Why Government Shutdown May Trigger Crackdown on Marijuana Dealers

unnamedDec 13th will mark the last day of funding for the State Government.  Similarly, time is running out for the law that’s been preventing the Justice Department from meddling with the federal medical marijuana laws.  So unless legislators ratify an extension on this deadline, laws protecting Marijuana Sales will be no more.

Remember, DEA agents won’t be relieved of their duties and will act as watchdogs for the  Department of Justice which may take advantage of the this opportunity and use it to enforce state marijuana prohibition whenever it feels like regardless of federal Laws.

This means the U.S. Attorney General Mr. Jeff Sessions who’s been against decriminalization for a long time would get a lawful go-ahead ( for the first time since he assumed office in Feb)  to order the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and state prosecutors to conduct a crack down on medical pot patients and dispensary owners.

According to the Department of Justice, all DEA agents are “excepted” from vacation because they play a significant role in counternarcotics investigations. The Justice Department’s Government shutdown contingency plan insists that DEA investigations should carry on uninterrupted to ensure ongoing cases remain uncompromised and the safety and well-being of Americans is not put at risk.

And the same applies for state prosecutors. The shutdown plan points out that as appointees of the President, U.S. Attorneys are also “excepted” from furlough. As a result, all employees that are not subject to rest should address urgent ongoing criminal and civil concerns throughout the country.

The medical marijuana budget proviso was first passed into law in 2014, and since then, it has been extended for every successive budget year. In May 2017, Mr. Sessions wrote to congress leaders requesting them not to carry on with the medical pot rider to next year.  In his letter, the Attorney general stressed the need to allow the Justice Department the green light to use all applicable federal laws to fight dangerous drug organizations and traffickers who endanger the lives of innocent American citizens.

Wrapping Up

These heated debates are enough proof that the government shutdown which is now set to occur could leave medical marijuana dealers in the hands of cruel law enforcers.


Michigan – Gov. Rick Snyder Issues Rules Ahead of Michigan Marijuana Licensing

STANLEY BROTHERS GROW FARMLately, there have been question marks surrounding the Michigan marijuana industry particularly regarding the rules and regulations of operation. On Monday, Gov. Rick Snyder read out rules controlling medical pot businesses two weeks ahead of the start of their review and licensing program under these new laws.

These emergency rules are to stay in effect for about six months until the state settles on the final set of laws. Some of the aspects they regulated include; advertisements, security requirements and the amount of capital one needs to legally venture into different activities i.e. growing, processing, testing, transporting or selling pot.

Previously, the state had given direction on key issues like the fate of already existing marijuana dispensaries operating as legal business, ultimately allowing them to stay open while awaiting a state license in case they get approved by the local community. The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation will start accepting applications from Dec. 15.

Key Revised and New Laws

Andrew Brisbo, the director Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation stated that regulators only made a few tweaks and additions to strengthen weak points but remained consistent with the already existing rules.

Some of the key features are;

  • The advertisement of marijuana and related products is forbidden if noticeable by the public from any footway, street, or any other public area.
  • All license seekers must demonstrate capitalization depending on their type of business. (Capital ranges from $150,000 to $500,000).
  • No less than 25% of the capital must be in form of liquid assets i.e. pot inventory, cash or investments.
  • No more than 72 plants or 15 ounces of weed may be used to acquire the necessary capital.
  • The cost of applying for a license is $6,000.
  • In cases of theft or property loss, the License holder must alert the DLRA, state police and local authorities within 24 hours.
  • Violating these rules may bring upon you a $5,000 fine or a $10,000 fine on your business. Or sometimes an equal of your daily gross earnings.

If you’re planning to put up your own dispensary in Michigan, consider going through a copy of the new rules to avoid problems with the authorities and hefty fines. The ones listed above are only a few of the 51 rules.


Recreational Marijuana Continues to Thrive Over the Medical Industry

Recreational MarijuanaIt seems like medical marijuana cards are no longer the key to purchasing and enjoying weed in Oregon.

The recreational marijuana industry is taking over rendering the cards less valuable compared to the past when they meant everything. These days they only matter as “discount cards” but are not necessarily a requirement for buying and possessing pot. The advantage with a medical marijuana card is that it saves you the hefty state and local cannabis taxes charged on recreational marijuana. As a result, medical weed dealers are experiencing a drop in their daily sales.

According to Sam Elkington of Track Town Collective, a dispensary in Glenwood, the sales had plummeted to as low as $58 on Monday afternoon— the main reason Elkington is unable to employ other staff at the store. He added that of all potential buyers that walk into his small store, only 3 to 4 come for medical marijuana, the other 15 to 20 are potheads looking for recreational pot which the law still prohibits him from selling.

And as a smart entrepreneur, Elkington is willing to embrace the evolution of the cannabis market in Oregon. That’s why he plans to switch from the medical marijuana business to the currently booming recreational pot industry. This would mean cancelling his status as a medical cannabis dispensary with the Oregon Health Authority and applying with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission as recreational weed seller.

More medical pot dealers to go Recreational

Nowadays, Medical pot cardholders have the freedom to buy marijuana either at a medical store or at a recreational shop. This has worsened the playing field for medical marijuana dealers and rendered them financially indefensible.

It’s no wonder 5 out of the 21 medical pot license holders have given notice to the state on their plan to give up medical marijuana licenses and apply as recreational weed sellers with the OLCC. According to Jonathan Modie, Spokesman at Oregon Health Authority, only four license holders showed signs of staying put as medical marijuana dealers.

Wrapping Up

The recreational cannabis industry has always been a gold mine back from the days when it was underground. And now that it has been decriminalized (in some states) we expect to see significant changes in the market.


California Recreational Use Draws Near, Merchants Still Battle Financial Struggles

imgresEven in the excitement of legal recreational marijuana sales rolling out in California on January 1s t, a very big problem remains: the lack of financial services. The ability for consumers to consume recreational cannabis in California is expected to bring in billions in tax revenue. Despite this massive revenue and the fact that medical marijuana has been legal for two decades, the industry is still unable to secure the financial services they to operate safely and efficiently.

While business is booming – thanks to laws like Prop 64 – marijuana merchants are struggling behind the scenes. More and more people are showing up to make purchases, no longer afraid. But businesses themselves are finding it harder and harder to operate efficiently. Under federal law, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I drug (alongside heroin and ecstasy). This status is holding these businesses back.

Even though there are federal compliance guidelines, marijuana’s federal status makes banks very wary. Unwilling to push themselves into a risky situation, they choose to stay away from the industry. Despite the industry’s booming growth.

After receiving rejection letter after rejection letter, merchants are forced to operate in cash. Without a merchant account from a bank, these businesses have no means of writing a check, doing a direct deposit or processing debt and credit card transactions. Paying bills requires only minutes of the typical business owner’s time. For the cannabis merchant, the process is not only long and overwhelming, it isE unsafe. From paying employees and bills to paying taxes, all transactions are done solely in cash.

The Internal Revenue Code Section 280E only complicates things further. This tax code was created with the intention of crippling illegal drug trafficking businesses. Since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, this tax code affects the marijuana industry’s legal businesses.

420 College CEO, George Boyadjian, says, “It kind of cripples the business a lot. It prevents businesses from growing and reaching their full potential.”

After Prop 64 was passed, California state Treasurer John Chiang formed the Cannabis Banking Working Group. Since then, this group has been working hard on banking recommendations for the regulations scheduled to be released in 2018. The goal of this banking system is to get the most fiscally from the marijuana industry. Even so, the federal-state legality gap remains an issue, and will impact the effectiveness of this system.

“It’s not going to be a perfect pathway unless the federal government allows for this kind of activity and they take cannabis off Schedule I [status],” explains Chiang.

Many marijuana businesses continue to seek cash solutions and safe payment processing services through alternative lenders like Marijuana Merchant Account. Businesses can avoid operating in cash-only, and provide customers with multiple payment options. For merchants trying to safely and quickly pay bills, employees and taxes, this is great news. Rather than waiting for the federal government to reclassify marijuana (who knows when that might be), merchants can secure services now.


California Cities Unprepared for Legal Recreational Cannabis Sales Jan. 1

Marijuana Business FundingThe long-awaited day is right around the corner, but California is not as prepared as it should be for the start of recreational marijuana sales on January 1st. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco are struggling to put together local rules for cannabis shops and growers. The problem is that a delay in regulations could lead to limited options in many areas. This would be incredibly unfortunate, considering how many consumers are eager to ring in the new year with a legal cannabis purchase.

Thus far, California plans to treat marijuana like alcohol. Individuals 21 and older will be permitted to possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home. On Jan. 1, the newly legalized recreational marijuana sales will be merged with the state’s medical marijuana market, which is experiencing stronger regulation. Recently published plans to regulate the two-decades-old medical marijuana market are the first since it was legalized.

This proposed plan details the standards for marijuana merchants that wish to be licensed by the state. The rules range from how late these cannabis shops can stay open to how much they will be allowed to sell each day. The final rules should be in place in time to start issuing licenses by January 1st – just in time for the rollout of legal recreational marijuana purchases.

While it sounds like things are moving steadily forward, there are some holes in the system. Specifically, how the cannabis will be moved from the field to distribution centers, on to testing labs and finally arriving at the retail shops themselves. The licenses to be issued in January are temporary, and plans have not been released on how the estimated $7 billion marketplace will be governed.

Obviously, a big problem considering the state is expecting to see as much as $1 billion in the first few years. Operators are concerned that this delay in nailing down the details could cause serious conflicts in various rules and laws to pop up down the road.

According to The Cannabist, “The state expects businesses that receive licenses will only work with others that hold them. But that has alarmed operators who wonder what will happen if their supplier, for instance, decides not to join the new legal market.”

Another huge obstacle for marijuana operators is that banks still refuse to work with them. Under federal law, marijuana remains very much illegal. As a result, these merchants have turned to alternative providers like Marijuana Merchant Account for their business funding and payment processing needs. Unlike their experience with a bank, merchants can secure the services they need with MMA in as little as 24 hours with minimal documentation requirements.

Meanwhile, Jan. 1 is fast approaching – ready or not. Cara Martinson of the California State Association of Counties recently admitted, “The bulk of folks probably are not going to be ready Jan. 1.”


Denver-Based Cannabis Company Debuts Airport PSA, Leave Pot at Home

MarijuanaA Denver-based company, Organa Brands, has created the first-ever public services announcement in airport terminals concerning cannabis. One of the largest legal cannabis brands in the country, Organa Brands premiered their ad campaign last month on branded trays at security checkpoints of a major airport in Southern California. The goal of this campaign is to remind passengers about the serious legal repercussions involved in taking cannabis aboard a plane. The PSA reads, “Cannabis is legal, traveling with it is not. Leave in California.”

These branded trays are the ones used for stashing shoes, cell phones, wallets and other personal items just before walking through security. For the next twelve months, the trays will appear at Ontario Airport (just outside Los Angeles, California), and are expected to generate around 15 million impressions.

Co-founder of Organa Brands, Jeremy Heidl, is very optimistic about this campaign. “Anytime we can normalize cannabis, I think it’s a good thing”, he says. “I’m still pinching myself a week into this. It’s just unbelievable to me that the TSA was able to sign off on this campaign.”

The timing of these new “Cannabis is Legal” ads directly relates to marijuana laws in California. After years of use under medical marijuana laws, recreational cannabis will also be legal in California starting January 1, 2018.

Heidl explained to The Points Guy, “We have long known that California is about to become the biggest recreational cannabis market in the world, and as [one of] the largest brands in the space, we feel a real responsibility to educate consumers. There’s obvious confusion surrounding cannabis laws — even the TSA at times has been confused as to these policies.”

It is easy to see why there might be some confusion. In most cases, TSA and airport security officials have done very little to inform the public on what is legal and what is not when it comes to bringing cannabis to the airport. In addition, the TSA is a federal agency; the government is still hostile towards marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I substance – just as dangerous as cocaine – with no accepted medical use. These ads are possible because, while the TSA draws the line at political ads, it does not regulate advertising messages that appear in the strays that go through X-ray machines. The hope is that Organa Brand’s ads will clear up the confusion shared by many states where pot is legal.

President and CEO of SecurityPoint Media, Joseph T. Ambrefe, Jr., says, “I think this is an example of a company with a good educational message to drive dialogue, and also educate travelers whether you’re a California resident or visiting the state.”

Is your business trying to prepare for the California recreational marijuana in the coming year? Consider partnering with an alternative lender like Marijuana Merchant Account. Business owners can quickly secure the business funding and payment processing solutions they need to smoothly and securely operate. Have a strong start to 2018 and seize the many opportunities the new year will bring.


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.


Christmas in July, Nevada Celebrates Legalization of Recreational Weed

christmasNevada has joined Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in becoming the fifth state to open dispensaries to recreational users. The celebration that took place with the legalization July 1st at midnight included DJs, food trucks and long lines. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, the pro-pot legislator who backed both medical and recreational marijuana, was the first the make a purchase.

Scot Rutledge, who worked on the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign, describes it as “It’s like Christmas wrapped into New Year’s. It’s surreal.”

Amid the celebrations, some are asking a lot of questions. How does Nevada plan to regulate and process recreational measures? It may be the state where gambling, prostitution and drinking in public is legal, but recreational marijuana is still a new frontier – even for Nevada.

So far, it appears that Nevada is several steps ahead of the other recreational states. California Maine and Massachusetts also past recreational measures in November, but have yet to finalize their rules. Nevada, on the other hand, has shared that it expects to collect $70 million for education in the next two years by taxing recreational marijuana at around 34 percent. Nevada’s medical program (protected by a recently passed law) will collect fewer taxes; this will keep costs down for sick individuals.

Now, under Nevada law:

  • Individuals 21 years of age and older are now able to buy and possess up to an ounce of flower, or an eight-ounce of concentrates (wax, shatter and oil) at a dispensary located anywhere throughout the state.
  • Purchases are to be made in cash with a valid ID
  • Driving under the influence is illegal
  • And products can only be consumed on private property with the owner’s permission (does not include hotels and casinos)

At the moment, only Colorado is working towards public consumption by allowing bookstores and yoga studios the opportunity to apply for permits. However, Colorado’s only obstacle appears to be indoor smoking bans, which is not the case for Nevada. Still, many are optimistic that lounges connected to Nevada dispensaries could open later this year.

In the meantime, merchants do have the challenge of operating in cash-only. Traditional providers are typically unwilling to work with the marijuana industry because of the risks involved. This is where alternative providers – like Marijuana Merchant Account – have stepped in and offered safe payment processing solutions and flexible business funding options. For now, those behind the push for the legalization of recreational marijuana are very hopeful that changes in the right direction will continue.