MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:10 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Driving Under the Influence, of Marijuana

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, the police officer is likely to ask you to complete three tasks: Follow a pen with your eyes while the officer moves it back and forth; get out of the car and walk nine steps, heel to toe, turn on one foot and go back; and stand on one leg for 30 seconds.

Score well on all three of these Olympic events, and there’s a very good chance that you are not drunk. This so-called standard field sobriety test has been shown to catch 88 percent of drivers under the influence of alcohol.

But it is nowhere near as good at spotting a stoned driver.

In a 2012 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, only 30 percent of people under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, failed the field test. And its ability to identify a stoned driver seems to depend heavily on whether the driver is accustomed to being stoned.

A 21-year-old on his first bender and a hardened alcoholic will both wobble on one foot. But the same is not necessarily true of a driver who just smoked his first joint and the stoner who is high five days a week. In another study, 50 percent of the less frequent smokers failed the field test.

As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, distinctions like these will grow more and more important. But science’s answers to crucial questions about driving while stoned — how dangerous it is, how to test for impairment, and how the risks compare to driving drunk — have been slow to reach the general public.

“Our goal is to put out the science and have it used for evidence-based drug policy,” said Marilyn A. Huestis, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “But I think it’s a mishmash.”

A 2007 study found that 12 percent of the drivers randomly stopped on American highways on Friday and Saturday nights had been drinking. (In return for taking part in the study, intoxicated drivers were told they would not be arrested, just taken home.)

Six percent of the drivers tested positive for marijuana — a number that is likely to go up with increased availability. Some experts and officials are concerned that the campaign against drunken driving has not gotten through to marijuana smokers.

“We’ve done phone surveys, and we’re hearing that a lot of people think D.U.I. laws don’t apply to marijuana,” said Glenn Davis, highway safety manager at the Department of Transportation in Colorado, where recreational marijuana use became legal on Jan. 1. “And there’s always somebody who says, ‘I drive better while high.’ ”

Evidence suggests that is not the case. But it also suggests that we may not have as much to fear from stoned driving as from drunken driving. Some researchers say that limited resources are better applied to continuing to reduce drunken driving. Stoned driving, they say, is simply less dangerous.

Still, it is clear that marijuana use causes deficits that affect driving ability, Dr. Huestis said. She noted that several researchers, working independently of one another, have come up with the same estimate: a twofold increase in the risk of an accident if there is any measurable amount of THC in the bloodstream.

The estimate is based on review papers that considered the results of many individual studies. The results were often contradictory — some of the papers showed no increase in risk, or even a decrease — but the twofold estimate is widely accepted.

The estimate is low, however, compared with the dangers of drunken driving. A recent study of federal crash data found that 20-year-old drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent — the legal limit for driving — had an almost 20-fold increase in the risk of a fatal accident compared with sober drivers. For older adults, up to age 34, the increase was ninefold.

The study’s lead author, Eduardo Romano, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, said that once he adjusted for demographics and the presence of alcohol, marijuana did not statistically increase the risk of a crash.

“Despite our results, I still think that marijuana contributes to crash risk,” he said, “only that its contribution is not as important as it was expected.”

The difference in risk between marijuana and alcohol can probably be explained by two things, Dr. Huestis and Dr. Romano both say. First, stoned drivers drive differently from drunken ones, and they have different deficits. Drunken drivers tend to drive faster than normal and to overestimate their skills, studies have shown; the opposite is true for stoned drivers.

“The joke with that is Cheech and Chong being arrested for doing 20 on the freeway,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the U.C.L.A. School of Public Affairs.

Dr. Huestis also found that in laboratory studies, most people who were high could pass simple tests of memory, addition and subtraction, though they had to use more brainpower than sober people who passed the same tests. People who were drunk were much more likely to fail.

The deficits of being stoned really began to show up, she said, when people had to handle multiple tasks at once and were confronted with something unexpected.

“It’s typical to see a young adolescent with three or four other kids in the car,” she said of stoned driving. “He’s aware he might be impaired, so he’s driving carefully.

“But then he sees an old man in the middle of the street. All his senses say, ‘This guy is there but will be out of way by the time I get there.’ But then the old man drops his keys and he’s slower than the kid expected. By the time it takes to process a change in the situation, there’s an accident.”

Another factor is location. A lot of drinking is done in bars and clubs, away from home, with patrons driving to get there and then leaving by car. By contrast, marijuana smokers tend to get high at home.

There is a lot of debate about how best to prove that drivers under the influence of THC are too intoxicated to drive. Blood-alcohol content can be reliably tested on the side of the road with a Breathalyzer, and ample data link rising levels of blood alcohol to decreases in driving skills. The same is not true for marijuana.

THC levels must be measured from blood or urine samples, which are typically taken hours after an arrest. Urine tests, which look for a metabolite of THC rather than the drug itself, return a positive result days or weeks after someone has actually smoked. Yet most states have laws that equate any detectable level of THC metabolite in urine with detectable levels of actual THC in blood, and criminalize both. Only six states have set legal limits for THC concentration in the blood. In Colorado and Washington, where recreational use has been legalized, that limit is five nanograms per milliliter of blood, or five parts per billion.

The problem, Dr. Huestis said, was that studies from Europe suggested that this limit was far too high. Ninety percent of impaired-driving cases in Sweden would be missed at that level, she said.

The studies indicated that a better limit would be just one nanogram per milliliter, she said. But because THC builds up in fatty tissue and is released slowly over time, such a limit would ensnare frequent users who may not actually be high. Indeed, if you smoke often enough, your blood-THC content might still be five nanograms per milliliter a day after you last lit up.

All of these facts lead experts like Dr. Romano and Dr. Kleiman to believe that public resources are better spent combating drunken driving. Stoned driving, they say, is best dealt with by discouraging people from mixing marijuana and alcohol — a combination that is even riskier than alcohol alone — and by policies that minimize marijuana’s risk on the road.

For instance, states that legalize recreational marijuana, Dr. Kleiman said, should ban establishments like pot bars that encourage people to smoke away from home. And Dr. Romano said that lowering the legal blood-alcohol concentration, or B.A.C., to 0.05 or even 0.02 percent would reduce risk far more effectively than any effort to curb stoned driving.

“I’m not saying marijuana is safe,” he said. “But to me it’s clear that lowering the B.A.C. should be our top priority. That policy would save more lives.”

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:12 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Poll: Support grows to legalize medical, recreational marijuana in New York

New Yorkers — especially young men — are high on the idea of legalizing marijuana.

State voters favor legalization of medical marijuana by a huge margin — 88% to 9%, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday.

Voters also favor legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by a solid margin of 57% to 39%, the same poll found.

“Medical marijuana is a no-brainer for New York state voters, and they also would follow Colorado in legalizing marijuana for fun,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

While all demographic groups overwhelmingly favor allowing medical marijuana, there is a significant generation and gender gap on legalizing recreational pot.

Voters 18 to 29 years old support legalization by a whopping 83% to 14%, while voters over 65 oppose it, 57% to 38%.

Men are in favor of letting people possess a small quantity of the drug, 63% to 33%, while women support it by a narrower margin of 51% to 44%.

Even though pot’s not legal now, plenty of New Yorkers have lit up, the survey showed. About half of those polled reported trying pot themselves; 46% say they’ve used it; and 51% say they haven’t.

Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 55% say they’ve lit up, while 69% of the over-65 set say they haven’t.

Gov. Cuomo has announced plans to allow limited use of medical marijuana, with only 20 hospitals across the state allowed to prescribe it.

Those facilities would be able to prescribe marijuana to people with cancer, glaucoma or other diseases on a state list, but it would be much harder to get than in states like California.

Some 41% of New York voters said they approve how Cuomo is handling marijuana policy, while 31% disapprove and 28% say they are not sure.

Most voters aren’t buying the argument that pot will lead users to try harder drugs — 52% say it doesn’t lead to other drug use, while 41% say it does.

Asked how marijuana stacks up against alcohol, 45% say they’re equally dangerous. Another 36% say pot is less dangerous and only 13% say it’s more dangerous.

“A narrow majority doubt that legalizing pot will lead to harder drug use. On that favorite debate topic between the pros and antis — which is worse, booze or pot — about half say they’re equal,” Carroll said.

A clear majority of voters — 63% — said they’d be very uncomfortable getting in a car driven by someone who had been smoking pot, and another 19% said they’d be somewhat uncomfortable.

Support for marijuana legalization has been steadily growing in New York and around the country.

A December 2012 Quinnipiac poll found that voters supported legalizing marijuana by a margin of 51% to 44%. And a Siena College survey on medical marijuana from May 2012 found 57% of New Yorkers supported it.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Last edited Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:15 pm | Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:18 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


New details emerge on Colorado marijuana operators raided by feds

Gerardo Uribe is described by business associates as honest and professional, a "gentle soul" who methodically built a medical marijuana empire in Colorado. While he struggled at times to get financing, the 33-year-old Uribe made a point of emphasizing following the rules, aware his Colombian heritage might invite suspicion, one business partner said.

In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors describe Uribe in different terms — as the head of an organization targeted in a long-term investigation into the alleged illegal production and distribution of marijuana, money laundering and other offenses.

On Nov. 21, federal agents executed search warrants on 14 businesses and two homes in the largest raid ever on Colorado's medical marijuana industry, rousting a part-time manager as he got his children ready for school in Nederland and busting down doors in Denver.

Sources told The Denver Post that the raids were chasing possible connections to Colombian drug cartels, although investigators haven't publicly accused any of the businesses of wrongdoing. The raids gutted grow warehouses, cost businesses millions in inventory, and forced owners to close stores and lay off employees, although many of the businesses have since reopened.

The government has identified a dozen people in the ongoing investigation. All but one is connected to a chain of five medical marijuana dispensaries and about a half-dozen marijuana grows controlled by Uribe, his relatives or associates, records show.

Among the Uribes' raided businesses was VIP Cannabis in Denver, thought to be one of the highest volume dispensaries in the state.

The individuals involved include Uribe's father, brother and a cousin; a Denver lawyer who represented the Uribe businesses and became an owner himself; and a Cuban national locked up in a Florida prison who used to work in one of the raided dispensaries and allegedly tried to order a hit on one of the owners, according to court records.

Uribe has not been charged, and his lawyer has said he has done nothing wrong. Only one individual has been arrested so far in connection with the raids — a Colombian national facing a gun charge.

The Post was not able to identify through business records any link between the VIP Cannabis-affiliated individuals and another raid target, Laszlo Bagi. The parties say they are not connected.
ederal authorities have declined to discuss the investigation.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado, "and it is active."

But the weapons charge that grew out of the raids provides new details.

According to a U.S. District Court filing by federal prosecutors:

At 6 a.m. on Nov. 21, Arapahoe County SWAT team members armed with a search warrant entered a $1.3 million home in Englewood and immediately encountered a man with a gun.

Agents believed the people in the home would be armed based on earlier contact with members of the organization and statements Uribe made to law enforcement officers during a traffic contact.

The armed man — Uribe's father, Gerardo Uribe Sr. — held a loaded firearm in one hand and a loaded pistol magazine in the other.

He ignored commands, was wrestled to the ground and cuffed. He requested medical treatment and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Agents from four federal agencies swarmed the five-bedroom, eight-bathroom home, which was described in a real estate listing as being filled with contemporary marble and white carpet touches and boasting a backyard with a grassy knoll, pool, hot tub and pool house.

Eight occupants were put in flexible handcuffs — including Luis Uribe, Gerardo Uribe's younger brother, and Carlos Solano, the Uribes' cousin. Both were identified in a search warrant obtained by The Post as one of 10 "target subjects" in the raids. Both men agreed to be interviewed by investigators at the home.

At the raided home, authorities seized five assault rifles, one shotgun, five handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. There was no mention of how the guns were acquired, although a lawyer for the Uribes' businesses said they were purchased legally.

One of the home's occupants was 49-year-old Hector Diaz, who had caught investigators' attention because of an e-mail they obtained depicting a photo of Diaz holding two semi-automatic weapons and wearing a Drug Enforcement Administration cap.

The court filing said evidence suggests Diaz may be a shadow investor who has provided funding from Colombia to help buy at least one large warehouse in Denver for growing marijuana.

Diaz, however, told investigators he had recently wired $422,000 from Colombia to a Colorado bank account to purchase a warehouse for a metal structuring business to manufacture concertina wire, or coiled barbed wire. Diaz told authorities he owned a stake in the business, formed in July, along with Gerardo Uribe Sr. and Gerardo Uribe Jr.

Agents have not found information to back up Diaz's claim that he is in the barbed-wire business, according to the court filing.

Diaz was charged with a single count of possessing a firearm after having been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Gerardo Uribe Jr. and his lawyer have declined interview requests.

In brief comments standing at the entrance of VIP Cannabis, Uribe said he believed a large bank deposit triggered the raids.

"A gentle soul"

David Furtado describes himself as a "people's attorney" who keeps his fees low, began representing the Uribes in their business dealings, bought stakes in a dispensary and a grow, and now wants out after being identified as one of the targets of November's raids.

"Can you imagine my embarrassment?" said Furtado, 48. "Can you imagine my shame? I don't want to be defending myself. I just want to get rid of these things. If it means I need to stand on my head and spit nickels, I'll do it."

Furtado said Gerardo Uribe Jr. came to the United States from Colombia when he was 19, worked in real estate in Florida and moved to Colorado, where he worked in sales.

The lawyer dismissed suggestions of any possible links to Colombian drug cartels.

"Gerardo is a gentle soul," Furtado said. "If people knew Gerardo Uribe, they would know he is not Colombian cartel. He is honest. He tries to do the right things."

When Uribe has been sued over a debt, it was sometimes "because he overestimated his ability to earn money," Furtado said.

Furtado also has been the target of lawsuits.

In 2011, a Douglas County woman who said Furtado set up a marijuana growing operation in her garage sued Furtado, Gerardo Uribe, Solano and others, alleging she was misled.

Furtado acknowledged setting up the grow even though it was against Douglas County rules but denied misleading the woman, Roddess Ekberg. Furtado eventually was awarded more than $600,000 after Ekberg failed to respond to his counter claims, records show.

Ekberg also was a grower for a dispensary called Daddy Fat Sacks. In 2011, dispensary owner and president Larry DeVillier notified Denver city officials he was closing the business and was no longer affiliated with Furtado, who had an ownership stake in the dispensary.

DeVillier wrote that Furtado "is unethical and I have reason to believe that his practices in the marijuana business are illegal."

Furtado denied the allegations and said Ekberg was dishonest and unreliable. Ekberg could not be reached for comment.

Furtado said VIP Cannabis' flagship store at South Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue brought in about $9 million in 2013 before the raid.

VIP reopened in December, restocked with marijuana it legally purchased from other businesses, and Furtado said at least one VIP grow operation is up and running again.

Furtado questioned why the government could not audit the businesses or investigate further instead of hitting them in the raids.

"It could have been handled differently," he said. "It could have been done more professionally. I think what people forget is, this affects people's lives, their families."

The Uribes acquired an interest in another marijuana business — a grow in north Denver operated under the name Elizabeth's End — in August 2012. By November of that year, the brothers, through Gerardo and a business they own called Herbology, owned 85 percent of the grow, plus 94 percent of a connected dispensary.

Their new share came from Jared Bringhurst, who was the businesses' previous majority owner, according to a lawsuit Bringhurst and the two remaining minority owners — Anthony Nuccio and Jesse Benitez — are pursuing against the Uribes and their associate Felix Perez. Bringhurst, Nuccio and Benitez all say the Uribes and Perez owe them money.

The lawsuit also previously alleged that the Uribes and Perez were suspected of hiding profits and product from their marijuana businesses and selling marijuana out of state, which they denied. Bringhurst, Nuccio and Benitez subsequently removed that allegation from the lawsuit, at the request of Furtado, according to a motion.

Although Bringhurst has said he now holds no interest in any of the businesses, he was still named as a target in the raid search warrant, as was Perez. Benitez and Nuccio were not named. The lawsuit is set to go to trial in September.

Late last month, Bringhurst filed a motion for a protective order against Perez, alleging that Perez had been harassing and threatening him. Bringhurst wrote that Perez repeatedly asked to be dropped from the suit. A judge approved the protection order last week, according to court documents.

Another possible dispute

Court records from Florida — where a raid target named Juan Guardarrama currently sits in state prison — hint at another possible business dispute involving Gerardo Uribe.

Guardarrama, 50, was convicted of working in the Miami area with Colombian and Cuban gangs to sell diamonds taken during violent robberies. But he also split his time in Denver, where he lived in a luxury apartment in the city's Golden Triangle neighborhood, according to court records.

According to a report in The Miami Herald, Guardarrama asked undercover investigators if they would help him smuggle 20 pounds of marijuana a month from Colorado to be distributed in Florida.

Guardarrama — whom authorities said used the street name "Tony Montana," after the character from the film "Scarface" — also asked to have two people murdered, according to charging documents. One was a man named Lino Alvarado. The other was Gerardo Uribe.

Both the marijuana-trafficking charge and the murder-solicitation charge were dropped as part of Guardarrama's plea deal.

Another November raid target, John Frank Esmeral, is identified in city records as a co-owner with Luis Uribe of a dispensary in northwest Denver and an affiliated grow near Coors Field. Both shuttered after being raided, said Esmeral's attorney, Rob Corry.

"He and I have no idea why the federal government decided to essentially dismantle his business," Corry said. "It was perfectly legal under state and local law, operating with all the appropriate licensure. If the Department of Justice's goal was to strike fear in our industry, mission accomplished."

Grateful Meds in Nederland, another raid target, also faces an uncertain future.

The once-thriving business was out of product and money when Gerardo Uribe and Furtado bought it for a song in 2012, said Mark Rose, one of Grateful Meds' original owners.

Rose said he had a hard time getting paid his share and had to drive to the main VIP Cannabis store in Denver to collect.

"I wasn't really happy with the way they did business," Rose said.

Furtado was "a hothead," Rose said. "He was boisterous. He was a big bully. He was all about trying to intimidate you from the start."

After the VIP group took over Grateful Meds, it remodeled the inside to match its other locations and brought in Joseph Taveras, a 50-year-old Dominican-American businessman from Miami, as manager.

Taveras — also identified as a target in the raid — said in an interview he has seen nothing questionable and suspects Gerardo Uribe is being unfairly targeted because he is Colombian. Uribe has struggled to get financing, which would not be the case if he were involved with cartels and money laundering, Taveras said.

"Gerardo, he is the one who cares more about everything," he said. "He knows because of the stigma, of being Colombian, that his people may be targeted. He all the time talked about doing the right things."

Another business associate, Olga Skuratovich, described Gerardo Uribe as intelligent, honest and well-versed in rules and regulations. Skuratovich is an owner of Metro Cannabis, a Denver dispensary that was to lease grow space from the Uribes at a planned greenhouse in Pueblo County that has been put on hold.

"I am not sure the government was being very fair," she said. "I am in this industry, too, and I can see how anyone can be picked on. I am Russian. Gerardo is Colombian. I think that's part of it, a stigma that is attached. No one will ever say it, but it's out there."

Furtado, the attorney, said agents carrying out the Nov. 21 raids left a message for the business owners.

One of the grow warehouse walls is adorned with the VIP Cannabis logo — a cloud of smoke wearing black sunglasses and a grin.

Over the cloud, Furtado said, someone had drawn a picture of a sun with rays coming down from it, and the initials, "D.E.A."

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:20 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


The Feds' Scary Reassurances To Banks That Deal With State-Licensed Marijuana Businesses

On Friday the Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued guidelines for banks that do business with state-licensed marijuana suppliers. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the aim of the memos is to reassure financial institutions that are leery of accepting cannabusinesses as customers because they worry it will attract unwanted attention from federal regulators and prosecutors. But as with the August 29 memo in which Deputy Attorey General James Cole said that prosecuting properly regulated marijuana growers and sellers would not be a high priority, there are no guarantees, and that fact is likely to deter traditionally cautious banks more than plucky cannabis entrepreneurs.

The Treasury memo, issued by the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), says the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requires financial institutions to file “suspicious activity reports” (SARs) for all marijuana businesses. But FinCEN draws a distinction between marijuana businesses that violate state law or implicate one of the Justice Department’s “enforcement priorities” and marijuana businesses that do neither. The former merit “marijuana priority” reports, while the latter fall into a newly invented “marijuana limited” category. According to the memo, this distinction “aligns the information provided by financial institutions in BSA reports with federal and state law enforcement priorities.”

What are those priorities? Cole’s August 29 memo lists eight: 1) “preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors,” 2) “preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states,” 3) “preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use,” 4) “preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands,” 5) “preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property,” 6) “preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises,” 7) “preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana,” and 8) “preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs.” At the end of the memo, Cole adds that the feds might also intervene for other, unspecified reasons.

The FinCEN memo lists “red flags” that suggest a marijuana business deserves special scrutiny, including “international or interstate activity,” an inability to “demonstrate the legitimate source of significant outside investments,” signs that the business is “using a state-licensed marijuana-related business as a front or pretext to launder money derived from other criminal activity,” and “negative information, such as a criminal record, involvement in the illegal purchase or sale of drugs, violence, or other potential connections to illicit activity.” Such red flags are supposed to inform banks’ decisions about which customers to reject or drop as well as which sort of SAR to file. FinCEN warns that the red flags it mentions “do not constitute an exhaustive list.” Although FinCEN says its advice “should enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses,” it never actually says banks that follow the guidelines need not worry about getting into trouble with regulators.

The Justice Department memo that Cole released on Friday, which like his August 29 memo is addressed to U.S. attorneys, has a similar limitation. He notes that the earlier memo “did not specifically address what, if any, impact it would have on certain financial crimes for which marijuana-related conduct is a predicate,” such as money laundering or failure to file SARs. The new memo clarifies that prosecution decisions related to those crimes “should be subject to the same consideration and prioritization” as prosecution decisions related to marijuana trafficking. Again, the feds are not making any promises. Here is the closest Cole comes: “If a financial institution or individual offers services to a marijuana-related business whose activities do not implicate any of the eight priority factors, prosecution for these offenses may not be appropriate.” Then again, it may! Like Cole’s August 29 memo, this one closes with a caveat that is not exactly reassuring: “Nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution otherwise serves an important federal interest.”

This weak tea may be pretty much the best that the Obama administration can do under current law, which is why bankers are calling for congressional action to address the tax, regulatory, and public safety issues raised by forcing marijuana suppliers to deal exclusively in cash. In a press release issued on Friday, Don Childears, president of the Colorado Bankers Association (CBA), does not sound grateful for the new guidance:

After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one. This isn’t close to that. At best, this amounts to “serve these customers at your own risk,” and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red.

The CBA complains that the guidance from FinCEN and the Justice Department “reiterates reasons for prosecution and is simply a modified reporting system for banks to use,” a system that “imposes a heavy burden on them to know and control their customers’ activities, and those of their [customers'] customers.” The CBA says “no bank can comply” with those expectations. Childears concludes that “an act of Congress is the only way to solve this problem.” The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, introduced last summer by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.), would protect banks that deal with state-legal marijuana businesses from criminal investigation or prosecution and from regulatory repercussions, including loss of federal deposit insurance.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:28 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


(TX) Kinky Friedman Agriculture Commissioner campaign rooted in marijuana legalization

Kinky Friedman, Texas humorist, singer-songwriter and sometime candidate for Texas Governor, is on a statewide 32-stop campaign tour for Agriculture Commissioner with his platform firmly rooted in the Lone Star State legalization of marijuana.

"I want to make this election into a referendum on lifting the prohibition on pot and hemp," he told KHOU 11 News at a meet-and-greet campaign event at the Midtown Bar and Grill in Houston.

"People are understanding that this isn't about long-haired hippies smoking dope. This is about the future of Texas."

Friedman supports decriminalization of marijuana as a proposed means of unclogging the court system with non-violent offenders and reducing cartel violence, legalizing medicinal marijuana in Texas, and he actively promotes the cultivation of hemp as a "more productive and less water reliant fiber alternative to cotton."

"It's not a left or right," he said of the debate that led to voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington State. "The question is...is it good for Texas? And the answer is yes."

Attempts by state legislators to lessen marijuana possession penalties and to allow medical marijuana use have repeatedly failed to make it to the floor for a vote in Austin.

"I think particularly after hearing him today I think he's a serious candidate. He has serious ideas," said Houston-area retiree Arthur Forman who attended Friedman's campaign event. "And I think he's thinking beyond the cannabis issue, which I think is a side issue, although he's right

"I've done a variety of marijuana cases," said Houston attorney Reshard Alexander. "And it's something that definitely should be legalized at this point.
There's no doubt about it."

But the long-time friend of music legend and marijuana enthusiast Willie Nelson says he is not an avid user of pot. He jokes he's a second-hand recipient but that his primary reason is to keep Texas out in front of what he believes will be a nationwide trend.

"I am not a pot smoker. No absolutely not. And I do smoke with Willie just because it's kind of Texas etiquette," he joked. "You almost have to do it."

"And don't let Bill O'Reilly or Nancy Grace tell you this is a gateway drug. Everybody knows the gateway drug of Texas is beer!"

Early voting begins February 18 for the March 4 primary. Friedman, who usually runs as an Independent, is facing Hugh Fitzsimons of San Antonio and

Jim Hogan of Cleburn for the Democratic nomination. Republican primary opponents include J. Allen Carnes of Uvalde, Sid Miller of Stephenville, Eric Opiela of Karnes City, Joe Cotten of Dallas and Tommy Merritt of Longview.

"I think that conservative people understand the Libertarian view and the Libertarian view here is clear - which is we like freedom. And I want the state to keep its hands out of the womb, its eyeballs out of the bedroom and its paws off our guns."

Now he's asking voters to include marijuana in that same Texas Libertarian mindset.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/18/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:30 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


HIV Infections Cured With Cannabis a Real Possibility

Researchers are looking into the use of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, to help stop the spread of HIV infection. Hundreds of marijuana researchers have reported that THC was able to pierce the RIV virus in monkeys. That particular virus is almost identical to the HIV virus found in humans, so this news is very encouraging. The greatest drawbacks to this excellent news are the current laws preventing testing on human candidates. With the changing of these restrictive laws, HIV infections have a great chance of being cured, with cannabis as a real possible player in the race to stop the disease.

Laws in the United States consider marijuana a schedule I drug because of its adverse effects on some users and its potential for addiction. The researchers at the International Cannabinoid Research Conference are feverishly unearthing all the information they can find in order to track down any useful ingredients that may aid in the efforts to stop HIV infections all together. It is an uphill battle for researchers to get medical cannabis into trials for human testing due to the laws set by the current administration. Proving the effectiveness of the cure is virtually impossible without the ability to do actual testing on humans. Although the RIV virus in monkeys is similar to the HIV virus in humans, those tests are just not enough to make any measurable progress without the laws being changed to allow the human component.

At Louisiana state University, Dr. Patricia Molina and her team of researchers tested high concentrations of THC on young RIV positive male rhesus monkeys for 17 months. The results were astounding to say the least. The test consisted of administering the THC twice a day to the monkeys, then comparing the data from before and after the component was administered. A dramatic decrease in the damage to stomach tissue was also bolstered by the increased population of normal cells in the same area as the infected stomach tissues. CB2 receptors that are targeted by the THC, are able to build healthy new bacterial cells in the intestines that prohibit the virus from leaking through the cell walls. This is marvelous news for the researchers and it would be an even greater benefit to the public if HIV infections could be cured with cannabis, making the very real possibilities for it’s beneficial use endless. hiv

Marijuana has already been proven to alleviate symptoms found in many chronic illnesses. It has shown amazing results in its ability to control, and in some cases stop almost completely, certain types of seizures in both children and adults. The cannibinoid CBD is the component in marijuana that has been found to calm the seizures. It is of course not smoked by children, although some adult seizure sufferers do choose to inhale the plant or “hash” form of the drug. The CBD is usually administered in oil or pill form to children who suffer from seizures. The results have been astounding to say the least. It has allowed many sufferers, both adults and children alike, to enjoy a more normal and happy existence without the threat of continual debilitating seizures.

Although it is still somewhat difficult for parents to obtain CBD for their children who are plagued with intense seizuring, more and more marijuana growers are offering the life changing compound to those in need, as many doctors will still not give prescriptions for the drug in spite of its proven effectiveness. Overall, great strides are being made in the fight to legalize this popular drug for both medicinal and recreational use. Hopefully this will lead to softening research laws which in turn will make it possible for HIV infections to be cured with cannabis a real possibility.

Commentary By Mai Nowlin


IBT Times



BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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