Category Archives: Marijuana & the Law

Whitehouse Press Release– I have a question on medical marijuana…


 

marijuana

February 23, 2017

 

A LINK TO THE ENTIRE PRESS BRIEFING HERE

I have a question on medical marijuana.  Our state voters passed a medical marijuana amendment in November.  Now we’re in conflict with federal law, as many other states are.  The Obama administration kind of chose not to strictly enforce those federal marijuana laws.  My question to you is:  With Jeff Sessions over at the Department of Justice as AG, what’s going to be the Trump administration’s position on marijuana legalization where it’s in a state-federal conflict like this?

MR. SPICER:  Thanks, Roby.  There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.  

I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.  And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in 2011 — looking for a little help — I think put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks.  

There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana.  And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people.  There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.  

So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a — the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana.  That’s a very, very different subject.

Shannon.

Q    What does that mean in terms of policy?  A follow-up, Sean.  What does that mean in terms of policy?

MR. SPICER:  Shannon.  Glenn, this isn’t a TV program.  We’re going to —

Q    What is the Justice Department going to do?

MR. SPICER:  Okay, you don’t get to just yell out questions.  We’re going to raise our hands like big boys and girls.

Q    Why don’t you answer the question, though?

MR. SPICER:  Because it’s not your job to just yell out questions.  

Shannon, please go.

Q    Okay.  Well, first, on the manufacturing summit, was the AFL-CIO invited?  And then, yeah, I did want to follow up on this medical marijuana question.  So is the federal government then going to take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states?

MR. SPICER:  Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.  Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue.  That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into. 

I’m sorry, Shannon, what was the first part?

Q    Was the AFL-CIO invited to the manufacturing meeting today with the CFOs?  Because they are part of this manufacturing —

MR. SPICER:  Right.  I think this was just focused on people who actually — they were not, I don’t believe, part of this one.  As you know, that we’ve had union representation at other meetings.  I think this was specifically for people who are hiring people and the impediments that they’re having to create additional jobs, hire more people.  And obviously, while the President values their opinion — and that’s why they’ve been involved in some of the past — this was specifically a manufacturing — people who hire people, who manufacture, who grow the economy, who grow jobs.  And that is a vastly different situation.

SOURCE

White House: Feds will step up marijuana law enforcement


By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

Updated 6:52 PM ET, Thu February 23, 2017

Washington (CNN)The White House said Thursday it expects law enforcement agents to enforce federal marijuana laws when they come into conflict with states where recreational use of the drug is permitted.

“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said regarding federal drug laws, which still list marijuana as an illegal substance.

That’s a reversal from the Obama administration’s stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed.

    That guidance was issued after two states — Colorado and Washington — voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Obama said in the immediate aftermath of those votes that the federal government had “bigger fish to fry” than cracking down on marijuana use in states where it’s considered legal.

    Most drug enforcement operations are carried out by state and local authorities, with little involvement by the federal government. Enforcing marijuana laws has been considered a lower priority for federal drug agents, who have remained focused on curbing narcotics trafficking and combating a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse.

    Spicer on Thursday, however, linked marijuana use with the widespread abuse of painkillers, suggesting that allowing recreational use of marijuana could be interpreted as condoning drug use more widely.

    “When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”

    He was careful to distinguish between use of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. President Donald Trump, he said, understood that marijuana could help ease suffering for patients with terminal illnesses.

    Trump took varying positions on marijuana during his campaign for president. He said during remarks in June 2015 that legal recreational use was “bad,” adding he felt “strongly about it.”

    But later that year he suggested the issue should be decided by individual states and not by the federal government.

    “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said in Nevada in October 2015.

    He’s remained staunchly supportive of medical marijuana, telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly he was “in favor of medical marijuana 100%.”

    “I know people that have serious problems and they did that they really — it really does help them,” he said.

    CONTINUE READING….

    Here’s how Attorney General Sessions could shut down the legal marijuana industry overnight


    Mark Kleiman, professor of Public Policy at NYU/ Marron explains how the Trump administration could have a negative impact on the growing industry of legal marijuana. 

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

    FULL TRANSCRIPT:

    Josh Barro: With the new administration coming in, there’s some question over what the justice department will do. The Federal government has, so far, taken a pretty hands-off approach to states that legalize even though marijuana is illegal under Federal law. Are you concerned about what the Federal government might do there? And what sort of mess would that create if the Federal government decided that it wanted to enforce laws against marijuana in states that have legalized?

    Mark Kleiman: Well, it could create as much of a mess as the attorney general wanted to create. If the president held still for it. I mean, it’s pretty clear the attorney general, thinks that, or at least he said he thought, that the Obama administration was doing the wrong thing by acquiescing in these state license violations of Federal law. I assume that the career staff there is giving advice — and he may actually already know this — that they didn’t have much choice.

    Barro: Why’s that?

    Kleiman: Because there are 4,000 DEA agents worldwide. There are 500,000 state and local cops. If a state doesn’t want to enforce its cannabis laws, the Federal government really cannot step into those shoes. And, again this is hard Constitutional doctrine. The Federal government may not require a state to make something criminal or to help enforce safe Federal law. 

    So yeah, if … the justice department wanted to shut all the legal markets down, they could do that within weeks at very low resource cost. They go into the state regulatory agencies, they get all the license applications, which I think are public record, but if not, they can subpoena them, they take that pack of applications to the nearest US Federal District Court and say, “Your Honor. here are people who have signed an application for permission to commit a Federal felony. Please enjoin them from doing so.” That injunction issues without even hearing from a lawyer on the other side. And then you use the contempt power to enforce it.

    So they could destroy the legal market overnight. But they’d just replace it with an illegal market. If Colorado and Washington reacted by repealing their cannabis laws, then instead of a taxed and regulated market, you’d have an untaxed and unregulated market.

    And, yeah, you could, you could have the pleasure of sending some people to prison, but you couldn’t do anything about it. So my guess is, that’s the advice that the new attorney general will get from his staff, and that they will acquiesce as the Obama administration acquiesced in something they can’t stop.

    CONTINUE READING…

    The Congressional Cannabis Caucus


     

    Pot Presser

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc

     

    With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

    The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

    Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

    NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society. 

    The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred. 

    In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue. 

    So let’s keep building. 

    CONTINUE TO NORML

    Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

    NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
    Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

     

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    Pro-Pot Lawmakers Launch a Congressional Cannabis Caucus

    Tom Huddleston, Jr.

    12:10 AM Central

    Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.

    A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

    “We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

    Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)

    In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.

    CONTINUE READING…

    9 ways federal marijuana laws are limiting rights of residents in legal weed states


    Federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry.

    By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS / STAFF WRITER

    Published: Feb. 4, 2017 Updated: Feb. 5, 2017 2:45 p.m.

     Derek Peterson, CEO and president of Terra Tech. Just weeks after Prop. 64 passed, Peterson learned the company that for two years had managed Terra Tech's payroll and health benefits would be dropping them, Dec. 31, because of concern over their role in the cannabis industry. “The decision came out of nowhere,” he said. “We have almost 200 employees that spent their holiday season stressed about the possibility of not having their health benefits available in the new year, let alone a reliable pay schedule.” (File Photo by ED CRISOSTOMO, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic, a category reserved for drugs such as heroin that are said to be highly addictive and have no medical value. There’s been no movement to ease that stance even though polls show a record number of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal, 28 states now permit medical marijuana and eight more allow recreational use.
    One thing that has changed is the optimism some cannabis enthusiasts expressed prior to the November election.
    As the biggest state in the nation prepared to vote on legalizing recreational use with Prop. 64, the thinking was that California could become a tipping point that would ultimately lead to federal approval of cannabis.
    Prop. 64 easily passed. But confidence in the impact of that vote has dimmed as the reality of a GOP-controlled federal government headed by President Donald Trump – and the prospect of marijuana-opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General – has settled in.
    For individuals, the ongoing conflict with federal law can make it harder to get everything from housing to healthcare, even if they use cannabis for medical reasons says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.
    And for Californians who want to make money in the cannabis industry, the differences between state and federal law can affect how they bank, pay taxes and more.
    “It’s a serious hindrance,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who specializes in marijuana policy.
    “It creates a scenario in which companies are able to get up and running, but not operate like a normal business.”
    Here are nine ways the federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry, no matter what their state law says.

    PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

    Prince and princess of pot are expanding their dispensary empire, whether it’s legal or not


    Cannibas Culture

     

    Sunny Freeman | February 3, 2017

    Jodie Emery struts through the hazy hallway of Cannabis Culture’s flagship Toronto store, through a 15-person deep checkout line, and then past the extracts, pre-rolled joints and display jars of bud into the lounge area where a group of pot enthusiasts is sparking up.

    It is just after noon on a Wednesday.

    The 32-year-old Cannabis Culture owner makes several attempts to call her husband, Marc, a famous marijuana legalization advocate, to wake him up. The Prince of Pot likes to sleep in, she explains, because he works past midnight, which is closing time at his shop in Toronto’s gay village downtown.

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    Marc emerges half an hour later. He joins employees behind the counter to recommend strains and weigh portions for the rapidly growing lunchtime rush. Marc is focused on the Toronto flagship locale he owns, while Jodie oversees the franchising and most other aspects of the business. 

    “This is what legalization looks like,” Marc said. “That’s exactly what we want to present to the government: You can go and do your rules and your thing and we’re going to do our thing.”

    Many in the scene consider the Emerys weed royalty and the couple’s hard-fought decades-long dream of legalization may be on the cusp of fruition. But even as the government pursues legislation to set up a legal recreational market, the question of whether dispensaries such as theirs will be allowed to operate above ground hangs in the air.

    Depending on the specific wording of the legislation, Canada’s prince and princess of pot could very well be excluded from the opportunity to earn a legal living in a recreational marijuana market that is expected to be worth as much as $22.6 billion annually.

    In the meantime, a plethora of ganjapreneurs are looking to gain a foothold in the coming pot economy through the only current legal path, by becoming a Health Canada licensed medical marijuana producer. Many more are simply opening dispensaries on the sly, hoping to fly under the radar as they count down to legalization.

    The Emerys worry licensed producers will monopolize the commercial system, but even if they are shut out, it will not deter the defiant outsiders from their aggressive expansion plans. 

    The couple is relatively new to the dispensary business, jumping in less than two years ago with their first store in Vancouver and deciding to expand last year at the request of interested investors.

    “When the opportunity came up to start dispensing cannabis I thought why not? If everybody else is doing it why shouldn’t we after all we’ve done?” Jodie said.

    It’s a decision that has paid off so far. The crowd at Cannabis Culture’s flagship dispensary was just an average weekday, and sales spike on weekends. This location, one of 18 franchises, can pull in between $30,000 and $40,000 a day.

    One man calls out to Jodie to say he’s one of her 38,000 Twitter followers. Another guy thanks Marc for his years of sacrifice to the cause, which include a five-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison.

    For a guy who sometimes gives pot away for free, Marc keeps a keen eye on performance metrics and knows the exact headcount of customers they had last Friday: 1,783.

    “You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that’s a good cash-flow business,” he said.

    It could be even better if dispensaries like his become legal.

    A task force report on legalization has recommended the government allow storefront locations in addition to the current mail-order system and acknowledged a majority of people who participated in the consultation process prefer a distribution system that includes dispensaries.

    Related

    Yet it remains unclear whether new government legislation will allow a place for the 400 or so dispensaries already operating.

    The shops, most of which maintain at least an ostensible medical purpose, argue that they fill a gap for consumers by providing in-person advice, fostering competition and keeping prices low.

    Marc has set an ambitious goal of opening 200 locations by the end of 2017, whether they are legal or not.

    “Those questions to me are irrelevant, we just do what we do. We’re going to keep doing it. As long as the law is wrong we will disobey,” Marc said. “After prison, I didn’t want to be relegated to irrelevancy so I had to take the lead in provoking the authorities by opening up retail shops.”

    And provoke he does.

    Marc was most recently arrested just before Christmas, when cops raided six Cannabis Culture locations in Montreal, the day after he made a splashy debut in the city by bestowing free “nugs,” or marijuana buds, on throngs of admirers. Similarly, the flagship Toronto location opened a day after raids shuttered dispensaries across the city last May.

    How police handle dispensaries varies widely across in the country, no more so than in the country’s two biggest markets. Vancouver has opted for a licensing system while Toronto police continue to crack down and raid dispensaries, citing public safety concerns.

    Emery wears his 289 arrests, eight raids and five years in prison as a badge of honour. After all, the raids attract media attention and that attracts even more customers.

    “Raids are just part of doing business. They’re annoying and they certainly set you back, but ultimately the police are wrong and we’re right,” he said.

    Raid-related expenses, including covering the costs of lawyers for any employees who get arrested, have been built into the cost of doing business.

    Those questions to me are irrelevant, we just do what we do. We’re going to keep doing it. As long as the law is wrong we will disobey

    Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

    Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkMarc and Jodie Emery’s Cannabis Culture store on Church Street in Toronto. The couple, considered pot royalty, can’t keep up with the requests they have for franchise licences for their business model.

    But the Emerys also have to think about the more mundane aspects of growing a franchise business, such as how much of a cut they should take. Jodie has been studying the Subway sandwich model and working with a franchise lawyer to help figure it out.

    Cannabis Culture’s model asks for a $10,000 investment up front, plus a royalty of six per cent for the first six months, rising to seven per cent afterward. But she thinks they might be lowballing it. Subway, by contrast, asks for $15,000 upfront and a 12.5-per-cent royalty each month.

    Cannabis Culture franchises can take in anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000 a day depending on their location, but about 60 per cent of that goes back into the stores, mostly toward buying new product, Jodie said.

    Like all dispensaries, Cannabis Culture currently operates outside the law, so the Emerys have established their own guidelines: they don’t record customer information, do not require a doctor’s note and ask customers to show ID to prove they are over 19.

    HST is tacked on to all prices and payroll taxes are collected, Marc said. He estimates they have turned over about half a million in taxes to the government.

    The details of their supply chain are, somewhat understandably, sketchy. Jodie said much of the product comes from brokers who get it from those with medical growing licences. Many of the connections have stood for decades.

    She equates the growers to farmers at a local market. They are proud of their product and would like to come forward, but prohibition forces them to stay in the dark.

    Product quality is mostly assessed by a sight and smell test by store employees. But bigger locations such as the flagship store owned by Marc work with a lab to test strains for pesticides, mold and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in pot, and cannabidiol (CBD), the ingredient said to have therapeutic effects. The tests can cost about $150 each, prohibitively expensive for most small-time operators.

    My feeling is if I am not allowed to sell marijuana after all the work I’ve done this far, then who does have that right?

    Tyler Anderson/National Post

    Tyler Anderson/National PostMarc Emery, owner of Cannabis Culture, speaks with customers at his store on Church Street in Toronto. Like all dispensaries, Cannabis Culture currently operates outside the law.

    Despite some unusual costs factored into the underground business, interest in Cannabis Culture and the Emerys runs high among investors — a diverse group that includes fellow activists as well as deep-pocketed business-types — who don’t seem to be deterred by dispensaries’ questionable legal status.

    “‘I’ve got hundreds of franchise request emails coming in from all across Canada and even the U.S.,” Jodie said. “People are begging and I can’t even get back to them.”

    Cannabis Culture’s brash business style irks some other dispensary owners worried that the Emerys’ in-your-face promotion style could turn off Canadians who are on the fence about legalization and the role of dispensaries within the system.

    But Jodie is dismissive of their critics: “They’re looking at Cannabis Culture with a bit of green in their eyes saying you guy are big corporate cannabis now.”

    Meanwhile, the Emerys are also feeling squeezed from the publicly traded licensed producers that they believe are trying to monopolize marijuana and shut them out of a free market. The Emerys say the market is big enough for all types of players — especially theirs.

    “We’ve paid our dues. My feeling is if I am not allowed to sell marijuana after all the work I’ve done this far, then who does have that right?” Marc said. “And I don’t believe anybody else has that right over me.”

    Financial Post

    sfreeman@postmedia.com
    Twitter.com/sunnyfreeman

    CONTINUE READING and VIDEO!

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    Where does Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch stand on marijuana law?


    Dylan Stableford

    Senior Editor

    Yahoo NewsFebruary 1, 2017

    President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is a native of Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. So where does Gorsuch stand on the pot issue?

    It’s not entirely clear.

    Gorsuch, a conservative federal judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, has not voiced his views on legal weed — at least not publicly.

    But the 49-year-old, who lives with his family in the cannabis-friendly college town of Boulder and teaches at the University of Colorado Law School, has offered a written opinion in several marijuana-related cases.

    In 2010 (U.S. v. Daniel and Mary Quaintance), Gorsuch ruled against a couple who tried to argue that federal marijuana distribution offenses should be dismissed on religious grounds because he found the defendants to be insincere:

    Daniel and Mary Quaintance responded to their indictment for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana with a motion to dismiss. They didn’t deny their involvement with the drug, but countered that they are the founding members of the Church of Cognizance, which teaches that marijuana is a deity and sacrament. As a result, they submitted, any prosecution of them is precluded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), which forbids the federal government from substantially burdening sincere religious exercises absent a countervailing compelling governmental interest.

    After taking extensive evidence, the district court denied the motion to dismiss. It held, as a matter of law, that the Quaintances’ professed beliefs are not religious but secular. In addition and in any event, the district court found, as a matter of fact, that the Quaintances don’t sincerely hold the religious beliefs they claim to hold, but instead seek to use the cover of religion to pursue secular drug trafficking activities.

    In 2013 (Family of Ryan Wilson v. City of Lafayette and Taser International), Gorsuch held that a Colorado police officer’s fatal Taser use on a man who was fleeing a marijuana arrest was justified:

    Illegal processing and manufacturing of marijuana may not be inherently violent crimes but … they were felonies under Colorado law at the time of the incident. And Officer Harris testified, without rebuttal, that he had been trained that people who grow marijuana illegally tend to be armed and ready to use force to protect themselves and their unlawful investments.

    And in 2015 (Feinberg et al. v. IRS), Gorsuch ruled against the owners of a Colorado dispensary who had refused to turn over data to the Internal Revenue Service because they feared they would be incriminating themselves, since marijuana remains illegal under federal law:

    This case owes its genesis to the mixed messages the federal government is sending these days about the distribution of marijuana. The Feinbergs and Ms. McDonald run Total Health Concepts, or THC, a not-so-subtly-named Colorado marijuana dispensary. They run the business with the blessing of state authorities but in defiance of federal criminal law. Even so, officials at the Department of Justice have now twice instructed field prosecutors that they should generally decline to enforce Congress’s statutory command when states like Colorado license operations like THC. At the same time and just across 10th Street in Washington, D.C., officials at the IRS refuse to recognize business expense deductions claimed by companies like THC on the ground that their conduct violates federal criminal drug laws. So it is that today prosecutors will almost always overlook federal marijuana distribution crimes in Colorado but the tax man never will.

    “Yes, the Fifth Amendment normally shields individuals from having to admit to criminal activity,” Gorsuch explained. “But, the IRS argued, because DOJ’s memoranda generally instruct federal prosecutors not to prosecute cases like this one, the petitioners should be forced to divulge the requested information anyway. So it is the government simultaneously urged the court to take seriously its claim that the petitioners are violating federal criminal law and to discount the possibility that it would enforce federal criminal law.”

    Outside of those cases, there isn’t much on Gorsuch’s pot stance to go on. However, one of Gorsuch’s former students told a website called the Joint Blog that he once asked the Colorado jurist whether he supports legalization of marijuana.

    Gorsuch reportedly responded by saying that he “at the very least” supports states’ rights in regulating marijuana. Cannabis, like heroin and LSD, is currently a Schedule I drug under federal policy, “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

    The cannabis industry remains cautiously optimistic Gorsuch will allow states to continue their march toward marijuana legalization. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: AP)

    The cannabis industry remains cautiously optimistic that Neil Gorsuch, if he is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, will allow states to continue their march toward marijuana legalization. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: AP)

    If the account is true, that would put Gorsuch more or less in line with the man who nominated him.

    At a campaign event in October 2015, Trump said he thinks legalization of pot should be “a state issue, state-by-state.”

    In an interview with Fox News that year, Trump said he supports medical marijuana “100 percent.”

    Which is why marijuana industry leaders are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of cannabusiness growth in the Trump era.

    “For the most part, experts all think we will see a continuation of some form of the status quo,” Chris Walsh, editor of Marijuana Business Daily, told Yahoo Finance last month. “Maybe there will be some efforts to crack down here and there, but the consensus is that a widespread crackdown will be difficult.”

    “If Trump’s going to attack the marijuana industry — like the recreational side, or the new states that legalized — it’s going to be very difficult for him to do that,” Walsh added. “He’s going to have a very hard time unwinding all the time and money and effort that states have put into these programs.”

    The same goes for Gorsuch.

    “We believe that a conservative legal philosophy should be consistent with respect for federalism and state sovereignty,” Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “Voters in 28 states have chosen to establish legal, regulated cannabis programs in their states, and state lawmakers and regulators have implemented those programs. Trampling on those state initiatives would be the kind of federal overreach that conservative judicial leaders typically speak out against.”

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    Marijuana lobby goes mainstream


    By Reid Wilson – 02/01/17 06:00 AM EST

    Marijuana lobby goes mainstream

    State regulators and government officials involved in crafting rules for the budding legal and medical marijuana industry are going to pot. 

    In a sign that the budding marijuana industry is moving away from the fringes and into the political mainstream, into the political mainstream, a number of officials once tasked with managing the growing legal cannabis sector are leaving their government positions to take jobs in the sector.  

    Many are advising states and cities as voters loosen marijuana restrictions across the country. Others are becoming industry advocates, lobbying the former colleagues and coworkers they left behind to craft more favorable rules and regulations. 

    In Colorado, Andrew Freedman, once the state’s director of marijuana coordination, and Lewis Koski, who headed the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, teamed up to form a consulting firm that advises local and state governments on crafting new marijuana regulations. Laura Harris, Koski’s predecessor at the Marijuana Enforcement Division, took a post this month as director of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. 

    Manny Munson-Regala, who oversaw Minnesota’s medical marijuana program, now runs a consulting firm of his own. John O’Brien resigned his post overseeing New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to take a job as chief compliance officer of a New York cannabis company. And several former top officials at Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board have left in recent years to form their own firms. 

    “That’s how America works. You work for the government, then you become a lobbyist,” said Ian Eisenberg, a leader in the legal marijuana industry who runs Uncle Ike’s, a dispensary in Seattle, Wash. “I don’t think it’s any different than the defense industry.”

    Those who have made the jump from the government sector to the private sector say they offer a valuable service, both to governments that need to establish new rules and to the businesses that need to navigate complex regulatory schemes that have never been implemented before.

    “We’re the only ones to have stood this up before,” said Freedman, who now consults with governments looking to set up their regulatory structures. “There’s a real opportunity to come in and show lessons learned quickly.”

    The comparison between legal marijuana and the defense industry is apt: North American consumers spent $6.9 billion on legal cannabis products in 2016, a figure that is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2021, according to an analysis by Arcview Market Research, a leading industry observer.

    “This is an industry that ultimately is going to be, in gross revenues, what, eleven figures,” said Rob Kampia, co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Wouldn’t you rather have the most well-informed people in the private sector and the government sector actually knowing what they’re talking about?”

    But opponents of legalized pot, and some government transparency groups, say the relationship between the marijuana industry and its regulators should be treated like any other.

    “The revolving door from government to private sector isn’t anything new, but it represents the worst of our politics. This isn’t the paper clip or oven mitt lobby, this is the drug lobby,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization. And we know that the pot lobby wants to make money, just like big tobacco executives do.”

    Aaron Scherb, legislative affairs director at the government transparency group Common Cause, said states should implement a cooling-off period between the time when a regulator leaves government service and when he or she begins working on behalf of the industry.

    “These individuals are the most familiar with the rules and regulations of a particular industry, and their experience means they’re able to exploit loopholes,” Scherb said. “At least some minimal amount of time is appropriate so we can avoid this revolving door problem.” 

    At least one state, Minnesota, required its regulators to take a year off before returning to work in the field they oversaw. Munson-Regala, the former head of the state’s medical marijuana program, said that reminded him of other industries he helped regulate, like the insurance business. 

    “Embedded in that one-year cooling off period was an understanding that regulators are in a good position to help folks who are being regulated, in part because they understand what it takes to be compliant,” Munson-Regala said in an interview.

    The revolving door is just one of the ways an industry that was once seen as the domain of hippies is trying to professionalize. Just a few years ago, proponents of legalizing marijuana brought 1970s-era stoner icon Tommy Chong to Capitol Hill to woo lawmakers. 

    Today, Chong is gone, replaced by a booming industry of cultivators and retailers — and the trade shows, consultants and lobbyists who offer services to boost their business.

    On Tuesday, the National Cannabis Industry Association kicked off a two-day Seed to Sale trade show in Denver, focusing on business practices for producers and retailers. The group’s first trade show several years ago attracted 800 participants; this year, they expect 2,000 vendors — and 4,000 to 5,000 at the annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, said Taylor West, the group’s deputy director. In November, 10,000 people showed up to another trade show in Las Vegas.

    “This industry is not slowing down,” West said.

    Around the country, hundreds of lobbyists are already bending lawmakers’ ears on marijuana measures. In Colorado alone, 81 lobbyists reported advocating on marijuana proposals before the state legislature, according to data filed with the Secretary of State’s office. 

    Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Washington and California since 2013. Voters passed legalization measures in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia in 2014, and in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine this year. On Monday, Maine’s legalization measure became law.

    Marijuana is now legal to possess and consume in the four states where voters passed legalization laws this year. But purchasing and selling marijuana and cannabis edibles are on hold until regulators come up with rules governing everything from production to retail — what the industry calls Seed to Sale. 

    Most states have a year, under ballot measures passed in November, to implement their new structures. And as regulators move to create those rules, they will receive plenty of input from those who structured systems in other states.

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    (OR) Senate Bill 301 may make marijuana drug tests illegal in the workplace


    by Kimberly Kolliner

    Monday, January 30th 2017

    MEDFORD, Ore. – Regardless of if it’s legal in the state, right now, failing a marijuana drug test could cost you your job.

    “For us, marijuana is still classified federally as a schedule 1 controlled substance so we do include it in our drug screening,” People’s Bank Chief Operating Officer, Jeri Reno.

    However, this may change.

    The Oregon Senate has introduced Bill 301, which proposes marijuana testing in the work place to be illegal, because its use in the state is legal.

    This is something that Reno sees no immediate threat with.

    “I think that’s going to be a wave of the future in that just like alcohol, marijuana is going to be used recreational and it would be honored as such. I think we’ll just see what it brings,” Reno said.

    As an employer, Reno says work performance is the only thing she would be concerned with.

    Something the bill also clearly outlines.

    “We essentially are looking for employees who are productive and without possibility of being impaired in the workplace,” Reno said.

    She believes if marijuana is used on employees off time, it should have no burden on employees while they’re on the clock.

    “I would think our employees would continue to be responsible in the way they use marijuana or alcohol and I wouldn’t see much difference in the workplace,” Reno said.

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    Give a Pregnant Mom Marijuana, Be Guilty of Murder?


    Opposing abortion alone does not make someone pro-life. That stance is merely “pro-birth,” according to Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic nun and thus a member of a broad, billion-person-strong social movement—the Catholic Church—which does not look kindly upon abortion. To be pro-life, one must care for someone after they’re born, not just before. 

    So. What makes someone so concerned with the welfare of the unborn that they’d like to imprison their mothers for even the slightest taste of cannabis while pregnant—creating a sort of ob-gyn to prison pipeline?

    “Fucking crazy” might be one reasonable conclusion. It would also make you a “Wyoming state lawmaker,” such as the cabal in Cheyenne that’s pushing a new package of drug laws.

    K2Radio brings us news of the push to criminalize—further, since there are plenty of bad parenting laws on the books—“drug induced infant endangerment.”

    The brainchild of Rep. Jim Blackburn, Rep. Mark Jennings, Rep. Jared Olsen, Rep. Nathan Winters and Sen. Ogden Driskill—dudes, all of them, of course—the bill creates stiff penalties for a pregnant mother who uses any illegal drug, and even stiffer penalties for anyone who provides the pregnant mother with said drug.

    Nobody would argue using methamphetamine or heroin while pregnant is a good idea. Same thing with alcohol or tobacco. Conveniently, the way this law is written, it would be remarkably easy to punish a mother for even the slightest marijuana use.

    To be guilty of “drug-induced infant homicide,” a mother need only give “birth to a viable infant during or after drug use,” after which point “and the infant dies, or drug use contributes to the infant’s death.” That would be a felony punishable by 10 years in prison.

    The threshold to be guilty of “drug-induced infant abuse,” which carries a five-year prison term, is even lower: A mother faces that penalty if she uses “an illegal narcotic drug while pregnant and gives birth to a child who tests positive for any amount of that drug” (emphasis ours).

    Before you fool yourself into thinking this is reasonable, remember the context.

    More mothers than ever before are using cannabis during pregnancy in order to deal with morning sickness. To all the men out there: Imagine being sick, every day, in some cases for most of the day. Then imagine being in a situation where you had to eat in order to deliver nutrition to the thing growing inside you, but being too sick to do so.

    It’s still not clear what happens to a child whose mother uses marijuana during pregnancy, though some studies suggest there’s no issue at all.

    This comes shortly after the DEA recently specified that cannabidiol, CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is a Schedule I drug. And finally, since marijuana is fat-soluble and stays in the body for weeks or longer after use, the takeaway is that if this passes, a mother who so much as sniffs cannabis during pregnancy could lose her child and end up in the state pen for a five-spot.

    But that’s nothing compared to the individual who delivered the drugs to the expectant mother.

    If someone “knowingly” delivers a Schedule I or II controlled substance to a pregnant mother, they risk a prison term of between 10 and 25 years, according to K2Radio.

    Methamphetamine is a huge problem in Wyoming, according to the Justice Department… just as drug abuse is an issue anywhere the economy is trash, including poor neighborhoods in big liberal cities. And like everywhere else, heroin use has come roaring back in Wyoming, riding the crest of the tsunami of prescription pills unleashed in America, as a 2015 story in GQ detailed.

    You don’t often hear more incarceration and more crime as the solution to these ills—at least not in serious academic or scientific circles. But that’s not the thinking when you’re pro-birth—and pro-prison.

    You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

    CONTINUE READING…