Tag Archives: Schedule 1

Treasury Department Considering Removal of Marijuana Banking Protections

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration is weighing the removal of an Obama-era protocol that permitted banks to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses without being considered in violation of law, according to a recent report by Forbes.

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to overturn the Cole Memo, which had previously laid a hands-off federal policy towards state marijuana policy under the Obama administration, federal prosecutors will now be allowed to decide how to prioritize enforcing federal cannabis prohibition in relation to possession, cultivation or distribution in states that have legalized the drug.

With Sessions’ revocation of three Obama-era memos last month, which had provided guidance that allowed banks to provide their services to marijuana businesses without the risk of federal prosecution, the Treasury Department is now “reviewing the [banking] guidance in light of the Attorney General’s announcement and are consulting with law enforcement,” Drew Maloney, the U.S. Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

The letter from the Treasury Department was in response to an inquiry last month from a  bipartisan group of 31 House members, that included a request for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) agency to carry on with the cannabis banking guidance.

“FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud,” the House lawmakers wrote in their letter. “Leaving your guidance unchanged will continue to encourage small companies to make investments by freeing up access to capital. It will also further provide for well regulation and oversight through suspicious activity reports. Rescinding this guidance would inject uncertainty in the financial markets.”

According to the report by Forbes:

“The FinCEN document, issued in 2014, laid out a process for how banks can open accounts for marijuana businesses and avoid triggering federal enforcement actions.

The FinCEN policy, which requires financial institutions to regularly file reports on their cannabis customers, was intended to provide clarity and assurances to banks, but many have remained reluctant to work with marijuana businesses because of overarching federal prohibition laws.

Nonetheless, documents released by FinCEN late last year showed that the number of banks willing to work with the marijuana industry has steadily grown over time, though those figures were collected prior to Sessions’s move to revoke the broader Justice Department guidance.”

While cannabis use has been legalized or decriminalized in a majority of U.S. states, it is still considered a Schedule 1 substance— denoting no accepted medical use— under federal law, which has created a conflict between state and federal law.

[RELATED: Truth in Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent on Cannabis as Medicine]

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal:

A significant chunk of the financial system—including most credit-card companies and all banks that have access to the Fed’s payments highway—is regulated by the U.S. government, which considers distribution and use of marijuana a crime. As a result, marijuana dispensaries have had to rely mainly on cash, raising security and logistical concerns.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued legal guidance indicating that its priorities in combating illegal drug trafficking didn’t include the sale and purchase of state-legalized marijuana. It said it would crack down on the marijuana industry only in cases tied to other criminal activities, such as distribution to minors, firearm violence or trafficking of other drugs.

Last month, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Sigal Mandelker, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department, said that the FinCEN memo is still in effect while the Trump administration considers its revocation. On Wednesday, Maloney confirmed in his letter that prior guidance “remains in place” for now, and vowed to inform Congress of any policy changes.

Ex-AG Eric Holder: Pot ‘Ought to Be Rescheduled’

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said that he believes that the federal government should end marijuana’s classification alongside heroin as a hardcore Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use.

When asked during a comprehensive Tuesday PBS interview on criminal justice reform if marijuana should be decriminalized, Holder replied, “I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled. You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate. So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.

He also said of decriminalization, “That conversation I think ought to be had with regard to marijuana.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Holder credited Tea Party Republicans with helping to create the right timing for his push for criminal justice reforms while in office and said, “That was a surprising thing. As much as the country was, or at least the federal government were drifting to the right, you were hearing things from people on the right that was supportive of this notion of the need for criminal justice reform. Now, coming at it from perhaps from a different angle, in some ways, people on the right were talking about bankrupting the government, making sure that we didn’t spend as much money as we were on prisons — you know, $80 billion a year or so. … So although on the federal side, there was a drift to the right, a rise of the Tea Party caucus, even among them there was this notion that yeah, we need to do something about our criminal justice system. So the timing was right.

The drug war I think is over. Certainly calling it the drug war should be over. But the battle against the narcotics problem in this country has to go on. But we need to take some different approaches, and it should not all be seen as just a criminal justice problem. It ought to be seen as a public health issue,” Holder said.

[RELATED: Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic]

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director and retired Baltimore Police Department and Maryland State Police Maj. Neill Franklin said in a press release on Holder’s comments, “I believe Holder’s statements will inspire more high-ranking officials to speak publicly about the injustices they see in our failed marijuana policies. Ultimately, his support will move us closer to ending marijuana prohibition for good.

Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell raised questions about Holder’s sincerity in comments with The Chicago Sun-Times and said, “It would have been a lot better if he’d exercised the power to get marijuana rescheduling done while he was still in office. … There’s absolutely no reason marijuana should be in Schedule I, and it would be absurd to keep passing the buck to Congress when federal law clearly gives the administration the power to act.

In September of 2014, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

https://youtu.be/zuX9y0hiqWE

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New DEA Head Says Pot “Is Dangerous,” Lacks Medical Use, Belongs on Schedule I

Newly-appointed acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg, who took over the position following previous DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart’s resignation over a scandal in which subordinate DEA agents were caught participating in sex parties with prostitutes funded by Colombian drug cartels, recently clarified that he supports marijuana’s controversial classification alongside hardcore drugs like heroin as a Schedule I narcotic with no medical use.

In an interview with Rosenberg, Fox News’ James Rosen asked, “Two of the last three presidents of the United States have acknowledged having used marijuana… Isn’t that itself – the fact that here we have two men who used marijuana, in varying degrees, and who then went on to become president of the United States – a kind of a prima facie argument that it is time to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act?

Rosenberg replied, “Yeah, I don’t think so.” He added, “Marijuana is dangerous. It certainly is not as dangerous as other Schedule I controlled substances; it’s not as dangerous as heroin, clearly, but it’s still dangerous. It’s not good for you. I wouldn’t want my children smoking it. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone do it. So I don’t frankly see a reason to remove it. We, by the way, support, and have supported, a lot of legitimate research on marijuana, fully behind that; I think it’s great. If we come up with a medical use for it, that would be wonderful. But we haven’t.

Rosen pushed back, “I’ve never seen two guys get thrown out of a bar because they started fist-fighting after smoking a joint. All right? But we’ve seen [that] every Friday and every Saturday night brings just such occasions as a result of the legal distribution of alcohol. Isn’t there some common-sense disparity, or irony, or disconnect in that?

Probably, yeah. Right?” said Rosenberg. “So I don’t know that you’re arguing that they’re both good; you may be arguing that they’re both bad. As I said earlier, marijuana is less dangerous – clearly less dangerous – than heroin. It’s easy to draw that line. But I’m not willing to say that it’s good for you, or that it ought to be legalized. I think it’s bad for you and that it ought to remain illegal.

When Rosen suggested that Rosenberg’s argument could be used to justify banning alcohol, Rosenberg replied, “No, I’m not going to say that. We – we tangled with that as a society in the 1930s. And we know how that went. That’s the law of the land; I get it. I choose not to drink alcohol but I’m not going to impose that on anyone else.

The new DEA chief said that he has never tried marijuana and that his biggest vice is drinking excessive quantities of diet soda.

Rosenberg pinpointed fighting a rising heroin epidemic as his top priority and admitted that legal pharmaceutical drugs are acting as a gateway drug to heroin abuse.

There’s an enormous supply of heroin; it’s cheap. In fact, it’s a lot cheaper than prescription pills. If you take oxycodone and hydrocodone for a football injury and you get hooked, you’re going to pay a dollar a milligram on the street for a pill – thirty milligrams, thirty dollars, give or take. Heroin is probably one-fifth the price, and because it has a similar chemical effect, a similar pharmacological reaction, folks make that transition,” he said.

[RELATED: Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule I Narcotic]

He also pointed out the fact that the black market’s ability to reap profits off of the demand for contraband — which many anti-prohibition advocates argue is a predictable consequence of drug prohibition itself — funds terrorist groups and threatens U.S. national security.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry. What are the bad guys doing with the money that Americans are paying for drugs? What’s it funding overseas? I’m sure some of it’s going to terrorist organizations; we’ve seen that. And so that worries me quite a bit,” said Rosenberg.

Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode noting that the federal government holds a patent on medical cannabis despite the fact that it classifies the substance as having no medical use. Watch the episode in the below-embedded video player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuX9y0hiqWE

Federal Judge May Declare Pot’s Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic Unconstitutional

Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Sacramento Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California just made some comments in court that signal that she might be preparing to declare marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic unconstitutional. According to Reuters, defense attorneys representing nine California men who are accused of illegally growing medical marijuana on federal land argued before Judge Mueller that the charges should be thrown out under the rationale that federal medical marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

In a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Mueller indicated that she is seriously considering the merits of the defense’s position and said to prosecutors, “If I were persuaded by the defense’s argument, if I bought their argument, what would you lose here?” At stake is whether or not the federal government has overstepped its bounds in declaring marijuana a Schedule 1 narcotic, which categorizes it as one of the deadliest drugs and as having no medical use.

The defendants in the criminal case are facing a $10 million fine, property seizure, and up to life in prison for what their lawyers characterized as an effort to cultivate medical marijuana for people in need of treatment. During the defense team’s closing arguments on a motion to throw out the charges, defense attorney Zenia Gilg said, “It’s impossible to say that there is no accepted medical use.” The defense team also pointed out the facts that 23 US states have already legalized marijuana for medical use and that Congress recently voted to block the Department of Justice from interfering in state-level efforts to legalize medical pot.

Assistant US Attorney Gregory Broderick, a prosecutor in the case, argued that Congress, rather than a judge, should determine whether marijuana belongs on Schedule 1. However, he stopped short of arguing that it does, saying, “We’re not saying that this is the most dangerous drug in the world. All we’re saying is that the evidence is such that reasonable people could disagree.” Meanwhile, he says the defendants should face punishment for growing medical pot on federal land as federal law still bans such activity. Despite the facts that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms and that many business owners rely on firearms to protect valuable merchandise, Broderick cited the men’s status as firearms owners as evidence that their marijuana grow operation was not for medical use. He said, “They had weapons. These guys were not producing medicine.”

The hearing included testimony by doctors as to whether marijuana is useful for medical purposes, which prompted Broderick to admit in comments cited by The Leaf Online, “If Congress heard all the testimony you have heard in this hearing, they may very well decide not to put marijuana in Schedule I.” However, he stood firm in his argument that Judge Mueller lacked the authority to rule on the issue, which he said should fall in the hands of Congress instead.

The Leaf Online‘s Jeremy Daw wrote, “Judge Mueller, who has already scheduled nearly a week of court time to the hearing, did not give any indication of sympathy to [Broderick’s] position,” noting that she did appear to give some pause to the notion that “Broderick’s argument that even if she could properly hear the case, the ultimate outcome is irrelevant” had “more credence.”

Judge Mueller said that she would consider the motion to drop the charges and issue a written ruling within 30 days.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released an expose on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana, as it holds the patent on medical cannabis while also declaring that it has no medical use. Watch it in the embedded video player, seen below.