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Marijuana is estimated to be a $10 billion industry and rapidly growing. Almost all of it is conducted in cash. Although legal in thirty three states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Accordingly, financial institutions that handle proceeds from a transaction involving the distribution, manufacture or sale of marijuana would be handling illegal proceeds in violation of both federal money laundering statutes and banking regulations that prohibit such institutions from participating…
A Colorado federal jury sided with the owner of a state-licensed cannabis cultivation business last Wednesday in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) suit brought against him by his neighbors. In 2015, Michael and Hope Reilly brought a federal RICO lawsuit in Colorado against Parker Walton and his cannabis cultivation operation that neighbored their property. The Reillys claimed that the smells and sounds from the cannabis facility caused damage to their property.…
This is Washington, and we do like to speak in initials.  A plain English translation of the title of this piece would read “FDA ‘places FDA-approved drugs that contain CBD derived from cannabis and no more than 0.1 percent tetrahydrocannabinols in Schedule V.’”  DEA Final Order, Docket No. DEA-486 Schedule V drugs include cough medicine with codeine and many pain relievers that still require a prescription.  So, really what this order does is allow doctors…
In a split decision last Thursday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Morro Bay marijuana dispensary owner Charles Lynch and remanded the case to the district court for a factual determination as to whether Lynch’s activities were in strict compliance with California law. [Link to case here.]…
Just two years ago, North Dakota voters passed medical marijuana legalization with 64 percent support. Now, North Dakota could join a number of sanctuary states legalizing recreational marijuana. Through an effort called Legalize ND, proponents of recreational marijuana submitted more than the required 13,452 valid petition signatures to get a measure on the November 2018 general election ballot. If passed, the measure would legalize the cultivation, possession, use, and distribution of marijuana and authorize…
On June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol), the first marijuana derived drug for use in the United States, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. This decision for the FDA could have sweeping effects for the marijuana industry. While the FDA has previously approved drugs comprising synthetic (manufactured) cannabinoids, this is the first FDA approved drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana. Even with FDA approval, further…
On June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol), the first marijuana derived drug for use in the United States, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. This decision for the FDA could have sweeping effects for the marijuana industry. While the FDA has previously approved drugs comprising synthetic (manufactured) cannabinoids, this is the first FDA approved drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana. Even with FDA approval, further…
No. We are not there yet. Are we making progress? Maybe. The biggest impediment to explosive growth in the marijuana industry is lack of access to banking and robust financial services. Because banks face the risk of prosecution for money laundering and aiding and abetting in drug trafficking, most banks will not bank marijuana-related businesses (MRBs). Why would any bank risk prosecution by banking MRBs? In 2014, following the issuance of the Cole Memorandum, the…
It’s only the second week of January, and it has already been a wild year in the cannabis industry.  First, legal sales of recreational marijuana started in California, and then Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum.  What next?  Here are seven stories to follow in 2018.…
According to reports appearing this morning in the New York Times and the Washington Post, Attorney General Sessions is expected to rescind the Cole Memorandum later today.  The Cole Memorandum is a Department of Justice policy that strongly discourages federal prosecutors from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states in which possession and use of marijuana is legal under state law. Sessions has long been a critic of legalizing marijuana use, but until now has…