Tag Archives: DEA

Colorado girl suing U.S. attorney general to legalize medical marijuana nationwide

Posted 9:24 pm, November 9, 2017, by Rob Low,

LARKSPUR, Colo. — Alexis Bortell is hardly the first child whose family moved to Colorado for access to medical marijuana.

But the 12-year-old is the first Colorado kid to sue U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions over the nation’s official marijuana policy.

“As the seizures got worse, we had to move to Colorado to get cannabis because it’s illegal in Texas,” said Bortell, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as a young child.

The sixth-grader said traditional medicine wasn’t helping her seizures and doctors in her home state were recommending invasive brain surgery.

But a pediatrician did mention an out-of-state option: Medical marijuana.

Shortly after moving to Larkspur, Bortell’s family began using a strain of cannabis oil called Haleigh’s Hope.

A drop of liquid THC in the morning and at night has kept her seizure-free for 2 1/2 years.

“I’d say it`s a lot better than brain surgery,” Bortell said.

But Bortell said the federal prohibition on marijuana prevents her from returning to Texas.

“I would like to be able to visit my grandparents without risking being taken to a foster home,” Bortell said on why she’s joined a lawsuit that seeks to legalize medical marijuana on the federal level.

Haleigh’s Hope.

Since the 1970s the Drug Enforcement Agency has classified marijuana as a Schedule One drug, which in the eyes of federal policy makes marijuana more dangerous than meth or cocaine and on par with heroin.

“How is that rationale? It’s not compassionate either, but rationality? It’s just outrageous,” said Alexis’ dad Dean Bortell.

He showed his backyard fields, where he grows five acres of marijuana plants used to derive the medicine that helps his daughter and patients he’s never met.

“When you look at it from a distance and you see it saving their lives, me as a father and an American, I go, what are we doing? How could you possibly look at someone who`s benefiting from this as a medicine and threaten to take it away?” Bortell said.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

Alexis’ New York attorney Michael Hiller argues it should be legal nationwide.

“As it pertains to cannabis, the (Controlled Substances Act) is irrational and thus unconstitutional,” said Heller, who added the U.S. government “made a representation that cannabis has medical application for the treatments of Parkinson`s Disease, HIV-induced dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and yet at the same time the United States government maintains that there is absolutely no medical benefit for the use of cannabis. That is of course absurd.”

Denver attorney Adam Foster represents marijuana businesses.

He said he thought the lawsuit was clever but admitted its success might be a long shot.

“Whenever you sue the government, the deck is really stacked against you,” Foster said.

But he added the federal government might have a hard time arguing medical marijuana has no known medical benefits.

“We now live in an era where 62 percent of Americans live in a state where the medical use of cannabis is legal at the state level,” he said.

Alexis Bortell said she hopes her lawsuit will normalize medical marijuana but also legalize it.

“We’ll be able to be treated like what you call ‘normal’ families,” she said.

Bortell is joined in the lawsuit by another child, a military veteran, a marijuana advocacy group and former Broncos player Marvin Washington, who played on the 1998 Super Bowl-winning team.

The federal government has already lost its first motion to have the case dismissed.

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

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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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SITSA creates a new “Schedule A” that gives the Attorney General of the United States the power to ban any “analogue” of an opioid that controls pain or provides an increase of energy.

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Kratom Advocates:

If you’ve had one of those days that starts with friends calling you with bad news, and the news just gets worse and worse as the day goes on – then that describes my day perfectly.

On Friday of last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, dropped a bill in the U.S. Senate that our lobbyists believe will give the FDA and DEA a backdoor way of banning kratom completely in the United States.

S. 1327 is euphemistically called the SITSA Act.  And a companion bill in the US House of Representatives has already been filed, H.R. 2851, by Representative John Katco of New York.

The SITSA Act stands for the “Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017.”
SITSA creates a new “Schedule A” that gives the Attorney General of the United States the power to ban any “analogue” of an opioid that controls pain or provides an increase of energy.

That is kratom. Because kratom’s 2 primary alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, though not opioids, act similarly in some ways.
They could of just called this bill the “Schedule Kratom” Act.

This legislation will allow the Attorney General, and his supporters at the DEA, to add kratom to Schedule A on a “temporary basis” that will last for 5 years.
And once added to Schedule A, the Attorney General can convert it to a permanent schedule.
After everything that we’ve fought successfully against and endured together as a movement, our lobbyists are concerned that this is now the perfect storm for banning kratom.

Under the current Controlled Substances Act, the FDA and DEA have to prove conclusively that kratom is dangerously addictive and unsafe for consumer use. That’s why we were able to stop them in their tracks when they tried to ram through an “emergency scheduling” ban on kratom.

And it is why the FDA is having such a tough time in finding some justification to schedule kratom under regular rulemaking.

So now the anti-kratom bureaucrats in Washington want to ban kratom simply by claiming it has the same effects as an opioid – calling it an “analogue” of the opioid.

And the SITSA Act can enforce a ban on kratom by criminalizing any manufacturer or distributor of kratom. Ten years imprisonment just for manufacturing or selling a kratom product, and a fine of $500,000 if you are an individual, $2,500,000 if the defendant is a company.

If you import or export kratom, it is a 20-year sentence.

And then there are harsh penalties for what they call “false labeling” of a Schedule A substance.
That’s why am writing – because I need your help again.

We have to convince Sen. Grassley, Sen. Feinstein, and Representative Katko that they have to exempt natural botanical plants from the SITSA Act.
We have to act quickly, because I learned today that the House Judiciary Committee is looking to schedule a Hearing before they leave for recess next month.

So I hope you will help by doing three specific things:

1.    Click on the link below and sign our petition that the AKA will have delivered to every member of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. 

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION URGING LAWMAKERS TO REMOVE KRATOM FROM THE SITSA ACT.

2.    I need you to pick up the phone and call Sen. Grassley’s office, Sen. Feinstein’s office, and Representative Katco’s office. When the staff member answers the phone, tell them that their boss should exclude natural botanicals like kratom products from the SITSA Act.

Here are the phone numbers you should call:

Senator Grassley:    (202) 224-3744
Senator Feinstein:    (202) 224-3841
Congressman Katco:    (202) 225-3701

When you call, be polite, but firm.  Kratom should be exempted from SITSA.

3.    Please click on the donation link below and help us once again to take on this fight with a team of lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations professionals.  Please consider making a monthly contribution to the AKA.

DONATION LINK TO HELP THE AKA FIGHT THIS LEGISLATION.

I know I am asking a lot.

But we need to fight back hard, or they will steal our freedoms from us to make our own decisions about our health and well-being.

So please, sign the petition, call the the sponsors of SITSA, and please, please, give as generous a contribution as you can to help us put our team on the ground in Washington, D.C.

With your help, we have established ourselves as a real force in Washington.

With your continued help – help that I am so grateful for – we can win this battle against the enemies of kratom.

Your contribution will help us hire the lawyers we need for a brief on why this legislation violates due process and current law; our lobbyists to knock on doors on Capitol Hill; and our public relations team to rally the press to tell our story.

We will stand up for freedom.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Susan Ash
Founder and Spokesperson
American Kratom Association
www.americankratom.org

http://mailchi.mp/americankratom/new-legislative-attack-on-kratom?e=2709219685

https://www.facebook.com/kratom.us/photos/rpp.260289027341069/873568049346494/?type=3&theater

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…

DoJ Task Force Moves to Review Federal Cannabis Policy

In a DoJ memo, AG Jeff Sessions called for a subcommittee on marijuana and an email shows the DEA inquiring about Colorado cases.

By Aaron G. Biros

In a memo sent throughout the Department of Justice on April 5th, attorney general Jeff Sessions outlines the establishment of the Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. That task force, largely focused on violent crime, is supposed to find ways that federal prosecutors can more effectively reduce illegal immigration, violent crimes and gun violence.

The task force is made up of subcommittees, according to the memo, and one of them is focused on reviewing federal cannabis policy. “Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” the memo reads. “Another subcommittee will explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies, and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.” Those existing policies that Sessions refers to in the memo could very well be the 2013 Cole Memorandum, an Obama administration decree that essentially set up a framework for states with legal cannabis laws to avoid federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.

In the past, Sessions has said he thinks the Cole Memo is valid, but remains skeptical of medical cannabis. In the last several months, comments made by Sessions and White House press secretary Sean Spicer have sparked outrage and growing fears among stakeholders in the cannabis industry, including major business players and state lawmakers. As a general feeling of uncertainty surrounding federal cannabis policy grows, many are looking for a safe haven, which could mean looking to markets outside of the U.S., like Canada, for example.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Washington State’s former Attorney General Rob McKenna, Washington State’s former Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Moran, and Maryland’s former Chief Deputy Attorney General Kay Winfree recently went on the record identifying the BioTrack THC traceability system as fully compliant with the Cole Memo. “The key to meeting the requirements of the Cole Memorandum is ‘both the existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with that system’,” says the former attorney general and chief deputy attorneys general in a press release. “As described above, Washington State has a robust, comprehensive regulatory scheme that controls the entire marijuana supply chain.

The email sent to Colorado prosecutor Michael Melito

The flagship component of this regulatory scheme is the WSLCB’s seed to sale inventory system, the BioTrackTHC Traceability System.” Those commendations from a former attorney general could provide some solace to business operating with the seed-to-sale traceability software.

Still though, worries in the industry are fueled by speculation and a general lack of clarity from the Trump Administration and the Department of Justice. In an email obtained by an open records request and first reported by the International Business Times, a DEA supervisor asked a Colorado prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office about a number of cannabis-related prosecutions. The DEA supervisor asked for the state docket numbers of a handful of cases, including one involving cannabis being shipped out of state, according to The Denver Post. “Some of our intel people are trying to track down info regarding some of DEA’s better marijuana investigations for the new administration,” reads the email. “Hopefully it will lead to some positive changes.” So far, only speculations have emerged pertaining to its significance or lack thereof and what this could possibly mean for the future of federal cannabis policy.

CONTINUE READING…

H.R.2020 – To provide for the rescheduling of marijuana into schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act

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115th Congress (2017-2018) | Get alerts

Bill

Sponsor:
Rep. Gaetz, Matt [R-FL-1] (Introduced 04/06/2017)

Committees:
House – Energy and Commerce; Judiciary

Latest Action:
04/06/2017 Referred to House Judiciary  (All Actions)

ext: H.R.2020 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Bill Information (Except Text)

As of 04/08/2017 text has not been received for H.R.2020 – To provide for the rescheduling of marijuana into schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.

CONTINUE TO DETAILS…

DEA Approves Synthetic Marijuana for Company That Spent $500K to Keep Weed Illegal

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March 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Written by Alex Thomas

(ANTIMEDIA) Lobbying in the nation’s capitol is a billion dollar industry, but sometimes, companies dip their toes into state and local politics, as well. When giant corporations want to influence bills and national elections, they generally spread their money around, cozying up to a number of politicians and shaking hands with numerous government officials. However, at the local level, high-dollar financing is a bit more transparent.

Insys Therapeutics is a small player on the national scale. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that they spent only $120,000 lobbying in D.C. in 2016. But in Arizona, where the company is based, they forked over $500,000 — and they did it to keep marijuana illegal in the traditionally Republican state.

Last September, the Washington Post first reported the large donation, which was one of the largest single contributions to any anti-legalization campaign ever.” Insys’ money was given to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a localized political action committee that opposed the state’s ballot measure to legalize cannabis in 2016. That measure was ultimately defeated, and now the group is fighting the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, a bill that could hit Arizona ballot boxes on November 8, 2018.

According to the full text of the bill, acquired by Anti-Media via ballotpedia.org, the application was filed at the beginning of March. It states that “marijuana and cannabis have been used safely for thousands of years for recreational, medical, religious and industrial purposes.” The bill also cited a study funded in part by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that “did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs.”

The bill proposes a number of changes that would essentially legalize marijuana. These include:

“There shall be no limit on the number of cannabis plants in a personal grow that are not yet in a state of florescence.”

“All persons at least twenty-one years of age are authorized to maintain a home garden provided the person obtains a transaction privilege tax license.”

“Commercial grows, home gardens and cannabis sales are not authorized within 1,000 feet of a school.”

According to the Washington Post, Insys has “developed a drug based on a synthetic ingredient, THC. Called Syndros, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July for treatment of AIDS and cancer patients’ symptoms.”

Insys was just given preliminary approval for Syndros from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) this week.

However, Insys has a shady history as a big pharmaceutical company, as they manufacture Subsys fentanyl, a deadly painkiller. An NBC report found that as of 2015, Insys had enjoyed sales of $147.2 million for their high-risk drug. They also came under investigation for the aggressive manner in which they were marketing and selling their drug. The NBC study quoted the Oregon assistant attorney general, who stated, “I’ve been investigating drug cases for about 15 years now, and the conduct that we saw in this case was among the most unconscionable that I’ve seen.”

For Insys, the fight against marijuana legalization has been long and arduous. In 2011, they retained the lobbying firm Hyman, Phelps & Mcnamara to nudge the DEA against legalization. In a statement to the Post, the company claimed they oppose marijuana legalization because “marijuana’s safety hasn’t been demonstrated through the federal regulatory process.”

Safer Arizona, the group fighting for legalization, features the tagline, “We don’t have a drug problem, we have a political problem,” on their website. Marijuana legalization in Arizona would be a huge step for nationwide legalization, as the state is seen as a stronghold of traditional American values. However, if big pharma continues to bankroll the opposition, the political action groups fighting against legalization will have more money to fund campaigns for local politicians who share their sympathies.

CONTINUE READING…

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

 

 

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(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.

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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.

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Don’t expect nationwide marijuana legalization under the Trump administration

Washington DC marijuana handout

With the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, the United States got a new president. And with that new president comes a long list of new appointees across various federal agencies and departments. While President Trump’s cabinet selection process has played out publicly, a variety of folks from former president Barack Obama’s administration have quietly stayed on.

One of the most prominent people that’s staying on is the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, who was appointed by former attorney general Loretta Lynch in May 2015.

And that’s particularly notable, as the DEA is responsible for enforcing drug policy in the United States. Most importantly for most Americans, Rosenberg is in charge of enforcing marijuana illegality in the US — an area where, traditionally, the federal government and individual US states have butted heads.

For instance, California legalized medical marijuana use in 1996; despite legality in California, the drug remained illegal on a federal level, and the US government — through the DEA — policed it as such. California medical dispensaries were raided by the federal government repeatedly, regardless of its legality in the eyes of the State of California.

That relationship dramatically changed in 2013 due to a document known as “The Cole Memo” (written by deputy attorney general James Cole). The document re-focused federal resources away from prosecuting individuals who were operating legally within their own states, and instead focused on containment and prevention.

In so many words, it directed federal agencies to stop clashing with state-level marijuana policy.

And DEA head Chuck Rosenberg has upheld that memo.

“He didn’t have too much of a problem following the administration’s directives on that issue,” Marijuana Policy Project senior communications manager Morgan Fox told Business Insider. “And it says a lot for continuity — things will remain relatively the same at the DEA.” 

Of course, this is all up for change. If Trump’s attorney general appointee, Senator Jeff Sessions, is appointed, he could direct the DEA to take a more hardline stance. And if President Trump himself decides to take a more hardline stance, that would also impact how the DEA operates when it comes to federal marijuana policy. To be clear, neither Sessions nor Trump have indicated as much.

As Fox told Business Insider, “The DEA head acts as the direction of the attorney general who acts at the direction of the president.” That said, both President Trump and Senator Sessions have indicated intentions to keep the status quo: allowing states to legislate and police their own drug laws.

In 2016, alongside Trump winning the presidency, several states enacted laws either outright legalizing recreational marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution/sales or legalized medical use. For the foreseeable future, it looks like the US government will continue to defer to individual states in terms of marijuana policy.

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