U.S. Territory Could Make History in Legal Marijuana Industry

hawaii-marijuanaIt isn’t just U.S. states that are ready to jump on board – if they haven’t already – with legalizing marijuana. Legislators in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory, recently approved a bill to legalize marijuana.

By a margin of 18-1, with just one abstention, the CNMI House of Representatives passed the legislation. This piece of legislation seeks to end cannabis prohibition for adults over 21 and creates a system of taxed and regulated sales. It would also welcome medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

This is not the first time that the territory pushed for legalization. In May, the Senate approved a similar marijuana legalization bill. The proposal initially cleared a committee in the House, but its advancement was later halted in response to procedural concerns. It was said that revenue-generating legislation must originate in the House.

As a result, House lawmakers made a few changes to the Senate bill and filed a new proposal of their own. This piece of legislation then won approval by the full chamber.

“The people of the CNMI recognize that the prohibition of marijuana has been terribly misguided and harmful, and our leaders are in touch with the public’s sentiment on this issue,” Lawrence Duponcheel of Sensible CNMI said in a statement.

“Today, members of the CNMI House of Representatives showed their commitment to honoring the will of the people.”

If this bill is successfully enacted, CNMI will become the first U.S. jurisdiction to go directly from outlawing marijuana across the board to allowing recreational use. This is very unique, considering that the territory has no existing medical cannabis program; this is something that has been a precursor to broader legalization in a growing number of states.

It will also be an important milestone because it would make CNMI the first to legalize a system of regulated cannabis production and sales through an act of lawmakers, rather than a ballot measure. (Vermont passed a law earlier this year to legalize marijuana possession and home cultivation, however, the policy does not allow for any form of cannabis commerce.)

Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, commented on marijuana reform’s growing popularity with voters in an interview, saying that “The lawmakers and people of CNMI are on track to make history, and more U.S. policymakers would be wise to take notice before the upcoming midterm elections.”

The next step? The CNMI Senate is now expected to take on the House-passed marijuana legalization bill. These changes have the potential to open up enormous opportunity. Are you hoping to expand your operation or launch your business venture? Consider working with the team at Marijuana Merchant Account and jump in on the expansion of the marijuana industry.


Jeff Sessions War on Marijuana Hasn’t Frightened Cannabis Entrepreneurs

Cannabis leaf scattered on the dollars. Seamless image

Investors and Business Owners in the Cannabis Industry Aren’t Frightened by Jeff Sessions Efforts to Prevent Marijuana Decriminalization

Contrary to the expectations of many, the Attorney General’s move to recommence unrestrained federal enforcement of cannabis laws hasn’t affected the performance of the marijuana industry so far. Instead, it has inadvertently shown how deep-rooted this industry has become

Jeff Sessions, the man behind all troubles facing potheads and Cannabis entrepreneurs in the U.S recently, announced a deferment of the Obama-regime Cole memo. This memo offered states official pardon from federal intrusion regarding state marijuana laws.

The A.G’s declaration messed up the party for California that was then four days old since she decriminalized of both medical and recreational use on Jan 1, 2018. Sessions, in opposition to all scientific evidence, affirmed that “Cannabis is a harmful drug and… marijuana activity is a federal crime.”

Naturally, the attorney general’s move scared a handful of investors considering the now growing pot industry. But here’s why the remaining majority should put in more resources and finances in the U.S. Marijuana business.

Bipartisan Reaction

Trump’s admin made a lot of debatable decisions in the first year, most times, going unquestioned by congressional Republicans. But this time, Sessions must have rubbed most of them the wrong way— he’s triggered a bipartisan rebuke.

Advocates from all states that have decriminalized weed, particularly Colorado and California have joined forces with Democratic leaders to express their shock at the news. Even some Republican legislators are joining the resistance claiming the A.G’s plan to rescind the Cole Memo directly contradicted his promises when he took the oath of office, and those Trumps made to the people when contesting for the presidency.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (Colorado) said that this is not what Donald Trump promised Colorado in 2016 and that the repeal is unlawful. Plus, it puts millions of revenue and very many jobs at risk.

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska) however thought that though the Cole memo suspension is in disagreement with Trump’s statement, it may force Congress to stop ignoring the fact that they need to find a long-standing solution for weed-legal states.

Lack of Financial Backing and incentives to enforce

Sessions repeal of the Cole memo revokes the Department of Justice’s previous regulation on cannabis. In doing so, he pushed federal prosecutors to decide on a legal course of action in marijuana-legal states; and they may as well choose not to nothing.

The Executive Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Matthew Schweich said that states are no longer willing to help the federal government impose harmful cannabis policies anymore. Most states are now ready to legalize pot for adults.

Legal experts have higher priorities to take care of than handle some new weed cases. Plus, prosecutors have limited resources to press charges against lawfully operating Marijuana companies and consumers.

Medical discoveries and realities

Scientific evidence has proven beyond any doubts the many medicinal uses of marijuana. As a result, we expect this to increase consumer demand for weed products in spite of the ongoing political threats. For instance, Florida is experiencing noteworthy consumer growth since it legalized medical marijuana.


Cannabis Industry Awaits Trump’s Decision on Legal Marijuana

unnamedIt’s safe to say that the legal marijuana industry has faced many and seemingly endless obstacles. With a new administration, legal marijuana merchants have been holding their breath to see whether the Trump administration plans to snuff out the industry. So far, no news seems to be good news.

Following a visit to Las Vegas in March, Brookings Institution’s John Hudak, an expert on marijuana policy, said it was too early to tell what the Trump administration’s next move would be. After a second visit the end of October, Hudak shared that not much has changed in terms of policy coming out of D.C. Even though much is being discussed about marijuana policy, no further actions have been taken to crack down on the industry.

In early September, President Trump agreed to continue the ban on using funds to interfere in states’ legal cannabis practices in his temporary budget-dealing with Democrats. Although, many are waiting to see what the government stance will be in the coming year. This budget agreement involved approving hurricane relief, federal spending and raising the debt ceiling through the end of the year. It also included a Rohrabacher-Blumenauer clause (a.k.a Rohrabacher-Farr), which serves to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal intrusion until Dec. 8, 2017.

According to Forbes, “The clause stipulates that the U.S. Department of Justice may not use any of its funds to prevent states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico from ‘implementing a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.’”

So what forces are giving pause? After all, the attorney general’s most recent comments included increasing enforcement and having the federal government play its more traditional role. However, no action has been taken. The first possible reason why could be new considerations.

In his interview with The Las Vegas Sun, Hudak explained that “when you’re moving from the Senate into running a very large Cabinet department you have new considerations. You have to think about things in new and different ways, and you have a new constituency. So there’s a learning curve.”

The second consideration seems to be resources. With each day that passes, it becomes harder and harder for the Justice Department to shut down recreational marijuana. There are now many legal medical and recreational marijuana companies throughout the U.S., with more joining soon in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. The industry has simply become too big to close down entirely.

The bottom line? As more time passes and marijuana businesses are left untouched, those in the industry are becoming more and more hopeful. Only time will tell what the outcome will be for the Trump and marijuana situation. Even so, the cannabis industry continues to be difficult for businesses to navigate. One of the largest obstacles continues to be the lack of payment processing services. Still unwilling or unable to take on the risks, traditional lenders stay away. For marijuana merchants seeking a way to safely process credit and debit card transactions, the best place to secure services continues to be through an alternative provider like Marijuana Merchant Account.