DOJ

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California: Court Blocks Federal Prosecution of Cannabis Farmers

California Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court blocked federal prosecutors from moving forward with a conspiracy case against a duo of Northern California cannabis cultivators because the pair was determined to be complying with California medical cannabis laws.

Sonny Moore and Anthony Pisarski, both Humboldt County farmers, plead guilty to federal allegations but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws.

The 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher which prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical cannabis states by halting federal funding for such projects.

U.S.: DOJ Task Force Recommends Against Sessions Targeting Legal Marijuana Providers

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Recommendations would preserve current policy of not interfering with medical and adult-use businesses that comply with state law and federal guidelines

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A Dept. of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy is not recommending any policy changes that would target state-legal marijuana programs or businesses operating in compliance with state laws, according to a report by the Associated Press. The task force asked for continued study and dialogue on the issue.

U.S.: Take Action Against Prohibitionist Attorney General Sessions

Jeff Sessions Reefer Madness

By August, states that have legalized recreational and medical cannabis should have a better idea how the Justice Department and Trump Administration plan to act

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the ever outspoken critic of cannabis, issued a recent directive stating he wants to increase asset forfeiture, which would allow the government to seize money and property from people suspected of a crime even before conviction. If the businesses have the means to sue to get their assets back, the case would be time consuming, stressful and expensive and virtually impossible for the entity to survive financially.

U.S.: House Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Law Helping Fight Asset Forfeiture

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Legislation Eases Burden of Contesting a Government Forfeiture and Raises Government’s Burden to Keep Property

Advocates Caution that the Bill Will Not End Policing-for-Profit

The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday unanimously approved asset forfeiture reform legislation.

Known as the DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283) and sponsored by Crime Subcommittee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) and others, the bill makes important procedural reforms that will help give property owners fighting a federal civil asset forfeiture action greater leverage to contest a government seizure and increases the federal government's burden of proof in civil forfeiture proceedings.

The DUE PROCESS Act, however, currently does not address the “policing for profit” incentive issue.

U.S.: DOJ Accepts Decision Saying It Can't Target State-Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Department of Justice has abandoned its appeal of a ruling that said federal prosecutors are breaking the law when they go after medical marijuana dispensaries who are in compliance with state law.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer issued the ruling last October, when he said that enforcing an injunction against a state-legal dispensary would violate a spending rider prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with state laws allowing medicinal use of cannabis, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.

Breyer's ruling is left in force by the ruling in the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) casea, without establishing a circuit-wide precedent. The DOJ's request to abandon the appeal probably came about because it feared the 9th Circuit would agree with Breyer's reading of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which says the DOJ may not used funds to "prevent" states from "implementing" their medical marijuana laws.

The DOJ argued that prosecuting dispensaries, seizing their property, and shutting them down does not prevent implementation of laws which allow them. Judge Breyer rightly ruled that interpretation "defies language and logic."

Oregon: DEA Investigates Cannabis Oil Company True North Extracts

TrueNorth[WillametteWeek].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The owners of True North Extracts, a Portland company which sells CO2 cannabis oil, are being investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to a federal search warrant affidavit.

The homes of True North's owners, Michael Andrew "Drew" Dillon and Michael Corby, were searched by the DEA after the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office shut down the company's extraction facility in Wood Village, saying the warehouse violated building and fire codes, reports Aaron Mesh at Willamette Week.

True North's vape-pen cartridges are sold at medical marijuana dispensaries. The company advertises its products as free of chemical solvents.

"True North products are designed for anyone looking for a completely clean and gentle experience, that benefits mind, body and soul," the company's website reads.

In the search warrant affidavit from December 23, DEA agent Traci Larsen said True North had only enough Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) registration cards to supply a few patients, yet had more than 50 pounds of CO2 oil.

Larsen also wrote she "suspected" Dillon and Corby of "money laundering" and "endangering human life" while illegally manufacturing controlled substances, both federal felonies.

California: Leaders Call For DOJ To Halt Enforcement Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BarbaraLeeCongresswomanCalifornia[Facebook]

California Representatives, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA13) and Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA48) and Sam Farr (D-CA20) on Tuesday urged Attorney General Loretta Lynch to reconsider enforcement actions against California’s medical cannabis dispensaries following comprehensive, stringent and enforceable industry regulations recently signed into law.

“We are concerned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to threaten individuals and businesses acting within the scope of states law on the medicinal use of marijuana despite formal guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion and recent changes to federal law. It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries,” wrote the Members of Congress.

The full text of the letter is available here.

In closing, the Members wrote, “the will of the both voters at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country should be respected.”

U.S.: New Bill Would Cut Off Federal Forfeiture Funds For DEA Marijuana Raids

CivilAssetForfeitureIWantYourPropertyUncleSam[TheDailySheeple]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new bill with bipartisan support would eliminate one controversial source of funding for a federal marijuana seizure program.

The "Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act," introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, reports Nick Sibilla at Forbes. The bill would additionally ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property "is used for any purpose pertaining to" the DEA's marijuana eradication program.

The DEA gets millions of dollars annually under this program; the take was $18 million in 2013. It then funnels the cash to more than 120 state and local agencies to "eliminate marijuana grow sites" nationwide.

Last year, the program was responsible for more than 6,300 arrests, eradicating more than 4.3 million marijuana plants, and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all those plants were destroyed in California, which also accounted for more than a third of the seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Calls For End To Failed Marijuana Prohibition

EarlBlumenauerPointsUp[AssociatedPress]

As Oregon’s Emerging Marijuana Industry Visits Capitol Hill, Rep. Blumenauer Calls for Federal Government to Get Out of the Way

As representatives from the Oregon Cannabis Association visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor called for an end to the federal government’s failed approach of marijuana prohibition.

“Mr. Speaker, advocates from the new emerging marijuana industry in Oregon are descending on Capitol Hill at a very critical time for this fledgling industry," Congressman Blumenauer said. "They have a report about the implementation of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 91, overwhelming approved by voters last year to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the state level.

“Possession became legal July 1st," Blumenauer said. "Retail sales were authorized in existing dispensaries on the 1st of October to significant interest around the state. The first week saw an estimated $11 million in sales. They are working hard to implement the spirit and the letter of the measure, working closely with the Oregon legislature to refine it – learning from the experiences of states like Washington and Colorado that have already legalized adult use.

“Theirs is a positive story of economic opportunity, product development, tax revenues, more freedom for individuals, and eliminating the racial disparities in the enforcement of a failed policy of prohibition that comes down heavily against young men of color – especially African Americans," Rep. Blumenauer said.

U.S.: State Legislatures Demand Federal Govt. Allow States To Set Marijuana Policies

NationalConferenceofStateLegislaturesTheForumForAmerica'sIdeas

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that federal laws "be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies."

For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75 percent of the states represented at the conference's general business meeting.

The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”

The resolution states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.

U.S.: ASA Makes Statement on DOJ Memo Regarding Medical Cannabis Amendment

DepartmentOfJusticeSeal

Press reports on Wednesday revealed a February 2015 memorandum from the United States Department of Justice on the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Cannabis Amendment’s impact on federal law enforcement actions related to the Controlled Substances Act. The memorandum argues that federal prosecutions against private citizens participating in state-level medical cannabis programs would not be impacted by the amendment.

"The February 27, 2015 DOJ memo shows that they were providing either deliberately misleading statements or, at the very least, contradictory and confusing messages in their talking points in opposition to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that was offered to protect citizen access and participation in state-level medical cannabis programs," said Mike Liszewski, Government Affairs director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "The language of the amendment and numerous statements clarifying the intent of the bill's sponsors make it clear that DOJ is barred from interfering with conduct that is legal under a given state's medical marijuana law.

"DOJ's analysis of the term 'implementation' is flawed in its conclusions," Liszewski said "The Department does not directly define the term in the memo, and notably, implementation is not explicitly defined in the U.S. Code, federal case law, or even Black’s Law Dictionary.

U.S.: DEA Head Tells Congress Her Agency Is 'Fighting Back' Against Administration's Tolerance of Marijuana Legalization

MicheleLeonhartDEA

At a Wednesday House subcommittee hearing, DEA director Michele Leonhart publicly opposed Department of Justice position on legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington and warned of dangers of marijuana legalization … to pets

Dan Riffle of Marijuana Policy Project: 'It's Time For Her To Go'

Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart apparently has no problem trash-talking her boss. The administrator of the DEA repeatedly criticized the Obama Administration at a Wednesday hearing on the DEA’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In a memo released in July 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would not interfere with the effective implementation of laws regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adults in Colorado and Washington. When asked by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) during a Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing whether the Obama Administration’s tolerant views toward legal marijuana had affected morale at the DEA, which is a branch of the DOJ, Leonhart replied that “Our agents are fighting back against those messages. It makes us fight harder.”

The DEA administrator had earlier criticized the DOJ for a perceived delay in issuing a response to Washington and Colorado’s new laws, claiming there was “a lot of confusion in those 296 days.”

Texas: Sen. Ted Cruz Says Not Enforcing Federal Marijuana Laws 'Dangerous To Liberty'

SenatorTedCruz2

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has once again blasted President Obama for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in states which have legalized cannabis.

Sen. Cruz said he supported an "intelligent conversation" about drug policy in a new interview with the libertarian magazine Reason, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. But Cruz certainly didn't provide any intelligent conversation, himself.

"I will say one thing that's been dismaying about the Obama Administration," Cruz said. "The Obama Administration's approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is going to stop enforcing certain drug laws.

"Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone -- it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome -- because the idea that the President simply says criminal laws that are on the books, we're going to ignore," Cruz said. "That is a very dangerous precedent."

Cruz claimed Obama overstepped his authority by declining to arrest marijuana users and sellers in Colorado and Washington. Only Congress could enact such a policy, he said.

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

YesNoNoThirdTimesACharm

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.

Colorado: First Hemp Harvest In Half A Century Begins

RyanLoflinInHempFieldColorado

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

America's first legal hemp harvest in more than half a century began this month in Colorado.

Amendment 64, approved by voters last November, didn't just legalize small amounts of marijuana for adults -- it also cleared the way for industrial hemp production. Farmer Ryan Loflin wasted no time; he planted 55 acres of hemp this past spring, reports Melanie Asmar at Westword.

Hemp advocates from across the United States came to watch last week as Loflin and his crew harvested the first plants by hand. "It felt very historic," said advocate Lynda Parker.

"We think that, obviously, this is a symbolic first hemp harvest," said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). Steenstra predicted that farmers in other states will soon follow Loflin's lead.

Since the federal government doesn't distinguish between marijuana and hemp -- classifying both as a Schedule I controlled substance -- when the federal Department of Justice recently indicated it wouldn't sue to stop state marijuana legalization, Steenstra said that policy should apply to hemp, as well.

The night before the ceremonial September 23 harvest, Loflin hosted a dinner at his farm, featuring hemp-based foods. It was attended by Colorado hemp advocates, as well as national advocates from the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

Colorado: Marijuana Industry Gets $1 Million From Investor Group

SteveDeAngelo(somber)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Investors poured more than $1 million into Colorado's legalized recreational marijuana industry this week. Back in May, the same group of investors committed $1 million to cannabis startups at a similar event in Seattle, Washington.

More than 60 investors from The ArcView Group met with 22 capital-seeking marijuana startups in Denver, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. Several of the startups are directly involved in cannabis sales or cultivation, which is a first for ArcView.

The investors had committed "well over $1 million" to the companies by the end of the meeting, ArcView CEO Troy Dayton told John Ingold at The Denver Post.

The total could reportedly have been even higher, if it weren't for Colorado's marijuana laws which require investors to qualify as state residents for three years before making equity investments in a marijuana business.

"This is big, big business," Tripp Keber, the mogul behind Dixie Elixirs cannabis-infused products, said. "There has been an incredible amount of interest that's been expressed to make investments in this industry."

Kentucky: Hemp Production Moves Closer To Reality

Hemp=Jobs

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Staff members have been instructed to begin the process of writing rules for the development of the long-banned industrial hemp crop in Kentucky, according to a news release from the state Department of Agriculture.

The state's industrial hemp commission is calling on GOP Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul to write a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice to "make Kentucky's intentions known," reports Jonathan Meador at WFPL.

Paul and Comer are hoping for clarity from the feds on the current legality of growing a hemp crop in Kentucky. The issue remains murky in the wake of a a DOJ memo released last month by Deputy Attorney General James Cole. According to that August 30 memo, the federal government "will respect" state marijuana laws, which advocates believe includes the legalization of industrial hemp production.

Sen. Paul intends "to be a part of correspondence with the Department of Justice," according to a spokesperson, and he "supports the work of the Hemp Commission and supports Commissioner Comer's efforts to move forward with the reintroduction of industrial hemp in Kentucky."

California: Two Bills Introduced in Legislature to Regulate Medical Marijuana

DispatchesFromTheMedicalPotWars

New state level regulations establish a marijuana division of the Alcoholic Beverage Control

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The president of the California Senate and Chair of Assembly Public Safety on Monday introduced bills to crack down on illegal cultivation and distribution under the guise of medical marijuana, and to create one of the most comprehensive regulatory structures in the country to allow bona fide patients to access medical marijuana, from state registered growers, transporters and dispensaries, and to reduce diversion to non-medical users.

SB 69 by Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and AB 604 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, is, in part, response to the recent announcement by the Federal Department of Justice that the federal government would be disinclined to target marijuana cultivators and providers that are operating pursuant to state laws, as long as comprehensive regulation prevents problems, including diversion of marijuana to the illegal market.

While some within the medical marijuana community question the wisdom of turning an herbal medicine over to the state agency responsible for controlling alcoholic beverages, Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), thinks it's a good idea.

“This is a much needed move toward comprehensive regulation,” Todd said. “California medical marijuana providers have been targeted by the Federal government.

U.S.: Feds Announce It's OK For Banks To Work With Marijuana Dispensaries

MarijuanaPiggyBank

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Banks and other financial institutions that do business with marijuana dispensaries that are in compliance with state laws are "unlikely" to be prosecuted for money laundering or other federal crimes that could be charged under federal drug laws, a senior Department of Justice official said on Thursday.

The official would not rule out prosecution in any case, but the guidance -- set out during a Thursday briefing on the DoJ's new policy -- is a reversal of administration policy which had warned banks not to work with marijuana businesses, report Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post.

The DoJ official said that the department recognized that forcing dispensaries to operate on a cash basis put them at a greater risk of robbery and violence.

A three-page memo that accompanied Thursday's announcement notes that a well-regulated, legal marijuana industry could come with benefits to public safety and health.

U.S.: DEA Using NSA and CIA Intelligence to Spy on and Arrest U.S. Citizens for Drugs

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Agency Manufacturing Cover Investigations to Mislead Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys

Latest of Many Recent DEA Scandals

Drug Policy Alliance: Congress Should Hold Hearings Reviewing DEA and U.S. Drug Policy from Top-to-Bottom

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what many have called a blatant abuse of power that strips Americans of their fundamental constitutional rights, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other agencies to spy on American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs.

Moreover, according to an exclusive Reuters investigation, DEA agents are actively creating fake investigative trails to disguise where the information originated, a scheme that prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and others are arguing has robbed defendants of their right to a fair trial. Hundreds or thousands of cases could be affected.

“The DEA increasingly qualifies as a rogue agency – one that Congress needs to immediately investigate,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “This latest scandal may well be just the tip of the iceberg.”

The scandal, which comes in the wake of revelations that the federal government’s is collecting sensitive information on hundreds of millions of innocent Americans, is just one crisis of credibility the DEA faces. Other DEA scandals include:

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