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Oregon: Rep. Blumenauer Says Marijuana Has 'Come Of Age Politically'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Rep. Earl Blumenauer spoke with reporters in a conference call today, and said that “marijuana has gone mainstream” and “has come of age politically.”

“We’re continuing to watch the evolution of the issue as more and more people are involved, as the industry grows and as the consensus that this ought to be something that the federal government ought not to try and suppress, regardless of peoples’ individual feelings about marijuana,” he said. “The overwhelming number appeared not to want the federal government to interfere with what states do.”

When asked about the possibility of the Trump administration cracking down on states with legalized marijuana, Blumenauer said that “one thing has been consistent and that is we’ve received inconsistent signals from this administration on a wide variety of issues.”

“I think what is important is, first of all, what the candidate Trump said on the campaign trail that the state ought to be able to pursue with what the states are doing – I think that’s consistent with what most people I know who have some familiarity with Donald Trump think is his actual opinion,” he said. “…Marijuana got a lot more votes than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”

Oregon: Two Congressmen Are Introducing Three Bills To Reform U.S. Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Two Oregon lawmakers plan to introduce three bills Thursday to reform marijuana laws. The bills could wipe away thousands of cannabis-related criminal convictions and make life easier for those involved in the legal marijuana industry.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats from Oregon, a state where recreational marijuana is legal, named their joint proposal the "Path to Marijuana Reform".

One bill, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry. It would change the tax code “to allow businesses operating in compliance with state law to claim deductions and credits associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.” deals specifically with tax issues related to the marijuana industry.

The Marijuana Revenue And Regulation Act would remove cannabis from the list of drugs federally outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, weed is listed in the Schedule I category, which is reserved for the most dangerous types of drugs, like heroin, for example.

The Marijuana Policy Gap Act would “exempt any person acting in compliance with state marijuana law from criminal penalties” under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also give certain federal marijuana offenders a clean slate.

Oregon: Senators Criticize DEA For Refusal To Reclassify Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, criticized a DEA decision today to keep marijuana on the list of Schedule I controlled substances.

"The DEA's decision flies in the face of choices made freely by voters in Oregon and many other states about the legality of marijuana," Wyden said in a statement. "The bottom line is the DEA is keeping federal law behind the times."

Merkley accused the DEA as interfering with Oregon's economy.

"The federal government shouldn't force Oregon's legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees and bills," Merkley said.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the Oregon congressional delegation's loudest voice for ending marijuana prohibition, released his outraged statement on Wednesday, before the official decision was officially announced

The DEA's decision, just announced will keep marijuana in the same category as drugs such as LSD and heroin, also considered Schedule I, drugs with no medical value but with a high potential for abuse.

"[Marijuana] does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," wrote Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator. "There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse."

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.

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Joins Fellow Senators Asking For Update On Marijuana Classification

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has signed on to a letter asking the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice for an update on their decision to reclassify marijuana at the federal level.

Currently, marijuana is classified as a "Schedule I" drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The classification is for "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

The DEA and other agencies earlier this year said they plan to release a determination in the first half of 2016 on re-scheduling marijuana.

"While we appreciate the DEA's willingness to maintain an open dialogue with our offices, we are concerned that 'the first half of 2016' is coming to a close and no rescheduling announcement has been made," the letter from Warren, D-Mass., and others said.

"We continue to believe that the rescheduling of marijuana and the resolution of other regulatory barriers to research is a time-sensitive matter that requires immediate action," the senators added.

In addition to Warren, the senators include Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland; Barbara Boxer, D-California; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.

US: Senators Seek Federal Guidance For Marijuana Business Banking

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Four senators from three states that have legalized recreational marijuana asked federal financial regulators Thursday to issue guidance for financial institutions wishing to offer banking services to marijuana businesses.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to the six top federal financial regulators asking multiple agencies to work together to issue joint guidance to financial institutions from regulators across the federal government.

Currently, many legal marijuana businesses in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, and other states with recreational or medical marijuana are forced to run their businesses on a cash-only basis. Banks fear being penalized by the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal.

This inability to open bank accounts or accept non-cash forms of payment means the businesses have to keep large amounts of cash on hand. Businesses must pay their taxes in cash, creating a logistical challenge for state and local governments to collect taxes.

In 2014, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance on how financial institutions can serve legal marijuana businesses in states that have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana, but without clearer guidance from all federal regulators to provide certainty in the regulatory environment, most banks and credit unions are still not serving marijuana-related clients.

United States: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden - Hemp is the future! (And also the past.)

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Hemp is a fascinating fiber.

For millennia, hemp has been used to make everything from paper to rope to soap. George Washington even cultivated it at Mount Vernon for industrial use. But a heavy-handed law is standing in the way of American farmers.

Hemp is legal to buy but illegal to grow. That means producers of hemp-based products spend millions importing this cash crop from Canada instead of buying it from Oregon farmers. And that’s got to change. Hemp may be in our past, but it’s also our future.

I had a wonderful time yesterday at the Industrial Hemp Expo on Capitol Hill. The hemp industry is growing by leaps and bounds and there are so many exciting developments. Hemp is an environmentally friendly alternative to everything from cotton to wood.

Industrial hemp has the potential to revolutionize our rural economies in Oregon while saving precious natural resources. I’m going to keep fighting to end its prohibition.

Thank you for standing with me!

Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon)

U.S.: It's A Felony! Feds Warn Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can't Be Mailed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it's a felony offense to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The recent federal advisory was forwarded to about 100 members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association this week, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The association "strongly discourages" Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery from accepting "any type of marijuana advertising," according to Laurie Hieb, the group's executive director.

"It's against the law," Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. "Unfortunately, the ONPA cannot do anything about this."

A postal official hand-delivered the warning on Monday to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper in Long Beach, Washington. It's not clear what prompted it; the newspaper and the Daily Astorian distribute a weekly supplement called Coast Weekend, which runs advertisments from a dispensary in Long Beach and others on the Oregon coast.

The Long Beach paper reaches about 4,400 people; about 2,560 subscribers receive the paper through the U.S. mail, according to Steve Forrester, president of EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers, including those in Long View and Astoria. Forrester is also editor/publisher of the Daily Astorian.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Introduces First-Ever Senate Bill To End Marijuana Prohibition

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. The bill is available online at http://www.mpp.org/sandersbill.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so.

Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced medical marijuana legislation, known as the CARERS Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

U.S.: Marijuana Banking Bill Introduced By Bipartisan Group Of Senators

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Legislation Would Allow Marijuana Businesses Access to Financial Services

Marijuana Businesses Currently Operate as Cash-Only Causing Huge Public Safety Concerns

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Thursday introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to provide depository and other financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. Consequently, many cannabis businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings.

“One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the black market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle.”

U.S.: Rep. Blumenauer, Sen. Wyden Announce Tax Reform For Legal Marijuana Businesses

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Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Thursday announced plans to introduce bicameral legislation next week that would reconcile state marijuana laws and federal tax law.

The Small Business Tax Equity Act, which was introduced last Congress by Congressman Blumenauer, would create an exception to Internal Revenue Code Section 280E to allow marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law to take deductions associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business.

“More than two-thirds of Americans now live in jurisdictions that have legalized either the medical or adult use of marijuana,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “It’s time for the federal government to catch up."

"Section 280E creates an unequal and unrealistic tax burden on these businesses," Blumenauer said. "I’m excited to work with Senator Wyden in introducing the Small Business Tax Equity Act, which would bring much needed fairness and level the playing field for small businesses that follow state laws and create jobs.”

“Our legislation would provide an overdue update to federal tax law, which has not caught up to the fact that it’s 2015 and Oregonians have voted both to legalize medical marijuana and to regulate marijuana for recreational use,” Senator Wyden said. “This is a question of standing up for the people of Oregon, and ensuring that the federal government respects the decision Oregonians have made at the ballot box.”

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