MJ News for 05/07/2014

7greeneyes

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hMPp://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/05/07/explosions-in-colorado-linked-to-legalized-marijuana/?tid=hp_mm




Explosions in Colorado linked to legalized marijuana


Since the legalization of recreational weed in Colorado earlier this year, hash oil has been blowing up — literally. The state claims it has seen an increase in the number of fiery explosions and related injuries, and it is blaming manufacture of the marijuana byproduct.

CBS reported that investigators believe a hash-oil explosion was the cause of a house fire Monday morning in Denver. Police said no one was hurt, but the basement and first floor were wrecked.

“I was startled out of a dead sleep. I heard glass shattering,” neighbor Joules Poolski told CBS Denver.

More than a dozen other explosions in the Denver area alone this year have been linked to people cooking hash oil, CBS reported. Since legalization more than four months ago, Colorado’s only certified adult burn center has treated 10 people with serious injuries they suffered making the oil, compared to 11 in 2013 and one in 2012, according to the Associated Press — and no one is sure what to do:

Law enforcement and fire officials, meanwhile, are grappling with how to respond, as the questionable legality of the process has made it difficult to punish amateur chemists. Some prosecutors are charging them with felonies, while others say hash oil production is protected under a provision of the new legal pot law.

‘These today are the meth labs of the ’90s. We have to change our thinking and what we’re looking for,’ said police Sgt. Pat Long in Thornton, a Denver suburb where officers were puzzled by the city’s first hash oil explosion in January.

The buzzkill: butane.

Showtime’s “Weeds” may have taught its audience how to make hash in a washing machine, but today’s cooks are pushing butane through pipes or other containers filled with dried marijuana clippings to create hash oil. The solvent is used to strip THC — what gets marijuana users high — out of the plants, leaving an oily liquid that’s then heated to evaporate the butane, USA Today reported. The butane sinks to bottom, where it can ignite. And because butane fumes can linger, all it takes is a spark of static electricity to turn a room into a deathtrap.

Colorado marijuana businesses are allowed to make hash oil using butane under strict rules. State pot laws allow adults 21 and older to grow up to six plants at home, and cooks make hash oil in their kitchens or garages, the AP reported.

It may be cheaper to make hash oil at home, but Wayne Winkler told the AP it may not be worth the savings. He said an explosion left him with severe burn scars on his hands, arms, neck and face after he agreed to make some hash oil for a friend in 2012.

“It was the worst pain of my life,” he told the AP. “It wasn’t worth the risk.”
 

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hMPp://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/07/us-uruguay-marijuana-idUSBREA460JR20140507




Uruguay says legal marijuana to be good and cheap


Uruguayans will be allowed to buy enough marijuana to roll about 20 joints a week at a price well below the black market rate, the government said on Tuesday as it detailed a new law legalizing the cannabis trade.

Congress in December approved a law allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana, making Uruguay the first country to do so, with the aim of wresting the business from criminals.

Leftist President Jose Mujica signed a decree outlining the fine print of the new policy on Tuesday. It says Uruguayans will be able to buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week at between $0.85 and $1 dollar a gram, a low price designed to compete with black market cannabis that mostly comes from Paraguay.

Activists who have backed the measure said legalized marijuana would be high-grade and affordable.

"You can't compare a flower that is quality-controlled by the Public Health Ministry ... with Paraguayan (stuff) which is absolutely harmful because it has external substances," said Bruno Calleros of the Cannabis Liberation Movement.

He said legal marijuana would cost roughly 20 percent of the current market price for similar high-quality marijuana.

Each Uruguayan will also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants or the equivalent of 480 grams (about 17 ounces) for personal use and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.

A sleepy agricultural country of 3.3 million people, Uruguay has come under the spotlight for the marijuana law championed by Mujica, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla whose modest lifestyle and philosophical musings have made him a leftist darling abroad.

Uruguay has gone further than countries that have decriminalized possession or, like the Netherlands, tolerate the sale of marijuana in "coffee shops". The U.S. states of Washington and Colorado have legalized the sale of cannabis under license, but federal laws still prohibit it.

Uruguay's experiment is being keenly watched by Latin American peers at a time when the U.S.-led war on drugs faces mounting criticism. Success in Uruguay could fuel momentum for legalization elsewhere.

While relatively prosperous Uruguay has low crime rates, a third of prisoners are behind bars on drug charges.

Advocates of legalization argue that criminalization fuels violence and corruption in developing countries where the drugs are produced or transported. But critics warn that Uruguay's law could pave the way for harder drugs and lure addicts to Montevideo.

In a bid to avoid becoming a drug hot spot, Uruguay will only allow marijuana to be available to Uruguayan residents who are registered in a confidential database. Still, Mujica has said the country could backpedal if the law fails to work out as planned.

"We're looking to hurt drug trafficking by snatching part of its market," Mujica said on Friday, stressing that the law does not seek to foment drug use. "No addiction is good ... The only one I recommend to young people is love."

Marijuana legalization underlines a profound shift in social policies in Uruguay, which was ruled by a military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985. It has since become one of Latin America's most liberal countries and has also legalized gay marriage and abortion.
 

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hMPp://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014-05-06/health/os-charlottes-web-medical-marijuana-20140506_1_medical-marijuana-bill-medical-marijuana-revised-bill




(FL) Medical-marijuana bill now includes cancer, MS, other ailments


People who have cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or other ailments could be able to use medical marijuana under the expanded "Charlotte's Web" bill awaiting the governor's signature.

The original proposal targeted only a limited number of children with debilitating seizures, but the bill's final wording means Florida will be taking a much larger step toward legalizing medical marijuana.

"It is very important to me to have cancer as a qualifying ailment," said state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, who sponsored the original House bill and shepherded many of the last-minute changes, including the cancer addition.

Gov. Rick Scott said last week he would approve the bill, but his office on Tuesday did not comment on the changes.

If Scott signs the measure, the Florida Department of Health would select and license five companies — one in each corner of the state and in Central Florida — to grow a marijuana variety bred to have a low content of the THC chemical that can get people high and a high content of the CBD chemical that is thought to improve nerve-cell function and shows promise in treating malignant tumors.

The companies would be able to harvest the plants and extract an oil first commercially introduced in Colorado under the brand name "Charlotte's Web." And they would be able to sell the oil in their own dispensaries, which the state could authorize throughout Florida.

As early as Jan. 1, Florida doctors could start registering patients to buy and use the oil if the patient is "suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to the revised bill.

Medical-marijuana opponents say they are concerned about expanding the range of potential abuses.

"Would a physician treating someone for nonmalignant skin cancer be able to place an order? What about someone who has persistent leg cramps?" said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs.

The final bill still is far from creating the kind of broad medical-marijuana legalization that Florida voters will consider in November when they decide Amendment 2.

Unlike the Charlotte's Web bill, the ballot initiative would not limit THC content; it would legalize smokable marijuana; and it would authorize treatment of a much broader range of diseases.

Still, the bill — the final version was known as substitute Senate Bill 1030 — creates a state regulatory, licensing and oversight bureaucracy that could serve as the framework to support Amendment 2 if it is approved, or to handle future expansions of medical marijuana authorized by the Legislature.

Gaetz called the bill "a start" and said he expects it to be built upon.

He said he still would like to see Florida address conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, which this bill does not. He also acknowledged that the low THC — limited to 0.8 percent of the oil — would make the oil ineffective for other treatments, including relieving the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy.

However, he said he shared colleagues' concerns that higher-THC medical marijuana has led to widespread abuses in other states such as California and Colorado.

"We have to understand the very difficult challenge of creating a unique Florida medical-marijuana paradigm," Gaetz said.

The late rewrite cost a few votes, including state Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who will be next year's Senate president, but not enough to threaten its passage.

There also were some backers of Amendment 2, including state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, who said the bill would give the Republican-led Legislature a chance to call Amendment 2 unnecessary while still looking sympathetic to people who think medical marijuana could help them.

She voted against it, and she cited another concern, that the selection criteria of the five companies appears to "carve out" opportunities for specific individuals.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, which is campaigning for Amendment 2, welcomed the late changes but said they're not nearly enough, especially because of the low THC level.

"We are glad the Legislature's medical-marijuana bill includes a broad range of conditions that it initially did not. However, simply including these ailments as qualifying does not mean that Floridians affected by them will actually see relief from SB1030," Pollara said. "Many of the medicinal benefits of marijuana come from the 'entourage effect' of the whole plant, rather than isolated chemicals."
 

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hMPp://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/07/us-usa-marijuana-minnesota-idUSBREA4602G20140507




Minnesota Senate advances medical marijuana bill


Minnesota senators on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make physician-prescribed medical marijuana legal for a broad range of patient suffering, joining more than 20 other U.S. states.

Senators voted 48-18 to approve the bill, which received bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The bill differs sharply from a state House of Representatives proposal to make medical marijuana available through a research study.

Democratic Senator Scott Dibble, a bill sponsor, had urged approval of the measure, "in the name of compassion, the name of having access to something that can make a real difference for the better for some people."

In opposing the bill, Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen said he was concerned Minnesota was, "taking baby steps toward legalizing recreational marijuana in the state."

Ingebrigtsen, a former sheriff, pointed to initial approval of medical marijuana in Colorado and Washington state that was followed later by approval for recreational use by adults.

Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and other conditions, or from severe pain, wasting or nausea from medical treatments could obtain prescriptions under the Senate medical marijuana bill.

The bill would permit up to 55 dispensing centers around Minnesota. The health commissioner could approve other centers and make other conditions eligible for medical marijuana.

Patients could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana at any one time. The marijuana could be ingested in various forms including pills or oils, or vaporized by heating it to just shy of combustion to release the compounds.

Smoking the marijuana would be prohibited under either the Senate or House bills under consideration.

The bill in the state House of Representatives would allow Minnesota children and adults suffering from severe illnesses to take part in a research study of medical marijuana in a pill or liquid form. The state health department estimated that about 5,000 people would enroll in the study.
 

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hMPp://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-heart-attack-stroke-marijuana-20140423-story.html




Potential for heart attack, stroke risk seen with marijuana use


Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2% of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died.

In the United States, when young and otherwise healthy patients show up in emergency departments with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia, physicians have frequently noted in case reports that these unusual patients are regular marijuana users.

The impetus for the mainstream media’s most recent fixation with the alleged dangers of pot is a French study, published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Investigators reviewed data collected by the French Addictovigilance Network, a national database of adverse case...

Such reporting is hardly the basis for declaring marijuana use an outright cause of cardiovascular disease. But on Wednesday, cardiologists writing in the Journal of the American Heart Assn. warned that "clinical evidence ... suggests the potential for serious cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use." And with a growing movement to decriminalize marijuana use, they called for data-collection efforts capable of detecting and measuring marijuana's cardiovascular impact among American users of cannibis setiva.

"There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people," said Emilie Jouanjus, lead author of the French study, which was also published in the Journal of the American Heart Assn. That evidence, Jouanjus added, should prompt cardiologists to consider marijuana use a potential cause of cardiovascular disease in patients they see.


In an editorial published Wednesday in the AHA journal, Drs. Sherief Rezkalla and Robert A. Kloner asked, "Do we really know enough about the cardiovascular effects of marijuana to feel comfortable about its use in patients with known cardiovascular disease or patients with cardiovascular risk factors," including obesity, sedentary behavior, high blood pressure and worrisome cholesterol numbers.

Rezkalla and Kloner combed the recent medical literature for animal experiments, observational studies and case reports linking marijuana use in close temporal proximity with cardiovascular events. They cited evidence that marijuana use probably increases clotting factors in the blood and that heavy marijuana use may lead to significant changes in the tiny vessels carrying blood to the heart and brain, such that even after clearance of a major blockage, blood flow remains impeded.

Aside from heart attacks and strokes, case studies linked recent marijuana use in patients seeking care for increased angina, ischemic ulcers and gangrene associated with blocked blood flow to extremities and transcient ischemic attacks, sometimes called "mini-strokes." Notably these complaints often came from patients who were young and had no previous evidence of cardiovascular disease.

"We think the time has come to stop and think about what is the best way to protect our communities from the potential danger of widespread marijuana use in the absence of safety studies," added Rezkalla, a cardiologist at the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, and Kloner, a cardiologist at USC's Keck School of Medicine. "It is the responsibility of the medical community to determine the safety of the drug before it is widely legalized for recreational use."
 

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hMPp://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25700663/attorney-colorado-marijuana-raid-suspects-stores-following-state




Attorney: Colorado marijuana raid suspect's stores following state law


The federal indictments against four men involved in the Colorado marijuana industry are "a shot across the bow" of all cannabis businesses that raise questions about the federal government's tolerance for the industry, an attorney for one of the men said in court Monday.

Sean McAllister, the attorney for suspect Gerardo Uribe, said Uribe believed he was operating the VIP Cannabis dispensary and his other marijuana businesses lawfully under state law.

Uribe and three other men are accused of transferring money from Colombia to invest in a marijuana-cultivation warehouse and also of attempting to deposit proceeds from VIP Cannabis into a bank account. Uribe pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday, as his co-defendants have previously.

McAllister said it is not against state law to seek investment from outside of Colorado — the only requirement is that people with ownership interests be Colorado residents. And, he said, it is common for marijuana business owners to look for banks that will take their deposits — even though federal law makes banks reluctant to do so.

"If that's the crime, then they're all on the hook," McAllister said, referring to the state's hundreds of marijuana businesses. "This is a shot across the bow of the entire industry."

Prosecutors contended that Uribe engaged in a pattern of deception and partnered with people who are ineligible to work in the Colorado marijuana industry to hide their involvement and conceal sources of money.

"The defendant absolutely knew he was not in clear and unambiguous compliance with the state," prosecutor Brad Giles said.

During Monday's hearing, Giles presented tax and immigration records that he said showed Uribe — who is from Colombia but living legally in the United States — has previously been dishonest in his dealings with the government.

But federal Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer questioned the conclusions Giles drew from the records.

At the end of the hearing, Shaffer allowed Uribe to be released — over prosecutors' objections — on a $50,000 bond that includes a requirement for electronic monitoring.

All marijuana businesses are illegal under federal law, but the Justice Department has announced it will not make it a priority to prosecute those who are complying with state law and are not involved in other criminal activity. Though sources have previously said the raids that led to Uribe's indictment were looking for ties to Colombian drug cartels, the charges don't allege cartel connections or out-of-state marijuana sales.

State regulators have since ordered Uribe's businesses closed, and McAllister said Uribe is working to either shutter or sell all his businesses.
 

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hMPp://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/canada-welcomes-first-cannabis-vending-machine-in-vancouver-9328970.html




Canada welcomes first cannabis vending machine in Vancouver


Canada has followed in the footsteps of its US neighbour by installing its first vending machine for medical marijuana in the city of Vancouver.

The machine has been installed in a local dispensary known as the BC Pain Society who boast that it features “Purple Kush, Bubba Kush, sativa and indica strains of medical marijuana”.

A video uploaded on YouTube by the dispensary shows that unlike a similar machine installed in Coloarado last month, there’s no built-in system to identify the buyer, with users simply feeding in the necessary money and selecting their product of choice.

Chuck Varabioff of the BC Pain Society told Canada’s Global News that verification of the buyers’ identity would instead be carried out by staff and that feedback from the dispensary’s clientele had so far been “incredible”.

“Our regular members, they already know what they want, they can walk up straight up to the vending machine and get in and out quickly,” Varabioff told Global News.

Canada has followed in the footsteps of its US neighbour by installing its first vending machine for medical marijuana in the city of Vancouver.

The machine has been installed in a local dispensary known as the BC Pain Society who boast that it features “Purple Kush, Bubba Kush, sativa and indica strains of medical marijuana”.

A video uploaded on YouTube by the dispensary shows that unlike a similar machine installed in Coloarado last month, there’s no built-in system to identify the buyer, with users simply feeding in the necessary money and selecting their product of choice.

Chuck Varabioff of the BC Pain Society told Canada’s Global News that verification of the buyers’ identity would instead be carried out by staff and that feedback from the dispensary’s clientele had so far been “incredible”.

“Our regular members, they already know what they want, they can walk up straight up to the vending machine and get in and out quickly,” Varabioff told Global News.

“It’s packaged up and sealed professionally. So you come in, you buy your product, it’s fresh, it’s quick and easy, and you’re out here in minutes.”

Although dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada, recent court decisions in the country have declared that citizens must have “reasonable access to a legal source […] when authorized by a physician.”

Federal rules introduced in 1 April means that these licensed producers must be commercial ventures and the country’s first publicly traded producer, Tweed Marijuana, reported shipping its first orders of the drug in May this year.

Compared to the US, where there are more than 2.5 million medical marijuana users, Canada represents a small market with only 37,000 individuals authorized to purchase the drug.

However, Health Canada has predicted that this will rise to between 300,000 and 400,000 within a decade, and a poll conducted by Forum Research last year found that 69 per cent of Canadians support the decriminalization or outright legalization and taxation of the drug.
 

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hMPp://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/05/colorado_cannabis_summit_pot_events_denver.php




Colorado Cannabis Summit latest pot confab coming to Denver -- and it won't be the last


As we've reported, the legalization of recreational marijuana sales that kicked in on January 1 has prompted a boom in pot tourism despite the continuing refusal by the State of Colorado and the City of Denver to embrace and promote the cannabis industry.
More indications of this phenomenon can be seen in the increasing number of marijuana-themed conventions and events -- and not just around 4/20. Witness the Colorado Cannabis Summit, taking place later this month. And it's far from the last major get-together of its kind.

The conference gets underway at 8 a.m. on May 22 at the Exdo Event Center. Here's how Stan Wagner, event CEO and head of Red Thread Creative Group, hypes it.

"Back in January, I was having lunch with my business partner, Phil Walker, who's with Foothills Construction," Wagner recalls. "We'd been doing some branding work with cannabis companies that were doing some build-outs, and we were hearing that there wasn't a lot of good information out there. There have been a number of conferences built on business-to-consumer type products, but we felt there was a need for a business-to-business event.

"It's not just about grow houses, but everything that goes into them," he continues. "Construction, manufacturing of the products, packaging: all that jazz."

Wagner describes the summit as focusing on topics such as safety (hence the participation of CannaLabs, a major product-testing operation) and innovation (the CEO of Surna is among the speakers who'll address that).
Also on the agenda are jobs and employees, a subject Wagner describes as "one of my passions. We know there's a new market for budtenders, but how do you hire them? How do you manage them? How do you keep them engaged? Because there's no blueprint for this. It's an entirely new industry."

Plenty of event planners are hoping to get in on the action. On May 29, for instance, there's the Cannabis Capital Summit at Mile High Station. Then, on June 24, the National Cannabis Industry Association is sponsoring a Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center.

There's clearly no shortage of forthcoming cannabis summits, as Wagner acknowledges. "When we planned this back in January, there were no conferences out there," he says. "But as time went on, we started seeing them pop up here and there."

However, he sees his event as different from the others. "The Colorado Capital Conference is about investing and the NCIA event is about policy," he maintains. "We see them as more complimentary than competitive."

Is the marijuana industry big enough to support all these events? We'll find out soon enough. But organizers shouldn't count on any assistance from Colorado and Denver tourist agencies, which continue to keep marijuana at arm's length even as the local economy is getting repeated boosts from the industry.

For more information about the Colorado Cannabis Summit, visit the event's website or Facebook page.
 

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hMPp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/05/dea-michele-leonhart-mandatory-minimums_n_5269074.html




Obama's DEA Chief Refuses To Support Drug Sentencing Reforms


WASHINGTON -- The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is refusing to support a bill backed by the Obama administration that would lower the length of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, putting her at odds with her boss Attorney General Eric Holder on one of the criminal justice reform initiatives he hopes to make a centerpiece of his legacy.

During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart about the role of mandatory minimums in drug cases. Grassley cited the opposition among some law enforcement groups to the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bipartisan bill that would reduce the length of mandatory minimum sentences for some drug crimes.

"Having been in law enforcement as an agent for 33 years, [and] a Baltimore City police officer before that, I can tell you that for me and for the agents that work for DEA, mandatory minimums have been very important to our investigations," Leonhart said. "We depend on those as a way to ensure that the right sentences are going to the ... level of violator we are going after."

The Huffington Post asked a DEA spokeswoman on Monday whether, given Leonhart's remarks, the DEA administrator supported the position of the Obama administration on the Smarter Sentencing Act.

"We will not be adding anything to Administrator Leonhart's on-the-record comment about mandatory minimum sentences before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week," the spokeswoman, Barbara Carreno, said in an email.

Leonhart's comment last week, Carreno said, "will have to speak for itself."

Leonhart was originally confirmed as deputy administrator of the DEA during the Bush administration in 2004, but was nominated to take over the agency by President Barack Obama over the objections of many drug policy reformers. She has been at the DEA since 1980.

Leonhart has already reportedly slammed the president behind closed doors for comparing weed to alcohol, and has said that the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado -- which the Obama administration allowed to move forward -- has only made DEA agents "fight harder." She's also suggested that gangs are taking over in Washington and Colorado in the wake of marijuana legalization, even as Holder has said he's "cautiously optimistic" about how things are going in those states.

In 2012, while testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Leonhart refused to acknowledge that marijuana poses fewer health risks than heroin or crack.

Nobody really expected that a lifetime drug warrior would quietly accept marijuana legalization. But publicly undermining the Obama administration's policy position on reforming mandatory minimum drug sentences, especially given that it is a crucial part of Attorney General Eric Holder's Smart on Crime initiative, might be seen differently within the Justice Department and the White House.

Meanwhile, FBI Director Jim Comey, a Republican who served as deputy attorney general during the Bush administration, said he does not believe that the Smarter Sentencing Act would have an impact on the FBI's operations.

"Wherever I go, I ask my folks, 'Do you see our work being impacted, potentially impacted?' And the answer I hear is no," Comey said in response to a question from The Huffington Post during a meeting with reporters on Friday. "Given the nature of the work we tend to do, it's in the main not impacted by that change in policy."

Comey said the FBI would keep an eye on the legislation.

"I know from my experience ... that the mandatory minimums are an important tool in developing cooperators," Comey said.
 
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