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Marijuana Banking Measure Rejected By Congressional Committee

Tom Angell , Contributor

A powerful congressional committee voted on Wednesday to reject a measure to protect banks that open accounts for marijuana businesses from being punished by federal financial regulators. Supporters then scrambled to craft a more limited measure focused on medical cannabis businesses, but it was ultimately withdrawn before a vote could take place.

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

The broader measure would have prevented the U.S. Department of Treasury from taking any action to “penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products” in accordance with state or local law.

After a lengthy and impassioned debate during which at least 19 lawmakers spoke, it was defeated on a voice vote by the House Appropriations Committee.

Despite the fact that a growing number of states are legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use, many financial institutions have remained reluctant to work with cannabis businesses for fear of running afoul of money laundering laws under ongoing federal prohibition.

As a result, many marijuana growers, processors and retailers operate on a cash-only basis, which can make them targets for robberies.

The issue is “not whether or not one approves of marijuana,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), the chief sponsor of both banking amendments, before the vote. “This is about public safety and financial transparency.”

Either rider, if it were successfully attached to legislation to fund the Treasury Department for Fiscal Year 2019, would have provided added assurance to banks that federal officials won’t close them down for working with the cannabis industry.

A similar measure was approved by the full House of Representatives in 2014 by a margin of 231 to 192, but was not included in final spending legislation that year, and congressional Republicans have since blocked floor votes on most cannabis measures.

In the lead up to the Wednesday banking vote, several advocates and Capitol Hill staffers expressed confidence in interviews that the measure would pass. But a number of likely Republican supporters were absent during the debate, and others who are sympathetic to marijuana law reform expressed varying concerns about the specific proposal. As a result, supporters did not force a roll call tally following the defeat on a voice voice.

Joyce then went back to the drawing board and crafted the narrower medical-focused amendment, which he hoped would find enough support to pass. But after a brief debate on the second proposal, Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) asked Joyce three times to withdraw the amendment instead of forcing a vote. The Ohio congressman twice pressed ahead and said he wanted the committee to weigh in on the measure, only to give in at the last moment and pull the measure.

By seeking to adopt the language in the appropriations panel, before the overall spending bill heads to the Rules Committee, which is where marijuana amendments have gone to die for the past several years, advocates were attempting to circumvent an effective blockade that has prevented progress on cannabis reform in the House.

In a similar move last month, the Appropriations Committee approved a measure to protect state medical cannabis laws from Justice Department interference following several instances of that measure being blocked by the Rules Committee.

In a separate sign of the mainstreaming of marijuana politics on the other side of the Capitol, on Wednesday the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies included that far-reaching medical marijuana language in the initial version of the Justice Department funding bill as introduced by Republican leaders, meaning that no vote or amendment will even be necessary to advance the provision in that chamber this year.

The Senate panel is scheduled to take up its version of the Treasury Department funding bill, which is called the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, next week.

The Fraternal Order of Police, which opposes legalization, sent a letter this week urging House lawmakers to reject the cannabis banking move.

Letter to @USRepRodney & @NitaLowey advising them of our strong opposition to any amendment that would allow the marijuana industry full access to the American banking system. Drug cartels will be given the opportunity to launder money under the guise of marijuana normalization pic.twitter.com/y5a0gHPIUi

— National FOP (@GLFOP) June 12, 2018

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Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would allow states to regulate marijuana without federal interference.

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Warren and Gardner, who both represent states with legal recreational pot, introduced the legislation, known as Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, as a response to the Trump administration’s hard-line stance against the drug. 

The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a framework that says it no longer applies to those following state, territory or tribal laws “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of [marijuana].”

“It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies,” Warren tweeted with a video of her and Gardner speaking at a press conference announcing the measure. 

It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies. Watch live as @SenCoryGarder and I discuss our new legislation that would let states, territories, & tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana – without federal interference. https://t.co/BVcvxomhld

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2018

Gardner said outlawing legalized pot was like “putting the ketchup back in the bottle,” and hit current finance laws for making it difficult for marijuana businesses, because the substance is illegal according to the federal government.

“This city of Denver, the state of Colorado, can collect taxes … they can take it to the bank,” Gardner said. “But if you’re in the business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict between the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy.”

Warren and Gardner had announced a partnership in April in an attempt to hold President Trump to his word about respecting states rights.

Warren reportedly said the goal of the legislation is to “ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”

Warren and Gardner’s proposed legislation comes in the face of increasing opposition toward marijuana from the White House.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, in January rolled back an Obama-era policy that gave states freedom to manage recreational use.

In May 2017, he sent a letter to congressional leaders asking that they eliminate an amendment that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal money to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 29.

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Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

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By Sophie Tatum and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN)   Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to propose legislation decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level.

While Schumer, who was elected to the Senate two decades ago, has been supportive of medicinal marijuana, he has now “evolved” his thinking on recreational marijuana.

“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” the New York Democrat said in a statement Friday announcing his plans to introduce a new bill in the Senate.

“My thinking — as well as the general population’s views — on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do,” he said.

    Schumer announced the proposed legislation Thursday in an interview with “Vice News Tonight.”

    The senator told Vice News he had “seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.”

    Trump promises GOP lawmaker to protect states’ marijuana rights

    Schumer further explained his decision in a Medium post Friday.

    “A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime,” Schumer wrote. “Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. This is not only misguided, but it undermines the basic principles of fairness and equal opportunity that are foundational to the American way of life.”

    According to Schumer’s office, under the new bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of substances classified under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Schumer’s legislation would leave in place decisions by states on how to regulate marijuana, the authority of federal law enforcement to penalize trafficking from states that have legalized the drug to those that have not, and federal regulation of marijuana advertising so children aren’t targeted.

    The bill also seeks to allocate funds for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses and public health research regarding the effects of THC, the main active chemical in marijuana.

    CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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    International Drug Scheduling; … Cannabis Plant and Resin; Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis; Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol; …Cannabidiol; Request for Comments…

    plant

    International Drug Scheduling; Convention on Psychotropic Substances; Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; Cannabis Plant and Resin; Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis; Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol; Stereoisomers of Tetrahydrocannabinol; Cannabidiol; Request for Comments

    A Notice by the Food and Drug Administration on 04/09/2018

    This document has a comment period that ends in 13 days. (04/23/2018)

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances. These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs. WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs. This notice requesting comments is required by the Controlled Substances Act (the CSA).

    PLEASE FOLLOW THIS ORIGINAL SOURCE LINK TO SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS…HERE!

    Marijuana to Stay A Schedule I Drug, Federal Judge Denies Reclassification

    Image result for alexis bortell

    By Anushree Madappa On 02/27/18

    On Monday, a federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a request to reclassify marijuana — currently a Schedule I drug, leaving the plaintiffs in a limbo after many states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.

    The plaintiffs — Marvin Washington, Dean Bartell, Alexis Bartell, Jose Belen, Sebastien Cotte, Jagger Cotte, along with the Cannabis Cultural Association Inc. — filed the petition challenging classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, hoping that it’s reclassification would pay way for legalization of cannabis across the nation. They sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the federal court.

    They petitioners claimed that the “current scheduling of marijuana violates due process because it lacks a rational basis.”

    For decades, Marijuana has been under the Schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act, the highest level of drug classification making it on par with dangerous drugs like heroin. The government has repeatedly rejected appeals for reclassification. The substances in this schedule have “a high potential for abuse,” (2) “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and (3) there is “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”

    Deeming marijuana as a highly dangerous drug, the U.S. Congress proffered the power to reclassify the drug with the attorney general. The power to reclassify was also granted to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), provided the attorney general signs off on the petition to reclassify the drug based on medical and scientific data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The data should be consistent with the argument for reclassification.

    While dismissing the petition, which argued that there was no “rational basis” for the Congress to classify Marijuana under Schedule I, Judge Alkin K Hellerstein said, “By framing their claim in terms of the statutory factors outlined in Section 8 l 2(b) (1), plaintiffs’ lawsuit is best understood as a collateral attack on the various administrative determinations not to reclassify marijuana into a different drug schedule.”

    “As such, plaintiffs’ claim is barred because plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies,” he added.

    The “exhaustion rule” generally implies the plaintiffs to go through all parties and exhaust all “administrative remedies” before moving to the federal courts, which the judge found was not followed in the case.

    By approaching the federal court, the petitioners chose to avoid the same fate dealt to previous complaints that challenged the administration agency and lost in 2016, the judge said.

    In 2016, a request to reclassify marijuana was denied by the DEA. In a letter to the petitioners, the agency said, “HHS concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision.”

    The federal court judge said he agrees with the previous verdict given by Judge Wolford of the Western District of New York in the United States v. Green case where he said the petition did not challenge the DEA’s decision “to conclude that there is no currently accepted medical use for marijuana” but the constitutional issue is “whether there is any conceivable basis to support the placement of marijuana on the most stringent schedule under the [Controlled Substance Act] CSA.”

    In a document stating the verdict, Hellerstein said, “Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under any constitutional theory, all of plaintiffs’ remaining claims are also dismissed.”

    The judge concluded that the “defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint is granted. Plaintiffs have already amended their complaint once, and I find that further amendments would be futile.”

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    RELATED:

    Alexis Bortell, 12, Won’t Let Court Loss Stop Jeff Sessions Medical Pot Fight  (1-27-18)

    Last year, then-eleven-year-old Colorado resident and medical marijuana patient Alexis Bortell joined other plaintiffs in a lawsuit against pot-hating Attorney General Jeff Sessions over federal scheduling of cannabis. Yesterday, February 26, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit, but Bortell, now twelve, wasn’t distressed. Shortly after the news went public, a post appeared on her Facebook page reading, “We were ready. Smile. We know #SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] is where we are probably going.”   LINK

    The note ended with the hashtags #IStandWithAlexis and #AlexisBortell.

    http://floridamarijuana.net/breaking-news-jeff-sessions-dea-stand-trial-federal-lawsuit-de-schedule-cannabis/

    VA says it won’t study medical marijuana’s effect on veterans

    The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will not conduct research into whether medical marijuana could help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, as veterans groups are pushing for the use of the drug as an alternative to opioids and anti-depressants.

    In a letter to U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said VA’s ability to research medical marijuana is hampered by the fact that the drug is illegal federally. Shulkin’s letter came in response to an inquiry by 10 Democrats on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The letter asks Shulkin to commit the VA to investigating whether medical marijuana can help veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain and identify barriers to doing so.

    “VA is committed to researching and developing effective ways to help Veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain conditions,” Shulkin wrote in a response to the members of Congress. “However, federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such projects.”

    The response comes as at least 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, have legalized the use of medical marijuana in some form. Veterans groups, including the American Legion, have been pushing for the drug to be studied and used to help ease the effects of PTSD, chronic pain and other disorders.

    “What America’s veterans need prioritized right now is for cannabis to be treated as a health policy issue,” said Nick Etten, founder and executive director of the Veterans Cannabis Project. “We’re desperate for solutions for the conditions we’re dealing with.”

    According to a 2017 VA review, about 15 percent of veterans treated at outpatient PTSD clinics reported using marijuana in the previous six months. According to an American Legion phone survey released in November, 22 percent of veteran household respondents said they used cannabis to treat a medical condition. Ninety-two percent of veteran households surveyed for the Legion said they support researching whether marijuana can effectively treat mental and physical conditions and 82 percent said they want to have medical cannabis as a legal treatment option.

    Last month the Veterans Health Administration urged patients to discuss medical marijuana use with their doctors. The shift will allow doctors and patients to determine what, if any, effect marijuana use might have on treatment plans. Veterans were earlier concerned that admitting to marijuana use could jeopardize their benefits. But VA physicians still cannot refer patients to state medical marijuana programs because of the federal prohibition.

    [ VA Clears The Air On Talking To Patients About Marijuana Use ]

    John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution, said even though marijuana is illegal federally, research on the drug is not prohibited.

    “Obviously it is federally illegal, but there are no restrictions on doing scientific research on it. Universities do this all the time and there’s a process to go through,” he said, noting that the National Institute on Drug Abuse funds cannabis research. “It’s really a cop out for the VA to say, ‘oh, we’re not doing work on this because of federal law’ when actually federal law allows them to do that.”

    Shulkin’s response was “disappointing and unacceptable,” Walz, the House committee’s ranking member, said in a statement.

    “VA’s response not only failed to answer our simple question, but they made a disheartening attempt to mislead me, my colleagues and the veteran community in the process” by stating that the VA is restricted from conducting marijuana research. Walz, a veteran, said he plans to send another letter to Shulkin asking for further clarification.

    A spokesman for Shulkin pointed to the secretary’s past comments on medical marijuana. Shulkin said in May, “My opinion is, is that some of the states that have put in appropriate controls, there may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful. And we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that. But until the time that federal law changes, we are not able … to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful.”

    Shulkin said VA is offering a suite of alternative treatments for patients with PTSD, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture and hypnosis. The letter also said VA has a program to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed to patients with chronic pain; since 2013, Shulkin wrote, 33 percent fewer patients were receiving opioids.

    There has not been much research into marijuana for medical purposes, in large part because of regulatory hurdles and the fact that marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug along with substances including heroin. Until 2016, only researchers at the University of Mississippi were allowed to grow marijuana for scientific use; the DEA relaxed the rules and let other institutions apply to do so, though none have yet been approved.

    President Trump said during the campaign that he supports making medical marijuana available to the very sick. His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is a staunch opponent of marijuana. Sessions this month made it easier for prosecutors to enforce federal law in states that legalized marijuana. Eight states and the District allow the recreational use of marijuana.

    Shulkin cited a VA analysis of existing research, which found “insufficient evidence” that medical marijuana helps patients with chronic pain or PTSD and could increase harm in some areas, including car crashes. A study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that reviewed studies on the health effects of marijuana and associated products found they can provide a “significant reduction in pain symptoms” for chronic-pain patients. But many say there has been a paucity of research.

    “There has been no meaningful clinical research conducted on PTSD and brain injuries,” Etten said.

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    Congress saves medical marijuana patients from pot crackdown — for now

    Jonathan Bach, Statesman Journal Published 11:59 a.m. PT Dec. 22, 2017

    Federal protections for medical marijuana patients are safe for now thanks to an emergency resolution passed by Congress Thursday.

    Protections offered under the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment will need to make it into a final congressional spending package to extend past Jan. 19.

    That’s the expiration date of Thursday’s continuing resolution, a temporary measure that keeps the government running while federal lawmakers hash out the details of their 2018 fiscal-year spending plan. President Trump signed the emergency resolution Friday.

    While weed remains federally illegal, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment stops the Justice Department from cracking down on patients where state law permits medical marijuana use. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has condemned use of the drug.

    More: Seeking pot for pain, Oregon patient feels shortages

    U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, said, “Patients around the country who rely on medical marijuana for treatment — and the businesses that serve them — now have some measure of certainty. Our fight, however, continues to maintain these important protections in the next funding bill passed by Congress.”

    Jered DeCamp, who co-owns marijuana retailer Herbal Remedies in South Salem, was happy to hear the news. In addition to being an owner, he’s a medical marijuana patient and grower.

    “It’s nice to know they’re protecting us,” DeCamp said, though he wished the provisions extended past January.

    Congressional lawmakers passed a similar continuing resolution Dec. 7 to keep the government open through Friday.

    The newest extension comes after U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, announced he would cosponsor a bill to decriminalize marijuana across the nation. Passage of the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 would make the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment obsolete.

    More: Sen. Ron Wyden cosponsors bill to legalize marijuana across U.S.

    The amendment is named for U.S. Reps. Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

    Reach staff reporter Jonathan Bach by email at jbach@statesmanjournal.com or by phone at 503-399-6714.

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    “At a certain point, you have to realize this is against the law…”

    Image result for MARIJUANA JUSTICE

    Lawyers Handling Marijuana Business Operate in Hazy Legal Zone

    By Brian Melley | December 12, 2017

    Just as entrepreneurs getting into the retail pot industry need a good lawyer, some of those lawyers might be wise to consult an attorney of their own.

    Lawyers in the burgeoning business are entering a legal gray zone where the drug is permitted for some purpose in most states but illegal under federal law – in the same controlled substances category as heroin. Missteps could lead to prosecution for conspiracy, money laundering or aiding and abetting drug dealers.

    “Any lawyer that goes into this should be aware that a literal reading of federal law permits such a prosecution,”

    said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver marijuana policy law professor, whose research five years ago found lawyers more susceptible to being disbarred than criminally charged for cannabis-related work. “It probably makes sense for a lawyer to at least talk to a legal ethicist or get an opinion from a legal ethicist.”

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his opposition to legal weed last week and a congressional amendment prohibiting federal prosecutors from targeting medical marijuana is due to expire at the end of the year.

    Sessions has not said if he will reverse a longstanding Justice Department policy not to interfere with purveyors complying with state laws but to focus prosecutions on trafficking, sales to minors, cartels and gangs in the business, violence or gun use in cultivation or distribution, and pot grown on public land.

    Despite a few instances of lawyers being prosecuted in federal and state court – including a pending San Diego County case – more attorneys are jumping into cannabis law. Legal needs range from financing to permits, real estate, water law, intellectual property, contracts and banking.

    With California allowing recreational pot retail sales Jan. 1, interested investors are reaching out to attorneys like Mitch Kulick to find out how to safely finance the potentially lucrative industry.

    Kulick, a New York lawyer who offers his expertise in many states, recently gave his typical scare spiel to a real estate magnate about the possible legal consequences, and said he could only help mitigate risk so much.

    “At a certain point, you have to realize this is against the law. There’s no insurance policy to take away the risk,” Kulick said he told the man. “If I was already a billionaire, I might not be taking the risk.”

    Kulick, who once worked as a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission and a major international firm, had to do a similar risk analysis and soul searching before deciding to commit to the higher cause, so to speak.

    There has been a tipping point for many lawyers setting up boutique pot law firms and jumping from old-school law firms as demand for their services trumps fear of legal repercussions and the stoner stigma fades as more states legalize marijuana use.

    Attorney Chris Davis, who grew up in Berkeley around friends and family who use the drug, found people operating in the shadows who wanted to go legit when he returned to California from New York two years ago.

    “So many people were asking how to go legal and how to worry less,” said Davis, executive director of the National Cannabis Bar Association, which has about 300 members in the U.S. and Canada and is growing rapidly. “It became impossible to turn people away.”

    Lawyers specializing in the business see themselves at the frontier. That leaves a fascinating opportunity to shape laws and regulations and the daunting prospect of the unknown.

    “Lawyers like things to be settled,” Davis said. “It’s hard to get a lawyer to give you a yes or no answer. In the cannabis industry, there really is no yes or no answer.”

    Some state bar associations have given lawyers cover to counsel marijuana clients within the bounds of state law. Others say federal law keeps the area off-limits because ethical rules prevent them from helping clients commit crimes.

    Attorney Larry Donahue had several medical marijuana clients at his firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, until the state bar issued a January 2016 opinion that said lawyers could be exposed to ethics charges for such work. Donahue had to terminate four or five clients.

    “It was a very chilling opinion,” he said. “It basically scared the hell out of us.”

    While prosecutions of attorneys are rare, a case in San Diego has gotten the attention of many lawyers, mainly because of aggressive tactics employed by the district attorney.

    Attorney Jessica McElfresh was charged with several felonies alleging she helped a client hide evidence of marijuana manufacturing.

    The case might have received less notice if prosecutors didn’t unsuccessfully try to get around the sacrosanct lawyer-client privilege and seek communications with all her marijuana clients.

    McElfresh, who vehemently denies the charges, said she knew specializing in pot law carried risks, but she couldn’t foresee “in a million years” police raiding her house. She and her boyfriend and mother were escorted into her backyard, where she was handcuffed barefoot in her pajamas during the search.

    She said she didn’t take the risks some lawyers do by sitting on the boards of a client’s company, owning a share in a business or introducing clients to one another.

    “I am one of the most conservative and boring people you would ever meet in cannabis law,” she said. “The only way I could have been more careful would have been not to engage in this area of law at all.”

    A new district attorney took office after McElfresh was charged and allowed five co-defendants facing similar charges to plead guilty last month to misdemeanors and get probation.

    The San Diego district attorney’s office wouldn’t comment, but in a statement cited the recreational pot law passed by voters last year and the new administration’s “changing focus” as part of the reason for the plea deals. It’s not clear if that change will affect McElfresh’s pending case.

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    DeKalb father sues AG Jeff Sessions over marijuana

    Christopher Hopper, WXIA 11:45 PM. EDT July 27, 2017

    A DeKalb County father is suing the federal government, namely Attorney General Jeff Sessions over marijuana.

    Sebastien Cotte, Stone Mountain, is named in a federal lawsuit filed Monday, July 24 in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan challenging the Controlled Substances Act.

    Cotte has a 6-year-old son Jagger who suffers from a terminal neurological disorder called Leigh’s Disease.

    Cotte has been giving Jagger cannabis oil for nearly three years and believes it has extended his life.

    “Usually 95 percent of them do not make it past 4-years-old,” said Sebastien Cotte, suing the federal government.

    In September Jagger will turn seven.

    Around the time most kids die from this chronic disease, Cotte moved his family to Colorado and Jagger started cannabis oil.

    He no longer takes oxycontin or morphine.

    “It’s been game changing for him it’s one of the main reasons he’s still alive today,” he said.

    Cotte said marijuana’s medical benefits are keeping Jagger alive, and that’s why he’s a plaintiff in this lawsuit.

    Browser does not support iframes.

    It’s 90 pages long and is against Attorney General Jeff Session and the federal government for classifying marijuana in a category with heroin and LSD, highly addictive drugs with no accepted medical use.

    Cocaine and methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs and are considered less addictive and dangerous compared to marijuana.

    Cotte said that Schedule I status is what’s keeping Georgian’s who can legally use cannabis oil from being able to buy marijuana grown here.

    “To be able to get it here in Georgia, get a safe legal tested product here in which we could get if cannabis wasn’t a Schedule I substance, that would be life changing for Jagger and thousands,” he said. “You know we have over 2,000 people on the registry right now.”

    There are several plaintiffs in the lawsuit in addition to the Cotte’s including a former NFL player and a combat veteran with PTSD.

    PDF DOCUMENT OF LAWSUIT HERE

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    Federal Appeals Court Sidesteps Major Marijuana Ruling

    The Associated Press / May 17, 2017

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has sidestepped making a ruling on whether U.S. prison officials can hold people who were convicted of marijuana offences that were legal under state medical marijuana laws.

    In a decision Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused instead on a narrower issue.

    The court was considering a legal challenge by prisoner Matthew Davies, who was convicted of federal marijuana charges. Davies said he ran medical marijuana dispensaries that complied with California law.

    He argued that the Bureau of Prisons could not hold him because of a federal regulation that restricted interference by U.S. officials in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

    The 9th Circuit avoided the issue, ruling instead that Davies’ plea agreement did not allow his legal challenge. Davies’ attorney, Cody Harris, said he is analyzing the ruling.

    Leafly News has obtained the court’s full ruling and uploaded it to Scribd:

    LINK

     

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