We are putting an album together to support the legalization of cannabis in California. There is a producer and publisher on board. If you have a song about the legalization of marijuana or the plant in general but don't have a distribution plan contact me @Cannabration. We are also looking for visual artists and social networking volunteers.

Marijuana isn't going to legalize itself! Get involved today if you want to #JustLegalizeIt2014 #Cannabration #HempCanSaveThePlanet 
 
 
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ELSPETH REEVE
11:39 AM ET
Marijuana could be the next gay marriage -- a contentious social issue that suddenly picks up broad, bipartisan support for change. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out in favor of legalizing hemp, joining Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and fellow Kentucky Republican Rand Paul to cosponsor a bill that would allow Americans to grow it, NBC News' Kasie Hunt reports. Of course, hemp is not the same as regular marijuana. Industrial hemp has much less THC, the chemical that gets people high. But right now, hemp is classified in the same category as drugs like heroin and LSD. On Thursday, the Kentucky state senate voted to legalize hemp if the federal government legalizes it too. Oregon has legalized hemp cultivation, but farmers risk federal prosecution. 

Again, hemp is not the same thing as marijuana, "but some law enforcement groups say it is a step that could lead to the legalization of marijuana," Hunt writes. Other lawmakers -- yes, even conservative Republicans! -- have addressed legalizing the drug itself. The most fascinating example was last week, when Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said twice he was "evolving" on the issue of marijuana legalization when political science students at the University of Virginia asked him about voters legalizing weed in Colorado and Washington last fall. "I’m not sure about Virginia’s future [in terms of marijuana legalization]," Cuccinelli said. "But I and a lot of people are watching Colorado and Washington to see how it plays out." He explained it as a federalism thing: "I don't have a problem with states experimenting with this sort of thing. I think that's the role of states."

Cuccinelli is expected to be the next Republican nominee for Virginia governor. He's a very conservative dude. He led the states' rebellion against Obamacare. He's said conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia isn't conservative enough. In the same UVA appearance, he said he didn't support public pools because they distort the free market.

More remarkable is that Cuccinelli later clarified his comments -- but not in the traditional political definition of the word, which is "retract all previous statements." Instead, he questioned the war on drugs:

"What I expressed to [the students] was an openness to observe how things work there, both in terms of the drug side and the economics. One issue that is often discussed is how the war on drugs itself has played out. Have we done this the right way? It's been phenomenally expensive...

[If the government] going to put people in jail and spend $25,000 [to] $30,000 a year for a prison bed, do we want it to be for someone who's pushing marijuana or pushing meth? I'll tell you what, that $30,000 for the meth pusher is well worth the deal."

Rand Paul has gone further in talking about marijuana legalization than his pro-him pal McConnell. In November, like Cuccinelli, Paul said, "States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions... I think, for example, we should tell young people, 'I'm not in favor of you smoking pot, but if you get caught smoking pot, I don't want to put you in jail for 20 years...'"

It's important to explain what's radical and what isn't in this position. Few people who get caught with marijuana go to jail for 20 years, so opposing that isn't a big deal. It's the boring part of Paul's comment -- let states make the call on weed -- that actually is radical. As Reason's Jacob Sullumexplained, a Republican senator supporting "devolving drug policy decisions to the states is pretty bold in the current political context." He writes:

It is the policy embodied in the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Paul's father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). How many of their fellow congressmen joined them? Nineteen, all but one (Dana Rohrabacher of California) a Democrat.

So, how are the states doing? On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced people arrested on minor pot possession charges won't be booked and held for arraignment anymore, The Wall Street Journal reports. Instead, they'll be released with appearance tickets, which means the person is free until his or her court date. But the issue is being addressed outside liberalism's East Coast capital. In state legislatures like Rhode IslandMaine, and Pennsylvania, the push for legalization in 2013 has, so far, been dominated by Democrats. But there are signs Republicans might ease their opposition, too. This week, Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach toldRaw Story that if her marijuana legalization bill was voted on by "secret ballot," it would pass. Privately, Leach said, some of the "most conservative" lawmakers agree on legalization, because it's "just another government program" that doesn't work.

In New Hampshire, some Republican lawmakers are willing to go on the record. "Marijuana can let them die in peace, and if this helps them, so be it," Republican state Rep. Will Infantine said after hearing testimony from people with debilitating illnesses, The Dartmouth reports Friday. A bill to legalize medical marijuana is expected to pass by mid-March and make New Hampshire the last New England state to allow it. Last year, the Democratic governor vetoed two medical marijuana bills, but current Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she won't veto the current bill.

One of the most fascinating marijuana moments this year was when conservative former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo announced he would smoke pot to make good on his bet with Adam Hartle, a stand-up comic, over whether Colorado would legalize weed. "Look, I made a bet with the producer of the film that if Amendment 64 passed ( I did not think it would) that I would smoke pot," Tancredo said. "I will therefore smoke pot under circumstances we both agree are legal under Colorado law." His family eventually peer pressured him out of it.




 
 
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Filner halts prosecution of pot shops
By Craig Gustafson12:02 P.M.
JAN. 10, 2013
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Mayor Bob Filner is congratulated at the end of Monday's ceremony. Monday was the swearing in ceremony for San Diego's new mayor Bob Filner and several new and returning council-members. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner ordered a halt Thursday to the prosecution of marijuana dispensaries in the city by directing the end of targeted code enforcements against the shops.

The move comes two days after he promised medical marijuana advocates that he would take on City Attorney Jan Goldsmith over the issue to which Goldsmith responded that Filner need only assert his authority over the police and neighborhood code compliance departments to end the prosecutions.

Filner sent a Thursday letter titled “Stop the Crackdown on Marijuana Dispensaries” to Kelly Broughton, director of the Development Services Department, which oversees code compliance. He told him to stop code enforcement against marijuana dispensaries and to stop forwarding such cases to the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Filner inferred in the letter that other violations unrelated to marijuana could still be pursued at the dispensaries.

“To be clear, if there are general code enforcement or health and safety issues arising from these businesses, you are expected to enforce those laws against these businesses in the same manner you would any other business,” Filner wrote.

The mayor’s decision likely won’t lead to a proliferation of dispensaries in the city because it only blunts one law enforcement tactic to shut them down. The District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office can still proceed with prosecutions of those businesses.

It is, however, a positive sign for medical marijuana advocates who view Filner’s election to mayor as a fresh opportunity to pass an ordinance that would allow dispensaries to open their doors again within city limits. Filner has promised to work with them to create an ordinance in the next few weeks and has offered to testify on behalf of shop owners in court.

Filner appeared before the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access on Tuesday night and criticized the city attorney for not being helpful on the issue and referred to him as a “a little guy” that could be intimidated.

Goldsmith responded Wednesday with a letter to Filner.

“Rather than pursue the drama last night and call for a demonstration, you could have achieved your goal in less than 30 seconds,” Goldsmith wrote. “Neighborhood Code Compliance and San Diego Police Department are under your authority. As you know, you can direct them to stop sending cases to us and, instead, direct us to cease and dismiss all enforcement actions against marijuana dispensaries. We will, of course, comply with that direction.”

More than 200 medical marijuana collectives have been closed down in San Diego and Imperial counties since U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy and her colleagues announced in 2011 sweeping enforcement actions aimed at distributors in California. Some closures were attributed to settlements with the City Attorney’s Office — before and after medical marijuana activists in the city failed to qualify a regulate-and-tax initiative for the November ballot.

The legal limbo for dispensaries dates to 1996 when state voters approved an initiative to allow people with recommendations from state-licensed physicians to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. The drug remains illegal under federal law and any change in city policy would not have direct impact on the U.S. attorneys’ crackdown.

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Good work San Diego American's for Safe Access ~Susan Soares