Marijuana

Yellow Springs is a small college town in Ohio that has more than one head shop and a lot of tie-dye and hemp.

Many would consider it ground zero for likely supporters of the referendum on the ballot this November that could make Ohio the fifth state to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.

But the proposal is drawing some unusual opposition — and it's coming from residents who generally support legalizing marijuana.

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Farmers who grow marijuana for Colorado's legal market are running into problems as they try to control mildew and pests. Because of the plant's illegal status at the federal level, a main source of agricultural guidance isn't available to pot farmers.

Attempts to regulate marijuana production often hit another problem, as the plant's wide range of uses sets it apart from many traditional food crops.

A year and a half ago, Dr. David Casarett did not take medical marijuana very seriously. "When I first started this project, I really thought of medical marijuana as a joke," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

State by state, the legal marijuana business is slowly gaining ground. The industry is using both an increasingly favorable public opinion toward marijuana and a newly legal cash flow to try to transform itself into a force in national politics.

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hash oil
Andres Rodriguez via Flickr

A new law that makes it illegal for individuals to use hazardous materials to make hash oil went into effect on Wednesday.  

Republican Representative Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction co-sponsored the measure. He said it targets ‘home cookers’. 

"We had a problem with explosions all over the state from people trying to manufacture marijuana concentrate using dangerous, explosive, volatile substances such as butane," Willett said. 

People who buy medical marijuana products might not be getting what they paid for, a study finds. And evidence remains elusive on benefits for most medical conditions, even though almost half the states have legalized medical marijuana.

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The Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that companies can legally fire employees for using medical marijuana, even off duty.

The decision is based on the case of Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic who takes medical marijuana to control muscle spasms in his legs. Dish Network fired him from his job as a customer service representative in 2010 after he failed a random drug test. Coats then sued for unlawful termination.

The marijuana industry has a pesticide problem. Many commercial cannabis growers use chemicals to control bugs and mold. But the plant's legal status is unresolved.

The grow room at Medical MJ Supply in Fort Collins, Colo., has all the trappings of a modern marijuana cultivation facility: glowing yellow lights, plastic irrigation tubes, and rows of knee-high cannabis plants.

"We're seeing a crop that's probably in it third or fourth week," says Nick Dice, the owner.

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Now that marijuana use is legal in Colorado, can employees be fired for lighting up a joint in their free time?

That was the question before the Colorado Supreme Court this term and on Monday it came to a conclusion: Yes, you can get fired.

The case was brought by Brandon Coats, who sued Dish Network after it fired him for using his "state-licensed ... medical marijuana at home during nonworking hours."

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When Erik Christiansen started smoking pot, he became fascinated by the look of different marijuana strains. But the photographs of marijuana he saw didn't capture the variety.

So he went to the hardware store and picked up two lights and a cardboard box. "I didn't even have a macro lens — I was shooting through a magnifying glass," he says.

The California-based photographer tinkered with his macro technique until he had created a consistent way to capture highly detailed images of marijuana.

The first thing you notice when you get on Willie Nelson's tour bus is a pungent aroma. Parked outside a gigantic casino and performance venue in Thackerville, Okla., Nelson offers NPR's David Greene a joint, which Greene declines. Nelson says he understands.

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Public perceptions of marijuana have come a long way. Once a symbol of the counterculture, pot has become part of the culture.

In Colorado, it's part of everyday culture.

Colorado has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, but voters amended the state constitution in 2012 to allow private marijuana consumption for adults aged 21 or older. The first-ever stores to sell state-regulated recreational pot opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law has raised serious concerns for parents and those working with kids to keep young people away from drugs.

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Newscast

  • Bullying addressed in schools through Shakespeare
  • Police reforms making their way through Colorado congress
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife wrapping up comment period
  • Large marijuana trafficking operation shut down in Denver

Recreational marijuana has been legalized in four states, but that doesn't mean it's a tested consumer product. Some of those potent buds are covered in fungus while others contain traces of butane, according to an analysis of marijuana in Colorado.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on pot politics is narrowing, President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday.

hemp plants
flickr/edwardthebonobo

A federal bill to legalize industrial hemp farming has the backing of a Colorado Congressman. 

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. 

The bill would remove industrial hemp from the marijuana definition in the Controlled Substance Act thus allowing farmers to grow it.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

Newscast

  • Mesa County DA looks to close online gambling cafes
  • Local sheriffs sue Colorado over Amendment 64
  • Cedaredge looks at possibly approving pot manufacturing facility
  • Lawmakers fund evidence testing equipment after fighting over gun amendment

In the "American Sniper" murder trial, prosecutors successfully countered Eddie Ray Routh's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity by saying that he just seemed psychotic because he was high. But scientists continue to argue over whether marijuana-induced psychosis is always short-lived or if there's a deeper connection at play.

Marijuana Plant
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Colorado has been under fire lately over Amendment 64.  The state is currently being sued by neighboring states and a Washington, D.C. organization over recreational marijuana.  Now, Colorado is being sued by its own sheriffs. 

Six sheriffs from across Colorado and sheriffs and prosecutors from Nebraska and Kansas are plaintiffs in the suit. Governor John Hickenlooper is named as the defendant.

Nearly two-thirds of Millennials who identify as Republican support legalizing marijuana, while almost half of older GOP Gen-Xers do, according to a recently released Pew survey that could be an indicator of where the debate is heading.

Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

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