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U.S.: Bernie Sanders Calls The DEA Decision On Marijuana 'Absurd'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have been unhappy with the DEA's recent decision to refuse to reschedule marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration had said earlier this year that they would make a decision on whether or not to reschedule marijuana. The decision was made to change nothing, and so marijuana remains grouped with the most harmful substances in America.

The DEA claims that there is “no currently accepted medical use in the United States” for marijuana and so it will remain on the list of Schedule I drugs. Bernie Sanders and many other Americans believe this is a big fat lie. A majority of Americans now believe the substance should be made legal, and the DEA is clearly ignoring the wants and needs of the American public.

Sanders tweeted after the DEA's announcement that “keeping marijuana in the same category as heroin is absurd. The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.”

He followed up with another tweet, saying “if we are serious about criminal justice reform, we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substance Act.”

U.S.: 11 Lawmakers Urge Congress To Include Medical Marijuana In Funding Bill

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U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal.

Although the provision passed both chambers of Congress, it was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Conference Report failed to include Senators Daines and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) amendments that would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in 26 states which have medical marijuana programs. The amendment does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.

D.C.: Drug Policy Alliance To Host Lobby Day On Capitol Hill To End The War On Drugs

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More than 200 Attendees Will Meet with Lawmakers and Lunch with Members of Congress Who Have Championed Drug Law Reform in Congress

DPA-Led Constituent Lobby Day Occurs Just Hours before the Start of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, VA

The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a Federal Lobby Day on Wednesday, November 18 that is expected to bring more than 200 people from nearly 25 U.S. states and 15 countries to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would roll back some of the worst excesses of the failed War On Drugs.

The lobby day comes as numerous reform proposals gain momentum in Congress, including sentencing reform, marijuana law reform, and overdose prevention.

“Members of Congress are under a lot of pressure to reform punitive and ineffective drug policies and we’re turning the heat up,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. (DPA). “Our supporters will talk about what they’re doing in their community to reduce the harms associated with both drugs and the war on drugs.”

Lobby day participants will meet with lawmakers in roughly 70 meetings over the course of the day and attend a special luncheon with five members of Congress who have championed legislative efforts to reform federal marijuana and other drug laws. This historic constituent lobby day comes on the same day that House lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to advance major drug sentencing reform legislation.

Colorado: NCIA To Host Cannabis Business Summit In Denver June 29-July 1

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The National Cannabis Industry Association, a national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, will hold its second annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, from June 29 through July 1 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

The Summit will offer cannabis business leaders three days of in-depth discussions and workshops, exploring business best practices, cutting-edge technological advances, and marijuana policy developments on both the state and federal levels. Three Members of Congress - Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) - are confirmed to participate in the Summit or the popular Cannabis Carnival benefit concert taking place on June 30.

The Cannabis Business Summit is positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry. Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their area of expertise. Tracks offered include: Running Your Cannabusiness; Cultivation and Processing; Money Matters: Finance, Accounting and Insurance; and The Law, Policy and Reform; as well as Emerging Topics offering attendees an open forum to discuss industry updates and trends.

Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry's leading pioneers and innovators, according to NCIA.

U.S.: Congress Passes 3 Amendments To Stop DEA From Undermining State Pot Laws

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Important Victories Build on Tuesday Night’s Votes to End DEA’s Controversial Bulk Data Collection Program, Cut DEA’s Budget

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislators on Wednesday passed three amendments to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed.

The House also passed an amendment Tuesday night ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.

“We made incredible progress today through passage of amendments that remove the threat of federal interference from state hemp and medical marijuana laws," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Congress showed more support today than ever before, making this the latest victory in a quiet revolution underway across America to reform and modernize our marijuana laws.

“This follows the narrow defeat of my Veterans Equal Access Amendment to the House MilCon-VA appropriations bill and passage in Senate Appropriations Committee of a similar amendment," Rep. Blumenauer said. "Action today demonstrates the forward momentum on this issue in Congress.

U.S.: House Narrowly Votes Against Protecting State Recreational Marijuana Laws

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The House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state laws allowing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly defeated a measure 206-222 on Wednesday that was intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws legalizing marijuana for all purposes, including adult recreational use.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana.

Earlier, the House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state medical marijuana laws, which was offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA). It has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and the first time it passed was last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

U.S.: House Votes To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws From Federal Interference

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure 242-186 that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and it passed for the first time last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

The House is now expected to consider a broader measure that would not be limited to medical marijuana. The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws regulating marijuana for adult use, in addition to medical purposes.

U.S.: Congress Votes To End DEA's Bulk Data Collection Program, Reduce Budget, Shift Funding

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Votes Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of DEA Head and Growing Public Pressure to End Drug War and Mass Incarceration

Legislators Tuesday night voted by a simple voice vote to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.

Representatives debated four amendments to prohibit the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws -- and those votes will happen on Wednesday.

“Congress dealt a major blow to the DEA by ending their invasive and offensive bulk data collection programs and by cutting their budget," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA ignores commonsense drug policy, the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”

Three amendments cutting the DEA’s budget passed by voice vote:

• Rep. Ted Liew's (D-CA) amendment shifted $9 million from the DEA’s failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to the VAWA Consolidated Youth Oriented Program ($4 million), Victims of Child Abuse Act ($3 million), and deficit reduction ($2 million).

U.S.: Marijuana Businesses Access To Banking Act Reintroduced

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U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA-10), along with a bipartisan group of 16 other Republicans and Democrats, on Wednesday re-introduced H.R. 2076, the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 to resolve the banking crisis marijuana-related businesses are facing.

By updating federal banking laws and regulations to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws, the legislation allows marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system, ensuring these businesses do not have to operate on a cash-only basis. In addition, a similar companion bill in the Senate is expected to be introduced soon.

“First and foremost this is an issue of public safety,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “Not only are the proprietors at risk, but the employees and customers are also at risk of serious and violent crimes.

"It is estimated that 40 percent of the marijuana-related businesses in Colorado are unbanked," Rep. Perlmutter said. "This means hundreds of millions of dollars in cash are moving around the streets of Colorado. There are now some 213 million Americans who live in the 23 states plus the District of Columbia where the voters have allowed for some use of marijuana, and it is coming to a state near you soon.”

“The federal government can’t keep an eye on business practices if they are forcing them offline and underground,” said Rep. Heck. “Forcing businesses into cash-only territory is a dangerous step away from legitimacy, transparency, and regulation and a huge step towards crime, tax evasion, and access to minors.

U.S.: House Oversight Committee Says 'No Confidence' In DEA Administrator Leonhart

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DEA Chief Tied to Numerous Scandals and Has Long Record of Incompetence

Bipartisan Agreement That President Obama Must Fire DEA Chief

Members of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday issued a statement of “No Confidence” in Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart. The unprecedented move by a group of more than 20 bipartisan lawmakers comes a day after her shambolic performance in Congress during a hearing focused on DEA agents who paid for sex workers and sex parties using taxpayer dollars.

Leonhart was widely panned and her answers deemed inadequate during testimony on her agency’s handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

“This ought to be the final nail in the Leonhart coffin,” said Bill Piper, director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “I cannot see how President Obama and AG Holder allow her to continue in her role. It’s hard to think of a more incompetent and out of touch federal official than the current DEA chief.”

U.S.: Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis Introduce Bills To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on Friday introduced two bills that together would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.

Representative Blumenauer’s legislation, H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows. Representative Polis’s legislation, H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors.”

More than 213 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows some form of legal use of marijuana. Twenty-three states currently allow for medical marijuana, while four states -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska--and the District of Columbia recently legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. Eleven additional states have passed laws allowing the use of low-THC forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

D.C.: Marijuana Industry Women To Kick Off Day Of Capitol Hill Lobbying

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Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Leading Female Cannabis Entrepreneurs, National Cannabis Industry Association Will Highlight Key Issues Affecting Small and Women-Owned Cannabis Businesses

Rep. Jared Polis will join leaders and members of Women Grow, a national network of female cannabis industry professionals, and the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) in the National Press Club’s Zenger Room on Thursday, February 12 at 9 a.m., to set the agenda for the group’s first-ever Lobby Days.

On February 12 and 13, more than 60 Women Grow members from 14 states nationwide will converge in Washington, D.C., to promote the essential role of small and women-owned businesses in creating a diverse, responsible cannabis industry.

In meetings with Congressional representatives and staff, members will address key industry issues including fair taxation and access to banking.

Who:
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
Jazmin Hupp, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Women Grow
Taylor West, Deputy Director, National Cannabis Industry Association
Women Grow members from more than a dozen states’ cannabis industries

What:
Women Grow Lobby Days Press Conference

When:
Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 9 a.m.

Where:
Zenger Room
National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Fl.
Washington, D.C. 20045

About Women Grow

U.S.: Drug Policy Action Grades Members of U.S. House of Representatives on Drug Policy Reform

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Historic Bipartisan Majority in Favor of Reforming U.S. Drug Laws and Letting States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies

Ideologically Diverse Representatives – From Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – Named 2013-14 “Champions of Reform”

Drug Policy Action on Wednesday released the 2014 Drug Policy Reform Congressional Voter Guide, which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014.

The guide is designed not just to educate voters on which members of the U.S. House of Representatives support drug policy reform – but also to send a firm message to elected officials that they will be held accountable for supporting draconian policies that exacerbate the worst harms of the Drug War. Clear bipartisan support now exists both among the American public and in Congress for ending the Drug War and letting states set their own marijuana policies.

The voter guide examines historic votes on a wide range of issues, such as whether to bar the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws and whether to allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses. The voter guide also summarizes decisive steps taken over the last two years by congressional lawmakers and officials in the Obama Administration toward advancing drug policy reform.

U.S.: House Tells DEA Hands Off State Hemp Programs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives early Friday cut off funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's interference in state-legal industrial hemp research, a sharp rebuke to the beleaguered agency less than a month after DEA agents seized hemp seeds meant for Kentucky's pilot program.

Two hemp-related amendments to the DEA's funding bill passed, reports Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post. The amendments, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) stop the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from blocking states' importation of hemp seeds, and from stopping the states from implementing laws authorizing industrial hemp cultivation made legal under this year's federal Farm Bill.

Massie's amendment passed 246-162, and Bonamici's passed 237-1780. The Senate will likely look at its own appropriations bill for the DEA and DOJ, and the House hemp amendments would have to survive that joint conference before taking effect. The House also voted to cut off funding for the DEA's medical marijuana raids in states where it is legal.

"The DEA has more important things to do than interfere with legal activities at the state level," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) "We need to remove this cloud of uncertainty."

U.S.: Nearly 200 Members of Congress Tell V.A. To Let Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana

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Amendment would have prohibited VA from spending federal funds to prevent its doctors from recommending medical marijuana to veterans suffering from debilitating conditions

Nearly 200 members of Congress, including 22 Republicans, on Wednesday voted in favor of an amendment intended to allow physicians within the Veterans Affairs system to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states that allow it. The bipartisan-sponsored amendment failed 195-222.

H.R. 4486, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the VA from spending federal funds implementing a directive that prevents doctors from recommending medical marijuana to veterans suffering from debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A Veterans Health Administration directive issued in 2011 forbids VA medical providers from signing forms that would allow veterans to obtain marijuana in accordance with state medical marijuana programs.

The amendment, sponsored by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO), was the first of its kind to be introduced on the House floor.

U.S.: Farm Bill Passes House With Hemp Research Intact

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Farm Bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday morning by a vote of 251 to 166, including the hemp provision. "This is a big first step towards allowing American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp," according to VoteHemp.org.

The hemp provision was originally introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), all three of whom represent states which have legalized industrial hemp. The provision allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for academic or agricultural research purposes, but applies only to states where industrial hemp farming has already been legalized under state law.

"By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way," Rep. Blumenauer said on Monday.

"Vote Hemp was pleased with the bipartisan support for the amendment and worked with key Republican and Democratic offices in both the House and Senate to ensure the amendment was included in the conference report, which passed the House on Thursday. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reportedly worked to keep and strengthen the hemp provision in the Farm Bill.

U.S.: Farm Bill Allows States And Universities To Grow Hemp For Research

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hemp cultivation for research purposes by colleges, universities and state agriculture departments is allowed in the new Farm Bill, according to a report released Monday night by the U.S. Senate and House conference committee on the bill.

The hemp amendment in the Farm Bill was written by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. All three Congressmen represent states where industrial hemp production is already legal under state law.

The inclusion of the industrial hemp amendment in the Farm Bill is a "bright spot in an otherwise disappointing bill," Rep. Blumenauer said late on Monday. The bill, which cuts about $8 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade, is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday.

"Oregonians have made it clear that they believe industrial hemp should be treated as an agricultural commodity, not a drug," Blumenauer said in an email to The Oregonian. "By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way."

The amendment allows colleges, universities and state agriculture programs to cultivate hemp for research and pilot projects; it does not, however, protect individual farmers who grow the crop.

U.S.: Vote Hemp Holds Briefing With Massie, Polis To Discuss State vs. Federal Laws on Hemp

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vote Hemp on Tuesday held an 11 a.m. briefing and press conference on the recent policy change at the U.S. Department of Justice honoring state laws regarding marijuana production. Members of the press heard directly from Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Jared Polis, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer and others on the opportunity for industrial hemp farming and whether further legislative clarification is necessary in light of the Justice Department's ruling.

Also discussed was the hemp farming amendment to the House Farm Bill, an update on the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R. 525 and S. 359, the current market for and agricultural benefits of industrial hemp.

Nine states have enacted laws regulating hemp production, and 10 others have urged Congress to remove federal barriers to it. Industrial hemp, a non-drug crop, is already a $500 million-plus industry in the U.S., representing more than 4,000 jobs.

Commissioner Comer is leading the charge to move forward with hemp production in Kentucky, and it is his position that the Justice Department's ruling must honor state law in all states where the Legislature has established a responsible administrative framework to license hemp producers.

U.S.: House Passes Amendment Protecting State Rights To Grow Hemp For Research

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Bipartisan Coalition Works to Give Colleges and Universities Ability to Conduct Critical Research

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An amendment allowing colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal, without fear of federal interference, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 225 to 200.

Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the amendment to H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, the FARRM Bill.

“Industrial hemp is an important agricultural commodity, not a drug,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan, common-sense amendment, which I’ve introduced with Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp growth and cultivation is already legal.

"Many states, including Colorado, have demonstrated that they are fully capable of regulating industrial hemp," Rep. Polis said. "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp—but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here.

U.S.: 30+ Cannabis Industry Leaders Head To D.C. To Tell Congress: "Tax Us -- Fairly"

There is a truth that must be heard!National Cannabis Industry Association to endorse taxation of adult-use marijuana proposal included in Senate Finance Committee’s “options paper,” while decrying an unfair existing tax provision

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 30 marijuana business leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., from across the country to take part in a two-day lobbying visit. Industry leaders will discuss the primary challenges facing business owners which could be solved by reconciling state and federal law, including a lack of access to financial services, unjust application of tax provisions, and ongoing interference from the federal government.

In additional to numerous lobbying meetings, participants will join Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Jared Polis (D-CO) at a press conference on Wednesday, June 5, to discuss Internal Revenue Code Section 280E, which prohibits state-legal businesses from taking standard business deductions when computing their federal taxes and results in regulated cannabis businesses paying two to three times the effective tax rate for most other small businesses.

Participants will also discuss a recently released Senate Finance Committee "options paper," which includes the taxation of marijuana as a possible means of raising tax revenue at the federal level.

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