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By Tom Angell

At News.marijuana.com

The latest in a series of Congressional bills intended to scale back the federal war on marijuana would make it easier for state-legal cannabis businesses to access banking services.

The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, introduced by 18 Democrats and one Republican, would protect banks from criminal penalties and asset forfeiture proceedings that they currently risk under federal law when doing business with entities in the marijuana industry.

Last year, the Obama administration released (MMJ banking guidance) intended to make it easier for banks to do business with cannabis sellers, but many financial industry leaders remain wary. They say that until federal law actually changes — as opposed to relying on nonbinding memos that could be changed by this or future administrations — they’re going to stay away.

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By Sean Williams

At Fool.com

Public opinion suggests that a growing number of Americans would approve of legalizing marijuana. But how long could it take for the U.S. government to actually make sweeping changes to the current marijuana laws? Americans' answers in this latest poll might surprise you! The marijuana movement is transforming before our eyes, whether you're for legalization, against it, or are undecided.

Over the past two decades, nearly two dozen states have legalized marijuana for medical use. Meanwhile, four states have legalized the recreational, adult use of marijuana since 2012. Long gone are the days where the idea of legalizing marijuana derived 25% or less support from polling the public. Now, you'll find nearly overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana, and a slight bias in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.

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Marijuana has been illegal according to federal law since the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, but that may soon change. A bipartisan bill is gaining significant support that will ease the legal issues for people in states, like Colorado and California, which have booming legal marijuana industries. For those operating business related to marijuana in states that have legalized different forms and uses of marijuana, they have still been technically breaking federal law. Lawmakers have long acknowledged the need for change, but it has been a long time coming.

Earlier this month, a bill was finally introduced that would help eliminate the contradictions between federal and state law, making activities related to marijuana (i.e. medical marijuana usage , reseaching of marijuana, and Vetran participation) that are legal according to the state they take place in legal for federal purposes as well. Rescheduling of marihuana will allow this industry to grow more rapidly and further remove the stigmata. Marijuana has become widely accepted in recent years, especially as a medicinal drug. Even recreational use has become more socially acceptable and legal in a growing number of areas. However, federal law continues to treat it as an illegal substance (schedule 1 drug), creating difficulties for business in tax reporting, interstate shipping, and financing.

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Bipartisan medical marijuana legislation  was released on Capitol Hill this week.

On Monday, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and  Rep. Don Young (R-AK), introduced legislation  that would legalize medical marijuana on a Federal level.

The CARERS Act  ‘‘Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act of 2015’’ matches the Senate bill Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that was introduced a few weeks ago.

 The bill would open up the medical marijuana industry by 1. Rescheduling marijuana (removing its Schedule 1 classification). 2. Allowing banks to service medical marijuana operations, 3. Allow for marijuana research 4. Allow for interstate commerce in certain situations and other various changes.

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By Philip Ross

At International Business Times

Three U.S. senators are expected to introduce a bill into Congress today (3/10/15) that would legalize medical marijuana nationwide, a move advocates of marijuana legalization are applauding as an historic step toward ending the federal prohibition on a product whose medicinal applications are many. Experts described it as the most far-reaching medical marijuana bill ever to go to Congress and the first time such a bill has been seen in the Senate.

“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an emailed statement. “The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana … The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.”  

Among other things, the bill would downgrade marijuana to Schedule 2 on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification system. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana currently is considered as having a “high potential for abuse” and “no … accepted medical use.”

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By Thomas Atkins

At AFP

From aspiring "bud tenders" to research scientists and Wall Street analysts, marijuana enthusiasts of every stripe gathered in Washington looking for ways to capitalize on America's evolving pot laws.

Billions of dollars could be up for grabs in years to come as states allow medical marijuana or fully decriminalize the drug — even though it remains illegal under federal law.

In a scene unthinkable during the first two decades of America's long-standing "war on drugs," dozens of pot industry representatives squeezed into a swish hotel just a few blocks from the United States Capitol.

Several were raising money for cannabis ventures or looking to recruit staff but — aside from some futuristic-looking metal pipes and glass bongs — there was little of the paraphernalia one might ordinarily expect at a cannabis convention.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you kind of need to jump on it now to be ahead of the game," said Nicklaus Tilford, a Tennessee chef who had just given his resume to a Washington-based medicinal marijuana grower searching for a part-time "junior gardener."

"It's either now or never," he said.

A total of 23 states have now legalized marijuana for medical use. Colorado, Washington state, Alaska, Oregon and the US capital have recently passed laws legalizing it altogether.

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By Aniko Hoover

At BestDUILawyer.com 

It's a very interesting time for Law in California.  In California, Police routinely ignore new laws and policy and continue to raid grows and issue DUI's to patients who have less than 5ng/ml of THC in their blood. While technically or scientifically speaking the police and district attorneys may be wrong, patients who think they are following the law, and possibly are following the law, routinely plead guilty in plea bargains to crimes even though technically they may be completely innocent. Most patients caught up in the legal system simply cannot afford the legal fees for private attorneys and for a trial which would require them to provide expert witnesses to prove their innocence. So, while the law may say you are legal to grow the plants you need and are legal to take your medicine, the law can be thrown out the window when the police stumble upon your grow or you pass through a DUI checkpoint.

As you may or may not know, 5ng/ml of THC is sort of a standard in determining whether or not someone will be charged with a DUI in states like Colorado and Washington or Montana for determining if someone is impaired because it is equated with driving that is similar to drunk driving.

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By Lisa Leff

At Associated Press

Marijuana legalization proponents are gathering in San Francisco this weekend to hear about efforts to add the nation's most populous — and arguably most pot-infused — state to the four others where it is now legal for adults to buy and use the drug recreationally.

The International Cannabis Business Conference on Sunday and Monday is expected to draw about 1,000 investors, entrepreneurs and activists from California and elsewhere for an overview of the legalization landscape.

Advocacy groups are now drafting a 2016 ballot initiative that could transform California from a place where only medical marijuana is legal to a global center of state-approved recreational weed.

The measure's passage might seem like a foregone conclusion after voters in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska legalized marijuana use and obliged their governments to develop guidelines for how and where pot can be grown, sold and taxed.

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By Sean Williams

At the Motley Fool

To put it mildly, marijuana is a complicated issue.

Over the past decade we've seen public opinion on the drug make a complete 180, moving from a majority of people preferring it remain illegal, to a majority of the public now favoring its legalization in some form (either medically or recreationally).

Marijuana's dual allure
The rationale behind marijuana legalization takes two main forms. From the perspective of individual states, it offers a fresh way of generating tax revenue without having to boost taxes on all residents within a state. Both recreational and medical marijuana being prescribed/sold bear taxes that consumers pay. These taxes can help states bridge budget deficits without affecting all residents' pocketbooks.

Source: GW Pharmaceuticals.

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