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Where there’s pot, there’s gold. So conclude more than 300 economists who say that the government — if it got out of the business of enforcing marijuana laws — could save a whopping $7.7 billion annually. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron also figures there’s another $6 billion to be mined each year by taxing the drug at rates similar to booze and tobacco. The economists, who have signed a petition, don’t exactly go as far as Miron in suggesting pot be legalized but maintain that it’s high time, so to speak, for an “open and honest debate.”
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Posted: 04/ 2/2012 4:26 pm by Lucia Graves
WASHINGTON — Elected lawmakers in five states have a message for the federal government: Don’t interfere with state medical marijuana laws.
In an open letter to the federal government, lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle called on the government to stop using scarce law enforcement resources on taking pot away from medical marijuana patients.
“States with medical marijuana laws have chosen to embrace an approach that is based on science, reason, and compassion. We are lawmakers from these states,” the lawmakers explained in their letter.
“Our state medical marijuana laws differ from one another in their details, such as which patients qualify for medical use; how much marijuana patients may possess; whether patients and caregivers may grow marijuana; and whether regulated entities may grow and sell marijuana to patients. Each of our laws, however, is motivated by a desire to protect seriously ill patients from criminal penalties under state law.”
The letter — signed by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Wash.), Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-N.M.), Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-N.M.), Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Calif.), Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Maine) and Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Colo.) — comes directly on the heels of a federal raid in the heart of California’s pot legalization movement: medical marijuana training school Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland, where U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials on Monday blocked off doors with yellow tape and carried off trash bags full of unknown substances to a nearby van. An IRS spokeswoman could not comment on the raid except to say the agents had a federal search warrant.
The lawmakers called on President Obama to live up to his campaign promise to leave the regulation of medical marijuana to the states, adding raids would only “force patients underground” into the illegal drug market.
The president as a candidate promised to maintain a hands-off approach toward pot clinics that adhere to state law. At a 2007 town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., Obama said raiding patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes “makes no sense.” At another town hall in Nashua, N.H., he said the Justice Department’s prosecution of medical marijuana users was “not a good use of our resources.” Yet the number of Justice Department raids on marijuana dispensaries has continued to rise.
Read the full letter here:
Over the last two decades, 16 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to depart from federal policy and chart their own course on the issue of medical marijuana, as states are entitlir doctors’ medical advice or risking arrest and prosecution. They have stopped using their scarce law enforcement resources to punish patients and those who care for them and have instead spent considerable resources and time crafting programs that will provide patients with safe and regulated access to medical marijuana.States with medical marijuana laws have chosen to embrace an approach that is based on science, reason, and compassion. We are lawmakers from these states.
Our state medical marijuana laws differ from one another in their details, such as which patients qualify for medical use; how much marijuana patients may possess; whether patients and caregivers may grow marijuana; and whether regulated entities may grow and sell marijuana to patients. Each of our laws, however, is motivated by a desire to protect seriously ill patients from criminal penalties under state law; to provide a safe and reliable source of medical marijuana; and to balance and protect the needs of local communities and other residents in the state. The laws were drafted with considered thoughtfulness and care, and are thoroughly consistent with the American tradition of using the states as laboratories for public policy innovation and experimentation.
Unfortunately, these laws face a mounting level of federal hostility and confusing mixed messages from the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice, and the various United States Attorneys. In 2008, then candidate Obama stated that as President, he would not use the federal government to circumvent state laws on the issue of medical marijuana. This promise was followed up in 2009 by President Obama with a Department of Justice memo from former Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden stating that federal resources should not generally be focused “on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” This provided welcome guidance for state legislators and administrators and encouraged us to move forward with drafting and passing responsible regulatory legislation.
Nonetheless, the United States Attorneys in several states with medical marijuana laws have chosen a different course. They have explicitly threatened that federal investigative and prosecutorial resources “will continue to be directed” towards the manufacture and distribution of medical marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. These threats have generally been timed to influence pending legislation or encourage the abandonment of state and local regulatory programs. They contradict President Obama’s campaign promise and policy his first year in office and serve to push medical marijuana activity back into the illicit market.
Most disturbing is that a few United States Attorneys warn that state employees who implement the laws and regulations of our states are not immune from criminal prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act. They do so notwithstanding the fact that no provision exists within the Controlled Substances Act that makes it a crime for a state employee to enforce regulations that help a state define conduct that is legal under its own state laws.
Hundreds of state and municipal employees are currently involved in the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana producers and providers in New Mexico, Colorado, Maine, and California, and have been for years. The federal government has never threatened, much less prosecuted, any of these employees. Indeed, the federal government has not, to our knowledge, prosecuted state employees for performing their ministerial duties under state law in modern history. It defies logic and precedent that the federal government would start prosecuting state employees now.
Recognizing the lack of any real harm to state employees, a number of states have moved forward. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie drew on his own experience as a former United States Attorney in deciding that New Jersey state workers were not realistically at risk of federal prosecution in his decision to move forward implementing New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. Rhode Island, Vermont, Arizona, and the District of Columbia are also in the process of implementing their state laws.
Nonetheless, the suggestion that state employees are at risk is have a destructive and chilling impact. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed legislation to regulate medical marijuana in her state and Delaware Governor Jack Markell suspended implementation of his state’s regulatory program after receiving warnings from the United States Attorneys in their states about state employees. Additionally, a number of localities in California ended or suspended regulatory programs after receiving similar threats to their workers.
We, the undersigned state legislators, call on state and local officials to not be intimidated by these empty federal threats. Our state medical marijuana programs should be implemented and move forward. Our work, and the will of our voters, should see the light of day.
We call on the federal government not to interfere with our ability to control and regulate how medical marijuana is grown and distributed. Let us seek clarity rather than chaos. Don’t force patients underground, to fuel the illegal drug market.
And finally, we call on President Obama to recommit to the principles and policy on which he campaigned and asserted his first year in office. Please respect our state laws. And don’t use our employees as pawns in your zealous and misguided war on medical marijuana.
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-CA)
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-WA)
Representative Antonio Maestas (D-NM)
Senator Cisco McSorley (D-NM)
Assemblymember Chris Norby (R-CA)
Representative Deborah Sanderson (R-ME)
Senator Pat Steadman (D-CO)
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5:37 PM, Mar 23, 2012 Written by: Chris Vanderveen
BOULDER – Colorado’s top federal prosecutor has made good on his promise to continue his crackdown on the state’s medical marijuana industry.
On Friday, US Attorney John Walsh sent letters to the owners of 25 medical marijuana dispensaries telling them they had a month and a half to either shut down or face the possibility of prosecution and property seizure. All, he said, are located within 1,000 feet of a school.
Two months ago, Walsh sent out similar warnings to 23 dispensaries.
“I would say to any medical marijuana dispensary owner whose facility is within a thousand feet of a school that they will be receiving this letter,” he told 9NEWS in January.
Friday’s round of warnings, according to a news release put out by his office, represents a “second phase of an initiative to close all marijuana stores within 1,000 feet of schools.”
The letters, according to the release, formally notify “them that action will be taken to seize and forfeit their property if they do not discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana within 45 days from today.”
Walsh was unavailable for comment on Friday.
This all comes at a time when the Boulder County District Attorney is continuing to ask Walsh to halt the ongoing crackdown.
Last week, Boulder County DA Stan Garnett wrote a letter to Walsh asking the feds to focus their resources elsewhere.
“The people of Boulder County,” he wrote, “do not need Washington, D.C. or the federal government dictating how far dispensaries should be from schools.”
He added that prosecution of dispensary owners acting within the confines of state law serves “no practical purpose.”
This week, Walsh responded with his own letter to Garnett which said that he respectfully disagrees with the state prosecutor’s opinion.
“I believe that enforcing federal law to protect our children and young people from drug abuse is not only a legitimate use of federal resources, but a core responsibility for me and this office,” Walsh wrote.
Garnett said on Friday that he will hold firm with his position.
“I think there are other laws that could be enforced that would actually help us with public safety and not just be symbolic window dressing which this seems to be to me,” he said.
Marijuana, medical or not, remains illegal under federal law. In 2000, Colorado voters approved the limited use of medical marijuana.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)
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12:59 PM, Mar 21, 2012
DENVER (AP) – A marijuana proposal aimed at training people who work in medical marijuana businesses has cleared the Colorado Senate.
The Senate voted 24-11 Wednesday in favor of a “responsible medical marijuana vendor” designation.
The optional designation would allow pot shops to train employees in state marijuana regulation and how to spot fake marijuana cards.
In exchange, the businesses could get a break if they run afoul of state regulations. A similar designation already exists for the alcohol industry.
The marijuana industry backed the measure. It now heads to the House.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Posted: 02/27/2012 7:34 pm
by Art Way
Today the Colorado Secretary of State announced that a marijuana legalization initiative has qualified for the 2012 ballot, ensuring voters will have a chance to make history this November by ending marijuana prohibition in the state. Proponents of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol are emboldened by recent polls indicating that a slight majority of Colorado voters support the legal regulation of marijuana for adult use.
The campaign initially fell 2,400 valid signatures short, triggering a 15-day “cure period” allowed under state law to gather the additional signatures needed to qualify. The campaign kicked into high gear and obtained another 14,000 total signatures, surpassing their own goal of 9,000. Moreover, the volunteer efforts during the cure period netted more signatures than the paid effort — a good sign of strong grassroots support in the state.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol — now known as Amendment 64 – would eliminate criminal penalties statewide for adults who possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It also encourages the Department of Revenue or local jurisdictions to devise a system of regulation and taxation for the production, distribution and retail sale of marijuana to adults.
Nationally, public support for making marijuana legal has shifted dramatically in the last two decades, especially in the last few years. For the first time, a recent Gallup poll has found that 50 percent of Americans support making marijuana legal, with only 46 percent opposed. Majorities of men, 18 to 29-year-olds, 30 to 49-year-olds, liberals, moderates, Independents, Democrats, and voters in Western, Midwestern and Eastern states now support legalizing marijuana.
Yet, over the past year, the federal government has relentlessly attacked the implementation of medical marijuana regulatory systems in many of the 16 states that allow for the medical use of marijuana. In fact, on this very day, as the Secretary of State announced the qualification of the non-medical initiative, 23 medical marijuana dispensary owners were forced to shut their doors.
The specifics of Amendment 64 have been designed with this reality in mind. It is not a mandate to implement a legal regulatory approach in every Colorado jurisdiction, but it does open the door for the Department of Revenue to do so. If voters decide to legalize marijuana this November, lessons learned from regulating the medical marijuana industry will provide valuable insights. The Colorado Department of Revenue will know better than any agency in the country how to implement a legal regulatory framework that is as fed-proof as possible.
The amendment is a moderate approach to marijuana legalization, as it places limits on possession and does not allow for public use. It is also important to note that the proposal does not impact current traffic and workplace safety laws. But by simply allowing adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, the proposed law will compel law enforcement and Colorado’s judiciary system to redirect their resources to combat serious crime. This is the essence of legalization.
Amendment 64 puts forth the question of whether this widely-used commodity can be regulated in ways that enhance public safety, public health and the state’s bottom line. It begs whether we should continue to spend upwards of $80 million as a state to prohibit a substance that can bring in up to $40 million annually — a gross savings of $120 million. Ultimately, it drives home the point that prohibition is more harmful than the drug itself.
Prohibitionists often cite the “gateway theory” — yet the science simply does not support it. To say that teenage marijuana use leads to hard drug use and addiction is like saying riding a tricycle as a toddler leads to higher incidents of fatal bike accidents for pre-teens. There is a correlation, but no proof of causation. In fact, the evidence shows that most people who try marijuana as a teen don’t become habitual marijuana users, let alone users of other “hard” drugs.
Marijuana prohibition, under the current system, is the primary gateway into the criminal justice system for our youth. After seventy-five years of sensationalized rhetoric, typified by “Reefer Madness” and its progeny, law enforcement and educators have lost credibility in the eyes of our youth. We should ask the same question as our allies in Washington state, where voters will also decide whether to legalize marijuana this November: “Isn’t it time for a new approach?”
Art Way is Colorado Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
General Cannabis, Inc. (OTCBB:CANA.ob – News), (OTCQX: CANA) of California, a technology-based Internet marketing services company, is making huge moves in the medical marijuana industry. Recent activities include the acquisition of WeedMaps (December 2011) and MMJMenu (November 2011). WeedMaps can be described as the yelp of medical marijuana dispensaries and MMJMenu is one of the most trafficked medical marijuana websites that offer point of sale and supply chain management software in the United States. WeedMaps had just acquired the domain name marijuana.com in late November 2011 and the Android Application WeedLaws in early December 2011. “WeedMaps’ continuing growth validates our ability to generate significant revenue through Internet portals that serve niche markets, even as the current economy and overall market conditions remain volatile,” said Doug Francis, President of General Cannabis. “Clearly, our many offerings, including smartphone applications, offer winning solutions for those in the medical cannabis community. As a result of our successes, we strongly believe that we can leverage our technological platform and systems into other industry sectors.”
It is no secret that General Cannabis is experiencing record setting revenues with third quarter earnings published at $4.1 million, a year-over-year increase of 106%, compared with $2.0 million for the third quarter of 2010, and an increase to $10.4 million for the nine months ending September 30, 2011, an increase of 87%, from $5.5 million for nine months ended September 30, 2010.
About General Cannabis
General Cannabis, Inc., a technology-based Internet marketing services company, offers customers an integrated suite of services including media, technology, marketing and information. Founded in 2010, General Cannabis is headquartered in Newport Beach, California. The Company’s common stock trades on the OTC market’s highest tier, OTCQX, under the ticker symbol “CANA.” www.GeneralCannabis.com
Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 by Erick Schonfeld
In the small but budding legal medical marijuana industry, WeedMaps has the munchies for acquisitions (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Fresh off its $4.2 million Marijuana.com bong hit in November, WeedMaps’ parent company, Canada’s General Cannabis, announced today its acquisition MMJMenu.
Terms were not disclosed. It was an asset-sale, though, so it probably wasn’t much. General Cannabis, which is publicly traded over the counter in Canada (OTCBB: CANA), (OTCQX: CANA), reported $10.4 million in revenues for the first nine months of 2011, and it only had $1.4 million in cash. WeedMaps accounts for 82 percent of its revenues.
MMJMenu provides back-end enterprise software for medical marijuana dispensaries. The software handles everything from patient management to inventory control to checkout at point of sale. Medical marijuana dispensaries are highly regulated. Emblazoned on MMJMenu’s homepage is its key selling point:
mmjmenu is the best choice for medical marijuana business owners that want to stay compliant with state laws & regulations.
WeedMaps is the “Yelp for medical marijuana dispensaries.” Now it will be able to offer these businesses enterprise software as well as advertising services. MMJMenu claims “hundreds” of medical marijuana business customers “in California, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Washington as well as in Canada.”
More states are permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and the Obama administration has signaled relaxed enforcement of the industry in those states. Now, a new generation of marijuana entrepreneurs has emerged across America. They come from the unlikely fields of finance, politics, medicine and law, and they want to claim a stake in this modern day gold rush.
CNBC’s “Marijuana USA” goes inside a flourishing medical pot industry. In Colorado, the demon weed is rebranded as a natural herbal remedy with healing powers that even respectable citizens can enjoy. We meet two restaurant owners who are about to launch a new line of cannabis-infused edibles. And, we’ll go inside a clinic where marijuana is almost always the doctor’s order.
In this bold new era of greater marijuana acceptance, the business still remains in violation of federal laws. But, the entrepreneurs have asked to be regulated, licensed and taxed – just like any other trade. After more than seventy years as an illegal drug, is it possible that marijuana’s moment has arrived?