Tags Posts tagged with "Government"

Government

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Federal law enforcement officials and Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department were investigating pending marijuana-related court cases in Colorado while the Attorney General was reminding America of how much he dislikes the idea of legalizing marijuana.

This recent news came from IBT’s David Sirota, who obtained an email exchange between one of Sessions’ people and Colorado officials. The one-page email is brief and is only an information request, but it is one of the first concrete signs of federal interest in state-level marijuana under the Trump era. Which means it is guaranteed to make marijuana industry types worried about a job-killing federal crackdown a little more nervous.

Through email, a Denver-based DEA agent asked a Colorado state prosecutor, “Are you able to provide me the state docket numbers for the following cases? Some of our intel people are trying to track down info regarding some of DEA’s better marijuana investigations for the new administration. Hopefully it will lead to some positive changes.”

As IBT noted, the exchange came about two weeks after White House press secretary Sean Spicer first raised the specter of “greater enforcement” around legal marijuana on February 23. The next several weeks were full of public sabre-rattling from Sessions, who sought counsel from the attorney general of nearby Oklahoma before comparing marijuana unfavorably to heroin.

The cases referenced by the DEA are ongoing prosecutions. These are situations in which the state of Colorado, where marijuana is legal, has identified illegal activity pertaining to marijuana. We don’t know what cases the DEA agent is asking about (Sirota and IBT do not say), but we suspect it stems from one of the many multi-agency raids from last year.

The DEA was a partner agency on at least a few of them, but all of them targeted illegal farming and interstate marijuana trafficking. Twenty more sites were raided by DEA agents working with local law enforcement in mid-March, 10 days after the email, but a DEA spokesman told the AP at the time that those raids were in the works for “months” and did not have anything to do with a Trump-era directive

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Marijuana Stocks / Cannabis industry was given some legislative salvation on taxes by members of Congress. The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017, introduced in the House by Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and in the Senate by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to take normal business deductions like any other legal business. The tax code provision, 280E, prevents marijuana businesses from taking regular business deductions related to sales.

Tax Code 280E came to life during the Reagan years when a convicted cocaine trafficker wanted to take a tax deduction for his illicit business. The idea was rejected by Congress and 280E was designed to keep other drug dealers from doing the same thing. The code says that a person can not take a business deduction if that business trades in a controlled substance.

Because marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, marijuana companies have been unable to take the standard deductions that most companies take for granted. National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) executive director Aaron Smith stated, “Cannabis businesses aren’t asking for tax breaks or special treatment. They are just asking to be taxed like any other legitimate business. NCIA and its members appreciate this strong support for a fair approach, and we’re especially proud to newly gain that support from Representative Curbelo.”

If you aren’t a business owner you may not realize that this is typically how profits are calculated. They start with gross income, subtract expenses to determine taxable income, and then pay taxes on this final amount. Since marijuana companies cannot deduct expenses, they pay taxes on the higher amount, which can sometimes be 70 percent or more, according to NCIA.

Smith stated, “State-legal cannabis businesses have added tens of thousands of jobs, supplanted criminal markets, and generated tens of millions in new tax revenue. States are clearly realizing the benefits of regulating marijuana and we are glad to see a growing number of federal policy makers are taking notice.”

Co-founder of cannabis edible company Zoots said, Dan Devlin said, “Our industry contributes to local communities just like any other sector, and it’s estimated the legal marijuana industry will contribute $730 million in tax revenue to Washington alone in 2018-2019. However, current tax codes place legal marijuana businesses at a disadvantage to succeed and make profits because we’re not permitted to deduct standard businesses expenses from our federal taxes. It’s important we are taxed fairly and this legislation could have a huge impact on the industry’s potential to grow and prosper.”

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The quality of the cannabis the United States government provides to scientists may be impacting the results of their studies, experts say. The issue made national headlines after Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), shared photos of the marijuana provided by the only facility licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration to produce cannabis for clinical research. The facility is located at the University of Mississippi and is run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Doctor Sisley is studying marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in United States veterans. Sisley stated, “It didn’t resemble cannabis. It didn’t smell like cannabis.” We asked Jake Browne, who is a cannabis critic for the Denver Post’s marijuana news site, the Cannabist, and co-founder of The Grow-Off, a statewide cannabis growing competition, what he thought about the cannabis seen in the photos. Browne said, “It’s unlike any weed I’ve ever seen, and that includes really low grade stuff I’d get as a kid in Iowa. It looks like it’s mostly stems and leaves, and that stuff is better for giving you headaches than getting you high.”

Brown stated, “It should be covered in trichomes, or frosty-looking resin glands, and have much higher density than what Dr. Sisley is working with. As a rule of thumb, you want your buds intact and no smaller than a piece of popcorn, with a green or purple hue to them.” Additionally, PBS reported that some of the samples provided by NIDA were contaminated with mold and others didn’t match the chemical potency Sisley had requested for the study. She stated, “One sample, billed as having a 13% level of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, had just 8% when tested at the independent facility in Colorado.”

According to the Washington Post, recreational cannabis available in Colorado ranges from an average of about 19% THC to 30% or more. Sisley stated, “There’s no telling how many subjects in past studies were exposed. Honestly, it seems like [the National Institute on Drug Abuse] is playing a joke on Dr. Sisley,” Browne stated. “High potency cannabis can cause anxiety and paranoia, so when you’re talking about a study on PTSD, that seems very relevant to me. With pot in our state regularly testing at three times the potency of what they supplied to her, it’s not acceptable.” The only facility approved by the DEA to grow marijuana for clinical studies is at the University of Mississippi and is run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

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Recently the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), somehow managed to shuffle bureaucratic paperwork— making CBD oil a bit more illegal— federally. The Federal Register contains a clause (21 CFR Part 1308), which establishes a new drug code for “cannabis extract.”

“This code,” states Chuck Rosenberg; DEA Acting Administrator, “will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana.” The Register entry explained this was done in order to make the United States compliant with international drug-control treaties.

This Register item did not bring about any major changes in law. Instead; it was intended to reinforce the DEA’s stance on all marijuana extracts, making it clear that CBD oil is included. Their stance being that both marijuana and CBD are federally illegal Schedule I substances.

“Extracts of marihuana will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances,” the notice states.

Hemp derived CBD oil is currently available nationwide, either on web sites or by mail order. These companies are surviving under the assumption that cannabidiol products are legal as long as their THC percentage in hemp is 0.3 percent or less. The DEA is now saying this is not the case.

Rosenberg directly asked—What if it’s only cannabidiol (CBD) and no other cannabinoids?— in the DEA comment on the entry. The agency responded: “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code;” which signifies it remains federally illegal. What the DEA is saying is that they are confident they can find sufficient traces of other cannabinoids in your CBD oil to arrest and prosecute. However; if they cannot, they have the choice of arresting and prosecuting based on the CBD oil itself.

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be the next Attorney General of the United States. Sessions is an Alabama senator. He has previously been criticized due to racial comments he has made. Republicans on a Senate committee stopped his nomination for federal judge in 1986 following comments he made (after former colleagues testified) such as: using the n-word, agreeing with someone who said a white lawyer who represents black defendants is a “race traitor” and addressing African-American lawyers as “boy.” Sessions also stated he considers the Voting Rights Act “an intrusive piece of legislation.”

His most repulsive comment was a “joke” saying he thinks the Ku Klux Klan is “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” Sessions is not enthusiastic about weed. Recently, at a Senate hearing this year; he said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” adding:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. You can see the accidents, traffic deaths related to marijuana. And you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have, I think.”

It has been proven to be false that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Research results have also cast doubt on the traffic death claim. (When “age and alcohol are factored in,” The Washington Post reports, “THC didn’t appear to play huge role in deadly car accidents.”) Sessions’ negativity towards cannabis goes way back to the Reagan era. “I think one of [Obama's] great failures, it’s obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana. It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started ‘Just Say No.’”

If Sessions gives the federal government orders to crack-down on users and dispensaries in legal-weed states, it would be in direct conflict with the “states’ rights” philosophy that supposedly governs modern conservatism. That is; however, what led him to refer to a federal law that defended the voting rights of African-American citizens in his state as “intrusive.”

It is quite obvious that the Drug War and race have some correlation. African-American defendants’ sentences are 20 percent longer than their white counterparts. As per the ACLU, African-Americans are more likely to be subject to two-strike and three-strike laws. This is horrible for nonviolent drug offenders (and disproportionate): A study from 2013 found over 3,000 people are currently in prison for life due to nonviolent drug crimes; of which sixty-five percent are black. In Louisiana (next to Sessions’ Alabama), ninety one percent of the prisoners serving life for nonviolent offenses were black.

It is no surprise Sessions is strongly against marijuana. The concern is whether or not Trump will allow him to do some damage. Trump stated during his campaign that marijuana policy was best left to the states. We will soon see if his administration will put their money where their mouth is.

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Forensic labs throughout Canada will most likely be overwhelmed with samples of blood, urine, saliva and hair as soon as recreational marijuana becomes legal. This is what Public Safety Canada is concerned about as the government moves forward towards legalization of marijuana. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised legislation will be finalized by spring and a distribution system should be in place by the beginning of 2018.

Ottawa said that it expected an increase in the amount of people using marijuana as it becomes legal; therefore, meaning more people abusing marijuana. Public Safety Canada published documents Monday morning stating that as usage increases, police may be doing more testing for the presence of weed.

“It should be expected that the number of samples requiring lab analysis will increase dramatically once cannabis is legalized, simply because the police will be reacting to the new regime with a similar approach as they do for driving under the influence of alcohol,” the documents note.

“Roadside checks and random screening of drivers for drugs will likely occur more often, thus increasing the number of samples that will need to be tested for drugs.”

The government is looking to hire an outside contractor to find out if labs across Canada can handle the large amounts of samples anticipated. 80 labs to be surveyed’ As per the documents, the contractor will send out questionnaires to approximately eighty Canadian labs as well as some American labs. The final report should provide suggestions for avoiding backlogs.

Christine Nielsen, CEO of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) says that the fact that American labs are being included in the study implies Canada may be looking for help to keep up with the increased workload. “They may already know there’s no capacity in Canada,” Nielsen said. “That would be what we call a ‘send out.’ That means it has to go somewhere for timely testing.”

She adds that different provinces will have different capacities of testing samples, depending highly on the form of test that will be utilized to measure the drugs in one’s system.

“Especially when you’re dealing with a justice case, (the tests) are life altering,” Nielsen said. “We just want to make sure that the facilities that are assigned this work have the proper standards in place.”

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Nathaniel P. Morris is a resident doctor at Stanford Hospital specializing in mental health. He recently wrote a strongly worded op-ed for ScientificAmerican.com on the views between how some people in the medical community look at marijuana and how the federal government regulates it.

“The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription opioids doesn’t reflect what we see in clinical medicine.”

In medicine, using medical marijuana is often seen on the same level as using tobacco or caffeine – something we advise patients about stopping or limiting, however, nothing serious to treat or is immediately life-threatening. Morris highlights that unreasonable drinking causes 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC. The medical and research alliances have been aware for some time that cannabis is one of the more harmless things you can put in your body relative to other illegal drugs.

A recent longitudinal study discovered that using cannabis for long periods of time is about as bad for your physical health as not flossing. The experts ranked pot as less harmful to both users and to society than either tobacco or alcohol, or indeed than many other recreational drugs, such as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine.

However, major medical associations, such as the American Medical Association, have not changed views on marijuana, other groups, such as the California Medical Association, are now openly calling for marijuana legalization. This year has also seen the development of the nation’s first medical physician group dedicated to legalizing marijuana, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.

The federal strategy to marijuana has stood at odds with the science on the drug for more than 10 years.

In the years since there have been hundreds of thousands of arrests for cannabis possession each year, people have lost their homes and their property over suspicion of marijuana use, and decades of racially-biased policing practices have decimated many minority communities.

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Years after Colorado completely legalized the offer of cannabis, most banks there still don’t offer administrations to the organizations related. Budgetary establishments are stuck between state law that has legalized pot and government law that bans it. Banks’ government controllers don’t completely perceive such organizations and force onerous reporting prerequisites on banks that manage them. This has been a great burden to the cannabis industry, but it looks like that is going to change soon.

Last week, the United States Senate Appropriations Committee approved an addition to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that is going to make it easier for banks to provide services to the cannabis industry. At the moment, many banks are scared to open up accounts for cannabis businesses because of federal penalties. As a result, many marijuana businesses have been operating simply on cash.

“More than half of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal for adult or medical use,” Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, stated. “Millions of marijuana consumers are relying on licensed and regulated businesses to provide them with safe and legal access to marijuana.”

“Current federal policy all but ensures marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, which raises safety concerns for their employees and the surrounding communities,” Capecchi added. “This measure should ease financial institutions’ concerns about opening accounts for these state-legal businesses.”

For this bill to become law, the entire Senate would need to pass the appropriations bill. In addition to that, the House must then take on similar lexicon in its Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. Finally, the final step would be the approval of the president. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a similar amendment last year, however, it was not included in the last spending bill.

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It seems as though the chances of Georgia allow its cannabis oil possession law to add a growing and selling system that permits patients to obtain medicine without getting into trouble with the federal government were extremely small as the New Year approached. However, a recent growth from one of the state’s legislative gatekeepers shows that a bill with the goal of allowing all patients to have medical marijuana could possibly be considered in 2016.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston stated that this was “the next step” as he announced that he stood behind a bill submitted by Allen Peake, a Representative. The proposal’s goal is to loosen 2015’s extremely strict Haleigh’s Hope Act by making a system that would allow a few marijuana farmers make shops throughout the state and give marijuana products to patients suffering from certain diseases.

Last year, when Peake’s fight to legalize medical marijuana for those who actually needed it was brought out of the state legislature, it was barely manageable because of the tremendous political heat it undertook so that it would not be rejected by the Georgia State Capitol. Nathan Deal, a governor, did now allow for Haleigh’s Hope to permit without provisions that allowed for medical marijuana to be grown in Georgia, so the proposal was changed to give patients the ability to have a determined amount of cannabis oil without the worry of being arrested by the state.

Be that as it may, the main way the law would permit this medication to be obtained is by making patients sneak it in from a legitimate state, opening members up to government drug trafficking charges for intersecting state lines with a Schedule I controlled substance. This is the problem Peake plans to dispense with in 2016. The legislator’s present proposition – House Bill 722 – would build up a development framework in Georgia that would permit cannabis oil items to be delivered and sold by up to six producers. Equivalent to comparative measures legalized all through the country, the law would institute a seed to deal following framework for observant law authorization and place administering in the hands of prepared drug specialists.

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Unlike what you may have been informed of, Congress did not tacitly remove the federal ban on medical cannabis. It did not lift the ban with a bang either. In fact, the federal ban was not lifted at all. Instead, here is what really happened.

In December 2014, Congress approved a spending proposal that incorporated a rider denying the Justice Department (which incorporates the Drug Enforcement Administration) from utilizing stores appropriated by that bill to keep states from executing their medical cannabis laws. The same rider, supported by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), was incorporated into the spending piece approved by Congress a month ago. That implies it will stay in power for another financial year.

Both times, sundry news outlets hyperbolized the effect of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, swaying various medical cannabis activists to believe wrongly that Congress had legalized it. Evan Halper, a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, led the way in 2015 with an article titled “Congress Quietly Ends Federal Government’s Ban on Medical Marijuana.”

Halper stated that the rider “effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana” as well as “brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana.” He adds that states that allow medical marijuana “no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations,” since “agents would be prohibited from doing so.” At best, it was an extremely optimistic approach. Halper was not the only one overselling the rider.

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