This Week’s Marijuana News Round-Up: President Obama Commutes Sentences of 403 Prisoners Including Marijuana Lifer James Tranmer; Germany Just Legalized Medical Marijuana;Denver Starts Working to Allow Public Marijuana Use;North American Legal and Illicit Marijuana Sales Top $50 Billion;The Air Force Changes Its Rules on Marijuana for Recruits; and more.
Legal/Political Marijuana News
President Obama Commutes Sentences of 330 More Drug Offenders — President Obama Grants Clemency to 330 More Drug Prisoners, Including Nine Pot-Only Prisoners and One LSD Prisoner, in Final Round of Commutations.
President Obama Commutes the Sentences of 273 Prisoners Including 9 Marijuana Prisoners — President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 17, commuted the sentences of 209 people incarcerated in federal prison, and handed out 64 pardons. This brings the number of prisoners who have been granted clemency under President Obama to 1,597. Among the commutations and pardons granted were those for 14 prisoners sentenced for marijuana only, or for marijuana plus “money laundering,” a common add-on charge.
Marijuana Lifer James Tranmer Granted Clemency — James Tranmer, who was serving a de-facto life sentence (ironically 420 months or 35 years), was granted clemency today in President Barack Obama’s last round of clemencies before leaving office. A priest in the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, a sect of Rastafarianism, Tranmer considers cannabis a sacrament, and considered his prosecution religious persecution.
The Air Force Changes Its Rules on Marijuana for Recruits — With more states choosing to legalize marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes, the U.S. Air Force is adapting its own rules so that previous marijuana use will not disqualify potential recruits, according to a report on Military.com. The changes would not allow marijuana use by active military, and potential recruits diagnosed as having substance abuse disorders would continue to be disqualified from service, according to a statement from the Secretary of the Air Force.
International Marijuana News
Germany Just Legalized Medical Marijuana — Up until now, only certain people with serious medical conditions could be granted permission to use the drug for self therapy, and the bar was set fairly high. Only around 1,000 people in the whole country currently have been given permission to use the drug. The new law will expand this and eventually allow cannabis products to be grown under state supervision. Private producers could also apply, but the requirements for approval would be very strict. When the law will be implemented in March, health insurance providers will have to cover the costs of cannabis used to treat, for example, pain or lack of appetite.
Marijuana News State by State
CA Medical Marijuana Provider Ricardo Montes Among Last Minute Clemencies — Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes were high school football teammates who went on to bigger fame, fast riches and federal prison after opening a medical marijuana store in a conservative Central Valley town in the early era of the California cannabis industry. Now President Barack Obama, as one of his last acts in office, is letting one of the two Modesto dispensary operators go free. The White House announced Thursday that Montes, 37, has been granted clemency. He will be released from prison on May 19 after serving nine years of a 20-year sentence for illegal marijuana distribution and conducting a continuing criminal enterprise.
Denver Starts Working to Allow Public Marijuana Use — Denver is starting work Wednesday on becoming the first city in the nation to allow marijuana clubs and public pot use in places such as coffee shops, yoga studios and art galleries. Voters narrowly approved the “social use” measure last November. But the ballot proposal didn’t spell out many rules for how the marijuana could be consumed, beyond saying that the drug can’t be smoked inside and that patrons must be over 21.
The American Legion of Indiana Wants Medical Marijuana Legalized — The American Legion of Indiana passed a resolution Sunday calling on Congress to recognize marijuana as a drug with medical value and asking Indiana legislatures to develop a medical marijuana program. Kokomo veteran Jeff Staker originally drafted the resolution. He started the non-profit Hoosier Veterans For Medical Cannabis to push for the change. Staker thinks a medical marijuana program could help veterans suffering from opioid addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical issues.
Marijuana Business News
North American Legal and Illicit Marijuana Sales Top $50 Billion — Pot consumers in the United States and Canada spent a $53.3 billion in legal and illicit marijuana purchases last year, with most transactions still occurring in the black market, according to a new report by an Oakland research group that advocates for investing in state-permitted cannabis businesses. A 22-page executive summary for the “State of Legal Marijuana Markets” report by ArcView Market Research, estimated that the black market still accounts for 87 percent of marijuana sales, down from the group’s estimate of 90 percent in 2015.
Marijuana and the IRS: How a Reagan Era Law Impacts Today’s Marijuana Industry — The California Democratic Party has passed a resolution condemning the use of an IRS code section that disallows marijuana dispensaries from deducting most of their business expenses from their federal income taxes. As a consequence marijuana dispensing businesses are required to pay taxes on almost every dollar taken in. This results in usurious and unsustainable taxation rates that would drive any business into bankruptcy.