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Congress is repeating history by yet again blocking the Justice Department from spending any money that interferes with state medical marijuana laws.

In their recently revealed budget bill, lawmakers included a section, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, that allows states to carry on with crafting their own medical marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention. The bill, which funds the government through the end of September, is expected to pass this week.

Here’s the full text of the marijuana provision:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

It’s not uncommon to find this tucked into a budget bill; legislators have been renewing the medical marijuana provision in every consecutive budget since it initially passed back in 2014. However what it reveals is that Congress is not interested in stepping up federal oversight of state marijuana laws under the Trump administration, even as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions implies that he wants to crackdown on marijuana laws.

He issued an ominous warning back in February to states with legalized marijuana. “States, they can pass the laws they choose,” Sessions said at a Justice Department press briefing.

“I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

He has also said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and that cannabis is only “slightly less awful” than heroin. Last year, heroin was responsible for nearly 13,000 fatalities. Still, top this day no one has ever died from overdosing in marijuana.

Jeffrey Zucker, president of the cannabis business strategy firm Green Lion Partners, praised lawmakers for sticking with the status quo.

“Medical cannabis patients in the U.S. can rest easy knowing they won’t have to return to the black market to acquire their medicine,” Zucker stated. “Operators can relax a bit knowing their hard work isn’t for naught and their employees’ jobs are safe.”

In theory, Sessions could still take action against states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Eight states and the District of Columbia have laws like this, and they are not shielded by the language in the budget bill.

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California was already known as a major cannabis producer well before it legalized recreational marijuana in November. The state’s marijuana crop is not only the most profitable product in the nation’s biggest agricultural state, it is much farther ahead of the next most popular crop, according to the Orange County Register. California’s mild climate made Central Valley the breadbasket of the world at one time and provided the United States with fruits and vegetables that grew in very few other places. However, the biggest crop in California’s assorted bounty is currently marijuana.

The Orange County Register places the value of California’s marijuana crop above the top five best agricultural goods combined using data from the State Department of Food and Agriculture: Marijuana at $23.3 billion, Milk at $6.28 billion, Almonds at $5.33 billion, Grapes at $4.95 billion, Cattle/Calves at $3.39 billion, and Lettuce at $2.25 billion. The figure of $23.3 billion for the marijuana crop is almost three times what Arcview Market Research predicted that California’s legal market would be after legalization of recreational marijuana.

According to the California Protected Area Database, the total area of protected land in California is 49 million acres, which is a large amount for the most populous state in the country. This includes 1.3 million acres of state park land and more than 20 million acres of national forest.

California marijuana producers are clearly growing billions of dollars worth of pot in these areas that are not being accounted for by the state’s legal market. However, with most of the marijuana on the U.S. market coming from California, as Alternet pointed out, the phenomenon of growing on protected land won’t stop until people in states like New York and Florida can grow their own.

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In nine states on Tuesday, marijuana legalization measures will appear on the ballot. With this new legalization, investment opportunities are inviting money from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and publicly traded companies.However, a lot of this new money is avoiding directly investing in marijuana agriculture and sales, which is still illegal under federal law. They are investing in auxiliary products such as grow lights, payroll services, and software.New investors are flocking to get a piece of this market that some people estimate will reach $50 billion throughout the next decade.

Sports empire scion, Lindy Snider and Silicon Valley angel investor, Fulton Connor are jumping on the bandwagon and investing in software that links growers and retailers. Even Scotts Miracle-Gro, a gardening product manufacturer, knows this industry is about to get big. The company has spent millions of dollars acquiring other companies that sell lighting, soil, fertilizer, and other various products to marijuana growers. Scotts’ chairman and CEO Jim Hagedorn told Forbes that marijuana was “the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden.”

Microsoft Corp is getting its feet wet in the industry by partnering with Kind Financial to develop software to allow government regulators to follow marijuana from farm to market. Investors believe if California legalizes recreational marijuana use, “…it would triple the size of the legal market,” said financial services firm Cowen and Company analyst Vivien Azer.

Many Wall Street firms have also started to get involved and guide their clients on how to do well in this market. Merrill Lynch and Cowen have released reports on opportunities to help provide advice to their clients. However, to fully realize the potential of marijuana, federal law needs to be aligned with state legalization laws. People are going crazy to get in to the market before it blows up and they plan on making a lot of profit of their endeavors

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Marijuana merchants continue to face difficulty in depositing their cash with banks fearful of possible repercussions enforced by the federal government. The numbers are increasing however with a 45% increase in banks working with marijuana businesses in the last year. Still merchants face the difficulty of an all-cash business by stashing cash in storage units, back offices, and armored vans. Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado three years ago, almost 600 dispensary robberies have been reported in Denver.

Those in favor of marijuana legalization believe the November 8th election could have a major impact on the federal laws thus giving fearful banks a reason to get involved. Nine states including Florida and California are scheduled to vote, an outcome that could result in 34 states sanctioning marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, an estimated $23B in annual sales. An industry that large must be able to engage in business with banks as that is a lot of cash floating around, prompting a federal decision to be made.

One conflict of interest banks face is the requirement from the Treasury Dept. to report suspected drug crimes, while in 2014 the Justice Department said it would not prosecute banks for serving state-sanctioned pot businesses. According to the Treasury Department, 301 banks were serving marijuana businesses.
That National Cannabis Association has been lobbying for a law that would ensure banks face no consequences for handling marijuana cash.

Some states have tried their own remedies to the problem, for example: Colorado created a credit union system for state-sanctioned marijuana businesses that fell apart when the Kansas City Federal Reserve denied a Colorado pot credit union access to the national payments system. According to Tom Dresslar spokesman for California’s Department of Business Oversight, California has no plans to develop such

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A complete and fully operational legal market for medical marijuana in Michigan could lead down a road to millions of dollars in new state tax revenue. New ordinances for the state’s medical marijuana industry, which was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder and shall start taking effect in December, will require a 3 percent excise tax on dispensaries’ gross sales receipts. Additional income which is more certain to pile up if marijuana retail sales are subject to Michigan’s 6 percent sales tax – to the sum of $42.7 million – and with the collection of state and local licensing expenses.

Michigan has the potential to be the third-largest state medical marijuana market by 2020, with $556 million in predicted sales for that year, according to a report from ArcView Market Research. The Tax Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., forecast in May that a mature cannabis industry could produce as much as $28 billion in tax revenue at federal, state and local levels. The Tax Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., anticipate in May that a more developed cannabis industry could produce as much as $28 billion in tax nrevenue at federal, state and local levels.

“The industry supporters, the people advocating for it, want to tax it because they view as a step toward legitimizing it,” stated Joe Henchman, vice president of legal and state projects for the Tax Foundation.

The Tax Foundation analyzed tax structures in the four states that legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana; several initially imposed tax rates in the double digits, according to the Tax Foundation.
Colorado charges a 15 percent tax on the wholesale marijuana price and a 10 percent state tax on the sales price; the latter will go to 8 percent in July 2017, according to the Tax Foundation.

Washington state charges a 37 percent excise tax on the retail sales price, while Oregon levies a 25 percent excise tax on the sales price; Oregon’s rate will fall to 17 percent later this year. Dropping rates could be a way to ensure taxes are “Not so high that it’s inducing people to go and find a black market dealer.” Gary Wolfram, William E. Simon professor of economics and public policy at Hillsdale College, in February published a report estimating that Michigan’s excise and sales tax windfall from the new regulations would range from $44.3 million to $63.5 million annually.

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The grass might be a bit of brighter shade of green on the other side of legalization, however, it is definitely cheaper. According to Bloomberg, the typical legal marijuana user spends only $647 per year on weed. A marijuana intelligence firm, Headset Inc., examined approximately 40,000 dispensary purchases that were made in Washington State from September 2014 to July 2016 and discovered that the average recreational cannabis user is a 37-year-old man who spends $647 a year on marijuana, with roughly 19.5 days between purchases.

Bloomberg reports that while the average age of legal marijuana consumers is 37, millennials make most of the pot purchases, with over 50 percent of consumers aged 21 to 34. According to the data, customers in their twenties spend an average of $27 per purchase but make pot shop visits more often than other peers, an average of every 2 weeks. Comparatively, those in their thirties visit every 18.2, and those in their forties visit every 20 days, with the average spend per trip also being higher with age.

“As you’re older, you might have more money to go and make bigger purchases,” Headset co-founder Cy Scott explained. “The millennials might be out and about more; they can drop into [marijuana dispensaries] more often. Older people might just plan more.”

In terms of biggest annual spenders, that would be Generation X. The data shows that legal pot consumers in their forties spend approximately $823 annually and those in their fifties spend $753.

And the price of cannabis continues to decline in legalized states, currently at a rate of two percent per month with the possible to shrink 25 percent each year. Of course, we do not all have the leisure of living where marijuana is legal, and if our monthly THMQ shows us anything, it is that the average U.S. cannabis user is most likely paying much more than $647 per year for weed.

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Here is a look at how big the market for legal marijuana is. According to a new report from a large cannabis industry investment and research firm, legal pot sales grew seventeen percent to $5.4 billion, in 2015 and can grow by an impressive twenty-five percent in 2016 to generate $6.7 billion in total United States sales. These numbers are extremely high, especially when one realizes that the first legal cannabis shop opened just two years ago.

ArcView Market Research released its 4th edition of The State of Legal Marijuana Markets report on Monday, which projects the legal marijuana market to see a great $21.8 billion in total annual revenue by 2020. In comparison, the legal cannabis market could be much larger than the National Football League, which is looking to reach $25 billion by 2027 although they only made $12 billion in 2015.

ArcView predicts the legal marijuana market to present a CAGR of approximately thirty percent up until 2020. “I think that we are going to see in 2016 this next wave of investors, the next wave of business operators, and people who’ve sort of been watching or dipping their toe in, really starting to swing for the fences and take it really seriously,” c, ArcView CEO, said.

ArcView Market Research, a section of marijuana industry investor network ArcView Group, typically gives some of the most reliable numbers and projections on the market for legal pot. In November, ArcView joined another marijuana industry analytics firm, New Frontier, in order to publish and produce their 2016 annual report. Apparently, the partnership has resulted in “by far the most comprehensive report,” according to Dayton. Instead of looking only at medical and legal dispensary sales, the report focused on all possible cannabis products, including delivery services which grow the drug and deliver it themselves.

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The United States has been looking to discover any confirmation that the left-wing administration of Venezuela is polluted by drug-trafficking. However, now it would appear that a Florida police authority might have been co-selected by the Venezuelan drug-networks.

Government powers are stating that for a long time since 2010, police in Bal Harbor, Miami-Dade Region, piped millions in drug cash into the financial balances of Venezuelans—including William Amaro Sánchez, now exceptional right hand to President Nicolás Maduro. The assumed objective was to upset the systems. However, this alleged sting operation created millions for a neighborhood police team and never made an arrest. The story in the Miami Herald leaves it marginally vague whether this was corruption or an operation that surpassed its jurisdictional limits.

“They had no authority to do what they were doing,” former chief inspector of the DEA Felix Jimenez stated. “They were just lucky that when they were picking up all this money, nobody got killed.”

Federal agents working in the United States’s attorney’s office are now looking into the plan headed by the Tri-County Task Force, a collusion between Bal Harbour and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, involving $2.4 million that police earned for running the deals.

“It’s absurd. You’re a Bal Harbour police officer, your jurisdiction is local,” Jimenez added. “They were just laundering money for the sake of laundering money.”

Three times cash was wired to David Habib Hannaoui Babik, which was under scrutiny for IRS evasion in Venezuela. By transferring drug cash to Hannaoui, the Florida police were really working against with Venezuelan agents, who were attempting stop his criminal venture, Jimenez reported to the Herald.

“They facilitated a money-laundering operation,” he concluded. “It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

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A major argument for the legalization of marijuana is that is a great benefit for the economy, but those against marijuana claim that this is false. However, the statistics do not lie; a report from the Denver Post states that a study conducted by the Colorado Tourism Office revealed that almost fifty percent of those who visited Colorado did so because of the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Overall, the tourism board of Colorado put over $5.3 million on an ad campaign called “Come to Life” this summer to attract tourists to the state. However, there was no mention of cannabis on any of the print, television, billboard, or digital ads. The ad campaign apparently brought in 2.1 million leisure trips, which generated $2.6 billion for Colorado. Even better, for every dollar spend on the vacation promotion in 2015, $490 was generated, while every dollar generated just $344 in 2014.

Of course, it is not likely that all of the extra tourism has come from marijuana sales, but we can conclude that a good portion of it is. The survey states that only 8% of participants actually went to a legal marijuana shop in Colorado while on vacation. The same survey in 2014 showed another eight percent going to marijuana shops. Also, in 2014, 29% of the 8% who visited a marijuana shop claim to have visited Colorado for marijuana. In 2015, though, 85% of the 8% said they came to Colorado for marijuana. This shows that some of the positive economic impact seen in Colorado can be attributed to marijuana.

The researchers who conducted the study highlighted that there was a mix of positive and negative impacts, though. But, in the end, results show that marijuana is bringing in tourists to Colorado as well as other recreational states as well.

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Early on in December, Bank of America Merrill Lynch released a research report projecting the future of the cannabis industry. This is one of the first research reports from a major financial institution, so a milestone has been reached in one of the fastest-growing industries that is seeking more recognition and the profits that come along with that recognition. However, the report makes it evident that cannabis still has a long way to go till it is considered a normal industry.

At the moment, 23 states have legalized some form of cannabis, most of which are medical. Four states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Also, next election day, California and, at least, five other states are likely going to hold a vote on cannabis legalization. In 2014, legal marijuana was the quickest growing sector in the United States, grossing $2.7 billion. According to the report, this year will not be different and by 2020, the industry can generate up to $35 billion. However, legal marijuana is still a minor American industry since there are just a few growers, manufacturers, and sellers throughout the country.

The report is called “Medical Cannabis has high POTential: A joint biotech and tools Primer” and actually is of benefit to marijuana because it approaching the crop seriously. The focus of the article is on the medical side, including sections of drugs derived from cannabis to treat a wide variety of ailments, including schizophrenia, type II diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorders and even types of cancer. Marijuana advocates believe that crop has many more uses that the country just has not seen yet. The report is sure to mention this and attest to the possibility.

“The good news out of all this is it just opens [Wall Street’s] eyes to an investment scene that they may not even appreciate yet,” stated analyst Alan Brochstein, whose businesses 420 Investor and New Cannabis Ventures focus on the marijuana industry and finance. However, he states that the report lacks “actionable information” that would sway a potential investor.

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