A look at how much revenue there could be from taxing cannabis if it was legalized nationwide.
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A Look at Taxing MarijuanaBy JEREMY W. PETERS Here’s a thought for a tax increase that might at least break some of the tension in the room between President Obama and John Boehner: a marijuana tax.It’s not as ludicrous an idea as it might seem. This week, Washington became the first state in the nation where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Colorado is set to follow its lead soon.The fact that some states are starting to relax their marijuana laws got analysts at the Tax Policy Center thinking. What if the drug were legalized nationwide and taxed?The center looked at two studies, one of which estimated that a marijuana tax could bring in $9 billion a year in state and federal tax revenues and save roughly the same amount on law enforcement. (The study made certain assumptions about price and demand, and applied taxes comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco, as well as income taxes on those making money in the legalized trade.) Another study, which used the approximate tax on cigarettes as a benchmark, estimated that a marijuana tax could bring in $1.4 billion to California alone.Now, of course, $9 billion isn’t much. One percent of the country’s gross domestic product is about $150 billion. And this year’s deficit is about $1 trillion. The tax increases and spending cuts set to begin taking effect on Jan. 1 if Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner aren’t able to agree on a plan to head them off add up to about $600 billion.Is a marijuana tax a bit fanciful in the near-term? Probably. Federal prosecutors aren’t planning on making it any easier for these states to tax marijuana. In fact, the White House and the Justice Department have been considering whether to pursue legal action against Colorado and Washington to block their new marijuana laws. Source – economix.blogs.nytimes.com Read The Whole Story
From what I get we are still waiting for an official response from the feds. Here is what the New Your Times wrote.
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Administration Weighs Legal Action Against States That Legalized Marijuana Use
New York Times
WASHINGTON — Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.
Even as marijuana legalization supporters are celebrating their victories in the two states, the Obama administration has been holding high-level meetings since the election to debate the response of federal law enforcement agencies to the decriminalization efforts.
Marijuana use in both states continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. One option is to sue the states on the grounds that any effort to regulate marijuana is pre-empted by federal law. Should the Justice Department prevail, it would raise the possibility of striking down the entire initiatives on the theory that voters would not have approved legalizing the drug without tight regulations and licensing similar to controls on hard alcohol.
Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response. But such a response would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him.
“It’s a sticky wicket for Obama,” said Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, saying any aggressive move on such a high-profile question would be seen as “a slap in the face to his base right after they’ve just handed him a chance to realize his presidential dreams.”
Federal officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Several cautioned that the issue had raised complex legal and policy considerations — including enforcement priorities, litigation strategy and the impact of international antidrug treaties — that remain unresolved, and that no decision was imminent.
The Obama administration declined to comment on the deliberations, but pointed to a statement the Justice Department issued on Wednesday — the day before the initiative took effect in Washington — in the name of the United States attorney in Seattle, Jenny A. Durkan. She warned Washington residents that the drug remained illegal.
“In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” she said. “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”
Ms. Durkan’s statement also hinted at the deliberations behind closed doors, saying: “The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State. The department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”
Federal officials have relied on their more numerous state and local counterparts to handle smaller marijuana cases. In reviewing how to respond to the new gap, the interagency task force — which includes Justice Department headquarters, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department and the offices of the White House Counsel and the director of National Drug Control Policy — is considering several strategies, officials said.
One option is for federal prosecutors to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with, waiting for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because the drug is now legal in that state. The department could then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps the state one.
A more aggressive option is for the Justice Department to file lawsuits against the states to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax marijuana, as the initiatives contemplated. If a court agrees that such regulations are pre-empted by federal ones, it will open the door to a broader ruling about whether the regulatory provisions can be “severed” from those eliminating state prohibitions — or whether the entire initiatives must be struck down.
Another potential avenue would be to cut off federal grants to the states unless their legislatures restored antimarijuana laws, said Gregory Katsas, who led the civil division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.
Mr. Katsas said he was skeptical that a pre-emption lawsuit would succeed. He said he was also skeptical that it was necessary, since the federal government could prosecute marijuana cases in those states regardless of whether the states regulated the drug.
Still, federal resources are limited. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued a policy for handling states that have legalized medical marijuana. It says federal officials should generally not use their limited resources to go after small-time users, but should for large-scale trafficking organizations. The result has been more federal raids on dispensaries than many liberals had expected.
Source – www.nytimes.comRead The Whole Story
Pot Legalization Support At Record High.
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Pot Legalization Support At Record High, Poll Finds
The Huffington Post
National support for legalizing marijuana is at a record high, according to a poll sponsored by the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.
Fifty-eight percent of voters said the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 39 percent said it should be illegal, the poll, conducted by the Democratic firm PPP, found.
Support was highest among Democrats — 68 percent of whom favored legalization — compared to 42 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents. An age gap was also in evidence, with 61 percent of voters under 30 supporting legal marijuana use, compared to 48 percent of those over 65.
A CBS poll released last week found less than a majority in support, with 47 percent saying marijuana should be legalized. That survey also reflected a shift, however, marking the first time that support for legalization outstripped opposition.
The difference in results could be partially because PPP’s surveys use automated phone calls, while many other polls use live interviewers. An MPP press release suggested that voters might be uncomfortable telling an interviewer they support legalization.
On Election Day, marijuana use was legalized by voters in both Colorado and Washington, but it remains illegal under federal law. A number of members of Congress have called on the federal government to honor the states’ new laws.
“The tide of public opinion is changing both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country,” one letter, signed by 18 House members, read in part. “We believe that the collective judgment of voters and state lawmakers must be respected.”
The Justice Department has largely remained silent about its plans.
PPP found that half of voters thought marijuana would be legalized nationally within the next 10 years, while 37 percent predicted it would remain illegal.
The poll surveyed 1,325 registered voters using automated phone calls between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.
Source – www.huffingtonpost.comRead The Whole Story
Here is another Medical Marijuana story that is helping a 6 year old with epileptic seizure.
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Dad gives 6-year-old medical marijuana
A 6-year-old boy with epilepsy has been suffering fewer seizures since taking medical marijuana.
The video with this story is hard to watch. In it, Jayden is having an epileptic seizure.
His father, Jason David, explains what it’s like to hold his son when he’s screaming.
“I would say hell,” said David. “There’s nothing you can do to make him feel better.”
But there is something.
David administers an unorthodox drug for his son’s catastrophic epilepsy, called Dravet syndrome — a disease that can be fatal for children.
Some 45 minutes after giving Jayden the drug, not only did it calm him down, David said it stopped the seizure.
“He’s in pain and suffering and crying,” he said. “You have to do whatever it takes to save their life.”
Pharmaceutical drugs have failed the Modesto, Calif., family.
“He couldn’t chew. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t take a bath,” said David.
After a year of taking a liquid form of medical marijuana — made mostly of cannabidiol that doesn’t get you high — Jayden’s playing, running and climbing.
Jayden is also eating solid food.
From 22 pills a day to treat his epilepsy, he’s down to a pill and a half.
And there were 44 ambulance trips before starting on legal medical marijuana. Yet, now it’s down to zero.
“Miracle marijuana, instead of medical marijuana,” said David, referring to what he calls the treatment.
And Jayden is not the only one.
There are no solid national figures of how many sick children are using medical marijuana, but where it’s legal — from Oregon to Montana — states report dozens of registered users under the age of 18, some as young as 2.
A vault full of various types of medicinal marijuana exists at Harborside Health Center in Oakland, where technicians sort, analyze and distill the plant.
It’s science here, and they believe it will help children with severe autism, epilepsy, ADHD and cancer.
“We have seen more than one child like Jayden who came to us with very, very serious life-threatening illnesses, who — as soon as they started using cannabis medicine — saw a dramatic turnaround,” said Steve DeAngelo, executive director at Harborside Health Center.
The medical community said that without better research, which requires federal support, most doctors oppose medical marijuana for children.
“All medications may have side effects, may have long-term consequences,” said pediatrician Dr. Seth Ammerman. “Unfortunately, with cannabinoids, we know very little about that. A parent is really flying by his or her pants by doing this.”
Call David crazy. Call him unethical. The father has heard it all — except for one phrase.
“All I want is my son to say, ‘I love you’ back,” said David. “That’s all I want to hear … I’m really close.”
He’s close to finally reaching his son.
Source – CNNRead The Whole Story
Alright Arizona you have your first medical marijuana dispensary. Keep Them Coming
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Arizona’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens
By The Daily Chronic
TUSCON, AZ — Over two years after Arizona voters authorized the use of medical marijuana, the first dispensary in the Grand Canyon State has finally opened in Tuscon. Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies opened this weekend to pre-register patients and caregivers, and will begin dispensing medical cannabis on December 11.
The road to opening the first dispensary in Arizona was a long one, facing strong opposition from the governor, local prosecutors, and police, but the final hurdle was cleared last week when inspectors from the state Department of Health gave the green light to open for business.
“Walking into the dispensary is much like walking into a doctor’s office or a pharmacy, with privacy and security being our highest priority,” said Dr. Steven Shochat, the dispensary’s director.
Medical marijuana products will be laboratory tested for patient safety, and the office employs armed security guards for patient protection. Patients must have an appointment to enter the dispensary.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is proceeding with the required documentation, inspections and approvals to operate its own cannabis cultivation center, which is anticipated to be operational within the next few months. Until that time, they are allowed under state law to accept donations of excess medical marijuana from registered caregivers and patients that are authorized to cultivate cannabis.
The opening of the central Tuscon dispensary will trigger a provision in Arizona’s medical marijuana law restricting home cultivation by patients within 25 miles of the dispensary, who will no longer be allowed to grow their own medicine. Arizona law only allows medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow cannabis if they are located more than 25 miles from a dispensary.
The provision will apply to almost all medical marijuana patients living in the Tuscon area. The provision applies immediately to patients obtaining new medical marijuana cards from the state, and to current medical marijuana card holders when their cards come up for annual renewal.
Only one other dispensary has been authorized in Arizona. Last month, Arizona Organix in Glendale received approval to open from state inspectors, but the dispensary is not yet ready to open. Dispensary operators estimate a late December or early January opening.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is located in the Gaslight Village Plaza on Kolb Road in central Tuscon. Medical marijuana patients can make an appointment by calling (520) 886-1003 or by visiting the dispensary’s website.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is a non-profit dispensary operated by Green Medicine, Inc.
Source – www.thedailychronic.netRead The Whole Story
A little about hemp and that it wont grow overnight.
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Hemp Industry Won’t Grow Overnight, Agriculture Economists Say
As Kentucky and federal lawmakers consider legalizing industrial hemp, the chair of the University of Kentucky’s agriculture economics department notes that such an industry won’t rise overnight.
It’s a matter of economic viability. The main question being: With corn, soybeans and other crops selling at record high levels, what would entice farmers to switch to hemp instead?
Leigh Maynard, chair of the University of Kentucky’s ag economics department, said he expects farmers to be hesitant to begin growing industrial hemp. Maynard said farmers will likely balk at the idea of foregoing record high prices in other markets just to grow hemp.
“I would expect producers to be fairly cautious about jumping in to a market that is undefined at this time,” Maynard said.
Still, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he wouldn’t advocate for hemp if he didn’t think companies would offer contracts to farmers for the plant. Comer, the leading advocate in Kentucky for hemp, said also he wouldn’t push for legalization if he didn’t already have interest from Kentucky farmers and businesses interested in using hemp for their goods.
But demand is a question, Maynard said. So far, the demand for hemp in Kentucky is currently non-existent, because theplant is illegal, he said.
And then there’s infrastructure, Maynard said.
“Another thing to point out is that there is no manufacturing capacity for products produced from hemp or at least that would need to be developed to a much greater degree in tandem with developments in production and marketing infrastructure,” he said.
Source – www.wfpl.orgRead The Whole Story
Kentucky State Police opposed to Industrial Hemp.
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Commissioner: State police against hemp
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said his agency is opposed to proposals to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky even though he sees the benefits for the agriculture industry.
Brewer said after a meeting of the newly restarted Kentucky Hemp Commission that state police are concerned the agricultural pluses will be offset by law enforcement minuses such as distinguishing between hemp and its cousin, marijuana.
“It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to the casual observer or even the astute observer to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana as its being grown” he said. He added that problem becomes even more difficult when police use helicopters to search for marijuana fields, a common practice.
Hemp and marijuana are the same species, cannabis sativa, but are genetically distinct. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
The commission, led by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, held its second meeting since it came out of a decade-long dormancy. Comer is aggressively pursuing state legislation that would allow hemp, which is illegal to grow in the United States, to be grown in Kentucky with federal approval.
Comer says the crop could provide agriculture and manufacturing jobs in Kentucky, as it once did during World War II. U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $400 million last year, according to industry estimates.
The versatile crop can be turned into paper, clothing, food, biofuels, lotions and many other products.
The two men met privately after the meeting. Afterward, Comer said while he would like law enforcement support, he doesn’t think opposition from Kentucky State Police will derail his proposal.
“I wish law enforcement was 100 percent on board, but at the end of the day, my job is to promote agriculture and … to promote rural economic development and this will do it,” he said.
He added he hoped assurances that Kentucky would not attempt to grow the crop without federal approval would help alleviate law enforcement concerns.
“If the federal government never approves it, then we’ll never grow any industrial hemp in Kentucky,” Comer said.
The panel is considering draft legislation for the 2103 session of the General Assembly that would include requiring local sheriffs to monitor hemp fields.
It also approved plans for an economic study that would determine the potential per-acre profit for farmers and the potential for manufacturing jobs. The study would be paid for by the commission without using public money, Comer said.
The hemp commission has received $100,000 in seed money to help pay for its advocacy for the plant.
The commission was created in 2001 to oversee industrial hemp research in Kentucky and make recommendations to the governor. Last month, Comer convened the 18-member panel for the first time in a decade.
Source – www.businessweek.comRead The Whole Story
Until Next Week – Go Out and Help Pollinate The World!