Tag Archives: hemp

Whitehouse Press Release– I have a question on medical marijuana…

 

marijuana

February 23, 2017

 

A LINK TO THE ENTIRE PRESS BRIEFING HERE

I have a question on medical marijuana.  Our state voters passed a medical marijuana amendment in November.  Now we’re in conflict with federal law, as many other states are.  The Obama administration kind of chose not to strictly enforce those federal marijuana laws.  My question to you is:  With Jeff Sessions over at the Department of Justice as AG, what’s going to be the Trump administration’s position on marijuana legalization where it’s in a state-federal conflict like this?

MR. SPICER:  Thanks, Roby.  There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.  

I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.  And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in 2011 — looking for a little help — I think put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks.  

There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana.  And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people.  There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.  

So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a — the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana.  That’s a very, very different subject.

Shannon.

Q    What does that mean in terms of policy?  A follow-up, Sean.  What does that mean in terms of policy?

MR. SPICER:  Shannon.  Glenn, this isn’t a TV program.  We’re going to —

Q    What is the Justice Department going to do?

MR. SPICER:  Okay, you don’t get to just yell out questions.  We’re going to raise our hands like big boys and girls.

Q    Why don’t you answer the question, though?

MR. SPICER:  Because it’s not your job to just yell out questions.  

Shannon, please go.

Q    Okay.  Well, first, on the manufacturing summit, was the AFL-CIO invited?  And then, yeah, I did want to follow up on this medical marijuana question.  So is the federal government then going to take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states?

MR. SPICER:  Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.  Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue.  That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into. 

I’m sorry, Shannon, what was the first part?

Q    Was the AFL-CIO invited to the manufacturing meeting today with the CFOs?  Because they are part of this manufacturing —

MR. SPICER:  Right.  I think this was just focused on people who actually — they were not, I don’t believe, part of this one.  As you know, that we’ve had union representation at other meetings.  I think this was specifically for people who are hiring people and the impediments that they’re having to create additional jobs, hire more people.  And obviously, while the President values their opinion — and that’s why they’ve been involved in some of the past — this was specifically a manufacturing — people who hire people, who manufacture, who grow the economy, who grow jobs.  And that is a vastly different situation.

SOURCE

NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

  1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
  2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
  3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
  4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

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For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

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Time 4 Hemp Presents: Cannabinoid Profiles: A Crash Course

Time 4 Hemp

Crash-Course in CBGs

The Time4Hemp Network has set up a very educational and informative series which they are calling the “Cannabinoid Profiles Series”.

Anyone who needs or wants to review a course in Cannabinoids should start here!

 

Cannabinoid Profile: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

 

The LINKS for the series is below:

Cannabinoid Profiles Series

1. Meet Your CB Receptors

2. A Crash Course in THC

3. A Crash Course in CBD

4. A Crash Course in THC

5. A Crash Course in CBG

6. A Crash Course in CBC

7. A Crash Course in THC

8. A Crash Course in CBN

9. A Crash Course in CBDs

SOURCE LINK:

9 ways federal marijuana laws are limiting rights of residents in legal weed states

Federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry.

By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS / STAFF WRITER

Published: Feb. 4, 2017 Updated: Feb. 5, 2017 2:45 p.m.

 Derek Peterson, CEO and president of Terra Tech. Just weeks after Prop. 64 passed, Peterson learned the company that for two years had managed Terra Tech's payroll and health benefits would be dropping them, Dec. 31, because of concern over their role in the cannabis industry. “The decision came out of nowhere,” he said. “We have almost 200 employees that spent their holiday season stressed about the possibility of not having their health benefits available in the new year, let alone a reliable pay schedule.” (File Photo by ED CRISOSTOMO, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic, a category reserved for drugs such as heroin that are said to be highly addictive and have no medical value. There’s been no movement to ease that stance even though polls show a record number of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal, 28 states now permit medical marijuana and eight more allow recreational use.
One thing that has changed is the optimism some cannabis enthusiasts expressed prior to the November election.
As the biggest state in the nation prepared to vote on legalizing recreational use with Prop. 64, the thinking was that California could become a tipping point that would ultimately lead to federal approval of cannabis.
Prop. 64 easily passed. But confidence in the impact of that vote has dimmed as the reality of a GOP-controlled federal government headed by President Donald Trump – and the prospect of marijuana-opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General – has settled in.
For individuals, the ongoing conflict with federal law can make it harder to get everything from housing to healthcare, even if they use cannabis for medical reasons says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.
And for Californians who want to make money in the cannabis industry, the differences between state and federal law can affect how they bank, pay taxes and more.
“It’s a serious hindrance,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who specializes in marijuana policy.
“It creates a scenario in which companies are able to get up and running, but not operate like a normal business.”
Here are nine ways the federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry, no matter what their state law says.

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(OR) Senate Bill 301 may make marijuana drug tests illegal in the workplace

by Kimberly Kolliner

Monday, January 30th 2017

MEDFORD, Ore. – Regardless of if it’s legal in the state, right now, failing a marijuana drug test could cost you your job.

“For us, marijuana is still classified federally as a schedule 1 controlled substance so we do include it in our drug screening,” People’s Bank Chief Operating Officer, Jeri Reno.

However, this may change.

The Oregon Senate has introduced Bill 301, which proposes marijuana testing in the work place to be illegal, because its use in the state is legal.

This is something that Reno sees no immediate threat with.

“I think that’s going to be a wave of the future in that just like alcohol, marijuana is going to be used recreational and it would be honored as such. I think we’ll just see what it brings,” Reno said.

As an employer, Reno says work performance is the only thing she would be concerned with.

Something the bill also clearly outlines.

“We essentially are looking for employees who are productive and without possibility of being impaired in the workplace,” Reno said.

She believes if marijuana is used on employees off time, it should have no burden on employees while they’re on the clock.

“I would think our employees would continue to be responsible in the way they use marijuana or alcohol and I wouldn’t see much difference in the workplace,” Reno said.

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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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the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC

Terpenes and Testing Magazine

You know that strain you love? The one that a breeder managed to hone perfectly over the years? We are at a point in the industry where that strain that you love could be locked up by big business. The theft of a clone or tissue, biopiracy, could destroy decades of hard work with no mention of where it came from.

Why? Big business is knocking on the door of the cannabis industry, bringing with them the specter of plant patents.

There have already been a few U.S. patents related to cannabis over the years. The one that caught the attention of everyone in the cannabis business came in the form of U.S. patent 9,095,554, a 145-page utility patent filed in August 2015 by the BioTech Institute in Westlake, California on the breeding, production, processing and use of specialty cannabis.

The document lists dizzying details of the chemical structures of both CBD and THC, their uses, planting and harvesting for cannabis, along with dozens of charts only a scientist could understand. It’s being hailed as the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC.

BioTech has filed the first patent on a broad range of cannabis, with various forms and concentrations of CBD and/or THC, and just about every form of cannabis including extracts and edibles.

It’s a shot across the bow in a multi-billion-dollar industry blissfully unaware—or unaccepting—that the cannabis business is moving into big agriculture territory. Big money attracts big players. Those big players want to own, protect and have recourse to take legal action against any other big company challenging the breeding, growing and selling of their product.

For cannabis business owners, it’s becoming clear that it’s time to circle the wagons and find out what needs to be done to protect the intellectual property represented by their plant and processes. All while carefully eyeing the moves of big agriculture.

It’s time to add patent lawyer fees and filing fees to the list of costs for running a cannabis business.

The hard reality is, for most breeders and growers, it’s already too late. If they’ve sold a strain a year or longer ago, it’s now in the public domain and therefore can’t be patented.

“Patents are not a threat,” says Dale Hunt, a patent attorney working in biotechnology. “In this young industry, patents are viewed that way. They are only a threat if they are in the hands of a big agricultural company. But they are also a shield. A patent can actually be a sword and a shield.”

If Monsanto gets into the cannabis business—an unconfirmed but common fear if federal legalization occurs—they will definitely have patents on the plant. “People need to realize that, ‘OK, if we can’t stop them from getting into it, we can’t stop them from patenting, do we figure out how to engage, how to defend ourselves using the same tools?’” Hunt expressed.

“We have found out that a lot of people are terrified about big agriculture when it comes to patents,” Mowgli Holmes, Co-Founder and CSO for Phylos Bioscience, added. “But even little breeders want to patent too. We thought that patents on cannabis were bad altogether, but once you start talking to breeders, you realize that they want and need protection.” Phylos is an agricultural genomics company based in Portland, Oregon focusing on cannabis studies.

Hunt explained that some in the industry just want it to be a kind of “patent-free” zone. “And that is just not an option.”

There are a couple of ways to patent a new strain. For example, one can be obtained on an individual strain with a simple plant patent, available through the USPTO. This offers a narrow form of protection against a direct copying of that strain. “Plant patents cost about $5,000 to file and might cost $5,000 in lawyer fees,” Holmes shared. “So they are affordable.”

The utility patent, like the one granted to BioTech, is a patent where an applicant persuaded the examiner that the certain combinations of biochemical and genetic properties were new, and provided various strains that have those properties.

“What is important to understand about that utility patent is that it is not limited to any particular strain,” Hunt explained. “It’s limited to only that combination of properties. And that patent is valid only if that combination of properties never really existed before. A big part of the challenge is: Who knows? Where is the prior art? There is a great and unusual vacuum of knowledge of what is really out there. It may well be that what is before the examiner is not new at all.”

That utility patent could, in effect, end the development of other, more diverse strains if they exhibit the same combination of properties as listed in that patent. “Our position now is that utility patents are being granted, and it’s pretty damn clear that those are not good for the industry,” Holmes said. “They are innovation killing, destructive patents. And if the industry wants to survive, they need to fight them.”

Sadly, there are only more patents coming, “I think they already granted the second one for the same group, and I think that they have several others in the pipeline,” Holmes recounted.

To fight cannabis plant patenting, the Open Cannabis Project was created recently to build a prior art database. The database lists the DNA sequence of thousands of strains that are already out in the public domain and, by doing that, making those particular strains unavailable to be patented by any one person or corporation.

Both Hunt and Holmes are working on that project now.

“That is important because it’s the only possible way to fight a patent on a specific plant,” Holmes said. “We need to get a lot of testing labs to donate their testing data, because that chemical data and what chemical compounds are in the plant is what that 2015 utility patent rested on. If we had done that a year earlier—if we provided that prior art data—I don’t think they could have gotten that patent.”

What could happen now? Hunt gives an example of a mom-and-pop breeder that develops a great strain. “As the industry gets bigger and more lucrative, how are they going to protect that strain from someone grabbing it, and propagating it as their strain?” he concluded. “The mindset that patents are bad is not one that will serve people well in this burgeoning industry.”

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North Americans Spent $53.3 Billion On Marijuana Last Year, Most Of It Illegally

The industry “just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels,” a new report says.

01/17/2017 06:20 pm ET

Ryan Grenoble Reporter, The Huffington Post

A new report estimates consumers spent $53.3 billion on cannabis in North America last year.

The first-of-its-kind analysis, compiled by ArcView Market Research, spans legal, medical and illegal marijuana markets across both the United States and Canada. At around $46 billion, the illegal market constituted 87 percent of marijuana sales in 2016 (a decrease from 90 percent in 2015), dwarfing both medical and legal sales.

The marijuana investment and research firm provided a 25-page executive summary of its fifth annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets to The Huffington Post Tuesday, ahead of the full report’s release in February.

Arcview projects the legal marijuana market will expand from its current $6.9 billion to $21.6 billion by 2021, as California, Massachusetts and Canada expand their cannabis sales, and medical sales begin in Florida. The $6.9 billion figure is itself a 34 percent increase in just one year from 2015.

Assuming the projections hold, the five-year growth rate for legal marijuana from 2016 to 2021 would fall just short of that seen by broadband internet providers from 2002 through 2007, which expanded at around 29 percent per year, from around $7 billion to north of $25 billion.

Unlike most of the billion-dollar industries that preceded it, marijuana is in a unique position, ArcView argues, because the market doesn’t need to be created from scratch ― it just needs to transition from illicit to legal channels.

“The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history,” Arcview Market Research CEO Troy Dayton explained in an emailed statement.

“In contrast to comparable markets with fast growth from zero to tens of billions in recent decades such as organic foods, home video, mobile, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesn’t need to create demand for a new product or innovation ― it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels.”

In states that have moved to tax and regulate the drug, the black market has decreased rapidly, the report found. Colorado’s black market, for instance, accounts for about one-third of all cannabis sales, with the majority having transitioned to legal marketplaces.

ArcView found the cashflow going to drug dealers and cartels has diminished accordingly, helped in part by the shrinking “illegality premium” for the product once demanded by the black market. 

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Marijuana reforms flood state legislatures

By Reid Wilson – 01/13/17

Marijuana reforms flood state legislatures

Legislators in more than a dozen states have introduced measures to loosen laws restricting access to or criminalizing marijuana, a rush of legislative activity that supporters hope reflects a newfound willingness by public officials to embrace a trend toward legalization.

The gamut covered by measures introduced in the early days of legislative sessions underscores the patchwork approach to marijuana by states across the country — and the possibility that the different ways states treat marijuana could come to a head at the federal Justice Department, where President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general is a staunch opponent of legal pot.

Some states are taking early steps toward decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. In his State of the State address this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he will push legislation to remove criminal penalties for non-violent offenders caught with marijuana. 

“The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo’s office wrote to legislators. “The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said during his campaign he would support decriminalizing marijuana. Legislation has passed the Republican-led state House in recent years, though it died when Sununu’s predecessor, now-Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), said she did not support the move.

Several states are considering allowing marijuana for medical use. Twenty-eight states already have widespread medical marijuana schemes, and this year legislators in Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah have introduced bills to create their own versions. Republicans in control of state legislatures in most of those states are behind the push.

Legislators in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, New Mexico and New Jersey will consider recently introduced measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

There is little consensus on just how to approach legalization: Three different bills have been introduced in Connecticut’s legislature. Two have been introduced in New Mexico, and three measures to allow medical pot have been filed in Missouri.

In 2016, voters in four states — Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California — joined Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado in passing ballot measures legalizing pot for recreational purposes. Those efforts, marijuana reform advocates say, have lifted the stigma legislators might have felt.

“Now that voters in a growing number of states have proven that this is a mainstream issue, many more lawmakers feel emboldened to champion marijuana reform, whereas historically this issue was often looked at as a marginalized or third-rail issue,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority.

Just because measures get introduced does not mean they will advance. In many cases, Angell said, it is governors — Democrats and Republicans alike — who stand in the way.

Though Democrats control the Connecticut legislature, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) has made clear he is no supporter of legalized pot. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has not said he would veto a legalization bill, though he is far less friendly to the idea than his predecessor, Democrat Peter Shumlin.

In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has called decriminalizing marijuana a “horrible, horrible idea.” Democratic legislators are considering a plan to put legal marijuana to voters, by proposing an amendment to the state constitution. If New Jersey legislators advance a legalization law, they would run into an almost certain veto from Gov. Chris Christie (R).

While 14 state legislatures have legalized marijuana for medical use, no state legislature has passed a measure legalizing pot for recreational use.

“Every year, we’ve seen legalizers throw everything at the wall to see what might stick,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “I’m not surprised by any means. I don’t think there’s much appetite to legalize through the legislature.”

Sabet conceded that efforts to stop legalization movements in Vermont and Rhode Island may be difficult. He said decriminalization measures can be smart and effective, if they include provisions boosting funding for treatment and prevention, but he warned that decriminalization bills can be a first step toward looser rules.

“The kind of decriminalization that legalization folks want is a stepping stone,” Sabet said. “Their prize is certainly full legalization. I don’t think they’re going to stop at decriminalization.”

In Washington, the incoming Trump administration has sent signals that encourage, and worry, both supporters and opponents of looser pot rules. The Obama Justice Department issued a memorandum to U.S. attorneys downplaying the importance of prosecuting crimes relating to marijuana in states where it is legal.

Trump’s nominee to head the next Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), has been sharply critical of states that have legalized marijuana. In his confirmation hearings this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions said current guidelines, known as the Cole memo, are “truly valuable.”

Marijuana industry advocates seized on those comments in hopes of locking Sessions into maintaining the status quo.

“The current federal policy, as outlined by the Cole memo, has respected carefully designed state regulatory programs while maintaining the Justice Department’s commitment to pursuing criminals and prosecuting bad actors,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Congress in recent years has passed a rider to appropriations bills that has blocked the Justice Department from taking action against states where pot is legal. But that could change, now that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House.

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First 2017 Marijuana Bill Introduced In Congress

Rick Thompson January 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

 

Image result for California Representative Barbara Lee

 

In a year which has been heralded as a time of change for federal marijuana laws and policies, the first federal bill proposing a change has been introduced in the United States Congress.

H.R. 331 was introduced January 5th and is sponsored by California Representative Barbara Lee (13th District). The official Congressional description of the bill’s purpose is, “To amend the Controlled Substances Act so as to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.”

At the time of this writing the bill’s language was not available on the Congressional website.

The bill was simultaneously assigned to both the House Judiciary and House Energy and Commerce Committees. The Congressional website describes the Committee split in this way:

Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

The current Speaker of the House is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

Rep. Lee has stated she will boycott the inauguration of newly-elected U.S. President Donald Trump.

Concerns are rampant within the American marijuana industry and patient population that President-elect Trump will emulate other Republicans and move to curtail or eliminate legal and medical marijuana use in the states where voters have approved it. His nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the post of U.S. Attorney General reinforced those concerns, as Sessions has a record of attacking marijuana use in speeches and actions.

During a recent nomination hearing, Sen. Sessions did little to reassure anyone about his position. His evasive answers to questions related to his stance on cannabis use offered no insight, and by not revealing his position Sessions fueled the anti-Trump conversation nationwide.

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