May 18, 2015 Online Issue
Federal guidelines on marijuana banking are far from clear, and create more questions than answers. That is proven by the fact that so few banks will work with marijuana businesses, even though it’s legal to do so now under strict scenarios. The guidelines are so strict and burdensome that even banks that are willing to work with marijuana businesses on principle still refuse to do so because it’s more effort and trouble than it’s worth. Yet another bank is ceasing operations for marijuana businesses.
First Security Bank of Nevada, which began working with the nascent medical marijuana industry in the state last year, has decided to reverse course because of compliance issues, its chairman told Marijuana Business Daily Friday morning.
“The board has decided to (essentially) exit the marijuana industry,” said Jason Awad, the chairman of the board of First Security. “We have attempted, at a huge cost of time, to implement a robust compliance program… We found out that the compliance issue is so costly that it’s going to be prohibitive.”
The move comes at perhaps the worst possible time: Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Nevada are just now gearing up to open, possibly in the coming weeks. This development could delay many of these businesses and present new hurdles for the state’s emerging MMJ industry.
The stance that First Security Bank of Nevada has taken is a similar one that other banks who have worked with the industry for a time have taken. The federal guidelines for marijuana banking are simply unworkable. Are there scenarios where the guidelines allow for marijuana business banking? Sure. But are they realistic guidelines? I don’t think so, and for proof of that, I offer up every banking company that has pulled away from the industry citing the reason for a change in policy being that being in compliance is too expensive. It’s beyond time for true federal marijuana banking reform.
May 18, 2015 Online Issue
It seems like every week there is a poll that shows overwhelming support for marijuana reform, especially for medical marijuana reform. Marijuana is medicine, proven by the virtually endless supply of studies and personal testimonies. More and more Americans have either used, or no someone that has used, marijuana for medical purposes everyday, which is taking away the stigma. A new poll was released earlier this month, which found overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in America. Below are some of the highlights of the poll results:
Currently, four in five adults (81%) favor legalizing marijuana for medical use, up from 2011 when three quarters of Americans (74%) indicated the same. Meanwhile, half of Americans are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (49%), up from the two fifths (42%) who felt that way in 2011.
Nearly nine in ten Democrats and Independents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical treatment (87% & 86%, respectively) and over half support recreational use (58% & 55%, respectively)
While a majority – albeit a slimmer one – of Republicans also support the legalization medical marijuana (69% support, 23% oppose), a similar majority opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use (27% support, 65% oppose).
As for who should be making the big legalization decision, 44% favor each state resolving the issue for itself, while 35% favor a single law handed down by the federal government.
When asked about the effects legalizing marijuana might have, expectations have not changed much since 2011. Then and now, three quarters of adults (75%) expect tax revenues will increase post legalization.
This poll will no doubt be followed by many more polls that show the same, or more favorable, results. But just because 81% support medical marijuana legalization, doesn’t mean that all 81% agree on the same form of medical marijuana legalization. I’d be curious to know how many support dispensaries, or the right to home cultivation, or what conditions and ailments would qualify to use medical marijuana.
May 15, 2015 Online Issue
A senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.
Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration’s hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state, and other drug war problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead showing remarkable deference to the DEA’s administrators. That has started to change recently, and Leonhart’s departure was seen as an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the agency and support reform.
May 15, 2015 Online Issue
Starting a business without an investor is not an easy task. Unless someone is already sitting on a pile of money, they will likely need an infusion of money for their business idea if it’s ever to reach its full potential. That’s true of just about every business sector on the planet, and marijuana business ideas are no different. Starting an industrial garden or storefront can be particularly expensive. That’s why it’s so troubling to hear news out of Alaska that politicians up there are considering a ban on third party investors in the recreational marijuana industry.
In a move that has been sharply criticized by legalization advocates and the business community alike, Alaska legislators are currently considering banning third party investors, and start-ups who rely on them for funding, from the newly legit recreational state pot business. In-state license applicants under this plan would have to be completely self-funded.
For all the grumbling about undue political influence, if not carpetbaggers in the state level advocacy community of late, this proposal swiftly garnered harsh criticism from a different quarter – the marijuana business community.
According to Troy Dayton, CEO of ArcView Group, a marijuana investor network that connects investors with startup-activity and entrepreneurial ganja juice across the country, Alaska’s current effort is short-sighted.
“This is an effort by moneyed interests in the state to keep entrepreneurs of lesser means from raising the capital they need to compete,” he said. “There is no way that protectionist policies like this would stand in almost any other business sector. It’s a terrible trend that only serves the super-wealthy in a given state at the expense of everyone else, including consumers.”
As Troy Dayton touches on, no other industry has a ban like this in Alaska. This is either an attempt to give a virtual monopoly on business opportunities to the already wealthy, or it’s an attempt to minimize entry into the industry altogether. Either way, this proposal is ridiculous and unfair and I hope it fails. Alaska deserves a regulated, successful marijuana industry that will boost local economies, bring much needed jobs to the state, and generate tax revenue that will benefit all Alaskans.
May 15, 2015 Online Issue
The marijuana industry in Colorado is booming. The ‘green rush’ is on, and there are a lot of people in Colorado that are benefiting from the next great American industry. January and February of this year both set records for legal marijuana sales in the state. The numbers have been released for March sales, and the upward trend appears to be continuing.
There was roughly $74 million worth of legal cannabis sold in Colorado in March, setting a record for the third straight month.
In total, consumers spent more than $42 million on recreational cannabis, up from the $39 million they spent in February, and the $36 million they spent in January (both figures set records at the time).
In additional to the $42 million in recreational cannabis sold in March, there was $32 million worth of medical cannabis purchased. This is according to data released by the state’s Department of Revenue.
It’s like I always say – why isn’t every state doing this? While some states are doing everything they can to keep marijuana prohibition in place, Colorado is benefiting greatly from allowing legal sales of a substance that is safer than alcohol. April tends to be the biggest marijuana sales month of the year, so I expect this trend to continue in Colorado when the April numbers are released.
May 13, 2015 Online Issue
People that are on probation or parole should still be allowed to use legal medicine. Just because someone is in the criminal justice system doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer from various conditions or ailments. Marijuana is a proven form of medicine, and if someone qualifies for a medical marijuana program to use it, they should be allowed to do so. To prevent someone from using medical marijuana, while on probation or parole or otherwise, is non-compassionate. Colorado’s Legislature and Governor agree, which is why they recently passed House Bill 1267.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed House Bill 1267 into law, allowing those on probation or parole to use medical cannabis.
Although medical cannabis has been legal in Colorado since voters approved Amendment 20 in 2000, the use of the medicine while on probation or parole has remained prohibited. House Bill 1267, which takes effect immediately, changes that.
This is a common sense move by the State of Colorado. Colorado joins Arizona and Rhode Island in allowing those that are on probation or parole to use medical marijuana. This will help countless numbers of people in Colorado, who might otherwise turn to much more harmful substances in an attempt to mask their conditions. I really hope more states follow suit, including my home state, Oregon.