Monday, October 31, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
The experts have proposed that marijuana would be imported or grown locally by registered firms licensed for such activity, which is currently illegal.
The group also proposed Monday that all patients using marijuana would be registered.
The draft of the new marijuana bill will be completed in December. If approved by the government and parliament, the law could become effective by the middle of next year.
Some 8,000 Czechs have signed an Internet petition supporting the move, arguing that such marijuana use is legal in a number of European countries and the United States.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Oh by the way... "The US Government has a patent on cannabis."
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Harborside Health Center, one of the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensaries and considered a model for the industry, is on the hook for $2.5 million in taxes from 2007 and 2008. That is $2 million more than the Oakland, Calif.-based company paid for those tax years.
“I see only two outcomes here,” said Steve DeAngelo, director and chief executive of Harborside. “Either this IRS assessment has to change or we go out of business. There really isn’t a middle ground for us.”
DeAngelo says the ruling will likely be appealed. He has 90 days to respond to the ruling.
The IRS ruling is based on an obscure portion of the tax code -- section 280E -- passed into law by Congress in 1982, at the height of Reagan administration’s “war on drugs.” The law, originally targeted at drug kingpins and cartels, bans any tax deductions related to "trafficking in controlled substances."
Although 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing medical use of marijuana, the federal government still considers it a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category with the harshest penalties.
The Internal Revenue Service refused to comment on the specific case, but letters sent from Andrew Keyso, IRS deputy associate chief counsel, to some members of Congress spell out the official position:
“Section 280E of the Code disallows deductions incurred in the trade or business of trafficking in controlled substances that federal law or the law of any state in which the taxpayer conducts the business prohibits. For this purpose, the term “controlled substances” has the meaning provided in the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana falls within the Controlled Substances Act.”
The news has spread rapidly through the cannabis community and is likely to have a chilling effect on businesses.
“We are all a bit nervous and frustrated,” said Ken Estes, owner of Patient To Patient Group Collective in San Jose, Calif. “We have tried to comply with every city, state and federal law. We ask for input from all the agencies. But we are still being punished for operating a legitimate business.”
Harborside, which celebrated its fifth anniversary Monday, serves 94,000 patients with 84 full-time employees and brings in about $22 million in annual revenue. According to DeAngelo, the center, set up as a not-for-profit business, pays about $1.1 million in taxes to the city of Oakland, $2 million to the state of California and $500,000 to the federal government.
“We have no complaint about the taxes we pay," DeAngelo said. "We are doing our part. All we ask is that we be treated like any other business enterprise. To treat us like criminals makes is simply wrong. Drug kingpins and cartels don’t file taxes. We do. But no business, including ours, can survive if it is taxed on its gross revenue. The IRS is trying to tax us out of existence.”
Keith Stroup, legal counsel and founder of NORML, the nation’s largest marijuana advocacy group, says the IRS ruling is likely to stifle the quasi-legal industry and force people back onto the black market.
“You know, Al Capone was taken down by the IRS, not by the FBI or the police. And I can assure you that Steve DeAngelo is no Al Capone,” Stroup said.
Stroup believes the move also could make it more difficult for the medical marijuana industry to capture significant capital investment. Medical marijuana is now a $1.7 billion market, according to a report released this year by See Change Strategy, an independent financial analysis firm that specializes in new and unique markets. The figure represents estimated sales of marijuana through dispensaries in states with medical marijuana laws.
Although the IRS declined comment, Stoup says NORML has received e-mails from other dispensaries that are currently being audited and will likely receive similar rulings. “Harborside is one of the biggest, so that is why the IRS targeted them first,” Stroup said. “But there are other dispensaries that will suffer the same fate unless Congress acts.”
Some members of Congress have taken up the cause.
Reps. Pete Stark, D-Calif., Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., have introduced legislation to ensure the medical marijuana industry is treated like any other business.
Two Republican presidential candidates — Ron Paul and Gary Johnson — also support the legislation.
Stark’s bill, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, authorizes medical marijuana dispensaries to take the full range of business expense deductions.
“You’d think that a time of record budget deficits that the IRS would be happy that a legal business is doing the right thing and paying its taxes," Polis said. "Instead, the IRS seems intent on destroying a successful and legal business that creates jobs and strengthens our economy."
The confused legal situation is “an un-American loop of nonsense,” says Jerome Handley, a tax attorney in Oakland who has more than 100 clients in the medical marijuana industry. “My advice to my clients is simple: Document everything … and stay out of the spotlight.”
William Panzer, an Oakland tax attorney who helped author California’s medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, also successfully fought the IRS in a similar case in 2007.
In that case, U.S. Tax Court Judge David Laro declared that Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems (CHAMP), a medical marijuana provider, could deduct the majority of employee costs as caregiving expenses. The IRS sought $426,000 in back taxes and penalties, but CHAMP ended up paying a tax assessment of less than $5,000.
“This law is not about protecting citizens from criminals. It is a concerted effort by the federal government to crack down on a legitimate business,” Panzer said.
DeAngelo points out the apparent craziness of the law. “The IRS allows me to deduct my cost of purchasing cannabis, which is the controlled substance they say is illegal. But I can’t deduct my payroll or my rent? That, clearly, defies logic and common sense.
"Besides," DeAngelo added, "have you ever heard of a drug trafficker that actually files a tax return? Me neither."
Monday, October 3, 2011
In 1978, the federal government was forced to allow some patients access to medical marijuana after a “medical necessity” defense was recognized in court, creating the Investigational New Drug (IND) compassionate access program.
Medical marijuana by states
Thirteen states have medical marijuana research laws, and only fifteen states have never had a positive medical marijuana law.
Since 1996, fifteen states have enacted laws that allow the cultivation of medical marijuana and protect patients who possess medical marijuana (with their doctors’ recommendations or certifications) from criminal penalties: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Ten of the thirteen did so through the initiative process. Hawaii’s law was enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2000; Vermont’s was enacted by the legislature and passed into law without the governor’s signature in 2004; Rhode Island’s was passed into law over the governor’s veto in 2006; New Mexico’s legislation was signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson in 2007; and on January 18, 2010, Governor Jon Corzine signed New Jersey’s bill into law. In mid-December 2009, the United States Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill that removed restrictions on the implementation of a marijuana initiative passed by District of Columbia voters in 1998; President Obama subsequently signed this bill into law on December 13, 2009.
Article about states have medical marijuana legalized.
Public Support for Medical Marijuana Legalization
Medical marijuana is one of the most widely supported issues in drug policy reform.
According to a 1999 Gallup poll, 73% of Americans are in favor of “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering.”
Assuming that those who use cannabis daily are medical users, the application of these percentages to comparable 2010 U.S. Census categories for those age 18 to 55 would calculate estimated 5 million medical marijuana patients in the U.S.
“According to a survey of 400 physicians, both general practitioners and specialists in the Netherlands, which was performed just before the legal introduction of medicinal cannabis, only 6% said that they were under no condition willing to prescribe medicinal cannabis, while 60% to 70% regarded medicinal cannabis sufficiently socially accepted and would prescribe it if asked for by a patient.”
Medical Marijuana and health
According to the recent experiment on influence of cannabis, marijuana proved to be effective as a therapy for nausea (93%) and vomiting (75%), and as an appetite stimulant (95%).
These results were also shown by many other medical researches, such as The Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report that stated “The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation.”
Cannabinoids likely have a natural role in pain modulation, control of movement, and memory.
Arguments about marijuana being the gateway drug
The Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report explained that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway drug in the past because “Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana, usually before they are of legal age.”
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Chafee, who had earlier vowed support for the measure, said he decided the state's planned dispensaries could violate superseding federal law and become a target of federal law enforcement efforts.
"Federal injunctions, seizures, forfeitures, arrests and prosecutions will only hurt the patients and caregivers that our law was designed to protect," the governor said in the statement late Thursday.
Before his reversal, Chafee had hoped to implement a 2009 law passed by Rhode Island's General Assembly allowing marijuana distribution through three state-run, so-called "compassion centers."
The measure authorized growing and selling [medical] marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses, such as cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma.
Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow for medical marijuana use.
One of them is Montana, where in March federal agents raided state-sanctioned medical marijuana greenhouses and dispensaries in several cities, prompting an outcry from legalized pot suppliers. The busts, the first since Montana legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2004, appeared to mark a reversal of federal policy set in 2009 that tolerated state-approved dispensaries.
Threatening a similar crackdown in Rhode Island, both the U.S. Department of Justice and Rhode Island's U.S. Attorney, Peter Neronha, this year said commercial operations such as the state-run dispensaries would be potential targets of "vigorous" criminal and civil enforcement efforts by the federal government.
Dropping the dispensary plan means that patients in Rhode Island will have to continue to grow their own marijuana, buy the drug illegally from "street" dealers, or acquire it from over 2,500 licensed caregivers in the state. Many have said they would prefer to use dispensaries for a convenient, safe, regulated option for quality marijuana.
Medical marijuana advocates decried Chafee's decision.
"We are shocked, outraged and really hurt all at the same time," JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of Providence-based Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, told Reuters.
Keith Stroup, legal counsel with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana smoker's lobby, said his group was disappointed with Chafee's action.
"He's using the threat of federal enforcement somehow coming into the state as a justification to refuse to implement the medical marijuana dispensary provisions that previously have been approved," he said.
But long-time opponents including state Representative Doreen Costa cheered the plan's demise.
"I am very happy that he did that," said Costa, a Republican, who said some of her constituents did not want a dispensary in their district.
"Mainly the concern was, in the state of Rhode Island, marijuana is illegal, period. So if he wanted to open up the compassion centers, people would go buy the marijuana and I know they would be selling it on the street," Costa said.