Tag Archives: Federal

Congressional Republicans Vow To Block Marijuana Amendments

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By Tom Angell on December 5th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Don’t count on there being any marijuana votes in the U.S. House next year.

That’s the message that Republican leadership in Congress is sending after blocking a number of cannabis amendments from reaching the House floor earlier this year.

“The chairman has taken a stand against all amendments that are deemed poison pills and that would imperil passage of the final bill,” Caroline Boothe, spokeswoman for House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), told Marijuana.com in an email on Monday.

The Rules Committee is responsible for deciding which submitted amendments are allowed to be considered on the House floor.

In recent years, Congressional leadership has taken up spending bills under relatively open rules whereby almost any amendment could be debated and voted on as long as it was germane to the overall legislation. But due to unrelated disputes over gay rights, gun policy and the right of transgender people to access public bathrooms, House Republicans began locking down the amendment process earlier this year so that only certain approved amendments can come to the floor.

While marijuana law reformers have been able to pass amendments in recent years — such as a rider preventing the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws — the new approach has impeded efforts to demonstrate that there is majority support in Congress for scaling back prohibition.

Earlier this year, for example, the Rules Committee blocked House floor votes on amendments concerning marijuana businesses’ access to banking services and Washington, D.C.’s ability to spend its own money legalizing and regulating cannabis sales. The committee also prevented two measures to expand medical marijuana research from being considered.

But despite Boothe’s reference to “poison pills,” the House approved a version of the banking amendment in 2014 by a vote of 231 – 192, and the overall bill was later passed as well. Similarly, the measure to protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference was approved with strong bipartisan House votes in 2014 and 2015, and the overall spending bills were also passed once the marijuana measures were attached.

Boothe did not respond to a request for clarification about her boss’s position on the broadly popular medical marijuana measure.

The restricted amendment rules put in place this year left marijuana law reformers much less confident about the ability to enact and extend their legislation, which must be approved each year because appropriations measures only apply to specific fiscal years.

But until now, it was not known that there is in effect a blanket ban on measures concerning cannabis policy.

The notion of an outright prohibition on any marijuana amendments was first reported Monday by Politico Magazine. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has sponsored industrial hemp measures, told the magazine that the new operating procedure is “an affront to regular order” and “a travesty to our democracy.”

As a result of the inability to take marijuana votes on the House floor, reformers must increasingly rely on the Senate to include cannabis language in its versions of appropriations bills. If efforts succeed there, it is left up to conference committees of members from both chambers to decide whether to include marijuana language in the final enacted versions of spending bills.

Current spending levels for the federal government — along with the state medical marijuana protections that are current law — expire this Friday. It is expected that Congress will pass a short-term measure before then extending funding and policy riders until next spring.

But Sessions, who has been selected to continue chairing the Rules Committee for the next Congress, seems poised to continue the policy of blocking marijuana amendments from coming to the House floor. That, combined with uncertainty about how the incoming Trump administration will handle marijuana, leaves advocates in a precarious position even at a time when a growing number of states are ending prohibition.

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Feds Advise Gun Dealers To Halt Sales To Possible Marijuana Users

November 15, 2016

Weapons for sale. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The trend toward legalized marijuana in the U.S. now has more than half the states allowing either recreational or medicinal use of pot.

But federal laws have not changed—and anyone who acknowledges using marijuana can’t legally buy a gun.

The Wall Street Journal reports the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has advised licensed gun dealers that if they have any reason to believe a would-be buyer is a marijuana user, it’s the gun dealer’s responsibility to halt the transaction.

Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, with no approved medical use and a high potential for abuse, according to federal law. The DEA reaffirmed the classification in August.

The situation has led to some unusual political alliances. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is a hunter who was surprised to find a question about marijuana use on the form she had to fill out to pick up a gift gun. And the pro-pot group NORML says people shouldn’t have to waive their Second Amendment rights to smoke marijuana.

However, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that banning gun sales to medical marijuana users doesn’t violate their Second Amendment rights.

The Journal reported Sen. Murkowski wrote Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier this year urging her to reconsider the policy.  A Justice Department spokesman told the Journal the department responded but did not reveal further details of the communication.

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693,482 individuals in the United States were arrested in 2013 and charged with marijuana violations

Why legalizing marijuana will be much harder than you think

 

 

By Erwin Chemerinsky April 27

Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week, we’re talking about drug scheduling. Need a primer? Catch up here.

Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and distinguished professor of law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law

There are rumors that the federal government may soon lift its ban on marijuana, but that wouldn’t end marijuana prohibitions in the United States. This incongruity is the result of federalism: the ability of each jurisdiction — the federal government and every state — to maintain its own laws as to which drugs are illegal and which are not.

Completely legalizing marijuana in the United States would require the actions of both the federal government and every state government. If the federal government repealed its criminal prohibition of marijuana or rescheduled the drug under federal law, that would not change state laws that forbid its possession or sale. Likewise, state governments can repeal their marijuana laws, in whole or in part, but that does not change federal law.

[The paradox at the heart of our marijuana laws — and how to fix it]

When Colorado and Washington legalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, questions arose as to how this would interact with federal law. Specifically, the question was whether such state efforts are preempted by the federal law, which still prohibits marijuana as a controlled substance like heroin and cocaine.

The answer is clear: States can have whatever laws they want with regard to marijuana or any other drug. No state is required to have a law prohibiting or regulating marijuana. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Congress cannot force states to enact laws; such coercion violates the 10th Amendment. A state could choose to have no law prohibiting marijuana, or a law prohibiting marijuana with an exception for medical use, or a law allowing possession of small amounts of marijuana, or anything else. In fact, across the United States today, this is exactly the situation — many states have very different laws concerning marijuana.

Similarly, if the federal government were to repeal the prohibition of marijuana or reschedule it under the Controlled Substances Act, that would not change state laws. States still could prohibit and punish the sale and possession of marijuana under state criminal statutes.

Contrary to what many believe, marijuana laws continue to be enforced by both states and the federal government. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 693,482 individuals in the United States were arrested in 2013 and charged with marijuana violations. Of these, 609,423 — or 88 percent — were arrested for simple possession. There is an enormous cost in terms of law enforcement resources, the criminal justice system and people’s lives for marijuana to remain illegal. Even for those arrested and never prosecuted or convicted, arrest records have real harms in terms of the ability to get jobs, loans, housing and benefits.

Like all drug laws, the prohibition against marijuana is much more likely to be enforced against African Americans and Latinos than against whites. According to a 2013 study, whites and blacks use marijuana at roughly the same rates, but blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana.

[Legal marijuana is finally doing what the drug war couldn’t]

In Theory newsletter

Emerging ideas and arguments behind the news.

Yet there is little benefit to illegality. The primary argument for keeping marijuana illegal is that it is harmful. But as President Obama observed, pot is no “more dangerous than alcohol.” Many things are harmful — cigarettes, foods high in sugar and salt and cholesterol — but that does not mean that they should be illegal. In fact, there is a good deal of evidence that marijuana is significantly less harmful than tobacco or alcohol and that it has benefits in treating some medical conditions such as glaucoma and seizure disorders, and alleviating some of the ill effects of chemotherapy. That is why 24 states and the District allow medical use of marijuana.

Like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, the prohibition of marijuana has been a failure. The drug is readily available and it is estimated that 30 million Americans used it in the past year. And similar to the prohibition of alcohol, it is a costly failure. In addition to the cost in enforcing the criminal laws, there is the loss of significant revenue that could be gained from taxation and legalization.

It is a question of when, not whether, marijuana becomes legal in the United States. A study by the Pew Research Center last year found that a majority of Americans now favor legalization and only 44 percent believe it should be illegal. Of those under 35 years old, 68 percent believe that marijuana should be legal. But there is no doubt that the confusion federalism entails will make legalizing marijuana much more difficult.

Explore these other perspectives:

Keith Humphreys: The paradox at the heart of our marijuana laws — and how to fix it

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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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The Science of Toxicology and U.I. or "Under the Influence and/or Intoxication?" of Cannabis/Marijuana and D.O.A. Drug Testing

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The Official Court Documents that I present to you below here, {THIS ONE TIME, FOR FREE = this offer will not last and is for a limited amount of time = THIS SET OF DOCUMENTS WILL GO MISSING AND A FEE WILL BE CHARGED LATER FOR THIS INFORMATION} The following Documents were presented, accepted and registered by the Criminal or Courts as “Evidence” as they were listed by the Kentucky Courts in a case I recently Advocated in on behalf of James E. Coleman.
Are in fact, the PROOF, that Cannabis/Marijuana/Hemp or Unspecified levels of Cannabinoids are natural within the human body and that their presence or levels or “analytical threshold” combined with the fact that this test measures “no quantification of a specific compound” in the blood, are proof, there has been no measure of  intoxication, performed by this test where cannabiniods are concerned and that this test can not show toxicity.
According to this Expert Witness.
Therefore they are unable to test levels for intoxication as they claim is claimed by the manufacture of the test and/or Law Enforcement in U.I. charges or related cases. These documented facts apply to the Test it’s self given and the Cannabinoid levels… Therefore apply to all these D.O.A. = “Drug of Abuse” Blood Serum U.I. Test used by Law Enforcement and Not the Individual. As these facts apply to all humans and all these Test.

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The Supreme Court of Colorado ruled unanimously last week that Dish Network acted lawfully when it fired a quadriplegic employee who used medicinal marijuana legally to control leg spasms and while he was not at work.

 

 

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The Supreme Court of Colorado ruled unanimously last week that Dish Network acted lawfully when it fired a quadriplegic employee who used medicinal marijuana legally to control leg spasms and while he was not at work. The employee, Brandon Coats, was fired in 2010 when he failed a random drug test.

Needless to say, this was not a popular decision among marijuana legalization activists. In his appeal, Coats claimed that Colorado labor laws legitimized his use of marijuana, making his firing illegal under those same laws. The court’s ruling held that the term “lawful activity” must be considered in both a federal and a state legal context. Because marijuana use remains illegal under federal law and marijuana itself is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the fact that both the Congress and the Obama administration’s Justice Department have signaled that enforcement will be both lightly funded and lightly enforced does not supersede the law. Under federal law, marijuana is a dangerous and illegal drug and that is the end of the story, regardless of the feds’ “wink-wink-nod-nod” approach.

At the Brookings Institution’s Fixgov blog, managing editor John Hudak noted:

Federal efforts have limited funding for the use of enforcing medical marijuana laws (Congress) or use prosecutorial discretion to limit the enforcement of marijuana laws (Department of Justice). However, those moves do not resolve the serious disconnects in the law that extend far beyond a medical marijuana patient fearing prosecution. Inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws extend to issues of employment, housing, banking, property rights, and a variety of other areas

We have noted before that the lack of a federal law — which only Congress can pass — raises any number of obstacles for companies in the marijuana industry. Dispensaries and growers cannot find bankers willing to take their cash deposits, and even a state government is having difficulty finding a willing bank. With almost half the states having approved the use of medical marijuana, perhaps it is time for Congress to fix a system that is truly broken.

ALSO READ: The 10 Largest Marijuana Companies

Read more: Congress Deserves Blame for Colorado Ruling Against Medical Marijuana – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/consumer-products/2015/06/22/congress-deserves-blame-for-colorado-ruling-against-medical-marijuana/#ixzz3dpMMqgIa
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Prohibition Repeal Is A Good Model For Marijuana Legalization

9:51 AM 12/05/2014

Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California July 11, 2014.  REUTERS/David McNew

Today is the 81st anniversary of the repeal of federal alcohol prohibition.

The 21st Amendment ended the failed experiment of Prohibition and delegated the issue of alcohol legalization and regulation solely to the states.

The 21st Amendment was neither “for” nor “against” alcohol. It was simply an acknowledgment that federal prohibition was an obvious failure and a nod towards state’s and individual rights. No state was required to legalize alcohol. It was their choice.

The repeal of prohibition has been a tremendous success. This country has the best regulated beverage alcohol industry in the world while still being the world’s most dynamic. Just ask any beer drinker!

Fast forward to the present. Republicans made huge gains in last month’s elections, decisively winning control of the Senate, increasing their dominance in the House to a level not seen since the 40’s, controlling 33 governorships and more state legislators than any time since the 1920s. They now have the opportunity to cement and expand these gains and to create a permanent majority.

How? By leading the charge to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. You don’t have to be “pro-cannabis” to be against prohibition.

Like it or not, illicit marijuana is available in every corner of this country. Any teenager can get it with little effort. Most say it’s far easier to get than beer.

Criminal gangs across the country rake in tens of billions of dollars each year selling marijuana. Milton Friedman once said, “See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.”

In 2012, 750,000 people were arrested for mere possession. That’s about one arrest every 48 seconds! And a disproportionate number of the people arrested on marijuana-related charges are minorities.

The federal prohibition of marijuana has been as profound a failure as the attempted federal prohibition against alcohol. The solution is the same. Let the states decide and regulate as they see fit.

Here in Colorado, the legalization of marijuana has been a resounding success. Teen use is down. Auto fatalities are at near historic lows. Crime is down across the board. Tax revenue is flowing in.

If Republicans want to expand their base, they need to show they truly believe in a liberty-based agenda. Reach out to groups that historically have not been favorable to the Republican brand and prove through action that they have much more in common than they might think. Individual freedom is a winning message for people of all colors and all walks of life.

Republicans in Congress should pass legislation within their first 60 days in office repealing federal prohibition and placing the issue with the individual states and their citizens.

A statement such as, “I’m personally against it but believe in the wisdom of the people” can be a get-out-of-jail-free card for all who fear being branded pro-marijuana. The issue isn’t for or against marijuana but rather whether a legal, state regulated market is preferable to a prohibition market. Alcohol or marijuana, the answer to this is clear.

The alternative is Republicans turning off another generation of voters who think of them as the party that speaks of individual freedom but whose actions suggest they want to control other people’s lives. These folks have seen the failure of big government and most big institutions. Their loyalty can be obtained, but the party has to walk the walk.

Think I exaggerate? Here in Colorado, the Republican challenger for governor was ahead by 10 points in a September poll. Then, showing the Republican skill for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, he stated he would like to recriminalize marijuana. His lead evaporated almost overnight.

He lost by 58,000 votes and singlehandedly damaged the Republican brand for a generation of young Colorado voters. There are over 10,000 people directly employed in this Colorado industry and hundreds of thousands of consumers. That’s a lot of voters to antagonize; many of them motivated single issue folks.

What if the GOP could create a new supporter every 48 seconds rather than trying to throw them in jail?

Freedom and liberty win. Prohibition and attempting to control people’s lives loses. Republicans, if you believe what you say, end the federal prohibition on marijuana. A permanent majority awaits. It is yours for the taking.

John Conlin is a self-employed management consultant providing services to beer, wine, and spirits distributors across the country. He is also in the process of starting a marijuana-infused edibles company.

 

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Tags: John Conlin, Marijuana, Prohibition

Colorado Hemp Farmers Cultivate American Jobs Without Federal Approval

Some people want you to believe that the federal government cannot be effectively defied, but farmers in Colorado are proving them wrong.

While Colorado may be in the headlines for their marijuana legalization experiment, that is not the only issue in which they are effectively nullifying federal law. They are taking action against the federal industrial hemp ban as well. A Denver Post report, Colorado’s first legal hemp crop comes in amid constraints by fed laws, elaborates on this booming industry:

Legal hurdles aside, advocates are passionate about hemp’s commercial potential. The most common uses are food products and cosmetics derived from seeds and seed oil. Fiber from the stalks of hemp plants are used in clothing and industrial applications, including as a strengthening agent in concrete.

2014 marked the first year of state-authorized hemp cultivation in Colorado. About 30 growers filed applications to plant a total of 1,811 acres. But because state law does not yet require detailed reporting, no statistics exist on how much actually was planted and subsequently harvested.

Industrial hemp growers in Colorado face the possibility of prosecution for operating in violation of federal law. Still, in heroic acts of civil disobedience, they work to unleash a cash crop on society that could conceivably provide jobs and prosperity for thousands of people. Their bravery makes the feds deal with open defiance of their laws, and facilitates the effort to reform antiquated public policy toward success.

On marijuana, the feds pretty much waved the white flag of surrender. They ‘allowed’ Colorado and other states to legalize, after the states had already chosen to do so without asking for federal permission. This capitulation allows the feds to spin marijuana legalization like it is their reform, and that they deserve partial credit. In reality, it was decisive action taken by the states that forced the feds to cede power and accept inevitable reform. It worked on marijuana legalization, and it is starting to work on industrial hemp too.

The feds have already started to give up on industrial hemp prohibition as well. Last year’s farm bill contained provisions allowing states to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes only. But, Colorado farmers are proceeding with commercial cultivation without a federal rubber-stamp of approval. Some farmers in SE Colorado even started cultivating industrial hemp before receiving the go-ahead from their state government! This the kind of bold, fearless approach that is needed to show the government who’s boss, and press the issue until eventual reforms are enacted.

So what are you waiting for? Non-compliance has got the feds on the run. Our Hemp Freedom Act is a government jobs bill that can work – by simply limiting the federal government’s negative impact on our economy! Get an initiative going now, and we can push back at the state level against the feds and their illogical prohibition on industrial hemp. Fight to bring a sustainable industry back to America, and subvert unconstitutional federal power today!

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Federal Judge Weighs Marijuana’s Classification

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jan 12, 2015, 1:39 PM ET

Associated Press

A federal judge in California is weighing the constitutionality of a 45-year-old act that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug along with LSD, cocaine and heroin.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento held a five-day fact-finding hearing on the classification question late last year, and final arguments are scheduled for next month, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. Her ruling is expected later this year.

The case marks the first time in decades that a judge has agreed to consider marijuana’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the newspaper said. Under the act, Schedule 1 drugs have no medicinal purpose, are unsafe even under medical supervision and contain a high potential for abuse.

Mueller’s decision to hold the hearing came in response to a pretrial defense motion in a federal case against alleged marijuana growers. Prosecutors unsuccessfully opposed the fact-finding effort.

A ruling against federal cannabis law would apply only to the defendants in the case and almost certainly would be appealed, the newspaper said. If the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined the law was unconstitutional, all the Western states would be affected.

Attorneys for the defendants have argued that the federal marijuana law violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. They contend the government enforces marijuana law unevenly ? allowing distribution of cannabis in states where it is legal and cracking down elsewhere.

The prosecution countered that Congress legally placed pot in Schedule 1.

Zenia K. Gilg, a lawyer for the growers, told the Times that scientific understanding and public acceptance of marijuana have grown substantially since courts last examined the federal classification. She cited the November election, when voters in Alaska and Oregon decided to join Colorado and Washington in making cannabis legal for recreational use. Most states already provide some legal protection for its use as medicine.

Prosecutors said in a brief filed Jan. 7 that the evidence presented in the hearing at most “established that there is some dispute among doctors as to whether marijuana is medicine.”

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/