Even if Obama doesn't support it, WE as the PEOPLE have the power and the right to vote, be heard! - ILLA
The movement to legalize marijuana has arrived at Congress' back door.
Later this month the first medical cannabis dispensaries are expected to open in the nation's capital, including one just eight blocks from the Capitol dome.
The milestone is lifting the spirits of pot enthusiasts who believe a safe and profitable in D.C. could help nudge along the drug nationwide.
ABC News recently toured the Metropolitan Wellness Center, one of the district's three soon-to-open shops, located on Capitol Hill.
While pot products have yet to hit shelves – the shop is still awaiting a license from the district – general manager Vanessa West said they will soon offer multiple varieties of cannabis, paraphernalia and a mix of pot-infused products, including brownies, cookies and drinks.
West, a veteran operator of dispensaries in California who admits she "smoked a little grass in college," said the sleek, modern set-up of her "product selection and payment room" underscores a serious focus on patients and treating their pain.
"When we find out what a patient's symptoms are, we can make a recommendation about what the best strain is for them and what the best possible route for ingesting that strain is," she said.
"Forget about the recreational part for a second," she says to skeptics. "Listen to how cannabis has changed patients' lives for the better."
Only employees and patients registered with the District of Columbia Department of Health will be allowed inside the dispensary once weed sales officially commence. The shop will effectively go on lockdown, protected by a high-tech security system of a dozen cameras and motion sensors keeping watch.
"This is sort of a delicate business," West said. "It's like a bank or a high end jewelry store. We want to protect the product and the people that are inside this building."
Under district law, no one is allowed to consume pot on the premises, West said. Approved users are required to head directly home after making their purchases.
The rules for obtaining legal access to the drug are equally stringent. A prospective patient must be a district resident with one of the few qualifying diseases, such as AIDS, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis. A doctor must formally recommend the drug, and that recommendation must be certified by the Department of Health. Each patient must also submit an application and pay a license fee.
"It's a pretty difficult process, but it sort of needs to be," said West. "You don't want to create a free for all."
The dispensaries in D.C. will remain illegal under federal law, which still bans the cultivation and sale of marijuana as a dangerous and addictive "Schedule I" drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Officially, marijuana is classified has having "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S."
The headquarters for the Justice Department, the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal law, is located just four miles from the Metropolitan Wellness Center.
West says she's not worried about a raid.
"History has shown that if you are a dispensary operating in a state that is transparent and heavily regulated, the federal government is not interested in intervening," she said.
Medical marijuana is now allowed in 18 states plus the District of Columbia. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington took the movement further, endorsing the sale of marijuana without a prescription for recreational purposes. Both states are establishing regulatory regimens for pot similar to alcohol.
A poll released last month by the Pew Research Center found for the first time a majority of Americans now favor full legalization of marijuana. Fifty-two percent favor decriminalization, with 45 percent opposed.
The level of support is a landmark shift from 40 years ago when just 12 percent backed legalized pot, according to Gallup.
In light of the trend, President Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters in December that he's re-thinking federal prosecution of some marijuana users.
"It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state laws that's legal," Obama said.
"We've got bigger fish to fry," he added.
The big question now for pro-pot states: Will the Justice Department spoil plans for dozens of new dispensaries, and a potential bonanza of millions in taxes and fees?
The Department, which is reviewing the new Colorado and Washington marijuana laws, has yet to formally decide whether or not they will be challenged in court.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from those states have re-invigorated legislative efforts to repeal or weaken the federal ban on pot. So far this year, seven bills dealing with marijuana have been introduced in the U.S. House, including one that would entirely decriminalize the drug.
All of the bills face an uphill climb, which means for now at least, the new D.C. dispensaries will remain at odds with the law.
Proposed MA DPH regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Posted by MikeCann via MikeCann.net
To: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
From: Andy Gaus
Re: Proposed regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Thank you for providing this forum to comment on the proposed DPH regulations on medical marijuana.
Two provisions in particular appear to make it virtually impossible for caregivers to provide the marijuana patients need while dispensaries are slowly organizing themselves:
1) Each caregiver must provide marijuana for only one patient.
2) The caregiver is not supposed to receive any compensation whatever from the patient for providing the marijuana.
Put these two provisions together, and very few people can practically step forward and become caregivers.
Bear in mind that growing marijuana indoors requires investing several hundred dollars in equipment to get started, paying high electrical bills in the ensuing months as well as ongoing costs for soil and fertilizer, and putting in hours of very real physical labor. If a patient grows for herself, these costs are repaid by the marijuana harvested and the relief it brings. But if a patient cannot grow for herself, the very considerable costs and burdens of producing the marijuana fall totally on the caregiver, with all compensation prohibited. This isn't just unfair: it has the practical effect of making it virtually impossible to be a caregiver, which means no one can help the person who cannot grow for herself. If you wish to limit the ability of a caregiver to profit from their cottage industry, you could set a maximum number of patients (but not a maximum of one), or a maximum price per ouince, or both. A limit of, say, 20 patients per caregiver and $100 per ounce would keep caregivers and their homes from turning into for-profit dispensaries but would not leave patients with no one to turn to during a long period when cities and towns are enacting moratoriums and potential dispensary operators are clearing numerous legal hurdles.
The provision that a patient must have no more than two total sources of marijuana is also unnecessarily onerous. If all providers are supposed to use a common state database, any user of the database should be able to verify that the same patient isn't filling the same prescription multiple times at different locations. If a further check is needed, patients could be issued something like a ration book.
One senses in all these regulations the underlying assumption that a set of air-tight regulations is both necessary and sufficient to prevent medical marijuana from being diverted to healthy recreational users, and that without such air-tight regulations, large-scale diversion is inevitable, with disastrous social consequences, particularly the increased availability to minors.
Let's be realistic: recreational users, including minors, already have total access to marijuana if they want it. Kids themselves, when surveyed, report that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Those who get their dope from dealers needn't fear being rejected as too young, and most of them get it, not from dealers, but from each other, in a vast informal network where everyone is both a user and a distributor. Likewise, almost all Massachusetts adults who wish to consume marijuana recreationally have found or could find a connection: marijuana prices have actually come down in recent years due to market saturation.
As officials responsible for public health, your first priority must be to make sure that patients who need marijuana for relief of painful and debilitating conditions can get it.
Minimizing diversion cannot be the main goal: it will never be effective for its stated purpose and is certain to cause unnecessary stress and pain for patients who need relief now and for the caregivers who would like to provide it .
Stacking the vapors... ILLA
It’s hard to ignore the prevalence of medical marijuana dispensaries in California and elsewhere. They are on the corner and in the news. If you are a tax lawyer, it is even harder to ignore them, for there are big tax problems in this industry. See Voters Say Yes To Marijuana, IRS Says No. But when I said I thought the industry was going corporate—Is Medical Marijuana Going Corporate?—I didn’t realize how true it was.
Now I’m getting merger notices. Yes, marijuana M&A is here. In this case, it’s about the vapor machines that can obviate smoking and instead dispense the meds without even using a match (or a lighter for that matter).
Medbox, Inc. (OTC Markets: MDBX) announced the acquisition of 100% of Vaporfection International Inc., manufacturer of Vaporfection vaporizers. Medbox was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Business Section: Wall Street sees opportunity in marijuana.
Vaporfection makes “herbal delivery systems.” The deal involved the issuance of 260,864 MDBX stock warrants. Medbox sells and services automated, biometrically controlled dispensing and storage systems for medicine and merchandise. And Vaporfection seems quite a catch.
Vaporfection claimed Best Vaporizer in Product of the Year at the Cannabis Cup Amsterdam 2011, and Best Vaporizer at the Kush Expo LA 2012. The company’s patented designs cause marijuana to release its medicinal ingredient into the vapor. The resulting vapor is pure, virtually odorless, and goes into the patient’s respiratory system.
Vaporfection was created by Amir Yomtov in 2006. In 2011, the company was purchased by entrepreneur Herb Postma. Mr. Postma continues to manage Vaporfection and notes that under Medbox, Vaporfection revenues are projected to exceed $4 million in 12 months. All this sound rosy, but not to the feds.
After all, legal dispensaries are still labeled as drug traffickers under federal law, and that creates big tax problems. Section 280E of the tax code denies tax deductions for any business trafficking in controlled substances. The IRS says it must enforce Section 280E. Yet the U.S. Tax Court has opened the door a crack by allowing dispensaries to deduct other expenses distinct from dispensing marijuana. See Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems Inc. v. Commissioner.
If a dispensary sells marijuana and operates the separate business of care-giving, the care-giving expenses are deductible. Some expenses might relate to both. If only 10% of the premises are used to dispense marijuana, 90% of the rent is deductible. But good record-keeping is essential. See Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Persist Despite Tax Obstacles.
But even good records won’t make vaporizers or drug paraphernalia deductible. In Olive v. Commissioner, Martin Olive sold medical marijuana at the Vapor Room, where he used vaporizers so patients didn’t have to smoke. However, with only one business, Section 280E precluded Olive’s deductions.
Robert W. Wood practices law with Wood LLP, in San Francisco. The author of more than 30 books, including Taxation of Damage Awards & Settlement Payments (4th Ed. 2009 with 2012 Supplement, Tax Institute), he can be reached at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.
Raid Of The Day: Florida Cops Raid Cathy Jordan, Medical Marijuana Activist Who Suffers From Lou Gehrig's Disease
On Monday, the Miami Herald posted an article about rising support for legalized medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The article mentioned an pro-pot activist named Cathy Jordan, who uses the drug to mitigate the symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease. The article mentioned Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake worth), who is sponsoring a bill to legalize the drug. That bill is named after Jordan.
The Bradeton Herald now reports that just hours after that article ran, a team of ski-mask-clad deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Department staged a guns-drawn raid on Robert and Cathy Jordan's home. According to Robert Jordan, the cops seized 23 marijuana plants, including the two mature plants his wife uses to treat her illness. They made no arrests.
The raid is a stark example of the troubling trend of using paramilitary police tactics to send a political message. Set aside for a moment the sheer cruelty of sending government agents to separate a suffering, terminally ill woman from the medication that gives her some relief. (And yes, that's a major thing to set aside.) Why ski masks? Why come in with guns drawn? Did the Manatee County Sheriff's Department really think that wheelchair-bound Cathy Jordan and her 64-year-old husband were a threat?
No, of course they didn't. This was about making an example of someone. Cathy Jordan's name is on a bill to legalize medical pot in Florida. So it was up to Florida law enforcement to bring the boot down upon Cathy Jordan's neck.
The police will say they were merely enforcing the law. Nonsense. First, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube has discretion about which laws he enforces, and to what degree. He doesn't have the resources to enforce every law, all the time. He has to prioritize. And how he prioritizes -- how he uses the resources available to him -- is certainly something the public should consider when evaluating how well he's doing his job. Cathy Jordan's pot plants weren't harming anyone. I suppose it's now up to Manatee County residents to decide if sending a team of cops to take pot plants away from a sick woman was an appropriate use of public resources.
Second, even if we were to concede that Jordan was breaking the law, and that the Manatee County Sheriff's Department has an obligation to enforce that law, how it's enforced is also a matter of policy -- and something for which Manatee County residents can hold Sheriff Steube accountable.
In the end, it's a pretty safe bet that these deputies won't be disciplined or reprimanded, and that Sheriff Steube won't suffer any political consequence for the way this action was carried out.
And that's where all of this begins to get scary. It's one thing for a few bad cops or a power-tripping sheriff to use excessive force to make an example of someone because of a disagreement over politics or public policy. There will always be bad actors. It's how we react that matters. Whether or not the public supports medical marijuana itself isn't really the point, here. You can shut down a pot shop or take plants away from a sick person without pointing guns and donning a ski mask.
Here is the point: If we've reached the point where we're okay with -- or at best complacent about -- the government using violence to make an example of someone because of their political activism, then we've lost our grip on the principles that make free societies free. That these excessive, militarized raids on medical marijuana grows, clinics, and activists have been going on since the 1990s is a strong -- and sad -- indication that we let go of those values a long time ago.
- Another case of the dog being smarter than the owner...
INDIANAPOLIS - A convicted marijuana dealer spent the weekend in jail after a routine search of his home by probation officers yielded a large dog food bag full of marijuana, police said.
Marion County Community Corrections officers arrived on Charlecot Drive, near 79th Street and Michigan Road on Indianapolis' northwest side, where an ex-con's ankle monitor indicated he was living.
Court records show that Djamil Roberts, 33, was serving probation for a felony drunken driving conviction, but police said he also had been convicted in Kokomo for possessing and dealing marijuana.
As probation officers were conducting a routine search of his home last week, they reported to police that they found a dime-sized chunk of marijuana.
A search warrant was signed by a judge, allowing officers to search the home's garage and several cars, leading police to locate 14 bags of marijuana stuffed into a large Puppy Chow dog food bag.
Officers also reported finding a trash bag containing marijuana in one of the cars. They also found a digital scale often used for dividing up drugs for sale, as well as a black .40-caliber pistol and magazine with ammunition and a magazine.
Police said the handgun was found tucked into a heating duct vent inside the garage, while the ammunition was found in an overhead kitchen cabinet.
Roberts was booked into jail on a felony charge of possession of marijuana.
Roberts told police he was not employed and was having difficulty in affording the rent, and yet officers said they found $3,460 in cash in a downstairs bedroom.
Police did not respond to requests for Roberts' booking mug shot on Monday or Tuesday morning.
- See more at: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/convicted-marijuana-dealer-on-parole-found-with-dog-food-bag-full-of-pot-gun-police-say#sthash.qKXDza8Z.dpuf
Marijuana superstore opens in Seattle
by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News
Green Ambrosia opened last Saturday and is the city’s biggest medical marijuana dispensary.
The opening comes as Washington’s Liquor Control Board and lawmakers decide how to regulate recreational marijuana sales in the wake of Initative 502, which legalized the use and possession of small amounts of pot.
“This could be the face of what I-502 enabled pot looks like,” explained Green Ambrosia owner Dante Jones.
Jones’ business has operated since 2011, but only recently opened a storefront. Inside, behind a bamboo wall, is one large glass table loaded with jars of marijuana. There are restrictions on how much medical marijuana a business can have on sale.
While planning for whatever regulations may come from I-502, Jones said Saturday he is not sure how licensing will work.
“We’re preparing for it,” he said, “As a business owner, the only thing I can hope for is that they’re going to continue the same set of standards (included in the initative).”
Public forums are being held across the state on how to license recreational marijuana. No matter what the state decides, it is still possible the federal government could take action against Washington State since, according to federal law, marijuana is still illegal.
Rep. Jared Polis Hosts Reddit AMA Thread, Talks Federal Marijuana Legalization: 'The Drug War Has Failed, Time To Try A New Approach'
The Huffington Post
Just before President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis started an "Ask Me Anything" Reddit thread and discussed, among many things, his bill (HR-499) that would end the federal ban on marijuana and would allow states to decide for themselves if they want pot legal or not, as Colorado and Washington did in November.
Polis opened the thread with:
Hi! I'm holding my seat on the House floor getting ready for the State of the Union address which starts at 9 pm eastern. I will be around until then, then you can look for me on tv greeting the President (I got a good seat), then I'll be back when it's done to answer some more of the top questions. Let's have some fun!
The Colorado lawmaker took a break during the SOTU address and then resumed the AMA around 10:30 and had a very candid, often funny, conversation with hundreds of eager Redditors.
Polis discussed his thoughts on marijuana legalization federally and in Colorado as well as brief, but revealing bits about his homosexuality, life in Boulder, Colorado and much more.
Below are some of the best segments of his lengthy Reddit thread.
Redditor Salacious asked: What moneyed interests are blocking real progress on marijuana legalization? What are the non-monetary political concerns?
JP: The law enforcement industrial complex. All those on the gravy train of the drug war which means parts of law enforcement and their private sector vendors.
hubert1504 asked: Certain municipalities in Colorado are attempting to keep marijuana illegal in their jurisdictions. Some still write tickets for marijuana paraphernalia, accessories explicitly legalized in the state constitution. What can be done to see that these municipalities respect the will of the voters of Colorado?
JP: The will of the voters (Amendment 64) leaves it up to counties and cities how to regulate marijuana. I fully expect that many counties and cities will retain or enact bans. That is entirely their choice. The answer is to elect a different city council if you don't like their decisions.
Just as when federal prohibition ended for alcohol, many counties remaind "dry" and there are dry counties to this day.
iamaredditer asked: Why do you think the current administration has been so harsh on medical marijuana dispensaries?
JP: I reject the premise of the question.
Wow, that sounds legalistic. I always wanted to reject the premise of a question. THis is my first time I've said that!
AnyWho, the administration has been very clear through the Ogden memo that medical marijuana dispenseries that are clearly following state law are the lowest enforcement priority. This means that largely the feds have left medical marijuana dispenseries alone. In my state of Colorado that has been the case. I understand that in California there have been several raids, but these are of dispenseries that are operating in a gray area or a outright illegal manner under California laws. California state needs to tighten its laws to have less ambiguity so the feds don't have a pretense to come in.
powderitis asked: What can congress do to help the DEA reschedule marijuana from a class 1 drug up to lets say a class 3 or 4 or completely unschedule the drug? As a doctor I can prescribe Cocaine for my patient legally but if I have a patient on marijuana they are still breaking the federal law.
JP: Thank you for highlighting the absurdity of current law.
BlackbeltJones asked: To what extent can law enforcement realistically prevent diversion of marijuana to minors? And on THC DUI bill....
I believe law enforcement is in a better position to prevent distribution to minors if it is legal and regulated vs. banned because the corner drug dealer doesn't care about selling to a kid.
I think having a THC DUI is a good idea. We need to strongly discourage people from using marijuana and driving.
Thanks for the invite from Denver maybe some time I'll drop by if I'm Denver
DersTheChamp asked: What is your main arguement for legalizing marijuana, I have always wanted to know a politicians take on this.
The drug war has failed and it's time to try a new approach.
stealthisbook asked: Since you represent one of the largest brewing constituencies in the US and also are a proponent of marijuana reform, how do you feel about the common comparison of marijuana being safer than alcohol?
I don't think either is healthy, but clearly marijuana in moderation is not as harmful as being an alcoholic or drinking too much.
Sam_Coleridge asked: Congressman Polis, as I understand it, you represent the great state of Colorado. My question is how has cannabis legalization affected your state and would you recommend the legal parameters your state has set in place for cannabis to be applied to other states or even for federal law?
I would definitely recommend what our state has done for medical marijuana.
We have a great regulatory system that keeps people safe, prevents kids from getting access, keeps the criminal element out, etc. Nothing is perfect but I give CO an A.
It's too early to tell for full legalization, it just started but I do think they have a great process to determine the rules that will hopefully result in a good system.
Throughout the AMA, Polis would occasionally go off on tangents with Redditors and talk about his personal life, after one Redditor named "bizzle6" asked, "Do you get tired of hearing how rich you are?" Rep. Polis had a funny and smart response:
JP: How rich I am, how gay I am, how Jewish I am, how handsome I am (well, maybe not so much that last one). I am fine with my identities of course (one has to get used to things). I always try not to judge people or assume things because of their identities. Someone's wealth, sexual orientation, etc says nothing about whether they are a good person or not.
Polis also briefly discussed his personal life in Boulder when a Redditor from Boulder wrote about some of their favorite spots in the college town:
JP: We live near Pearl Street mall so usually hang out downtown, you'll typically see me walking with our little dog Gia and/or our son (1.5 years old).
Redditor "interstate73" asked Rep. Polis about the record numbers of LGBT lawmakers in Congress and Colorado's openly-gay House speaker Mark Ferrandino: What do you think of the record numbers of LGBT members of this congress (of which you are a member)? Will Steve King and Michelle Bachmann willingly go within 15 feet of you? Do you think the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA and Prop 8? And what do you think the prospects are for legal gay marriage are in Colorado at the state level? The Colorado House speaker IS openly gay, after all.
JP: Yeah it's really exciting. We have six out LGBT House members now and one in the Senate. I think there will be more and more. I get along fine with Bachmann and King. I mean I haven't made out with them or anything, but we get along just fine.
Our Speaker Mark Ferrandino is great and CO will soon be signing civil unions into law. I think if legal gay marriage was brought before the voters it would probably pass.
Idaho Senate advances measure opposing marijuana
The Senate's State Affairs Committee voted unanimously Friday to introduce a resolution opposing marijuana use in any form. The resolution also urges President Barack Obama and the Justice Department to enforce existing federal marijuana laws.
Republican Sen. Chuck Winder of Boise said the statement is a response to the growing acceptance of marijuana use in neighboring states. Winder said law enforcement along Idaho's western border are dealing with an influx of drug trafficking after Washington voters approved of recreational use and the medical use of marijuana in Oregon and Montana.
Winder said he hopes the federal government takes steps to oppose Washington's law and help states battle illegal trafficking of the drug.
US court rejects bid to reclassify marijuana
What kind of reason is that?! WTF?! -UA
WASHINGTON (AP) —ajc.com
A U.S. appeals court has rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana from its current status as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use.
The appeals court panel Tuesday turned away the bid from a medical marijuana group, Americans for Safe Access.
In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition by medical marijuana advocates to change the classification.
The court said that the question wasn't whether marijuana could have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA's decision was "arbitrary and capricious." The court concluded that the DEA action survives review under that standard.
Marijuana is classified as a controlled substance, categorized as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, together with drugs like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.