A couple of days ago, The New York Times quoted one of our cannabis business lawyers, Hilary Bricken, in an article entitled, Providers of Medical Marijuana Face New Fears. The article was on Washington State’s efforts to greatly restrict (perhaps even kill) the medical marijuana collective garden system in favor of a recreational marijuana only regime and Hilary was quoted on that issue:

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Marijuana legalization (in some shape or form) is sweeping the nation. We now have 20 states and the District of Columbia with marijuana regulations on the books. Alaska and Oregon are looking to legalize anytime between 2014 and 2016; more states are experimenting with medical marijuana. Even the southeast is welcoming the idea of marijuana (including Florida which will see medical marijuana on the ballot this November). Investors are looking to invest their money in marijuana businesses. Banks are looking to provide financial services to the cannabis industry now that the Feds have provided guidance on what they can and cannot do when accepting marijuana dollars from entrepreneurs. And our own Commander-in-Chief openly admitted that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.
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The Department of Treasury today issued guidance for financial institutions that want to do business with the marijuana industry.

The primary force keeping banks away from the marijuana industry has always been regulations issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) dealing with money laundering. The Bank Secrecy Act that FinCEN enforces requires banks to investigate their customers and to neither negligently or knowingly do business with bad actors. State-legal marijuana businesses have always fallen into the category of bad actors for the banks, so they avoided potential fines by refusing to provide banking services to marijuana businesses.
Today’s regulations, however, clarify that banks can provide services to marijuana businesses without running afoul of federal regulations, so long as they abide by the following:

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One of the interesting things about practicing marijuana business law in multiple states is that we get to compare how different states deal with various legal issues relating to the marijuana industry. Many states limit licenses to residents and make their final choices by some sort of random drawing. What distinguishes Nevada and its Bill 374 is that it takes a very different tact on both of these issues.

And we applaud it for that.
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The Canna Law Group is putting on a cannabis industry party for those involved with or interested in getting into the cannabis business.

The party will be on Tuesday, February 4 from 6-9 p.m at Quartino Ristorante and Wine Bar in Chicago. Admission is free for NCIA members and $50.00 for non-members. Your admission fee pays for your food and your beer and wine.
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One of the problems with cannabis in the United States is its balkanized legalization scheme. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington states, but nowhere else. About twenty other states have legalized marijuana to varying degrees.

But as everyone knows, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And that’s the problem.

Because growing, selling, processing and even possessing cannabis is a federal offense, we are not seeing large public (or private) companies getting involved in the marijuana business in the United States. Why should they?

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Many in the marijuana industry are waiting to open dispensaries in Sin City. Unfortunately, they are going to need to wait even longer as Las Vegas’s City attorney, Brad Jerbic, has “bowed out” from drafting the city’s new dispensary laws for fear of Federal intervention.

In 2013, Nevada’s legislature passed a bill allowing 40 heavily regulated medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened in Clark County, which encompasses the State’s two biggest cities, Las Vegas and Henderson. Nonetheless, last week, City Attorney Jerbic said he would not be drafting Las Vegas’s much-needed medical marijuana ordinance because Nevada’s marijuana laws allegedly conflict with those of the Federal government.

The timing of Jerbic’s letter is telling, as it follows by only two weeks the Henderson City Council’s six-month moratorium on marijuana dispensary land use applications and permits for the same reason. In the summer of 2013, Las Vegas also banned dispensaries after receiving a flood of attention from industry enthusiasts about taking their marijuana talents to the Strip.

Not everyone on the Las Vegas City council applauds Jerbic’s decision to temporarily withdraw.
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