The Cannabis Catch-Up: Has Vermont’s Hemp Bubble Popped?

By SASHA GOLDSTEIN

Fields of green? - KEN PICARD

  • KEN PICARD
  • Fields of green?

Vermont is in the middle of a hemp boom.
Hundreds of farmers of all sizes and skills registered with the state about 9,000 acres for hemp in 2019. Most joined the green rush to capitalize on the popularity of cannabidiol-infused everything.
Yet all that glitters is not gold. Those who didn’t line up buyers before the season are finding that out the hard way. In fact, some hemp farmers will have to leave crops in the field to rot as demand fails to meet supply, VTDigger.org reports. Bigger companies, including Sunsoil in the Northeast Kingdom, are having no such problems.
“I see the mistakes folks are making and I wish I could warn everybody,” Sunsoil cofounder Alejandro Bergad told Digger. “Farmers are going into this without knowledge of where they are going to dry their products in a sanitary environment, and without knowledge of where they are going to fit into the supply chain.”
That’s certainly the case when some 1,000 farmers are taking a stab at hemp production this year. And that’s just in Vermont; production is up in other states as well. In Kentucky, for example, farmers planted an estimated 60,000 acres of hemp this year, more than six times Vermont’s output.
Here are some other recent cannabis stories we’ve followed:


October 6: As a trade war rages on and CBD becomes all the rage, farmers nationwide are turning to hemp to diversify their crops. An estimated 285,000 acres of hemp was planted across the country this year. [Amelia Nierenberg, the New York Times]


October 6: “Marijuana should not be legalized because it is popular. Pennsylvania should legalize recreational marijuana because it is the right thing to do.” [Editorial Board, the Philadelphia Inquirer]


October 7: If you’re hoping to nab that “I Love Weed, LLC” business name in Vermont then you better get on it: “Already, there are 68 active businesses, nonprofits or trademarks with the word ‘cannabis’ in their name, according to filings with the Secretary of State.” [Isaac Fornarola, Burlington Free Press]


October 10: “Though ‘wine mom’ culture has long been the source of many a mommy meme and largely socially acceptable, marijuana-using moms are stepping out of the shadows and proudly extolling the virtues of cannabis.” [Genevieve Shaw Brown, “Good Morning America”]


October 11: People in the Illinois cannabis industry are already bracing for weed shortages when recreational dispensaries open for business in January 2020. [Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune]


October 11: “Public cannabis companies are facing a capital crunch as investors are recognizing that some firms were vastly overvalued and sweeping regulatory changes may come later than previously hoped.” [Alicia Wallace, CNN Business]


October 12: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) spent two days visiting with members of California’s cannabis industry, raising hopes that he might change his tune on cannabis banking reform. Purveyors of legal pot have pushed for the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow banks to do business with marijuana companies in states that have legalized it. The House passed the bill but it faces an uphill climb in the Senate. [Max A. Cherney, MarketWatch]


October 15: The number of reported vaping-linked lung illnesses has risen to nearly 1,500 across the country. The tally includes 33 deaths in 24 states. Earlier this month, a 17-year-old boy died in New York City, the youngest person known to have died of the illness. As of October 17, Vermont health officials have confirmed three cases. [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]


October 16: It’s been one year since Canada legalized weed, a source of pride — and frustration — for our neighbor to the north. Legal sales totaled about $1 billion in the 12 months since. But the illicit market persists; buyers spent an estimated $5 billion to $7 billion on black market weed the same year. [Gene Johnson, Elaine Thompson and Rob Gillies, Associated Press]


October 16: The largest marijuana grower in Colorado lost millions of dollars in weed after a snowstorm earlier this month killed half of the farm’s outdoor-grown plants. The crop loss “is expected to send ripples throughout the state’s cannabis supply chain.” [Bart Schaneman, Marijuana Business Daily]
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Police investigating discovery of body on Burlington rooftop Police investigating discovery of body on Burlington rooftop

By Calvin Cutler |

Posted: Mon 4:40 PM, Oct 14, 2019  |

Updated: Mon 7:31 PM, Oct 14, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) An investigation is underway after a body was found on the roof of a Burlington building.

Police are not yet providing many details but did confirm a body was found at about 2:30 p.m. on top of the Parkhill Building. That’s the building at the corner of Main Street and South Winooski Avenue where Mr. Mike’s Pizza is located.

No word yet on the person’s identity or how they died. Police would not say if they suspect foul play.

Shortly before 6 p.m., crews used a fire department ladder truck to remove the body from the rooftop.

The building houses several businesses, and people who work there told our Calvin Cutler that the only way to reach the roof is through one door in the center of the building.

The Cannabis Catch-Up: New Weed Political Action Committee in Town

By SASHA GOLDSTEIN

click to enlargeThis could be you. - LUKE EASTMAN

  • LUKE EASTMAN
  • This could be you.

A newly formed political action committee is pushing to get a recreational weed market bill passed into Vermont law early enough in the upcoming legislative session to allow communities to discuss the legislation at Town Meeting Day in March 2020.
Founded by Geoffrey Pizzutillo and Jennifer Dye, the Vermont Growers Association wants state representatives to work off the framework of S.54, a cannabis regulation bill that passed the Senate last session but never came to a vote in the House. Eli Harrington, a lobbyist and cannabis consultant working with the PAC, thinks the group can convince enough lawmakers — and, they hope, Gov. Phil Scott — to get the measure across the finish line.
Harrington admitted that the organization’s proposed timeline is tight but said Town Meeting Day is an important deadline. The group is currently running a policy survey on its site.
“To make this thing work, it’s got to work for each community,” Harrington said. “We think it’s important for people to start the dialogue of, ‘Are we going to allow retail? If so, where? What kind of zoning is required?’”
Some communities are already passing outright bans. The Clarendon selectboard recently voted to prohibit both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in town, following in the footsteps of both Newport and Dover. Meanwhile, Killington is considering a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
The first steps for groups like Harrington’s is to get a recreational sales bill passed. He thinks the Vermont Growers Association can offer valuable input. Harrington pointed to the regulations surrounding Vermont’s medical marijuana dispensaries as an example of what not to do. He called the recreational market a chance to “reset.”
The group emphasizes allowing enough growers to participate in the new business sector so there’s sufficient opportunity — and product — to go around.
“It’s an ambitious timeline, but the plant’s been around for 5,000 years, and it’s been effectively regulated and sold in these United States for quite a while,” Harrington said. “We have the information, we have the capacity and I think we have the will. What’s important is that we don’t screw it up.”
Here are some other cannabis stories we’ve been following:


August 28: About 160,000 people with marijuana convictions in New York State will have those offenses wiped from their records under a new law that recently took effect. [Azi Paybarah, New York Times]


September 2: Vermont Tech is offering a CBD & Greenhouse Cash Crop certificate program. The three-part class was scheduled to begin September 12. [Sarah Earle, Valley News]


September 5: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created a weed breathalyzer. But, as other scientists have found, the technology remains far from ready for use by police departments hoping to detect impairment. [Francesca Paris, National Public Radio]


September 5: Amid the outbreak of a lung illness linked to vaping, the New York Times editorial board called for more research on e-cigarettes. [New York Times]


September 7: Fall River, Mass., Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested and accused of extracting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from companies that applied to open marijuana dispensaries in the city. Correia has denied the charges and refused to resign. In fact, he was one of the top two vote getters in a recent primary and will run for reelection November 5. [WCVB]


September 8: More than $4.3 million worth of weed — about 1,000 pounds — washed up on a California beach north of San Diego. [NBC7]


September 9: A Texas high school student passed out and was taken to the hospital after hitting a vape pen right before choir orientation. [Jessica Willey, KTRK-TV]


September 9: Vermont’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that more than three-quarters of young people don’t think marijuana use is harmful, a statistic that concerns state health officials. [Kiernan Brisson, WCAX-TV]


September 10: A new study has found that legalizing marijuana has not necessarily lead to a spike in youth use of the drug: “It is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.” [Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press]


September 10: The Washington, D.C., public school system will allow health professionals to administer medical marijuana and CBD on campus for students who use it. [Mark Segraves and Allison Park, NBC4]


September 11: Those “trees” growing in Charlotte and all over Vermont aren’t trees at all. They’re hemp plants! [Ken Picard, Seven Days]


September 11: Cops chasing a couple of guys spotted smoking weed on a Bronx corner ended up finding a bound and beaten man inside the basement of a bodega. Yes, really. [Ben Feuerherd and Ben Cohn, New York Post]


September 12: The third-largest CBD producer in the country is located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. After just four growing seasons, Sunsoil has 100,000 plants in the ground at farms in Hardwick and Hyde Park. [Dan D’Ambrosio, Burlington Free Press]


September 16: Vermont-grown cannabis quality-tracking software company Trace recently received a patent for its tech, will have an app in the Apple store soon and is expecting to land its first government contract by the end of the year. [Anne Wallace Allen, VTDigger.org]


September 16: About 10 students at Lake Region Union High School in Barton got high — and some got sick — after eating THC-infused chocolate on campus. [Christina Guessferd, WCAX]


September 17: Even ahead of full legalization in Vermont, the town of Clarendon has passed a ban on weed sales and dispensaries. [Matt Leighton, WPTZ-TV]


September 18: Thieves in California broke into a cannabis dispensary and made off with $69,000 worth of weed and related products. [Hope Miller, KCRA-TV]


September 25: Cops in Minnesota busted a 22-year-old who had 77,000 vape cartridges that were loaded with a combined 185 pounds of THC. [Paul Walsh, the Star Tribune]


October 2: Vermont’s five medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by a division of the state’s Department of Public Safety, can prevent the release to the public of any information about them. [Sasha Goldstein, Seven Days]


October 2: A Kentucky-based hemp company that purchased a Middlebury processing facility in 2018 has pulled out of Vermont. [Sasha Goldstein, Seven Days]


October 3: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been more than 1,000 reported cases of a severe lung disease related to vaping. Eighteen people have died in 15 states. As of October 1, officials have reported cases in 48 U.S. states. At least three nonfatal case have been reported in Vermont, though several possible cases are under investigation. [CDC.gov]


October 4: Here’s some satire for you to round out this Cannabis Catch-Up: “Dealer.com Receptionist Tired of Explaining That They Are Not That Kind of Dealer.” [The Winooski]

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5 ways Vermonters have gotten in trouble for marijuana since legalization

April McCullum, Burlington Free Press Published 9:19 a.m. ET Aug. 23, 2019 | Updated 11:34 a.m. ET Aug. 23, 2019

The Ridin' High skateboard shop at the corner of Battery and Pearl streets in Burlington seen on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.Buy Photo

The Ridin’ High skateboard shop at the corner of Battery and Pearl streets in Burlington seen on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (Photo: JOEL BAIRD/FREE PRESS)

Vermont legalized marijuana on July 1, 2018, but the plant continues to cause legal problems for some businesses who test the limits of the law.

There’s no legal market for marijuana, meaning that consumers must grow their own plants or find someone to share a small amount as a gift. Outside of the tightly-regulated medical marijuana system in Vermont, there’s no legal way to buy or sell the drug.

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Recent court cases have underlined another reality: Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Here are five incidents of marijuana troubles since legalization.

Ridin’ High Skate Shop

The owners of Ridin’ High Skate shop, the colorful building on the corner of Pearl Street and Battery Street in Burlington, were arrested this week on charges that they grew marijuana at their home in Underhill and sold it at the shop.

John Van Hazinga and Samantha Steady are facing charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and edible products infused with delta-9 THC, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Van Hazinga and Steady pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, though in Vermont, U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan has focused her office’s resources on heroin and drug trafficking rather than prosecuting marijuana possession.

U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan at her office on Feb. 4, 2019

U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan at her office on Feb. 4, 2019 (Photo: JESS ALOE/FREE PRESS)

Nolan said in a statement about the Ridin’ High case that “open and notorious trafficking of marijuana will not be tolerated.”

“Those who deal this drug and have prior criminal records, those who deal it to children or in their presence, those who engage in violence while dealing it, those who deal it for high profit, and those who deal it in areas of high commercial foot-traffic should expect to receive heightened attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Nolan said.

Good Times Gallery

Nolan’s office brought marijuana charges against the owner of a store on Burlington’s busiest shopping street in January 2019.

The federal case alleged that Derek Spilman sold marijuana and edibles out of his store, Good Times Gallery, on Church Street across from City Hall. Spilman pleaded not guilty to the marijuana charges and related firearms charges, and the case is ongoing.

A screen shot of court papers filed with U.S. District Court shows a photo included as an exhibit by the U.S. Attorney's Office that depicts the distance between Good Times Gallery and Full Tank on Church Street.

A screen shot of court papers filed with U.S. District Court shows a photo included as an exhibit by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that depicts the distance between Good Times Gallery and Full Tank on Church Street. (Photo: Free Press)

More: Vermont’s legal marijuana law: What you should know

‘Delivery’ businesses

Several businesses that offered to deliver marijuana to customers, for a fee, started advertising their services shortly after legalization.

Online advertisements quieted down after Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the businesses were breaking state law.

Pete’s Greens

An organic vegetable farm in Craftsbury discovered earlier this year that at least one of their hundreds of “hemp” plants was actually marijuana, with a high level of THC.

Pete’s Greens received the seedlings from Champlain Valley Dispensary, the state’s largest medical marijuana business. Farmers are allowed to grow hemp after registering with state regulators.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture tested two samples from the farm, including one that tested for high levels of THC. The story was first uncovered by the cannabis advocacy website Heady Vermont.

The Vermont Statehouse

Vermont’s most stately building briefly became the site of a cannabis grow this year.

Capitol police discovered 34 cannabis plants among the flower beds in front of the Statehouse in June. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei told the Associated Press that the plants had not been tested for THC content to determine whether they were marijuana or hemp.

Police uprooted the plants.

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Police Profiling that comes close to heart

           In response to Williston Barracks / Negligent Operation 94/55 zone- I89 Safety Corridor by Vermont State Police press release issued by Corporal Andrew Leise. Your press release was rude and uncalled for the way you treated my brother when you stopped him was wrong. He’s never done anything wrong besides speed. He was late to his job from spending the night at a friends house. You profiling him and saying that you did him a favor by not writing him a ticket but instead issuing a press release to the news is unacceptable in my book. You could have very well made him lose his job. My Brother Kaleb is a good kid at heart just trying to make ends meet by working 3 job’s and living with family sleeping underneath his 14 year old sisters bed. Anyone that is friends or family of Kaleb is welcome to come to his court date for his support on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019  at 8:15 AM at the Edward J Costello Courthouse 32 Cherry St in Burlington, VT 05401

Much Love One Love,

Jakob Alexander McElwain

65601951_2233334560055214_918988482968289280_n

The Cannabis Catch-Up: Is Your CBD the Real Deal?

By SASHA GOLDSTEIN

So many CBD choices... - LUKE EASTMAN

  • LUKE EASTMAN
  • So many CBD choices…

Much has been written about cannabidiol. Is it a miracle cure for all ailments? Snake oil? Something in-between?
That’s all well and good. But there’s a more important question that should be asked first when evaluating a CBD product: Is there any CBD in it at all?
The folks over at NBC Boston decided to find out.
“We bought 10 products at random from stores around the Boston area, from oils and tinctures to CBD-infused lollipops and gummy bears,” reports Ally Donnelly. “We went to high-end boutiques and smoke shops; corner stores and gas stations.”
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill taste test. The station sent the stuff for testing at MCR Labs in Framingham, Mass., which returned some interesting results. Three products had the same amount of CBD as advertised, according to the lab. But one container of sour gummies, which claimed to contain 10 milligrams of CBD in each gummy, varied from 11 in one to 42 in another. That’s quite a range.
Here’s my personal favorite:

Gummy worms with the marking “Super Chill Products” cost us $10 a bag and advertised 100 milligrams in each worm, but the lab said they don’t have any CBD at all. We wanted a response from the company, but couldn’t find contact information on the package or online. The owner of the store where we bought them did not respond to multiple messages.

This isn’t an issue in Massachusetts alone. Seven Days reported in 2017 that Phytoscience Institute, a lab in Waterbury, did its own testing of CBD products from local and out-of-state companies. From that story:

Of the nine Vermont products tested, only one was accurately labeled. Five had less CBD than promised, and three offered no information at all. The results indicate that producers in Vermont’s relatively new CBD industry are still working out the kinks — and that testing is needed. 

Reminder, folks: Whether it’s a product with CBD in it, a protein shake or a newspaper, buy it from a source you trust!
Here are some other stories we followed this week:


May 18: There were more than double the number of vendors at this year’s Vermont Cannabis & Hemp convention compared to last year. And some of those attending weren’t thrilled by the state’s stalled bill to tax and regulate cannabis. [Emily Corwin, Vermont Public Radio]


May 20: New York City Councilor Jumaane Williams writes in an op-ed that he’s never smoked weed, despite spending much of his life “fitting the stereotype: a young black Caribbean man from Brooklyn with locs on his head and hip-hop in his ears.” Instead, he sold pot while in high school and now wants to decriminalize it, among other social justice measures surrounding cannabis. [Jumaane Williams, New York Daily News]


May 22: With weed legalization comes a “where-to-smoke?” dilemma for some. That includes hotel guests. Most states have banned smoking in public and even cannabis-smoking lounges. Is that beginning to change? [Bruce Kennedy, Leafly]


May 23: Maine has released its proposed recreational cannabis rules. About 100 people turned out to a Thursday meeting in Portland to weigh in on everything from prices to a proposal that a weed business applicant must have lived in Maine for at least four years. [Penelope Overton, Portland Press Herald]


May 23: Massachusetts regulators have OK’d the first sale of a cannabis company to another. The approval was delayed because of concerns that big weed companies are trying to find ownership loopholes to avoid state-imposed caps on certain licenses. [Shira Schoenberg, MassLive]


May 22: Check out some pics from last weekend’s Vermont Cannabis & Hemp Convention. [Heady Vermont]


May 23: A new study found that couples who use weed experience a spike in “intimacy events” during a two-hour window after consuming cannabis. And no, it’s not all sex. [Hannah Sparks, New York Post]


May 23: Retired NFL player Chris Long says he smoked his “fair share” of weed during his 11-year playing career, and he thinks the league’s testing policy is “arbitrary” and “kind of silly.” [Matt Bonesteel, the Washington Post]

A 69-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Was Arrested at Disney World for Carrying CBD Oil

he uses it for her arthritis.

BILLY BINION | 5.21.2019 12:21 PM

40

magickingdom

(Pressfoto | Dreamstime.com)

Disney World—where kiddie coasters, cartoon royalty, and overpriced food options abound—is colloquially known as “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Hester Burkhalter would likely disagree. The 69-year-old great-grandmother was arrested outside of Magic Kingdom and spent 12 hours in jail last month after security officials found CBD—short for cannabidiol—oil in her purse. The compound is derived from cannabis but does not contain the psychoactive component, THC, found in marijuana.

In other words, it can’t get you high. But it supposedly can alleviate a plethora of medical conditions, including joint pain and anxiety.

“I have really bad arthritis in my legs, in my arms and in my shoulder,” Burkhalter tellsOrlando’s local Fox affiliate. “I use [CBD oil] for the pain because it helps.” She reportedly had a doctor’s note in her purse when security officials flagged her, but law enforcement detained her regardless.

While the charges have been dropped, Burkhalter’s attorney, Ben Crump, says he plans to sue Disney and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on her behalf, alleging “illegal detention, false arrest and a violation of her civil rights,” WESH 2 reports.

Her misfortune sheds light on the murky legal territory surrounding CBD use, as regulations often conflict and as people increasingly flout local restrictions on the harmless substance. The Farm Bill—signed by President Trump in 2018—legalized hemp and CBD at the federal level. In Florida, it remains illegal without a prescription, although CBD-infused cocktails and shops selling the compound continue to pop up across the Sunshine State.

“Today in Orlando, we were able to go into the store and buy CBD,” said Crump—who also represented Trayvon Martin’s family—at a press conference last week. “It’s all over Orlando. It’s all over Florida.”

CBD use remains a point of contention even in places that have legalized marijuana. In California—where cannabis use is permitted both medically and recreationally—public health officials seized $140,000 worth of CBD-infused drinks from Vybes beverages.

That same cognitive dissonance is alive and well in Florida. “A little drop of oil, with the CBD, is a felony,” Jennifer Synnamon, a Florida attorney, told the local Fox affiliate. “Meanwhile, you can have up to 19.9 grams of leaf-marijuana, and it’s a first-degree misdemeanor.”

More here:

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Kid Rock is getting his own giant middle finger sculpture from Vermont "It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly."

“It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly.”

Ted Pelkey’s middle finger sculpture being installed at his home in Westford, Vermont. –Courtesy of Ted Pelkey

By

Nik DeCosta-Klipa

1:36 PM

Ted Pelkey’s giant middle finger sculpture apparently has fans beyond Vermont’s Route 128.  And the Westford resident’s work of “art” will soon have a twin in Nashville.

Pelkey says he’s driving down to Tennessee with his wife later this month to hand-deliver a second version of his 700-pound wooden sculpture to singer Kid Rock. As WCAX first reported last week, the country music star called the 54-year-old Vermont native in December to express his admiration — and to ask if he could get his own middle finger sculpture.

“It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly,” Pelkey told Boston.com over the phone Wednesday. “He just really wants one.”

Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, has made the crude gesture something of his personal signature through his personal appearances, song lyrics, merchandise, and album art. Pelkey said he first got a voicemail from Rock around Christmas, in which the 48-year-old singer said he “liked my style.” Despite recent controversies, Pelkey noted that Rock came off as a real “down-to-earth guy” during their phone calls.

“I would do it for him if it wasn’t Kid Rock,” he added.

Pelkey had the original sculpture commissioned in November to protest Westford town officials, who he felt were treating him unfairly in a dispute over his efforts to build a garage on his property. He paid a local artist for the massive middle finger sculpture, which he mounted on a 16-foot platform in his yard and lit with floodlights. Considered a work of “public art” under Vermont law, the giant bird was allowed to stay up, catching the attention of both Route 128 drivers and nationalnews outlets.

“It was critical to me to make sure that my neighbors and the people who live in this town understood that I didn’t put that up there for them,” Pelkey told Boston.com at the time. “It is aimed directly at the people who sit in our town office.”

Rock is paying $4,000 — the same amount that Pelkey paid — for the second sculpture. Pelkey says he recently picked up Rock’s sculpture from the same artist who commissioned the original and is looking forward to hauling it down to the singer’s Nashville home. According to the Tennessean, Rock owns 170 acres of property in the city’s Whites Creek neighborhood.

The second sculpture won’t be the first crass display Rock has put up in Nashville, even if it will be somewhat hidden in the city’s outskirts. Earlier this year, Nashville’s Metro Council reluctantly approved a 20-foot sign outside the rock star’s new Broadway restaurant, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse, that featured a giant guitar that was intentionally made to look like a woman’s butt.

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Pro-Legalization Does Not Equate With Pro-Use

By TED SCHAFT

First, pro-legalization does not equate with pro-use.  It’s a matter of responsibility, personal freedom and no victims.

Right now the state of Vermont is in the middle of an experiment concerning mostly unregulated marijuana use and it doesn’t even know it.  It became legal July 1 to possess an ounce and grow some plants.  After listening to VPR about the upcoming legislative agenda concerning new marijuana laws, I was surprised that no caller or panelist mentioned this.  It is a foregone conclusion that the state will create a new bureaucracy to deal with the supposed increase in use and abuse.  So this begs the question “What has happened in the last six months concerning marijuana?”  It seems to me the answer is ……nothing.  There has been no evidence of an uptick in use, abuse or the other predictions of marijuana smoke pouring out of high school windows (the smoke pouring out is vapor) and cars flying off the roads and into other cars willy-nilly.

It is nearly impossible to get the facts.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy is statutorily mandated to oppose legalization by any means necessary.  Any report issued by the ONDCP will cherry pick or slant the facts to support its mandate.  The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has the same predisposition that legalization is a bad idea and has highlighted problems while suppressing any of the benefits of legalization.  The propaganda wars started when the police announced all drug seeking dogs would have to be euthanized because they couldn’t be untrained.

The hope is that the state will delay any action to create a new $20+million bureaucracy to regulate marijuana or set up a market place, whose expense can’t be covered by taxes.  Let the experiment continue for at least another year.  There is no need to find another solution in search of a problem at this time.

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Marijuana Lifer Calvin Robinson: ‘I Never Bought Any Drugs, I Never Sold Any Drugs And I Don’t Even Smoke Marijuana … This Was A Set Up’

Jericho Knopp
Jul 20, 2018

Calvin Robinson’s 30 year prison anniversary was a few weeks ago, but he should have been released before he had to celebrate it.

The 76 year-old marijuana offender’s application for compassionate release has been approved, but because of the endless bureaucracy of the prison system, he hasn’t heard anything more about it in the last six months.

“I was told that it was already approved, and that it was on the judge’s desk waiting for signing back in January of this year, so it hasn’t gone anywhere yet. I’ve been told over and over again that this takes years,” he told Civilized during a 15 minute phone call from USP Victorville in California.

But Robinson doesn’t have years to wait. He has cancer in his lymph nodes that was left untreated, among many other health concerns. Time is running out.

“This was a set up”

Robinson’s story is one that wouldn’t be out of place on a true crime podcast like ‘Serial.’ The story has everything: a DEA set up in international waters, a man who says he is innocent, and a conspiracy case that landed him in prison for life without the possibility of parole.

According to the government, Robinson was a career criminal whom they finally took down in the largest hashish and marijuana seizure in United States history. The 56 tons of cannabis were allegedly worth over $160 million.

According to Robinson, though, it was a straight set up. He was hired to take supplies offshore to two survey vessels with his tugboat and barge. He was towing the barge half a kilometer behind him, and he had no idea that there were 13 tons of marijuana and 43 tons of hashish in the ballast tanks when he was on his way back.

“This was a 500 ton barge and 56 tons put it down about two inches in the water,” he said. “You couldn’t tell there was anything on it. This was a set up, a straight up set up.”

He was charged with conspiracy to import marijuana, even though he argues that he never left the state of California

And as if his case weren’t tough enough, his lawyer died right before he went to trial, and he wasn’t allowed to find a new one.

“I was angry, very angry,” he said. “And all I could do was just plead not guilty and do the very best I could.”

One thing after another went wrong in his trial and the rest is history.

“Everything happens for a reason”

Robinson doesn’t fit the typical criminal profile. He’s a senior citizen, wheelchair bound and highly religious. He says his faith has helped him survive prison for as long as he has.

“I believe in the Almighty and I believe that everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve grown a lot, and I still got hope of overturning this. And I’ve got a hope of seeing my family again.”

But just because he has been able to cope with his incarceration doesn’t mean he’s accepted it, especially since the substance that he was unknowingly towing back to shore was cannabis.

“I think it was wrong to even ban cannabis to start with,” he said. “I don’t think that was right, and I believe that the almighty made it for the benefit of all people. That’s the bottom line.”

That said, that doesn’t mean that he was ever involved in drugs at all, he says.

“I’ve never bought any drugs, and I’ve never sold any drugs and I don’t even smoke marijuana,” said Robinson. “And it’s just … it’s like a black hole.”