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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NATIONAL NEWS for August 2017 - by Kathy Hess


Marijuana Study Commission
CONCORD, NH: Last week, advocates for legalizing and regulating marijuana in New Hampshire sent a letter to their governor (R, Chris Sununu) asking him to veto House Bill 215, a bill that would create a study commission to consider the legalization and regulation of marijuana. The letter signed by leading advocates, including the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), states, “The commission envisioned by the final bill includes numerous vocal opponents, such as the Association of Chiefs of Police and New Futures, but it does not include any known supporters.”

     The original version of HB 215 included a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire and a representative from the Marijuana Policy Project, which would have added some much needed balance to the commission, but the Republican dominated Senate removed those prospective members from the bill.

     “New Hampshire should absolutely study marijuana legalization, but this isn’t the way to go about it,” explained Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Sadly, the commission proposed in this bill would have little to no credibility with Granite Staters who support legalizing marijuana,” he said.

     The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted a poll in April and May of 2017 and found that 68% of the states residents support legalizing marijuana.

Sessions to Attempt Resuscitation of D.A.R.E
Last week, attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, announced that he was going to take steps to try and revive the D.A.R.E program.

     “D.A.R.E. is, I think, as I indicated, the best remembered anti-drug program today,” Sessions said while speaking at the Drug Abuse Resistance Education International Training Conference in Texas on July 11th, via NY Daily News. “In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.  We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”

     While D.A.R.E, has strong name recognition, its effectiveness has been long been disputed. The program typically involves uniformed police officers trained in the curricula speaking to students about the dangers of drugs while highlighting the advantages of being drug-free.
However in a 1998 report to Congress, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service found that the program caused no reduction of substance abuse, “No scientific evidence suggests that the D.A.R.E. core curriculum as originally designed or revised in 1993, will reduce substance use in the absence of continued instruction more focused on social competency development.”

     Scientific American reported in early 2014, “the program does little or nothing to combat substance use in youth.” The report cited several studies that showed that teens enrolled in the program were just as likely to use drugs whether they had gone through the D.A.R.E. program or not.”

"Its well established that DARE doesn't work" Dr. Gilbert Botvin - Cornell Medical Center.

"Research shows that, no, DARE hasn't been effective in reducing drug use" William Modzeleski, Top Drug education official at the Department of Education.

The estimated cost of DARE annually is $1 to 1.3 billion.

Colorado Establishes New Norms
Colorado reached another milestone last May, marking its 12th consecutive month of sales topping more than $100 million. “I think that $100 million a month (in sales) are the new norm,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for Brightfield Group, a market research firm focused on the cannabis industry.

     All together, the monthly sales of cannabis in Colorado brought in $1.4 billion. That’s just from sales.  The state collected another $223 million in taxes and licensing fees.

     Colorado is no longer seeing consistent triple digit growths, and is beginning to drop off of double digit growths, but market analysis believes Colorado is seeing the stabilization of the market.  Total sales for the first five months of 2017 were up roughly 27 percent from the same period last year. And that year-to-date growth rate has held steady for two months in a row.

     In 2014 Colorado legalized recreational use of cannabis and the state is beginning to see the shift of revenue from being bigger on the medicinal side to the recreational side, which is to be expected.

     In May alone recreational sales accounted for nearly $90.1 million and only $37.5 million on the medicinal side. In May 2014 recreational sales accounted for 40 percent of that month’s total sales. In May 2017, that share was 70 percent.

From Pepsi to Turnips to Cannabis
COLORADO: An abandoned Pepsi plant (closed in October 2009) that had been functioning as part turnip farm in Pueblo Colorado, has recently been purchased by Doyen Elements, a holding company that leases real estate properties out to legal cannabis companies, with the intention of becoming a commercial marijuana facility.  The 104,000-square-foot old bottling plant is scheduled to be completed in 2019, and is projected to be able to produce between 60,000 and 70,000 pounds of flower annually.

     This could bring much needed jobs and income revenue to an area that has yet to recover from the desertion of the steel industry in the 1980’s.  However Doyen Elements is already working with a robotics company to develop machines to uproot and clone plants, placing plants or clones in soil or other medium and then placing them on conveyer belts to other parts of the factory. If the industry does bring jobs to the people of Pueblo, it doesn’t appear to be for long.

Ford Fusions are Dope
On July 16th authorities discovered more than $1million of marijuana packed into the trunks of Ford Fusions in Lordstown, Ohio.  A dealership in Youngstown began to find the marijuana (packed in the shape of half moons) in the wheel wells of the spares in the trunks of the Ford Fusions, on July 7th, and continued to find the half moon bricks until the July 11th.  The amount of marijuana in each wheel weighed around 32 pounds, and they found 15 vehicles in four counties in Ohio and a few cars in Pennslvania.

     The cars were manufactured in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and were shipped by rail to a CSX yard in Ohio.  Authorities are now trying to determine where along the route the marijuana was placed in the cars and who was intended to receive them.  Ford Motor Company is working with customs, as well as the DEA and the FBI throughout the investigation(s) and can confirm that its not happening at the plant or Fords shipping yard.  This isn’t the first time reports of marijuana being packed into new vehicles and shipped across the border.


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