Vermont lawmakers become first to approve legal pot

AP MARIJUANA STATES OF PLAY A FILE USA CA

April McCullum, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s Legislature become the first in the nation Wednesday to approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill.

Vermont’s bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved in the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The state Senate already passed the bill, so it will go directly to GOP Gov. Phil Scott.

Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state yet has legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization advocates said bills were pending in other state legislatures.

“I think it reflects that Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states,” said Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a member of the Vermont Progressive Party who has worked on marijuana issues for the majority of his political career. “I think the public is ahead of us, but elected officials tend to be cautious when it comes to change.”

Wednesday’s vote closed a debate over legalization, particularly in the state House. The divisiveness once prompted Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, a Democrat from Burlington, Vt., to predict that legalization would take a miracle to pass this year.

Advocates hugged and shared high-fives outside the two chambers after the vote.

“Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states.”

Earlier in the day, the House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to support the limited bill, which was pitched as a compromise between the House and Senate approaches on marijuana.

The proposal incorporates H.170, a House-supported bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, two mature marijuana plants or four immature marijuana plants for adults older than 21. The effective date was pushed to July 1, 2018.

The bill also sets up a nine-member commission to study the best way to regulate marijuana.

“There’s no slam dunk of any kind,” Rep. Barbara Rachelson, a Burlington Democrat, said about the prospect of a legal marijuana market. “It just is doing work that could be used next year or in subsequent years.”

The proposal would continue to prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana and the use of marijuana in public places. Employers, landlords, schools and prisons could continue to restrict marijuana use.

“The data indicates that our youth are using marijuana more infrequently, and I don’t think we should put that in jeopardy,” said GOP Rep. Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury, Vt., who voted against the bill.

Democratic Rep. Susan Buckholz of Hartford, Vt., said declining marijuana use among the state’s high school students, measured at 37% in the latest Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, shows that anti-drug education is working.

“We need to make a move to be treating this as a public health issue for those for whom it is a health issue and letting other people use this substance responsibly,” Buckholz said.

Vermont's House minority leader, GOP Rep. Don Turner

Vermont’s House minority leader, GOP Rep. Don Turner of Milton, speaks May 10, 2017, against a marijuana legalization bill at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt. (Photo: Glenn Russell, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press)

If Scott signs the bill, a new commission would be responsible for drafting a system to tax and regulate marijuana and submitting the plan to the Legislature. The end result would need to be a marijuana regulatory system that  “increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.”

“The administration will be at the table, along with the attorney general and others,” said Democratic Rep. Maxine Grad of Moretown, Vt., chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. “With Massachusetts and Maine starting up in 2018, I think we need to continue this conversation.”

Scott repeatedly has expressed concerns about marijuana and highway safety. He has the choice to sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The first-term Republican governor declined to say before Wednesday’s House vote whether he would veto the legislation.

“I don’t believe this is a priority for Vermont,” Scott said. “I believe that what we should be doing is trying to find ways to protect those on our highways, deliver a level of impairment that is consistent throughout the Northeast, as well as to address the edibles for our kids before we move forward with legalization. Having said that, I’m going to review the bill as it’s passed.”

Follow April McCullum on Twitter: @April_McCullum

Note: Vermont legislators changed the effective date of the bill below to July 1, 2018.

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PDF OF H 170 AND VIDEO

a renewed bid by Oklahoma, Nebraska and others to stamp out Colorado’s recreational cannabis sales…

Bid to take down Colorado marijuana laws revived in court

Amid uncertainty about the future of federal enforcement, a renewed bid by Oklahoma, Nebraska and others to stamp out Colorado’s recreational cannabis sales
  • Published: Jan 17, 2017, 5:42 am

By Alicia Wallace, The Cannabist Staff

Federal appeals court judges on Tuesday reviewed the reach of racketeering laws, chewed over case law and opined over olfactory issues in a case that threatens to stamp out Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry.

A three-judge panel for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver took oral arguments in a consolidated case that claims Colorado’s recreational cannabis laws fly in the face of federal controlled substances and racketeering laws.

The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma joined the dispute after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case. The appeals also included a lawsuit from county sheriffs and another from a Pueblo horse ranch. The plaintiffs’ challenges were among several raised in and after 2014, when Colorado’s first-of-its-kind foray into regulated sales of cannabis didn’t sit well with all, especially neighboring states concerned about federally illicit substances spilling over their borders. Those complaints and the Nebraska-Oklahoma suit were eventually struck down.

On Tuesday morning, in a crowded, small, upstairs courtroom at the Byron White U.S. Courthouse in downtown Denver, attorneys and judges reviewed the reach of RICO and other federal acts and the impacts of marijuana cultivation on nearby properties.

“I went into the courtroom thinking that this was a slam dunk,” Matthew W. Buck, an attorney representing a half-dozen marijuana businesses named in the suits, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “And I came out of it thinking that it would be more of a toss-up.”

Buck said his confidence about the outcome waned after judges appeared to align with plaintiffs’ arguments that the wafting smell of federally illegal marijuana from the Pueblo cultivation facility to neighboring properties such as the horse ranch damaged property values. The impact of the greenhouse construction on sight lines from the property also was cited.

“(If this case were remanded to district court), it would effectively open the floodgates for every single dispensary and every single cultivation facility to be sued under federal court for RICO,” Buck said.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, oft-used in the implication of crime families and fraudulent financiers, also allows for private individuals to sue “racketeers” who allegedly damaged a business or property — in this case, property values. With RICO at the heart of its complaint, the entity backing the Pueblo County horse ranch also argued that the federal prohibition of marijuana overrides state law.

“Colorado is authorizing violation of the (U.S. Controlled Substances Act) through this licensing regime,” Brian W. Barnes, an attorney for plaintiff Safe Streets Alliance, told the judges Tuesday. Safe Streets, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-drug and anti-crime organization, took up the cause of the southern Colorado horse ranchers.


Get caught up on Colorado’s pot lawsuits

In-depth analysis: Who exactly is behind the lawsuits over Colorado’s legal marijuana? Primarily out-of-state interests with deep pockets

Pot pesticides lawsuit tossed: Denver judge says consumers who sued weren’t actually harmed from smoking pot they say was treated with pesticides

Fewer targets: Federal judge removes the governor and other state and Pueblo County officials as defendants in a high-profile marijuana racketeering lawsuit based in southern Colorado

Nebraska-Oklahoma lawsuit: Previous articles about the landmark lawsuit filed by neighboring states over Colorado’s marijuana legalization

More on the RICO suits: Colorado residents suing to halt recreational marijuana sales

RICO suits: Coverage of cases trying to halt Colorado’s recreational marijuana sales by using a federal law against organized crime

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Asked by Judge Harris J. Hartz as to whether a change in enforcement policy on the federal level, perhaps from a new U.S. attorney general, would solve his concerns, Barnes said he would welcome such a change but added it would be a “bank-shot” enforcement action against a third party and would not get at the heart of the state laws that stand in opposition to federal laws.

Hartz later questioned Barnes on the need for more enforcement beyond the mechanisms already in place through federal law or actions such as the 2013 Cole Memo that set guidelines for federal prosecutors in states with legalized marijuana. State laws regulating the sale of marijuana, Hartz noted, could in effect be a means of enforcement.

“How do you decide where to draw the line of authorizing and limiting pot and encouraging it?” Hartz asked.

Matthew Grove, assistant attorney general for the state of Colorado, said his state’s regulations are not preempted by federal law.

A decision from the 10th Circuit panel could take months, case attorneys and legal experts say.

In that time, the current landscape of the U.S. marijuana industry could see a drastic shift. More states may finalize or decide to pursue legalization measures, and a new presidential administration may shake up the “hands-off” status quo in enforcement.

“When the Obama administration did not push back (on legal states), this litigation was sort of the last chance for people opposed to this,” said Sam Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. “Now they can move back to the policy realm and attempt to do so through federal law enforcement.”

If the appeals court judges shoot down the appeal, Kamin said he believes a push to the U.S. Supreme Court would be unlikely.

“That likely will be the end of these legal challenges for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The states’ anti-legalization effort stretches back to December 2014, nearly one year into Colorado recreational marijuana sales.

The states argued that they had to shell out more money because of a spike in marijuana arrests, vehicle impoundments, drug seizures and prisoner transfers.

“This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said at the time, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald. “While Colorado reaps millions from the production and sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost.”

In the months that followed, Colorado’s marijuana laws were the target of several other suits, including disputes by county sheriffs, Pueblo County horse ranchers and a hotel owner in the mountain town of Frisco.

The cases involving the Pueblo horse ranchers and the county sheriffs advanced to appelate court; the suit by the hotel owner was dismissed after a settlement.

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Lawmakers want to defund the DEA’s marijuana eradication program

Is the DEA’s marijuana eradication program worth the $14 million to fund annually? Here’s a look at some numbers

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Published: Oct 10, 2016, 6:33 am • Updated: about 5 hours ago Comments (1)

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration gave $20,000 to the state of New Hampshire to eradicate marijuana plants, according to federal documents. But the Granite State’s law enforcement agencies didn’t have much luck finding any weed to pull that year – their efforts uncovered a single outdoor grow site with a grand total of 27 plants.

Do the math, and U.S. taxpayers paid $740.74 for each pot plant uprooted in New Hampshire that year.

That’s an expensive weeding operation, but it could be worse. Utah received $73,000 in marijuana eradication funds, according to the federal documents, obtained by journalist Drew Atkins as part of a FOIA request. But agents failed to find a single pot plant to eradicate.

The DEA’s $14 million marijuana eradication program has been the subject of a fair amount of criticism in recent years. Twelve members of Congress have pushed to eliminate the program and use the money instead to fund domestic-violence prevention and deficit-reduction programs.

Its purpose is to “halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States,” a mission that has become complicated as more states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana programs. Several more states have similar measures on the ballot this year.

DEA records show the program has been effective in some states, most notably California. Agents pulled 2.6 million marijuana plants in 2015, seizing more than 1,600 weapons in the process. Nearly $5.4 million was funneled into that state’s program.

Kentucky’s $1.9-million program had the next largest number of eradicated plants, more than 570,000.

Nationwide, the DEA documents show that spending on the program has shrunk from about $18 million in 2014 to $14 million in the current fiscal year. Some states – including Alaska, Colorado and Vermont – stopped receiving eradication funds completely.

California, where medical marijuana is legal, receives the lion’s share of marijuana eradication funds, in part because the “Emerald Triangle” region of Northern California. The area has long been home to many of the state’s legal and quasi-legal marijuana production operations, but law enforcement authorities have maintained that it also has been a haven for the grow operations of Mexican drug cartels.

Kentucky also receives a large amount of money to eradicate marijuana. The state has a surprisingly rich culture of marijuana cultivation.

Related: Meet Patrick Moen, the first-ever DEA official to defect to the marijuana industry

Rounding out the top 5 marijuana eradication states are Tennessee, Georgia and, perhaps unexpectedly, Washington. The aptly nicknamed Evergreen State legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and pot shops opened for business in 2014. So it may seem odd that the DEA is spending $760,000 this year to eradicate pot plants in the state.

But Washington is the only recreational marijuana state that doesn’t allow people to grow their own plants for recreational use. (In District of Columbia, incidentally, the situation is reversed: Homegrows are okay, but you can’t buy weed at the store.)

Washington also receives more marijuana eradication money than any other state with a recreational pot regime in place. Oregon received $200,000 this year, while Colorado and Alaska didn’t take any federal money for marijuana eradication.

New Hampshire, Louisiana, Delaware, Utah and New Jersey all spent well over $100 for every marijuana plant eradicated. Eleven states spent at least $50 per plant, while nearly half of the states – 23 of them – spent at least $25 in federal money for each marijuana plant they eliminated.

At the other end of the spectrum, states with big investments in marijuana eradication – like California and Kentucky – also had the most successful efforts to pull up large numbers of pot plants. So their per-plant costs are much lower.

To be perfectly clear, even in a fully legal, highly regulated market like Colorado’s there will be a need to enforce prohibitions on large-scale, unlicensed marijuana grows – similar to the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms busts illegal home alcohol distilleries. Beyond that, authorities often make a number of arrests at cultivation sites, or seize weapons and other property from people suspected of involvement with marijuana grow operations.

Still, some lawmakers are starting to question the need dedicated this level or resources to eliminating pot plants when so many states are relaxing their own restrictions.

“It makes zero sense for the federal government to continue to spend taxpayer dollars on cannabis eradication at a time when states across the country are looking to legalize marijuana,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., told me earlier this year. “I will continue to fight against DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in Congress and work to redirect these funds to worthwhile programs.”

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Editorial; Marijuana nullification?

March 22, 2016

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge to Colorado’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana, but the legal question the case raises can’t be ignored indefinitely. The question is as old as the republic: How far can states go in substituting their own laws for those of the federal government? The issue of marijuana raises that question now. In the past it has been raised by the issues of tariffs, slavery and desegregation, and in the future it could come up in relation to anything from abortion to immigration.

The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the court to overturn Colorado’s four-year-old law, claiming that it imposed costs on their law-enforcement systems. The lawsuit described the emergence of a $100 million marijuana industry in a neighboring state, and argued that “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

Instead, the federal government has turned a nearsighted, if not quite blind, eye toward Colorado’s law, along with similar laws in Oregon, Alaska, Washington state and the District of Columbia. The federal government also has largely looked away from the more narrow laws in 22 states legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is categorized as a drug whose possession and use is prohibited under all circumstances.

The federal classification of marijuana is foolish, destructive and should be changed — but it’s still the law, and like other laws, foolish or wise, it is meant to be obeyed. Yet the U.S. Justice Department has told prosecutors to ignore state legalization laws, as long as marijuana possession, use and sale remain within a set of guidelines. Federal authorities will step in, for instance, to prevent interstate commerce in marijuana, or to keep the drug out of the hands of children. Within those guidelines, just about anything goes, as Oregonians can see from the proliferation of pot products and retailers.

The Justice Department’s permissive approach avoids a confrontation over the limits of state and federal authority. Such confrontations have occurred in the past. The friction goes back to the nation’s founding, when it was the states, not a federal government, that dissolved the colonies’ ties to the British crown and ratified the U.S. Constitution. In the early 19th century, advocates of state supremacy argued that states have the right to secede in response to what they perceived as federal overreach — a position that led to the Civil War. Figures ranging from John Calhoun to George Wallace have advanced variants of that idea, claiming that states have the power to nullify federal laws with which they disagree.

Advocates of marijuana legalization have not argued for nullification. So far the Justice Department, and now the Supreme Court, have sidestepped the question of whether nullification has occurred. But marijuana legalization laws such as Oregon’s can’t be squared with the federal Controlled Substances Act, and as a practical matter, the state laws have been allowed to prevail. Someone, somewhere, is bound to point to this as establishing a precedent for states’ right to set aside other federal laws.

If Oregon can legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law, why can’t other states make their own rules regarding health care, the environment or civil rights? It’s regrettable that the Supreme Court decided against hearing a case that raised such questions, because they are inherent in any state law legalizing marijuana — and, perhaps soon, in other state laws that openly conflict with federal law.

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Legalizing Weed: 4 Agricultural Benefits of Industrial Hemp Cultivation

By Andrea Miller   |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 06:56 PM

As legalizing weed becomes more and more prevalent among U.S. states, industrial hemp cultivation is one such change that has the potential to benefit the farming industry.
For agriculture to continue to be a viable industry in the U.S., profound change is needed in order to bolster economic opportunity for farmers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there were 6.8 million farms in the nation in 1935. Today, there are just 2.2 million farms even as the population has increased, and many principal farm owners and/or operators are older than age 60.
Urgent: Should Marijuana Be Legalized in All States?
Here are four agricultural benefits of industrial hemp cultivation:
1. Hemp can serve as an alternative to tobacco. As more Americans quit smoking and fewer young people start, tobacco is no longer a viable product for many farmers. One study conducted by the University of Kentucky, reported by the North American Industrial Hemp Council, found that industrial hemp has the potential to become the most profitable crops for the state second only to tobacco, and may be able to serve as an alternative crop for tobacco farmers whose product is no longer in demand.
2. There are production advantages for farmers who grow hemp. This hardy plant is less susceptible to fluctuations in weather and other environmental conditions than other plants, such as cotton. This means that farmers are more likely to profit from their investment in an industrial hemp crop, and are able to grow a substantial amount of hemp in a relatively small acreage. Experts also note that an industrial hemp crop requires minimal maintenance compared to output.
3. Industrial hemp crops help to enrich the soil. A boon for any farmer, the growth pattern of this plant naturally creates more nutrient-rich soil. Because the dense leaves block sunlight, few weeds grow among industrial hemp crops. The deep roots of the plants provide nitrogen and other minerals to the earth, while reducing the salinity of the groundwater and minimizing topsoil erosion. In addition, this crop is ideal for composting to grow other plants, such as wheat or soy.
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4. Industrial hemp is a profitable rotation crop. While the rotation crop system is often necessary for sustainable agriculture, few of these crops are truly profitable. However, industrial hemp not only makes an excellent rotation crop because of the features listed in the previous item, but because of the huge U.S. market for the plant, farmers may be able to keep businesses running that would have not otherwise survived.

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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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Foreign Investors in the U.S. Cannabis Industry Face Their Own Special Risks

By Dylan Moore on October 30, 2015 Posted in Federal law and policy, Legal Issues, Medical Cannabis, Recreational Marijuana

Foreign investment in the cannabis industry. It's complicated.

The cannabis industry has always been international. Our first cannabis client was actually a Dutch company that hired us years before either Colorado or Washington had legalized. This client hired us to figure out what it would need to do as a foreign company investing in a U.S. cannabis business in a cannabis industry which this company was certain would eventually be legal. That client was unique for years, but nowadays, many more of our cannabis clients come from outside the United States. So far, they are mostly coming from Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Israel, with a smattering of clients from elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The foreign companies that contact us generally split fairly evenly between those seeking to get involved with ancillary companies and those seeking to get involved in the growing, processing or selling of cannabis. Invariably, they most want to know whether foreigners can invest in the U.S. cannabis industry and, if so, at what risk?

The short answer is a qualified yes for ancillary businesses and a qualified maybe for businesses directly involved with the plant. The immigration issues faced by foreign investors is just one of the many issues they face when investing into the US cannabis industry. But because we have been dealing with this issue frequently of late, we use it to illustrate how foreign involvement in US cannabis can be tricky.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains broad authority to limit entry of foreigners into the United States. This includes the authority to bar entry (or deport) a foreign citizen who has committed a crime, including a mere misdemeanor. Since any business activity involving marijuana remains illegal under federal law, a foreigner doing business with a cannabis company – even one operating completely legally in a state with the robust regulations required by the Cole Memo – is technically committing a crime and therefore may be deported. The Cole Memo dictates federal enforcement policy by prioritizing prosecutorial discretion; it does not create a legal defense for marijuana related crimes, even in states with legal cannabis, and it therefore offers no help to a foreign citizen in a deportation proceeding. Marijuana related activity (including involvement with state-legal marijuana) can also constitute “moral turpitude” in the eyes of immigration authorities and this designation can bar entry into the U.S. and prevent any chance of gaining U.S. citizenship.

Immigration authorities have the power to deport foreigners without having to comply with many of the legal safeguards to which U.S. citizens are entitled. For example, when immigration authorities are determining whether to deport someone for alleged criminal activity, the mere admission of the crime can often be enough to warrant summary deportation, even absent a formal conviction. This means a foreigner can be deported without ever being able to tell his or her side of the story, to explain the extenuating circumstances, or to make any other argument before a judge as to why deportation is unwarranted.

Though we are not aware of any foreign investor being deported for investing in a business that provides ancillary services or products to the cannabis industry, it is always possible that a zealous prosecutor or the USCIS will seek deportation by asserting that even ancillary businesses violate U.S. law by acting as an accessory to businesses that violate the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The deportation risks are greater for foreign investors who put their money into businesses that grow, process or sell cannabis.

Foreign investors must also always be mindful of the laws in their own country as well. And again, though we are not aware of any such prosecution, it is possible that some countries will prosecute their own citizens for having gotten involved in the cannabis industry of another country.

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