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Marijuana industry news September 6, 2013

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MPP places pro marijuana ad outside of NFL opener…

Marijuana Policy Project has proved to be invaluable in highlighting the truth about cannabis.  The group made headlines with their recent NASCAR ad and will not stop there. Their next target is the NFL and their policy on testing players for marijuana use.  An ad was placed outside of Denver’s Mile High Stadium that read ” Stop Driving Players to Drink.  A Safer Choice is Now Legal Here.”  NFL players have come under harsh criticism for the high number of DUI arrests among them.  The NFL permits drinking but comes down harsh on players testing positive for marijuana.  Players are suspended, for multiple games with former Miami Dolphin, Ricky Williams, being one if the most high profile examples of the policy.  Mason Tvert of MPP feels the NFL ‘s stance is contradictory and recently said “NFL players are being told that they can go out and get completely drunk, but face no punishment from the league, but if a player gets caught using marijuana, they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, forced to sit out games and deemed a troublemaker.”

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Oregon Reveals Plans for Marijuana Dispensaries…

Earlier this year Oregon lawmakers passed House Bill 3460, legislation aimed at creating a registry for medical marijuana providers.  Medical marijuana is already thriving g in Oregon with law enforcement officials estimating that over 100 dispensaries are operating.  So far there is little to no oversight so the implementation of HB3460 is crucial.  A committee to oversee the caregivers has been formed and will convene, for the first time on September 20th.  The committee, formed by  Tom Burns who also oversees the pharmaceutical industry, is made up of police officers, prosecutors, marijuana lobbyists, lawyers, and dispensary operators.  The committee expects to implant their rules by January 31, 2014.

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Justice Department Statement Will Not Immediately Solve IRS Problems For Marijuana Industry…

The statements by the Justice Department, last week, indicating they would respect state laws certainly was a boost for many patients and caregivers.  However, this is only step one.  Another major obstacle  to overcome has to do with finance.  Because of federal pressure, banks will not allow collectives to set up business accounts.  The result, an untraceable cash business that helps neither the Feds (they can’t easily follow an electronic paper trail if a dispensary is operating illegally) or collective operators who have to keep cash and marijuana on hand.  Armed security at dispensaries is also illegal.  This forces collectives to have a bulls eye on their backs.  Another issue for dispensary operators is the fact that they cannot deduct normal business expenses that allow other small businesses to keep their doors open. None of this benefits the patient and since prohibition appears dead the IRS should move quickly.  Of course it is likely they will not.

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Federal Data Shows Blacks Arrested in Much Higher Numbers for Marijuana

It has been a few difficult weeks for the Commander in Chief.  The IRS and justice department scandals have weighed heavily on the perception if the president.  The news does not seem to be getting much better.  As they say,  when it rains it pours. Recently released federal data shows that black Americans were arrested …continue reading

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Moving to Legalize Domestic Hemp

GW sow hemp

As the movement for the legalization of marijuana marches on people often forget about the Mary’s sister plant, industrial Hemp.  Both plants are members of the cannabis genus and both are illegal to grow or possess under Federal law.  They are two genetically distinct species with different properties.  Marijuana contains as much as 27% THC in its buds, leaves and trichomes.  Whereas hemp generally contains 0.3% or less THC (although some places do allow for it to contain 1% and remain classified as industrial hemp).  Furthermore the two plants are unsuited to be used interchangeably.  Marijuana is unsuited for industrial purposes such as paper, clothing and building goods due to the nature of growth of the plant fibers.  Similarly, industrial hemp will not get have the effects of smoked marijuana. It is very similar to the way that poppy seeds can make a person test positive for opium, but would produce get them “doped up”.

Since 1937 it has been illegal to cultivate both marijuana and hemp plants, aside from a special dispensation in WW2 (see “Hemp for Victory“).  Today many states have passed laws allowing for compassionate use of medical marijuana, but it is still illegal to domestically grow and distribute industrial hemp products.  This continues despite growing demands for hempen clothing, building supplies, fossil fuel substitutes, and food products.  However, it is legally allowed to import foreign hemp products.  To meet this demand, American companies must purchase goods from Canada, China and a few European countries.  This is a farce.  America (from the time of the colonies) was built on money provided by Hemp cash crops.  At this time we are relegated to sending hard-earned American dollars overseas (OK, Canada is not overseas) to buy raw seed and fiber and end-products that could easily be made here, at an economic benefit for Americans.  This market has nowhere to go except upward, especially as more Americans become aware of the many benefits (nutritional, agricultural, industrial, economical) presented by Hemp.

Currently, eighteen states have recent laws (within the last 20 years), bills, or amendments on the books or pending legislation seeking to allow for domestic cultivation of Industrial Hemp.  Many of those states have only first stage laws that require studies by state boards looking into economic and agricultural benefits.  Many of these studies are underway, but none have been completed.  Part of this is due to the political insecurity that arises from dabbling in marijuana laws.  Although attitudes have shifted greatly in the last several years, many politicians are still wary of endorsing anything marijuana-related.  Regardless of those studies, every bill has language reflecting the worries about Federal prosecution.  The caveats in the bills all mention that Federal statutes must either be overturned, rewritten, or researchers and farmers will require permits or dispensations from the DEA, DOJ or even IRS in order to grow hemp crops and be in compliance of state and federal laws.

The most recent states to challenge this Federal ban include Kentucky, Vermont, North Dakota, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Montana.  Members of Congress have also sought to change the laws.  In 2007, 2009, and 2011 they have introduced “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act” so that low potency cannabis crops would be exempted from the Federal ban.  The current measure, House Bill 1831 has numerous co-sponsors but has not received a Congressional hearing.  If passed, states would have the power to approve and regulate hemp cultivation and trade.  Last year, Hemp imports were valued at over four hundred million dollars.  This number is expected to increase this year and more in the future.  Hemp production could soon be valued at over $1 billion.  Taxed revenues from this business would do well to help offset American debt and trade deficits, if it was a domestic product.  Not only is this an incredibly useful plant, it is hardy and grows in poor soils that are unsuited for other crash crops.  Additionally, rotating hemp through poor soils helps to lock nutrients back into the earth so that other crops can grow better.  It also is a prime source for photosynthesis and carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate the problems posed by increased amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse chemicals present in the atmosphere.

As more information comes to light about hemp it seems that the cultivation of this plant is a win-win situation for the environment, the economy, and the people of our country.  Unfortunately, the same special interests (tobacco lobby, Big Pharma, Alcohol, fossil fuels) who secured the ban over seventy years ago still have enormous political clout.  Combined with the inordinate amount of false information and prejudice against the cannabis plant, those in favor of legalization face a stiff uphill battle.  More than ever it is incumbent upon us, we the people, to take an active role in our nation’s future and declare that this plant should not be denied to us.

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Romney Victories and Oaksterdam Raid May Motivate Marijuana Activists

romney

This week did not provide medical marijuana patients with the news they were hoping for.  Mitt Romney picked up precious delegates in the Republican primaries and has all but assured his position in general election. Unfortunately for patients, this means that the two main candidates campaigning for president of the United States do not seem willing to discuss sensible marijuana reform.  Advocates and patients were also disappointed to learn that the iconic Oaksterdam University was raided by federal agents.

Marijuana advocates have always had to assume a glass half full position and as always, there were some developments to rise out of the ashes of disheartening news.  On Tuesday Mitt Romney won the primaries in Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and Maryland.  The victories separate him from the rest of the pack and has produced an almost insurmountable lead for the former Massachusetts Governor.  Unless a political catastrophe occurs for team Romney, his lead in the delegate count (658 to Santorum’s 281), 1,144 needed in total) should be enough to secure the nomination. The election is now likely to shift from Republican infighting to the inevitable battle between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney.

Unfortunately for medical marijuana patients these are two candidates who do not appear ready to address the issue of reform with the American public.  President Obama has sidestepped the issue several times over the past few months and Mitt Romney has repeatedly made it clear that he does not support medical marijuana.  The good news is that another major political figure has reignited the issue of medical marijuana.  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson appeared on “The Colbert Report” earlier this week and was more than willing to engage in many social issues such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization.  Johnson may not have a particularly great chance at capturing the presidency, but he may offer a third party option that can generate more excitement than we have seen in recent years.  Any exposure the former New Mexico governor gets could put pressure on both Barack Obama and  Mitt Romney to explain why they are not supportive of compassionate relief.

Another blow to the medical marijuana community came in the form of a federal raid of Oaksterdam.  Federal authorities have not disclosed the exact reasons as to why they raided the university.  Reports do indicate that the IRS was involved, so the potential for profiting or tax issues could have caused the raid.  The university was set up to try and help legitimize marijuana and to promote education and safety.  There is still hope for a future University as supporters have vowed to reopen “The Princeton of Pot.” Supporters also suggested the federal government would be better off allocating resources toward the horrific shooting on the Oikos University campus.

The medical marijuana community has endured much more than a raid and presidential candidates ignoring them.  Many are forced to illegally acquire medicine and deal with the risk of being arrested if they seek relief.  The resiliency that the community has shown for decades is not easily shaken and will certainly not be deterred by stubborn political candidates or a building being closed.  Education is more than lectures in a brick and mortar building, and it cannot be suppressed.

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Medicinal Marijuana Industry News June 6, 2011

Week of June sixth, 2011 California congressman Pete Stark  (D- Fremont) lately introduced legislation that will allow legal marijuana shops to subtract business expenses using their federal taxes (like every other business within the U.S.).   The balance, H.R. 1985 is cosponsored by Republicans Ron Paul and Dana Rohrabacher.   Without the legislation, the government can continue …continue reading through

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