Tag Archives: medical cannabis

Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

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.

    CONTINUE READING AND TO VIEW VIDEO…

    Advertisements

    Martellus Bennett: ‘About 89%’ of NFL players use marijuana

    cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

    A.J. Perez, USA TODAY Sports Published 7:13 p.m. ET April 11, 2018

    Estimates on the percentage of NFL players who use marijuana have been made, but recently retired tight end Martellus Bennett pinned the number pretty high.

    “I want to say about 89%,” Bennett said on a Bleacher Report podcast hosted by Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe.

    Asked if it’s shocking when he finds out a teammate doesn’t smoke weed, Bennett responded, “You don’t smoke, bro?”

    Bennett explained NFL players use it for reasons other than getting high, reasons which have been behind the push by many to allow the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs.

    “There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

    How many players in the NFL smoke weed? Over/Under: 70%
    Martellus Bennett says WAY OVER pic.twitter.com/Nf8041rvNZ

    — Simms & Lefkoe (@SimmsAndLefkoe) April 11, 2018

    Medical marijuana already is legal in many jurisdictions where NFL teams are based and an increasing number of states allow the recreational use of weed, including California and Colorado.

    Still, marijuana remains on the NFL’s banned list, although it takes two positive tests for the drug before a suspension is issued. After an initial positive test, a player is put in the NFL’s “Stage Two” intervention program, which means for a span of up to 24 months the player faces more frequent testing.

    There’s also a shorter window in which players can be tested for marijuana and other drugs of abuse: April through August. Once a player passes that test, he won’t be tested again for another year.

    Beyond pain management, those advocating for marijuana’s use in the NFL point to research into the possibility the drug can be used to combat chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    A 2013 study at a Portuguese university found cannabis helped regenerate brain cells in mice, a 2012 Israeli university study showed low doses of cannabis can aid in the recovery from brain injuries and a 2005 Canadian university study showed cannabis could be used as an anti-anxiety treatment.

    “To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last year. “If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that.”

    Follow Perez on Twitter @byajperez

    CONTINUE READING…

    (fl) Judge: Joe Redner can legally grow his own marijuana

    Justine Griffin

    Published: April 11, 2018

    A court ruled Wednesday that Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner can grow his own marijuana for medical purposes, a decision that lawyers say could lead to a wave of similar cases.

    The ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers applies only to Redner, 77. The Florida Department of Health responded quickly, filing an appeal.

    The department had said Floridians are barred under state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.

    But Redner and other critics across the state say the health department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000 registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana. Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical marijuana patient.

    “Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician,” Gievers said in her ruling. The word “solely” is bolded and underlined for emphasis in the document.

    “The court also finds … that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements,” the judge added, referring to the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that made medical marijuana legal.

    Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right to “castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine.”

    While the ruling affects only Redner, Lirot says his case “does provide a usable approach for other people whose doctors will certify that this is of value.”

    In the meantime, the state’s appeal will block Redner from growing his own marijuana right away. Lirot said his first order of business will be to try to lift the stay that prevents Redner from growing and juicing marijuana during the appeals process, which likely won’t begin until late this year or early next year.

    “The appellate process takes a long time, and in this case, it’s going to affect Redner’s life exclusively,” said Jay Wolfson, a professor at Stetson University College of Law and the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida. “Because this issue is big enough, no matter who loses in appeals, the case will go on the state supreme court after this. You can bet on that.”

    In January, Gievers denied a motion by the Florida Department of Health to dismiss Redner’s case. The judge also denied Redner’s motion for an emergency temporary injunction, which would have allowed him to grow marijuana plants during the court process. But she described Redner’s plea in the case as “constitutional in nature,” which allowed it to move forward.

    In her ruling, Gievers says the health department “has still not complied with the Constitution,” and until it stops “violating its constitutional duty and mandated presumptive regulation, the evidence clearly demonstrates that Redner is entitled to follow the recommendations of his certified physician under Florida law.”

    “The Legislature failed to act and that has a lot of consequences. This case is one of them,” said Leslie Sammis, a Tampa-based defense attorney who is also a member of the The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws legal committee. “I think that the state and the health department should focus their energy on coming into compliance with this court order instead of stalling until it’s forced upon them by the courts.”

    During a short, non-jury trial in March, attorneys representing the health department warned that Redner’s case could open the door to more lawsuits over the constitutional amendment’s language. Several lawsuits already have been filed against the department, but none other than Redner’s has specifically challenged the state agency’s interpretation of the amendment’s language.

    “It is my understanding that the health department is facing many pending lawsuits,” Wolfson said. “It’s a legal quagmire.”

    Redner says this means other patients should be able to challenge to possess their own plants, too.

    “With this order, (patients) can go to their doctor now, and as long as they have a good enough reason to need to possess a plant, be it because they can’t afford the medicine at the dispensaries, as long as they have a recommendation anyone should be allowed to grow,” Redner said. “The cat is out of the bag. There’s no way to stop this now.”

    CONTINUE READING…

    “…Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t.”

    Image may contain: text

    Kevin James

    Yesterday at 10:59am ·

    I want to thank the non informed for the Cannabis Act… you’re insistence that legal is best is the gift earned.

    I spoke for years about repeal vs legal…

    — now I’m done & another wayseer abandons the masses due to tiredness

    Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t. Most people “say” they want their freedoms restored, even as they deliberately stab themselves–and everyone else–in the back by begging for more statutory enslavement, and REFUSING to end the problem, somehow “believing” that not ending the problem, and always making it worse, is somehow going to end the problem.

    So let’s look at the BULLSHIT NON-OPTIONS that people “believe” means they get their freedoms back, as opposed to the REPEAL of the statutes, which actually WOULD end the persecution once and for all:

    1) “Decriminalization” is NOT repeal. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    2) “Legalization” is what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    3) “Re-legalization” is two letters prepended to what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    4) “Tax and regulate” will create more statutes, more regulations, more licenses, more fees, and create more problems and more “criminal charges.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    5) “Regulate like _____” is just a different way to say “tax and regulate.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    6) “Hemp ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    7) “Medical ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    8.) “Government control ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    9) “Corporate control ONLY!” is financial in nature, and is ENTIRELY motivated by profiteering. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    10) “Government/corporate partnership control ONLY!” is actually OVERT FASCISM. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    There are several other “NOT REPEAL” options that people keep sucking up as “the ONLY solution”, even as they continue to “say” they want their freedom restored.

    How can you ever hope to restore your own freedoms while you REFUSE to remove the statutes that took them away, and keep pushing for MORE STATUTES to further control your life in more intrusive ways?

    How long are you going to keep paying for more of *your* own enslavement?

    Are people EVER going to just wake up and see the truth that’s been staring them in the face for DECADES already?!?

    CONTINUE READING…

    RELATED:

    “Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations.” HOW THE UNITED NATIONS IS STEALING OUR “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS” TO GROW FOOD AND MEDICINE THROUGH THE U.N. CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS AND AGENDA 21.  LINK

    https://www.facebook.com/iammkjm/posts/10214522031938895

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214422174322517&set=a.4142741601196.166072.1063400382&type=3&theater

    https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/10/26/rights-and-freedoms-may-in-no-case-be-exercised-contrary-to-purposes-and-principles-of-the-united-nations-how-the-united-nations-is-stealing-our-unalienable-rights-to-grow/

    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.

    CONTINUE READING…

    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

    CONTINUE READING / VIDEO…

    Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

    Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

    Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

    This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

    fresh toast logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Be careful what you ask for.

    More Mike Adams.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Good morning! My name is Virgil Anderson, and I’m a mesothelioma cancer patient at The National Cancer Institute.

     

    14455707_1790354534581867_1171295903_o

     

    March 15, 2017

    Good morning!

    My name is Virgil Anderson, and I’m a mesothelioma cancer patient at The National Cancer Institute.

    I was reading through kyusmjparty.weebly.com, and I was hoping you had a minute to check mesothelioma.net. Mesothelioma dot net is the world’s most comprehensive informational site on mesothelioma treatment.

    Because of this cancer’s very poor prognosis, our site cover a wide range of therapeutic treatment options, including medicinal marijuana and CBD oils. You can read more at mesothelioma.net/medical-marijuana-mesothelioma/.
    In fact, we have over 1000 pages on health therapies alone, ranging from nutritional to naturopathic therapy.

    Ultimately, I was hoping you could take a minute to review some of that information and consider consider linking back to our site. If you need additional literature, or would like to hear about other treatment options, please let me know. I’d be delighted to chat.
    I applaud your work at kyusmjparty.weebly.com, and I appreciate your time in advance. Anything you can do to help would go a long way.
    Hope you’re off to a good start in 2017, and God Bless.
    Virgil
    Virgil Anderson
    Cancer Patient @NCI
    Mesothelioma.net

    In Peru, mothers rouse support for legalizing medical marijuana

    Ana Alvarez, a working mother of two in Lima, never imagined being on the frontlines of a fight for marijuana in conservative Peru.

    But a police raid on a makeshift cannabis lab that she and other women started to soothe the symptoms of their sick children has roused support for medical marijuana, prompting President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to propose legalizing it in the latest pivot away from decades-old restrictions on drug use in Latin America.

    Alvarez said cannabis oil is the only drug that helped contain her epileptic and schizophrenic son’s seizures and psychotic episodes. She and other women in similar situations formed the group Searching for Hope to seek legal backing as they honed techniques for producing the drug.

    “We wrote to Congress, to the health ministry,” Alvarez said from her apartment as her son played in his room. “We got two negative responses.”

    But the police bust put the women’s plight on national television, triggering an outpouring of sympathy as they marched with their children in tow to demand police “give us our medicine back.”

    “When we saw their reality, we realized there’s a void in our laws for this kind of use” of marijuana, said cabinet advisor Leonardo Caparros. “We couldn’t turn a blind eye.”

    It is unclear if the right-wing opposition-controlled Congress will pass Kuczynski’s proposed legislation, which would allow marijuana to be imported and sold in Peru for medical reasons and could permit domestic production after two years.

    Kuczynski, a 78-year-old socially liberal economist, once provoked an uproar for saying that smoking a joint “isn’t the end of the world.”

    But an Ipsos poll conducted following the raid showed 65 percent of Peruvians favor legalizing medical marijuana, and another 13 percent back legalizing the drug for recreational use.

    If the bill is passed, Peru would follow neighboring Chile and Colombia in legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Mexico’s Senate has approved a bill to permit the use of medical marijuana, while Uruguay has fully legalized cannabis from seed to smoke.

    In the meantime, Searching for Hope has turned to the black market. Member Roxana Tasayco said cannabis oil had given her terminal cancer-stricken mother her appetite back and calmed her vomiting and nausea.

    Also In Health News

    “It’s not going to cure her but it’ll give her a better quality of life in her last days,” said Tasayco. “If I have to break a few laws to do that for her I will.”

    (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

    CONTINUE READING…

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

     

     

    images

    (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
    Patrick McGreevyPatrick McGreevyContact Reporter

    Warned of a possible federal crackdown on marijuana, California elected officials and cannabis industry leaders said Friday they were preparing for a potential showdown in the courts and Congress to protect the legalization measure approved by state voters in November.

    The flashpoint that set off a scramble in California was a news conference Thursday at which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the administration had no plans to continue the Obama administration’s permissive approach in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

    “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” he said, adding that the administration would continue to allow states to regulate the sale of marijuana for medical use.

    The latest development could force California officials and marijuana industry leaders into an unusual alliance against the federal government, with billions of dollars in profits for businesses and taxes for state coffers at stake.

    The state agency responsible for drafting regulations said Friday it was going ahead with its plans to start issuing licenses to growers and sellers in January.

    “Until we see any sort of formal plan from the federal government, it’s full speed ahead for us,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.

    In Congress, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) plans to introduce legislation that could blunt Spicer’s threat by preventing the Department of Justice from enforcing federal laws against the recreational use of marijuana in states that have legalized it, a spokesman said Friday.

    And industry officials warn that any federal crackdown in California and other states will result in many growers and sellers continuing to operate, but on the black market.

    California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra says he is ready to safeguard the rights approved by 57% of voters in Proposition 64, which allows California adults to possess, transport and buy up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.

    “I took an oath to enforce the laws that California has passed,” Becerra said in a statement Thursday after Spicer’s comments. “If there is action from the federal government on this subject, I will respond in an appropriate way to protect the interests of California.”

    State lawmakers also say California should do what it can to preserve Proposition 64.

    “We will support and honor the laws that California voters have democratically enacted,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), an author of legislation creating the licensing system for medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Becerra would likely be joined in any defense of the state’s marijuana policy by attorneys general in other parts of the country. Recreational use has also been legalized in Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, home to a combined 68 million Americans.

    Washington Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, who has worked with Becerra on opposing President Trump’s travel ban, said he and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last week asked for a meeting with U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to discuss how the recreational marijuana use system is working in their state.

    California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading supporter of Proposition 64, took a similar approach, sending a letter Friday to Trump urging him not to carry through with threats to launch a federal enforcement effort.

    “I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other … states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors,” the Democrat wrote.

    If the Justice Department starts arresting licensed marijuana sellers, the multibillion-dollar industry would join forces with the states that issue permits to challenge the action in court, said Amy Margolis, an attorney whose law firm has more than 200 clients in the marijuana industry, including businesses in California.

    “This industry is so mature and it’s so far along that I have no doubt that if the Department of Justice started true enforcement actions against cannabis businesses, that they would go to court,” Margolis said. “I see joint actions between the states and the industry hoping to prevent those type of actions.”

    Margolis would argue that it is a states’ rights issue.

    “The argument would be that this is a situation where the states have the right to regulate and tax an industry the way they want,” she said, adding that states are gaining tax revenue to pay for government programs.

    Although federal law does not outline a medicinal use for marijuana, Trump administration officials have made public statements indicating they recognize that such a benefit exists, which could help the industry in a potential court case, Margolis said.

    However, the states may find their hands tied legally if they try to keep federal agents from raiding and shutting down marijuana growing and sales operations, according to Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA School of Law.

    “I imagine that California will mount a legal challenge to any crackdown on recreational marijuana,” Winkler said. “Yet there is not much California can do. Federal law is supreme over conflicting state law. Federal agents are entitled to enforce federal law anywhere in the country, including California.”

    He said there are limits to federal power, but the courts have held that the federal government does have the authority to enforce federal drug laws.

    Aaron Herzberg, an attorney for the industry, agreed that the state would face a tough fight. He cited the 2005 case Gonzales vs. Raich, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress may criminalize the production and use of homegrown marijuana even if states approve its use for medical purposes.

    “Let’s face it: If the federal government wants to shut down recreational marijuana, they could quite easily accomplish it using federal law enforcement and taxation tools,” Herzberg said.

    Others say one basis for legal action would be an argument that enforcing laws against marijuana would damage states that have put regulations in place and are depending on hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to pay for government programs.

    States are too far down the path of regulating, licensing and taxing those who are making big investments in the sanctioned marijuana industry to pull the rug out now, said Richard Miadich, an attorney who co-wrote Proposition 64.

    “Given the strict regulatory structure set forth in Proposition 64, that medical and adult-use regulations are being developed in concert, and that public opinion is squarely on the side of states’ rights on this issue, I think it is impractical for the federal government to reverse course now,” he said. “Not to mention the potential for great harm to individual states.”

    Supporters of Proposition 64 say there is also a potential political solution.

    In recent years, Rohrabacher and former Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) won congressional approval of a rider to the federal budget that prohibited federal funds from being used to prosecute medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with state laws.

    Rohrabacher plans to introduce legislation that would expand the protection to businesses that comply with state laws allowing the growing and sale of marijuana for recreational use, according to spokesman Ken Grubbs.

    The congressman is planning the legislation “because recreational use is an issue of individual freedom and should be dealt with legally according to the principle of federalism, a bedrock conservative belief,” Grubbs said.

    Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is also “reviewing options to counteract whatever the Trump administration’s plans” are for state marijuana laws, said senior advisor Jack d’Annibale.

    Another option, though a long shot, would be for Congress to attempt to change the federal Controlled Substances Act to decriminalize the use of marijuana nationally.

    Herzberg said reinstituting federal raids would be “a major setback for the industry.”

    But the state could still go ahead with a licensing system for medical marijuana growing and sales in spite of a federal crackdown on recreational use, according to Hezekiah Allen, head of the California Growers Assn.

    “A vast majority of California growers and cannabis business owners would choose to participate only in the medical marketplace if given the option, and some would choose to avoid licensure entirely if they were unable to distinguish themselves from adult-use businesses,” Allen said.

    Because Spicer did not provide details on what an enforcement effort might look like, many in the industry hope it will focus on the illegal exporting of marijuana to other states, leaving alone state-licensed firms that grow and sell pot.

    “The biggest crackdown we may see is on the increase of cannabis being illegally exported out of recreational states,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn.

    State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said any change in federal enforcement policy on states that have legalized recreational use would be misguided.

    “You can’t put the genie back into the bottle — marijuana regulation and enforcement can’t and shouldn’t go backwards,” he said.

    CONTINUE READING…