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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.

CONTINUE READING…

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Why Canadian marijuana companies are going public in 2017

Submitted by Marijuana News on Fri, 06/09/2017 – 08:45

The marijuana market in Canada is prepped for additional growth: several companies plan to go public in 2017 since the country’s regulations are more favorable, giving investors more options in this growing sector.

Companies are choosing to file their IPOs in Canada because of the more restrictive environment in the U.S., said Michael Berger, founder of Technical420, a Miami-based company that conducts research on cannabis stocks, and a former Raymond James energy analyst. The legal cannabis market expanded significantly during the past year and medical marijuana is now legal in countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada, Uruguay and Colombia.

By 2018, Canada’s legal recreational cannabis market should generate over $10 billion a year.

“One theme we recognized over the last year is an increasing number of companies listing on Canadian stock exchanges,” he said. “These companies are choosing to list in Canada due to better business policies.”

The number of registered patients is growing at a rapid pace in Canada as licensed producers continue to find innovative ways to create value for its shareholders. The number of patients is nearly 200,000 and growing 10% on a month over month basis, Berger said. The liquidity in the market is also beneficial for investors.

“In Canada, companies can use bank accounts, claim taxes, and write off business expenses legally unlike the U.S. where cannabis companies cannot do any of that and are frequently switching banks on account of their account being closed due to the focus on the cannabis industry,” he said.

The Canadian marijuana market and legislation is outpacing the U.S. because Canada has legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana on the federal level, said Jason Spatafora, co-founder of Marijuanastocks.com and a Miami-based trader and investor known as @WolfofWeedST on Twitter.

“Canada has allowed licensed producers of cannabis to take their companies public in a meaningful way compared to the U.S. since there are still American companies which do not touch the plant directly,” he said.

The Next Canadian Cannabis IPOs

A medical cannabis producer, The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings, is planning to go public in the second half of 2017, said Berger. The company cultivates medical marijuana under Health Canada from a 100-acre farm in Ancaster, Ontario and has already completed two oversubscribed financing rounds with over 2,500 investors, “which is a testament to the company’s leadership and success,” he said.

One factor investors need to consider is the track record of the management team and The Green Organic Dutchman has “one of the best in the industry,” Berger said. “The management team has a proven track record and they were the team that brought together OrganiGram (OGRMF) and Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), two successful Canadian licensed medical cannabis producers. Although the team’s role with those companies was different, they learned invaluable lessons which have also been implemented in this company.”

Compared to its competitors, the company has differentiated itself by growing organic cannabis and is levered to a market that is experiencing a 10% on a month-over-month basis on sales.

“The Organic Dutchman is part of a rapidly growing market, generates a strong balance sheet and consists of several strategic partners,” he said.

High Street Capital Partners, a New York-based real estate company that owns and operates cannabis cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 14 states across the U.S., could go public by the summer.

Although High Street is levered to the U.S. market, the company plans to list in Canada due to better regulatory environment. The company is an attractive opportunity since it has over 60% of the market share in Maine, 11 dispensaries in Illinois, one of the largest dispensaries in the Boston area and other attractive and profitable locations, said Berger.

Based in Ontario, CannTrust, a federally regulated licensed medical cannabis producer, is also planning to go public on the TSX this year. The company is an “attractive” opportunity, because it brings more than 40 years of pharmacy and healthcare experience to the cannabis industry. The company offers various proprietary products, operates out of a 40,000-square foot state-of-the-art hydroponic facility and its lab conducts testing and research on their products.

Risks in Cannabis Stocks

The risk of investing in IPOs for retail traders can be high, especially if they are not familiar with the industry since it is a nascent sector.

“For traders like myself IPOs are only interesting to me if they’re in an emerging market or if as a private company they have solved a problem or created a revenue generating efficiency,” said Spatafora. “IPOs do help fund innovation occasionally on a global sense, but they also pull liquidity from sectors and break hearts such as Snapchat.”

The most recent Canadian company to go public was medical producer Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), which went public on the TSX Venture Exchange in December 2016.

“This offering was nothing short of success,” said Berger. “Retail accredited investors purchased shares at $0.75 and $1.15 before the IPO. Once the shares commenced trading, Emblem was trading above the $3 level.”

Although the cannabis market is burgeoning, some newcomers could wind up not being profitable for several years. Choosing the winners is not always an exact science. Investors should be wary and conduct due diligence since popular stocks are not always profitable.

“Cannabis is an emerging market and as an investment it is a once in three generation opportunity that is barely through its first inning,” Spatafora said. “Just like dot com investors needed to pick their spots to invest in, people should not make just any marijuana investment.”

Investing in an early stage company is often riskier, said Berger.

“While the cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the world, leaning to an influx in the number of cannabis companies going public, we have seen several highly anticipated IPOs not live up to expectations and burn through its working capital before being able to deliver on its promises,” he said. “Investors need to look into the company’s balance sheet and determine if it has enough capital to execute on its plan and to make sure its deploying capital to the right places and not on management’s salaries.”

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Cannabis and the Constitution: A Brief History of Cannabis in the U.S.

Lisa Rough

The Constitution of the United States is arguably the most important document in the history of this country, aside from possibly the Declaration of Independence. It forms the backbone of America’s most basic rights, liberties, and laws upon which democracy is founded.

In its original form, the Constitution contained no mention of drugs or alcohol. In order to enact alcohol prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment was introduced and ratified in 1919, specifically stating that the production, transport, and sale of alcohol was illegal. The prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, until the Twenty-first Amendment was introduced to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment in its entirety and re-legalize alcohol.

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

The first international prohibition of drugs came in the form of the International Opium Convention, an international drug treaty commissioned in response to the rising opium trade. The International Opium Convention was signed on January 23, 1912 and went into force globally in 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. The initial objective of the treaty was not prohibition or criminalization of drugs, but rather restricting exports of opium, coca, and cannabis.

In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to deem cannabis, along with alcohol, morphine, and opium, as “addictive and/or dangerous.” The law required drug labels to list any of these ingredients, and was primarily a “truth in labeling” law, although it was credited with paving the way for the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Curiously, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other such drugs continued to be available legally without a prescription, so long as they were properly labeled.

Then, along came Harry Anslinger.

RELATED STORY

The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

As head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger took note of the rising use of cannabis in the 1930’s. In 1935, he urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt the Uniform State Narcotic Act, using the Hearst newspaper chain to promote the campaign. The Uniform State Act defined “habit forming drugs” as coca leaves, opium, “cannabis indica,” or “cannabis sativa,” and although only nine states adopted the regulations, it was drafted without any scientific study or evidentiary basis for the marijuana section.

Anslinger continued on a nationwide campaign against cannabis, declaring that marijuana causes temporary insanity. He produced films and advertisements that featured young people smoking cannabis, committing crimes, and killing themselves or others. This is exemplified in the infamous propaganda film, Reefer Madness.

The U.S. government official also made no compunctions about who, exactly, the campaign was aimed against. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” Anslinger said. “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” He also offered a charming portrait of the average cannabis consumer, to his knowledge. “Most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

RELATED STORY

It’s Time to Treat Medical Cannabis Like Medicine

In 1937, Anslinger drafted the Marijuana Tax Act, which did not criminalize the possession or use of cannabis; rather, it imposed a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone commercially dealing in cannabis or hemp.

Dr. William Woodward, legislative counsel to the American Medical Association, vehemently opposed the bill, noting that much of the “evidence” presented originated from Anslinger himself, and that the use of the word “marijuana,” which was largely unknown at the time, prevented physicians from realizing they would lose cannabis as medicine. “Marijuana is not the correct term,” argued Woodward. “Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”

Anslinger may not have actually created the law to prohibit cannabis, but he is certainly responsible for changing the public perception of cannabis from an innocuous substance available in many tinctures and medicines at the pharmacy to a dangerous, addictive, stigmatized drug, a perception that persists today.


RELATED STORY

How Mexican ‘Herbolarias’ Transformed Hemp into Psychoactive Marijuana

In 1969, Richard Nixon drafted the Controlled Substances Act, the legislation that criminalized the use and possession of cannabis, and ruled that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no established medicinal value. The term “controlled substance” was defined to exclude alcohol and tobacco, an important exemption, as these are two of the most widely used drugs (with some of the most addictive properties).

The United States Constitution was drafted in order to spread power among many groups, by a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person has too much power. Thus, the Controlled Substances Act could be changed by the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, or by petition from any interested party.

Since 1970, there have been numerous petitions to reschedule cannabis. The first petition was filed by NORML in 1972 and was not given a hearing until 1986, and another attempt in 1981 from Representative Stewart McKinney was also shot down. Since then, it has been a recurrent theme of petition and denial through the years.

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge

During a hearing on the subject in 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that, “In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Whether or not the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether the prohibition of cannabis is truly for the safety of the country, or simply for the peace of mind of a few select opponents still entrenched in the past.

CONTINUED…

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

fresh toast logo

Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.

It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.

The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.

Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.

By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.

Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.

It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.

GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.

Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.

Be careful what you ask for.

More Mike Adams.

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TRUMP’S DHS CHIEF JUST FLIPPED! WHAT HE SAID ABOUT THE WAR ON DRUGS IS GAME-CHANGING!

 

Untitled

The Next News Network

Published on Apr 18, 2017

MORE INFO: http://CannaSense.com | Email Jordan jpage@cannasense.com | Sub for more: http://nnn.is/the_new_media | Eliot Nelson for the Huffington Post reports, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said that marijuana “is not a factor in the drug war,” placing him at odds with a number of other Trump administration officials.
Take action MORE INFO: http://CannaSense.com
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The “Lessor of Evils” as a Defense for Marijuana

 

MARY 2

 

I must start out with a initial plea of Guilty but Innocent in Order to initiate the Process of establishing no “Mens Rae” with the Motion of a “Lessor of Evils” defense, based on having no other choice but evil in the case at hand!

As for guilt, I have none and I have already proven it by my already having plead Guilty and Not! Based on a Motion for a “Lessor of Evils”.

I am then given the chance to introduce all the evidence in Court that in fact proves my innocence and my lack of guilt in the case or crime I am being charged for…

The real two evil choices you/we are currently given in a Marijuana Case is either ~

A)

I/you/we know we are being forced into choosing between the Evil of choosing to “Uphold” an evil Abusive LIE… = Unconstitutional Controlled Substance Act = Prohibition which they created to divide the Market place for double the profit in order to drive prices, as this also allows for more venues or avenues, for them to profit in while they enslave everyone we love… and everything through their unconstitutionally declared “Foreign Synthetic War” on Nature, I mean drugs! The “drug war” which evidence shows has already destroyed too much and too many in America… While be forced to give up my/your already won Supreme Court decision of Leary vs The U.S, which established Constitutional Inalienable Sovereign Freedoms and Rights… While we bend over for Evil…

Or

B) We risk being deemed evil and getting arrested, criminalized, going to prison, or even worse dying… shot by a cop… For doing the right thing and flexing my Constitutional Inalienable Sovereign freedoms and rights to utilize this plant untaxed, which was upheld in the Supreme Courts Ruling in Leary vs The U.S.!

For my/your/our needs and or the needs of others…

Which they have deemed as evil? And want to call me/you/us a criminal for  violating and breaking their Unconstitutional Illegal overreach and Acts of Congress and Statutes… Not Law! to use this non-toxic food as it was freely Divinely and Sacramentally given to us as a nontoxic most nutritious meat first!  As we also now know that we are all in fact, Endocannabinoid based species or life forms and we also know that it is in fact malnutrition that causes the majority of disease and death…

While many are suffering in pain, in jails or prison, starving and dying from not having this food and the genocide and Slaves being caused by all their propaganda Legal Lies – Legalize BS Babble being told by their Big Corporate Industrial Synthetic Military Prison Church Complex!

Just in order for us to… be, eat, heal, sleep, maintain,… Naturally as it was Divinely ordained by/in Nature and/or G-d…

As apposed to being forced to utilize addictive and/or become dependent and/or being poisoned by all of it… Their patented chemical synthetic look alikes… When we know for a fact, that Cannabis/Marijuana is non-toxic… Breaks Addiction and Dependency while it has has so many other good industrial uses… For our sustainability and tranquility!

https://marythomasspearsblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/is-no-mans-rae-the-plea-to-set-us-free/comment-page-1/#comment-5

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_of_two_evils_principle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leary_v._United_States

http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-statutory-law-and-constitutional-law

http://norml.org/library/item/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system

Rule or Law? The Difference Matters For Your Marijuana Business

By Daniel Shortt on October 28, 2015 Posted in Legal Issues, States

This is for federal bills, but it nicely illustrates how complicated the process can be.

Laws are different than rules and understanding the difference between the two can be important to your marijuana business’s bottom-line. I will use Washington State as the example.

In Washington, laws are generally enacted through initiative or through the legislative process. Initiatives allow voters to pass laws directly by popular vote. Washington legalized recreational marijuana by popular vote — Initiative 502 in 2012. The legislative process requires a bill pass through both Washington’s Senate and House of Representatives and then garner the Governor’s signature before becoming law. Recently, SB 5052 and HB 2136 were passed through the legislative process and established new Washington State laws regarding medical cannabis.

As is the case with other states with “robust regulation,” Washington cannabis businesses are also subject to rules created by state agencies without the political protections provided by initiatives and the legislative process. State agencies, like the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), are government entities given the power to regulate and govern a specific area or industry. These agencies are typically run by unelected officials. Agencies arguably create more efficient government because they a focus on one discreet area or industry, with expertise not usually available to legislatures and lawmakers.

A rule is an agency order, directive, or regulation that applies to the public generally. Rules are similar to laws because those who violate them may be subject to penalties and sanctions. Rules can and do change constantly, whereas laws tend to remain more static. The LCB’s rule-making process may begin with an individual’s petition to the LCB, but often the agency itself initiates the process against a cannabis business if it sees a need to do so.

To enact a rule, the LCB must publish notice of the rule-making in the Washington State Register. The LCB then holds a public hearing at which citizens are given an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. Citizens can also submit written comments to the LCB about the proposed rule. The LCB must consider the public comments and then issue an order of adoption, which explains the new rule and the basis for its adoption.  Agencies can also institute emergency rules, which are not subject to the above requirements and become effective immediately. These emergency rules only last for up to 120 days and they must be in response to some immediate issue or danger. The Washington Department of Health recently issued emergency rules for medical marijuana, for instance.

Despite similarities to laws, LCB rules are not subject to the same type of political recourse as laws. This is significant because LCB regulations have huge impacts on the cannabis marketplace. For example, in Initiative 502, voters enacted residency requirements that restrict issuance of cannabis licenses only to those who can demonstrate having spent a certain amount of time in the state (see here and here). The Initiative never mentions “True Party of Interest.” In its rule making though, the LCB created the term, True Party of Interest, and defined it, and now applies the residency requirements to any party deemed to be a True Party of Interest. The definition for a “True Party of Interest” includes all investors and the spouses of any shareholders or principal. Though never contemplated by the voters, the “True Party of Interest” rule significantly restricts the marijuana marketplace by making it difficult for out-of-state investors to put their funds into Washington State cannabis businesses. Moreover, Washington voters who disagree with the “True Party of Interest” rule have little recourse beyond lobbying to get this rule changed.

One of the best ways for citizens to get involved with LCB rule making is to comment during the agency’s rule-making process. Currently the LCB and the Washington State Department of Health are holding hearings regarding medical marijuana regulations. If you care about the future of the marijuana industry in Washington State you should make your voice heard at one or more of these hearings.

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House passes bill to prevent mandatory GMO labeling

 

"We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists."

 

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:39 pm | Updated: 6:01 pm, Thu Jul 23, 2015.

Associated Press |

WASHINGTON (AP) — Food companies would not have to disclose whether their products include genetically modified ingredients under legislation passed by the House Thursday.

The House bill is backed by the food industry, which has fought mandatory labeling efforts in several states around the country. The legislation, which passed 275-150, would prevent states from requiring package labels to indicate the presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

So far, Vermont is the only state set to require the labels. That law will take effect in July 2016 if it survives a legal challenge from the food industry. Maine and Connecticut have also passed laws requiring the labeling, but those measures don’t take effect unless neighboring states follow suit.

The country’s largest food companies say genetically modified foods are safe and that labels would be misleading. They say a patchwork of laws around the country would be expensive for companies and confusing for consumers.

"The reality is, biotechnology has time and time again proved safe," the bill’s sponsor, Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, said on the House floor. "We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists."

Advocates for the labels say people have a right to know what is in their food and criticize the legislation for trying to take away states’ ability to require the labels.

"What’s the problem with letting consumers know what they are buying?" asked Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. It also is made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.

The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration has said GMOs are safe, and the federal government does not support mandatory labels. Even so, the House bill would make it harder for the agency to require labeling nationally by laying out additional standards for such a policy.

At the same time, the legislation would step up FDA oversight by requiring that any new genetically engineered products be reviewed by the agency before they can be sold. That process is now voluntary for most modified foods.

The bill would also create a new certification process at the Agriculture Department for foods that are labeled free of GMOs. That would mean anyone wanting to use that label would eventually have to apply. Organic foods would be automatically certified, since they are already required to be free of engineered ingredients.

A December Associated Press-GfK poll found that two-thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages.

Many of those who support the labels say they have no problem buying food containing GMOs, but they think there should be more accountability in the food industry. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Wednesday in a speech opposing the bill that he buys genetically modified foods but thinks it should be a choice.

Michael Gruber of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the industry group leading the fight against mandatory labels, says those who want the labels are trying to scare people away from genetically modified foods. "This is to tear down brands in the name of right to know," Gruber said.

There is no similar bill in the Senate, although Sen. John Heaven, R-N.D., has said he is working on legislation.

It’s unclear whether President Barack Obama would sign the legislation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been supportive of genetically modified crops and has praised voluntary labeling solutions like special bar codes on packages to allow consumers to access information via smartphone. But the White House has not said whether it will endorse the House bill.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said after the vote that people who want to know what’s in their food will eventually win the fight.

Americans "are demanding the right to know," Shumlin said.

___

Associated Press writer Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.

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Marijuana could be a $35 billion market by 2020

Published: July 15, 2015 1:36 p.m. ET

 

If all 50 states were to fully legalize pot, it could generate big sales

 

By

KathleenBurke

Reporter

If all 50 U.S. states were to approve the consumption of marijuana for medical and recreational use, it could become a $35 billion market by 2020.

That’s according to GreenWave Advisors, an industry research firm that tracks retail sales in the four states and the District of Columbia that have already legalized it. Those markets have experienced explosive growth since marijuana was approved, demonstrating the strong opportunity for industry players and state governments eager to gather the tax on sales and replenish their coffers.

The sale of recreational marijuana in Washington began July 8, 2014, and has steadily grown to $31.9 million in June from $2 million in that first month, or a total of nearly $180 million for the first 12 months, according to an analysis by Marijuana Business Daily of data from the state’s Liquor Control Board.

The Washington market is catching up on recreational sales in Colorado, which began in January 2014. Colorado state retailers brought in about $305 million in sales in 2014, according to GreenWave Advisors.

See also: Get marijuana on demand for $95 a month

Analysts attribute the growth in sales to a variety of factors, primarily the conversion of a long-existing black market to a regulated one.

“We’ve never had an industry that was a black market industry of this size,” said Leslie Bocskor, founder of cannabis industry consulting firm Electrum Partners.

Steve Gormley, chief business development officer at OSL Holdings, Inc. (OSLH), a company focused on consumer advocacy and social activism, compared legalization to the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933.

“As was the case in advance of the federal repeal of alcohol prohibition, there is a landscape of opportunity in states that allow for the use of recreational or medical marijuana,” Gormley said.

Analysts identify California as the watershed state that would lead to the rest of the country approving full legalization. State voters will decide on the issue on the November 2016 ballot.

“California is the big kahuna,” said Matt Karnes, founder of GreenWave Advisors.

Gormley agreed. “…It is a tremendous market, with its proximity to Washington and Colorado, there is an advantage from a revenue standpoint of legalizing recreational, and we will start to see other states moving rapidly in the same direction.”

As the recreational industry grows, there will be increasing opportunities for businesses to enter the market.

“This is an industry that is allowing people to come in and start businesses that they otherwise might not have been able to start,” Bocskor said. “The events and pressures—pressure for regulation of markets, federal legality versus state legality—create a unique business environment never seen before.”

See also: Marijuana moms shatter the grass ceiling

Though the budding market might seem attractive to potential investors, Gormley advises careful research before dedicating funds.

“The reality is you want to make investments in companies with solid fundamentals rather than concepts, specifically publicly traded companies in the space,” Gormley said. “If investors are going to go in privately, you need to have a well-developed network of people inside the industry. There are a lot of crooks out there, and investors can get fleeced. ”

Despite the potential risks, analysts expect the market to continue its upward trajectory for the foreseeable future.

“It will eventually plateau, but we still have a few years of growth,” Bocskor said. “Growth begets growth.”

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Prohibitionists are Overstating Feds vs. State Marijuana Legalization Case to Media

by David Borden, December 10, 2012, 02:54pm

Posted in:

A mostly great piece in Rolling Stone this weekend, "Obama’s Pot Problem," missed the mark on the federal preemption question — can the feds shut down Washington and Colorado’s legalized regulation systems? Tim Dickinson wrote the following on that subject:

[T]he administration appears to have an open-and-shut case: Federal law trumps state law when the two contradict. What’s more, the Supreme Court has spoken on marijuana law: In the 2005 case Gonzales v. Raich contesting medical marijuana in California, the court ruled that the federal government can regulate even tiny quantities of pot – including those grown and sold purely within state borders – because the drug is ultimately connected to interstate commerce. If the courts side with the administration, a judge could issue an immediate injunction blocking Washington and Colorado from regulating or taxing the growing and selling of pot – actions that would be considered trafficking under the Controlled Substances Act.

But a former Bush administration official quoted in the New York Times on Thursday, former DOJ civil division head Gregory Katsas, made the opposite prediction. Katsas was "skeptical" that a preemption lawsuit would succeed, according to the Times. Why? Perhaps because it’s not just that the feds can’t force states to criminalize drug possession, as Kevin Sabet selectively pointed out to Dickinson. It’s also the case that they probably can’t directly force the states to criminalize sales either. The Controlled Substances Act in fact leans against federal preemption of state drug policy, as pointed out in a law professors brief on preemption submitted in a California case this year.

Dickinson also pointed out that federal officials had used threats to prosecute state employees involved in implementing regulations for medical marijuana. In my opinion the US Attorney letters were deliberately vague — scary enough to influence state officials, but in most if not all cases stopping short of explicitly making that threat. A better piece of evidence, I think, is that in 16 years of state medical marijuana laws, no federal prosecutor has ever tried to actually invalidate such a law in court, not even after the Raich ruling. Why not? They must not think they have a slam dunk case. And if preemption is not a slam dunk for medical marijuana, then it’s not a slam dunk when it comes to legalization either, although there are additional arguments to throw against full legalization.

The reality is that no one knows how this will turn out if it goes to court. Raich established that federal police agencies can use their powers in medical marijuana states to continue to criminalize marijuana federally, justified by the Interstate Commerce Clause. But that is not the same as having the power to forbid states from granting exceptions to the states’ own anti-marijuana sales laws, which in legal terms is what the regulatory frameworks do, and plenty of smart lawyers are skeptical that they can do that. This is not a slam dunk either way.

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