Oregon Begins Recreational Marijuana Sales on Saturday – WSJ


The two agencies that regulate Oregon’s marijuana industry approved rules to allow retailers to keep products on their store shelves that don’t meet new testing, packaging and labeling standards that take effect Saturday, the first day recreational marijuana stores can open for business.

Source: Oregon Begins Recreational Marijuana Sales on Saturday – WSJ

Congress’s Summer Fling With Marijuana – By JAMES HIGDON July 30, 2015


How Congress turned on the DEA and embraced weed.

It’s not easy being the DEA these days. After an unprecedented losing streak on Capitol Hill, the once-untouchable Drug Enforcement Administration suffered last week what might be considered the ultimate indignity: A Senate panel, for the first time, voted in favor of legal, recreational marijuana.

Last Thursday, the Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 on an amendment to allow marijuana businesses access to federal banking services, a landmark shift that will help states like Colorado, where pot is legal, fully integrate marijuana into their economies. As significant as the vote was—according to drug policy reform advocates, it marked the first time that either house of Congress has voted to advance legislation concerning legal marijuana—it’s only the latest vote in a remarkable run of success marijuana advocates have had this year on Capitol Hill.

“The amendment was a necessary response to an absurd regulatory morass,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines, one of the three Republicans to support Thursday’s amendment, tells Politico, referring to the multifaceted and complex system of laws that have been enacted over the past four decades to prosecute a war on marijuana. It’s a war that began on or about May 26, 1971, when President Richard Nixon told his chief of staff Bob Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana …I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.”

But that war appears to be winding down—potentially quickly. The summer of 2015 could be viewed historically as the tipping point against Nixon’s war on pot, the time when the DEA, a federal drug-fighting agency created by Nixon in 1973, found itself in unfamiliar territory as a target of congressional scrutiny, budget cuts and scorn. In a conference call this week, the new acting DEA administrator repeatedly downplayed marijuana enforcement efforts, saying that while he’s not exactly telling agents not to pursue marijuana cases, it’s generally not something anyone focuses on these days: “Typically it’s heroin, opioids, meth and cocaine in roughly that order and marijuana tends to come in at the back of the pack.”

What a difference a year makes.

 

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The marijuana industry’s battle against the IRS – by Tom Huddleston, Jr. APRIL 15, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT


Legalized marijuana sales are spreading across the U.S., but the industry’s businesses are facing steep federal tax bills thanks to a wrinkle in the tax code dating back to the 1980’s.

Millions of Americans rushed to finish their taxes in the hours just before the midnight deadline Wednesday. But for business-owners in the cannabis industry, a years-long tax battle is far from over.

Supporters of legal marijuana cited tax revenue as big factor in pushing through laws that have allowed medical marijuana sales in 23 states and recreational pot in four. But the businesses that grow and sell marijuana in those states are also staring at a steep federal tax bill, especially when compared with businesses in other industries.

That’s because of a little-known wrinkle in U.S. tax law that has turned out to be a major problem for pot businesses, even when operating where sales of medical or recreational marijuana are legal under state law. In 1982, Congress enacted Section 280E of the federal Tax Code to prevent drug traffickers from being able to claim business expenses related to illicit dealings on their federal tax returns. (Seriously, lawmakers decided to close the loophole after a drug dealer successfully wrote off travel expenses as well as the cost of a scale for weighing drugs.)

Of course, 280E predates the recent wave of marijuana legalization on a state-level by a couple of decades, but the federal laws outlawing marijuana remain in effect. That leaves marijuana cultivators and dispensary owners across the country in a tricky situation in which they may be operating legally under the laws of their respective states while the federal government — including the Internal Revenue Service — still technically consider them outlaws.

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http://fortune.com/2015/04/15/marijuana-industry-tax-problem/

Marijuana Is Changing the Workplace. Here’s How Employers Should Deal With It. – By Will Yakowicz MARCH 27 2015 1:35 PM


You don’t want to get a lawsuit by your office’s pot advocate. — Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This post was originally published in Inc.

With medical marijuana legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C., there are now millions of card-carrying cannabis users working at companies across the U.S. While four states and the District have legalized recreational marijuana use, pot is still illegal under federal law, and many business owners still subscribe to the plant’s Reefer Madness stigma and don’t want to allow people to smoke on the job. For some of those owners, that can mean getting sued for failing to accommodate an employee who has a medical condition.

Regardless of how you feel about marijuana, there are certain rules employees and employers need to follow when it comes to drugs in the workplace. If you make a mistake, you could find yourself in court. Todd Wulffson, a partner at California-based employment and labor law firm Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger, is one of the many lawyers who have been busy defending employers in these types of cases. Wulffson says that to protect your business you need to update your employment policies and human resources programs, and train all managers.

First, employers need to be familiar with the laws that have been passed in their states and consider a drug policy that doesn’t prohibit employees from using cannabis on their own time. With 86 percent of Americans supporting medical marijuana, an overly restrictive policy may chase some of your workers to another employer. Marijuana, while still classified as a Schedule I drug without medical use, does have medical benefits, and a bipartisan bill to make medical marijuana legal on the federal level has been introduced in the Senate.

Until then, employers need to take steps to avoid becoming a target of an employee lawsuit (whether the employee would have a strong case or not). “There are four scenarios that play out in these types of lawsuits that I see over and over again,” Wulffson says.

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Is pot the new gay marriage for the GOP? – By JONATHAN TOPAZ 1/31/15 9:06 AM EST


Republicans struggle to find their footing on an issue that resonates with younger voters.

FILE - In this May 13, 2009 file photo, marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif in Mendocino County. A federal grand jury has issued a subpoena for records associated with Mendocino County’s now-suspended medical marijuana permitting program in what appears to be another step in the federal crackdown on the state’s medical marijuana industry. County officials say it’s not clear why the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants the records. They have declined to say what records were specifically requested. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Marijuana is shaping up to be the new gay marriage of GOP politics — most Republicans would rather not talk about it, except to punt to the states.

But when it comes to the 2016 presidential race, a series of legalization ballot initiatives — and a certain outspoken Kentucky senator — could make it harder for the Republican field to avoid the conversation.

When asked to articulate their positions on recreational marijuana, several potential GOP 2016 candidates have tried to strike a tricky balance: stress the downsides of pot use and the upsides of states’ rights. Some have indicated their openness to decriminalizing pot, at least in their state, but none favors outright legalization.

For instance, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who took steps toward decriminalizing pot in his state, declared last year: “I am a staunch promoter of the 10th Amendment. States should be able to set their own policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, meanwhile, “believes legalization of marijuana for recreational use is a bad idea, and that the states that are doing it may well come to regret it,” said Alex Conant, his spokesman. “Of course, states can make decisions about what laws they wish to apply within their own borders.”

Marijuana may not stimulate the same kind of passion as the debate over same-sex marriage. Still, a majority of Americans support legalizing pot, and young people — who tend to turn out more for presidential elections than midterms — are especially keen on it.

The “leave it to the states” stance allows potential GOP candidates to stake out a relatively safe middle ground between an older conservative base that disapproves of marijuana use and a general-election electorate and libertarian wing that prefers legalization. The states’ rights approach also allows GOP candidates to express some openness to medical marijuana and criminal justice reform and argue against devoting costly resources for federal enforcement.

It’s also a position many in the prospective GOP field have taken on same-sex marriage.

Perry and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush both argued for the rights of states to set their own marriage policies after courts overturned bans in Texas and Florida. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Rubio, among others, have also said marriage should be left up to the states. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a constitutional amendment to disallow the federal government or courts to nullify state marriage laws, saying: “our Constitution leaves it to the states to define marriage.”

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Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/marijuana-gop-114786.html#ixzz3QQXoh6U9

Nebraska and Oklahoma sue Colorado over legal marijuana 18 December 2014 Last updated at 16:53 ET


Nebraska and Oklahoma have asked the US Supreme Court to nullify a 2012 law that made marijuana legal in the US state of Colorado.

Marijuana in Washington

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two US states to legalise the sale of recreational marijuana

Nebraska and Oklahoma have asked the US Supreme Court to nullify a 2012 law that made marijuana legal in the US state of Colorado.

The two states allege that Colorado’s law is in violation of federal law.

They say that they are suing just Colorado, and not Washington state where marijuana is also legal, because they do not share a border with Washington.

Colorado’s attorney general said their suit was without merit.

“Federal law undisputedly prohibits the production and sale of marijuana,” said Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning in a press release.

“Colorado has undermined the United States Constitution, and I hope the US Supreme Court will uphold our constitutional principles.”

Colorado’s attorney general John Suthers said in a statement that the state had been expecting legal action after Nebraska and Oklahoma complained about marijuana grown in Colorado coming into their states.

But he said he would vigorously defend Colorado’s law as “it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado”.

Colorado’s citizens voted to legalise marijuana in 2012, and earlier this year the state became the first in the US to offer marijuana for sale for recreational use.

Already, Colorado has collected $7m in taxes from marijuana sales, adding a valuable revenue stream to the state’s coffers.

Washington state passed a similar measure in 2012, but marijuana only went on sale for recreational use there this past summer.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia recently voted to legalise marijuana in November.

Industry trade groups criticised the legal action.

“Colorado has created a comprehensive and robust regulatory programme for the sale of marijuana in Colorado,” said Mike Elliott, the director of the Marijuana Industry Group.

“If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed, they will put the violent criminal organisations back in charge.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30542646

Colorado’s Pot Industry Looks To Move Past Stereotypes – KIRK SIEGLER December 02, 2014 3:52 AM ET


Brooke Gehring, CEO of Patients Choice and Live Green Cannabis, stands in one of her company's grow houses in Denver.

Brooke Gehring, CEO of Patients Choice and Live Green Cannabis, stands in one of her company’s grow houses in Denver. Kirk Siegler/NPR

It’s been nearly a year since Colorado made recreational marijuana legal, and since then, pot has become a billion-dollar business in the state. And some growers have made it a mission to make it legitimate and mainstream.

“Change the face,” says pot entrepreneur Brooke Gehring. “But really, not to be the stereotype of what they think is stoner culture, but to realize they are true business people that are operating these companies.”

Gehring, smartly dressed in a business suit carrying an iPad and briefcase, runs two businesses, Patient’s Choice of Colorado and Live Green Cannabis, and they are about as transparent as they come.

Her marijuana is grown in a converted furniture warehouse in an industrial district in Denver. Tucked in with a Safeway distribution center and landscaping company, the growers here permeate the air. The smell of fresh marijuana is everywhere.

And you know you’ve gotten to Gehring’s grow house when you see a police station across the street.

“Where most people may have said, ‘No, we don’t want to grow marijuana around the police,’ for us it’s another security measure,” she says.

Gehring spent $3 million just to retrofit her warehouse.

There are about 5,000 plants in here — part of about 50,000 companywide. Gehring expects to reach $10 million in sales this year. So you can see why security is such a big deal. It should also be no surprise that this is a tightly regulated business.