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Tom Firestone

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On June 20, 2019, the House approved by a vote of 267 to 165 an “Appropriations Minibus” amendment sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) that would prohibit the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) from using appropriated funds to prevent any state, U.S. territories, or Washington, D.C. “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of marijuana.”  This amendment builds on a prior appropriations rider, originally enacted in 2014 and renewed every year thereafter, which prohibits the…

Given that many of the Democratic Party candidates have expressed support for marijuana legalization, a Democratic victory in 2020 seems likely to increase the chances for significant reform at the federal level. But what about a Republican victory? Although the Republicans have held the White House since 2016, the answer to this question is a mystery, due largely to the inconsistent and constantly shifting views of the President and his administration and the ambiguous positions of key Republican leaders in…

The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp and all derivatives (including hemp derived CBD) from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It also provided that intentional violations of the Farm Bill, including unlicensed production of industrial hemp, must be reported to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). But what can DOJ do with such reports if hemp trafficking is no longer a crime? Relevant Provisions The Farm Bill (officially entitled the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018): Removal of…

On May 24, the US Attorney for the District of Colorado announced the arrest of 42 individuals as a result of a joint state-federal investigation targeting “black market” marijuana. According to an official press release, the investigation began in the summer of 2016 and involved searches at more than 250 locations, resulting in the seizure of more than 80,000 marijuana plants and 4,500 finished marijuana products. The grow areas were located primarily in sealed basements of newer homes in fairly…

On May 20, the Ukrainian parliament agreed to consider a bill which would legalize medical cannabis. If the bill is passed, Ukraine would become only the second post-Soviet country to significantly reform its cannabis laws. (In 2017-18, the Constitutional Court of Georgia eliminated both criminal and administrative liability for private marijuana use, but left in place prohibitions on selling and public use). The bill was the result of a campaign by Ukrainian NGOs and is supported by the Acting Minister…

As the movement towards legalization gains steam, international drug control treaties are a big elephant in the room. To date, legalization advocates and politicians alike have focused on laws at the local and national level. Little attention, however, has been paid to the multilateral treaties that arguably conflict with those laws. Most efforts to push a federal solution to the disparate local/national treatment of cannabis ignore the United States’ treaty obligations. This conflict must be addressed to ensure a smooth…

By any measure, cannabis has become a major industry, and global financial markets anticipate big profits in the future. The first Canadian regulated, licensed, publicly traded cannabis producer went public on May 24, 2018, and, less than a year later, is already a USD $15 billion company. Another Canadian producer has tripled in market capitalization since its July 2018 IPO and is now valued at nearly USD $7 billion. Governments are also recognizing the potential to generate needed revenue from…