New guidelines were released today by the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department that will allow banks to do business with marijuana related businesses. Part of the text of the guidelines are here:
"The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) is issuing guidance to clarify Bank
Secrecy Act (“BSA”) expectations for financial institutions seeking to provide services to marijuana-related businesses. FinCEN is issuing this guidance in light of recent state initiatives to legalize certain marijuana-related activity and related guidance by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) concerning marijuana-related enforcement priorities. This FinCEN guidance clarifies how financial institutions can provide services to marijuana-related businesses consistent with their BSA obligations, and aligns the information provided by financial institutions in BSA reports with federal and state law enforcement priorities. This FinCEN guidance should enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses
In assessing the risk of providing services to a marijuana-related business, a financial institution should conduct customer due diligence that includes: (i) verifying with the appropriate state authorities whether the business is duly licensed and registered; (ii) reviewing the license application (and related documentation) submitted by the business for obtaining a state license to operate its marijuana-related business; (iii) requesting from state licensing and enforcement authorities available information about the business and related parties; (iv) developing an understanding of the normal and expected activity for the business, including the types of products to be sold and the type of customers to be served (e.g., medical versus recreational
customers); (v) ongoing monitoring of publicly available sources for adverse information about the business and related parties; (vi) ongoing monitoring for suspicious activity, including for any of the red flags described in this guidance; and (vii) refreshing information obtained as part of customer due diligence on a periodic basis and commensurate with the risk. With respect to
information regarding state licensure obtained in connection with such customer due diligence, a financial institution may reasonably rely on the accuracy of information provided by state licensing authorities, where states make such information available."
Read the full guidelines here!
New Yorker Magazine writer David Remnick wrote an extensive piece called "Going the Distance, On and Off the Road with Barack Obama".
In his 34 page report, he gets around to talking to him about marijuana. Here's what he wrote:
When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion—the legalization of marijuana—he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Is it less dangerous? I asked.
Obama leaned back and let a moment go by. That’s one of his moves. When he is interviewed, particularly for print, he has the habit of slowing himself down, and the result is a spool of cautious lucidity. He speaks in paragraphs and with moments of revision. Sometimes he will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, “Scratch that,” or, “I think the grammar was all screwed up in that sentence, so let me start again.”
Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”
As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. “Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.” He noted the slippery-slope arguments that might arise. “I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”
Mr. Capra is the COO of the DEA. In a Congressional Hearing he almost has a break down while he tries to reverse the national trend towards legalizing marijuana. Much of what he testified to is blatantly false. One example: "Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again". Is he talking about Colorado? Uruguay? Washington? Where has it been tried and failed? He also claimed that a dispensary in California used their dispensary to launder money from their meth operation. Everyone who knows anything about marijuana policy knows that banking is a HUGE problem. Banks won't deal with cannabusiness. The DEA is scared alright. They are scared that their asset forfeiture slush fund is going to dry up.
In a joint study done by Mount Sinai in New York and the School of Public Health in China, it was found that Cannabidiol protects liver from binge alcohol-induced steatosis by mechanisms including inhibition of oxidative stress and increase in autophagy. This is very good news for cannabis consumers and the alcohol industry. For years cannabis connoisseurs have been experimenting with blending the two substances. One example is Potka. More research is needed. Here is a statement from the *researchers: “We evaluated whether cannabidiol, which has been reported to function as an antioxidant, can protect the liver from alcohol-generated oxidative stress-induced steatosis. Cannabidiol can prevent acute alcohol-induced liver steatosis in mice, possibly by preventing the increase in oxidative stress and the activation of the JNK MAPK pathway. Cannabidiol per se can increase autophagy both in CYP2E1-expressing HepG2 cells and in mouse liver. Importantly, cannabidiol can prevent the decrease in autophagy induced by alcohol.”
(A) H&E staining and (B) oil red O staining showing increased lipid accumulation in mouse liver after binge alcohol treatment. CBD decreases this lipid accumulation (image 4 compared to image 3 in (A) and (B)).
The New Hampshire House of Representatives became the first U.S. legislative body to vote in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The measure passed a preliminary vote by 170-162 on Wednesday; it now heads to committee and then goes back to the House floor for a final vote before heading to the state Senate. Read more here.
The first 7 days of the year aren't even wrapped up and the numbers are already piling up. According to local Channel 9 News, "Pot shops did record sales compared to the medical marijuana days on Wednesday when recreational marijuana opened. Pot shop owners across Colorado believe they collectively made more than $1 million statewide". According to the Wall Street Journal "Colorado imposes a 25% markup using sales taxes for wholesale processors and store fronts, on top of other state and local taxes. Legalization advocates predict a revenue windfall, but that won't accrue if underlying pretax prices plunge." Read more here. The Raw Story weighs in with "State officials here anticipate that marijuana sales will generate some $67 million in annual tax revenue" Rolling Stone starts a 4 page article with "Legal marijuana in America is now estimated to be a $1.43 billion industry. And it's expected to grow to $2.34 billion in 2014. If those numbers hold, the 64 percent increase - a steeper trend line than global smartphone sales - would make pot one of the world's fastest-growing business sectors."
The Obama Administration has given the thumbs up for the states of Washington and Colorado to go ahead with their policy and social experiments of cannabis legalization. This is a big step but we need to make sure that the experiments go well. That's going to take education, outreach, and lobbying.
~interesting note....The DOJ website list 8 priorities that will guide the department's enforcement but won't allow you to copy and paste the guidelines on their document!
Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.