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Toke Signals Stories of the Week

Medical Marijuana Helping To Reduce Painkiller Abuse, Deaths

(Hemp News)

States with medical marijuana have seen the number of admissions to drug rehab facilities for pain medication and opioid overdoses decrease by 15 percent and 16 percent respectively, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers,” the researchers concluded.

Other studies have examined the relationship between legal cannabis use and opioid overdose rates, but this is the first study to track addiction to opioids, as well, reports Katherine Ellen Foley at Quartz.

The paper builds on previous work showing that “states with medical marijuana laws on the books saw 24.8 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses compared to states that didn’t have such laws,” reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. But the new paper’s findings are even more compelling — it uses more data, and the authors drew on a broader range of statistical methods to test the validity of their data.


Federal Appeals Court Says Marijuana Businesses Cannot Deduct Expenses

(Hemp News)

In a huge blow to the newly legal marijuana industry, the IRS has convinced the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that marijuana dispensaries can’t deduct business expenses, and must pay taxes on 100 percent of their gross income, reports Robert W. Wood at Forbes.

Almost every business in the United States pays taxes only on net profits, after expenses. But marijuana businesses are different — they must pay taxes on gross profits, according to a Ninth Circuit federal court decision on Thursday, reports Paul L. Caron at the TaxProf Blog.

The court affirmed than the Internal Revenue Service’s Section 280E prevents a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary from deducting ordinary or necessary business expenses because its Vapor Room is a “trade or business … consist[ing] of trafficking in controlled substances … prohibited by Federal law.” [Olive v. Commissioner, No. 13-70510 (July 9, 2015)

The huge tax revenues suggested by many observers and law makers could evaporate quickly as businesses go bankrupt after the decision on the case, made on appeal from a U.S. Tax Court decision. Washington state collected about $65 million in taxes on the first year of recreational marijuana sales, while Colorado collected a reported $43 million.


Oregon Travelers Can Fly With Recreational Marijuana

(Hemp News)

Travelers at Portland International Airport in Oregon can legally board airplanes with up to an ounce of marijuana for in-state flights under the state’s new law legalizing recreational cannabis, UPI reported on Thursday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not focused on finding marijuana, but rather on security and safety issues, according to airport officials, UPI reported. If TSA agents at Portland International Airport find marijuana, local police will be notified to ensure it is within the legal weight limit (up to an ounce), the passenger is of legal age (21), and the boarding pass indicates an in-state flight. If all that checks out, the passenger is free to go.

“Traveling across state lines [with marijuana] is still a federal crime,” said Steve Johnson of the Port of Portland. “However, if someone is flying within the state to another destination in the state, traveling with recreational marijuana is allowable if they meet all the legal requirements.”

Passengers with marijuana who don’t meet the legal requirements will be given the option to store the cannabis in a safe place (like a car), give it to someone 21 or older who is not traveling, or surrender it to law enforcement to be “destroyed” (yeah, right, probably a joint at the time, man).


Yet Another Scientific Study Debunks Marijuana Gateway Theory

(Hemp News)

Yet another scientific study has been added to the mountain of evidence debunking to so-called “gateway theory,” which maintains that marijuana use leads to harder drugs.

Teens instead smoke cannabis for very specific reasons, researchers report in the new study, and it is those same reasons which sometimes prompt them to try other drugs, reports Dennis Thompson at HealthDay News.

Youths who use marijuana because they are bored, for example, are more likely to also use cocaine, while kids using weed to achieve insight or understanding are more likely to try psilocybin mushrooms, according to the findings, recently published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

“We found that marijuana use within itself wasn’t a risk factor for use of other drugs,” said lead author Joseph Palamar, assistant professor in the department of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn’t marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs.”


Colorado Marijuana Tax For Schools Hits Record; Exceeds 2014 Total

(Hemp News)

Just-released marijuana tax data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that schools in the state received more money from the state’s cannabis excise tax in the first five months of 2015 than they did all year in 2014.

“It sounds very encouraging,” said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), reports Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist. “Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition.”

Recreational marijuana is taxed three ways in Colorado: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a special 10 percent special cannabis sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers.

The excise tax money grew from $2.5 million in March to $3.5 million in May. It brought it $13.6 million through May 2015, more than the $13.3 million it drew in all of 2014. The two main reasons for the jump are more marijuana stores opening and a one-time tax-exempt transfer which benefited the shops.


Italy Parliament Looks At Marijuana Legalization

(Hemp News)

A proposal to legalize the recreational use of cannabis has been introduced in the Italian parliament, and has gained the support of more than 200 lawmakers.

The Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party committee of lawmakers, agreed on a provisional text to legalize the consumption, growing, production and sale of cannabis under certain conditions. “The text was signed by 218 members of parliament, and not just the usual backers of such measures,” reports Antoine Sander at Politico.

The bill would make it legal to possess up to 15 grams of marijuana, to cultivate up to five plants, and to smoke it in private, and would allow its sale in government-licensed shops, reports The Courier Mail of Brisbane.

Cannabis clubs, with a maximum of 50 people, could cultivate marijuana as a group and then share the harvest,


Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

(Hemp News)

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Wednesday signed House Bill 321, legalizing and establishing a system of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for 15 years, but patients haven’t had an official place to buy their medicine. Instead, they had to grow their own cannabis, or had a caretaker do it for them, reports Anita Hofschneider at Civil Beat.

The bill will also stop counties from enacting zoning regulations that discriminate against licensed dispensaries and marijuana production centers, reports Jamilia Epping at Big Island Now.

“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana,” the Governor said said. “We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor.”


Toke Signals Must Read of the Week

Washington State Medical Marijuana Patients To Rally July 24

(Hemp News)

On April 24 this year, Governor Jay Inslee chose the Washington State Liquor Control Board to regulate medicine by signing into law SB 5052. When one reads the law and federal and state constitutions, how does one not come to the conclusion that it violates the various amendments of our constitutions; as well as various federal and state laws under HIPAA, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections, protections from monopolies, etc.?

On July 8, 2015, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Sheriff John Urquhart announced that they are closing collective gardens around unincorporated areas of the county in 30 days, moving well ahead of the July 1, 2016 deadline signed into law. Their reason was that they must protect the recreational store down the block in White Center, and get taxes to Washington state — even though it was already scheduled to happen to collective gardens by the July 2016 deadline.

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