MJ News for 05/27/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2014/05/27/corporate-cannabis-legal-marijuana-goes-legit/




Corporate Cannabis? Legal Marijuana Goes Legit


Americans could learn from Canada, as the New York Times explains in When Cannabis Goes Corporate. Canada’s free-for-all approach prompted complaints from police and local governments, so Canada adopted a regulated system for growth and sales. Enter Tweed Marijuana, one of the companies licensed to grow medical marijuana in Canada.

The new rules allow prescription holders to buy from approved, large-scale, producers. More informal growing operations suffer. But the changes have spawned an industry of more legitimate producers with bigger business models. And that should mean more sales.

Canada expects to collect taxes on over 3.1 billion in annual sales. The figures stateside could be vastly better. In Washington State, where even recreational marijuana is now legal, the Liquor Control Board hired Prof. Mark Kleiman of UCLA to research the state’s marijuana market. He estimated Washington’s medical and illicit consumption generated approximately $1.2 billion in sales annually.

Colorado too voted to legalize marijuana even for recreational use. Already, Colorado gets $2 million from marijuana taxes. And while there are rules in Colorado and Washington, both states seem well on their way to regulating and profiting from the industry. Medical use is far more prevalent, now numbering 20 legal medical marijuana states and D.C.

Yet in the Feds’ view, regardless of state legality, marijuana is a controlled substance and illegal under federal law. As more states have clashed with federal law, this mismatch has become more contentious. The Department of Justice issued a response suggesting that it will lay off the raids and prosecutions.


But the feds will lay off only if the states create “a tightly regulated market” with rules that address federal “enforcement priorities” such as preventing interstate smuggling, diversion to minors, and “adverse public health consequences.” Those phrases seem imbued with discretion. This memo to U.S. attorneys makes clear that the DOJ can still prosecute growers and sellers.

To be sure, this is much bigger than a tax problem. And yet the tax problems of the industry are huge and are thought to be one of the industry’s major impediments. Section 280E of the tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions. The main culprit is Congress, not the IRS. The IRS has said it has no choice but to enforce the tax code passed by Congress.

How big is the industry’s problem? “The federal tax situation is the biggest threat to businesses and could push the entire industry underground,” the leading trade publication for the marijuana industry reported. One answer has been for dispensaries to deduct expenses from other businesses distinct from dispensing marijuana. If a dispensary sells marijuana and is in the separate business of care-giving, the care-giving expenses are deductible. If only 10% of the premises are used to dispense marijuana, most of the rent is deductible.

Another idea is for marijuana sellers to operate as nonprofit social welfare organizations. That way Section 280E shouldn’t apply. The industry needs to operate more like other businesses. Sometimes such matters involve structural questions. To avoid trouble with the IRS, some claim that dispensaries should be organized as cooperatives or collectives.

The Marijuana Tax Equity Act would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed. The bill would also impose an excise tax on cannabis sales and an annual occupational tax on workers in the growing field of legal marijuana.
 

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http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-marijuana-insurance-20140527-story.html




Health insurers just say no to marijuana coverage


Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month.

Marijuana in recent years has gained increased mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in people with a wide range of disorders and diseases, including epilepsy and cancer.

Still, insurers are reluctant to cover it, in part because of conflicting laws. Although 21 U.S. states have approved it for medical use, the drug still is outlawed by the federal government and most states.

But perhaps the biggest hurdle for insurers is its lack of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Major insurers generally don't cover treatments that are not approved by the FDA, and that approval depends on big clinical studies that measure safety, effectiveness and side effects.

That research can take years and millions of dollars. And although the FDA has approved treatments like Marinol that contain a synthetic version of an ingredient in marijuana, so far no one has gained approval for a treatment that uses the whole plant.

As a result of the obstacles, advocates for medicinal marijuana say insurers probably won't cover the drug in the next few years. In the meantime, medical marijuana users — of which advocates estimate there are more than 1 million nationwide — have to find other ways to pay for their treatment.

Bill Britt, for instance, gets his supply for free from a friend whom he helps to grow the plants. Britt lives mostly on Social Security income and uses marijuana every day for epileptic seizures and leg pain from a childhood case of polio.

"I'm just lucky I have somebody who is helping me out, but that could go away at any time," said Britt, 55, who lives in Long Beach. "I am always worried about that."

Insurers have not seen enough evidence that marijuana is safe and more effective than other treatments, said Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.

Marijuana's Schedule I classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies that might provide that evidence. The classification means the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. And that means extra precautions are required in order to study it.

Researchers have to apply to the FDA to approve their study. Public Health Service, another arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, also may review it, a process that can take months.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has to issue a permit after making sure researchers have a secure place to store the drug. Researchers also have to explain the study plan to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, another Health and Human Services agency.

And researchers have to use marijuana supplied by NIDA, which contracts with the University of Mississippi to grow the only federally sanctioned source of the drug. That can limit the options for strains of marijuana researchers can study.

On top of that, researchers must find a location where the marijuana can be smoked or vaporized and scientists can monitor the patients afterward. That's no easy task, especially when dealing with public universities.

"The word 'marijuana' is just so politically radioactive," said Dr. Sue Sisley, a University of Arizona psychiatrist who is trying to study the drug as a possible treatment for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The American Medical Assn. has called for a change in marijuana's classification to one that makes it easier for research to be conducted. The current classification prevents physicians from even prescribing it in states where medical use is permitted. Instead, they can only recommend it to patients.

There is no easy and cheap way to get the drug legally. Patients in states where medical marijuana is legal can either grow it or buy it from government-approved dispensaries.

At dispensaries, an eighth of an ounce, which produces three to seven joints, costs $25 to $60, said Mike Liszewski, policy director for Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for safe and legal access to therapeutic cannabis. He noted that such an amount may not last long for patients who use the drug regularly to control pain or before every meal to help their appetites. Those patients might spend $1,000 a month or more.

Patients may get a price break from their dispensary if they have a low income, but that depends on the dispensary.

Growing marijuana costs less but takes three or four months. And success depends on a number of factors, including the grower's skill. And there are other problems: Britt, from Long Beach, tried growing it in his backyard only to have thieves steal it.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said insurers may eventually cover vaporized or eaten forms of marijuana. But he says when that happens depends, in part, on factors such as who wins the 2016 presidential election.

Even if the FDA approves medicinal marijuana, there's no guarantee that insurance coverage will become widespread. Big companies that pay medical bills for their workers and dependents decide what items their insurance plans cover. They may not be eager to add the expense.

Meanwhile, patients such as Kari Boiter, 33, continue to get medical marijuana any way they can. Boiter has a genetic disorder that causes pain, nausea and vomiting, and she uses marijuana she helps grow in a cooperative garden to control the symptoms.

Boiter, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., and is unemployed, said she'd have to go back to largely ineffective prescriptions, or do without treatment if the cooperative went away.

"It would be really hard for me," she said.
 

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http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-mendocino-pot-20140526-story.html#page=1




Mendocino County D.A. takes a new approach to marijuana cases


When David Eyster took over as Mendocino County district attorney, felony marijuana prosecutions were overwhelming his staff and straining the public coffers.

With hundreds of cases active at any one time, taking an average 15 months to resolve, there were few victories to show for all the effort.

"The system hadn't broken yet," Eyster said, "but it was dangerously close."

That was a little over three years ago.

These days marijuana cases clear in about three months and the Sheriff's Department is flush with cash, thanks to what some are calling "the Mendocino model." To others, it's the Mendocino shakedown.

The transformation began when Eyster dusted off a section of the California health and safety code, intended to reimburse police for the cost of cleaning up meth labs and pot grows, and retooled it for a modern Mendocino County.

In exchange for paying restitution, which Eyster sets at $50 per plant and $500 per pound of processed pot seized, eligible suspects can plead to a misdemeanor and get probation. (The law says restitution is reimbursement for actual enforcement costs, but defendants waive an itemized accounting and state the amount owed is "reasonable.")

The relinquishing of allegedly ill-gotten gains seized in separate civil forfeiture actions — cash, trucks and the occasional tractor — also might be part of the deal offered under Eyster's "global resolutions."

The restitution program is available only to those without troublesome criminal backgrounds who have not wildly overstepped California's somewhat gray laws on medical marijuana. Those who trespass, grow on public lands or degrade the environment need not apply.

Eyster said it's a complex calculation that he jots out himself, by hand, on the back of each case file. The size of a grow is not necessarily the deciding factor: In one current case, the defendants have records indicating they are supplying 1,500 medical users, Eyster said. Another case involved just four pounds of processed marijuana, but evidence indicated the defendant was selling for profit.

Participants must agree to random searches while on probation, comply with medical marijuana laws and grow only for personal use.

Restitution funds, which have topped $3.7 million since early 2011, go directly to the investigating agencies. Asset forfeitures — the $4.4 million in cash and goods seized in 2013 was nearly double the previous year — are shared by the state, the district attorney's office and local law enforcement.

Among those who have criticized the program is Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Clay Brennan, who during a restitution hearing last year for a man with an 800-plant grow blasted it as "extortion of defendants."

A federal grand jury investigating county programs that derive revenue from marijuana enforcement has subpoenaed accounting records on the restitution program, Eyster confirmed. The reason is unclear, as the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the probe.

Legal analysts also have raised concerns about the potential for unequal treatment of defendants and the incentive for officers to focus on lucrative targets at the expense of those more menacing to public safety.

"It suggests a two-tiered system of justice," said Alex Kreit, associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, "where people who don't have the money for the restitution or don't have assets they can use as a bargaining chip may get more severe criminal punishments."

Eyster counters that he personally handles every marijuana case, and can opt to lower fines or not prosecute indigent suspects.
 

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http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-mendocino-pot-20140526-story.html#page=1




Mendocino County D.A. takes a new approach to marijuana cases


When David Eyster took over as Mendocino County district attorney, felony marijuana prosecutions were overwhelming his staff and straining the public coffers.

With hundreds of cases active at any one time, taking an average 15 months to resolve, there were few victories to show for all the effort.

"The system hadn't broken yet," Eyster said, "but it was dangerously close."

That was a little over three years ago.

These days marijuana cases clear in about three months and the Sheriff's Department is flush with cash, thanks to what some are calling "the Mendocino model." To others, it's the Mendocino shakedown.

The transformation began when Eyster dusted off a section of the California health and safety code, intended to reimburse police for the cost of cleaning up meth labs and pot grows, and retooled it for a modern Mendocino County.

In exchange for paying restitution, which Eyster sets at $50 per plant and $500 per pound of processed pot seized, eligible suspects can plead to a misdemeanor and get probation. (The law says restitution is reimbursement for actual enforcement costs, but defendants waive an itemized accounting and state the amount owed is "reasonable.")

The relinquishing of allegedly ill-gotten gains seized in separate civil forfeiture actions — cash, trucks and the occasional tractor — also might be part of the deal offered under Eyster's "global resolutions."

The restitution program is available only to those without troublesome criminal backgrounds who have not wildly overstepped California's somewhat gray laws on medical marijuana. Those who trespass, grow on public lands or degrade the environment need not apply.

Eyster said it's a complex calculation that he jots out himself, by hand, on the back of each case file. The size of a grow is not necessarily the deciding factor: In one current case, the defendants have records indicating they are supplying 1,500 medical users, Eyster said. Another case involved just four pounds of processed marijuana, but evidence indicated the defendant was selling for profit.

Participants must agree to random searches while on probation, comply with medical marijuana laws and grow only for personal use.

Restitution funds, which have topped $3.7 million since early 2011, go directly to the investigating agencies. Asset forfeitures — the $4.4 million in cash and goods seized in 2013 was nearly double the previous year — are shared by the state, the district attorney's office and local law enforcement.

Among those who have criticized the program is Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Clay Brennan, who during a restitution hearing last year for a man with an 800-plant grow blasted it as "extortion of defendants."

A federal grand jury investigating county programs that derive revenue from marijuana enforcement has subpoenaed accounting records on the restitution program, Eyster confirmed. The reason is unclear, as the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the probe.

Legal analysts also have raised concerns about the potential for unequal treatment of defendants and the incentive for officers to focus on lucrative targets at the expense of those more menacing to public safety.

"It suggests a two-tiered system of justice," said Alex Kreit, associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, "where people who don't have the money for the restitution or don't have assets they can use as a bargaining chip may get more severe criminal punishments."

Eyster counters that he personally handles every marijuana case, and can opt to lower fines or not prosecute indigent suspects.

"The way we achieve consistency is that I do it," he said. "You can't pick every dandelion in the park."

A search warrant at Nicholas Koulouris' property last July turned up processed pot, a 171-plant garden, garbage bags of marijuana shake — or crumbs — and a 2006 Yamaha Grizzly.

By the time criminal charges were filed in January, a deal had been struck.

Koulouris received misdemeanor probation and paid the Sheriff's Department $10,750. A settlement agreement on the forfeiture shows that he paid the district attorney's office $5,000, the estimated value of the Yamaha, and got it back.

Neither Koulouris nor his attorney would comment on the case, which offers a road map to the global resolution approach.

Eyster teamed with Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) in 2011 to try to make pot cultivation a "wobbler," prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor. The effort failed, but he had devised another way to thin the caseload.

He drew on past experience with welfare fraud, where considering restitution before making a filing decision was routine. Convinced that not all defendants were created equal — the mastermind behind a for-profit grow is more culpable than hired trimmers — he decided to evaluate each case, consider potentially exculpatory evidence and cut deals as he saw fit.

He offers defendants guidance on how to stay within the law, and said paying restitution "shows a step toward rehabilitation."

"A month doesn't go by when someone doesn't say: 'Thank you for handling it this way,'" Eyster said.

Since he took office, 357 defendants have decided to pay restitution. About 20 of those violated their probation, resulting in 180-day jail stints and new charges. (On a second round, a straight misdemeanor charge is off the table.)


Eyster never accepts seized cash as payment of restitution, but his approach does throw such assets into the bargaining mix.

It is unclear how many probationers paid restitution and forfeited seized cash or goods, but Eyster conceded the practice is common. "One hundred percent of the time, the defense wants to do a global resolution," he said. "It's saving a lot of time and costs."

Defense attorney Keith Faulder, who practices in Mendocino County, is circumspect when discussing Eyster's program.

The district attorney, Faulder said, is "an innovator" who he believes is "operating in good faith when it comes to settling marijuana cases." However, Faulder said, Eyster "has a real policy of settling cases for civil forfeiture ... I think it gets a lot of dolphin with the tuna."

That program has exploded in recent years, with law enforcement officials attributing the increased seizures to a pot trade that permeates the county.

Earlier this month, D.A. investigator Butch Gupta helped serve a search warrant on a 1,300-plant grow, took possession of $45,000 seized at another and sent truckloads of forfeited goods to auction.

"The running joke here is that we're breeding Toyota trucks," Gupta said at the storage lot as a drug dog searched a Tundra.

Despite the legal separation of the forfeiture and restitution programs, Kreit said, Eyster's combined settlement approach is worrisome. "It's basically a unified payment system to buy your way to a lower level of punishment," said Kreit, who added that the payoffs could motivate law enforcement treasure hunts.

Bob Alexander agrees.

The 57-year-old, who has an implanted spinal cord stimulator to control pain, was questioned by a patrol officer in August after he pulled his Mercedes up to a gas pump. (The officer said he'd been speeding.)

Alexander revealed that he had some marijuana in the car and presented his doctor's recommendation. After the officer also learned Alexander had $10,788 in cash — money he said he planned to use to buy his daughter a car — the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force was called in.

Alexander said he was cuffed to a table as investigators asked whom he worked for. One presented an asset seizure form.

"You can sign this paper and say this money isn't yours," Alexander quoted the officer as saying, "and we can just call it a day." No criminal charges were filed. Alexander got his money back — eight months later.

The task force member who signed Alexander's paperwork could not be reached for comment; an administrator said it was "not our policy" to pressure suspects into giving up cash.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said his deputies do not have the time or inclination to police for profit: "If I wanted to use this as a business plan, I'd have 12 people on my eradication team," he said. He has two.

But he credits restitution and forfeitures for a sheriff's budget that is $600,000 in the black, and said he has also been able to expand a resident deputy program and purchase a new fleet of cars.

Despite the criticism, Eyster said he was confident in the legality and effectiveness of his approach.

He said that he had offered Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District, "first dibs on the prosecution of all marijuana cases in Mendocino County" but that she declined.

So "they should please leave us alone and let local enforcement tackle our own marijuana problems."
 

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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/classic...lows-guests-to-smoke-marijuana-at-fundraiser/




Colorado Symphony wants you to BYOP: Bring your own pot


In the one state where it's legal to buy marijuana for recreational use, the Colorado Symphony decided this new era could usher in new supporters. At their fundraiser Friday, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports people were free to BYOP: bring your own pot.

"We saw this and it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to support the symphony, to also show that we support it in light of the recent legalization," attendee Katie Shives said.

"So, I'm going to tell you a secret," another guest Sean Coleman said. "This is not the first time I have been at a symphony event and there is cannabis involved."

This is the first of three marijuana-friendly symphony fundraisers.

"I'm a fan of the symphony so whenever I get the chance I like to come. And then I thought this is historic," guest Michael Lund said.

Party organizer Jane West has been planning corporate events for 18 years, and her company Edible Events throws cannabis-themed parties.

"There's a lot of misconceptions about what a cannabis consumer looks like, and we're just breaking those here tonight," West said.

The symphony billed this event as "Classically Cannabis," but before they could hit their first high notes, the city of Denver almost killed the buzz.

The city sent a letter urging them to cancel, claiming that selling tickets to anyone was allowing people to smoke in public, which is against the law. So the symphony made access by invitation only and the city gave its okay.

"At least people are speaking about the symphony, and it's creating awareness for our orchestra," said Obe Ariss, the symphony's director of development.

Ariss said he worries some people might be turned off by this event.

"We've heard from people and we absolutely respect and acknowledge everyone's opinions," he said.

At $100 per person and extra donations from sponsors in the marijuana business, the symphony raised a cool $50,000.

"I honestly couldn't be happier," Shives said, saying she would "absolutely" give money to the symphony again.

On this night, high society successfully met high times, and in Colorado, marijuana now means more Mozart.
 

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http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/canada-vending-machines-pop-marijuana-article-1.1805657




Canada vending machines pop out marijuana


The vending machines at a Vancouver storefront look ordinary -- but instead of spitting out gum or snacks, for a few coins they deliver medical marijuana.

For Can$4, the brightly lit "gumball" machine drops a plastic ball filled with the so-called "Cotton Candy" variety of the drug. The "Purple Kush" option costs Can$6.

But the really good stuff, said proprietor Chuck Varabioff, is "Pink Kush," available from another machine the size of a fridge that delivers a wide range of marijuana in plastic bags heat-sealed for hygiene.

His British Columbia Pain Society is one of about 400 pot stores -- which call themselves medical marijuana dispensaries -- in the western Canadian city.

They're all part of a booming medical marijuana industry that operates in a legal gray zone since a federal court ruling recently overturned Ottawa's latest attempt to regulate its distribution.

Under the new regulatory regime, as of April 1, some 30,000 home-based growing operations and distributors across Canada are to be replaced by fewer but larger commercial operations.

Many of the smaller growers and distributors, particularly in westernmost British Columbia province, however, refused to step aside.

The drug is illegal outside of the new regime, Vancouver police said in March, but it's not one of the force's top priorities, which are instead focused on violent and predatory drug traffickers, gangs and hard drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

"Medical marijuana dispensaries operating today in Vancouver do not meet these criteria," the police warning said.

Official city policy -- and to a lesser degree British Columbia government policy -- tackles all illegal drugs as a health instead of a criminal issue.

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was effectively legalized in Canada in 1999, and its use has been expanded through a series of court challenges.

Calls are now growing to also decriminalize recreational marijuana use -- which Canada has prohibited since 1923

- 'Pain is gone' -

The medical dispensaries are relatively new.

For generations, pot has been produced and sold here as a street drug, including by gangs, and fueled a vibrant underground economy.

A decade-old study by an economist for the libertarian Fraser Institute think tank estimated the street value of the weed at Can$7 billion a year in British Columbia.

Back at the British Columbia Pain Society, customers have to be 19 or older, and are required to show a signed form from a medical professional -- such as a physician or naturopath -- to enter the fenced area where the marijuana is sold.

They can take their purchase away, or smoke it at a large table with an air filtration system.

Justin Johnson sat at the table and inhaled deeply from a bong -- a glass pipe contraption.

"I feel stoned, slightly euphoric, a little anxious," he said with a little smile.
"And immediately all the pain I have is gone."

Johnson said he has relied on marijuana to reduce pain since injuring his back lifting a heavy box of potatoes in his former job as a chef.

He now works as a pot advocate and is currently setting up a new storefront for the British Columbia Pain Society.

British Columbia Pain Society director Varabioff said the shiny new vending machines and a second storefront for the business are just the start of his big plans.

He hopes to install marijuana vending machines in nursing homes and medical clinics.

Varabioff said he's a businessman who does not smoke pot because he has asthma, but supports its medical use after watching an elderly relative suffer in pain.
 

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http://www.voanews.com/content/syrian-war-aids-lucrative-cannabis-farming-in-lebanon/1923215.html




Syrian War Aids Lucrative Cannabis Farming in Lebanon


With a civil war raging in neighboring Syria, Lebanese security forces are busy guarding the country's borders. In the past three years, there have not been enough troops for regular raids on illegal crop farmers. As a result, cannabis farms have flourished in the fertile Bekaa Valley in east Lebanon, with the cannabis plant squeezing out less lucrative wheat, barley and vegetable crops.

Spiky-leafed plants are the source of cannabis resin, also know as hashish, a substance that is much in demand by recreational drug makers worldwide. It is a hardy crop that can withstand drought without the need for irrigation. Ali Nasri Shamas, a Lebanese farmer, said he makes much more money growing cannabis than growing any other crop, and he is prepared to fight for his fields.

"We want to live as everyone else does. If they want a confrontation, that's no problem for us. It will be harvest season soon. If they want to come for us, they are welcome. If they want to legalize it, we'll thank them and tell them they are good people," said Shamas.

Cannabis is an illegal crop in Lebanon and the government has conducted annual raids on farmers, destroying their fields and imposing penalties.

"We know that in the period from the 1990s until 2012, cannabis eradication took place on an annual basis and all the material, logistics, human and technical resources would be ready," said Ghassan Shamseddin, the head of Lebanon's Drug Enforcement Unit.

This has not been the case since the beginning of Syria's war, more than three years ago.

"In 2012, due to the regional and security circumstances surrounding Lebanon, some obstacles happened during the eradication. The eradication operation was halted because of the situation that year on the Lebanese borders and the instability in Syria," said Shamseddin.

Bekaa Valley farmers have always resisted government efforts to eradicate the marijuana plant. Now, they openly discuss plans to expand its production.

"Every year we are increasing the areas we are planting. We are doing what we have said we would do. Three years ago, we told them [the authorities] we will plant double. We did, and we will confront them. The next year, we promised them we would plant five times that amount. We did and we confronted them. And we will increase it every year. Either they provide an alternative, they legalize it or it will be a confrontation between us and them," said Shamas.

Shamas said the government would benefit from making cannabis legal, like tobacco, because it could collect tax from cannabis growers. Economist Marwan Iskander agrees.

"I consider that Lebanon needs this farming and needs to revive the Bekaa and Akkar regions. And according to my estimates, legalizing the cannabis crop and its exportation abroad to the United States or some of the European countries where it is allowed, we would add $2 billion to the Lebanese economy and $400 million to the state budget," said Iskander.

Last year, when violence from Syria's civil war spilled across the border, with bombs and gunfights in Lebanon's coastal cities and rockets striking towns in the Bekaa Valley, authorities quietly shelved the battle they had waged with cannabis farmers for the past two decades.
 

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https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/23888895/legalise-medicinal-cannabis-in-nsw-greens/




(Australia) Legalise medicinal cannabis in NSW: Greens


Terminally-ill patients in NSW would be free to use cannabis for pain relief but supplying the drug would still be illegal, under laws being proposed by the Greens.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye will soon introduce a bill which would allow people with a terminal illness to apply for a card that would prevent them from being prosecuted for possessing a small quantity of cannabis.

The card would be issued by the Department of Health based on advice from the patient's treating doctor and would be "tightly monitored", Dr Kaye said.

He said the measures would mean that thousands of people in NSW would no longer have to make the "terrible choice" between breaking the law and suffering.

"It is time for science and compassion to win out against prejudice and hysteria," he said in Sydney.

But the bill will not address the issue of supply, he said.

"The Greens recognise that there are limits on what we can do," Dr Kaye said.

"It is our assessment at this point in time that this is the best we can achieve."

Last year, a bipartisan parliamentary committee recommended AIDS and terminally-ill patients be allowed to possess and use up to 15 grams of dry cannabis.

The committee also recommended a register of authorised cannabis patients to protect medicinal users against prosecution.

But the NSW government knocked back the proposal, saying the potency and safety of the products, which includes cannabis in plant, resin or liquid form, could not be guaranteed.
 
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