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National News for November 2018 - by Kathy Hess

Gubernatorial & AG Candidates Arrested with 48 pounds of Cannabis

RHODE ISLAND- Alan Gordon, 48, and Anne Armstrong, 58, - who are running for Rhode Island attorney general and governor, respectively -  were arrested for having 48 pounds of illegal marijuana in the duo's West Greenwich home, RI police said.

 “On way to the Wickford barracks under arrest for cannabis again,” Armstrong tweeted Thursday morning from what appeared to be the back of a police cruiser. “I guess our poll numbers were high enough to scare them into committing an atrocity. Pray for our police.”

Officials said they searched the pair’s home after receiving a complaint of a “strong odor of marijuana emanating from marijuana plants being illegally grown outdoors.”

Rhode Island state police said they found at least five large aluminum trays full of pot.  They also found marijuana “growing outdoors and in plain sight” without the state-issued tags required for growing medical marijuana.

Police said they also found trays holding drying marijuana. 

A 15-year-old child was inside the home at the time of the arrests, police said.

The pair, who are leaders of a Christian sect – The Healing Church – that uses marijuana for religious services, appeared in court Thursday afternoon. They did not enter pleas on charges of marijuana possession and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

They were ordered held on $25,000 bail.

According to the Providence Journal, the pair’s stance on marijuana has sparked previous run-ins with police. In one lawsuit filed against the state, Armstrong and Gordon claim the enforcement of state marijuana laws against them amounts to religious discrimination and violates the U.S. Constitution.

They also argue the term “marijuana” is racist and prefer the word “cannabis.”


Confidence in Medical Marijuana Initiative is Fading

UTAH-- With less than a month until the election, recent polls show that support has faded for Utah’s medical marijuana ballot measure, particularly among members of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Many attribute the change to a pledge made by the governor and cannabis advocates to push through a legislative compromise regardless of voters’ conclusion on Prop 2.

The Hinckley Institute of Politics poll suggests that slightly above 50 percent of Utah voters now support the ballot measure, a 15 percent dip from a similar survey conducted in June. Though 35 percent of the most recent poll’s respondents still indicated that they are strongly in favor of Prop 2, a full 46 percent said they were in opposition and only three percent stated that they had yet to form an opinion.

Members of the Church of Latter-day Saints showed a dramatic decrease in support for the measure. Among those who identified as very active in the church community, the percentage of individuals who said they were strongly in favor dipped from 25 to 11 percent between June and October. The drop is unlikely to be due to their church’s opposition, which has been constant throughout the ballot measure campaign. 55 percent of active members stated in the survey that the church’s position made no difference in how they personally planned on voting.

Hinckley Institute director Jason Perry stated that fading support is most likely due to Governor Gary Herbert’s recent announcement, which had to do with an agreement with state leaders and marijuana advocates that a special legislative session will be held next month. The session, Herbert says, will come up with a separate plan for Utah medical marijuana that would involve a state-run distribution system or a limited number of “cannabis pharmacies.” Opponents have taken Prop 2 to task for its “Wild West format,” expressing concern that it does not guard against black market sales, and surmising that the plan would lay the groundwork for recreational marijuana in the state.

The tentative agreement hyped by the governor would axe timeline guarantees from the ballot measure. It also promises to expand access in certain regards, allowing patients without easy access to a dispensary to grow their own weed and giving non-card holders who meet certain criteria a legal defense should they be faced with drug charges.


Dispensaries a GO to Post Price Info

NEW JERSEY--Medical marijuana patients can now shop products and know how much it’s going to cost due to new changes in the state program’s policies around price transparency. New Jersey’s six operating medical marijuana facilities can now publicly post their product prices on their websites and social media after state officials said that patients in the program should be armed with more information when making purchases.

Listing product prices is an option, but not a requirement, and dispensaries can chose what, if any, price information to post on their websites, state officials said.

Since the announcement last week, Breakwater Treatment and Wellness in Cranbury, Curaleaf in Bellmawr and Harmony Foundation in Secaucus have listed prices for different amounts and strains along with their daily menus.

For a quarter ounce of flower bud, prices range from $85- $120, according to the N.J. centers’ websites and posts on Facebook pages.

Assistant Health Commissioner Jeff Brown, who oversees the state’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana, said the price transparency puts New Jersey patients and dispensaries on par with program participants in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. There are about 33,200 participating patients in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the state Department of Health.

Of the 16,000 new patients who have joined since January, health officials said a majority have at least one of the five medical conditions added in March, which include anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders and chronic visceral pain.

In addition to adding more medical conditions, state officials earlier this year made reforms to the medical marijuana program by adding mobile access, opening the doors to satellite locations, making changes to requirements for physicians and reducing program fees.

South Jersey participants have said that while they champion the growth of the state program, the costs of participation still remain high. At the price rates listed by several treatment centers, it would cost between $680 and $960 to buy the maximum purchase amount of two ounces per 30 days.


2 Arrested; Trafficking over 100lbs of Pot

IDAHO FALLS — Idaho State Police say two people were arrested after officers discovered more than 100 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop near Idaho Falls.

KIFI-TV reports police arrested 25-year-old Javier Luna-Gutierrez and 19-year-old Aida Rodriguez-Hernandez following the stop Sunday on U.S. Highway 20.

Police say a small amount of methamphetamine was also found.

Luna-Gutierrez was arrested on suspicion of trafficking marijuana and possession of methamphetamine.

Rodriguez-Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of trafficking marijuana.

Both are residents of Visalia, California, and they were booked into the Bonneville County Jail.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has filed an immigration detainer on both.

It wasn’t immediately known if either had obtained lawyers.

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