NEWS: Treasury Secretary implies support for allowing marijuana businesses to use banking; Attorney General Sessions again ties opioid overdoses to cultural shift on marijuana; MIDWEST: POLITICO piece on Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia pro-medical marijuana Democrats; RANT: KGW News suggestions of limiting butane sales won’t stop BHO blasting, but allowing processors to serve public might.
Three congressmen from states with legal marijuana businesses asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the issue of legal marijuana businesses’ access to traditional banking, which has been thwarted by cannabis’ federal Schedule I status. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) warned Mnuchin that removing Obama-era guidance on FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) would be a bonanza for armed robbers, since it would leave these businesses operating with “bags of cash,” leading Mnuchin to respond [MNUCHIN CLIP “Bags of Cash”] Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) wanted a better explanation of what “we don’t want bags of cash” really meant, which elicited this commitment from Mnuchin. [MNUCHIN CLIP “FinCEN Guidance”]
A powerful Republican-controlled congressional panel has blocked yet another marijuana amendment from being considered on the House floor. The measure, sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), would have prevented the Department of Justice from spending money to prosecute people who are in compliance with state marijuana policies. The congressman and cannabis law reform supporters want to attach the amendment to a must-pass spending bill to avoid a government shutdown this week. But the Rules Committee voted eight to three along party lines to block the measure from being considered by the full House, with one Democrat, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, voting present. Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) is a notorious opponent of liberalizing marijuana laws. Last month when an identical amendment was considered, Sessions said [PETE SESSIONS CLIP]
The city of San Francisco will retroactively apply the state’s new marijuana legalization law to past cases, a move that will wipe thousands of criminal convictions off the books, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced the move Wednesday and said that thousands of misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades will be expunged or reduced. The decision will affect thousands of city residents whose convictions hurt their chances for employment or obtaining some government benefits. Other cities across the state are pursuing similar measures, including Oakland, where Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D) has introduced a bill into the state assembly to “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction.”
U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams told a large gathering that included Gov. Kate Brown, law enforcement officials and representatives of the cannabis industry that Oregon has an “identifiable and formidable overproduction and diversion problem.” “That is the fact,” he told the crowd at the U.S. District courthouse. “And my responsibility is to work with our state partners to do something about it.” Added Williams: “Make no mistake. We are going to do something about it but that requires an effort to do this together. It requires transparency. The facts are what they are. The numbers are what they are.” Williams didn’t detail how his office will carry out a new federal directive stripping legal protections for marijuana businesses. He said his office needs more information so it can accurately assess the scope of the problem and come up with a response. Williams didn’t say what data he’s looking for, but he previously he has said he wants more information from the state about black market trafficking.
On February 1, 2018, Maine became the first jurisdiction in the nation to protect workers from adverse employment action based on their use of marijuana and marijuana products, provided the use occurs away from the workplace. In preparation for this change, the Maine Department of Labor has removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which an employer may test in its “model” applicant drug-testing policy. Although wrangling between the state legislature and Governor Paul LePage has delayed the retail sale of marijuana, the remaining provisions of Maine’s “Question 1 – An Act to Legalize Marijuana” (“the Act”), are slated to move forward despite fears doing so will hurt business in the state. The law does not affect compliance with federally mandated testing for marijuana, such as testing under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations of certain commercial motor vehicle drivers or related prohibitions on marijuana use. It remains to be seen whether the non-discrimination provisions contained in the law will be enforced by the courts, especially given the conflict between federal and state law.