federal government

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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.: Marijuana Industry Takes A Step Forward With DOJ

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The cannabis industry had a major victory last week, without even appearing in court. The U.S. Department of Justice, after four years, dropped the case to shut down Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, which is currently the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the United States.

Robert MacCoun, a law professor and drug-policy expert at Stanford University, in an interview with SF Gate perfectly explained how this market is changing: "The framework is moving from the war on drugs to tricky issues of regulation, taxation and who is going to be in control of this major new industry," he said.

The reason for the softer approach is in part economical. According to a report by Marijuana Business Daily, the entire marijuana industry, including tourism, which is an impact of legalization, is projected to provide $44 billion to the economy by 2020.

Legal marijuana sales in the U.S. alone spiked to $5.4 billion in 2015, up from $4.6 billion in 2014. Sales are projected to hit $7.1 billion in 2016.

California: Congresswoman Lee Applauds Federal Decision To End Case Against Harborside

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Tuesday praised the U.S. Attorney’s decision to drop its case against Harborside Health Center dispensary.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Attorney is a victory for healthcare access," Congresswoman Lee said. "For decades, Harborside has helped ensure members of our community can access their medicine. It’s past time for the federal government to stop standing between these patients and their medicine.

"I am proud to have played a part in today’s victory by actively encouraging the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to end this unnecessary asset forfeiture case that would restrict my constituents’ access to their prescribed medicines," Rep. Lee said. "While today’s action is a victory for Harborside, other dispensaries, including one in my district, face harassment from the federal government for their state-legal businesses.

"As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to use my position to rein in this federal government overreach," Rep. Lee said. "I will keep working to open banking services to the industry and expand access to medical cannabis for veterans.

U.S.: Watch The Brookings Debate - Should Feds Remove Marijuana From Schedule I?

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In case you haven’t noticed, America is in the midst of a marijuana revolution. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, and others may soon follow.

Under federal law, however, marijuana remains classified as a highly dangerous Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, drugs in this category are deemed to have “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use,” two definitions that are argued about passionately by advocates on both sides of the issue.

Despite the federal government’s unwavering stance, states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use allow cannabis and its derivatives to be used to treat cancer patients and those suffering from other serious ailments. With federal and state law at odds, however, many patients, doctors and small businesses have been caught in a policy gridlock that severely impacts their daily lives.

What are the potential pros and cons and costs and benefits of the federal government reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug? And how should the federal government respond to states passing laws at odds with its own?

U.S.: Senate To Hold Sham Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Tuesday

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Reform Advocates Denounce Hearing as One-Sided “Prohibitionist Party”

Senator Grassley Stacks the Deck with Known Anti-Legalization Zealots and Ignores Benefits of Legalization, Such as Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests and Prohibition-Related Violence, as well as New Tax Revenue

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will hold a hearing in the Caucus on International Narcotics Control titled “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?” The hearing is ostensibly a response to a recent GAO report that criticized DOJ for a lack of oversight of states that have legalized marijuana. However, the hearing is likely to be nothing more than a prohibitionist party.

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