Category Archives: Marijuana and the Law

Federal Marijuana Sentences Plummet: Report

 

Cannabis Penalties

by Paul Armentano,

NORML Deputy Director

March 23, 2017

The number of federal offenders sentenced for violating marijuana laws has fallen significantly since 2012, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Just over 3,000 federal defendants were sentenced for marijuana violations in 2016, according to the Commission. That total is roughly half of the number of federal defendants that were sentenced in 2012. The total has fallen year-to-year since that time.

The 2016 total is nearly equal to the number of federal defendants sentenced for violating powder cocaine laws, and less than the number of federal defendants sentenced for heroin. Some 96 percent of federal marijuana defendants were sentenced for trafficking, with an average sentence of 28 months in prison.

Of those sentenced, 77 percent were Hispanic, 11 percent were Caucasian, and eight percent were African American. Fifty-six percent were categorized as non-US citizens.

In 2015, over 5,600 federal defendants were sentenced for violating marijuana laws, a total equal to some 25 percent of all federal drug sentences.

Click here to email your lawmakers on various pieces of legislation related to marijuana reform.

CONTINUE READING…

California lawmakers want to block police from helping federal drug agents take action against marijuana license holders

186967270

Patrick McGreevy

With federal authorities hinting at a possible crackdown on state-licensed marijuana dealers, a group of California lawmakers wants to block local police and sheriff’s departments from assisting such investigations and arrests unless compelled by a court order.

A bill by six Democratic legislators has drawn strenuous objections from local law enforcement officials, who say it improperly ties their hands, preventing them from cooperating with federal drug agents.

“It really is quite offensive,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., who said he objected to lawmakers “wanting to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”

But proponents say the measure is needed to assure marijuana growers and sellers that applying for state licenses will not make them more vulnerable to arrest and prosecution under federal law, which designates cannabis as an illegal drug.

“Prohibiting our state and local law enforcement agencies from expending resources to assist federal intrusion of California-compliant cannabis activity reinforces … the will of our state’s voters who overwhelmingly supported Proposition 64,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), the lead author of the new bill.

The act of resistance is similar to legislation that would prevent California law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials in the deportation of people in the country illegally. Senate Bill 54 would address that concern and make California a so-called sanctuary state for immigrants, while Jones-Sawyer’s legislation would similarly make the state a sanctuary for the marijuana industry.

The immigration and marijuana issues have been given new focus by the administration of President Trump, who state officials fear is breaking from the policy of former President Obama, who took a more hands-off approach to both issues.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has indicated in public comments that he thinks marijuana is a danger to society. Last month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer caused a stir when he said, “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement” of laws against the sale and use of recreational marijuana.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the growing and sale of marijuana for recreational use. State agencies plan to begin issuing licenses early next year.

The new legislation would prohibit state and local agencies, unless served with a court order, from using agency money, facilities or personnel to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” any person for actions that are authorized by state law. California authorities would also be unable to respond to requests by federal agencies for the personal information of anyone issued state licenses.

The measure has angered some local law enforcement officials — including Youngblood, who sees it as improperly meddling in law enforcement decisions in the same manner lawmakers are proposing with immigration law.

“This is ridiculous that this looks like a solution to somebody,” he said.

The sheriff said his agency frequently works with federal drug agents in task forces targeting illegal marijuana grows in forested areas of the county. He said he doesn’t want to be prevented from working with federal authorities, even if the state starts licensing pot farms.

“[Growing and selling marijuana] is still a federal felony and we are still in the United States of America, and the state of California cannot take over the United States,” Youngblood said, predicting that “at some point the federal government is going to have to step in and say, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”

The legislation has garnered initial support from marijuana industry leaders, including Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Assn.

“The election of Mr. Trump as president, and subsequent confirmation of Mr. Sessions as attorney general, has been perceived by many of our members to have increased the risk of doing business,” Allen said. “Businesses will need to feel confident that the state will protect them from the federal government.”

Current protocol and law obligates local law enforcement to cooperate with federal drug agents, he said.

“It is very hard for federal agents to go into a rural county and kick down a bunch of doors and arrest a bunch of people without the local sheriff being a part of it.” Allen said. “It’s dangerous, actually. This is about giving them legal standing to actively not participate.”

Updates from Sacramento »

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), a coauthor of the measure, said the legislation is needed because of a threat that the Trump administration might withhold federal funds from states that do not cooperate with federal authorities, although that threat has so far been limited to immigration enforcement.

“As this administration has threatened to defund California, we should not be expending scarce local and state resources to assist the federal government in ways that run counter to the crystal-clear wishes of California voters,” Bonta said, adding that the measure, Assembly Bill 1578, “will reassure responsible operators” that the state won’t turn them in to federal authorities.

The assemblyman said it is important that the bill also protects the personal information of license holders so that they are willing to share it with state regulators.

“California is committed to not sharing licensee information with the federal government and thereby upholding the will of the voters in creating a safe marketplace for medical and adult use,” Bonta said.

The current policy of the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation would be to treat any request for personal information as a formal request under the California Public Records Act. The agency “would determine, based on the information being requested, what is required to be released and what is exempt from disclosure under the law,” said Alex Traverso, a bureau spokesman.

Allen expects California to follow the lead of states such as Colorado, which makes public on a website the names of businesses and addresses of those who are given licenses to grow and sell marijuana.

The Colorado website lists growers and sellers by the names of limited liability corporations and does not list who the individual investors and partners are.

Allen said industry attorneys have advised him that some basic information about license holders will have to be made public.

The bill’s provision on personal information “is good symbolically and well-intentioned,” Allen said, “but we are not relying on anonymity as our pathway forward.”

CONTINUE READING…

Spannabis 2017: Lessons On Spain’s And Barcelona’s Marijuana Industry

By Hilary Bricken

Mar 20, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Spain flag cannabis

From March 10th through 12th, I was in Barcelona attending Spannabis. My firm’s Barcelona lawyers constantly get inquiries from serious international businesspeople wanting to start a cannabis social club or some other sort of cannabis business in Spain. And with more than 200 medical marijuana social clubs in Barcelona alone, I wanted to go there to meet with key industry players to learn more about what is going on with marijuana in Catalonia’s capital city and in the rest of Spain.

Barcelona and medical marijuana felt to me like some combination of California, Oregon, and Washington seven years ago. Namely, it feels like an unregulated, quasi-commercial gray market chock-full of “collective” non-profits and rotating patient members, unclear laws, and inconsistent enforcement of those laws. For a breakdown on the current medical marijuana laws in Spain and in Barcelona, go here. This unclear and pioneer atmosphere was also in full force at Spannabis, which was in many respects just like pretty much every other marijuana trade show/expo I’ve attended in the United States: light on serious education about marijuana laws and regulations and heavy on promoting marijuana consumption and on seeking to preserve the counter-culture. But with cannabis cups and consuming events dwindling in the U.S. from increasing state marijuana regulations, I would be remiss if I did not mention how the Spannabis fairgrounds managed to maintain a steady cloud of overhanging marijuana smoke from its more than 3,000 attendees who openly and consistently consumed despite the presence of law enforcement.

Spannabis had only a single panel on the legality and rules surrounding Barcelona’s (mostly medical) marijuana social clubs and the panelist gave little detail or explanation about the law that enables cannabis clubs to operate. That panel was made up of one criminal defense attorney telling attendees about the national and local government’s conflicting policy positions on health and law enforcement and the rights of individuals to consume cannabis for medical use. Needless to say, since our cannabis lawyers represent the business side, I didn’t find this panel very helpful. More importantly, this panel served as just another indication that Barcelona and Spain as a whole have just not yet really “arrived” yet as destinations for those seeking to form and operate a cannabis business fully compliant with local (in this case Barcelona), provincial (Catalonia), and federal (Spain) laws.

But as many in the industry there were quick and emphatic about telling me, the cannabis scene in Barcelona and in Spain is slowly maturing and slowly getting “more legal.” As we wrote just last week, the regional Parliament of Catalonia has proposed reforms in line with a 2014 initiative advocated by Regulacion Responsible in advance of the 2014 Spain national elections. The initiative’s aim was to create a framework for the national reform of cannabis laws to permit regions like Catalonia and cities like Barcelona to set their own cannabis policies. Though the 2016 legislative initiative stalled, it has recently reemerged and anticipation is building for a revised version of this bill that would mean increased regulation for legalized marijuana businesses on a regional basis. Given the inconsistent enforcement of current laws (within both Catalonia and Spain) and the lack of meaningful or comprehensive business regulations, such reforms cannot come soon enough to better protect and give more structure to those cultivating and distributing marijuana for and to patients. Patients would also benefit from such regulation as it would increase both transparency around the sourcing of cannabis products and cannabis quality assurance standards.

Even though marijuana social clubs in Spain exist in a risk-laden gray area, it’s clear that manufacturing and distributing CBD is a popular and, more importantly, legal practice in Spain and Barcelona (in contrast to the United States). Indeed, the majority of booths on the exhibitor floor at Spannabis focused on hemp seeds (there was even a company there from Humboldt County) and CBD-based products. Manufacturing and distributing cannabis paraphernalia or equipment used for consuming, cultivating, or handling are also legal and ancillary companies are alive and well in Barcelona, just like in most of the U.S. This is why foreign investors looking at Spain are mostly focusing on financing, starting, managing, or assisting ancillary companies and not so much on marijuana social clubs, all of which are non-profit because of existing laws prohibiting commercial “trafficking.” The Arcview Group (well-known for angel investments in ancillary marijuana businesses) held an investor meeting in Barcelona for the first time last week.

Barcelona’s medical marijuana marketplace remains immature and risky (these were the words used by many of those with whom I spoke while I was in Spain), but it no doubt has tremendous potential. Once local governments in Spain are given the freedom (and they might soon) to take the reins on cannabis regulation and to create a better business atmosphere for cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors, Barcelona will no doubt quickly become a major marijuana city in terms of popularity, investment, and access.


Hilary Bricken bio photoHilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken, PLLC in Seattle, and she chairs the firm’s Canna Law Group. Her practice consists of representing marijuana businesses of all sizes in multiple states on matters relating to licensing, corporate formation and contracts, commercial litigation, and intellectual property. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry in 2014, Hilary is also lead editor of the Canna Law Blog. You can reach her by email at hilary@harrisbricken.com.

CONTINUE READING…

Nevada bill would allow medical marijuana users to carry guns

Jenny Kane , jkane@rgj.com Published 4:09 p.m. PT March 20, 2017

Nevada lawmakers are trying to address everything from marijuana users’ gun rights to the danger that edible marijuana products pose to children.

On Monday, a wide array of marijuana-focused bills were introduced to both members of the Nevada Senate and the Assembly to help regulate the drug that’s now legal for recreational use in Nevada (and has been legal for medicinal use since 2000).

Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill, SB 351, which would allow medical marijuana users to possess a firearm and a conceal and carry permit. Sheriffs currently are required to deny an application for a permit to carry a concealed firearm or revoke an existing permit if someone is a medical marijuana card holder.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, co-sponsored a separate bill, SB 344, with Sen. Patricia Farley, Nonpartisan-Las Vegas, that revises the standards for the labeling and packaging of marijuana for medical use.

Map: A quick guide to all of Nevada’s marijuana dispensaries

Nevada bill would allow marijuana use in public

Get in trouble for marijuana before this year? Nevada bill could help you get off the hook

The proposed legislation establishes limits on how much medicinal marijuana may be sold in a single package and prohibits candy-like marijuana products that appeal to children. The bill also would prevent edible marijuana products that look like cookies or brownies to be sealed in see-through packaging, or any kind of packaging that children might be attracted to.

Segerblom introduced a separate, 147-page bill, SB 329, that would allow for medical marijuana research and hemp research. The same bill would add post traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that could qualify a patient for medicinal marijuana consumption.

Under Segerblom’s bill, non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries could accept donations of marijuana, and all medical marijuana establishments would have to install video security which law enforcement could remotely access in real time.

He also is proposing a bill, SB 321, that would allow American Indian tribes in Nevada to make agreements with the Governor that would allow the tribes to follow state law as related to both medical and recreational marijuana.

Segerblom and Farley also introduced a bill, SB 236, that would allow money raised from medical marijuana establishment applications to be spent not only on government costs and schools. Segerblom and Farley believe that the money should also be spent on programs used to educate people about the safe usage of marijuana.

Segerblom and Farley’s bill also suggests prohibiting counties and incorporated cities from imposing requirements upon marijuana establishments that are not zoning related. The bill also would limit the license tax that a county or city could impose upon a marijuana establishment.

Assemblywoman Brittney Miller also introduced a bill to the Assembly on Monday that would vacate the sentences of offenders who were convicted of possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana before legalization was effective Jan. 1. Assemblyman William McCurdy II introduced a similar bill last week to the Assembly’s Committee on Corrections, Parole and Probation.

The legalized marijuana industry is growing more than

The legalized marijuana industry is growing more than pot. Analysts say it could create over a quarter of a million jobs while other industries decline. (Photo: USA TODAY video still)

CONTINUE READING…

What is “Usable Marijuana”?

Man pleads guilty to having too much medical marijuana

Dabrowskis.jpg

 

By Cole Waterman | cwaterma@mlive.com
Follow on Twitter
on March 14, 2017 at 8:34 AM, updated March 14, 2017 at 8:35 AM

BAY CITY, MI — Nearly two years after police raided their Bangor Township house in search of excessive medical marijuana, a couple’s cases have been resolved with plea deals.

David A. Dabrowski, 65, on Tuesday, March 7, appeared in Bay County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to one count of delivering or manufacturing marijuana. The charge is a four-year felony.

In exchange, the prosecution agreed to recommend Dabrowski receive a delayed sentence, during which he’d effectively be on probation. If he receives the delay and is successful on it, he’ll be allowed to withdraw his plea and swap it with a guilty plea to misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

The same day Dabrowski entered his plea, prosecutions motioned to dismiss the same felony charge faced by his wife, Sandra K. Dabrowski, 64.

The Dabrowskis, who were arraigned on Sept. 9, 2015, faced trial the day the plea deal was accepted. Their cases date back to April 2015.

What is ‘usable’ pot under medical marijuana law focus in Bay County couple’s prosecution

Whether a Bangor Township couple broke the law by having too much “usable” pot in their medical marijuana growing operation is the point of contention in ongoing legal proceedings.

In a December 2015 preliminary examination, Bay County Sheriff’s Detective Barry Gatza, a member of the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team — or BAYANET — testified he was tasked with investigating an anonymous tip that the Dabrowskis were illegally selling marijuana from their home in the 2900 block of Bangor Road.

He testified that in the early morning of April 27, he pulled two trash bags from a garbage can at the end of the Dabrowskis’ driveway.

“There were several items consistent with marijuana grows that we’ve come in contact with,” Gatza said. Among the items were trimmed marijuana leaves. “It was approximately just under 10 pounds, I believe,” he said.

Gatza obtained a search warrant and later on April 27, approximately a dozen police officers executed it on the Dabrowskis’ property. At the time, David Dabrowski was home selling firearms to two men, Gatza testified. Sandra Dabrowski was not present.

“There were firearms throughout the house,” Gatza testified, adding David Dabrowski is a licensed federal firearms dealer.

Police recovered a large amount of marijuana plants and usable pot, most notably in “the entire basement.” Throughout the house, officers found 96 marijuana plants, 37.7 grams of loose marijuana drying in a basket, and another batch on a table weighing approximately 1,400 grams. Police also found one marijuana plant and marijuana branches in a pole barn, Gatza testified.

In a freezer, police found marijuana oil and several pounds of usable marijuana, Gatza said.

Gatza interviewed David Dabrowski in a BAYANET van, he said. Dabrowski told him he and his wife were medical marijuana caregivers with five patients each.

“Between Sandra and himself, they did co-mingle the plants,” Gatza testified. “They didn’t separate them at all. As far as the daily operations needed to maintain the plants, he did most of the farming on the plants, including Sandra’s.”

Sandra Dabrowski’s jobs included trimming the plants, packaging the crop and setting up purchases, Gatza said David Dabrowski told him.

“He stated that obviously he does provide marijuana to his patients,” Gatza testified. “I think the rate he charges them was $130 an ounce, then he told me he also provides marijuana to people outside his patient list. He charges them $200 an ounce. He said he always makes sure they’re medical marijuana patients, just not his patients. He always makes sure they have a (medical marijuana) card.”

Under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, patients can have 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and caregivers can grow up to 12 plants producing 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana for each of their five patients and themselves. With both Dabrowskis being caregivers but only Sandra Dabrowski a patient as well, the couple could legally have a total of 132 plants and 27.5 grams of usable, or processed, marijuana.

Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran is to sentence David Dabrowski at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 17.

CONTINUE READING…

Marc and Jodie Emery arrested in Toronto amid marijuana dispensary raids across Canada

Police raid a Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Vancouver, B.C. on March 9, 2017.

 

By Adam Miller Online Journalist  Global News

Marc and Jodie Emery, Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince and Princess of Pot,” have been arrested in Toronto ahead of coordinated raids at their Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across the country.

The couple’s Vancouver-based lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said the marijuana activists were arrested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Wednesday night and were being held in custody while awaiting bail hearings Thursday.

The Emerys own 19 Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across Canada and Toronto police said Thursday they had executed 11 raids in connection with an investigation targeting the dispensaries — dubbed Project Gator.

Five Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, one in Hamilton and one in Vancouver were raided and police said a total of five people had been arrested across the country in connection with the investigation.

Vancouver police confirmed to Global News they had raided one Cannabis Culture location in the city in conjunction with the Toronto police investigation. The Ottawa Cannabis Culture dispensary raid was reportedly not connected with the investigation.

Toronto police said they are still determining what charges will be laid, but said search warrants were also executed on two Toronto residences, one in Vancouver and one in Stoney Creek, Ont.

“Make no mistake, this is not about public safety. This is not about protecting the public,” Tousaw said in a statement.

“There is no harm being done by the production and sale of cannabis, for medical or recreational purposes, in storefront dispensaries.”

Marijuana legalization activists Amy Brown and Tracey Curley told Global News outside a Toronto courthouse Thursday they believed the Cannabis Culture locations were being “simultaneously raided.”

“From what we understand, is that various owners of Cannabis Culture franchises are now being arrested,” Curley said.

“Britney Guerra, the owner of Cannabis Culture Hamilton, was just recently arrested at her house in Hamilton.”

Curley said Cannabis Culture franchise owners Chris and Erin Goodwin were also “confronted by police” at the Toronto courthouse while they were waiting to provide bail money for the Emerys.

“They were arrested on site for possession for the purpose of trafficking,” she said. “[We are] a little shocked that it’s happening so fast and so quickly and so many people being affected right now.”

Brown said the arrests of franchise owners were “heartbreaking” but would not affect the operation of the dispensaries going forward.

“The cannabis industry is not going to change. It’s a small bump in the cannabis industry,” she said. “I’m assuming Cannabis Cultures will be back open in the next day or so.”

The Emerys were reportedly travelling to Barcelona, Spain to attend cannabis expo Spannabis, according to a Facebook post by Marc Emery.

Jodie Emery previously said she intended to open her latest location in Ottawa, just steps from the Parliament Buildings.

The 32-year-old recently appeared as a guest on AM980’s The Pulse with Devon Peacock after London Police raided five dispensaries in the city last Thursday.

The raids carried out by London Police took place two days after Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and current parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, came to London to visit with police leadership and city officials to discuss a regulatory framework for legalizing marijuana in Canada.

In December, 10 people were arrested by police in Montreal after raids on six newly opened Cannabis Culture dispensaries.

In May 2016, Toronto police raided dozens of marijuana dispensaries in the city, seized hundreds of kilograms of marijuana and laid more than 250 charges under an investigation dubbed Project Claudia.

Toronto police said at the time the raids were due to concerns over the “rapid increase of opening of illegal dispensaries” and the “lack of quality control” that could affect public health and safety.

CONTINUE READING AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Garrett introduces legislation to remove marijuana from controlled substances list

February 27, 2017

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today 5th District Congressman Tom Garrett introduced legislation aimed at federally decriminalizing marijuana.

The short title for this legislation is cited as the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.” If passed, this bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list – joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco.

Originally introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015, this bill fulfills a responsibility to create a level playing field across the country.

Upon introduction of this legislation, Rep. Garrett released the following statement:

“I have long believed justice that isn’t blind, isn’t justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”

Garrett went on to say, “this step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia. In the coming weeks, I anticipate introducing legislation aimed at growing the hemp industry in Virginia, something that is long overdue.”

In recent weeks, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to crack down on federal marijuana crimes. During his confirmation, then-Senator Sessions pointed out that if legislators did not like this approach, they should change the laws accordingly. Garrett anticipates bipartisan support as his legislation makes its way to the appropriate committees of jurisdiction.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving as the lead original cosponsor on this bipartisan legislation.

###

SOURCE LINK

RELATED:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2237

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/congressman-introduces-bill-to-remove-cannabis-from-federal-controlled-substances-act/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiWhGok65Y4

“You can’t put the genie back into the bottle”

 

 

images

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Patrick McGreevyPatrick McGreevyContact Reporter

Warned of a possible federal crackdown on marijuana, California elected officials and cannabis industry leaders said Friday they were preparing for a potential showdown in the courts and Congress to protect the legalization measure approved by state voters in November.

The flashpoint that set off a scramble in California was a news conference Thursday at which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the administration had no plans to continue the Obama administration’s permissive approach in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” he said, adding that the administration would continue to allow states to regulate the sale of marijuana for medical use.

The latest development could force California officials and marijuana industry leaders into an unusual alliance against the federal government, with billions of dollars in profits for businesses and taxes for state coffers at stake.

The state agency responsible for drafting regulations said Friday it was going ahead with its plans to start issuing licenses to growers and sellers in January.

“Until we see any sort of formal plan from the federal government, it’s full speed ahead for us,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.

In Congress, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) plans to introduce legislation that could blunt Spicer’s threat by preventing the Department of Justice from enforcing federal laws against the recreational use of marijuana in states that have legalized it, a spokesman said Friday.

And industry officials warn that any federal crackdown in California and other states will result in many growers and sellers continuing to operate, but on the black market.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra says he is ready to safeguard the rights approved by 57% of voters in Proposition 64, which allows California adults to possess, transport and buy up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.

“I took an oath to enforce the laws that California has passed,” Becerra said in a statement Thursday after Spicer’s comments. “If there is action from the federal government on this subject, I will respond in an appropriate way to protect the interests of California.”

State lawmakers also say California should do what it can to preserve Proposition 64.

“We will support and honor the laws that California voters have democratically enacted,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), an author of legislation creating the licensing system for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Becerra would likely be joined in any defense of the state’s marijuana policy by attorneys general in other parts of the country. Recreational use has also been legalized in Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, home to a combined 68 million Americans.

Washington Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, who has worked with Becerra on opposing President Trump’s travel ban, said he and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last week asked for a meeting with U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to discuss how the recreational marijuana use system is working in their state.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading supporter of Proposition 64, took a similar approach, sending a letter Friday to Trump urging him not to carry through with threats to launch a federal enforcement effort.

“I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other … states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors,” the Democrat wrote.

If the Justice Department starts arresting licensed marijuana sellers, the multibillion-dollar industry would join forces with the states that issue permits to challenge the action in court, said Amy Margolis, an attorney whose law firm has more than 200 clients in the marijuana industry, including businesses in California.

“This industry is so mature and it’s so far along that I have no doubt that if the Department of Justice started true enforcement actions against cannabis businesses, that they would go to court,” Margolis said. “I see joint actions between the states and the industry hoping to prevent those type of actions.”

Margolis would argue that it is a states’ rights issue.

“The argument would be that this is a situation where the states have the right to regulate and tax an industry the way they want,” she said, adding that states are gaining tax revenue to pay for government programs.

Although federal law does not outline a medicinal use for marijuana, Trump administration officials have made public statements indicating they recognize that such a benefit exists, which could help the industry in a potential court case, Margolis said.

However, the states may find their hands tied legally if they try to keep federal agents from raiding and shutting down marijuana growing and sales operations, according to Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA School of Law.

“I imagine that California will mount a legal challenge to any crackdown on recreational marijuana,” Winkler said. “Yet there is not much California can do. Federal law is supreme over conflicting state law. Federal agents are entitled to enforce federal law anywhere in the country, including California.”

He said there are limits to federal power, but the courts have held that the federal government does have the authority to enforce federal drug laws.

Aaron Herzberg, an attorney for the industry, agreed that the state would face a tough fight. He cited the 2005 case Gonzales vs. Raich, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress may criminalize the production and use of homegrown marijuana even if states approve its use for medical purposes.

“Let’s face it: If the federal government wants to shut down recreational marijuana, they could quite easily accomplish it using federal law enforcement and taxation tools,” Herzberg said.

Others say one basis for legal action would be an argument that enforcing laws against marijuana would damage states that have put regulations in place and are depending on hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to pay for government programs.

States are too far down the path of regulating, licensing and taxing those who are making big investments in the sanctioned marijuana industry to pull the rug out now, said Richard Miadich, an attorney who co-wrote Proposition 64.

“Given the strict regulatory structure set forth in Proposition 64, that medical and adult-use regulations are being developed in concert, and that public opinion is squarely on the side of states’ rights on this issue, I think it is impractical for the federal government to reverse course now,” he said. “Not to mention the potential for great harm to individual states.”

Supporters of Proposition 64 say there is also a potential political solution.

In recent years, Rohrabacher and former Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) won congressional approval of a rider to the federal budget that prohibited federal funds from being used to prosecute medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with state laws.

Rohrabacher plans to introduce legislation that would expand the protection to businesses that comply with state laws allowing the growing and sale of marijuana for recreational use, according to spokesman Ken Grubbs.

The congressman is planning the legislation “because recreational use is an issue of individual freedom and should be dealt with legally according to the principle of federalism, a bedrock conservative belief,” Grubbs said.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is also “reviewing options to counteract whatever the Trump administration’s plans” are for state marijuana laws, said senior advisor Jack d’Annibale.

Another option, though a long shot, would be for Congress to attempt to change the federal Controlled Substances Act to decriminalize the use of marijuana nationally.

Herzberg said reinstituting federal raids would be “a major setback for the industry.”

But the state could still go ahead with a licensing system for medical marijuana growing and sales in spite of a federal crackdown on recreational use, according to Hezekiah Allen, head of the California Growers Assn.

“A vast majority of California growers and cannabis business owners would choose to participate only in the medical marketplace if given the option, and some would choose to avoid licensure entirely if they were unable to distinguish themselves from adult-use businesses,” Allen said.

Because Spicer did not provide details on what an enforcement effort might look like, many in the industry hope it will focus on the illegal exporting of marijuana to other states, leaving alone state-licensed firms that grow and sell pot.

“The biggest crackdown we may see is on the increase of cannabis being illegally exported out of recreational states,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said any change in federal enforcement policy on states that have legalized recreational use would be misguided.

“You can’t put the genie back into the bottle — marijuana regulation and enforcement can’t and shouldn’t go backwards,” he said.

CONTINUE READING…

The DEA doesn’t see it as legal’ and that’s where he gets his medical license.”

FOX Files: Some doctors fear following Missouri’s medical marijuana law

Posted 11:15 pm, February 21, 2017, by Chris Hayes

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- A form of medical marijuana may be legal in Missouri, but patients are finding doctors afraid to even discuss it. It’s called CBD hemp oil, extracted from a type of marijuana that cannot get you high. It’s now legal in Missouri for treating intractable epilepsy, but families say some doctors are afraid to honor the new law.

Robert Tufts,  11, says it hurts when he seizes.

“It just feels like some sort of shock like, my brain, inside my head. I’ll just get a little fuzzy feeling and I’ll shake and I’ll be dizzy for a second.”

He takes a handful of pills he says sometimes make him feel worse.

“It just felt like I was so enraged and wanted to break everything.”

His mom, Stephanie, thinks CBD oil could be a better way, but she can’t convince her son’s doctor.

“His exact words to me were, ‘It’s not legal,’” said Stephanie Tufts.  “I said well the oil is legal here in Missouri and he basically came back with, ‘It’s not. The DEA doesn’t see it as legal’ and that’s where he gets his medical license.”

FOX 2 has learned only 66 families in Missouri have obtained medical cards to buy CBD oil, with potentially thousands of families asking for it.

Treasurer Eric Schmitt fought for the new law when he was State Senator.

“This idea that you’ve tried everything and it’s not working, but there may be something that is now legal in the State of Missouri to now possess and use and that a doctor and a hospital would not allow families to access that – there’s no excuse for it,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt has met with hospital administrators across the State trying to get them to reconsider.

“I know for a fact that there are neurologists in those hospital systems that want to be able to recommend, but are not being allowed to by the lawyers. And I think that that’s just…it’s unconscionable.”

There is one hospital working with patients.  It’s in St. Louis, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Sean Goretzke with SSM said, “Even though there might be some negatives and some side effects, (we felt) there was a certain percentage of patients that we owed it to to do everything we could to try to help within a safe and reasonable effort.”

Dr. Goretzke is director of child neurology at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

“Cases where this works are really highly publicized. There’s a lot of social media attraction to it and those are great and we’re happy about those. But we know this isn’t going to work for every patient, just like every other medicine we have.”

Patients must first try three traditional prescriptions without success.  The marijuana strain that’s cultivated for its CBD oils does not contain the psychoactive THC, which hurts brain development, but Dr. Goretzke says there’s no research to answer whether CBD oil could still present risks.

“The majority of kids we are treating with this substance are so delayed from the burden of their seizures, maybe from the side effects of their other medications, that we feel the potential benefit for this medicine far outweighs those risks,. But with a typically developing child we’re still just not quite sure yet.”

He acknowledged they must start somewhere, but said it would help if there was research money to help answer their concerns.  Dr. Goretzke also said this is not a mandate and the hospital will respect individual doctors who might not want to be part of it.

Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChrisHayesTV/

Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV

CONTINIUE READING…

Gun rights and marijuana laws

As more states expand their marijuana use laws, a new issue is beginning to pop up that impacts gun owners.

On a federal firearms background check form, Section 11 E, which was revised on January 16, asks if a person is an unlawful user of marijuana, or any other depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or other controlled substance.

Underneath that, in bold letters, it clarifies that the use of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law, regardless if the state you live in allows it.

Heather Fazio with the Marijuana Policy Project says that provision is a problem.

“It’s unreasonable to deprive legal marijuana users in states that have allowed access for medicinal purposes,” Fazio explained. “It’s unreasonable to restrict them to access to their second amendment right.”

But despite legal challenges, the provision has remained.

As recently as last August, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, preventing any user of marijuana from purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.

Fazio points to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug as a key issue in changing the debate.

“We have alcohol and opiates for example that are legal and are far more dangerous in impairing than cannabis is,” Fazio said.

A recent response by President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer has drawn the ire of marijuana advocates.

“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people to- there is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana,” Spicer said.

This is where these issues — gun rights and marijuana vs. opioid use — intersect.

Back to Section 11 E, the form uses the terminology: “unlawful user.”

In essence, a person can legally be prescribed – and use – opioids and still purchase a gun from a licensed dealer.

But if a person is prescribed medical marijuana in a state that legally allows for it — they cannot.

Fazio does not believe any state’s medical laws are in jeopardy, adding Trump’s desire to strengthen states’ rights.

There is a rider in the 2014 appropriations bill that stated the Department of Justice would not be funded to go after users of legally prescribed medical marijuana.

While Spicer acknowledged the President’s understanding of medical marijuana benefits, he added there will be greater federal enforcement of recreational marijuana laws. 

CONTINUE READING…