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Marijuana News Roundup: Florida Congressmen Introduce Bill to Make Pot Easier to Get

Paul Ausick

Two Florida Congressmen, Matt Gaetz (R) and Darren Soto (D), introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug. If the bill were to become law (doubtful, but not impossible), the new classification would make it easier for people to obtain medical marijuana and easier for researchers to obtain cannabis for further study.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, a class including heroin and LSD. A reclassification would place marijuana in the same group as anabolic steroids, Tylenol, and codeine.

More important, perhaps, would be the lifting of restrictions that currently restrict banks from providing services to marijuana-related businesses in states where medical marijuana is currently legal.

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In their joint press release the Congressmen noted:

Recent polling suggest 93% of Americans support legalizing doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.  Rescheduling makes it easier to conduct research into marijuana’s medical uses with lighter regulation. The benefits of rescheduling marijuana would benefit local economies. Small businesses in the marijuana industry would finally have the legal ability to meet the needs of patients. Legal status would lead to more businesses receiving loans and banking services from financial institutions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of marijuana legalization, last week directed a task force he established in February to "undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime … ." The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety has a target date of July 27 to produce recommendations.

Why the First Marijuana ETF May Pose Serious Problems for US Investors
With the explosive growth in medical and recreational marijuana in America, a slew of emerging companies have come public and brought new interest by investors in recent years. With there being an exchange traded fund (ETF) for just about every single investment strategy, it might have just been a matter of time before a true marijuana ETF came to market.

Back in 2014, 24/7 Wall St. pondered what a marijuana ETF might actually look like. Now the markets are getting their first real look at an ETF tackling the medical marijuana sector. The Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on April 5, 2017. This was said to be the first ETF that will have exposure to North American companies that operate in the medical marijuana bioengineering and production fields.

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There is absolutely no denying that a marijuana ETF will generate some investor interest. While this may be a first for true ETF investors, unfortunately, many U.S. investors might have a very hard time investing in this ETF. There are some serious barriers and risks that investors need at least to consider before jumping blindly into the strategy of investing in marijuana.

For starters, the Trump administration’s initial communication to the public indicated to expect greater enforcement of marijuana laws. Then there is the issue that very few such companies are large enough and have other characteristics that would qualify for a true Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange listing, and that may mean companies with managers who are not business people or with too few employees or directors. Also, many U.S. investors do not have easy access to buy stocks in OTC Bulletin Board and Pink Sheets listings without filling out additional approval forms in their brokerage accounts.

Read more at .

Indiana Is One Step Away from Legalizing Medical Marijuana
Although it has been said that Indiana would be one of the last states to put any kind of marijuana law on the books, both chambers of the State Legislature took action this week on a bill aimed at allowing a specific group of patients to have access to non-intoxicating cannabis oil.

On Thursday, both the House and Senate put their seal of approval on proposals designed to give epilepsy patients the freedom to use cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis derivative that has been shown to decrease the frequency of seizures. The medical marijuana approved by Indiana lawmakers would be devoid of THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.

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"You can smoke 700 acres and all you're going to get is really red eyes and probably a really sick cold," Republican Senator James Tomes told The Statehouse File. "But you're not going to get a buzz."

This is the first time Indiana's legislative forces have given any consideration to a bill pertaining to marijuana. It was the restrictive nature of the proposals, and lack of THC, that persuaded lawmakers to give them a fair shot.

The bills call for patients to have tried at least two different prescription medications before a physician is allowed to offer them a recommendation for cannabis oil.

Read more at Merryjane.com.

Five Things to Know About Kansas City's New Marijuana Law
Kansas City voters overwhelmingly supported reduced penalties for marijuana possession in Tuesday's election, and the new city law has already taken effect.

The Kansas City Municipal Court is well aware of the voter-approved change, but Municipal Court officials and others say there are important issues for residents to realize in this new legal climate.

Here are five key things to know about the new law:

1. This does NOT legalize marijuana possession. Voters approved a citizens petition initiative that reduces the maximum fine in city court from $500 to $25 and eliminates possible jail time as a penalty for possessing 35 grams or less of pot, about 1-1/4 ounce.

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But pot possession is still illegal, and a guilty plea would involve a drug conviction. This is not like what Colorado and some other states have done to legalize marijuana possession.

Read more at The Kansas City Star.

Cannabis Coupled with Virtual Reality Creates Elevated Gaming Experience
Smoking weed and playing video games is a time-honored tradition. From Seth Rogen toking and toggling in nearly every bromance movie to High Times releasing a list last year of the 22 greatest stoner video games of all time, these two sedentary activities are a perfect match.

Now, one entrepreneur is aiming to crank this mind-bending combination up a notch with a carefully curated selection of cannabis and virtual reality (VR). Dan Braunstein, founder of fine dining and events company Grassfed, says marijuana enhances all of the senses, which serves to intensify the already immersive VR experience.

"Cannabis and gaming were always good friends, if you will," Braunstein says. "I know many of my friends that love gaming, and love cannabis, and love to combine both of them."

The virtual reality gaming industry is thriving right here in Los Angeles. By 2022, the VR business as a whole could be worth almost $34 billion, according to one estimate, with a large portion of this coming through Los Angeles. The local industry has gotten so prolific that the concentration of tech companies and startups on the Westside has been dubbed Silicon Beach, the SoCal outpost of Silicon Valley. Later this month, co-working space Upload is opening a 20,000-square-foot shared space in Venice, which will host more than 100 virtual and augmented reality companies and freelancers.

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Read more at LA Weekly.

 

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