February 28, 2015

Mobile Marijuana Dispensaries Targeted by City Councils, Feds

Mobile medical marijuana dispensaries seemed to be a solution to a host of issues encountered by brick-and-motor locations. They could avoid issues with being too close to certain structures, such as schools or day care centers. They could deliver the medicine directly to patients who might otherwise be too ill to retrieve it themselves. They could move to areas as the demand shifted. There was less concern about civil asset forfeiture, and they created a reasonable means of entry into the industry.
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However, they have become a prime target of both federal authorities and local municipalities. Most recently, city council members in Pismo Beach, just south of San Luis Obispo, voted to outlaw mobile marijuana dispensaries.

The measure didn't come as a complete shock, however, as the city was merely updating its overall ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. There were no members of the public who showed up to speak on the issue, and council members had no discussion before passing the measure.

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February 27, 2015

Marijuana Munchies: Researchers Discover Neurological Link

U.S. researchers have long sought to explain the link between consumption of marijuana and the trigger in appetite - often referred to as "the munchies."
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The connection is significant not just for the potential spike in Twinkies sales, but because it's this aspect of the drug that is often touted by those with certain serious illnesses and treatments resulting in major and potentially life-threatening weight loss.

Still, the munchies remained mostly a mystery of the drug - until now. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine indicate they may have found - quite unexpectedly - the exact neurological responses behind the reaction.

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February 26, 2015

Marijuana Legislation Weighed by Ohio, Vermont

The patchwork of state laws pertaining to marijuana continues to be subject to even more stitching.
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When California passed its medical marijuana law in 1996, it was historical and revolutionary. Now, nearly two decades later, nearly half of all states have followed suit, four states plus the District of Columbia have allowed for the legalization of personal possession and consumption by adults and several more states have pending legislation. (There remains a ban on sales in D.C. amid Congressional interference.)

Among those currently weighing big changes are Ohio and Vermont, which are both considering legalization. It's worth noting that medical marijuana has been approved in Vermont since 2004, but it's still outlawed for all purposes in Ohio.

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February 25, 2015

Marijuana Dispensary Owners File Lawsuit Against Police for Raid

There has been extensive coverage over the last several years of incessant police raids and seizure of private property under an arcane federal law intended to deprive drug lords of their assets. policeline.jpg

Now, one couple from Michigan is fighting back with a civil lawsuit of their own, asserting the raid was illegal.

Michigan's medical marijuana law was approved in 2008 by voters, and since then, more than 165,000 patients have registered. Still, the legal landscape remains spotty, given the February 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling which held the sale of medical marijuana can't be held in a "business setting," even though it's legal under state law. Those dispensaries can be shut down as a public nuisance.

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February 24, 2015

IRS Enforcing Colorado Dispensary Fines Over Electronic Payments

Under federal law, certain kinds of taxes have to be paid electronically.
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This has proven a major problem for many marijuana dispensaries because they are unable to find a bank willing to allow those organizations to set up an account. Banks are leery because federal law considers marijuana to be an illegal Schedule I narcotic, and a financial institution that helps a marijuana distributor could be prosecuted for money laundering.

But without a bank account, these marijuana dispensaries have no way to pay those required taxes electronically because they can't transfer funds. In one case out of Denver, a dispensary known as Allgreens LLC has racked up major fines for not following the letter of the law. The organization contested those fines, arguing it has tried for the last two years to secure a bank account, and has so far been unsuccessful. Those efforts are well-documented.

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February 23, 2015

Federal Marijuana Prohibition Could End if Two House Bills Pass

Quietly, two congressmen separately filed two bills in the House recently that, together, would effectively spell the end of federal marijuana prohibition.
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The bills, introduced by two Democrats - one from Colorado, the other from Oregon - would legalize the drug and lay out a plan to regulate and tax the drug at the federal level.

The first bill, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled controlled substances. It would also shift oversight of the drug to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Finally, it would require the drug be regulated in much the same way alcohol is now.

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February 23, 2015

Brookings: Rescheduling Marijuana Would be Long, Arduous Process

It seems such a simple matter, rescheduling marijuana. Currently, the drug is rated by federal authorities as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning it has no value as medicine, is highly addictive and extremely dangerous. It actually ranks higher than methamphetamine in terms of risk and lack of redeeming value.
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This is in clear opposition to what science tells us - both medical and public policy researchers. But because of that serious Schedule I rating, those who cultivate, distribute and possess the drug are at potential risk of federal prosecution, even in states where the drug is legal. Compare this to the status of drugs classified in Schedules II-IV. They are still subjected to various degrees of control, but medical use is recognized and they are allowed to undergo research, testing and manufacture without significant difficulty.

So why not just pass a bill to reclassify marijuana?

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February 22, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Colorado Extension in Marijuana Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the state of Colorado an extension as it prepares to defend against a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska, alleging their states are being polluted with marijuana by their neighbor.
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Originally, Colorado was required to file a response to the litigation by February 16th. But in a one-sentence order, the highest court in the land allowed for a one-month extension, giving the state until March 27th to respond.

The lawsuit is being closely-watched, as it could be precedent-setting. Colorado was one of the first two states to allow for legalized marijuana for recreational use. Washington was the other. Twenty-three other states plus the District of Columbia have allowed for medicinal marijuana, and several others have largely decriminalized possession of the drug in small amounts by non-patients, though it remains a civil infraction in those areas.

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February 20, 2015

California's Oldest Marijuana Dispensary Gets Favorable Ruling in Federal Court

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has been tenacious in her attempts to shut down the Berkeley Patients Group, touted as the state's oldest medical marijuana dispensary.
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But recently, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an order backing the continued operation of the dispensary while litigation is pending. The shop first opened 15 years ago, and the news that it will be allowed to remain open for the time being is welcomed by the hundreds of patients it serves.

The dispensary's marketing director called it "A small victory in the larger fight to secure safe access to medical cannabis..."

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February 19, 2015

California Lawmakers Introduce Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act

California medical marijuana patients are prescribed the drug because they are sick. Yet, because they take the drug, they may be barred from certain life-saving treatments - namely, organ transplant.
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This is an especially cruel twist of law, one that some California legislators hope to rectify with Assembly Bill 258, also called the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act.

Introduced by Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), the measure is sponsored by the pro-marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

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February 17, 2015

Study: Stoned Drivers Safer Than Drunk Drivers

Drivers who use marijuana are far safer motorists than those who consume alcohol. That's according to the Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association's Office of Behavioral Safety Research.
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This is not to say driving impaired is necessarily safe under any circumstances. It's true marijuana is known to impair psycho-motor skills, divide attention and impact cognitive function. But despite marijuana being the most frequently-detected drug (aside from alcohol), it was cited in relatively few crashes. The administration noted a 2014 study that found no increased risk of crash for drivers who tested positive for THC, the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana.

In the administration's own study, it was revealed after adjusting for gender, age, alcohol use and race, motorists who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to be involved in a crash than those who had not used any alcohol or drugs prior to getting behind the wheel.

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February 15, 2015

D.C. May Yet Approve Legal Marijuana, Despite Congressional Halt

In November, District of Columbia voters made their choice clear: They wanted to join the handful of states legalizing the growth and possession of marijuana in small amounts.
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However, D.C. is unique in that unlike in most states, the free will of voters within the district is not the deciding factor. Even if 100 percent of the citizenry in the district voted in favor of the measure, Congress will still have the final say.

And in this case, Congressional Republicans successfully inserted a last-minute provision into a large federal spending bill that effectively barred the overwhelmingly Democratic populace from spending any tax dollars to enact the measure. This was all late last year, and many assumed this would be the end of it.

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February 14, 2015

Employment Rights of California Marijuana Patients

Patients who are prescribed medical marijuana have for years been subjected to discrimination, erroneous judgments based on outdated stereotypes and even flat-out persecution.
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Virtually no other drug carries the kind of stigma or restrictions as medical marijuana. While attitudes and laws are evolving, patients continue to fight for every inch of legitimate recognition.

Let's take, for example, the issue of employee rights. If a worker was diabetic and needed to inject himself with insulin at some point during the work day, most employers would not - and legally could not - take issue with this action. However, if a patient prescribed marijuana for seizures or anxiety asks to smoke during break in order to continue with the day, he or she is more likely to meet a fair amount of resistance, and possibly even disciplinary action and termination.

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February 13, 2015

New U.S. Attorney General: Marijuana Policy Shift Opined

Despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary, marijuana continues to be classified by the federal government as a Schedule I narcotic, labeling it as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use or treatment.
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We know, for example, that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana on a host of different levels - from the biological effects to the traffic safety impact. And yet, law enforcement officials and prosecutors continue to turn a blind eye to the facts.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is no hero of the marijuana legalization movement, as it was at his direction countless dispensary raids and criminal prosecutions of marijuana growers and collective operators took place. However, he did in the end direct federal prosecutors to ease their stance in so far as state-sanctioned operations were concerned.

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February 12, 2015

Marijuana Business Owners Seek Banking Solutions

All businesses have their challenges, but there is one unique to those in the marijuana industry: Banking.
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Despite the legalization of cannabis in a growing number of states, the federal government still considers marijuana illegal. That means traditional banks don't want to risk being slapped with charges of money laundering for aiding and abetting known drug dealers. Where existing pot-based businesses had accounts, they've largely been shut down. Most in the industry have never had a bank account, never mind a loan.

This has led to a very serious dilemma: How can those in the marijuana business safely, effectively and legally manage their money without the assistance of banks?

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Recent Entries

February 28, 2015 Mobile Marijuana Dispensaries Targeted by City Councils, Feds Mobile medical marijuana dispensaries seemed to be a solution to a host of issues encountered...

February 27, 2015 Marijuana Munchies: Researchers Discover Neurological Link U.S. researchers have long sought to explain the link between consumption of marijuana and the...

February 26, 2015 Marijuana Legislation Weighed by Ohio, Vermont The patchwork of state laws pertaining to marijuana continues to be subject to even more...

February 25, 2015 Marijuana Dispensary Owners File Lawsuit Against Police for Raid There has been extensive coverage over the last several years of incessant police raids and...

February 24, 2015 IRS Enforcing Colorado Dispensary Fines Over Electronic Payments Under federal law, certain kinds of taxes have to be paid electronically. This has proven...

February 23, 2015 Federal Marijuana Prohibition Could End if Two House Bills Pass Quietly, two congressmen separately filed two bills in the House recently that, together, would effectively...