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California: Court Blocks Federal Prosecution of Cannabis Farmers

California Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court blocked federal prosecutors from moving forward with a conspiracy case against a duo of Northern California cannabis cultivators because the pair was determined to be complying with California medical cannabis laws.

Sonny Moore and Anthony Pisarski, both Humboldt County farmers, plead guilty to federal allegations but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws.

The 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher which prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical cannabis states by halting federal funding for such projects.

U.S.: Congressman Rohrabacher Applauds Senate Panel for Adopting Cannabis Amendment

Capitol Hill Cannabis

The amendment passed despite a letter Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent in May asking House and Senate leadership not to block DOJ from using funds to enforce federal cannabis laws

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday adopted an amendment, commonly known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” that prohibits the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute those in compliance with their state’s medical cannabis laws.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-CA, who co-sponsored the amendment when it first passed in 2014, retired from Congress last year. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, stepped in as the lead House Democrat pushing the provision.

U.S.: Federal Bill Seeking To Reschedule Marijuana To Schedule III Gains Prominent Co-Sponsor

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Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III in the Controlled Substances Act would uphold states rights, allow for cannabis banking and create a path for research, says bill's sponsors

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On April 6, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R) and Congressman Darren Soto (D) joined forces in a bipartisan effort to make it easier for ill-patients and scientific and medical researchers to obtain marijuana by introducing H.R. 2020, a federal bill rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. On May 24, California Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R), a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, joined on to co-sponsor the bill.

U.S.: Congress Extends Prohibition On Government Interfering With State Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week, the federal government gave approval to a short-term spending bill that’s designed to prevent an October 1st governmental shutdown. Included in the bill is the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which is the landmark provision passed last year which limits the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce federal cannabis laws in states where’s it’s been legalized for medical purposes.

According to Nick Phillips of the Marijuana Times; “Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the co-author of the historic legislation, recently made an unscheduled appearance at the State of Marijuana Conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. He sat on a panel where he wore a “Make Cannabis Great Again” hat in support of states’ rights and individual freedoms to consume and operate legal cannabis businesses.”

On stage, Rohrabacher stated that “the momentum is on our side”, and stressed the need for supporters of marijuana law reform to contact their lawmakers and let their voice be heard.

U.S.: Senators And Congressmen Who Support Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) this week released its 2016 congressional scorecard on marijuana policy. Twenty U.S. representatives and two senators received an 'A' grade, indicating that "this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults," according to NORML.

But NORML goes on to point out that Congress lags far behind the public when it comes to support for marijuana reform. Four states plus D.C. have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and this fall voters in five more will decide whether to legalize recreatiional weed.

"It is apparent that voters' views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decades," said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, in an email. "Yet, the positions of their federally elected officials have not progressed in a similar manner."

Of the 22 congressmen supporting full marijuana legalization only one, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.) is a Republican. Conversely, among the 32 most vocal opponents of marijuana reform only one, Sen. Tom Carper (D.-Del.) is a Democrat.

Here is the list of representatives and senators who support marijuana legalization:

Mike Honda (D.-Calif.)
Jared Huffman (D.-Calif.)
Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.)
Ted Lieu (D.-Calif.)

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) Qualifies For November Ballot

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The campaign in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) on Tuesday applauded the announcement by Secretary of State Alex Padilla that the measure has officially qualified for the November 8 General Election ballot in California.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said Jason Kinney, spokesperson for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

“This measure reflects years of hard work, diverse stakeholder input and broad, bipartisan public support," Kinney said. "A growing majority of Californians support a smarter approach to marijuana and we’re gratified that voters will finally have the opportunity in November to pass comprehensive, common-sense policy that protects children, local control, public health and public safety, saves state and local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, funds critical local programs, and serves as a model for the rest of the nation.”

The coalition of endorsers in support of AUMA is the largest ever formed in support of marijuana policy reform in the state, according to organizers.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act Endorsed By North Coast Congressman

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

North Coast Congressman and longtime environmental leader U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) on Wednesday announced his support for the statewide ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

Prior to his election to Congress in November of 2012, Huffman served six years in the California State Assembly and was co-chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus. He previously served as a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a congressman, he serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

"The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is a necessary statewide reform that brings a billion-dollar industry out of the shadows and into a regulated market," said Rep. Huffman, whose district spans from the Golden Gate Bridge north to the Oregon border and includes the Emerald Triangle, the three-county region that produces some of America's best domestically grown marijuana.

"The measure takes historic, first-of-its-kind steps to reverse the devastating environmental and water damage that has been done by illegal marijuana grows in our state," Rep. Huffman said. "AUMA is not just good social justice and public health policy. It's forward-thinking environmental reform as well."

California: Congressman Comes Out Of The Cannabis Closet

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Republican representative from California just became the first sitting member of Congress in recent history to admit that he used marijuana while in office.

“I went to one of these hempfests or something like that they had in San Bernardino,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who then recounted meeting a vendor who gave him a medical cannabis preparation to treat arthritis.

“This guy was showing me the medical things and all that, and he says, ‘you should try this.’ And it’s a candle and you light the candle and the wax is in there and it melts down and then you rub it on whatever you’ve got problems with,” the lawmaker said.

“I tried it about two weeks ago, and it’s the first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night’s sleep, because the arthritis pain was gone.”

Rohrabacher is one of the chief sponsor of a measure that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state marijuana laws. The amendment is voted on by Congress annually and has been enacted into law for the past two fiscal years.

Rohrabacher made the admission, first reported by Russ Belville at Cannabis Radio, at an event being held by the National Organization for the reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

U.S.: House Removes Restrictions Preventing Veterans Access To Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana.

The amendment had bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Jared Polis (D-CO). It passed by 233-189.

“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen," Representative Blumenauer said. "Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.

U.S.: Ruling Could Limit Federal Marijuana Prosecutions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal appeals court is expected soon to rule on the scope of the law that could point the way to ending or overturning at least six federal marijuana prosecutions and convictions.

People who are fighting federal marijuana charges say that a recent act of Congress should have stopped the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting them, because their activities were legally allowed in their states. Cannabis is still illegal under federal law for any purpose.

"It's been the hardest thing I've ever hard to deal with in my life when you see the government coming down on you for simply trying to be healthy," said Rolland Gregg, who along with his family has fought federal marijuana charges, reports the Associated Press. Gregg said the cannabis plants found on his property in Kirkland, Washington were for medicinal use and in compliance with state law.

California: Adult Use of Marijuana Act Endorsed by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

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Longtime GOP congressman U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) on Tuesday announced his support for the statewide ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

He is the second California Congressman to endorse the measure in as many weeks. U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) announced his support last Monday.

"Rohrabacher is a 13-term Congressman who is a powerful voice for libertarian values," the AUMA campaign announced in a prepared statement. He is the co-author of the bipartisan Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which has been passed as part of the Federal Budget and prevents the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients or distributors who are in compliance with the laws of their state.

“As a Republican who believes in individual freedom, limited government and states' rights, I believe that it's time for California to lead the nation and create a safe, legal system for the responsible adult use of marijuana,” said Rohrabacher.

“I endorse the Adult Use of Marijuana Act for the November 2016 ballot,” the Congressman continued. “It is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.”

U.S.: Congress Adopts Significant Drug Policy Reforms In New Spending Bill

CongressCapitolWashingtonDC

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Congress on Friday morning passed a must-pass spending bill that includes language that stops the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice from spending money to block the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The amendment was passed last year on a temporary basis and had to be renewed this year.

“The renewal of this amendment should bring relief for medical marijuana patients and business owners,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “For decades Congress has been responsible for passing disastrous drug laws. It’s encouraging to see them starting to roll back the war on drugs by allowing states to set their own medical marijuana policies.”

“Patients who benefit from medical marijuana should not be treated like dangerous criminals, and the businesses that support them need to be protected from the old drug war mentality that still runs deep within the DEA,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end the Drug War. “It’s very encouraging to see such widespread support for protecting state’s rights and the rights of patients.”

U.S.: DOJ Will Continue To Be Prohibited From Interfering In State Medical Marijuana Laws

DOJTriedToStopMedicalWeedLaws[StonerThings]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the new federal spending bill unveiled late Tuesday night.

The compromise legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It stems from an amendment sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) that was first approved in the House of Representatives in May 2014 and included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama last December.

“The renewal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment suggests most members of Congress are ready to end the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There’s a growing sentiment that the Justice Department should not be using taxpayer dollars to arrest and prosecute people who are following their states’ medical marijuana laws.”

California: Leaders Call For DOJ To Halt Enforcement Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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California Representatives, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA13) and Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA48) and Sam Farr (D-CA20) on Tuesday urged Attorney General Loretta Lynch to reconsider enforcement actions against California’s medical cannabis dispensaries following comprehensive, stringent and enforceable industry regulations recently signed into law.

“We are concerned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to threaten individuals and businesses acting within the scope of states law on the medicinal use of marijuana despite formal guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion and recent changes to federal law. It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries,” wrote the Members of Congress.

The full text of the letter is available here.

In closing, the Members wrote, “the will of the both voters at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country should be respected.”

U.S.: Department of Justice Admits Lying To Congress About Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Justice Department warned Congress last year that a medical marijuana provision included in an appropriations bill could "limit or possibly eliminate the Department's ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well." But it turns out that was wrong, according to a just-revealed DOJ memo.

The "informal talking points" obtained by Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell were "intended to discourage passage" of the provision, which passed and was signed into law, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The memo was written by the chief of the Justice Department's appellate section and dated February 27, 2015. In it, the DOJ says the provision does not place "any limitations on our ability to investigate and prosecute crimes involving recreational marijuana."

The memo's talking points were repeated by a number of House members who opposed the medical marijuana provision.

Andy Harris (R-Maryland), one of the worst enemies of medicinal cannabis in the entire House, claimed "the amendment as written would tie the DEA's hands beyond medical marijuana." Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) claimed that the provision would "take away the ability of the Department of Justice to protect our young people ... it would just make it difficult, if not impossible, for the DEA and the Department of Justice to enforce the law."

Colorado: NCIA To Host Cannabis Business Summit In Denver June 29-July 1

NCIACannabisBusinessSummitAndExpo2015

The National Cannabis Industry Association, a national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, will hold its second annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, from June 29 through July 1 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

The Summit will offer cannabis business leaders three days of in-depth discussions and workshops, exploring business best practices, cutting-edge technological advances, and marijuana policy developments on both the state and federal levels. Three Members of Congress - Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) - are confirmed to participate in the Summit or the popular Cannabis Carnival benefit concert taking place on June 30.

The Cannabis Business Summit is positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry. Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their area of expertise. Tracks offered include: Running Your Cannabusiness; Cultivation and Processing; Money Matters: Finance, Accounting and Insurance; and The Law, Policy and Reform; as well as Emerging Topics offering attendees an open forum to discuss industry updates and trends.

Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry's leading pioneers and innovators, according to NCIA.

U.S.: Congress Passes 3 Amendments To Stop DEA From Undermining State Pot Laws

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Important Victories Build on Tuesday Night’s Votes to End DEA’s Controversial Bulk Data Collection Program, Cut DEA’s Budget

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislators on Wednesday passed three amendments to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed.

The House also passed an amendment Tuesday night ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.

“We made incredible progress today through passage of amendments that remove the threat of federal interference from state hemp and medical marijuana laws," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Congress showed more support today than ever before, making this the latest victory in a quiet revolution underway across America to reform and modernize our marijuana laws.

“This follows the narrow defeat of my Veterans Equal Access Amendment to the House MilCon-VA appropriations bill and passage in Senate Appropriations Committee of a similar amendment," Rep. Blumenauer said. "Action today demonstrates the forward momentum on this issue in Congress.

U.S.: House Narrowly Votes Against Protecting State Recreational Marijuana Laws

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The House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state laws allowing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly defeated a measure 206-222 on Wednesday that was intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws legalizing marijuana for all purposes, including adult recreational use.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana.

Earlier, the House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state medical marijuana laws, which was offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA). It has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and the first time it passed was last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

U.S.: House Votes To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws From Federal Interference

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure 242-186 that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and it passed for the first time last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

The House is now expected to consider a broader measure that would not be limited to medical marijuana. The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws regulating marijuana for adult use, in addition to medical purposes.

California: Convicted Medical Marijuana Seller Gets Congressional Allies In Legal Appeal

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former medical marijuana dispensary owner Charles Lynch has for years waged a legal battle against federal prosecutors who want to send him to prison. Last week, he finally got help from some unexpected and influential allies: U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Sam Farr (D-Carmel).

Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr filed a strongly worded brief with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals accusing prosecutors of flouting federal law as they go after Lynch, reports Joel Rubin at The Los Angeles Times. The Congressmen called on the court to end the case against Lynch.

Rohrabacher and Farr were late last year the authors of an amendment to federal law meant to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states where medical marijuana is legal. The amendment, receiving unusually broad bipartisan support in December, was written into a government spending bill.

The amendment prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds in a way that hinders states "from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

It was assumed federal prosecutors would have no choice but to abandon cases such as the one against Lynch. But Justice Department officials have persisted in their war on marijuana. In general, they've argued the spending ban forbids them from interfering with officials carrying out state law, but doesn't stop them from going after sellers.

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