December 28, 2014

Changing Company Policies and Marijuana in the Workplace

Legalization of marijuana means that employers will likely have to change their policies. Previously, employers have had the right to drug test employees before hiring or could randomly drug test an employee. In the event that an employee tested positive, employers had a reason to terminate. But, now that the legal landscape is changing and many employees are legally able to use marijuana, either for recreational or medicinal purposes, employers are going to have to change their policies. With over 23 states legalizing marijuana for medical uses, and Colorado and Washington have paved the way for recreational use--what does this mean for employee rights?
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Employers based in states where the laws have changed in the past couple years have had to reevaluate and reshape their pot policies. Many are still wondering, can they fire an employee who tests positive for marijuana use? Can employers legally maintain a "drug-free workplace?" Understanding the local, state, and federal laws can be confusing for individual employees, as well as human resources departments. Businesses must maintain an awareness of how laws affect their rights as employers and take into consideration the new rights of their employees.

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December 22, 2014

Court: Feds Lost Opportunity to Seize San Francisco Dispensary

A federal judge ruled that the government lost its opportunity to seize a medical marijuana dispensary when it accepted $150,000. In May 2013, the federal government filed a forfeiture complaint against the owners of a property in San Francisco. The complaint accused the tenant of selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of the school, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The landlords agreed to pay $150,000 in lieu of forfeiting their interest in the property. They also admitted that the property was admitted to being used to sell marijuana (which, subjects the property to forfeiture law).
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A federal judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the court no longer has jurisdiction over the real property because it collected the sum of money. According to Courthouse News, the settlement agreement nullified any claims that the government would have had to seize the property. After collecting the $150,000, the government alleged that the property owners would have to do more than pay the initial amount. The government claimed that the property owners would also have to satisfy additional terms in the settlement agreement. Though these terms were not explicitly discussed in the claim, the judge assumed that the government was referring to a clause that required the property owners to "assist the United States in good faith."

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December 20, 2014

Budget Bill Includes Historic Measure to End DOJ Enforcement

Despite the changing tides for entrepreneurship in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana sales and use, many business owners are still hesitant given the potential for Department of Justice involvement or DEA enforcement of federal law. A historic measure similar to the one passed by the House earlier this year would end DOJ and DEA interference in states where marijuana has been legalized. The House and Senate have developed a budget bill that includes an amendment to curb federal enforcement in states where medical marijuana is legal.
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The measure was originally passed in May by the House in a 219-189 vote and aims to prohibit the DOJ from using taxpayer dollars to undermine state medical marijuana laws. This is a giant step forward for patients, healthcare providers, as well as medical marijuana dispensary owners in California. In addition to extending patient protection, the law is also in agreement with American voters who have passed laws to legalize marijuana for medical use. The law gives patients protection against federal intervention and prosecution and prevents valuable tax dollars from being spent on investigating and prosecuting marijuana crimes. Advocates for medical marijuana have applauded the Congressional action in protecting the rights of patients and ending the decades-long attack on members of the medical marijuana community.

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December 18, 2014

Legalization and the Impact on Mexican Trade

Legalization of marijuana is not only shifting individual usage patterns, local markets, and medical treatment options--it is also having an impact on the global marijuana industry. While Colorado and Washington have completely legalized recreational use, over half of states have legalized marijuana for medical use. More legal growing operations in the United States means that more Americans are buying "Made in America" pot, and that has severely undercutting growers, profits and cartels in Mexico.
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According to a recent NPR report, growers in Mexico have seen a significant decline in profits and in the value of their crops. While a kilo of marijuana was worth $60 to $90 a couple years ago, it is now only worth $30 or $40 per kilo. Many growers in Mexico are worried that legalization in the U.S. overtime could put them out of business. Workers on the communal crops are owned by the cartels but are worked by young laborers who are paid around $150 per month. They are provided with the tools for growing and are responsible for all aspects of producing and the packaging of the marijuana.

Film, television, and other images of Mexican traffickers may look more like overcompensated cartel operators, but the truth is that many of the workers are just low-wage farmers seeking to support their families. Growing pot and pot farms in Mexico have given many people a livelihood, that could be lost overtime if America legalizes marijuana. It is dangerous work for many of the farmers, as they are threatened by law enforcement and cartel operators. If the armed forces come to investigate, they are forced to run. At some point, low profits for their operations won't be worth the risk.

It isn't just farmers that have been concerned about legalization in the U.S. According to a report published by the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness in 2012, a slump in the economy was predicted in the event of legalization. The study was titled, "If Our Neighbors Legalize," and predicted that the cartels would see profits drop between 22 and 30% in the U.S. At one point, all of the weed being purchased and consumed in the States came from Mexico or further south, but now it is almost all homegrown, from the U.S. or Canada. One of the reasons that Americans prefer domestic grown pot is because of the trade and association with the cartels.

U.S. grown pot can be three or four times more expensive, but part of the reason is that it is grown and cultivated in high-tech greenhouses and is often much stronger than its Mexican counterpart. American cannabis typically has 10 to 20 percent THC where the THC in a Mexican strain has only 3 to 8 percent. Experts consider Mexican weed to be of a lower quality because it is grown outdoors in bulk and not cured the way it is in the states. According to a representative from the DEA operatives are also buying high-potency American weed and smuggling it back to Mexico. That was not an expected development, but it makes sense.

If you are a dispensary owner or medical marijuana card holder, it is important to know your rights. Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect your rights and keeping you abreast of changing marijuana laws.

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December 16, 2014

Pot Industry Breaks Stereotypes

Pot smoking has always been clouded with stereotypes--users were often considered druggies, hippies, or "stoners." Now that the legal landscape surrounding marijuana use is shifting, many of these stereotypes are lifting. In addition to more users coming out from the shadows, those who may not have been interested in pot use may be more compelled, for example, if they have been prescribed marijuana for medical use. Since Colorado legalized the use of marijuana in January 2014 pot has become a billion dollar business. For marketers, investors, and others cashing in on the marijuana business, making marijuana mainstream is a priority.

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Attracting users from all walks of life also means 'changing the face' of marijuana. To attract less common users, people must be aware that marijuana goes beyond stoner culture. This means that they are both legitimate business operations and that pot use is more than just hitting a bong in a college dorm room. In Colorado, business owners are savvy, using advanced technology in growing operations and in the office. Where people used to worry about getting busted for smoking pot, many of these operations are now in full effect and stationed near police departments.

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December 15, 2014

Marijuana as Criminal Business Means Higher Federal Taxes

Advocates urging marijuana legalization at the federal level are hoping to reform current federal tax code that treats state-approved cannabis stores as criminal enterprises. The change could take place in a mere matter of months. Currently, the IRS prevents any business that sells Schedule I or II illegal drugs from deducting expenses associated with sales. This means that state-legalized cannabis stores are not able to deduct expenses related to salaries, leases, advertising, marketing and other business expenses. Marijuana dispensaries and other distributors pay a tax rate of 70% more than other businesses.
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An Oregon representative has sponsored the Small Business Tax Equity Act, which would exempt state-licensed dispensaries from 280E, the section of the tax code that governs the issue. As part of the "war on drugs" Congress approved the section in 1982. As more states begin to legalize medical and recreational use, there is more incentive and momentum to protect small business owners and to level the playing field. Currently Colorado, Washington, and the District of Columbia have approved the recreational use of marijuana. Another 23 states have approved licenses for legal medical marijuana use. Nine other states passed bills allowing limited use of cannabis extract oil for individuals with epilepsy in 2014.

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December 14, 2014

One Year Later: Marijuana Health Effects in Colorado

With advocates and critics taking staunch positions on both sides of the marijuana legalization debate, important questions remain. How has legalization changed patterns of usage? Are patients seeing significant improvement when using medical marijuana? Have crime rates gone up or down in Colorado and Washington since recreational use was legalized? Are tax revenues worth other consequences of marijuana legalization? Among all of the questions that are raised regarding marijuana legalization, another issue is related to the health of citizens. Has overall health of citizens improved or declined since legalization? Has the rate of emergency room visits gone up?
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One year later, public health specialists are able to look at the overall patterns to determine how legalization has affected treatment, well-being, and other aspects of health. According to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, three Colorado emergency room physicians offered their perspective on how legalization has affected healthcare and wellness. Colorado has allowed medical marijuana for patients with chronic and debilitating medical conditions since 2000. More marijuana licenses were distributed after October 2009 when the Attorney General released guidance for local authorities and their responsibility for prosecuting marijuana offenses. Marijuana use became even more widespread and liberal after it was legalized for recreational use in 2014.

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December 12, 2014

Three Tons of Marijuana Seized on Hwy 1 and California Coast

State and federal law enforcement officials are always on the lookout for illegal drug activity. This includes illegal possession, distribution, and trafficking of marijuana. In the state of California, where medical marijuana has been legalized, illegal grow operations, the black market, and thousands of recreational users make the state ripe for drug crime investigations and arrests. According to local reports, seven people were arrested in November after authorities confiscated up to 6,000 pounds of marijuana.
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The investigation and drug bust occurred on Thanksgiving Day on California's Central Coast near San Luis Obispo. At approximately 3:30 in the morning, an officer pulled over a van driving along Highway 1 and found between 60 and 90 large bales of marijuana. Officers estimated that the marijuana being transported in the van weighed somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds. Immediately after discovering the drugs during the search, the driver was arrested and taken into custody.

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December 10, 2014

Young Migrants Flock to Humboldt for Harvest Season

Migrants seeking work have continued to descend upon Humboldt County to work at the center of the marijuana industry in California. The workers come from all over the world and take part in the marijuana harvest as "trimmers." According to an NPR report, "trimmers" are responsible for manicuring the buds so that they are prepared for the market. Locals refer to the harvesters as "trimmigrants."

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To understand the importance of trimming, it is critical to understand how marijuana plants grow. Marijuana grows like a bush and produces a flower or "marijuana bud." A trimmer is responsible for trimming the leaves and stems and shaping the marijuana buds. The process is part function, part aesthetic, as sellers want to make their weed stand out when it is sold at medical marijuana dispensaries or on the black market.
It is estimated that there are over 100,000 plants growing in the Humboldt County area and all must be harvested and processed in the same short period of time. Proper harvest prevents the plants from getting moldy and deterioration. The harvest season begins in September and extends through the month of November, the busiest time for those looking to work as trimmer. Trimmers are both men and women, many bring their backpacks and their pets, to enjoy the culture and the work afforded during the short time in Humboldt.

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December 8, 2014

Portable Breathalzyer Tests for Marijuana in Development

Officers who suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol can quickly test their own theory. In addition to field sobriety tests, officers can use a calibrated breathalyzer device which should correctly indicate the blood alcohol level of the driver. Nationwide, law enforcement departments are struggling with how to test whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana. The issues is especially problematic in states like Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use. Despite legalization, it is still illegal to drive when incapacitated or over a "legal limit."

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Testing drivers may become easier for law enforcement officers as researchers at Washington State University are working to develop a functional breath test for marijuana users. If successful, the test would allow authorities to detect the levels of THC active in the driver's blood. In the past, blood tests were used to determine levels of THC, and yet, critics pointed out that THC can appear in blood long after the effects have worn off. So will the new tests account for the disparity?

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December 6, 2014

Hazards of Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

The benefits of marijuana use compared to the potential risk of inhaling the drug have been hotly debated. Whether you are a recreational or medical marijuana user, a dispensary owner, or you are against the use of marijuana, you are likely impacted by a side effect of marijuana use--secondhand smoke. For decades, medical professionals, including physicians and researchers, have known that second hand tobacco smoke can be injurious, even leading to cancer. But what about secondhand marijuana smoke? Is it as dangerous? Should we be concerned about smoking marijuana when children are in the room?
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Recent research
indicates that marijuana secondhand smoke could also be hazardous. According to researchers who led the study, while many people already know the risk of secondhand cigarette smoke, they may not realize that secondhand marijuana smoke is also dangerous. To study the effect of marijuana smoke, researchers exposed laboratory rats to secondhand marijuana smoke through a machine, then tested blood flow and blood vessel functions at certain intervals during the test. The rats were examined using a high-resolution ultrasound machine that could look closely at blood vessel function during secondhand exposure. According to the reports, the rats were examined 10 minutes before the exposure and 40 minutes after exposure after being exposed for 30 minutes straight. Results indicated that the rats suffered a decline in blood vessel function by 70 percent.

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December 6, 2014

New Drug Could Curb Chronic Marijuana Use?

Medical marijuana proponents have found countless ways that properties of the plant can be used to treat physical and mental conditions. With more funds being invested into treatment potential, more patients are being offered medical marijuana alternatives to pharmaceuticals. What about a drug to treat marijuana dependence? With all of the talk about the benefits of medical marijuana, many still see the drug as hazardous with the potential to create dependent and addicted users. According to research, a new medication may become available to induce a natural marijuana high, in effect curbing marijuana use.

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According to reports, medical researchers are developing a medication useful in replenishing the supply of a molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain. In addition to becoming an alternative to the use of marijuana, proponents of the drug say that it may also be an answer in relieving mood, anxiety, and other emotional disorders. A team of researchers at Vanderbilt argue that the drug could help marijuana users who are dependent on the drug.

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December 4, 2014

Marijuana Can Help Fight Alzheimer's

Every year, Alzheimer's impacts the lives of millions of Americans. In addition to the victims of Alzheimer's, the families and loved ones of patients are devastating by the effects of the debilitating disease. Medical researchers, patients, and their loved ones, are growing enthusiastic about the potential for the treatment of Alzheimer's with cannabis. New research has also bolsters claims that the compounds in cannabis can be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's. In the September issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's, a recent study was published with support for previous evidence that THC can be therapeutic in treating the disease.

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According to public health reports, more than five million American's suffer from Alzheimer's. More than one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost the nation approximately $203 billion in 2013. Due to the significant impact that the condition has on patients and their families throughout the nation, a significant amount of attention has been paid to potential methods of treating or curbing the effects of Alzheimer's.

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December 3, 2014

Tips for California Marijuana Entrepreneurs

Nationwide, marijuana enthusiasts and smart entrepreneurs are looking in to cash-in on the growing pot industry. Depending on the state, some of these individuals and entities have already been laying the groundwork, using states like Colorado and Washington as models for potential successes and failures in the marijuana industry. For-profit ideas have included food and other marijuana products, delivery services, bed and breakfasts, and other businesses in a variety of industries, including service, real estate, and retail. In California, marijuana is still not available for medical use, but those in the business--or those who want to be a part of the business--can begin to take advice from leaders in the industry. They should also still be wary of the potential for criminal liability in the marijuana business, even if it is decriminalized in the state.

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Those considering joining the industry have come from all walks of life, from successful business persons to truck drivers, service workers, and executives. Some want to launch online businesses, others are looking to create skin care and beauty products. With more possibilities and growing consumer awareness of the potential benefits of marijuana products, individuals and entities nationwide are working to learn the tricks of the trade. What are some of the important secrets for would-be cannabis businesses owners? Here are a few tips:

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December 1, 2014

Marijuana Dining and Legal Complications

One of the most interesting shifts in the marijuana industry is from recreational "smokable" products to recreational food products. In Washington and Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal, entrepreneurs are seeking new ways to package and distribute cannabis, including food products. In addition to sweets, including brownies and cakes, known "marijuana foodies" are experimenting with a wide variety of dishes, including a steak with pot-infused brandy and other fine foods. But what are the limits of such food experiments? Where are they legal and how will the use play out in the restaurant industry?

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Recently, in Colorado, marijuana enthusiasts paid $250 for a weekend celebration of pot and food items, according to reports. And yet, the city and state have continued to prohibit any "open or public" use of the drug. This means that restaurants or events, even those who are licensed, may be limited to how they can use the drug. The limitation on open and public use places a clear restriction on the use and distribution of pot in restaurants. Is there still a future for the industry?

New marijuana laws in Colorado, Washington, and nationwide, mean a changing legal landscape and much uncharted territory. As entrepreneurs and enthusiasts expand beyond traditional means of using and distributing pot, they will also have to be aware of the legal limitations and regulations. On the other hand, pushing the envelope and raising voter and legislative support for certain activities could mean regulatory change in the future.

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Recent Entries

December 28, 2014 Changing Company Policies and Marijuana in the Workplace Legalization of marijuana means that employers will likely have to change their policies. Previously, employers...

December 22, 2014 Court: Feds Lost Opportunity to Seize San Francisco Dispensary A federal judge ruled that the government lost its opportunity to seize a medical marijuana...

December 20, 2014 Budget Bill Includes Historic Measure to End DOJ Enforcement Despite the changing tides for entrepreneurship in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana sales...

December 18, 2014 Legalization and the Impact on Mexican Trade Legalization of marijuana is not only shifting individual usage patterns, local markets, and medical treatment...

December 16, 2014 Pot Industry Breaks Stereotypes Pot smoking has always been clouded with stereotypes--users were often considered druggies, hippies, or "stoners."...

December 15, 2014 Marijuana as Criminal Business Means Higher Federal Taxes Advocates urging marijuana legalization at the federal level are hoping to reform current federal tax...