justice department

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California: VICTORY! Feds Drop North Bay Marijuana Dispensary Case


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After a grueling 18-year court battle, federal authorities on Tuesday finally dropped their appeal of the Shaw Decision, clearing the way for the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, led by Lynnette Shaw, along with other dispensaries in the North Coast region, to sell medicinal cannabis.

"I WIN and WE ALL WIN," Shaw posted on Facebook Tuesday. "I am Fed Proof - wow - after 18 years of litigation. And I have the first-ever Federal orders that okay my selling medical pot!!"

Santa Rosa lawyer Greg Anton represented Fairfax-based MAMA, the state's first licensed dispensary after it was forced to close in 2011, reports Paul Payne at the The Press Democrat.

The spunky Shaw had sued in federal court, citing a new law authored by a Southern California Congressman which prohibits the feds from spending money to prosecute dispensaries which are operating in compliance with state law.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer last October sided with Shaw, issuing a scathing critique of the Department of Justice position, which he said "tortures the language of the law." Federal prosecutors appealed in December, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S.: Former Attorney General Eric Holder Says Reschedule Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former Attorney General Eric Holder -- who once had the power to unilaterally begin the process of rescheduling marijuana, but didn't use it -- now says he agrees that cannabis should be reclassified under federal law.

"I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled," Holder said in a newly published interview with PBS. "You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate."

“It’s nice to have Holder’s support for this sensible policy change, but it would have been a lot better if he’d exercised the power to get marijuana rescheduling done while he was still in office," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, told Hemp News on Wednesday morning. "We know that Holder and President Obama are good friends, so I hope the former attorney general encourages his former boss and his successor Loretta Lynch to follow through during these final months of the administration and get the job done.

"There’s absolutely no reason marijuana should be in Schedule I, and it would be absurd to keep passing the buck to Congress when federal law clearly gives the administration the power to act," Holder said.

Mexico: Marijuana Farmers See Profits Tumble As U.S. Legalizes


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The loosening of marijuana laws in the United States has increased competition from American growers, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican black-market cannabis farmers.

Small-scale growers in the state of Sinaloa, one of Mexico's biggest marijuana production areas, said that over the past four years the per-kilogram price has fallen from $100 to $30, reports Deborah Bonello at the Los Angeles Times.

The price drops appear to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border.

"People don't want to abandon their illicit crops, but more and more they are realizing that it is no longer good business," said Juan Gerra, Sinaloa's secretary of agriculture.

For decades, in an impotent and ill-fated attempt to stop marijuana cultivation in Mexico, both the American and Mexican governments have paid farmers to grow legal crops, and have periodically sent in Mexican soldiers to supposedly "seek out and eradicate" cannabis fields. Just as often, the troops merely demanded a piece of the action.

Those efforts, of course, failed miserably to stop production, because marijuana was still more profitable than the alternatives. It took legalization in several states in the U.S. to actually make a negative impact on Mexican cannabis production; it's not rocket science and doesn't require a genius level IQ to comprehend.

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."

South Dakota: Tribe To Open Nation's First Marijuana Resort


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Santee Sioux tribe in Flandreau, South Dakota, has announced it plans to open the nation's first marijuana resort and "adult playground" on its reservation.

The small tribe of 400 is undertaking the venture after already having proven their business acumen running a successful casino, a 120-room hotel and a 240-head buffalo ranch, reports Regina Garcia Cano at The Associated Press. The experiment could mean a new money-making model for Native American tribes nationwide looking for economic opportunities beyond casinos.

Tribal leaders plan to grow their own cannabis and sell it in a smoking lounge that includes a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service, slot machines, and an outdoor music venue.

"We want it to be an adult playground," said tribal President Anthony Reider. "There's nowhere else in America that has something like this."

The "playground" could mean up to $2 million a month in profit, and work has already begun on the growing operation, according to the tribe. The first weed is expected to go on sale on December 31 at a New Year's Eve party.

The Santee Sioux decided to legalize marijuana in June, a few months after the U.S. Department of Justice announced a new policy that allows Native American tribes to grow and sell cannabis under the same conditions as states where it is legal.

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