- Fw: Maine Ends Medical Marijuana Deduction For Food Stamps! [1 Update]
- Do the work…again [1 Update]
- Time To Call on "The Largest"? [1 Update]
- Chris Kenoyer/OLP <s..[email protected]> Jul 17 07:11PM -0700
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Maine Ends Medical Marijuana Deduction For Food Stamps!
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine was one of a handful of states that allowed some food stamp
applicants to deduct medical marijuana expenses from their income for the purpose of
determining benefits, but last week that practice was stopped by order of federal officials.
Back To The Maine Patients Coalition Main Index Page
By Mal Leary, Capitol News Services
Posted July 17th 2012
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine was one of a handful of states that allowed some food stamp applicants to deduct medical marijuana expenses from their income for the purpose of determining benefits, but last week that practice was stopped by order of federal officials.
“They told us it is not an allowable deduction and we have stopped allowing it,” said Dale Denno, director of the Office of Family Independence, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
He said the deduction was limited to elderly or permanently disabled Mainers and not all of the people eligible for SNAP benefits. He said his agency does not know how many individuals are affected by the change but said he believed it was a small number.
Maine, New Mexico and Oregon have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Denno said Maine’s law requires a doctor to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
“Since the regulation talked about both prescription drugs and other medications approved by a licensed practitioner, it appeared to be encompassed in that broader definition,” he said. “They now clarify that a household may not use the SNAP medical deduction for the use of medical marijuana.”
Denno said the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds and administers the SNAP program, is clear to the three states that the deduction must end or the states face penalties.
“States that currently allow for the deduction of medical marijuana must cease this practice immediately,” wrote Lisbeth Silbermann of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Denno said the records of all SNAP recipients possibly affected by the clarification are being reviewed and the state will adjust benefits to reflect the change.
“This will take a while as we have to review each record,” said Mike Frye, state SNAP program director. He said while there probably are not many individuals affected by the change, identifying them and recomputing their benefits will take time.
“Once again this shows how out of touch the government is with its own citizens,” said Paul McCarrier with the trade group Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine. He said the Maine law was the result of a citizen ballot initiative, was passed by a wide margin and has strong public support.
McCarrier said the ruling affects groups including the elderly and the permanently disabled that are known to use medical marijuana to alleviate chronic pain. Those groups already are hurt by out-of-pocket costs for medicines, he said.
“These people need to continue to have access to the medicines they choose to use,” he said.
McCarrier said the action by USDA and the state shows how important it is for those who use medical marijuana to testify when the rulemaking hearing is held later this summer for the state medical marijuana law.
What likely will anger many of the individuals who have been using the deduction is the federal requirement for the state to recover “overpayments,” even though the state allowed the deduction.
“It just seems patently unfair of the USDA to tell the state to go after these funds,” said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. “If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you are just barely getting by.”
Pingree serves on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and has contacted USDA to express her opposition to the action. She said an amendment disallowing the deduction had been included in the House version of the Farm Bill, but the USDA should have waited for final congressional action on the issue before sending the memo banning the deduction.
“I don’t think this is fair to these people that were benefiting from this, and I don’t think it is fair to the people of Maine that passed this law,” she said. “I supported the law and I support a federal medical marijuana law.”
The conference committee to write the final version of the Farm Bill has yet to complete its work
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- Mickey Martin <s..[email protected]> Jul 17 09:19AM -0700
Do the work…again.
Posted by Mickey Martin on July 17th, 2012
Activism comes in many forms.
Cannabis activism can be a thankless role in our society. On one hand you are preaching to a largely unmotivated and cynical choir that already likes weed, but because weed is so readily available and largely not a major problem, they do not heed the call to activism. On the other side you have those who are uneducated and skeptical about cannabis due to decades of misinformation and drug war propaganda. Both audiences present challenges in messaging and methodology.
For the person who already likes weed but does not get the sense of urgency to actually do anything about these disastrous laws that are ruining our society, the objective is to find their motivation to get them to become active. This person already shares your views on cannabis freedom, and just needs a fire lit under their ass to join the fight. So what is your job? To light that fire. Too often we shy from the opportunity to have real and meaningful conversations about pot. We like to discuss how good it is, and how it grows, and all of the new fandangled methods of ingestion that are out there…but what about that “coming to Jesus” discussion about weed? Is anyone having that?
It is easy…it starts like this….
“Dude, can you believe we lock up 25% of the world’s prison population but only have 5% of the actual population? That is insane. We are taking poor people to jail for weed and other non-violent drug offenses at alarming rates. It is ruining our society. It makes me very sad and angry.”
Did you see what happened there? You used real hard facts, combined with personal emotion, to create a dialogue that is both informative, and meaningful. The person you are having the discussion is forced to think about how the joint they enjoy helps fuel the war on drugs an in turn, imprisons poor kids who sell weed ”illegally.” You create an enormous realization when you can clearly show how out of control our nation’s drug laws are. The next thing to do is to challenge the person to be a part of the solution.
The way this battle ends is with many more of us demanding an end to these policies than those that choose to keep them in place. When the voice of the American public grows louder than the big business lobbying groups that have sold us the drug war, then we win. So we must encourage our friends, family and supporters to continue to carry the message that this thing must end and we must quit taking people to jail for weed. It is not working. Encourage people to make phone calls and spread our message far and wide.
Every conversation is important, whether it is other families on your kid’s soccer team, or some random person in line at the grocery store. If you can educate just one person, and motivate them to educate and inspire another, then we are making good progress. People have to feel empowered to do the work, and to find success to encourage them to do it again and again. Brick by brick we remove the walls of prohibition. The power to do this lies in our ability to inform and motivate our neighbors to join us on our quest for cannabis freedom. Nine out of ten people understand that the war on cannabis has failed and that we need a new direction.
But every once in a while you will come upon some died-in-the-wool prohibitionist who clings to the theory that we can arrest our way out of our nation’s drug laws. These people are fucking crazy, but a part of our society that we have to live with nonetheless. Some of these folks have just drank the crazy kool-aid in one form or another. They have bought the propaganda that cannabis is illegal and that people who use all “illegal” drugs are criminals and derelicts. They have blinded themselves to the reality that our society is filled with drugs, and that our strategy to simply lock up everyone in sight who uses this drug, while celebrating people who use these other drugs, has just failed miserably. It is our duty to wake these people up to the facts….the most dangerous things about drugs is their being illegal and us making criminals out of so many good people in the name of prohibition.
Some people may never get it, and that is okay. Many have bought into the dramatic storyline of a rehab experience, or have invested into a religious view that these certain drugs are evil, and some are just in it for the money and make their paycheck from weed being illegal. In fact, a lot of fucking people make their income off of weed and other drugs being illegal. Lawyers, prison workers, cops, doctors, rehab workers, drug testers, booze workers, bail bonders, and dozens of other groups and industries that make their coin on the backs of the drug war and taking poor people to jail for weed. It is sick really.
There are two strategies you can take with these type of pro-prohibition cannaphobic people. One is to work to change their views. To do this you must have knowledge and evidence of why their views are immoral, unjust and out of step with the reality. You must be able to make an argument that is captivating enough to make them consider it, and you have to be convincing. More convincing than their rehab counselor, preacher, or industry trade group has ever been. But you would be surprised how many are willing to listen. If you can lay out the basic facts that we are sacrificing safe communities and wasting immeasurable resources to prop up a failed drug war, you can make the case for reform.
The other strategy is to attack their views aggressively and call them out for the immorality of the prohibitionist position. Remind them (gently or not) that their choice to support prohibition results in thousands of deaths and a prison population that is by far the highest on earth. Their position supports organized crime and supports taking money away from schools to fund militarized police forces that chase people around for safe and enjoyable plants. You must be sure they know that by promoting drug enforcement, or the status quo, they are a part of the problem. Their views continue to create a dangerous and criminal black market where drugs are more readily available than ever, despite our incarcerating 5x the amount of people than the rest of the planet. Their position attacks the underprivileged, and tears at the moral fabric of our society. When in doubt, make them feel some shame for their position. It may not work immediately, but you
plant a seed. People generally like to be respected, and if they have to worry that their personal position on weed may be out of step with the rest of our society, they may quietly change that position on their own time.
The reality is that anyone who thinks the current system is working is just not living in reality. We are almost there. It is our duty to DO THE WORK; and when you are done doing the work, DO IT AGAIN. The way we win this thing is through social justice and a call for meaningful change in our nation’s policies. This is happening…more and more every day. Our conversations are working. We are winning the hearts and minds of millions of people a day, We must not stop now. We must put the pedal to the metal and get this thing done. Now get back to work….
T-Comp Consulting Director
Author of Medical Marijuana 101
***The views expressed in this communication are not necessarily the views of T-Comp Consulting, Tainted Compassion, Cannabis Warrior any other group I am affiliated with.***
- William West <s..[email protected]> Jul 16 10:26PM -0700
ASA we need you! Now is the time for a National
ASA we need you! Now is the time for a National
Let me start off by saying I’m not a fan of big business, in this case MMJ
dispensaries, taking obscene profits off of the backs of farmers who get
the ‘wholesale screw’ when it comes to what a dispensary should and could
pay as a fair price for all their hard work. Nor am I coming to the
dispensary’s defense when they pile on the over the counter price to
patients that want to ‘play by the rules’ have a card and attempt to comply
with the laws in the state that they live in.
I am a fan of a dispensary making a profit, it’s what keeps the light on,
and playing by the rules in the state they do business in. And by playing
by the rules I mean, all dispensaries have to be sqeaky clean and lead by
example to a minimum as follows;
1) Ascertaining that all their patients have state approved cards
2) That state guidelines for dispensing of the products is being followed
3) That they are good members of the community. And by that I mean they are
accessible when neighbors’ complaints are made known, they outreach to
inform anyone who care to know more what exactly it is they do and how
their products and services benefit those who choose to use them.
4) They pay their bills.
5) They pay their taxes and are transparent insofar as the law requires, as
to what the returns show in the form net profits after expenses have been
transparently accounted for.
6) Be advocates in the effort to expand the science and understanding of
7) Be advocates of developing standards that apply to all MMJ products that
will lead to better controls of product standards and quality. This
standardization will than assist in better management of medically
qualified prescription responses to specific conditions and dosing to treat
If I were to describe the poster child big business dispensary that met
these standards it would have to be Steve D’Angelos Harborside Patients
Group. With over 100,000 patients and $22M in reported annual gross sales
HPG may qualify as the nation’s largest dispensary.
Today HPG is in a fight for its very right to exist with the federal
government on two fronts. The first being the IRS:
The IRS has ruled that HPG, one of California’s largest medical marijuana
dispensaries, owes $2.5 million in taxes. Such a large tax bill could
potentially force Harborside out of business.
The problem is not that HPG has been involved in any form of tax evasion or
attempts to defraud the government. The issue is that the IRS has
determined that an obscure provision of a 1982 federal law prevents a
marijuana dispensary from qualifying for the standard deductions that any
other normal business could use. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Harborside Health Center owes the Internal Revenue Service back taxes for
2007 and 2008, based on a federal law prohibiting marijuana dispensaries –
unlike other businesses – from deducting payroll, insurance, rent, workers’
compensation and other operating costs from its revenues.
“We think this assessment is unfair and inaccurate. We have no choice but
to fight this,” said Harborside executive director Steve DeAngelo. “I’m
profoundly concerned on behalf of our patients.”
The issue at stake here is much bigger than the fate of HPG. If marijuana
dispensaries’ federal tax responsibility isn’t calculated in the same way
as a normal business, the huge added tax burden could make running such
dispensaries extremely difficult if not impossible. Not being able to
deduct normal expenses like payroll and rent would cause a dispensary’s
federal tax bill to increase several fold.
The precedent the IRS is trying to establishing with this HPG case could
easily cripple or destroy the entire medical marijuana industry in this
country. The result could be thousands of Americans all over the country
losing their jobs in the industry and thousands of patients losing their
safe access to the medicine they depend on.
Then what sets up HPG latest imbroglio with the fed stems from the October
2007 the DOJ notices that were sent to all California dispensaries giving
them notice to shut down or risk civil forfeiture actions;
“We want to put to rest the notion that large marijuana businesses can
shelter themselves under state law,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, the
top federal prosecutor in San Francisco. She joined U.S attorneys from
Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles in Sacramento.
Haag said the 1996 voter-approved law “has been hijacked by profiteers …
using the cover to make enormous amounts of money.”
In a separate statement, the U.S. attorney for the central district of
California, André Birotte Jr., said: “It is important to note that
for-profit, commercial marijuana operations are illegal not only under
federal law, but also under California law. While California law permits
collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances, it does not
allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across
True to their word; on July 10th 2012 DEA agents taped a notice of property
forfeiture to the HPG doors.
The federal government is moving to shut down the nation’s largest and
highest-profile medical marijuana dispensary operation, filing papers to
seize properties in Oakland and San Jose where Harborside Health Center
does business. Copies of the federal Complaint for Forfeiture were taped to
the front doors of the two dispensaries Tuesday, alleging that they were
“operating in violation of federal law.”
Medical marijuana advocates, as well as some state and local officials,
decried the action, saying it hurts patients in legitimate need of the drug
and breaks repeated promises by President Obama’s Justice Department that
it was targeting only operations near schools and parks or otherwise in
violation of the state’s laws. The U.S. attorney for Northern California,
Melinda Haag, said she now found “the need to consider actions regarding
marijuana superstores such as Harborside” because they presented unique
opportunities for abuse.
A similar notice was sent to Harborside’s smaller sister dispensary in San
Jose. The complaint is the latest shot in a campaign Haag and other U.S.
attorneys have waged since last fall against medical marijuana operations
in California. She says any activity that goes beyond small medical
marijuana exchanges violates the spirit of the state law that voters passed
in 1996 authorizing pot use for medicinal purposes.
“Harborside, Haag said in a statement Wednesday, is among “superstores”
that violate the spirit of the law. “The larger the operation, the greater
the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana
law, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a
demonstrated medical need. The filing of the civil forfeiture complaints
against the two Harborside properties is part of our measured effort to
address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the Northern
District of California.”
The problem I have with statements such as ‘superstores that violate the
spirit of the state law that voters passed in 1996 authorizing pot use for
medicinal purposes’ and ‘demonstrated medical need’ leave the reader
believing that the fed is not opposed to distribution under ambiguous
federal determinations in that the fed’s decision to seize the HPG building
and contents has more to do with the size of the business and their not
‘being in the spirit’ of state law.
There is no ambiguity in the federal DOJ-DEA interpretation of the use of
marijuana for the treatment of any medical treatment.
As a schedule 1 drug the federal position has always been at odds with any
states law that would declare the distribution of a schedule 1 drug to be
legal in direct violation of the controlled substance act. Period.
Some will point to the DOJ Ogden memo of October 2009
http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/192 that gave federal prosecutors
‘discretionary authority over who they would prosecute under federal law as
to how state distribution programs are allowed to exist without federal
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal
resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and
unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical
use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or
other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended
treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers
in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide
such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of
limited federal resources.-
Regarded as a partial success for states who began licensing medical
marijuana dispensaries it was poorly written in that it left the federal
prosecutors ambiguous guidelines as to when federal enforcement would be
initiated. This memo did help spawn an industry though.
But that memo stood only so long since on June 2011 the Ogden Memo was
overridden and ‘clarified’ in an attempt to rewrite history under this
amended memo to federal prosecutors;
The Ogden Memorandum was never intended to shield such activities from
federal enforcement action and prosecution, even where those activities
purport to comply with state law. Persons who are in the business of
cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly
facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances
Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with resource constraints and the
discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to
federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or
local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of
federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA.
Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity
may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other
federal financial laws.
Federal interpretation of state guidelines that would allow this ‘industry’
to exist as a conduit to distribute a Schedule 1 drug runs contrary to the
Controlled Substance Act.
and as further detailed in DEA – US Department of Justice 1308 para d(31)
While there are numerous persuasive and logical arguments that would lend
themselves to reclassifying cannabis under a different classification that
has yet to be done.
All arguments to reclassify cannabis have gone largely unnoticed by the
Federal Government. Instead selective federal enforcement of these laws is
being utilized to shut down dispensaries in states where ‘legal’ guidelines
have been setup under state initiatives to dispense cannabis in clear
defiance of these federal laws and as directed under the DOJ memorandums
directing them to do so.
With the October 2007 DOJ notice to close many CA dispensary operators
sought a low profile since California’s four U.S. attorneys began cracking
down on the industry in October, DeAngelo has consistently railed against
the federal intervention, advocated for better state regulations and become
a leader in the movement. “People are not going to stop using cannabis,
they’re just going to buy it in the illegal marketplace … on the streets,”
he said Wednesday in an interview. “Why are federal prosecutors using their
discretion to do something so profoundly destructive?”
DeAngelo said that he would “fight the Justice Department openly and in
public and that he would resist any effort by his landlords to evict the
dispensaries in response to the federal complaint — which target the
property owners, not the tenants.”
While all marijuana use and sales are illegal under federal law, Atty. Gen.
Eric H. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee that federal agents were
”targeting only those large-scale growers and dispensaries that have “come
up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws, and
going beyond that which the states have authorized.”
In a statement released late Wednesday, Haag suggested “superstores such as
Harborside” fit that bill.
“The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be
abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of
individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.”
She noted that Harborside claims to have “over 108,000 customers.”
California’s medical marijuana laws are nebulous in regard to how the drug
is to be distributed and courts have yet to settle the matter. Still,
marijuana activists often hail HPG as a model of professionalism and
compliance. Its main facility in Oakland is one of four independent
enterprises permitted and strictly regulated by the city.
“If Harborside is not in compliance with state law, no one is,” said
The Oakland dispensary was awarded its permit in 2006 after the city put
out a request for proposals. DeAngelo says it does about $22 million in
annual sales, and the San Jose shop does about $8 million. Together they
pay about $3 million in city and state sales taxes, and employ more than
The state Board of Equalization estimates it collects $58 million to $105
million in annual sales tax from dispensaries.
“If we continue to drive everything underground, we’re going to create an
unsafe environment for patients who need this product … and lose revenue,”
board member Betty Yee said.
This week’s move against HPG further highlights the continuing conflict
between local and federal officials over the drug.
“The city of Oakland has developed a system to assure such distribution
occurs according to state law in a fair and orderly process,” Nancy Nadel,
member of the Oakland City Council and vice mayor of the city, said in a
statement. “It is most unjust to our citizen patients and distributors who
have followed local guidelines to be harassed and treated as criminals by
Medical marijuana advocates said the Obama administration has repeatedly
reneged on its promises that it would not meddle with the state laws.
“This is the most obvious and significant step by the federal government in
attacking completely law-abiding dispensaries,” said Kris Hermes, spokesman
for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. “It becomes more
untenable for them to say they are just going after certain facilities and
not just undermining the state’s marijuana laws.”
Hermes said the Justice Department has sent more than 200 letters to
dispensaries and their landlords, threatening to seize their property if
the shops do not close. It has been an effective strategy. With the
letters, raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS audits, the
government has forced more than 400 to close in the state, Hermes said,
including the nearby Berkeley Patients Group, which was also seen as a
model in the industry and closely regulated by local