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By LISA RATHKE,

Associated Press

Move over, pot brownies. The proliferation of marijuana edibles for both medical and recreational purposes is giving rise to a cottage industry of baked goods, candies, infused oils, cookbooks and classes that promises a slow burn as more states legalize the practice and awareness spreads about the best ways to deliver the drug.

Edibles and infused products such as snack bars, olive oils and tinctures popular with medical marijuana users have flourished into a gourmet market of chocolate truffles, whoopie pies and hard candies as Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the past year.

"You're seeing a lot of these types of products like cannabis cookbooks," said Erik Altieri, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "They've always been popular among a subset of marijuana, but with the fact that more and more people from the mainstream are able to consume, there's a lot more interest."

Many pot users turn to edibles because they don't like to inhale or smell the smoke or just want variety. For many people who are sick or in pain, controlled doses of edibles or tinctures can deliver a longer-lasting therapeutic dose that doesn't give them the high.

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Florida sits poised, anxiously waiting to see if it will join the District of Columbia and the other twenty-one US states that have already legalized marijuana for medicinal use. If voters prove to pass this law (A Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative) in the coming November elections, the sunshine state should receive an estimated $700 million in tax revenue. Even if laws don’t go into effect for a year, as has been the norm for most states that have allowed marijuana for medicinal use, entrepreneurs are already planning on ways to join in on this expanding multi-million dollar industry. 

Although legalization in Florida right now is mostly talk and speculation, which has not stopped those interested in capitalizing off cannabis to prepare for impending changes in current legislation. As legalization has not yet occurred, there have been no laws outlined by officials as to exact logistics for setting up business in the industry. There have, however, been entrepreneurs from other states whom have knowledge in the industry that are looking at real estate that may be capitalized on for future businesses that hold potential for medical marijuana.

If Florida voters decide to implement the legalization of medical marijuana into current law, officials may take heed on what other states have done before in establishing rules and regulations regarding businesses involved in the growing and distribution of medical cannabis. As Florida prepares for this monumental change, there are conferences and seminars taking place all over the state that allow those interested in starting a medical marijuana business that allow people to speak directly with lawyers, doctors, and experts in the medical marijuana field specific questions about operating such a business.

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Today, the House of Representatives voted on an amendment that stops the DEA and other federal prosecutors from arresting or charging, otherwise holding anyone federally legally liable for breaking the law in states where medical marijuana is already legalized. Generally and interestingly, no one expected the House to pass this amendment, making this quite the welcome surprise, even for supporters of this kind of legislation. Basically, the House voted to stop the feds from poking their noses into the affairs of states regarding their own medical marijuana laws- so if you use or sell medical marijuana in states where it’s legal, federal prosecution doesn’t concern you anymore. The bill still has to pass through the Senate, but with a current senate filled with supportive democratic votes, it sounds like this bill will be signed by the president in due time.

Federal prosecution has held back a lot of people looking to open a medical marijuana business in states where it’s been legalized. The reason being, even if you live in a state like California where medical marijuana is legal, if the Federal Government decides to do so they can arrest you and charge you for breaking federal law- even if you live in a state where its legal- and the state of California could do nothing about it. This sort of legal system flies in the face of many who value the idea of sovereignty among states, where laws made by states are withheld and uphold in those states and the Federal Government has no jurisdiction as to what happens in that state. Ideally, as long as medically grown marijuana isn’t passing over state lines, the federal government has no right to arrest and charge anyone.

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The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reminded marijuana growers in Colorado and Washington State that they not allowed to use federal irrigation waters – consistent with the Federal stance against the marijuana industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation maintains dams, canals and power plants in the western states including Colorado, Washington and California.

Dan DuBray, chief of public affairs stated "As a federal agency, Reclamation is obligated to adhere to federal law in the conduct of its responsibilities to the American people,", The bureau says it receives a number of inquiries about water usage for marijuana related operations.

"Reclamation will operate its facilities and administer its water-related contracts in a manner that is consistent with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, as amended. This includes locations where state law has decriminalized or authorized the cultivation of marijuana. Reclamation will refer any inconsistent uses of federal resources of which it becomes aware to the Department of Justice and coordinate with the proper enforcement authorities," it said.

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By Jane Futcher

At Willits News

Growers must lobby for fair regs, lawyer says

A prominent San Francisco civil rights attorney told a gathering of medical cannabis cultivators in Laytonville Monday, May 19, that they must lobby the California Legislature immediately to ensure that a medical marijuana-licensing bill now making its way through the Legislature is fair to farmers, patients and dispensaries.

Attorney Matt Kumin also predicted that by November 2016 a voter initiative on the state ballot could give voters the opportunity to pass a "recreational" use law allowing the commercial distribution, cultivation, and production of cannabis products for all adult use, not limited to medical.

Kumin said that the way farming communities approach the regulation of medical cannabis, which may pass this year, could have a significant impact on how the voter initiative in 2016 is written. That's why it's important to get the medical licensing law right.

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By Rob Garver

At The Fiscal Times

For most individuals and small business owners, having a relationship with a bank or credit union is as essential as basic utilities. You could no more open a restaurant without access to the payments system than you could without access to running water. Recently, though, there have been increasing reports of people learning that their accounts have been closed, or finding it difficult or impossible to open an account in the first place, because of the industry they work in, or who they are related to.

The most headline-grabbing examples of late have been porn stars. Adult film actor Teagan Presley and her husband, director Joshua Lehman went public with complaints about JP Morgan Chase closing both their business and personal accounts, allegedly because of their involvement in the adult entertainment industry. Others in the business have reported similar behavior by their banks.  

The banks’ moves appear to be linked to a government program, “Operation Choke Point,” meant to address fraud in the payments system by “choking off” access to businesses deemed to present a high risk of illegal activity. 

The problem is that the majority of the businesses that are being targets, while perhaps unsavory in the eyes of the government, aren’t illegal.

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By Carly Schwartz

At Huffington Post

After multiple failed attempts at regulating California's haphazard medical marijuana program, one state lawmaker has introduced legislation he believes will finally establish some order to the state's multibillion-dollar industry.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), whose measure, introduced last month, would create a statewide set of rules for California's marijuana businesses. "People have seen that the more regulation you have, the less chaos you have."

In recent years, Ammiano has sponsored a number of similar bills, each of which has stalled or was stopped by opponents who argued the legislation didn't address key issues, such as the environmental impacts of marijuana cultivation or the ability of local governments to tax the product. Ammiano says his latest measure, AB 1894, addresses every concern and more.

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Todd Harrison, CEO and founder of financial media company Minyanville, thinks marijuana "will be the single best investment idea for the next 10 years." He says that a lot of the penny stocks are volatile and are best left alone. The two companies that are established and that are worth looking into are GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) and Advanced Cannabis Solutions (CANN) both of these marijuana related companies have had tremendous upside in the last year. The marijuana industry is being described as the next dot.com boom. Long story short, there is a lot of money to be made in this industry if you invest wisely.

Read more about marijuana investment opportunities at  www.minyanville.com. 

By David Ingram and Jason Lange

At Reuters

The Obama administration on Friday sought to lessen the fear of prosecution for banks doing business with licensed marijuana companies, further encouraging U.S. states such as Colorado and Washington that are experimenting with legalizing the drug.

The Justice and Treasury departments outlined the policy in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide. The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks, but made clear that criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes was unlikely if they met a series of conditions, officials said.

The guidance was intended to increase the availability of banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to marijuana shops that typically deal in cash.

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By Katy Steinmetz

At Time.com

More than a dozen members of Congress called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday to remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of hard drugs, seizing upon his own comments in a recent interview that pot is no more dangerous than alcohol.

“We were encouraged by your recent comments,” the letter from 17 Democrats and one Republican said. “We request that you take action to help alleviate the harms to society caused by the federal Schedule I classification of marijuana. … You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance. …. Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification.

“This makes no sense,” the lawmakers added.

Obama recently told the New Yorker that marijuana isn’t more harmful than alcohol when it comes to “its impact on the individual consumer.” Legalization advocates quickly jumped on those remarks and started a petition on Change.org, saying Obama should put his money where his mouth is and remove pot from Schedule I list of drugs, where it currently resides alongside substances like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

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