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Tag: marijuana

FBI Investigating Corruption in Blooming Marijuana Industry in California And Nevada

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI warned in August that the blooming marijuana industry was a “public corruption threat” because of the money and power involved.

Now the bureau is investigating whether public officials in California accepted bribes from Sacramento-area marijuana businesses who wanted favorable treatment, including licenses to open dispensaries, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Sacramento officials recently called for an investigation into the cannabis dispensary licensing process following the decision to grant eight dispensary permits to a group linked to a Ukrainian-born businessman indicted last for alleged violations of federal campaign finance laws.

In Nevada, the governor also has called for an investigation into potential corruption in the legal marijuana industry.

Details of the investigations were murky, and the FBI declined to provide divulge details.
In a podcast in August, the FBI warned about the threat of public corruption in the marijuana industry and urged listeners to call their local bureau field offices if they suspect public corruption

DEA to Join Fight Against Illicit THC Cartridges Behind Lung Illness Outbreak

Counterfeit cannabis cartridges, via the New York State Department of Health.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Food and Drug Administration is asking the DEA to help with the ongoing investigation into a lung illness outbreak linked to vaping.

The FDA wants the DEA to help crack down on the supply side of the crisis because health experts have linked the illnesses to black market cannabis vape cartridges.

Health experts are increasingly focusing on illicit cannabis cartridges that are cut with vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent that resembles marijuana oil.

“To be clear, if we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated products that caused illness or death for personal profit, we would consider that a criminal act,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless testified before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday.

Last week, the FDA launched a criminal investigation focused on the black market makers of the cartridges.

In the past month, law enforcement has busted at least two major distributors of counterfeit, black market cannabis cartridges.

More than 53o people have been sickened by the mysterious lung illness, and at least nine people have died. In a vast majority of the cases, the patients vaped black market cannabis cartridges.

DEA Gets Serious about Studying Marijuana for Its Medical Values While Crack Down on Opioids

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The DEA is proposing to increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally grown for research by 30% in 2020, a promising sign for cannabis advocates who have long insisted the plant has healing properties.

Under the plans unveiled Wednesday, the DEA has called for 3.2 million grams of cannabis to be manufactured for scientific studies to determine the medical value of marijuana

“This will meet the need created by the increase in the amount of approved research involving marijuana,” DEA said in a press release. “Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.”

The DEA also is proposing to reduce the amount of Schedule II opioids that can be manufactured in the U.S. next year. The DEA wants to reduce the amount by 31 percent, hydrocodone by 19 percent, hydromorphone by 25 percent, oxycodone by nine percent and oxymorphone by 55 percent.

“The aggregate production quota set by DEA each calendar year ensures that patients have the medicines they need while also reducing excess production of controlled prescription drugs that can be diverted and misused,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a statement. “DEA takes seriously its obligations to both protect the public from illicit drug trafficking and ensure adequate supplies to meet the legitimate needs of patients and researchers for these substances.”

For decades, marijuana has been illegal because it was listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means researchers believe it has no medical value. More substantial research could change that.

Numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, despite a federal law making it illegal.

DEA Inches Closer to Opening Up More Marijuana Research

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s hesitance to allow for more serious research into marijuana may finally be coming to an end.

The agency announced this week that it’s going to enable more researchers to grow cannabis for studies. For decades, the only entity allowed to research marijuana was the University of Mississippi.

The move could make it easier to legalize marijuana – a step that many states have taken over the past five years.

Marijuana has been illegal on the federal level because it has been labeled a schedule 1 drug, which means it has no medicinal value.

“The main thing that it will likely do is precipitate broader changes in federal policy in marijuana, which will have immense knock-on effects for the industry,” said David Abernathy, vice president of government affairs at the Arcview Group, which markets marijuana research, CNN reports.

FBI Warns about Public Corruption in Blossoming Marijuana Industry

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Legal marijuana has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that continues to grow by the day as more states allow for the sale of recreational and medical pot.

And everyone knows corruption follows money.

So it’s no surprise the FBI is getting more involved in the industry.

“As an increasing number of states change their marijuana legislation, the FBI is seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry,” FBI spokeswoman Mollie Halpern said on a recent podcast released by the FBI.

“States require licenses to grow and sell the drug, opening the possibility for public officials to become susceptible to bribes in exchange for those licenses.”

Halpern urged listeners to call their local FBI field offices if they suspect public corruption.

FBI scrutiny “actually can be a good thing,” California cannabis attorney Henry Wykowski, a former federal prosecutor, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“I think some people are taking advantage of the industry, and we’re entitled to the same protection other industries receive.”

Senate Confirms John Demers to Head DOJ’s National Security Division

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Thursday confirmed John Demers to head the Justice Department’s national security division after a Republican senator lifted a hold on his confirmation over a dispute on marijuana.

Demers, an attorney for Boeing and former member of the Justice Department’s national security division team, is set to become assistant attorney general for national security.

“John Demers was on the leadership team at the creation of the National Security Division, which today plays a crucial role in protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

“I am grateful to the Senate for confirming John and I look forward to his return to the department, where his significant experience in both the private sector and public service will most certainly benefit the American people.”

The confirmation was made possible after Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado lifted a hold on the nomination over a dispute with Sessions’ zealous crackdown on marijuana, even in states that legalized pot.

“I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith,” Gardner said in a statement. “My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

Other Stories of Interest

Sessions Lashes Out at GOP Senator Over Marijuana Policy Dispute

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” lashed out at a senator from Colorado over a controversial pot policy.

“Too often, we’ve seen bad judgements, even politics enter into the work that we do,” Sessions said in a speech at a National Sheriffs’ Association meeting, according to Forbes. “We’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice.  It’s just getting to be frustrating, I’ve gotta tell you. Our nominee to the National Security Division — the anti-terrorism division — was approved unanimously in the committee. But because right now one senator’s concerns over unrelated issues — like reversing federal law against marijuana — we can’t even get a vote.”

Sessions was referring to Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican who has prevented the attorney general’s Justice Department nominees from being confirmed as part of a protest over Sessions’ decision to revoke an Obama-era policy that encouraged federal prosecutors to respect state laws on marijuana. Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level because the government stopped funding research to determine whether cannabis has medicinal benefits. 

Gardner said he voted to confirm Sessions’ nomination as attorney general because the former senator pledged not to make marijuana a major issue for the Justice Department.

“I have not changed my decision to hold these nominations until we have a commitment that lives up to what I believe was given to me prior to the confirmation,” Gardner said.

Other Stories of Interest

Ganja or Guns? Sessions’ Crusade Against Marijuana Imperils Firearm Ownership

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zealous opposition to marijuana has placed the gun-loving Trump administration in the crosshairs of many firearm supporters. 

When Sessions gave federal prosecutors the green light two weeks ago to crack down on marijuana in states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreation use, he placed gun owners in a serious bind: Federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone suspected of using cannabis or any other other controlled substance.

Although marijuana is illegal on the federal level, 29 states have legalized cannabis in some form.

Under President Obama, U.S. attorneys acted in accordance with each state’s marijuana laws, largely disregarding the federal ban.

But Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” has opened the door for federal law enforcement to bar marijuana users from buying guns.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” ATF spokeswoman Cherie R. Duvall-Jones told the Philadelphia Inquirer

That means many pot smokers may have to choose between ganja or guns.

In Pennsylvania, which plans to roll out its medicinal marijuana program early this year, health officials announced Friday they will no longer provide the names of medical marijuana patients to law enforcement agencies.

The state also called for the federal government to reclassify marijuana so it’s legal on the national level. 

“Pennsylvania, and the other 28 states where medical marijuana is legal, need the federal government to recognize what voters and bipartisan legislatures across the nation have overwhelmingly called for, and that is that medical marijuana must be rescheduled as a Schedule II medication,” the Health Department statement read.