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Sessions v. Everyone 

Briefs from cannabis news across the country

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Here's (almost) everything that's happening in cannabis-related news, near and far.

Bill v. Memo

As things in Washington grow ever more hyper-partisan, it seems important to take note when Democrats and Republicans actually seem willing to meet in the middle, such as the recent introduction of the "Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act" brought by Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). The bill would essentially codify the language in the Cole Memo, approved by President Barack Obama in 2013, which created a "hands-off" approach to federal enforcement of marijuana laws. Cannaphobic U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that memo in January, sparking concern among advocates and industry folks that federally-funded law enforcement might be swooping down on state-legal crops, farmers and distributors.

In his statement, Correa cited the "great uncertainty" that Sessions' actions had caused for citizens and legal cannabis businesses. Goetz expressed his dismay with the original Cole Memo, referring to it as "bad governance."

"We are a nation of laws, not department-wide memos," Goetz said when introducing the bill. 

The Florida rep cited his experience watching residents of his state receive the benefit of medical marijuana, and called upon President Donald Trump to uphold a non-interference policy with regard to cannabis. The bill, should it make its way into law, would potentially satisfy the small-government ethos of Republicans like Goetz, as well as easing the angst of folks in green states.

Cash v. Credit

If you're sick of having to stop by the ATM before heading to the dispensary, a solution might be on the horizon. A new debit app, CanPay, sidesteps the hurdle of federal banking laws that have prohibited major card companies like Visa and Mastercard from working with cannabis retailers. The free app acts as a debit card, generating a QR code for retailers to scan.

State v. Venue

Humboldt Green, organizer of the trade festival Cannifest, announced last week that this year's event, which was scheduled to be held at Redwood Acres Fairground on May 5 and 6, has been indefinitely postponed. Stephen Geider, Humboldt Green's founder, said this came after his organization was unable to reconcile the venue's guidelines with the new, stricter state guidelines around cannabis events.

"A lot of it has to do with children on the premises," Geider told the Journal. "Now these are only 21-and-over events. [Redwood Acres uses] their fairgrounds for all kinds of businesses. They have kids coming and going, doing karate throughout the weekend. They're interested in putting up a fence, creating a boundary, but the state says you can't do that."

Because the state's regulations for cannabis events were dropped so late in 2017, Geider told the Journal it gave his organization very little time to recruit vendors and work out if potential venues would be in compliance. He sounds optimistic that the event will be on the books somewhere, sometime this year and also suggested that in 2019 it may go on the road, booking fairgrounds elsewhere in the state.

Berkeley v. Sessions

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Berkeley's mayor, Jesse ArreguĂ­n, has signed into law a resolution declaring Berkeley a "cannabis sanctuary city," meaning that city officials are prohibited from using city money or resources to assist with federal prosecution of legal cannabis businesses.

Linda Stansberry is a staff writer at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LCStansberry.

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About The Author

Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry was a staff writer of the North Coast Journal from 2015 to 2018. She is a frequent contributor the the Journal and our other publications.

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