Entries in pot (16)


Casual Marijuana Use Now Legal in Colorado

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Rocky Mountain High will take on a whole new meaning now after Colorado on Monday officially made the use and possession of marijuana legal for residents 21 and older.

Colorado follows Washington state, which formally legalized the drug last week.  Both states did so after voters approved measures in November.

Ironically, Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the law while at the same time opposing it.

He warned its proponents that lawmakers still haven't figured out how to square legalized marijuana with federal laws that still consider possession and use of the drug a crime.

Still, Hickenlooper's signature means casual use of the drug and limited home growing means Coloradoans don't have to fear getting in trouble with the police, that is, unless they do it in public.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Colorado College Students Face Assault Charges over Pot Brownies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Two University of Colorado Boulder college students are facing multiple felony charges, including assault, after allegedly giving marijuana-laced brownies to an unsuspecting professor and classmates during “bring food day” Friday, sending three of them to the hospital.

At about 10:20 Friday morning, police and paramedics responded to a campus building where a female professor was complaining of dizziness and was losing consciousness, according to a statement from the University of Colorado Boulder Police.

The professor was taken by ambulance to a hospital emergency room.  Later that afternoon, a female student was taken to a hospital for an anxiety attack, while another went to a hospital after she said she felt like she was going to blackout.

In all, police said, eight people were affected.  All the victims that went to the hospital have been released, police said.

“An investigation revealed that the three hospitalized victims -- and five other classmates -- were suffering from the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana,” University of Colorado Boulder Police said.  “Two students -- Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19 -- baked THC-laced brownies for the class as part of a ‘bring food day.’  The professor and classmates were unaware that the brownies contained THC.”

Cunningham and Essa could not be immediately reached for comment.  They are facing felony charges, including assault in the second degree and inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.

“It’s serious,” Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told ABC News.  “People have to be able to make decisions about what happens to them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Day One of Legal Pot Marred by Deaths at Alleged Wash. Growing Center

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- The first day of legal marijuana use in Washington State was marred by an attempted robbery ending with two deaths at an alleged pot-growing facility just south of Seattle.

The possession of pot became legal in the state Thursday after voters passed a measure decriminalizing it in November. Day two kicked off with more celebrations under the Space Needle tower, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, but the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department investigated an attempted robbery in Puyallup at an alleged growing center foiled by a homeowner who shot two alleged burglars in front of his 9-year-old son.

Officers say they arrived at the home of the man, 35, Thursday to find two masked men dead on the floor and marijuana plants in the attic, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV News reported.

While the law passed in November made it legal to carry and consume marijuana, Sgt. Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department said cultivating and selling the drug outside of medical dispensaries is still a crime.

“When you’re engaged in that type of criminal activity, there is an element of risk,” Whitcomb told ABC News Friday.

The legislation leaves Washington in a “murky place,” Whitcomb said. Smokers who have purchased marijuana from a street dealer are in the clear.

But the dealer “is still committing a felony,” he said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle sent out a statement Wednesday reminding residents that pot is still illegal under federal law and cannot be brought onto federal property.

“Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” the memo from U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said.

Federal officials have not said whether they will take action in Colorado and Washington where possession laws now conflict with nationwide drug classifications, but Seattle Police told ABC News Thursday that federal agents were hands-off on pot smokers in the state.

In an ABC News poll released shortly after the election, 48 percent of Americans expressed support for legalizing marijuana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Happens If Washington State Legalizes Pot?

Hemera/Thinkstock(OLYMPIA, Wash.) -- Washington state probably won't influence the 2012 presidential race, but voters there could still leave the next president in a haze.

On Tuesday, Washington may very well become the first state to legalize the possession, cultivation and commercial sale of marijuana, both Republicans and Democrats say -- bringing the state into apparent conflict with federal law if voters approve Initiative 502, which would allow residents over 21 to buy pot from stores licensed and regulated by the state liquor board.

If I-502 passes, it remains unclear how the president, whoever he is, will respond.

The White House declined to comment to ABC News when asked whether President Obama would seek to overturn I-502, should it pass and should he remain in office. So did Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy. Neither Obama's nor Romney's presidential campaign responded to multiple emails seeking comment over the weekend.

"We are not going to speculate on the outcome of the various ballot initiatives in each of the states," Department of Justice spokeswoman Allison Price wrote in an email.

Representatives of both political parties in Washington told ABC News that prospects for I-502 look good.

"I have no doubt it's gonna pass," Washington Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur told ABC News. The state GOP did not take a position on the measure, and no one raised it in an endorsement meeting, Wilbur said. "As liberal as the state is ... I wouldn't be surprised to see it at 55/45," Wilbur said, referring to percentages of the vote for and against.

"It's really hard to know what's going to happen," Washington Democratic Party spokesman Benton Strong said. "I think most of the polls look positive for it."

Their favorable handicapping is informed partly by automated polls, considered unreliable by ABC News, that predict the measure will pass by a comfortable margin. Major pollsters have not surveyed in Washington in 2012, focusing instead on competitive presidential-battleground states.

Washington's Republican and Democratic candidates for attorney general have pledged to defend it in federal court if it passes and is challenged, although both oppose the measure. Both men think a federal challenge is likely.

"If it does pass, and it looks like it may pass in this state, we will be exactly contrary to federal criminal law," said Reagan Dunn, the Republican candidate, at their September debate. Dunn was referring to the Controlled Substances Act, enacted under President Nixon in 1970. "Depending on who is the U.S. attorney, depending on who is the attorney general of the United States, we are very likely as a state to be sued and challenged in federal court on this issue." Dunn then touted his experience trying cases in federal court.

"If the voters approve the initiative, obviously my job is to defend that state law," said Bob Ferguson, the Democratic candidate. "It won't be easy. Anyone who says it will be easy is kidding themselves."

If I-502 passes, possession will become legal 30 days after Election Day, but regulated commercial sale would not begin until Dec. 6, 2013, after a year-long rule-making process granted to the state's health department. During that time, supporters hope to negotiate with the federal government and avoid a challenge.

Medical marijuana doesn't offer a clear picture of how the federal government would respond to I-502 passing, either. A total of 17 states, including Washington, plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and the Obama administration's approach to those state laws has drawn criticism from marijuana advocates. A 2009 Justice Department memo urged U.S. attorneys to avoid prosecuting medical-marijuana patients who follow state law; a later memo advocated prosecution of medical pot shops.

Regardless of whether Washington's initiative passes, marijuana legalizers have said they will continue to push state initiatives. After major state/federal issues have arisen in court over Arizona's immigration law and funding provisions in Obama's health-reform law, advocates are pushing marijuana to become the next major states' rights legal conflict.

"Only through a process of states challenging federal marijuana policy and demanding that they be allowed to regulate marijuana in a way that's socially responsible for local communities are we also going to see a change in federal policy," Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann told ABC News.

Since the candidates won't say how they'd handle such a scenario, Washington, Oregon and Colorado -- where similar initatives will also appear on the ballot Tuesday -- will have to wait and see if the issue is forced.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pro-Pot Activists Put Pat Robertson on Marijuana Billboard

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.) -- Pat Robertson is high, about 30 feet off the ground on a billboard in Colorado.

Proponents of legalizing marijuana in the state have used Robertson’s face on an electronic billboard along Interstate 70 in Grand Junction, Colo.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is promoting a ballot initiative to legalize pot in Colorado, told ABC News it has paid $1,000 to place the ad, which promotes Robertson’s stated support for the initiative. Coloradans will vote on the measure in November.

Robertson is not working with the campaign and did not approve the ad before its placement. A spokesman for Robertson had no immediate comment on the ad.

At least twice, the evangelical leader has publicly offered his support for decriminalizing marijuana. In March 2012, he told The New York Times that he “absolutely” supports pot-legalization measures that will appear on November ballots in Colorado and Washington, but that he would not campaign for those initiatives.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson told the Times. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that [sic] I think. This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

The Colorado campaign did not attempt to contact Robertson before using his image, Mason Tvert, the campaign’s co-director, told ABC News.

“He had expressed his support for regulating marijuana like alcohol, and his specific support for the initiative, but he also mentioned he didn’t plan on campaigning himself for the measure, so we didn’t feel like we needed to bother him with that,” Tvert said.

When placing the billboard, the campaign considered its surroundings. In Western Colorado, the ad will reach conservative voters, who might be more interested in a conservative, 700 Club take on pot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CDC: Marijuana Use More Common Than Cigarette Use Among Teens

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Marijuana use among high school students is on the rise while cigarette use remains the same, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual survey of teens and risky behavior.

"For the first time since CDC began collecting YRBS data in 1991, current marijuana use among U.S. high school students was more common than current cigarette use," says Howell Wechsler, the director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

The 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) finds that 23 percent of teens admitted to smoking pot compared to 18 percent who reported smoking cigarettes.

And the disparity isn't because more teens are saying no to tobacco.

"YRBS results also show that from 2009 to 2011, there's been no significant progress in reducing cigarette use, while marijuana use among high school students is on the rise," says Wechsler.

While "there's no one simple solution to reducing the prevalence of health risk behaviors among high school students," he says "how well we address these behaviors now will greatly impact the overall picture of health for our nation's youth in the future."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Four Tons of Pot Found Floating Off California

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- More than four tons of marijuana -- reportedly worth more than $3 million -- was found floating listlessly off the coast of Southern California with no suspected owners in sight, authorities said.

A boater spotted the 180 bales of pot, wrapped in plastic, bobbing about 15 miles from the coastal town of Dana Point, Calif. just after noon Sunday, officials said. The Orange County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Coast Guard both sent out boats to recover the 8,068 pound stash, which was then turned over the U.S. Border Patrol.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Scott Simon told ABC News that the incident is currently under investigation and is still a mystery.

Another Border Patrol official, Michael Jimenez, told the Orange County Register large shipments of drugs are sometimes dropped overboard when smugglers are trying to flee from authorities.

"At other events, they've dumped the bales to get rid of weight if they're being chased," he said. "Generally in these cases we're aware they're being dumped. What's more unusual is that the bales were floating with no boat in sight."

Drug smugglers have been coming up with increasingly audacious and creative ways to try to move marijuana, cocaine and other contraband from Mexico and South America into the United States in recent years.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, narcotic submarines, which can typically carry four to five crew members and travel up to 5,000 miles, are regularly used to move contraband. One was caught in the Caribbean last August carrying 7.5 tons of cocaine.

Last December, federal officials discovered a drug tunnel ending in San Diego that had a secret working elevator, electric lighting, rail cars and hydraulic doors.

Just a few months before that, 18 metered parking spaces in the Arizona border town of Nogales were found to have trap doors into drug tunnels so that traffickers in the U.S. could pull narcotics directly into their parked cars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Minnesota Boy Turns in Mom for Pot Stash

David McNew/Getty Images(HASTINGS, Minn.) -- A probation supervisor may soon be answering to one of her own after her 11-year-old son got fed up with smelling marijuana in the home he shared with his mother and stepfather and told on the pair to authorities.

A Hastings, Minn., boy snapped a picture that showed about two pounds worth of high-grade marijuana sitting on his mother and stepfather's dresser, according to police.

The preteen, who police did not identify, reportedly confronted his mother, Heidi Christine Siebenaler, who is a Dakota County probation supervisor, about the smell, which he told police was so pungent he "was unable to escape [it] without going outside."

Siebenaler allegedly told her son that marijuana use is "not that bad," a criminal complaint stated.

The boy, who police called "mature for his age," forwarded the picture to his biological father, who turned it over to authorities.

The boy's stepfather, Mark Siebenaler, is being charged with possession and intent to distribute marijuana, while Heidi Siebenaler is being charged with fifth-degree possession.

The case was turned over to Washington County since Heidi Siebenaler's employment with Dakota County, where she resides, would constitute a conflict of interest, a spokesman from the Dakota County Sheriff's Office said.

Mark Siebenaler doesn't dispute that the marijuana belongs to him. He told police he smokes it for medicinal purposes, despite the fact that medical marijuana is not legal in Minnesota.

"I smoke marijuana and I'm not ashamed to say it," Siebenaler told KMSP-TV.

According to the complaint, he told police his wife knew of the marijuana in the home. However, Heidi Siebenaler denied knowing about the marijuana in an interview with KMSP-TV Tuesday.

"They said my son couldn't escape the smell of marijuana and had to go outside for a breather," Heidi Siebenaler said. "That's not true. I live in this house. Never smelled it before. It makes me sick."

Siebenaler was placed on administrative leave on Nov. 2. called a listed number for the Siebenalers, but was unable to reach anyone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


64 US Navy Sailors Discharged for Selling, Using Drugs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Some of the sailors aboard the ship that buried al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at sea earlier this year have also been tossed overboard, career-wise.

According to Navy officials with the U.S. 3rd Fleet, as many as 64 sailors based in San Diego were recently busted for using or selling drugs.

The drug of choice seems to have been the herbal substance "spice," which gives users a marijuana-type high.  These "fake" pot drugs aren't legal and the Navy came down hard on the sailors, kicking some of the worst offenders out of the service.

While the sailors, all of whom received non-judicial punishment, were stationed on three vessels, 49 were from the USS Carl Vinson.  Last May, bin Laden's body was buried at sea from the deck of this ship after he was shot dead by Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Justice Dept. Targets Marijuana Distributors in Calif. 

Cavan Images/Digital Vision(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The Justice Department announced Friday it is cracking down on the illegal distribution of marijuana in four federal districts in California, which has had a growing cannabis industry since legalizing medicinal marijuana in 1996.

The action places into question marijuana-related activities in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized medicinal marijuana in some form.

The U.S. attorneys for Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego revealed enforcement actions against at least 16 cannabis distributors in those federal districts at a news conference in Sacramento.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the department will not focus the investigation on individual patients with serious illnesses like cancer or their immediate caregivers.

California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, legalizing medical marijuana.

"However, U.S. attorneys continue to have the authority to prosecute significant violations of the [federal Controlled Substances Act] and related federal laws," Cole said in a statement.

The attorney generals in California say the medical marijuana industry has grown to include drug-trafficking enterprises that operate "commercial grow operations, intricate distribution systems and hundreds of marijuana stores across the state."  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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