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Marijuana News Roundup: Mixed Signals from Trump Administration on Pot Law Enforcement

Paul Ausick

Another week has passed and, if anything, the Trump administration's approach to legal marijuana sales and use is just as unclear as ever. In a recent public statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that states can pass all the laws the want to legalize marijuana, but at the end of the day, marijuana distribution is a federal crime. What went unsaid is that it's his job to enforce federal law.

Sessions is a long-time foe of marijuana legalization, but he may have softened a bit. According to a report at Politico, Sessions has "privately reassured some Republican senators that he won't deviate from an Obama-era policy of allowing states to implement their own marijuana laws."

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Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were among 11 senators who signed a letter to Sessions requesting that he "uphold the DOJ's existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational marijuana use and ask that the Cole Memorandum remain in place."

Anyone not living under a rock knows that Attorney General Sessions had more on his mind last week than how to enforce (or not) federal marijuana laws. Unless he decides to just throw up his hands and concede that there will be no change in federal enforcement, the status of legal marijuana will remain murky for a while to come.

Israel Officially Decriminalizes Marijuana Use
The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday the decriminalized use of marijuana in Israel.

According to the proposal formulated by the Public Security and Justice ministries, any first-time offender caught using marijuana in public would receive a fine rather than face criminal action.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the change a welcome one. "This is a milestone so thousands of ordinary people will no longer be considered criminals," she said. …

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According to the new policy, first-time offenders caught using marijuana in a public place will incur a fine of 1,000 shekels ($271) but the offender will not face criminal charges. The fine will be doubled on the second offense. The third offense will lead to probation, with the record of the offense only being expunged after a brief period. Only on the fourth offense will criminal charges be pressed.

Read more at Haaretz.

What Country Will Get Legal Marijuana Next? Medical Weed Is Now the Law in Germany
Germany made medical weed legal this month, and doctors are already starting to pass out legal prescriptions to needy patients. Under the law, health insurance providers must cover the costs of the drug.

"I predict a certain increase of this therapy, though to what extent is unclear," Josef Mischo of the German Medical Association told the Local newspaper. "As a medical community, we welcome the fact that therapeutic possibilities have now been expanded."

Germany's favorite illegal drug is marijuana, but for those with a legal prescription from their doctor, medical marijuana is poised to soon change many German's lives. If they can get their hands on it. The law passed by the German parliament in January requires patients to apply for approval. Only around 1,000 people have received prescriptions so far for chronic pain or a serious loss of appetite due to an illness.

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"It is good that the legislators largely left it up to the doctors to decide if cannabis should be used," said Mischo, who is also president of Saarland’s medical association. "Right now I can already imagine that many doctors will now, for one thing, test to see if their chronic pain patients get better with cannabis."

Germany unanimously passed its medical marijuana law in May and then voted in January to make it official. It finally took effect in March.

Read more at the International Business Times.

Legalized Marijuana is a Field of Schemes
Go ahead, dude. Pack a bowl. Have a blunt. Take a sweet rip off that pipe. California has decriminalized weed and you're now toking in the free world. The money spent on cannabis is flowing away from drug cartels, street gangs and for-profit prisons and directly into the coffers of state and local government where it rightfully belongs. That's great news, huh?

Not really. Come out of that haze of bong smoke and look around. Proposition 64 (the Tax and Regulate the Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative) is a 62-page surfeit of misinformation, word-salad legalese, licenses, permits, fees, penalties, bureaucracies, restrictions and stacks of taxes for growers and users. It's a confusing smoke and mirrors contract designed to mask an updated version of Reefer Madness.

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Proposition 64 is also a pro-corporate scam that will bankrupt mom and pop growers. There are so many restrictions, proscriptions, and requirements at every stage. From cultivation to retail, legal weed is going to be a nightmare for the small businessperson. Marijuana cultivators will be kneecapped by legalization and taxation and Big Agriculture will take over the market. Before long everyone will be smoking GMO weed harvested by underpaid laborers and overseen by tobacco company CEOs.

Read more at the [Eureka, California] Times-Standard.

Marijuana Helped the World's Top Hedge Fund Gain 145%
Bets on marijuana companies helped an Australian manager soar 145 percent last year to become the world's best-performing hedge fund.

Stock and credit investments in North American marijuana producers contributed to 22 percentage points of last year's gain for the $200 million Tribeca Global Natural Resources Fund, said Sydney-based Ben Cleary, who co-manages the pool with Craig Evans. The fund has advanced 4 percent this year through February, Cleary said.

The wagers helped the hedge fund rise to the very top among more than 10,000 rivals tracked by data provider Preqin and stand out in a lackluster year for the industry. Eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational cannabis use among adults and more than half the country’s states have laws allowing medical use of the drug. While federal laws prohibit the sale of marijuana and officials from Donald Trump's administration have sent mixed signals on whether they would increase enforcement, Cleary said he isn't concerned because cannabis laws are state-based.

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Read more at Bloomberg.

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