Category Archives: Marijuana

For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge

Alain Miville de Chêne Entrepreneur, investor, student and lover of life.

During the last 125 years, governments all over the world have repeatedly appointed commissions to analyze the use of marijuana and provide recommendations. All major inquiries, among them the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report (1894), the Laguardia Committee (1939), and the Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (1972), have come to essentially the same conclusion: as with any human activity, overuse is not good for you, but since pot is mostly used moderately, and the harmful consequences are rather minor, it is not worth making a big fuss. They especially agree that using the criminal justice system to limit its use is both futile and harmful to society.

For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge. Something is imprisoning our mind. Why do we persist in resisting reason?

A poster for Ray Test’s 1942 drama “Devil’s Harvest.”

Morality laws

Morality laws try to limit or eradicate permanent features of all societies: sex (adultery), sex (homosexuality), sex (sodomy), sex (prostitution), sex (pornography), sex (you get the idea!), gambling, and mind-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana and more.) Journalist H. L. Mencken summed it up nicely when he wrote: “Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

Moralists latch on to some behaviour they fear or loathe, then hijack the criminal code in an attempt to magically will it out of existence, all the while blinded to the inefficacy of their solution and to the harms generated. When the behaviour doesn’t go away, because it has existed forever and there is no reason it should disappear now, the simplistic response is to squeeze harder.

Deep down, moralists know that their position is contrived. Therefore, to remain impervious to facts, they shun impartial studies. Instead of being guided by reason, they use it to justify their fixed beliefs and emotions. Their preferred method of communication is creating fear through propaganda.

Corbis via Getty Images “Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell” movie poster.

Harms in perspective

Since the 1920s we have been programmed to fear schizophrenia, car accidents, dropping out of school, cancer, gateway to other drugs and immorality in general. I took the time to survey the main purported harms, and it is always the same story: weak or non-existent consequences which are insignificant in proportion to other common life problems. For example, tobacco killed around 39,000 in 2002, alcohol killed around 4,200 in 2002, and more than 2,450 died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Nobody died from marijuana.

The real and grave harm comes not from the product itself but from passing through the criminal justice system. In 2013, Canada registered its millionth arrest for marijuana possession. What good did that do? Why all the suffering? A criminal record or even an arrest record can bar a person from many types of jobs and easily deny their entry into the United States, even 24 years later.

The prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. lasted from 1920 to 1933. It took the U.S. 13 years to learn the lesson that it doesn’t work. Our society still hasn’t learned this one after almost a century.

Legislating in the land of fools

The underlying hypothesis behind all this is that laws will make people behave as desired.

Countless articles discuss if pot should be sold to 18 or 21 year olds in order to protect youngsters. Currently, pot is not authorized at any age, yet anyone who wants it can get as much of it as they want. Why on earth would a number on a new statute book change this stubborn fact? Of course, it makes sense to limit sales in shops to persons of a certain age, but there’s no reason to expect setting an age limit in the law will “protect the young.”

Try to entertain the possibility that you might be enthralled by propaganda.

The spectre of high-strength marijuana is regularly brandished: today’s pot is not what was available in the sixties. It is way more dangerous, therefore its THC content should be legislated. Why do we forget that the high strength stuff has been available for centuries? It is called hashish. It was available in the sixties, and it still is.

By all means, let us establish lawful limits on all the parameters we want (age, THC concentration, number of plants grown at home, etc.) in order to make life easier for a lot of people, but we should stop thinking that everyone will from then on follow the new rules. They won’t.

Look at how it works with opioids. No laws were changed recently, yet the consumption of illegal opioids is rising and deaths from fentanyl are at an all time high. People will take or abandon drugs for reasons other than the laws on the books.

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Senator Cory Booker still wants to legalize marijuana nationally by punishing prohibition states

Erik McLaren     17 November, 2017

Senator Cory Booker to Legalize Marijuana Nationally By Punishing Prohibition States 1 of 2 800x400 Senator Cory Booker still wants to legalize marijuana nationally by punishing prohibition states

Above:  WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 10: U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (3rd L) speaks during a news conference on medical marijuana as U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (2nd L), U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (3rd R), Kate Hintz (2nd R) and Morgan Hintz (R), who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, look on Capitol Hill, on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. The news conference was held to announce a new medical marijuana bill before the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker put forward a bill that would legalize weed in the United States earlier this year and has been promoting it ever since. The legislation goes further than simple legalization by punishing states with racist policing practices. With the Republican-controlled Congress, this bill is a long shot with golden intentions.

The bill would totally remove weed for the controlled substances act, making it legal on a federal level. This has been the main goal for activists since marijuana prohibition first started. “This is an important step,” Booker said in a Facebook Live post, “But it is only a beginning.”

Other issues around legalization center around what to do with people who currently have weed related criminal records. Booker’s bill would expunge criminal records for people convicted of using or possessing marijuana, even if those charges stretch back decades.

“We need to remember that these are charges that follow people for their entire lives, and make it difficult for them to do things we take for granted,” Booker said.

Even if weed was legal federally, individual states could still elect to keep cannabis prohibited. A goal of the bill is address discrimination in drug enforcement.

In order to encourage hold-out states to legalize, Booker’s bill would withhold federal funding from states that arrest black people for weed crimes at higher rates than whites.

According to the ACLU, that includes every state in which weed is illegal.

The bill would also clear people who’ve served time for use and possession. “For people in prison right now on marijuana charges, it gives them an avenue to have their sentences reduced or eliminated,” Booker said.

Booker has political aspirations greater than the Senate. There’s a lot of buzz around Booker and a 2020 presidential campaign. So, this bill could be a way to build a base for a presidential run. While Booker’s plan may seem ambitious, the bill’s message aligns with the popular and political opinion. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 64% of Americans think cannabis should be legal. For the first time in history, the majority (51%) of Republicans support legalization. Booker will likely receive major support from his own party with 72% of Democrats on board for legal weed.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 7.45.55 AM 1 Senator Cory Booker still wants to legalize marijuana nationally by punishing prohibition statesCourtesy of Gallup

This move also distances Booker from Governor Chris Christie, the wildly unpopular wildebeest that currently represents New Jersey. Christie has promised to strike down legalization. Whatever office Booker is after, his bill certainly pushes him in the right direction.

Erik McLaren

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Researcher and Activist Bob Melamede Considers Marijuana a Miracle Drug

by Ken Picard

November 08, 2017

Bob Melamede - MATTHEW THORSEN

Bob Melamede was pissed off, which seemed out of character for a laid-back guy who laughs a lot. Plus, he’d begun the day as he always does — by ingesting 80 to 100 milligrams of oil containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. That’s enough THC to leave most stoners blissed out for hours.

But Melamede saw good reason to be indignant on a late September morning outside Burlington’s Bern Gallery, where the annual Pipe Classic glassblowing competition was in full swing. A retired DNA researcher, microbiology professor and international cannabis activist, Melamede had heard that a Burlington police officer confiscated all the cannabis oil from a medical marijuana patient who’d flown into town for the event.

The patient, Courtney Soper, arrived at the gallery a few minutes later. The 40-year-old mother of three from Long Island, N.Y., confirmed that, after checking into her hotel the previous night, she had driven to an Old North End café to meet some friends who were also attending the glassblowing event. While she was parking her rental car, she said, a cop pulled her over for making an illegal U-turn.

After smelling marijuana on Soper, the cop searched her car and discovered the cannabis oil. Soper handed over her medical marijuana registry cards from New York and California, explaining that she uses the substance to treat several conditions, including chronic pain. The cop didn’t arrest Soper or issue a ticket, but he took her drugs.

“I said, ‘I have a bottle of Adderall in my bag, also prescribed by my doctor. That’s a controlled substance, too,'” Soper told Melamede. “He didn’t say a thing about that.”

“Who’s the government to tell us what kind of medicine we can use?” Melamede barked. “Fuck them!”

He was ready to make that point at the police station, but Soper nixed the idea for fear it could bring unwanted scrutiny to the Bern Gallery event. In a text to Seven Days, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo explained later that his officer was just following protocol: Vermont doesn’t recognize medical marijuana cards from other states.

Meanwhile, several twenty- and thirty-somethings milling around outside the Bern Gallery recognized Melamede and greeted him with shouts of “Hey, Dr. Bob!”

As it happens, thousands of people know “Dr. Bob,” who’s not a physician but has a doctoral degree in molecular genetics and biochemistry. A former research professor who taught at the University of Vermont, New York Medical College and the University of Colorado, Melamede now appears regularly in the marijuana press and frequently speaks at international cannabis conventions. His presentations, some of which can be found on YouTube, invariably delve into the science of cannabis and its relationship to human health.

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Thorne Peters and Rebecca Forbes discuss “No Mens Rae” and her charge of Cannabis possession

no mens rae

http://www.thornepeters.com/nomensrea.html


LISTEN to CANNABIS Advocate Rebecca Forbes who stood up to the Court, the prosecution and her own lawyer with the lawful offensive of NO MENS REA against her CANNABIS Prohibition charge and set herself FREE! #NOMENSREA

Thorne Peters Rebecca Forbes

Additional Video…

Thorne Peters No Mens Rae

Thorne Peters SPEAK NOT ON POT!!!!!! JUST SAY: ‘NO MENS REA” then STFU! We don’t need no LEGISLATION! We don’t need no MEDICALIZATION! We don’t need no DECRIMINALIZATION! We don’t need no JURY NULLIFICATION! We don’t need no ABROGATION! We don’t need no JUSTIFICATION! If you or yours are unjustly arrested for PROHIBITION charges, you must proceed PRO SE to jury trial and just say: “NO MENS REA” . . . the lawful offensive to prove that we are FREE by birth not Slave to LEGISLATON! “I AM THE LAW!” “LIVE ON FB” DAILY @4:20 PM ET . . . #NOMENSREA
https://www.facebook.com/thorne.peters/videos/vb.100002110628199/1122133367867007/?type=2&theater

'ATTENTION! WARNING! DANGER! HARK & PAY HEED!!! JUST SAY: “NO MENS REA!” THEN STFU! PpP! LIKE & SHARE! TAG! NO MORE BLAH BLAH BLAH!  "SPEAK NOT ON POT!" 

EWE THE SHEEPLE are leading lambs to the slaughter with IDIOTOLOGIES such as but not limited to: ABROGATING; MEDICALIZING; DECRIMINALIZING; RESCHEDULING; COGNITIVE DISSONANCE; STRAW MAN; and JURY NULLIFICATION by seeking PROPOSITIONS, LEGISLATION, BILLS, ORDINANCES and PROPOSALS to set us FREE from CANNABIS Prohibition which only supports the position of THE EVIL EMPIRE that enslaves POTHEADZ! POT IS ALREADY LEGAL ALREADY! WE ARE FREE! NO MENS REA! THE FINAL 3 LEGAL WORDS ON THE ISSUE OF CANNABIS FREEDOM FOR ALL . . . and to all a good night! @[100008822553684:2048:Sydney Ballans] @[1162689282:2048:Matt Steinbruck] @[100012166653601:2048:Jonathan Cowart] @[100004487827821:2048:Freya Nino Crow] @[100000250565705:2048:David Nicewarner] @[1426015574:2048:David Babcock] @[100000871728026:2048:Carol Ann Cripps] @[100005886723807:2048:KJ Adamson] @[100001614765211:2048:Richard Hengy] @[100013590918692:2048:Raven Rodriguez] @[100000820750977:2048:Robert Chris Rhea] @[1057767250:2048:Jimmy Vachon] @[100003742462181:2048:Faith Alexandria Oglesby] Falon Hodnett @[1310076699:2048:Charles N Harper Reece] @[1588404774:2048:Troy Harper] @[100000083683847:2048:Rodney Shook] @[1511791133:2048:Rebecca Forbes] @[100000070644829:2048:Carmel Garcia] @[100010115767308:2048:Jack Cole] @[100000280113159:2048:Alan Gordon] @[100002546279203:2048:Matthew Fogg] @[100004126487793:2048:Edward Winborne] @[335844186556925:274:NJ Weedman] Kelly Jacobs @[100009727292480:2048:Jane L Stanley] @[501687:2048:Austin Lewis] @[1120661189:2048:Phil Harris] @[100003673843324:2048:Sway Trebor]'

14:59

http://www.thornepeters.com/nomensrea.html

https://www.facebook.com/groups/333773793715599/

https://www.facebook.com/thorne.peters/videos/1507763532637320/

“…the riskiest pot is coming from the black market—which could be an argument for expanding legalization”

Marijuana: Why Dangerously Potent Pot Is Making People Lose Their Minds and Memories

Homegrown2017

By Jessica Firger On 10/19/17 at 4:44 PM

High-potency pot is causing psychiatric issues, including addiction and memory problems. New strains of the recreational drug have higher levels of the active chemical and not enough of another compound that keeps the drug safe. And as a new study this week documents, the riskiest pot is coming from the black market—which could be an argument for expanding legalization. 

The new report, published this week by Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K., tested 50 samples of cannabis in the city of Manchester. The study was conducted by Volteface, a London-based policy think tank seeking reform for marijuana laws to improve safety of the drug by making it legal, and thus limiting demand on the local black market. All of the samples had high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of the drug that produces the “high,” and inconsequential amounts of cannabidiols (CBDs), the protective compound of the drug that prevents marijuana from becoming unsafe.

Pot that is high in THC carries a greater risk of psychiatric problems, including psychosis, addiction and memory impairment. One study, for example, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry evaluated cannabis use in 280 people and compared them to a control group of 174 non-cannabis users. The study found that people who experienced their first psychotic episode were more likely to have used a higher THC potency form of the drug.

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Amir Englund, an expert in cannabinoid psychopharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, tells Newsweek that the low levels of CBDs exacerbate the issues caused by high levels of THC. Additionally, frequent users often become tolerant to cannabis and slowly need a stronger product to get as high as they used to, he says.

“Because both THC and CBD are made from the same material in the plant, more of one means less of the other,” he says. Some recent research, he says, has shown that people using strains of marijuana that are also high in CBD—not just THC—are less likely to have mental health problems than those who opt for strains that have low CBD but high THC content. Some experiments he’s conducted show that CBD can counter the negative effects of high doses of THC in healthy volunteers.

Growers, he says, are cross-breeding plants to favor THC production over CBD. But the decision isn’t influenced only by the market’s demand. In many instances, it’s determined by the grower’s bottom line. “Some of the reasons why these varieties are more popular include the fact that they are more cost-effective to produce (more total drug-yield per plant) and more popular among frequent users,” says Englund.

A number of other factors also affect the potency of pot. According to Leafly, there will always be some variation when multiple growers cultivate the same strain because environment, growing technique and genetics all impact the composition of the plants.

A report published in 2015 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found the problem isn’t only with illegal sales. Labeling on regulated cannabis is often misleading, and the strain purchased could have higher or lower levels of potency than the label leads a consumer to believe.

“High THC, low CBD cannabis dominates the UK’s illicit market as it has a rapid growth period up to maturity and can be grown indoors,” the researchers write. “This enables those selling cannabis to make the greatest profit and presents the lowest risk. While popularity of this product is undoubtedly high, this may well be due to the fact that no other product is easily available and consumers have neither the access to nor the experience of any alternative.”

In other words, pot purchasers should look beyond the name—as nice as Black Beauty and Northern Lights may sound—and find out more about what they’re smoking. 

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Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain at the Cellular Level, Say Scientists

The team behind the study hopes that their findings can eventually be used to treat people with cannabis use disorder, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 as a “problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

By Yasmin Tayagon October 16, 2017

Filed Under Alcohol, Drugs, Neuroscience & Sex

In March, long-term marijuana smoker Woody Harrelson surprised fans by announcing he was giving up his chronic pot habit, saying it made him “emotionally unavailable.” Likewise, in June, notorious stoner Miley Cyrus did the same, saying she “wanted to be really clear” while making her new album. Long-term pot smokers who have quit cite similar anecdotal evidence about the chronic effects of weed, but scientists have only recently begun understanding what, if anything, it actually does to the brain.

In a study on mice published Monday in the journal JNeurosci, scientists report that long-term marijuana use does indeed change the brain.

In their study, the researchers from Brigham Young University’s neuroscience department, led by Jeffrey Edwards Ph.D., focused on the brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA), a region rich with the dopamine and serotonin receptors that comprise the brain’s reward system, looking at how its cells changed as the teen mice they studied received daily THC injections every day for a week. Researchers know that drugs of abuse, like opioids, alcohol, and marijuana, act on the VTA, and it’s thought that the active ingredients in these drugs stimulate the release of dopamine in this area, thereby triggering the flood of pleasure that drugs (as well as friendship and sex) provide — and creating cravings for more.

In particular, they looked at a type of cell in the VTA known as a GABA cell that marijuana researchers hadn’t looked at before. The cells are named for the type of neurotransmitter they pick up — GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid — which is well-known for its inhibitory properties. Imagine GABA as the high-strung friend who becomes anxious when the rest of the group has too much fun. When GABA is released in the brain, it regulates the levels of happy-making dopamine, making sure revelry doesn’t go overboard.In particular, they looked at a type of cell in the VTA known as a GABA cell that marijuana researchers hadn’t looked at before. The cells are named for the type of neurotransmitter they pick up — GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid — which is well-known for its inhibitory properties. Imagine GABA as the high-strung friend who becomes anxious when the rest of the group has too much fun. When GABA is released in the brain, it regulates the levels of happy-making dopamine, making sure revelry doesn’t go overboard.

This friend is a bit of a buzzkill but seems to be necessary to prevent the brain from having too much of a good thing. But, as it turns out, GABA neurons can be incapacitated, too.This friend is a bit of a buzzkill but seems to be necessary to prevent the brain from having too much of a good thing. But, as it turns out, GABA neurons can be incapacitated, too.

As the researchers observed these cells in teen mice over their THC-filled week, they saw that the ability of the GABA neurons to regulate dopamine faltered as the trial went on. In contrast, mice who only received a single injection of THC — the Bill Clintons of the group — didn’t show any changes in their GABA neurons, suggesting that the effects seen in the chronic users are a consequence of long-term marijuana use. Those changes led dopamine to linger in the VTA longer than usual, which caused an abnormally drawn-out feeling of reward. And too much of those pleasurable feelings, scientists have found, is what leads to addiction.

The team behind the study hopes that their findings can eventually be used to treat people with cannabis use disorder, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 as a “problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

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(MY COMMENT?  I know you all can see where this is going, right?)

Congressman Heck Introduces Marijuana Banking Amendments

by NORML September 2, 2017

Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) with Representatives Perlmutter (CO-07), Lee (CA-13), and Titus (NV-01) have submitted two amendments to the financial services division to be included in the House appropriations bill. Both of these amendments focus on banking services for legal marijuana-related businesses and would be a temporary fix until the current legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is passed into law.

The first amendment prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to punish banks for serving marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The second amendment prohibits the Treasury from altering FinCEN’s guidance to financial institutions on providing banking services to legitimate marijuana businesses. These amendments, if included, would allow for legal marijuana-related business to operate according to state laws and enjoy access to the banking system.

Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of marijuana and more than half the states have implemented medical marijuana laws, so it is both sensible and necessary to include these proposed amendments so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

You can click here to send an email in support of the SAFE Banking Act to your federal elected officials now.

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Uncertain legal status of financial transactions in marijuana industry lead to bitcoin, cryptocurrency development

By Steve Brachmann
September 2, 2017

On July 27th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing of the full committee to markup several pieces of legislation, including S.1662, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2018. News reports indicate that, during that hearing, the Senate appropriations committee approved an amendment which would reduce the ability of federal-level law enforcement agencies to interfere with state laws on the medicinal use of marijuana. This amendment comes at a time during which the nascent medical marijuana industry looks as though it’s turning to cryptocurrency in response to the questionable legal status of medical marijuana businesses.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed the amendment to allow states to implement medical marijuana laws. The amendment would ensure that none of the funds made available through the appropriations act would be used to prevent any of 46 of the 50 United States from implementing any law authorizing the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana. The amendment does not include the states of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska or South Dakota, but it does include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

An article on the medical marijuana amendment published by Congressional blog TheHill quotes Leahy as saying:

“The federal government can’t investigate everything and shouldn’t, and I don’t want them pursuing medical marijuana patients who are following state law… We have more important things for the Department of Justice to do than tracking down doctors or epileptics using medical marijuana legally in their state.”

A press release issued in early August by financial news and publishing company NetworkNewsWire reflects the positive response of the medical marijuana industry to the news of the amendment to the 2018 Commerce appropriations bill. The press release discusses the business activities of medical marijuana firms across the world and cites to polls conducted by both Gallup and CBS News which reflects the changing views of the American public on the legality of marijuana, a sentiment which has become more positive as more states move to legalize either the recreational or the medicinal use of marijuana.

One of the companies cited by the NetworkNewsWire press release as being an innovator in the field of marijuana payments is SinglePoint Inc., a full-service mobile technology provider headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, which also operates a cannabis dispensary hub subsidiary known as SingleSeed. SinglePoint reportedly closed upon a $1 million promissory note with an institutional investor this June and plans to invest the proceeds into the development of a bitcoin solution to conduct non-cash transactions for marijuana products. Bitcoin transaction solutions are also being developed by ChineseInvestors.com Inc., a Chinese-language financial information firm with an increasing presence in the global marijuana industry.

Bitcoin payments for marijuana and related products seem to be developing in response to an industry-wide issue regarding the bankability of marijuana business activities caused by tensions between state and federal level laws on the subject. Even as states increasingly vote for the legalization of marijuana, the plant is still considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which is enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The tenuous legality of marijuana at the federal level has led to the growth of an industry in which many businesses have to sit on cash without being able to open business accounts with banking institutions which have been concerned with their federal-level legal liability if they accept deposits from marijuana businesses.

The concerns of financial institutions over federal regulations on marijuana don’t seem to be unfounded given the effects of the CSA and marijuana’s Schedule I status on intellectual property owners in the space. The uncertain status of federal registrations for marijuana trademarks is the result of the confluence of the CSA along with 37 CFR 2.69, the statute governing trademarks sought on the sale or transportation of any product which is regulated by an act of Congress. No such regulatory restrictions seem to affect the patenting of medical marijuana-related technologies, however. Through this January, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued dozens of patents, and published almost as many patent applications, on medical marijuana technologies, including a patent covering a controlled-release chewing gum containing cannabinoids developed by AXIM Biotech.

Increasingly, bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies are becoming the choice for most financial transactions within the nascent marijuana industry as the sector increases in value. North American marijuana sales reached $6.7 billion during 2016 and were expected to rise up to $20.2 billion annually by the year 2021. This June, Bloomberg published an article discussing how SinglePoint and Seattle, WA-based cannabis point-of-sale firm POSaBIT were utilizing bitcoin strategies to conduct transactions for cannabis products while taking steps to comply with federal and state regulations.

For marijuana and other industries that may face regulatory risks which could impede their ability to conduct business, bitcoin offers various benefits. A blog post published by payment processing company Bankcard Brokers discusses bitcoin’s anonymity and availability to high risk industries, as well as the fact that bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed except by the party receiving the bitcoin.

Bitcoin can be exchanged into a variety of other cryptocurrencies and one such cryptocurrency is designed specifically for the cannabis industry. PotCoin is seeking to position itself as the standard form of cryptocurrency payment for transactions in the legalized marijuana industry. PotCoin has proven to be a volatile investment, seeing a 23 percent dip this March in response to news that PotCoin sponsored a recent trip by Dennis Rodman to North Korea; this major decline came one day after PotCoin’s value increased by a dramatic 97 percent. Other types of cryptocurrencies being developed for the marijuana industry include CannabisCoin and WeedCoin.

Bitcoin’s status as a decentralized system for financial transactions stands in some contrast to the current activities being undertaken by a variety of entities seeking patents in the sector. A recent article published by CoinDesk notes that the USPTO published 390 patent applications related to blockchain tech, the underlying distributed ledger technology supporting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, between January and July of this year. That represented a 90 percent increase over the number of blockchain-related patent applications published during the same period in 2016. A recent U.S. patent application filed by bitcoin exchange company Coinbase discusses an innovative security system for digital assets such as bitcoin. This March, Reuters reported that the man claiming to be bitcoin’s creator has filed more than 70 patent applications in the UK to protect blockchain-related tech like medical document storage and WiFi security systems.

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Pot Was Flying Off the Shelves in Uruguay. Then U.S. Banks Weighed In.


Pot Was Flying Off the Shelves in Uruguay. Then U.S. Banks Weighed In.

By ERNESTO LONDOÑOAUG. 25, 2017

A line outside a pharmacy selling legal marijuana last month in Montevideo, Uruguay. Credit Matilde Campodonico/Associated Press

The pharmacies selling pot were doing a brisk business.

After Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana sales for recreational use last month, some of the pharmacies struggled to keep up with the demand.

Then came the stern letters from American banks.

The letters immediately sent officials in Uruguay scrambling to make sense of the Patriot Act and other American laws that could doom an essential part of their country’s new marijuana market.

American banks, including Bank of America, said that they would stop doing business with banks in Uruguay that provide services for those state-controlled sales.

Afraid of losing access to the American banking system, Uruguayan banks warned some of the pharmacies over the last couple of weeks that their accounts would be shut down, potentially signaling a broader international impasse as other countries, including Canada, set out to legalize marijuana.

“We can’t hold out false hope,” President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay told reporters this week, adding that his administration was trying to come up with a solution.

Uruguay’s Marijuana Law Turns Pharmacists Into Dealers JULY 19, 2017

The snag mirrors challenges that such businesses have faced in American states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis. Under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it is unlawful for American financial institutions to do business with dealers of certain controlled substances, including marijuana. The provisions were designed to curb money laundering and drug trafficking.

American banks, including Bank of America, said they would stop doing business with banks in Uruguay that provide services for the country’s state-controlled marijuana sales. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Obama administration indicated in 2014 that banks were unlikely to face penalties for offering services to marijuana businesses in states where the trade is legal, as long they screened accounts for signs of money laundering and ensured that customers followed state guidelines. This enabled some of the businesses to get accounts at credit unions, but major banks have largely stayed away from the expanding industry, concluding that the burdens and risks of doing business with marijuana sellers were not worth the hassle.

“Banks are businesses, and they can pick and choose who they do business with,” said Frank Robison, a lawyer in Colorado who specializes in marijuana regulation. “From a banking industry perspective, the marijuana industry might be perceived as a flea on a dog’s back.”

Several pot businesses in states like Colorado and Washington — the first to legalize recreational marijuana — have opted to remain cash-only businesses. Others have found small banks willing to take a calculated risk.

But finding a workaround in Uruguay may be hard. Sales of marijuana represent a small share of business for pharmacies, which are currently the only merchants licensed to sell it, and the pharmacies say they need banking services to operate.

Similarly, bankers in Uruguay will probably find it much more important to remain in good standing with American financial institutions than to preserve the accounts of a small number of pharmacies.

The threat of losing their bank accounts has led some of the roughly 15 pharmacies that initially signed up to participate in the new market to give up on marijuana sales, said Pablo Durán, a legal expert at the Center of Pharmacies in Uruguay, a trade group. Twenty other pharmacies that were expected to join the market are holding off while the government explores solutions, he said.

The American regulations are counterproductive, supporters of the legal market in Uruguay contend, because they may inadvertently encourage, not prevent, illicit drug sales.

Fighting drug trafficking was one of the main reasons the Uruguayan government gave for legalizing recreational marijuana. Officials spent years developing a complex regulatory framework that permits people to grow a limited supply of cannabis themselves or buy it at pharmacies for less than the black market rate. Lawmakers hoped that legal structure would undercut illicit marijuana cultivation and sales.

“There probably isn’t a trade in Uruguay today that is more controlled than cannabis sale,” Mr. Durán said.

As a candidate, President Trump said that American states should be free to chart their own courses on marijuana, and he promised to pare back regulation in the financial sector. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has been a sharp critic of legalization and has compared marijuana to heroin.

Now, some members of the cannabis industry wonder whether the United States government will resolve the conflict between its banking laws and the expanding patchwork of measures to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use around the world. The guidance from the Obama administration, issued by the Justice and Treasury Departments in a pair of memos in 2014, addressed the matter domestically but not for international banking.

“Uruguay may be the tip of the iceberg,” said Mr. Robison, the Colorado lawyer who specializes in marijuana regulation.

Pharmacists in Uruguay were incredulous to learn that their bank accounts could be shut down, considering the years of study and planning that preceded the start of retail marijuana sales last month. The country’s marijuana law was passed in 2013.

“We can’t understand how the government didn’t have the foresight to anticipate this,” said Gabriel Bachini, a pharmacy owner in the coastal city of Colonia.

Buying marijuana in a pharmacy in Montevideo. Credit Andres Stapff/Reuters

Since sales began, the number of registered buyers in Uruguay has more than doubled. As of Aug. 15, more than 12,500 people had enrolled in a system that verifies customers’ identities with fingerprint scanners and allows them to buy up to 40 grams per month (at a price of about $13 for 10 grams, enough for about 15 joints, advocates say). Under the law, only Uruguayan citizens and legal permanent residents are allowed to buy or grow marijuana.

“Demand has been very strong,” Mr. Bachini said. “People are thrilled that they no longer have to go to private homes or venture out into neighborhoods” to get marijuana.

In emailed statements, the Treasury and Justice Departments said that their earlier guidance was still being applied. But banking and legal experts say the Trump administration has yet to lay down clear markers on this area of policy.

Officials in Uruguay are hopeful that American lawmakers will pass legislation allowing banks to do business with marijuana sellers in states and countries where it is regulated. Representative Ed Perlmutter, Democrat of Colorado, introduced a bill in April that would do that, but marijuana advocates say they do not expect a prompt legislative change.

“It is ironic that laws aimed at fighting drug trafficking and money laundering have created a roadblock for a system that intends to do just that,” said Hannah Hetzer, an analyst at the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports decriminalization of marijuana. “Uruguay is creating a legal market that displaces the illicit marijuana market.”

Mr. Bachini, the pharmacist, said he had not yet heard from his bank. But if it threatens to shut down his account, he said, he will not think twice about giving up marijuana sales.

“This pharmacy has been around for 30 years,” he said. “I’d just stop until this issue with the United States is resolved.”

Correction: August 26, 2017

An earlier version of this article misidentified the state that Ed Perlmutter represents in the House. It is Colorado, not Oregon.

Mauricio Rabuffetti contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Uruguay’s Legal Pot Is Imperiled by U.S. Banks. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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Why the Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way

MJA CB

By Jim Patterson, Opinion Contributor – 08/16/17 02:10 PM EDT

Earlier this month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. To some, this bill may look like another liberal attempt to push for widespread legalization of marijuana across the country. But for those of us who work in this industry and understand the complexities and inequities of current marijuana policies, the bill is a bold step forward in transforming the industry as we know it.

I recommend that anyone who questions why marijuana should no longer be illegal under federal law, take the time to watch Sen. Booker’s three-minute video explaining his legislation. It will shine a light on how marijuana policies have negatively impacted targeted communities, specifically low-income communities of color. This bill seeks to undo some of the damage that Booker aptly describes as, “the unjust application of the law and economic bias.” For example, the bill would expunge convictions for those with marijuana use and/or possession charges at the federal level which, in turn, will allow for greater access to education and economic opportunities.

As CEO of a company which works in the legal marijuana industry, it is a priority for me that this industry gives everyone a fair and equal playing field. On a daily basis, I meet and speak with entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in becoming a part of the marijuana industry because of its huge growth potential and opportunity.

However, with opportunity come risks, and in this industry we take financial, legal and professional risks. That said, there is a large segment of the population that is not at the table for these types of discussions because they were previously targeted during the war on drugs and now cannot fully participate in the state legal boom of this business.

For them, the risks are still too high under marijuana’s current federal classification as a Schedule I drug. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to change this by taking steps to fix the system so that marijuana is not just legal, but that the industry as a whole can move forward in a direction that we can be proud of.

Additionally, this legislation is important because it would also address a number of challenges marijuana businesses face such as lack of access to ordinary banking services. It would also move towards regulating the marijuana market as a whole and by regulating legal access, it would discourage and replace illicit drug activity.

I applaud Booker for introducing thoughtful legislation that would legalize the industry in the “right” way and that truly has the ability to move the ball forward on some of the historically negative aspects of this industry. Now is the time for the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana should be legal and removed from the list of controlled substances.

A recent CBS News poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and use in states that have legalized it, and 61 percent of Americans want marijuana legal across the country. Additionally, in the first six months of this new Congress, over a dozen bi-partisan bills have been introduced aimed at moving marijuana policies and regulations forward. Like Booker’s legislation, these bills acknowledge that updated marijuana laws and policies will bring a plethora of economic and social benefits to our country through increased job opportunities and tax revenues.

Congress must acknowledge the position of the majority of the American public and respond accordingly. I call on lawmakers to support this legislation and will be doing my part to raise this bill as a priority in the technology, transportation, policy and marijuana business communities eaze is a part of.

Jim Patterson is the CEO of eaze, a cannabis technology that connects people to doctors and dispensaries for on-demand consultations and deliveries.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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