Category Archives: Activists

U.S. judge weighs challenge to federal marijuana prohibition

Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday urged a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn the United States’ longstanding prohibition of marijuana, the latest court battle over federal policy under President Donald Trump’s administration.

The argument, before U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan, came about a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would abandon a policy of former President Barack Obama that had left regulation of the drug largely up to states.

Several states including, California, Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 29 states allow some medical use.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in July, include the parents of two children who use marijuana to treat illness, and former New York Jets player Marvin Washington, who works with a company that develops marijuana-based products.

They claim that the federal ban on marijuana violates the U.S. Constitution. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a “Schedule I” drug, meaning that it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Dolinger, arguing for the government, said federal law did not allow the plaintiffs to challenge the marijuana ban in court. Instead, he said, they must bring a petition through the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The agency process is exhaustive,” he said.

Michael Hiller, lawyer for the plaintiffs, countered that the process was “futile,” and that there was no “rational basis” for marijuana to remain on Schedule I.

One of the children in the lawsuit, Alexis Bortell, successfully treats seizures using the drug, while another, Jagger Cotte, has used it to alleviate pain associated with a neurological condition called Leigh’s Disease, Hiller said.

“I represent people who need cannabis to live,” he said.

Hellerstein expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs during the hearing.

“How could anyone say that your clients’ lives have not been saved by marijuana?” he asked at one point.

However, the judge said he was not sure whether he had the authority to reschedule the drug. He also dismissed Heller’s argument that the prohibition was motivated by political concerns and racism when it was passed.

“The law is the law,” the judge said. “I‘m sworn to enforce the law.”

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Judge dismisses 13 tickets against NJ Weedman

By Olivia Rizzo  For NJ.com

A Trenton Municipal Court judge this week dismissed 13 tickets citing late night violations at NJ Weedman’s Joint, the now-closed Trenton restaurant owned by Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion.

In February 2016, Trenton police continually shut down the restaurant and accompanying “cannabis church,” the Liberty Bell Temple, citing a city ordinance that requires some establishments to close down at 11 p.m.

But Forchion, who has been jailed for almost a year, has always argued that the tickets were “bogus” and did not apply to his businesses because they are in a designated commercial zone.

Trenton Municipal Court Judge Gregory Williams agreed that Forchion’s businesses were not considered a residential building, and dropped 13 of the 22 police lodged against Forchion or his business.

“I feel vindicated,” Forchion said in a phone interview from jail with NJ Advance Media. “It’s not often I have a judge completely on my side.”

Judge denies NJ Weedman's latest quest for freedom

Judge denies NJ Weedman’s latest quest for freedom

Ed Forchion has been locked up on pre-trial detention since March of last year

The marijuana advocate believes that the municipal tickets were the catalyst that led to the raid on his restaurant and his subsequent arrest, which later led to witness tampering charges – the case for which he remains jailed.

The remaining nine tickets, for various other violations, will be discussed in a municipal court hearing in March, Forchion said.

Forchion was found not guilty on one count of witness tampering, but faced a hung jury on the second count, in November 2017. His retrial is pending.

Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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When marijuana was legal in Michigan: 22 days in 1972

Ryan A. Huey, for the Lansing State Journal Published 7:30 a.m. ET Feb. 8, 2018

THIS IS FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. 636536056957904088-John-Sinclair-w-John-Rosevear-1967.jpg

John Sinclair, “Michigan’s hippie king,” walked out of Jackson’s State Prison of Southern Michigan on Dec. 13, 1971 after serving two-and-a-half years of what might have been a 10-year prison sentence for marijuana possession.

Surrounded by a cheering crowd, a television reporter quizzed Sinclair as he embraced family and friends outside of the prison gate.

“After all of the trouble you’ve gone through Mr. Sinclair, how do you feel about marijuana? Do you still feel…”

“I wanna smoke some joints, man!” Sinclair interrupted.

Standing well over 6 feet tall with a mane of curly dark hair, Sinclair was a minor celebrity in Michigan’s counterculture: the manager for the Detroit rock band MC5 and the gregarious chairman of the White Panther Party, a revolutionary organization named in solidarity with the Black Panther Party.

He proclaimed that marijuana was safe, the government was oppressive and young people were going to take over the country.

The press characterized him as “colorful and quotable.” Police labeled him a threat to public safety.

The Michigan Supreme Court found him convincing. 

The court fight that followed Sinclair’s arrest for marijuana possession in 1967 — and the “Free John Now!” publicity campaign launched by artist and activist Leni Sinclair, who was John’s wife at the time — briefly overturned Michigan’s marijuana laws and gave hope to Michigan’s more optimistic marijuana enthusiasts that legalization was within reach.

“We were such utopianists,” Leni Sinclair recalls.                        

Leni Sinclair in 1971.

Leni Sinclair in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

The Sinclairs helped to launch the Michigan Marijuana Initiative in 1972, the state’s first serious effort at marijuana legalization.             

It failed, of course. Legal marijuana was a hard sell to a public that largely believed smoking reefer was immoral and dangerous. A 1969 national survey indicated that 84% of Americans thought marijuana should be illegal. By 1972, things hadn’t changed drastically.

But 2018 is different.

In November, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted around 360,000 petition signatures to legalize the consumption, production and distribution of recreational marijuana in Michigan. It is all but assured that the ballot proposal will reach the 250,588 valid signatures necessary to make it on the November ballot.

With nearly 60% of Michiganders in favor of legalization, it’s also expected to become law.

More: Nearly 50 marijuana dispensaries may be forced to close

More: How to get a medical marijuana card

Which might sound like vindication for Leni and John Sinclair. They don’t see it that way.

Both say smoking marijuana in the 1960s was an affirmation of a fiercely do-it-yourself lifestyle and a form of protest against a national culture that sanctioned discrimination, demanded commitment to American militarism and protected individual liberty only within the bounds of consumer capitalism, Christianity and the nuclear family.

“They are subverting the whole marijuana culture that we created, which was based on sharing, noninterference with others, high-mindedness, and spirituality,” said John Sinclair, from his upstairs apartment office in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.

At 76 years of age, he is still heavily involved in marijuana legalization efforts. He and Leni have been divorced since 1988.

“At first I thought it was a good thing” to legalize marijuana, said Leni Sinclair, who has been arrested five times on marijuana-related charges over her 77-year life.

“In retrospect,” she said, when medical marijuana was legalized, “it destroyed the whole distribution system” that consisted mostly of friends getting together to share weed and hang out.

They agree nonetheless that legalization is long overdue. 

Photographer and political activist Leni Sinclair,

Photographer and political activist Leni Sinclair, of Detroit, who is best known for her remarkable portraits and performance images of Detroit music royalty, from the MC5 to Bob Seger, as well as some of the world’s most important jazz musicians including John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, photographed in 2016. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press)

“People are just ready for it,” said Jeffrey Hank, the Lansing attorney who founded MI Legalize, a grassroots organization that almost succeeded in getting an initiative on the ballot in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana.

The failure of the 2016 initiative inspired Hank’s organization to found the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, up their fundraising efforts and professionalize their campaign.

The Coalition is a diverse collection of activists, farmers and investors from both large companies and small businesses such as Lansing’s Wholesale Hydroponics.

Its three largest donors have been the retail tobacco chain Smokers Outlet, the national lobbying group the Marijuana Policy Project and MI Legalize.

And its efforts are aimed squarely at the political mainstream. The initiative includes a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales that would be divided between schools and road repairs and the municipalities where marijuana businesses are located.

More: Why you’ll hear more about Lansing region’s marijuana industry

Its campaign has focused on the failure of efforts to prohibit marijuana use —  one ad shows a Prohibition-era photo of men pouring a beer barrel into a storm sewer beside the caption “Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result” — and on “unnecessary” arrests.

“You never get everything you want when you try to get something of this nature done,” said Hank.

“You really have to appease people’s political opinions to have any chance at it.”

Josh Covert is an attorney who works almost exclusively with clients facing marijuana-related legal problems, or involved in the business of marijuana. Nick King and Laura Trabka/Lansing State Journal

Marijuana in Michigan

In the 1950s, Michigan implemented some of the harshest penalties for marijuana in the country.

Legislators worried publicly that “dope peddlers” and “bad associates” — which their listeners would have understood as code for black and working class — were manipulating white youth to smoke marijuana.

A 1952 bill made the punishment for narcotics possession anything between probation and 10 years in prison, and the law treated marijuana as a narcotic. A second offense could mean 20 years behind bars. A conviction for selling carried a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison with no parole.

In practice, these laws intensified the aggressive policing aimed at Michigan’s expanding black neighborhoods.

By 1956, the Detroit Narcotics Bureau estimated that 89% of people arrested for narcotics were black, though they were only 20% of the city’s population. The conviction rate was a staggering 90%.

When white and college educated John Sinclair was first arrested for “sales and possession” of marijuana in October of 1964, he got a slap on the wrist.

Detroit Free Press archives
John Sinclair at 27 outside

Detroit Free Press archives John Sinclair at 27 outside the Oakland County Courthouse in April 1969. (Photo: Tom Venaleck, Detroit Free Press)

The judge dropped the sales charge, put him on two months’ probation and fined him $250.

Still on probation, Sinclair started a Detroit chapter of LEMAR (which stood for “Legalize Marijuana”), the first group dedicated to legalization in the U.S.

John and Leni Sinclair had recently helped found a beatnik-inspired artist collective called the Detroit Artists’ Workshop. Their commune became a home base for artists, musicians, activists, and entrepreneurs.

The Detroit Police assigned an undercover agent to infiltrate the commune to keep tabs on Sinclair and the anti-Vietnam War activists who lived in the same building, which led to Sinclair’s second arrest.

He pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and, this time, was sentenced to six months in the Detroit House of Corrections.

Detroit’s Red Squad, a special police unit that investigated suspected communists, started compiling a detailed file on Sinclair for “possible narcotics and subversive activity.”

Sinclair’s third arrest came under the auspices of a drug raid targeting narcotics traffic near Wayne State University’s campus. A month prior, he had given two joints to undercover police who had taken jobs at the commune in order to build a case against Sinclair.

“They weren’t interested in marijuana,” Sinclair told the Detroit Free Press a couple days after the January 24, 1967 raid, “[t]hey’re just against our way of life.”

“They couldn’t arrest people in America for saying things against the government,” Leni Sinclair said, “so they used the marijuana laws.”

John vowed to appeal his conviction by challenging the legality of the state marijuana laws.

Two years later, Judge Robert J. Colombo of the Detroit Recorder’s Court sentenced John Sinclair to nine-and-a-half to 10 years in prison.

He also denied bond, which would have allowed Sinclair to stay out of prison during the appeal process, a move usually reserved for the most dangerous offenders.

“The law means nothing to him and to his like,” Colombo said.

Members of the White Panther Party and others on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing in 1971.

Members of the White Panther Party and others on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

Leni was “stunned.” She began urging voters to write members of Congress, participate in demonstrations and join her petition drive to change the marijuana laws.

The commune printed and sold t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and buttons that read “Free John Now!”

The strategy, she said, was “to get him out by any legal means possible.”

Though they did step outside the law to make their point.

Leni and a few friends rolled a pile of joints and mailed two apiece to every member of the state legislature, Gov. William Milliken and Wayne State University President William Keast with a note explaining that they were now in possession of narcotics and subject to a ten-year prison sentence.

Ann Arbor was a strong base of support for their efforts. So was East Lansing.

Students at Michigan State University swayed Republican Senator, Philip O. Pittenger, who represented East Lansing, to vote for a more lenient drug bill.

The East Lansing City Council passed a resolution recommending Sinclair’s release from prison and the same for all Michiganders imprisoned for marijuana crimes.

George Griffiths, a Democratic City Council member at the time and later, mayor of East Lansing, saw marijuana as “nothing more or less than alcohol.”

“I have my wine or scotch and soda,” said Griffiths, now 88, “but if somebody wants to smoke their marijuana, that’s OK by me.”

The “Free John Now!” campaign culminated in the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” on December 10, 1971, headlined by John Lennon.

Lennon and Yoko Ono took the stage around three in the morning with a dobro guitar and an impromptu band. They closed their short set with a song written especially for the occasion.

“It ain’t fair, John Sinclair, in the stir for breathing air,” Lennon sang.

Three days later, John was free.

His case convinced the Michigan Supreme Court that marijuana and heroin were not equally dangerous, though state law had treated them that way, misclassifying cannabis as a narcotic and imposing long sentences for possession and sales.

The Court released Sinclair from prison and, three months later, declared the state’s marijuana laws unconstitutional.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono play the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" in Ann Arbor in 1971.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono play the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” in Ann Arbor in 1971. (Photo: Leni Sinclair)

There were no new marijuana laws in place, and so, in March of 1972, marijuana was effectively legalized in Michigan for about three weeks.

To celebrate, several Ann Arborites half-jokingly advertised a “hash festival” to take place on the University of Michigan’s Diag the day the new marijuana law was to go into effect — April Fool’s Day.

Hundreds of people showed up on the snowy Saturday to puff joints in public, the origin of what would become Hash Bash. No one was arrested. A few days later, the court ordered the release of 128 people in Michigan jails for marijuana offenses.

Pressured by young people, Congress had passed a constitutional amendment in 1971 to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, the same age at which Americans became eligible for the draft.

Hoping to capitalize on the momentum, the Sinclairs devoted their energies to registering young voters.

Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck, both 22, won seats on Ann Arbor’s City Council in 1972 and immediately introduced an ordinance that would downgrade possession, use and sale of marijuana to a $5 civil infraction within Ann Arbor.

It passed, making Ann Arbor the first city in the United States to implement a “traffic-ticket” marijuana ordinance and earning it the nickname, the “Midwest’s dope capital.”

East Lansing quickly became the second.

The Sinclairs began working furiously on a Michigan Marijuana Initiative that mirrored an ongoing campaign they had worked on in California. It called for “free, legal, backyard marijuana” through an amendment to the Michigan constitution.

The blueprint they settled on was “don’t do anything but legalize it,” Leni Sinclair said.

Their hands-off approach would “keep the distribution network that already existed all over the country,” she continued, where people mostly bought “an ounce and shared it with their friends.”

Those networks weren’t run by large criminal enterprises, she said. “Everybody that was in that kind of business was helping their family put food on the table.” They “would just be legal and pay taxes.”

They had two months to collect 265,000 signatures to put the proposal on the November 1972 ballot.

They collected roughly 125,000, less than half of what they needed. Only around 40,000 of those were considered valid.

The End of Marijuana Prohibition?

Participants smoke during the annual Hash Bash at the

Participants smoke during the annual Hash Bash at the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor in 2015. (Photo: Nicole Hester/Associated Press)

In 1973, Ann Arbor’s newest state representative, the shaggy-haired Perry Bullard, invited his colleagues in Congress to attend the city’s 2nd Annual Hash Bash, where Bullard smoked a joint in full view of the media.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.

His constituency, he would say later, “wants an outspoken advocate.”

Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero didn’t smoke a joint for the cameras and said he “got almost no contact buzz” when he spoke Hash Bash in 2015 to promote “sane, sustainable, enforceable policy” regarding marijuana.

Bernero said he hoped to combat “misinformation” about marijuana, which he equated with the “reefer madness” propaganda of the 1930s.

“It’s still a Schedule I drug for God’s sake,” he said, referring to marijuana’s classification under Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs. “It’s unbelievable to me that that’s still the case.”

Bernero supports “normalization and legalization” of marijuana, noting that it’s “less fatal and less problematic in many respects than alcohol,” and he sees its potential to bolster both local economies and hard-pressed municipal budgets.

“I think that it can be a real boon to the economy,” said Bernero, who hopes that it will remain an “indigenous industry.”

Lowell, of MI Legalize, said the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol ballot proposal alleviates “the need for law enforcement to be concerned with adults with small amounts of cannabis.”

“That goes a long way for me as an activist.”

John Sinclair doesn’t trust the police to let go that easily. He anticipates that the “law enforcement bureaucracy” will swell to monitor the legal marijuana industry from “seed to sale.”

Timothy Locke shares those concerns.

Locke is the treasurer of Abrogate Michigan, which is running a separate petition campaign to legalize recreational marijuana but without an excise tax. The organization is pursuing a constitutional amendment, which is not expected to make it onto the ballot.

In other states that have treated marijuana like alcohol, the excise tax “has not slowed down the arrests” and has actually “emboldened the black market because if people can find a cheaper product, they will,” he said.

A rally-goer almost gets it right during the 30th annual

A rally-goer almost gets it right during the 30th annual Hash Bash rally to legalize marijuana held on the University of Michigan Diag in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 7, 2001. Supporters tried and failed to get a marijuana legalization measure on the 2000 ballot. (Photo: Lon Horwedel, Copyright 2000 The Lansing State Journal;No)

Which Lowell concedes is a possibility.

Inside his organization, “there’s definitely a lot of discussion about that very thing,” he said. “It’s plausible.”

For most, these concerns are offset by the benefits of funding Michigan’s public schools and road repairs through the excise tax on legal weed.

Jeffrey Hank touts the model of marijuana licensing in the ballot proposal as the most small-business-friendly of any state.

The “microbusiness” licensing process — akin to that of microbreweries — will allow small business owners and entrepreneurs to get a fair share of the market, not to mention giving them protection under the law.

However, licensing fees for the smallest dispensaries still exceed $10,000 and a “no felons” clause limits access to the market.

As a result, the black and working-class communities most victimized under marijuana prohibition could be largely excluded from the legal marijuana industry.

Leni Sinclair hopes that whoever does end up profiting from legalized marijuana will “pay some reparations to the people who have suffered the most.”

She wonders “how much would it have cost the state of Michigan to house all these prisoners for 20 to life if we hadn’t changed the law?

“How many millions or billions of dollars,” she asks, has “John Sinclair saved the state of Michigan?”

PLEASE CONTINUE READING AND VIDEO / PICTURES

Rob Kampia Leaves Marijuana Policy Project

December 24, 2017

By  Tom Angell

Marijuana Policy Project founder Rob Kampia is no longer employed by or serves on the board of the organization.

He is starting a new cannabis policy group called Marijuana Leadership Campaign (MLC), structured as a for-profit LLC consulting firm.

The new company “will focus almost exclusively on changing U.S. laws,” Kampia said in a relatively unusual memo shared with Marijuana Moment late Saturday night, which also says that the firm has lined up “nearly $500,000 in seed money” from “a marijuana investment firm in Los Angeles, a major marijuana dispensary in Colorado, Kampia’s wealthy friends in Texas (where he lives half-time) and a coalition of new donors in South Carolina.”

The split with MPP is occurring as greater attention is being paid to past allegations of sexual misconduct by Kampia amidst a national backlash against workplace sexual harassment and abuse.

In 2010, a lengthy Washington City Paper story reported that Kampia had sex with an intoxicated MPP employee, an incident after which a staff revolt nearly led to his ouster from the organization. He later took a leave of absence to seek therapy, telling the Washington Post that he was “hypersexualized.”

Now, Kampia’s departure from MPP comes as several sources tell Marijuana Moment that a major newspaper is working on a story about previously unreported allegations against the former executive director. It is unknown when that article will be published, but its existence has been an open secret in cannabis reform circles for weeks.

Formally leaving the organization is the second and final wave in Kampia’s diminishing role at MPP, which he co-founded in 1995.

In November, days before Thanksgiving, MPP announced that Kampia had stepped down from his role as executive director but would remain at the organization in a new capacity focused on fundraising and strategy.

The new memo, shared with Marijuana Moment just before midnight on the day before Christmas Eve, says that the first announcement “opened new business opportunities for Kampia” and that while he “initially proposed splitting his time equally between MPP and the new MLC, Kampia and his fellow MPP board members reached a second milestone by voting unanimously on Dec. 20 to end his full-time status at MPP this weekend.”

It was also revealed this week that Kampia is no longer a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Advisory Council. Kampia said in an interview with Marijuana Moment on Sunday that he remains a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) board of directors.

The memo appears to lay out the case that Kampia’s departure from MPP has nothing to do with any old or new allegations of sexual misconduct, and he said in the interview that conversations among the organization’s board “about me shifting into lesser roles at MPP extend all the way back into late October.”

“We didn’t even talk about the s-word at all,” he said, referring to sex. “It wasn’t even on our minds, which I think was kind of naive of us given the stuff that’s happening with all of these celebrities.”

But Kampia acknowledged in the interview that he “did know that there was a story in the works somewhere” at the time he registered the domain name http://www.marijuanaleadershipcampaign.com on December 5.

“I didn’t know which publication. I didn’t know any of the questions. I didn’t know the name of the reporter. I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I just knew that people were sort of talking about how there’s a story in the works.”

Kampia has been a key architect of many of the most significant marijuana policy victories over the past two decades, and has arguably been the legalization movement’s best fundraiser.

In the memo, he says that MLC “will work alongside the institutions he views as most effective in each sector” of the movement and industry. While the document names MPP, NCIA and New Federalism Fund as “leading the charge,” and says that the new company will “provide substantial funding” for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) and Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Kampia said in the interview that he hasn’t “cleared the fact that I want to give them money” with those groups.

LEAP and DFCR did not respond to requests for comment.

The memo says Kampia will divide his time between work on Texas, South Carolina, Michigan and congressional cannabis policy reform efforts as well as “raising money to make MDMA (known as ‘Ecstasy’) available as a prescription medicine for the treatment of PTSD and end-of-life anxiety.”

He plans to raise more than $2 million in 2018 from steering committees comprised of donors contributing at least $100,000 each.

When asked if the investors who have already committed nearly half a million dollars to the new venture are aware of the looming newspaper story on sexual misconduct allegations, Kampia said that “they know about the worst allegations that have ever been made about me, and I have no reason to believe that the [newspaper] story will be worse than that, so these guys are friends of the family and they’re not going to be surprised by anything in the [newspaper] and in fact they might be pleasantly surprised.”

Several of the projects mentioned in the MLC document are campaigns that Kampia had been raising money to support through MPP, but he rejected the idea that his outside efforts would drain the nonprofit of resources.

“Are there people that want to fund Texas where they might otherwise be nervous about writing a check to MPP, where they might have to pay for payroll for Rhode Island, Vermont and the national operation?” he asked, suggesting that his new outfit would be “value-added” rather than competition.

“One thing for sure that no one would do if not for the fact that I’m going to agitate for it, is to take out Congressman Pete Sessions,” he said, referring to the Republican House Rules Committee chairman who has consistently blocked marijuana amendments from being voted on. “Take out, meaning not to date him,” he said, but to un-elect him.

In the memo, Kampia twice offers quotes that he suggests are in jest, at least in part.

In the first instance, he jokes that working full-time for nonprofit organizations is “a good way to avoid amassing wealth,” while working on marijuana policy reform through an LLC will allow him to form business relationships with for-profit institutions.

Kampia, who owns a Washington, D.C,. row house that he has often referred to as “The Purple Mansion,” dismissed concerns that people might take offense to his quip about amassing wealth.

“It depends on what your definition of wealth is. I don’t have cash,” he said in the interview. “All my money goes into my mortgage. So you could say that I have wealth or not, depending on your perspective. I don’t mind if that offends people or not, because socialists who are averse to wealth probably already hate me.”

He also “half-jokingly” wrote that he hopes “to be standing behind President Rand Paul during his bill-signing ceremony [for ‘the ultimate bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level’] in the White House in 2022.”

“I don’t think Trump is going to survive reelection,” he said when asked what Paul’s path to the presidency in the 2020 election would be. “I would like to see [Trump] impeached…and I think Mike Pence is tainted as a result of being in bed with Trump. So I think that you are going to see a bunch of challengers… Rand Paul was obviously my favorite candidate last time around and so I’m cheering him on. I don’t have any inside knowledge, though. I haven’t talked to him personally.”

The memo mentions Kampia’s holiday vacation plans in the Caribbean and says that when he returns to the country the new organization will hold a series of leadership meetings in Austin, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

He will also write a book that “provides an insider’s look at the marijuana-legalization movement.” He told Marijuana Moment that the working title is, “How We Legalized Marijuana.”

The memo offers a very specific account of the book’s progress to date.

“I’m particularly excited about writing my book, which will be nonfiction but will oftentimes read like fiction, as my life is strewn with outrageous experiences that are sometimes relevant to readers who have an interest in politics generally and marijuana policy specifically,” Kampia wrote. “The book is already one-eighth written, and I’m planning to spend my time in the Bahamas and other sunny islands writing another three- eighths of the book. In fact, one reason I’m leaving MPP is to write this book, with an aggressive book tour planned for the fall of 2018.”

As of Sunday afternoon, Kampia was still listed as an employee and board member on MPP’s website.

An MPP communications staffer could not be reached for comment by publication time, but a board member who did not wish to be named said, “I can confirm that we have been negotiating his permanent separation from the org for weeks and that he is no longer conducting any MPP business.”

Read Kampia’s full three-page memo on the new firm belowhttps://www.marijuanamoment.net/rob-kampia-leaves-marijuana-policy-project/:

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Marijuana activist since 1960s facing California pot charges

By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

December 20, 2017 08:50 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22 pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit. James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.

The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California’s famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was found.

Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing drugs for sale and felony transportation charges and were being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Beal has been promoting marijuana’s medical benefits for decades. His activism dates to the 1960s heyday of Abbie Hoffman and the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies.

Recreational sales of marijuana become legal in California on Jan. 1, and medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996. But it’s still illegal to transport large quantities of the drug or to take it out of state.

It’s not uncommon for traffickers to think they can now transport pot risk-free, said Deputy District Attorney Colleen Murray, who is prosecuting the case.

“People are like, ‘It’s legal.’ So often they’re very open with officers, ‘Oh hey, I have 100 pounds,'” she said. “That’s not the way it works.”

Defense attorney Tom Ballanco said it’s not clear if his two clients thought they were acting legally.

Friends were raising money for Beal’s bail, Ballanco said, concerned that he is a heart attack survivor and has other illnesses. Beal isn’t a flight risk and looks forward to fighting the charges, Ballanco said.

“The nature of his life, really, is one of activism. He’s not the type of person who’s going to flee from this,” Ballanco said. “He’s certainly a very colorful figure. I’m happy to be representing him and his co-defendant.”

For law enforcement, these were routine arrests in an area where traffickers typically tote hundreds if not thousands of pounds of famed Emerald Triangle pot to East Coast states.

“People can buy it here for maybe $800 or $1,000 a pound,” Murray said. “Once they get back there … they’re going to get maybe $3,000 to $4,000 a pound for it. That’s a nice profit.”

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Facebook Posts Indicate That Once Again, Dana Beal Has Been Arrested

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and outdoor

John Penley

Dana Beal [seen here speaking at the DNC protests in Philly] has just been arrested again for transporting a load of marijuana in Weaverville, California.

   SOURCE

Wayward Bill

Bummer. A fellow Yippie and friend.
Dana Beal BUSTED IN NORTHERN CALIF
BUSTED YESTERDAY IN TRINITY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA….
HE IS LOCATED AT :
TRINITY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
101 MEMORIAL DRIVE
P.O. BOX 1228
WEAVERVILLE, CA 96093

TRINITY COUNTY JAIL FACILITY
101 MEMORIAL DRIVE
P.O. BOX 1119
WEAVERVILLE, CA 96093

(530) 623-2611
Fax: (530) 623-8180

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Wayward Bill attends the 2017 Cannabis Business Awards, Alexis Bortell wins “Most Influential” 2017!

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The Cannabis Business Awards 2017 Presented by Chloe Villano and Clover Leaf

There were many valuable and appreciated Activists who were represented at the Cannabis Business Awards in Denver, Colorado last night.

The Cannabis Business Awards features industry power players including CEO and Founder Chloe Villano, an entrepreneur featured in People Magazine’s “Marijuana Millionaires.” As one of the first and most sought-after consultants in the industry, Villano was the first executive to receive full accredited approval from the Department of Higher Education for her cannabis school Clover Leaf University. LINK

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Undoubtedly the Star of the show was Alexis Bortell, who won “Most Influential Individual” for 2017.  Alexis is suing General Jeff Sessions “not for money but for freedom”!  You can view the video of her acceptance at this LINK.

alexis bortell 12.7.17

The suit aims to prove that the Controlled Substances Act, the statute governing federal drug policy, is unconstitutional as it relates to marijuana, according to Alexis’ attorney, Michael S. Hiller.   LINK

In 2016 Wayward Bill won the Lifetime Achievement Award and has attended and participated in each yearly event since it began in 2012.  The following pictures he gathered while attending last nights ceremony.

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GOOGLE SEARCH FOR ALEXIS BORTELL HERE

FOLLOW CHLOE VILLANO ON FACEBOOK FOR UPDATED INFORMATION!

40 YEARS FOR MARIJUANA IS NOT JUSTICE

GRANT CLEMENCY TO OUR SON EDWIN RUBIS – 40 YEARS FOR MARIJUANA IS NOT JUSTICE

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Jeremy Malone Huntsville, AL

Our son, Edwin Rubis, is serving a federal sentence of 40 years for a non-violent marijuana offense. [www.marijuanaliferproject.org/federal-prisoner-edwin-rubis-is-serving-life-for-marijuana/

At age 29, our son, while battling drug addiction, associated himself with drug couriers, and was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. After his arrest, his court-appointed attorney advised him, along with us, that he needed to provide information on others in the drug trade. Edwin could not provide such information. Therefore, he was quickly deemed “uncooperative”, and the judge gave him a harsh sentence – 40 years.

Edwin has been away from us for the last 19 years.

During the course of time, we have adamantly petitioned, and at times cried, for his early release, at every level of the court system. Sadly to say, we continue to struggle, missing him, with no positive resolution to obtain his freedom. Edwin’s children need him. We need him. Our son is not a terrorist, a rapist, a gang member, nor a violent individual to continually be kept in prison for decades for distributing marijuana. While imprisoned, Edwin has taken diligent steps to better himself. He has achieved numerous rehabilitation programs from the psychology and religious departments. He has graduated from college with a degree in Religious Education; and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling and Therapist Certification. In addition, he serves as a mentor to others, under the supervision of the head chaplain. He is also working as a G.E.D. and E.S.L. tutor in the education department, at his present institution of confinement, helping others further their education. In addition, Edwin also finished a 2 year dental apprenticeship from The Department of Labor, and worked as a dental assistant for the last 7 years in the medical department.

We love our son, [uncle, father, and brother]. We wish for him to receive another chance at life. But our dream for him to be reunited with us, can not be accomplished without your full support.

Please help us obtain our son’s freedom by signing this petition urging President Donald Trump to grant our son clemency or a pardon.

Edwin is a changed man. He has been fully rehabilitated and deserves a second chance at life.

Sincerely, Maria Roque – and – Family.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING AND SIGN THE PETITION TO FREE THIS MAN NOW!

NJ Weedman not guilty on 1 witness tampering count, jury hung on 2nd

Screenshot-2017-11-10 NJ Weedman not guilty on 1 witness tampering count, jury hung on 2nd

By Olivia Rizzo

For NJ.com

TRENTON — A jury on Thursday found Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion not guilty of the more serious witness tampering crime he was charged with, and was hung on a second count of the same charge.

The marijuana advocate was visibly excited with the outcome.

Once the jury had cleared the court, Forchion raised his hands in victory before making an oral motion to Mercer County Judge Anthony Massi to re-open his detention hearing.

(He remains jailed; Massi noted the oral request, but said it needed to be properly filed.)

As the jury was leaving the courtroom, Forchion leaned down into the microphone and thanked them.

Late Thursday, in a call from the Mercer County jail, Forchion said: “To all the jurors, thank you!”

“I have always believed in the jury system, and in this case it worked out. I’m happy as hell,” he said.

In court, clad in a red and black suit, Forchion had given supporters sitting behind him a quick thumbs up before the jury entered the courtroom. Moments later, they found him not guilty of a second-degree witness tampering charge, and was hung on a third-degree count of the same charge.

Neither Mercer County assistant prosecutors who tried the case, Stephanie Katz or John Boyle, commented on the outcome, saying the matter was still pending.

NJ Weedman on trial: Everything you need to know

NJ Weedman on trial: Everything you need to know

He’s been in jail since March, but Ed Forchion is still making news

Prosecutors allege the marijuana right advocate publicly outed the witness who he believes informed on him to authorities in the investigation that led to the 2016 drug raid of his Trenton restaurant.

The prosecutor’s office now has 120 days to re-try Forchion, or dismiss the charge. A status conference date will be set to discuss the future of the case, . 

In the Thursday night call, Forchion reiterated his stance that there will be no plea bargains, and if the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office wants to try him again, he’s ready for round two.

“I am going to trial,” he said.

After the verdicts, a group of his supporters were initially happy when the jury ruled that Forchion was not guilty on the one count, but became frustrated when they learned he would not be released from jail.

“That’s not what he’s guilty of,” Debi Madeo, Forchion’s fiance, said outside the courtroom, “he’s guilty of being an asshole.”

Madeo said she’s worried Forchion will remain in jail for several more months, until a new trial can begin. She then echoed statements Forchion has made in the past about not receiving a fair trial.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Forchion badgered the witness online and sent mail to his neighbors.

Forchion testified that he was an “ass,” and he posted on social media a lot, but he did not believe what he was doing was illegal, and prosecutor’s were pursuing a “fake case.”

Daeja Forchion

6 hours ago

UPDATE: Not guilty on 2nd degree ❗️❗️❗️
hung jury on 3rd❗️
another 120 days in jail for another trial
#freenjweedman
#notguilty

Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook

CONTINUE READING AND TO SOURCE LINK!


FACEBOOK LINK

https://www.facebook.com/daeja.forchion/posts/10214652248329573

Researcher and Activist Bob Melamede Considers Marijuana a Miracle Drug

by Ken Picard

November 08, 2017

Bob Melamede - MATTHEW THORSEN

Bob Melamede was pissed off, which seemed out of character for a laid-back guy who laughs a lot. Plus, he’d begun the day as he always does — by ingesting 80 to 100 milligrams of oil containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. That’s enough THC to leave most stoners blissed out for hours.

But Melamede saw good reason to be indignant on a late September morning outside Burlington’s Bern Gallery, where the annual Pipe Classic glassblowing competition was in full swing. A retired DNA researcher, microbiology professor and international cannabis activist, Melamede had heard that a Burlington police officer confiscated all the cannabis oil from a medical marijuana patient who’d flown into town for the event.

The patient, Courtney Soper, arrived at the gallery a few minutes later. The 40-year-old mother of three from Long Island, N.Y., confirmed that, after checking into her hotel the previous night, she had driven to an Old North End café to meet some friends who were also attending the glassblowing event. While she was parking her rental car, she said, a cop pulled her over for making an illegal U-turn.

After smelling marijuana on Soper, the cop searched her car and discovered the cannabis oil. Soper handed over her medical marijuana registry cards from New York and California, explaining that she uses the substance to treat several conditions, including chronic pain. The cop didn’t arrest Soper or issue a ticket, but he took her drugs.

“I said, ‘I have a bottle of Adderall in my bag, also prescribed by my doctor. That’s a controlled substance, too,'” Soper told Melamede. “He didn’t say a thing about that.”

“Who’s the government to tell us what kind of medicine we can use?” Melamede barked. “Fuck them!”

He was ready to make that point at the police station, but Soper nixed the idea for fear it could bring unwanted scrutiny to the Bern Gallery event. In a text to Seven Days, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo explained later that his officer was just following protocol: Vermont doesn’t recognize medical marijuana cards from other states.

Meanwhile, several twenty- and thirty-somethings milling around outside the Bern Gallery recognized Melamede and greeted him with shouts of “Hey, Dr. Bob!”

As it happens, thousands of people know “Dr. Bob,” who’s not a physician but has a doctoral degree in molecular genetics and biochemistry. A former research professor who taught at the University of Vermont, New York Medical College and the University of Colorado, Melamede now appears regularly in the marijuana press and frequently speaks at international cannabis conventions. His presentations, some of which can be found on YouTube, invariably delve into the science of cannabis and its relationship to human health.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING STORY HERE….