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MJ News for 09/03/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertw...ion-in-marijuana-taxes-just-went-up-in-smoke/




$21.5 Million In Marijuana Taxes Just Went Up In Smoke




You have to hand it to Colorado for propelling legalized marijuana into the mainstream. In addition to medical marijuana, Colorado legalized recreational use, trumpeting the tax revenue it knew would be piling in. In Colorado, there’s a 2.9% sales tax and a 10% marijuana sales tax. Plus, there is a 15% excise tax on the average market rate of retail marijuana. If you add that up, it’s 27.9%.

Just think of all that tax revenue! Like a closer Amsterdam, Colorado would be on the New Pot Trail, getting marijuana tourists in addition to locals imbibing. Legalize and tax it, they said. But it turns out the $33.5 million Colorado projected to collect in the first six months of 2014 was a little too rosy. It’s now the next morning, so to speak, and Colorado is missing $21.5M in pot taxes!

One explanation is that old habits die hard. With all those taxes, many smokers are still buying on the black market. Go figure. The state thought more people would migrate out of the black market.

In fact, only an estimated 60% of purchases in Colorado this year will be through legal channels, according to the Marijuana Policy Group. One big reason appears to be price. Legal marijuana is considerably more expensive than the black market variety.

And a recently contested tax is one of the culprits. So far, the Colorado tax on marijuana has been upheld despite claims that paying it amounts to self-incrimination violating the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs want the taxes on recreational pot outlawed, reasoning that they require businesses and consumers to implicate themselves in federal crimes.

It’s a clever argument given the conflict between state and federal law. Still, the plaintiffs lost on getting an injunction. Yet that doesn’t mean the lawsuit is over; the lawsuit challenging the taxes will continue and the stakes are high.

There’s a growing relationship between the 2.9% medical marijuana tax and the 27% recreational variety. This rather big spread suggests that some patients could be reselling their 2.9% medical stock to the public. How tightly is the medical variety regulated? Not very, it turns out.

You visit a doctor, but the hurdle isn’t high nor is the cost. A medical marijuana card costs $15. About 23% of the estimated marijuana users in Colorado have medical cards, according to the Marijuana Policy Group. It isn’t clear whether medical marijuana cards spiked when recreational pot was legalized.

But any way you slice smoke it, the state’s economists may have committed more than a rounding error. Still, state law requires a refund to taxpayers if the government collects more than expected. Some say fear of refunds made for big estimates.

Well, taxes aren’t even clear on the federal side. Marijuana remains illegal nationally. As a result, even legal medical marijuana businesses have federal income tax problems. That’s because Section 280E of the tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions.

The IRS says it has no choice but to enforce the tax code. One answer is 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. In allocating expenses between businesses, good record-keeping is essential. But there is only so far one can go. Some marijuana sellers operate as nonprofit social welfare organizations or as cooperatives or collectives.

The proposed Marijuana Tax Equity Act would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed. That way growers, sellers and users would not fear of violating federal law. 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.

Colorado’s tax law is bringing in revenue, just not as much as touted. As medical marijuana has gained widespread acceptance and even recreational marijuana is taking hold, the federal vs. state conflict grows deeper. And with a 2.9% to 27% spread, it looks like there’s yet another conflict to be sorted out.
 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/us/03berkeley.html




Berkeley Pushes a Boundary on Medical Marijuana




BERKELEY, Calif. — Since the birth of the Free Speech Movement half a century ago, this city has prided itself on its liberal values and policies, be they generous benefits for the needy or a look-the-other-way attitude toward marijuana use.

Now, the city is bringing those policies together with a new amenity for the poor here: The marijuana will be free.

Beginning next August, medical marijuana dispensaries in this city will be required to donate at least 2 percent of their cannabis to low-income residents. The City Council approved the requirement this summer — unanimously no less — with the hope of making the drug, which can sell for up to $400 an ounce at dispensaries, affordable for all residents.

But the charity cannabis mandate, which city officials believe is the first such law, provoked a swift backlash from critics who mocked it as a tie-dyed fantasy in a city already famous for liberal experiments.

“Instead of taking steps to help the most economically vulnerable residents get out of that state, the city has said, ‘Let’s just get everybody high,’ ” said John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Narcotic Officers’ Association.

Mr. Lovell said the free marijuana would sap patients’ motivation to look for work — after all, it is not a drug known for encouraging anyone to get off the couch — and could easily be resold on the street for profit by people who are short on money.

“I don’t see anything progressive about that,” Mr. Lovell said.

Tom Bates, the mayor of Berkeley, said the city was simply trying to ensure equal access to a drug he emphasized was medicine, useful for treating cancer pain and other maladies.

“There are some truly compassionate cases that need to have medical marijuana,” Mr. Bates said. “But it’s expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer who don’t have the money.”

Mr. Bates, a former state legislator and football player at the University of California, Berkeley, has also championed home brewing and organic vegetables on school menus. As for medical marijuana, “it’s a novel ideal to have it available to the poor,” he said. “Berkeley is sort of known for doing new things.”

Nearly 20 years after California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, Berkeley’s new law highlights a paradox of marijuana as medicine: Whether it is sold illegally on the street or legally in a dispensary, access to the drug depends almost entirely on whether you can pay for it.

Almost anyone with $40 to spare can find a doctor who will prescribe cannabis to treat insomnia or migraines or low appetite or something else (but especially insomnia).

Yet, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, insurance companies refuse to cover such treatments, which can run to hundreds of dollars per ounce for designer strains like All Star Sonoma Coma at local dispensaries.

It is not as if marijuana, medical or otherwise, is tough to find here, amid the vegan restaurants in downtown Berkeley and the smoke shops on Telegraph Avenue.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Joseph Skyler, an undergraduate at the university here, sat on the street with a group of homeless men, who were making trinkets and jewelry to sell to tourists. He was smoking marijuana that he said had been prescribed to him for insomnia.

“I believe in living a certain kind of lifestyle that’s very stress free,” Mr. Skyler, 23, said. “I’ve noticed that just from smoking, everyone calms down.”

No one else sitting with him had a medical cannabis card, though that had hardly stopped them from smoking marijuana. Mr. Skyler said they should all have access to medical marijuana.

“These people deserve it,” he said. “A lot of these guys have the same problems I have.”

At least in the San Francisco Bay Area, where marijuana is more socially accepted than cigarettes in some circles, an informal network already exists to help low-income people obtain medical cannabis. Across the bay in San Francisco, David Theisen, 56, has relied on what he calls “compassion,” a popular term for free medical cannabis, to deal with insomnia.

After moving to the city several years ago, he quickly learned the compassion schedule at several dispensaries, which give away a few dried-out buds to the first comers once or twice a month. When one dispensary cut back, said Mr. Theisen, a former line cook who remains unemployed, he started going days without sleeping.

“I can’t afford to buy it, but my need isn’t any less than anyone else’s,” he said.

The compassion system has now been formalized in Berkeley, where city officials aim to provide low-income patients with a more reliable supply of medical cannabis. Only Berkeley residents are eligible for the free marijuana, and they must show proof of income (less than $32,000 a year for individuals).

Dispensaries, which are prohibited by California law from turning a profit, will also have to hire security guards to patrol nearby, in order to deter crime (though, true to Berkeley’s character, the guards will not be allowed to carry firearms).

One of the city’s largest dispensaries, Berkeley Patients Group, already gives away marijuana to patients who cannot pay. One of them is Arnie Passman, a poet and longtime Berkeley activist, who has been a recipient for about a decade; he could not remember exactly how long, nor was he entirely sure what condition his prescription was meant to treat.

“It could be for my allergies, or my arthritis — you know what happens to us folks: We forget,” Mr. Passman, 78, said. “I can give it a blanket ‘I feel better.’ It helps me get going in the morning.”

But Sean Luse, the dispensary’s chief operating officer, worries that the city mandate could lead to resale on the street. Currently, about 100 people, not all of them Berkeley residents, receive free marijuana from Berkeley Patients Group, representing about 1 percent of the drug the facility dispenses. The new law will now compel the dispensary to give away about twice as much.

“No one has really quantified the legitimate demand; they just set the 2 percent threshold out of thin air,” Mr. Luse said. “Are we going to be forcing medicine on people just because it’s the law? There could definitely be a financial incentive for folks to resell it.”

Mr. Bates, the mayor, acknowledged that resale was possible, but he waved away the question of whether there was enough demand.

“There’s a huge demand — we could make it 20 percent,” he said.

He said he was more concerned with trying to regulate the safety and quality of the cannabis, which is not tested or standardized by the state, and varies substantially from one dispensary to another.

Unlike the low-grade varieties often handed out by San Francisco dispensaries, the free cannabis under the law in Berkeley must be of the same quality as the marijuana that customers pay for — ideally, grown organically, Mr. Bates said, without any pesticides.

And despite the mocking from outside city limits, on the streets of Berkeley, no one voiced much objection to the new law.

“If you believe marijuana is medicine, then helping low-income people purchase the medicine they need kind of makes sense to me,” said Bill Green, 49, who works for a solar energy company.

He added that there was “probably a lot of use of medical marijuana by people who don’t really need it,” but that he saw an easy fix to that problem: full legalization.

If the city’s mandate is another step toward legalization for recreational use, Mr. Bates said, then so much the better.

“I think what we’re seeing now is an evolution towards full legalization,” he said. “It’s coming. It may not be in the next few years, but it’s coming.”
 

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http://www.wltx.com/story/news/loca...tee-discussing-legalizing-marijuana/14990735/




Joint Committee Discussing Legalizing Marijuana in SC




Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Legalizing medical marijuana in South Carolina is being discussed at the statehouse Wednesday.

The discussion comes after the General Assembly last session passed a bill legalizing industrial hemp, which also has THC, the substances that makes marijuana illegal.

"We see fit, that albeit a little bit different, should ride together," said Clint Leach with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. "South Carolina is very unique in the agricultural history we have. It's different from other states so it's very important for us to look at the advantages and disadvantages that South Carolina brings to the table before we implement any law."

Lawmakers passed a bill legalizing industrial hemp last session and now have gathered a study committee to see if they should do the same with medical marijuana.

Industrial hemp is used by the textile industry to make products like clothing to soap.

Medical marijuana is different because it would be consumed by people.

"We have a role in the industrial hemp legislation and what we want to do with the other industries is figure out how we move this industry forward looking at what other states have done wether it be Colorado, or Kentucky, or Washington," Leach said.

Wednesday, lawmakers expect to hear about a law dealing with marijuana that's already on the books.

"The Marijuana and Controlled Substances Stamp Tax Act was passed in 1993," said Bonnie Swingle with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

Without a legal marijuana industry, the tax hasn't earned the state very much. Since 1993, DOR has collected a little over $160,000 from the tax.

"(It) will help them determine wether they want to legalize it in the future, how much tax revenue they may get out of that," Swingle said.
 

7greeneyes

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http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/a-benefit-of-legal-marijuana/




A Benefit of Legal Marijuana




Policy makers have suggested a variety of strategies to reduce injury and death from prescription opioid overdose, including drug-monitoring programs, scrutiny of doctors writing prescriptions and improved access to substance-abuse treatment.

Now a study has found evidence that legal access to marijuana is associated with fewer opioid overdose deaths. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found that in states where medical marijuana was legally available, death rates from opioid overdose were on average 24.8 percent lower than in states without medical marijuana.

The differences generally were even greater in states where medical marijuana had been available for longer periods. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The authors acknowledge that various factors that are hard to measure may be at work, including differences among states in health behaviors, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and medical or psychiatric diagnoses.

But by comparing the same state before and after the passage of medical marijuana laws, the researchers say they were able to control for population variations between states, even those they could not specifically identify.

They do not recommend the wide adoption of legalized cannabis on the basis of this study. Still, the lead author, Dr. Marcus A. Bachhuber, a fellow at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said that medical marijuana laws might have unexpected benefits.

“The next step would be a study of individuals over time,” he said. “If studies of individuals suggest that laws shift behavior, we could be reasonably confident of our results.”
 

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http://www.theweedblog.com/international-cannabis-business-conference-event/




International Cannabis Business Conference: Education And Networking Event Of The Year




The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is bringing in cannabis and hemp experts from around the glob to create an educational and networking opportunity unlike any other conference of its kind. The ICBC experience includes entertaining networking social events to go along with important information for any burgeoning cannabis business. Activists and elected officials, including Congressman Earl Blumenauer, will provide guidance to those wondering where cannabis laws are headed and how you can best implement successful cannabis law reform in your community.

Whether you are a grower, processor, dispensary owner, involved in a cannabis-related endeavor or just curious about entering the cannabis industry, you will find the ICBC engaging and entertaining and leave with valuable business and legal knowledge. In fact, the legal knowledge provided by the ICBC has been approved for 6 continuing legal education credits for Oregon attorneys. With an outside-the-box keynote speaker in Andrew Sullivan, who is a trailblazer in new media, to accomplished lawyers with extensive experience with the cannabis industry and business in general, the ICBC will help any cannabis entrepreneur, ancillary business owner and even any business person, succeed in their respective field.

The ICBC provides something for everybody. Andrew Sullivan, a bestselling author and world-renowned blogger can dish on any important subject of the day and he has become one of the most important cannabis law reform advocates today, helping bring the cannabis community into the mainstream. The Guru of Ganja, Ed Rosenthal, has forgotten more things about the cultivation of cannabis than most people even know. Troy Dayton, of the ArcView Group, has as much knowledge about opportunities in and around the cannabis industry as anyone.

As an Oregonian, I am very excited about the Oregon-centric panels with the head of the state’s medical marijuana dispensary program sharing a panel with the chief petitioner of Measure 91, our great opportunity to legalize marijuana this year. Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representative Peter Buckley will help explain the lay of the land politically in Oregon and will also provide insight into how cannabis activists can cultivate quality relationships with local legislators, regardless of the state. Congressman Earl Blumenauer is a hero to the cannabis community, not only in Oregon, but across the country and he will discuss the exciting developments occurring at the federal level. I can’t believe that I can even be writing about good things coming out of this Congress, but Rep. Blumenauer is instrumental in the passage of several recent good bills that have made it through a conservative, Republican-led Congress.

The ICBC is even bringing in some of the top activists and entrepreneurs from Colorado, Washington and Colorado. Advocates from Uruguay and Canada round out the international flair and describe the exciting political progress we are seeing in those respective countries. Bestselling author, and hilarious guy, Doug Fine will be presenting on hemp, following his recent book, Hemp Bound, was called “a blueprint of the America of the future” by the one and only Willie Nelson. Throw in the fact that there are social events and the conference will be MC’d by hilarious cannabis comedian Ngaio Bealum (an long-time activist in his own right), the ICBC will not disappoint. Hope to see you there in beautiful Portland, Oregon, at the Oregon Convention Center on September 13th & 14th. Get your tickets now, before they sell out!
 

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http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-...-Era-of-Commercialized-Cannabis-in-California




'GOLDEN ERA OF COMMERCIALIZED CANNABIS' IN CALIFORNIA




It has been nearly 20 years since California passed Proposition 215, the landmark bill that created the nation's first medical marijuana market. Since that time, 22 states and the District of Columbia have joined California in putting medical marijuana laws on the books, and two states, Colorado and Washington, have made marijuana fully legal for "adult" or "recreational" use.

Now, California appears ready to enter into a "Golden Age of commercialized cannabis," with sales predicted to explode tenfold over the next five years, according to Silicon Valley News and marijuana research firm The ArcView Group.

"Once the medical marijuana industry is legalized statewide, and you legitimize the entire production and distribution of medical cannabis, the business will explode and the state would collect $400 million a year or more in sales taxes," Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told Silicon Valley News.

The ArcView Group's report estimates that the legal marijuana market will be worth $2.6 billion this year, up from $1.3 billion in 2013. By 2019, when "recreational" use will likely be legalized, research indicates the market could be worth as much as $10 billion a year.

According to the report, analysts believe Colorado's legal weed market is already worth about $253 million. That would be roughly the same amount of money generated strictly by the Bay Area marijuana market alone, according to the estimates of Dave Hodges, who manages the All American Cannabis Club in San Jose.

Dave Curren, a former Intuit engineer and the owner of Green Bits, a startup offering inventory management to legal pot shops, told SV News that now is the time to get involved in the industry.

"2016 will be the deciding year," he said. "But it's amazing how much stuff is happening in this space right now. If the momentum continues, this is going to be really big."

The legal weed market still faces plenty of challenges; of course, marijuana is still classified a Schedule I drug under federal law, a classification that includes "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse" like heroin, ecstasy and LSD. As such, pot shops operating legally under California law are still subject to raids and seizures by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Even states with fully legal weed like Colorado and Washington are running into problems with the federal government. While the Obama administration has so far declined to pursue legal action against the governments of the two states, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation made sure to reiterate earlier this year that Colorado cannot use federal irrigation water to grow its pot. Additionally, while the House of Representatives voted in July to allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses, the banks themselves are still hesitant to comply.

Still, despite legal weed's uncertain future, fresh startups and entrepreneurs are lining up early to claim their corners of the business. Startup "Eaze" promises to be the "Uber of pot," enabling door-to-door deliveries of medical marijuana to those with valid doctor's notes, while "Weedly" offers a Yelp-like experience, where users can read reviews and preview marijuana menus from their favorite dispensaries.

Meanwhile, in Denver, two companies will host a legal weed startup convention in September, where over 100 pot-centric entrepreneurs and startups will vie to be the next big thing. Among the companies on display will be the "Tinder of marijuana," an "ad network for cannabis," and a "cryptocurrency to help the cannabis industry overcome banking challenges," according to Fast Company.
 

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http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/...r-application-process-begins-september-2.html




Illinois' Medical Cannabis Patient and Caregiver Application Process Begins September 2




CHICAGO--(ENEWSPF)--September 2, 2014. Patient registration for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program starts today, September 2. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is accepting applications for qualifying patients and caregivers who wish to apply for a medical cannabis registration identification card. Applications are being accepted both electronically and through the mail.



“We are excited to enter into this phase of the Program,” said Bob Morgan, Statewide Project Coordinator for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. “This Program will reduce the pain and suffering of thousands of people in Illinois, and we wanted patients and caregivers to have ample time to register with IDPH as implementation continues.”

Qualifying patients whose last names begin with A – L have two months (September 2 – October 31) to submit their applications. Patients whose last names begin with M – Z may submit an application from November 1– December 31. Applications can be submitted electronically at https://medicalcannabispatients.illinois.gov, or through the mail to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Medical Cannabis
535 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761-0001

IDPH is also accepting physician certification forms through the mail.

Once IDPH receives a complete application, which includes the physician certification form and background information, IDPH has 30 business days to review it. Approval letters to qualified applicants will be mailed within 15 business days once the application has been reviewed. Registration cards will be mailed before dispensaries open.

Applicants who submit an incomplete application will be notified through the mail. They will have 21 days to resubmit their application. Patients who have been denied will be notified in writing as to why their application was denied.

More information about the patient application process can be found online at www.mcpp.illinois.gov in the Frequently Asked Questions section. For any questions regarding patient and caregiver registration, please contact the DPH Division of Medical Cannabis at (855) 636-3688 or DPH.MedicalCannabis@illinois.gov.

Applications for cultivation center (Illinois Department of Agriculture) and dispensary (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation) licenses are available online at www.mcpp.illinois.gov.
 

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