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VoteHemp.com announced:

On Thursday, February 7th, the Vermont House of Representatives passed the Hemp for Vermont bill, with overwhelming support. The vote was 127 [sic] to 9! This vote was for “second reading” of the bill, so it had another procedural vote on Friday, and then it will move on to the Senate. Thank you to all who made calls and volunteered to help garner support for this bill! Many representatives commented that your calls made a difference in this process! Our work is not yet done, so get your pens and note cards out to write a thank you note to your representatives if they voted yes, and get ready for action when the bill moves to the Senate. We’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile, celebrate this amazing victory for Vermont agriculture! Check out the final bill here.

This week, please write a Thank You Note to your House Representative if s/he voted yes on the bill. You can find the vote list here. You can download a special Thank You card (in pdf format) here. (Thanks to Mark Candaras for designing the card).

If you are not sure who your Representative(s) are, you can find out here.

Please send your hand-written note (please do not email your reps!) to:
Representative ________________
Vermont Statehouse
115 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633

Also, if you have an extra moment, send a special thank you note to Representative Will Stevens, who reported the bill and defended it upon being interrogated by Representative Norm McAllister, who opposed the bill. You can send your note to Rep. Stevens at the address above.

The Bill:

HEMP FOR VERMONT BILL AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
FEBRUARY 7, 2008Sec. 1. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGSThe general assembly finds:(1) Industrial hemp is a suitable crop for Vermont, and its production will contribute to the future viability of Vermont agriculture.

(2) Allowing industrial hemp production will provide farmers an opportunity to sell their products to a marketplace that pays them a reasonable rate of return for their labor and capital investments. Farmers in Canada report an $800.00 per‑acre return for the crop.

(3) The infrastructure needed to process industrial hemp will result in increased business opportunities and new jobs in our communities.

(4) As a food crop, industrial hemp seeds and oil produced from the seeds have high nutritional value, including healthy fats and protein.

(5) As a fiber crop, industrial hemp can be used in the manufacture of products such as clothing, building supplies, and animal bedding.

(6) As a fuel crop, industrial hemp seeds can be processed into biodiesel, and stalks can be pelletized or flaked for burning or processed for cellulosic ethanol. Industrial hemp also expands opportunities for on-farm renewable energy production.

(7) The production of industrial hemp can play a useful agronomic role in farm land management as part of a crop rotation system.

Sec. 2. 6 V.S.A. chapter 34 is added to read:

CHAPTER 34. INDUSTRIAL HEMP

§ 561. INTENT

The intent of this act is to establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in Vermont so that farmers and other businesses in the Vermont agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity when federal regulations permit.

§ 562. DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1) “Grower” means any person or business entity licensed under this chapter by the secretary as an industrial hemp grower.

(2) “Hemp products” means all products made from industrial hemp, including but not limited to cloth, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particle board, plastics, seed, seed meal, seed oil, and certified seed for cultivation if such seeds originate from industrial hemp varieties.

(3) “Industrial hemp” means varieties of the plant cannabis sativa having no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, whether growing or not, that are cultivated or possessed by a licensed grower in compliance with this chapter.

(4) “Secretary” means the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.

§ 563. INDUSTRIAL HEMP: AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT

Industrial hemp is an agricultural product which may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in Vermont pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

§ 564. LICENSING; APPLICATION

(a) Any person or business entity wishing to engage in the production of industrial hemp must be licensed as an industrial hemp grower by the secretary. A license from the secretary shall authorize industrial hemp production only at a site or sites specified by the license.

(b) A license from the secretary shall be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance and may be renewed but shall not be transferable.

(c)(1) The secretary shall obtain from the Vermont criminal information center a record of convictions in Vermont and other jurisdictions for any applicant for a license who has given written authorization on the application form. The secretary shall file a user’s agreement with the center. The user’s agreement shall require the secretary to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy. Conviction records provided to the secretary under this section are confidential and shall be used only to determine the applicant’s eligibility for licensure.

(2) A person who has been convicted in Vermont of a felony offense or a comparable offense in another jurisdiction shall not be eligible for a license under this chapter.

(d) When applying for a license from the secretary, an applicant shall provide information sufficient to demonstrate to the secretary that the applicant intends to grow and is capable of growing industrial hemp in accordance with this chapter, which at a minimum shall include:

(1) Filing with the secretary a set of classifiable fingerprints and written authorization permitting the Vermont criminal information center to generate a record of convictions as required by subdivision (c)(1) of this section.

(2) Filing with the secretary documentation certifying that the seeds obtained for planting are of a type and variety compliant with the maximum concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol set forth in subdivision 560(3) of this chapter.

(3) Filing with the secretary the location and acreage of all parcels sown and other field reference information as may be required by the secretary.

(e) To qualify for a license from the secretary, an applicant shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the secretary that the applicant has adopted methods to ensure the legal production of industrial hemp, which at a minimum shall include:

(1) Ensuring that all parts of the industrial hemp plant that do not enter the stream of commerce as hemp products are destroyed, incorporated into the soil, or otherwise properly disposed of.

(2) Maintaining records that reflect compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with all other state laws regulating the planting and cultivation of industrial hemp.

(f) Every grower shall maintain all production and sales records for at least three years.

(g) Every grower shall allow industrial hemp crops, throughout sowing, growing season, harvest, storage, and processing, to be inspected by and at the discretion of the secretary or his or her designee.

§565. REVOCATION AND SUSPENSION OF LICENSE; ENFORCEMENT

(a) The secretary may deny, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew the license of any grower who:

(1) Makes a false statement or misrepresentation on an application for a license or renewal of a license.

(2) Fails to comply with or violates any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted under it.

(b) Revocation or suspension of a license may be in addition to any civil or criminal penalties imposed on a grower for a violation of any other state law.

§ 566. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY

The secretary shall, no later than December 31, 2008, adopt rules to provide for the implementation of this chapter, which shall include rules to allow for the industrial hemp to be tested during growth for tetrahydrocannabinol levels and to allow for supervision of the industrial hemp during sowing, growing season, harvest, storage, and processing.

Sec. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.

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Advocates to call on state legislature to prevent discrimination

Sacramento, CA — The California Supreme Court ruled against medical marijuana patient Gary Ross today in his fight against employment discrimination. In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court claimed that Ross could not rely on the Fair Housing and Employment Act or the state’s medical marijuana law to prevent discrimination at the workplace. The Court did indicate in its decision that the state legislature had not adequately clarified employment rights of medical marijuana patients.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed by today’s decision,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana advocacy organization that argued the case. “However, we remain hopeful that the legislature will come to the aid of patients by preventing the sort of discrimination that is likely to occur from such a decision.” The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Joyce L. Kennard, stated that the ruling “has seriously compromised the Compassionate Use Act, denying to those who must work for a living its promised benefits.”

Despite a clearly worded amicus “friend of the court” brief filed in support of Ross in July 2006 by all of the original co-authors of SB 420 (state legislation that helped to define the rights of medical marijuana patients), the Supreme Court failed to believe that it was the intent of the entire legislature. Advocates assert that they will seek a different response from the state legislature in the form of a bill introduced in the next few weeks.

Gary Ross, a 45-year old disabled veteran and a medical marijuana patient living in Carmichael, California, is at the forefront of a landmark employment case, with significant ramifications for patients in California and across the country. Ross was fired in September 2001 for failing an employer-mandated drug test while working as a systems engineer for RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc.

“All I am asking is to be a productive member of society,” said plaintiff Gary Ross. “I was not fired for poor work performance, but for an antiquated policy on medical marijuana,” continued Ross. “This practice allows employers to undermine state law and the protections provided for patients.”

Ross’s physician recommended cannabis for chronic back pain that resulted from injuries sustained during his military service. But Ross’s employer, RagingWire Telecommunications, refused to make an exception to its policy of terminating anyone testing positive for marijuana.

Ross filed suit after he was fired in 2001, arguing that RagingWire illegally discriminated against him because of his condition. However, a Sacramento Superior Court, and then the Third Appellate District Court both rejected his argument. In October 2005, ASA appealed to the California Supreme Court on behalf of Ross. Strong public support has been shown for Ross and the plight of California patients to seek and maintain employment.

Since it began recording instances of employment discrimination in 2005, ASA has received hundreds of such reports from across California. Companies that have either fired patients from their job, threatened them with termination, or denied them employment because of patient status or a positive test for marijuana, include Costco Wholesale, UPS, Foster Farms Dairy, DirecTV, the San Joaquin Courier, Power Auto Group, as well as several construction companies, hospitals, and various trade union employers.

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Which candidate will stop the enforcement of laws against Americans who use marijuana?

QUICK ANSWER: Ron Paul will end the war on drugs altogether – immediately. Obama will continue to enforce laws against marijuana users – using the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Administration.

It seems that voters for the reform of marijuana laws are contending between Barack Obama and Ron Paul – Democrat vs. Republican. But probably, most marijuana-users are voting for right moral judgment – not a party affiliation.

For the thousands of patients that depend on cannabis for treatment and pain relief, the reform of marijuana laws and ending the D.E.A. raids on home-growers and care centers are one of the most important issues in this presidential campaign. Granitestaters.com and medical marijuana patients actively sought to ask the right questions to the candidates early in the campaign season. A review can be found on their web site. They gave Ron Paul an A+ rating on the issue.

Voters want someone who will hold to his word (that is, actually do something about this criminal ‘War on Drugs‘). But candidates might also lie – to increase their popularity – or change their mind afterwards. Since the Granite Stater’s review of the candidates, little or nothing is heard from them again about the issue. And the leading Democratic candidates have changed their minds – choosing to continue the drug war, even against medical marijuana patients.

[Note: the president doesn’t have control over state laws – only federal laws, which are the source of the drug war. Thirteen states have legalized/decriminalized marijuana in the past few years, but the Federal government can forcefully override their laws (using the D.E.A.).]

Barack Obama:

UPDATE (January 2008): Despite Obama’s answers to questions early in the campaign season, it is now clear that he will NOT change drug laws. Barack Obama will continue to keep marijuana illegal.

OLD NEWS:

Obama has admitted in a number of campaign stops that he once used drugs. He has admitted that he is for limited legalization which should be based on scientific evidence and tight controls. Generally speaking, Obama is for allowing patients to use marijuana but not for allowing it to become purely legal – in fact, he opposes legal marijuana and wants to keep it “under strict guidelines”.

He has compared marijuana to morphine – not in intensity, but in application. But he apparently feels that marijuana may also lead down a “slippery slope” towards wider legalization (which he opposes). While admitting that he “did inhale”, he also believes that his use of cannabis was a mistake.

“My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that’s something I’m open to because there’s no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain,” Obama said. “But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed.” – Barack Obama

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUze-oYsswI]

“Um… the um… I would not use the justice department to prosecute… for medical marijuana. It’s a waste of resources.” – Barack Obama

Most democrats do not support ‘decriminalization’ of marijuana:

Ron Paul:

Ron Paul may not be a marijuana user – but (being a doctor) he knows and openly affirms the fact that marijuana is a very effective medicine. Ron Paul wants marijuana (and all other drugs) to not be regulated by the federal government. In other words, he’ll completely legalize it at the Federal level.

One of Ron Paul’s best qualities is that he believes that what people do with their own body or own lives is their own business (not the government’s) – so long as it does not cause harm to others.

This is one of the greatest things that separates Ron Paul from the other candidates – his strong opposition to big government and his firm belief in the Constitution and civil liberty. It doesn’t matter what Ron Paul personally believes about it, as he would say himself – it’s not his job to tell people what they can and cannot do – so it’s inherent in his principals that marijuana (and other drugs) should not be Federally illegal.

Ron Paul readily admits that the War on Drugs is a completely misconceived failure of government. He strongly opposes the D.E.A. – not just for enforcing marijuana laws, but he will simply shut down the D.E.A. and the Drug War altogether.

We know we can trust in him – not only because of the honesty and integrity always present in his manner of speech and character – but because he takes the same stance on all the issues: it must comply with the Constitution. The war on drugs does not – period!

The Constitution gives the Federal Government no right to enact any such laws or ‘wars’. This war is a war against millions of Americans and is truly ruining people’s lives – only President Ron Paul will put an end to it in 2008.

“I would absolutely never use the Federal Government to enforce the law against anybody using marijuana.” – Ron Paul

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Even celebrities can be activists. In fact, they make great activists!

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Santa Barbara doctor tells about medical marijuana, it’s effects and usage at the SB MMJ conference.

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From 1996 to 2006, twelve states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Source

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…including Canada, Japan and the European Union.

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