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Tom Firestone

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The Department of Justice recently took the extraordinary step of releasing a previously confidential memo from its Office of Legal Counsel concluding that DEA’s long-standing policy on marijuana research violates federal law and U.S. treaty obligations. Why did DOJ do this? What does the memo mean for the future of marijuana research? In this podcast, Matt Zorn and Shane Pennington, the lawyers who litigated this case, explain how they got DOJ to release the memo and what it all means.…

In August, the FBI announced that it would be focusing on public corruption in state marijuana licensing. In September, the Mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts was indicted for extorting more than $250,000 in bribes from cannabis businesses in return for assistance with licenses.  In October, alleged Rudolph Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were indicted for, among other things, a scheme to make illegal campaign finance donations in connection with a planned recreational marijuana business in Nevada.  Last week,…

Adam Schleifer is a candidate for Congress in New York’s 17th congressional district. He previously worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles where he prosecuted violent drug cartels. In this podcast, he talks about why he believes that federal legalization of marijuana would be an effective means of combating drug cartels. Please join us for a fascinating discussion. Global Cannabis Compliance Podcast · Episode 4 – Legalization as a strategy to combat drug cartels?

This podcast features Steve Kemmerling, founder and CEO of CRB Monitor, a database that aggregates and maintains corporate information on 37,000 direct marijuana-related businesses, 68,000 marijuana business licenses and 68,000 beneficial owners, which is used by financial institutions for KYC and compliance purposes. In the podcast, Steve talks about what the data show about how the industry has evolved, where it may be going, and the banking challenges it faces. Steve also talks about the system he developed to help financial…

The Great Depression and the need for tax revenue to fund the New Deal ended prohibition in 1933.[1] The economic fallout from the COVID crisis, according to some experts, could result in a “New New Deal,” and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) recently said that 2021 would, like 1933, have an “FDR moment.”[2] Just as the first “FDR moment” included the (re) legalization of alcohol, there are indications that the next may include the legalization of marijuana. The COVID crisis has…

How to eliminate the marijuana black market? As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravish state budgets, this question has become even more important, particularly in states like California, which have legalized marijuana but have not seen the expected tax revenues due to the persistence of the “tax exempt” black market. Increased enforcement would help, of course. But the best way to eliminate the illegal market is to support market entry by legitimate businesses. Several states have declared marijuana businesses “essential”…

January 4, 2020 marked the two year anniversary of the “Sessions Memorandum” in which (then) Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum and other Obama era DOJ guidance which essentially stated that DOJ would not prosecute state-compliant marijuana-related activity.  Many saw the statement as a declaration of a new “War on Drugs.” However, a review of DOJ cases brought over the last two years reveals that the Trump Justice Department has largely adhered to the Obama Administration’s enforcement priorities.…

Robert Mikos is one of the nation’s leading experts on federalism and drug law. His most recent scholarship analyzes the struggle among federal, state, and local governments for control of marijuana law and policy, which includes a first-of-its-kind casebook, Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority. In this podcast, he discusses the intersection of federal and state cannabis law, the prospects for federal reform, the SAFE Banking Act and other hot topics in the field. Global Cannabis Compliance Podcast · Episode 2 -…

The risk of corruption in state cannabis licensing has once again been highlighted by recent reports that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed at least seven Massachusetts cities, including Boston, for information about contracts between cannabis firms and municipalities. The subpoenas apparently relate to “host community agreements,”  a contract between individual cannabis operators and their host community that is required by state law in Massachusetts.  Host community agreements, and similar arrangements in other states that have legalized cannabis, are well…

Although prosecution of state-legal sales by licensed and compliant cannabis businesses may not be a current priority for federal law enforcement, prosecution of corruption in the industry clearly is. Consider the following, all of which have occurred within the last three months: The indictment of alleged Rudolph Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman for, among other things, a scheme to make illegal campaign finance donations in connection with a planned recreational marijuana business in Nevada (according to various reports,…