Jamaica Parliament Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

http://jurist.org/paperchase/2015/02/jamaica-parliament-decriminalizes-small-amounts-of-marijuana.php

The Jurist

[JURIST] The Jamaican House of Parliament [official website] passed an act Tuesday decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Under the new law, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is considered a petty offense [AP report] punishable by a ticket.

Beyond consumption, the legislation allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants on any premises. Minister of National Security Peter Bunting [official website] issued a statement following the act’s passage, reinforcing the governments intent to continue combating transnational drug trafficking and illegal cultivation of marijuana.

The new law also lays the ground work for the establishment of a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry in the country. Additional regulations regarding the licensing agencies and the establishment of the medical marijuana sector are expected in the coming months.

Jamaica is the most recent country to join a growing global trend of loosening anti-marijuana laws [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this week Alaska’s voter initiative legalizing marijuana [JURIST report] use took effect, making it the third state, along with Colorado and Washington, to legalize recreational marijuana. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. Also in November the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] expressed concern that the legalization of marijuana by some US states is not compatible with existing international drug conventions.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST’s real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

 

Alex Garland’s Black Lives Matter 2015: Activists March Through Seattle’s Central District in Protest for Police Accountability

http://thedignityvirus.com/2015/01/10/black-lives-matter-activsts-march-through-seattles-central-district-in-protest-for-police-accountability/

More than 150 activists marched from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park to the King County Juvenile Detention Center on 12th Ave. in Seattle during a demonstration for police accountability.

Activists took to the streets, stopping at several intersections along the way for moments of silence and speak-outs. Support was shown as the protest marched down Rainier Ave. as people put their fists up or raised hands in a sign of solidarity.

From the Facebook event page…

“We, as young people, have chosen to come forth and call out the many inequalities within the current Criminal Justice System. This system has blatantly devalued, dehumanized, and dismissed people of color. The Black and African-American Communities in the United States have especially been targeted. We are outraged with this systemic failure.

To not act is an injustice within itself. As citizens we need to step up and no longer allow law enforcement to abuse our powers. The current state of the Criminal Justice System has increased persecution of Black and African-American people.

We will no longer tolerate the mistreatment, lack of support, and denied opportunities for this community. We are addressing these issues through peaceful protests, unifying actions, and productive dialogues.

We invite law enforcement, elected officials, and community members to join the movement towards police accountability.

In order to ensure the mission of this protest is accurately portrayed we have come up with some guidelines. They are as follows:

***NO VIOLENCE***
• Do NOT touch the police officers
• Do NOT deface/destroy city or private property
• Do NOT move city or private property

If you do not follow these guidelines you will be asked to stop. If your actions continue you will be asked to leave.”

Peace & Love,
Women of Color for Systemic Change

“Black Lives Matter.” – Protest for Police Accountability

420 Leaks: Washington State I-502 MMJ Law Scandal

From Washington State activist John Novak January 9, 2015:

This article includes a large number of links to public records, news articles and other information. If this email does not contain all the hyperlinks, please go to the following links..Please be patient as the site is experiencing heavy volume of visitors and is being adjusted accordingly.

Online at: http://420leaks.com/?p=689
On Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/420leaks/i-502-opma-mmj-public-records-and-the-partnership/761929917211137

(We will follow up this email soon with our proposed solutions.)

Subject: I-502: OPMA, MMJ, Public Records and the “Partnership”

By John Worthington (background research also by Arthur West, John Novak)
(All exhibit links to box.com are from public record files in PDF format)
One of the main goals of Initiative I-502, as originally written and passed, was allegedly to create a policy change from enforcing marijuana crimes, to properly enforcing property crimes by ‘legalizing” marijuana for persons over 21.
Once the “legalization” initiative passed, the marijuana prohibition stakeholders, AKA the “partnership” went to work to reverse the policy goals outlined in I-502. (Exhibit 1 https://app.box.com/s/rmgcsqu9eknlx5zbp7o9 )
The “partnership” immediately orchestrated numerous secret meetings for I-502 implementation, to further remarket the marijuana prohibition bureaucracy and directed the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) take steps to get rid of medical marijuana.
 
Despite the best efforts to hide these meetings, enough information began to leak out to the marijuana activists, that they were able piece together how the “partnership,” influenced the WSLCB. The documents they obtained show how the “partnership” set out to increase local law enforcement funding and de-incentivize medical marijuana.
These public records obtained by various individuals and advocacy groups also show the subversion began with the secret Association of Washington Cities (AWC – a non-profit made up of corporations and government agencies) and law enforcement meetings with the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
The messages and goals for this new Meta organization was clear, get rid of medical marijuana, and divert I-502 revenue to the cities and counties.
According to the notes from these secret Liquor Control Board meetings with local, state and federal agencies set up by the AWC, medical marijuana was no longer needed because the State now had a “legal” marijuana system.
The notes also described in detail how the “partnership” wanted medical marijuana to be repealed and also wanted local law enforcement budget increases. The LCB then took this agenda to the editorial boards of newspapers around the state. (Exhibit 2 https://app.box.com/s/o4cips7jho2mejgho5cs See also https://app.box.com/s/asxmcnzjp2zxj4fbksxe)
The WSLCB arranged to have the legislature “give them cover”, by creating legislation that would allow them a “place at the table,” for medical marijuana discussions. This strategy is outlined in an email from WSLCB board member Chris Marr to the agency director, Rick Garza. (Exhibit 3 https://app.box.com/s/di9dkswq8v250c5ihs8u )
The email from Marr also introduced the other players in the Meta leadership. These players, knowing or unknowing, were Senator Ann Rivers and I-502 entrepreneur Ezra Eickmeyer. (Exhibit 4 https://app.box.com/s/y90s7ff4z4sho6s8wxb0 )
 
Eickmeyer, through Senator Rivers, proceeded to draft SB 5887, which proposed to create a medical marijuana work group, however, the bill did not pass.
Senator Rivers and Eickmeyer then acted to get a medical marijuana work group passed “Amendment #224” in the state’s budget bill, SB 5034, to which Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles objected to because “too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors. Senator Kohl-Welles put out an email on June 2, 2014 addressing concerns about the process.

“It has also has resulted in a high level of concern on the part of many patient and other advocacy groups — including even outright opposition being expressed in rallies and demonstrations. I am concerned that we would be handing over too much of our responsibility to a regulatory agency. I also worry that too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors, and that the process for creating these rules would circumvent public input.

In many ways, the LCB has a vested interest in diverting business from the medical collectives now operating and into the retail stores when they open early next year. It is easy to argue the LCB also has a vested interest in wanting to add to its regulatory scope, and bring the medical cannabis industry into its system. This may turn out to be the end result down the road, or it may be determined that another state agency should have that responsibility.

For these and other reasons, I think it best to have the LCB focus on its task at hand, that given to them by the voters in approving I-502 — an initiative that specifically mentions it will have no effect on medical cannabis laws.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the “partnership” worked behind the scenes to create law enforcement funding legislation for the “partnership.” The Washington State Patrol’s Investigative Assistance Division (IAD), was tasked to help “shape” I-502 policy. (Exhibit 6 https://app.box.com/s/eepfhipts7ty6svlvxzp )
The IAD is staffed by officers considered to be loaned state employees to the federal government subject to the Westfall and Federal Tort Claims Act.
Essentially, the federal government also had a hand in I-502 secret rulemaking process through the cross designated members of the WSP and in direct meetings with the DEA and U.S. Attorney’s office.
Soon after the passage of initiative I-502, the broad and powerful “partnership” had managed to convert the policy goals of redirecting law enforcement funding to property crimes to adding local law enforcement funding and getting rid of medical marijuana.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board had arranged its “place at the table”, and the “partnership”, managed to set forth a mechanism to glean law enforcement funding increases and interfere with medical marijuana laws when I-502 appeared to advertise just the opposite. (Exhibit 7 https://app.box.com/s/uhke9k9wda5tdjsx93cs )
For its part the work group, began its job of eliminating or de-incentivizing medical marijuana under the guise of merging it with recreational marijuana. (Exhibit 8 https://app.box.com/s/rdkfowosyuwyzodgyzs4 )
The medical marijuana work group had the same open public meetings problem as the I-502 implementation process. They also did not want the public to hear who it was they were working with in private and publically show how they arrived at its decisions.
The Governor’s office, with help from the local U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan did their part by making sure the public knew that the medical marijuana situation was “untenable”. (Exhibit 9 https://app.box.com/s/c5m8ogtl8hod59lmewbr )
The urgency for a “robust” regulatory system for marijuana was further ratcheted up with the use of a document referred to as the “Cole Memorandum”, which was actually requested by the LCB, and not a mandate generated by the U.S. Attorney’s office at the request of the Governor’s office. (Exhibit 10 https://app.box.com/s/o4cips7jho2mejgho5cs )
The following legislative session in 2014, SB 5887 and a new bill from Senator Jeanne Kohl Welles SB 6178, offered two approaches on how to integrate and de-incentivize medical marijuana. Representative Eileen Cody also proposed HB 2149 that same legislative session.
 
All of the bills contained language which highlighted the recommendations of the medical marijuana working group. The battle of killing medical marijuana in the 2014 legislative session began in earnest.
The legislators had several major hurdles to clear in order to kill medical marijuana. The most formidable of which was the fiscal impacts of the “robust” regulatory system which now included more law enforcement funding not included in the I-502 earmarks.
The fiscal notes to the Ways and Means and House Finance committees, which were put forth at the last second, did not include the actual cost of implementing the ratcheted up “robust” marijuana regulatory scheme.
Furthermore, the small business impact studies were incomplete further misleading the actual financial impact of the medical marijuana killing legislation.
Some legislators refused to consider more law enforcement funding because the initiative claimed to be saving money on law enforcement funding. (Exhibit 11 https://app.box.com/s/j9aq6xp77d3ut7fdlg1v )
 
“The argument for the initiative was that it’s going to lower public safety costs, and now they’re saying it’s going to increase public safety costs with absolutely no data. (It’s) troubling,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) in an interview.
Many marijuana activists claimed victory when all the medical marijuana bills failed to pass out of the 2014 legislative session.
The 2015 legislative session is underway and the legislature should be informed of what the I-502 rule making process has become so they can properly achieve policy goals set forth by the public.

Tacoma Washington Council Seeks Possible Jan 6 2015 Hearing to Rule on MMJ Shop Closures

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/12/05/4012250_tacoma-council-could-set-hearing.html?rh=1

By Kate Martin Bellingham Herald Staff writerDecember 5, 2014

Next week, the Tacoma City Council could schedule a Jan. 6 hearing for residents to talk about unlicensed marijuana businesses in the city.

The council told staff this week to prepare to shut down more than 56 unlicensed pot shops. Many of those businesses serve medical marijuana patients. Letters telling store owners they have 90 days to close could be mailed by early next year.

The businesses are not licensed by the state and are thus illegal, staffers have said.

Both patients and business owners said they were surprised by the council’s decision. Currently there are five state-licensed stores operating in Tacoma that are allowed to sell retail marijuana, but patients have said they worry the retail stores won’t carry the medical-grade cannabis that they need to ease pain or other maladies.

If the council approves the public hearing, it could be set for 5:30 p.m., Jan. 6 in the city council chambers, 747 Market St.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 kate.martin@thenewstribune.com @KateReports

Another Potential Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Ban in California

 MMJ business Daily December 10, 2014

http://mmjbusinessdaily.com/another-possible-outdoor-cultivation-ban-in-ca-county/

More than 300 people, mostly medical cannabis patients and growers, attended a meeting in Yuba County, California, as supervisors considered a ban on outdoor marijuana cultivation.

About 45 people spoke during the event in which supervisors considered three ordinances from other counties – Sacramento, Shasta and Fresno – that all ban outdoor grows in the wake of court rulings allowing them to impose severe restrictions on cannabis cultivation, according to the Appeal-Democrat.

Patients told county supervisors a ban on outdoor grows was a bad idea during a three-hour workshop, while others were in favor of the moratorium, saying they’ve seen their neighborhoods turned into a “war zone,” the newspaper said.

In question is a Yuba County ordinance adopted in 2012 that allows 18 outdoor plants on less than an acre, 30 on one to five acres, 60 on five to 20 acres and 99 plants on parcels bigger than 20 acres. Opponents of the ban told board they’d be increasing the burden on law enforcement and creating a new class of criminals. Proponents said Yuba County has become a haven for criminals.

After three hours of testimony, supervisors didn’t discuss any of the model ordinances or testimony, delaying further discussion until Jan. 13.

U.S. Navy Sailors Sue Japan Power Co. For Radiation Exposure During 2011 Quake, Tsunami Rescue

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/11/21/navy-sailors-report-radiation-sickness-japan-quake-tsunami-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Rare cancers, blindness, birth defects and now, two deaths.

Hundreds of U.S. sailors who took part in rescue efforts following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami say they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Now a federal judge has ruled their class-action lawsuit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company can go forward.

It has been more than three years since U.S. Navy Lt. Steve Simmons’ ship, the USS Reagan, got the call to help survivors of a 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Within hours there was more bad news: the quake had triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Sailors were ordered to scrub decks, stop drinking ship water and seal the ventilation system when the ship sailed into the nuclear plume.

“We sat in this plume for over 5 hours,” said Simmons.

All the while his commanders insisted there was no danger.

“I’ll be honest, I hit the ‘I believe’ button,” he said.

But within months, Simmons, once an avid hiker, began feeling weak and sick with uncontrolled fevers and severe night sweats. Soon he was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. He says military doctors would never tell him what was wrong.

“Every one of them wanted to discredit radiation as a possible cause,” Simmons said.

In a final report to Congress the Department of Defense found radiation doses were less than the exposure a person would receive during an airplane flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo.

“It may not be taking in evidence that the doses that were assumed to be on board the USS Reagan may have been under-reported,” said Dr. Robert Gould, a former Kaiser pathologist who is president of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

He points to transcripts of phone calls that recently came to light in which a Navy administrator on board the USS Reagan at the time of the disaster says radiation doses were “about 30 times what you would detect on a normal air sample” — much higher than the DoD estimates.

“Given that there is more information that has come out, I think you would have to re-look at the entire situation,” said Dr. Gould.

That hasn’t happened yet but hundreds of sailors, including Simmons, aren’t waiting. They have filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Japanese utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

“These young sailors have come down with leukemia, ulcers, testicular cancers, brain cancers, very rare cancers,” said their attorney Charles Bonner. He’s representing 200 soldiers and their families.

Under federal law he can’t sue the U.S. government, but says the case is clear against TEPCO. “They didn’t have emergency standby vehicles, they didn’t have batteries to pump water into these reactors which at the time were melting down. This was totally inadequate,” Bonner said.

After 16 years of service, Lt. Simmons was able to retire this year with full benefits. He hopes the lawsuit will help younger sailors who have had to retire with no pension or medical coverage.

“One of the things they always taught throughout my naval career is ‘sailors first last and always,’ you always take care of your sailors no matter what. And we are not doing that right now.”

The sailors have set up a website (still under construction) at: www.fukushimaradiationvictims.com

TEPCO STATEMENT:

We are thankful to the United States for coming to the aid of the people of Japan, and appreciate the service of all the men and women of the United States military who provided the Japanese people with humanitarian and disaster relief in Operation Tomodachi.

We would refer you to the report submitted in June of this year by the Department of Defense to the Congressional Defense Committees*. In that report you will find a description of the steps taken by the US military to limit the exposure of its service members, including the use of the Reagan’s sophisticated radiation detection equipment to monitor radiation levels.

The Navy and Department of Defense also have assessed the level of radiation exposure of US service members, not only those on the Reagan but all those on or near the mainland of Japan. Radiation doses were calculated for more than 75,000 DoD-affiliated individuals.(P.2 of the report) The radiation dose estimates were peer reviewed by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), a non-governmental panel of radiation health experts, which “concurred with the scientific methods used to develop the dose estimates.”

The report concludes that “[t]here is no objective evidence that the RONALD REAGAN sailors experienced radiation exposures during [Operation Tomodachi] that would result in an increase in the expected number of radiogenic diseases over time.”(P.5 of the report) The report further states that “it is implausible that these low-level doses are the cause of the health effects reported by the RONALD REAGAN sailors.”(P.3 of the report). We are responding to the claims that have been made in this lawsuit in accordance with the judicial procedures of the United States.

NAVY RESPONSE:

Immediately following Operation Tomodachi, the Department of Defense established the tri-service Dose Assessment and Registry Working Group (DARWG) to study available data and develop estimates of radiation exposure received by U.S. personnel in and around the main island of Japan during Operation Tomodachi. The DARWG estimated radiation exposures for approximately 75,000 U.S. personnel on ships or at shore facilities on the main island of Japan during Operation Tomodachi.

The DARWG’s report on radiation exposure received by Fleet-based individuals, which was peer reviewed by a non-governmental council of subject matter experts, determined that the highest whole body dose to any U.S. fleet-based personnel during Operation Tomodachi is much lower than levels of radiation exposure associated with the occurrence of short or long-term health effects. For perspective, the worst-case radiation exposure for any U.S. fleet-based personnel during Operation Tomodachi is less than 25% of the average annual radiation exposure to a member of the U.S. public from natural sources of background radiation, such as the sun, rocks, and soil.

The DARWG’s report on radiation exposure received by shore-based individuals, which was peer reviewed by a non-governmental council of subject matter experts, determined that the highest whole body dose to any U.S. shore-based personnel during Operation Tomodachi is much lower than levels of radiation exposure associated with the occurrence of short or long-term health effects. For perspective, the worst-case radiation exposure for any U.S. shore-based personnel during Operation Tomodachi is less than half of the dose an average member of the U.S. population typically receives annually from natural background radiation sources, such as the sun, rocks, and soil, and less than three percent of the annual Federal limit for occupational radiation exposure.

Radiation exposure to U.S. personnel supporting Operation Tomodachi did not present any risks greater than risks normally accepted during everyday life.

http://www.marines.com/global-impact/toward-chaos/tomodachi

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a589907.pdf

The full DARWG report can be found at http://publicintelligence.net/call-tomodachi/

Earthjustice Attorneys: How We Work

http://earthjustice.org/about/how_we_work

The statue 'Contemplation of Justice', outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

OUR STRATEGY

As expert legal strategists, we take on the big environmental fights—high-stakes cases where we can have an enduring impact—and stick with them until we win. We don’t accept corporate money, so we can fight the most important cases and stick with them for as long as it takes.

High Stakes: Will something significant be lost or gained?

Landmark Impact: Will a positive ruling set a powerful precedent for other cases and help set national policy across the country?

Strong Partnerships: Will the lawsuit help build strong, lasting partnerships with diverse local and/or national groups?

Unique Expertise: Can Earthjustice leverage its expertise and resources to add value to a case in a unique way?

CORNERSTONE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS

“I can’t imagine what our country would be like without our cornerstone environmental laws, but I know we would be less of a people and America would be less magnificent.”
– Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President

We rely on five cornerstone laws to achieve big wins for the environment.

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA)

Earthjustice uses the ESA to protect imperiled species and their habitats. Retired Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood pioneered this important work with precedent setting efforts in the ‘70s and ‘80s to protect West Coast salmon and the palila. After decades of work, we’ve secured ESA protection for more than a thousand plants and animals—and our fights continue in defense of wolves, grizzly bears, bowhead whales, salmon and a host of other creatures.

CLEAN AIR ACT

Earthjustice wields the Clean Air Act to protect everybody’s right to breathe. Our ongoing efforts to reduce harmful air pollutants such as mercury, soot, ozone and lead have yielded clean air standards that save tens of thousands of lives annually and reduce the health care costs associated with breathing dirty air by billions of dollars. Our current efforts include desperately needed reductions in ozone and the toxic pollution burden emitted by oil refineries and other heavy industry. Our litigation also helped establish the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants.

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Earthjustice uses the Clean Water Act to ensure the nation’s waters are clean and safe for drinking, fishing, swimming, wildlife habitat and other uses. We helped establish the precedent that water is a public trust, not private property, and have achieved critical victories for waterways throughout the U.S. Current cases include ongoing efforts to save Florida’s waterways from choking due to toxic slime, replenish Hawaii stream flows, and keep fracking chemicals out of our water supplies.

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Earthjustice harnesses NFMA to keep the nation’s wild forests from becoming lumber and pulp. We’ve scored huge victories that safeguard wildlife habitat, waterways and recreation in our national forests—including our 13-year defense of the Roadless Rule, which protects more than 50 million acres of beautiful national forest from development. We’re now working to preserve the Tongass—the gem of the national forest system—and ensure sound management of forestlands in the Sierra Nevada and beyond.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA)

Earthjustice uses NEPA, the law that requires environmental impact statements for projects permitted by the federal government, in a huge range of our work. It is a thread that runs through our efforts to protect public lands and waterways, stop genetically modified food, keep oil companies from ravaging the Arctic, and defend endangered species, among many other things.

THE COURTS

The federal court system has three tiers—district court, court of appeals and the Supreme Court. Most of our national cases start in district court and are resolved in the court of appeals. In rare instances, our cases end up in the Supreme Court.

State court systems are more complicated and variable, though most follow a structure very similar to the federal system. We are engaged in a number of cases in state court systems around the country.

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To truly win for the environment, Earthjustice must be effective both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion. Our communications team in San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. builds public awareness and support for action on climate change, fracking, Arctic oil drilling and other threats to our air, water, health and vibrant ecosystems.

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Holding polluters accountable requires strong environmental laws that stay strong. Every year, anti-environmental lawmakers seek to gut environmental protections and roll back our victories. Our policy and legislation team in Washington, D.C. works with members of Congress to keep environmental laws strong and ensure that our courtroom gains aren’t overturned.

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Environmental protection is truly a global issue. Our international team, based in San Francisco, CA, focuses on human rights, climate change and international trade.

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The generous support of tens of thousands of individuals like you allows us to take on the most important cases and stick with them for as long as it takes.

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Earthjustice recognizes climate change as one of the greatest threats to the global environment and human well-being. We also recognize divestment from fossil fuels as one of the strategies to speed the needed transition to a low-carbon clean energy economy. Earthjustice has made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels and to self-review our progress toward divestment on an annual basis.

***Note from Anna: Fight for your right to keep your crops organic. Stay green.