Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pro-Pot Former Judge Clinches Democratic Nom for Oregon's AG Post, Defeats Drug Warrior

Ellen Rosenblum, a former judge who campaigned on a pro-marijuana platform, defeated an outspoken anti-pot former U.S. attorney for the Democratic nomination for Oregon attorney general The Raw Story and the Seattle Times reports.

Rosenblaum, bolstered by more than 50,000 registered marijuana smokers in the state, snatched the election from Dwight Holton. Advocates of marijuana piled on contributions to Rosenblaum.

An outspoken critic of Oregon's medical marijuana laws, Holton had also overseen raids on medical marijuana growers during his tenure as interim U.S. attorney.

The former judge's website stated: "I do not believe that prosecuting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana represents the best use of our resources. A better use of those resources is providing more treatment options for people with drug and alcohol addiction. As Attorney General, I will make marijuana enforcement a low priority, and protect the rights of medical marijuana patients."

"Which Way, L.A.?" Interviews Councilmen Huizar and Koretz

"Which Way, L.A.?" a Los Angeles public affairs show broadcast by public radio station KCRW featured the two Councilmembers in the center of a possible medical marijuana dispensary ban.

Jose Huizar, the councilman whose proposal to shutter dispensaries in favor of three-person collectives, is interviewed as well as Paul Koretz, the councilman who floated an alternative proposal to keep 100 dispensaries open. Ultimately, Huizar's proposal won out against Koretz's plan.

Huizar, and by extension the L.A. City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee that unanimously approved his proposal, came off as bureaucrats attempting to cover their asses rather than fulfilling the will of the people that voted to allow medical marijuana to begin with.

Koretz's solution, while not perfect, attempts to preserve the intent of the law and at least tries to do something, rather than just roll over because taking a stand would be difficult.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

L.A. City Council Ignores Koretz Proposal, Moves for Total Dispensary Ban

The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee advanced a complete ban on dispensaries in the city. Councilman's Jose Huizar proposal would only limit collectives to three or fewer people, allow them to grow pot and transport it.

Huizar and Councilmembers Ed Reyes, chairman of the committee, and Mitch Englander disapproved of an alternate proposal from Studio City Councilman Paul Koretz to allow 100 dispensaries to remain open until lawsuits regarding medical marijuana laws are settled.

Dispensary supporters included attorney Steven Lubell, who said, "You're cutting off access to the patients, which is against what Proposition 215 says. Instead of totally banning and waiting for the supremes to rule, have some form of regulation that works in the interim."

Others told the council that cultivating medical-grade marijuana took years of education and was a skill most patients simply do not have.

However, the pro-pot testimony was drowned by the rhetoric of the councilmembers.

Englander: "You tell us there are a few bad apples ruining it for everyone, but from what I've seen, there are more bad apples than good ones out there." And separately: "People have gotten hurt, people have gotten killed, women have been raped."

Reyes: "We tried to cooperate but it all ended up blowing in our faces."

The Public Safety Committee, headed by Englander, may take up the proposal next week. If it passes, it will be considered by the full council.,0,3547975.story

Colorado Medical Access Group Attempts to Add Marijuana for Treating Vets' PTSD

Denver medical marijuana advocates are taking up the cause for the use of pot in the treatment of post-traumatic stress syndrome — again, according to the Denver Westword. Though Colorado has a medical marijuana law in place, it does not recognize its use in treating PTSD.

Though the face of the initiative, Kevin Grimsinger, was found to have lied about his military service and the cause of the amputations of his legs in 2010, Sensible Colorado is revisiting the issue with three vetted vets. Joseph Hatcher, a former Army scout with a cavalry unit, retired Air Force major Robert Wiley and Wanda James, a retired Navy lieutenant.

Sensible Colorado's Executive Director, Brian Vicente, said of Hatcher: "He's going to be talking about his experiences there, and the resulting PTSD that he and fellow veterans suffer from — and how medical marijuana can be used to treat that condition, even though currently its use is illegal under state law. That's what we're trying to change."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

IRS Still Denies Dispensaries Deductions from Marijuana Sales, but Care Giving is Legal, Court Decides

The pressure that the feds are putting on dispensaries to close is nothing new. However, a crack may have appeared in the monolith that is federal law enforcement.

Most dispensaries are now becoming acquainted with Section 280E of the tax code. It's the piece of law that the IRS uses to deny collectives and any other business associated with medical marijuana the deductions afforded to any other businesses.

It was originally drawn up to prevent drug dealers from claiming those deductions (on the off chance they felt like paying income taxes), which the feds feel medical marijuana dispensaries are, regardless of the laws of their state.

However Forbes reports that the U.S. Tax Court has found that while any income derived from marijuana sales are covered by Section 280E, but expenses associated with caregiving are perfectly legal. In the case of Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems Inc. v. Commissioner, only 10 percent of the Harborside Health Center (the dispensary that brought the suit) was dedicated to marijuana, making the other 90 percent of its rent deductible.

The article urges dispensary owners to keep records of everything.

"A large expense for a dispensary is normally inventory costs–buying product for resale. Despite the prohibition on deductions, it appears that the cost of goods sold–even marijuana–can be claimed. Again, good records are key."