cole memo

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Oregon: Governor, State Police Superintendent Stand Up for Legal Cannabis

Oregon Governor Kate Brown

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Oregon Governor Kate Brown defended Oregon's cannabis regulations by publicly discrediting an Oregon State Police analysis which declared the state remains a top black market producer of cannabis.

Criticizing the analysis, Gov. Brown detailed steps the state has proactively taken to establish strict rules. Gov. Brown and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said that draft report was invalid and had incorrect data and conclusions. Gov. Brown noted that she also recently signed into law legislation that makes it easier to prosecute the unlawful import and export of marijuana products.

Hawaii: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Rules Won't Be Unveiled Until January


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Hawaii Department of Health doesn't plan any public hearings for comments on rules governing the state's new medical marijuana dispensary system before releasing draft rules on January 4, 2016.

Entrepreneurs will have only a few days to review the rules before applying, between January 11 and January 29, for eight highly sought licenses to grow and sell medicinal cannabis, reports Anita Hofschvneider at Honolulu Civil Beat.

Hawaii's recently enacted state law establishing the dispensary system exempts the health department from seeking public input, because legislators in July decided they want to establish a medical marijuana system by July 16, 2016, public commend be damned.

“We’re taking full advantage of that exemption so that we can spend the time to get the necessary rules done,” Health Department official Keith Ridley told legislators during a briefing Thursday at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The Department of Health is struggling with a backlog of 1,000 applications for the medical marijuana authorizations. It is still hiring to run the dispensary program, and still hasn't decided how much information about the applications it will make available to the public.

Ridley said the health department doesn't plan to release the names of any applicants for licenses until it selects the licensees on April 15, 2016, "because it may frustrate the state's process of determining the licensees."

Colorado OKs Marijuana Credit Union


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana businesses in Colorado have plenty of cash flowing in, but are having a difficult time finding a legal place to put it.

Most banks still refuse to work with marijuana businesses, because they fear enforcement of federal banking laws, reports Alizeh Siddiqui at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Cannabis, is, of course, illegal at the federal level. Now, a new credit union designed specifically for the legal marijuana industry hopes to offer a solution, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.

The Fourth Corner Credit Union plans to open within two weeks in Denver, offering to accept cash deposits and to allow members to make electronic cash transfers for payroll and rent, and to buy supplies.

"We are on the one-yard line," said attorney Mark Mason, who is advising the credit union's nine founders.

Banking regulators in Colorado granted Fourth Corner a charter on November 19, and now the union is waiting for the Federal Reserve to issue it a master account number, which would give it access to the U.S. electronic banking system. The credit union's organizers believe it will get the number without a fight, because the Federal Reserve is required give out numbers to organizations that have already been granted state charters.

U.S.: Report Says Medical Marijuana States Already In Compliance With Federal Guidelines


Patient advocates call on Congress to adopt binding changes to new federal policy

Medical marijuana advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Monday issued a report that analyzes the Obama Administration's latest enforcement guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that regulate medical marijuana distribution. The report, "Third Time the Charm? State Laws on Medical Cannabis Distribution and Department of Justice Guidance on Enforcement," shows that states have already enacted regulations that meet federal concerns, and some would have stronger regulations if it were not for federal threats that disrupted the legislative process.

The report concludes with recommendations for how federal and state legislators can protect patients and harmonize state and federal policies.

Medical marijuana patients greeted the Department of Justice (DOJ) memo issued August 31 by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole with cautious optimism. The memo is the third from the Obama Administration that attempts to rein in federal prosecutors in states that allow for regulated distribution of marijuana.

The first memo, issued in October 2009 by Cole's predecessor, then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, did not stop various federal prosecutors from attempting to thwart the implementation of several state medical marijuana laws. A report issued by ASA earlier this year put the cost of federal interference with state medical marijuana programs at more than $300 million.

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