesses to avoid storing large amounts of cash on premises.
International News Updates
Authorities in Costa Rica have uncovered an emerging trend among illegal cannabis cultivators: hydroponic growing operations. La Nación reports that there have been 41 grows found and dismantled by the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) during the last 13 years, and there’s been a noteworthy increase in sophisticated grow operations since 2011. Another trend that arisen is the involvement of foreign nationals: Police have arrested individuals from the United States, Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia, Canada, Israel, Venezuela, Spain, and the Dominican Republic. In July, authorities arrested a Dominican national for the production of 3,000 plants and 200 kilos of cannabis, which had been grown in a luxurious private residence. Officials believe that Costa Rica’s appeal is growing due to its popularity as a tourist destination.
Authorities in the Netherlands are working overtime to halt illegal cannabis cultivations, but despite their best efforts, so much cannabis is being produced that even the country’s anti-cannabis task force can’t keep up. According to data provided by the Dutch police, the anti-cannabis squad was raiding 16 growing operations on average per day in 2015, for a grand total of 5,685 raids by year’s end. John Jespers, the national coordinator of the police hennep team, or “hemp squad,” is well aware of the difficulties of trying to keep pace with illegal cultivators. He’s said that ““it's an illusion to think we can round up all grow operations.” Technically, the use of cannabis is permitted in coffeeshops, but cultivation is illegal. The latest numbers show that 70 percent of Nederlanders support legalization.
Header image by AP