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  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 14, 2018

    The House Appropriations Committee took up and defeated language known as the Safe Banking Amendment offered by Congressman Dave Joyce (R-OH) on Wednesday, June 13th.

    If adopted, regulators would not be authorized to use federal funds to threaten sanctions against banks working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs.

    The defeat of the Safe Banking Amendment was not a vote about marijuana, but rather it was about normalizing a nascent industry that serves hundreds-of-thousands of customers in the majority of US states where cannabis is currently regulated. Once these companies have an easier time conducting their day-to-day operations, then they should be willing to offer more consumer-friendly prices instead of inflating them at the point of sale to cover backend costs associated with operating as an all-cash business.

    Currently, hundreds of state-legal, licensed, and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

    As an appropriations amendment, this funding restriction would have only been in place for one year.

    There is pending bicameral legislation introduced by Representative Perlmutter (D-CO) and Senator Jeff Merkley that the banking amendment was based, known similarly as the SAFE Banking Act. You can click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of that legislation. 

  • by NORML April 11, 2018

    It has been announced that former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, have joined the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings, a multi-state corporation operating in the medical and recreational marijuana space. The company holds licenses for dozens of cannabis businesses in the United States.

    Boehner, in comments to the press, made it clear that he has reversed his long held opposition to marijuana legalization. In an interview with Bloomberg news wire, he stated: “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

    In response to this announcement, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri issued the following statement:

    “John Boehner’s evolution on marijuana legalization mirrors that of both the American public in general and Republicans specifically. Recent polling finds that over 60 percent of Americans support adult use marijuana legalization and, for the first time, this percentage includes a majority of self-identified Republicans. Allowing states the flexibility and autonomy to set their own marijuana regulatory policies is consistent with conservatives’ long-held respect for the Tenth Amendment, as well as with the party’s recent embracing of populism.”

    Altieri continued, “Regardless of motive, former Speaker Boehner is still held in high regard by a large percentage of the GOP membership and voter base. We look forward to his voice joining the growing chorus calling for an end to cannabis criminalization. Anything that expedites the ability for patients to access this safe and reliable treatment alternative, and that facilitates an end to the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for the possession of a plant should be welcomed with open arms.”

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 20, 2018

    Not much.

    Temporary medical cannabis patient protections that have been imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment have now expired with the rest of government spending.

    The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    Without these protections, medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries exist with a greater threat than normal of federal enforcement of national prohibition, yet the certainty that these protections would be honored have been in doubt throughout the entire Trump administration.

    When President Trump signed the first Continuing Resolution in 2017, he issued a signing statement regarding the amendment:

    “Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

    Essentially stating that his administration believes they can ignore these protections if they do not view them to be Constitutional.

    Under this mentality, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have moved in to shut down medical marijuana facilities at any point. Should Sessions crackdown, we are confident that we would win a court challenge, given previous rulings on this very question. However, it would be a reactive exercise after an enforcement action, and during that process, the patients who relied on a supply chain to get them their medication would not have a lawful means to do so.

    So now, if the government reopens under another CR, then the protections will go back into place and we will be right back where we were in an uneasy détente. The threat of Sessions on one side and medical patients in a state-lawful system trying to alleviate their suffering.

    Further, Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect in any new spending deal. Last July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled, should Congress ever set a FY18 budget, of which we are already three and a half months in.

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and tell them to retain these protections.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director December 8, 2017

    Medical marijuanaCongressional leadership voted to enact a two-week continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 22, 2017. The resolution extends medical cannabis patient protections imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment until that date.

    The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    “While we are pleased that these critical protections will continue, two weeks is not enough certainty for the millions of Americans who rely on medical marijuana for treatment and the businesses who serve them. As Congress works out a long-term funding bill, it must also include these protections. And ultimately, Congress must act to put an end to the cycle of uncertainty and permanently protect state medical marijuana programs—and adult use—from federal interference. The American people have spoken. It’s past time that Congress catch up.” – Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

    Reps Rohrabacher and Blumenauer are both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

    Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of continuing these protections beyond December 22nd by clicking here. 

  • by Dale Gieringer, Director of California NORML December 5, 2017

    marijuana_growerCal NORML has sent comments to state regulators at the CA Department of Food and Agriculture regarding their emergency licensing regulations for cannabis cultivation.

    “We are concerned that the CDFA’s proposed emergency regulations on cannabis cultivation licensing fail to limit the total amount of acreage that any one applicant may accumulate. This opens the doors to large-scale, industrial mega- grows that could monopolize California’s limited available acreage, exacerbate environmental harm, and stifle participation by smaller growers,” CaNORML wrote.

    “California does not need any new, large-scale, industrial grows,” the comments continue. “Rather, it needs to accommodate existing growers into the legal market with as few adverse impacts as possible. The total acreage needed to supply the state’s entire adult- use market is only about 1,000 outdoor acres, assuming one ounce/sq ft average yield and 2.5 million lbs. total state demand. It’s essential that acreage be allocated in a way that is fair to the many existing modest-scale growers who wish to participate and not thrown away on new industrial mega-grows.”

    CaNORML suggests a licensing priority scheme, designed to minimize environmental impacts, which would allocate licenses in the following order:

    (1) outdoor licenses of all types, up to a total of no more than one acre per applicant;
    (2) indoor mixed lighting licenses, up to no more than one acre total per applicant;
    (3) indoor high-intensity licenses, up to no more than one high-intensity license (1/2 acre) per applicant.

    If there remains a shortage of applicants to assure adequate production, the recommendation is to continue issuing licenses for additional acreage in the same order:

    (1) outdoor licenses in excess of one acre per applicant;
    (2) indoor mixed lighting in excess of one acre;
    (3) indoor high-intensity – firm cap of one acre maximum per applicant.

    Read Cal NORML’s full comments.

    Also see: Lawmakers say California’s proposed marijuana rules will hurt small family farms

    California NORML is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to protecting the interests of cannabis consumers by legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use in California.

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