BY TOM ANGELL ON FEBRUARY 24, 2016
The man who once had the power to initiate a federal reclassification of marijuana now says he supports it.
“I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general, said in a newly published interview. “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate.”
Cannabis is currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive category, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse.
As attorney general, Holder could have directed the federal government to begin reviewing that status but did not do so before leaving office last April. His successor, Loretta Lynch, has said she personally opposes legalizing marijuana but hascalled the Obama administration’s approach to generally letting states enact their own laws without interference “effective.” She hasn’t clearly weighed in on the question of rescheduling.
By Oscar Pascual on February 16, 2016 at 4:50 AM
Hillary Clinton may not seem as adamant about marijuana legalization as her opponent Bernie Sanders, but the money behind her campaign sure is.
Despite her ties to pharmaceutical and private prison lobbyists, the largest contributor to Hillary Clinton’s current presidential campaign is billionaire philanthropist and influential marijuana law reform advocate George Soros, reports Extract.
According to numbers from theCenter for Responsive Politics, Soros’ private investment firm has already donated over $7 million to Clinton’s 2016 campaign committee and super PACs.
ADAM LOZIER -
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17TH, 2016
Organizers of Colorado’s High Times Cannabis Cup have been denied a permit for the April event,reports The Denver Post. Adams County commissioners struck down the request unanimously, saying the event is neither safe nor legally compliant.
The commissioners heard testimony from local law enforcement, who argued that too many participants used cannabis products openly.
North Metro Drug Task Force Commander Todd Reeves said that last year, a military veteran had trouble breathing after sampling cannabis and that a woman leapt from a moving automobile.
“From a safety perspective, I have serious concerns about this event and this venue,”said Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh.
The Colorado High Times event is the magazine’s and perhaps the world’s largest cannabis event.
High Times general counsel Cristina Buccola said she was unaware of the permit’s denial and declined to comment on the event’s future.
John Doyle, co-owner of the Denver Mart, which had applied for the permit, had presented the commission with new, stricter set of rules for the event. Total attendees would have been limited to 15,000 per day, as opposed to 35,000 last year, and visitors would have been required to find off-site parking before taking a shuttle to the event.
The businesses have no access to traditional bankingThe dissonance between the legal status of marijuana in some states and its total ban by the federal government has led to some awkward arrangements. In Oregon, where pot is legal for both recreational and medicinal use, it’s legal to fly around the state with weed but not outside state lines with it.
In California, marijuana is legal for medicinal uses but it’s still a schedule 1 narcotic under federal law, alongside the likes of cocaine and meth. That means the businesses that operate in the medical marijuana industry don’t have legal access to traditional banks. And that means they are absolutely swimming in cash.
Come tax day, that creates some logistical hurdles for California’s Board of Equalization. Dispensaries are legal businesses in California, so they are obliged to pay taxes, but they can’t write a check or make an electronic deposit like a normal business. Instead, people come to the tax office with massive bundles of cash. One California office recently processed a cash tax payment for $400,000, the Guardian reports.
The BOE estimates that in 2015 it took in $200 million in cash tax payments from the legal weed industry.
Sean Parker has doubled his investment in marijuana legalization. Following an initial $500,000 investment earlier in the year, the former Facebook president — who, in his mid-30s, is settling into a new lifestyle as a billionaire philanthropist and angel investor for political causes — donated another $500,000 towards the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, according to campaign finance records.
Parker has now donated $1 million towards the AUMA, which, if approved by voters, would legalize small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up in California. The ballot measure is attempting to collect sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot — and it looks like it has the money to do that.
AUMA now has $2.25 million in its campaign war chest, according to records — with additional donations coming from WeedMaps, the "Google Maps of pot," ($500,000 total), the Drug Policy Alliance ($500,000), and a political action committee funded by the heirs of late Progressive Auto Insurance chairman Peter Lewis ($250,000).
But Parker is by far the biggest donor to the effort, so much so that the AUMA is also known as the "Parker Initiative." Which is odd, considering Parker has thus far said very little about why he's involved — and, according to one of the organizers behind Oregon's Measure 91, which legalized adult use cannabis in that state in 2014, he ought to, soon.
The AUMA now has more money than the last effort to legalize marijuana in California, 2010's Proposition 19 — and it has that money much earlier.
In 2010, the biggest single donor to Prop. 19 was billionaire George Soros, who wrote a $1 million check just weeks before the election; the official campaign, funded almost entirely by Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee, spent $1.9 million throughout the entire campaign.
Compare that to Measure 91 in Oregon, which had nearly $7 million to spend — or about $5 per vote, compared to the 40 cents per vote that Prop. 19 had handy.
In other words, Parker is making it happen. But he is doing so quietly, without issuing a public statement explaining his involvement.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Super Bowl 50 brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, “this bud’s for you.”
Green Rush, the largest cannabis delivery platform in California, says Super Bowl weekend was the most lucrative in the company’s history. So big, it was better than the 4/20 marijuana holiday celebrated in April.
Jude Widmann, director of operations at Green Rush, said the company experienced a 310% spike in cannabis delivery orders during the Super Bowl 50 weekend. “Super Bowl 50 was our highest grossing weekend to date, eclipsing New Year’s Eve,” said Widmann. Making sure there is marijuana at a party is becoming as mainstream as beer and wine. Widmann said, “We expect to see cannabis and cannabis deliveries in particular to continue to become a more routine, normalized element of all holiday celebrations in the future.”
The federal government has a "responsibility" to facilitate sensible research into marijuana's medical benefits, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and seven other senators urged in a letter issued last week to multiple federal drug and health officials.
"While the federal government has emphasized research on the potential harms associated with the use of marijuana, there is still very limited research on the potential health benefits of marijuana -- despite the fact that millions of Americans are now eligible by state law to use the drug for medical purposes," theletter reads.
The senators praised the White House's recent lift of what was a mandatory bureaucratic review process, long criticized by researchers and lawmakers alike, that had stifled scientific research into the plant. But, they also encouraged the federal drug and health agencies to do more.
For patients in states with active medical marijuana programs, the senators recommend the agencies use their existing tools to collect national data, conduct surveillance and perform clinical trials.
"It is time for the federal government to pick up those tools and use them," the letter reads.
The senators also implored the agencies to collaborate and support "independent scientists" by eliminating needless federal barriers that stifle research into the plant.
Read more here
February 12, 2016
by Susan Soares
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act enacted in 2015 created a regulatory framework for the licensing and enforcement of the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, and distribution of medical marijuana in California.
The Budget includes $5.4 million Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund in 201516 to fund initial regulatory activities. In addition, the Budget includes $12.8 million General Fund, $10.6 million Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund, $1.2 million other special funds, and 126 positions to implement the regulation of medical marijuana in California.
Specific proposals include:
• Department of Consumer Affairs—$1.6 million in 201516 and $3.8 million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund and 25 positions in 201617 to create the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Bureau will regulate the transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of medical marijuana within the state and will also be responsible for licensing, investigation, enforcement, and coordination with local governments.
• Department of Public Health—$457,000 in 201516 and $3.4 million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund and 14 positions in 201617 to the Department of Public Health for the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana product manufacturers and testing laboratories.
• Department of Food and Agriculture—$3.3 million in 201516 and $3.4 million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund and 18 positions in 201617 to the Department of Food and Agriculture to provide Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program administrative oversight, promulgate regulations, issue medical marijuana cultivation licenses, and perform an Environmental Impact Report. In addition, the Department of Food and Agriculture will be responsible, with assistance from the Board of Equalization, to establish a “seed to sale” program to report the movement of medical marijuana products throughout the distribution chain using unique identifiers.
• Department of Pesticide Regulation—$700,000 Pesticide Regulation Fund and 3 positions in 201617 to the Department of Pesticide Regulation to develop guidelines for the use of pesticides in the cultivation of medical marijuana.
• Department of Fish and Wildlife—$7.6 million General Fund and 31 positions in 201617 for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to expand and make permanent the statewide multiagency task force established in 2014 to address environmental impacts of medical marijuana cultivation and work with the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) and Department of Food and Agriculture to regulate water diversions. More to them than enforcement
State Water Resources Control Board—$5.7 million ($5.2 million General Fund and $472,000 Waste Discharge Permit Fund) and 35 positions in 201617 for the Water Boards to develop and implement a regulatory program to address the environmental impacts of medical cannabis cultivation. This program will protect instream flows for fish from water diversions related to marijuana cultivation.
Who is really paying for these taxes that will fund these agencies?
According to a new release by BOE member Fiona Ma in Sept. 2015: “In 2014, California collected $44 million in sales taxes from only 25% of the Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) who have active operations in the state.” That means 75% of dispensaries in California are not finding ways in this all cash business to follow regulations or they are operating Wild West style and need to be reigned in. The governor’s budget needs to reflect the need for taxation and regulation in order to pay for education, enforcement and research.
What are the next steps?
Now that MMRSA has passed there will be stake holder meetings in the Assembly and the Senate regarding the drafting of the administrative code. For every page of MMRSA they are going to have to draft up approximately 5 pages of administrative regulations. We’re looking at several years to get through the process of completing the regulations.
It’s interesting to note that the BOE has been on the forefront with leadership in efforts to tax and regulate particularly Fiona Ma who has advocated for banking reform but yet is left out of this new budget for Medical Marijuana Regulations. I applaud Ma and her team with their cutting edge approaches because they are just as important as the environmental agencies that received an unbalance share of the governor’s budget.
Check out State Officials Disagree On Who Will Track Medical Marijuana Plants
Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 4:40 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Tue Feb 9, 2016.
By Eric Voddenemail@example.com
Medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries are governed by a sometimes-confusing smorgasbord of rules and regulations that differ from county to county and city to city.
Now there are four pieces of approved state legislation to add to the mix, including a cleanup bill signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown that makes corrections to the earlier-approved bills.
Add to that the prospect of multiple statewide ballot initiatives in November and the result is a lot of uncertainty over the future of medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries, locally and statewide.
Thus far, state bills have left intact the ability of cities and counties to enact ordinances regulating marijuana cultivation and dispensaries. Approved state legislation reflects more of a collaborative effort between the state and local entities than one that is in conflict.
"This legislation does not affect locals' ability to regulate cultivation and includes the right for locals to enact outright bans," said Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Plumas Lake. "They can outlaw dispensaries, which is a land-use decision."
The gist of state legislation is to create a licensing system to regulate personal grows and dispensaries. Most notably, it establishes a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation within the state Department of Consumer Affairs.
The new bureau will have authority to issue state licenses, conduct and regulate investigations, impose fines and penalties, and collect fees over and above what is collected locally. There are requirements on various state agencies to develop licensing, pesticide, production and water diversion standards.
"But first growers have to meet the local regulations, and if the locals say they can't do it, they can't do it," Gallagher said.
Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.