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Federal Official Says Canna-Banking Rules are Working

Washington State reported this week that retail cannabis stores generated $3.8 million in July, their first month of sales. Colorado released its June retail cannabis sales total at$ 24 million. As recreational cannabis commerce flows in both states, and as medical marijuana commerce grows in dozens more, the issue of where to stash the cash continues to plague state legal cannabis businesses.

Banks fear that providing services to such businesses would violate anti-money laundering laws. That’s why businesses celebrated the release of new federal banking rules this February that seemed to give banks the green light to serve such businesses. Banking groups at the time were less optimistic, some calling it a red light due to extensive reporting requirements.

But the federal official who issued the new rules in February said in a speech on August 12 that the new rules are working. Speaking at an anti-money-laundering conference  Jennifer Shasky Calvery,  the director of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said “based on a review of SARs (suspicious activity reports) filed between Feb. 14 and Aug. 8, 2014, there are currently 105 individual financial institutions from states in more than one-third of the country engaged in banking relationships with marijuana-related businesses.”

Shasky Calvery further explained a bit about how suspicious activity reports (SARs) now fall into three categories:

  1. Marijuana Limited — 502 SARs filed — cannabis business doesn’t seem to be breaking state laws or any of eight priorities
  2. Marijuana Priority — 123 SARs filed — bank reasonably believes one of eight priorities or state law is being violated
  3. Marijuana Termination — 475 SARs filed — bank decides to terminate relationship with cannabis-related business to continue anti-fraud compliance

“So, from our perspective the guidance is having the intended effect,” Calvery said. “It is facilitating access to financial services, while ensuring that this activity is transparent and the funds are going into regulated financial institutions responsible for implementing appropriate Anti Money Laundering  safeguards.”

Seattle Hempfest Kickoff

Begun in 1991 as a vigil protesting the Gulf War, it has grown to the largest festival of its kind in the world drawing upwards to 250,000 people over three days. This year’s theme — “Time, Place, and Manner” — highlights responsible use and limiting of youth exposure.

Traditionally during Hempfest, police turn a blind eye to plenty of open cannabis use by young and old alike  – organizers say that this year – two over-21 lounges are aimed at reducing youth exposure to cannabis. The lounges are intended to be the first step in having legal marijuana areas in public events throughout Washington. While I-502 greatly decriminalized cannabis in Washington, you can technically be given a citation and fined up to $50 for public consumption. Possession of 29-39 grams and is still a misdemeanor, and possession of 40 grams and up remains a felony in Washington.

Hemp Progress and Science Both Worth Celebrating in 2014

Hemp Super Batteries Revelers at this year’s Seattle Hempfest are celebrating not only liberalization of cannabis laws across the U.S., but also the growth of the first U.S. Hemp crops since prohibition began. A provision of the U.S. Farm Bill signed into law by the President in February allows for legal Hemp production in some states through pilot university research programs.

Kentucky has embraced the opportunity, and after a bumpy start in May when hemp seeds bound for Kentucky were temporarily detained by U.S. Customs , those seeds have now sprouted into flourishing hemp plants, some varieties already 14 feet tall. Scientists continue to explore the ways that hemp can best be used to produce fiber, fuel, food, and building materials.

Could Hemp Power Your Electric Car?

This Tuesday at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting held in San Francisco, a team of scientists presented a study showing how hemp power electric cars plus thousands of electronic devices in the future. Today’s rechargeable batteries sip up energy over several hours, but scientists are working to develop super capacitors that charge within seconds.

A Canadian team of scientists say hemp fiber can hold energy in super capacitors better than the current gold standard, graphene, and at a fraction of the cost. Lead scientist Dr. David Mitlin says they’re past the proof-of-principle stage for producing a fully functional hemp super-capacitor, and they’re gearing up for small-scale manufacturing.

Cannabis News From Around the World

Poll Says Most Florida Citizens Support Medical Marijuana — Jeb Bush Isn’t One of Them

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke against the Florida medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot, saying it would detract from Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire.  According to Reuters, 88 percent of Floridians support the measure and just 10 percent oppose it.

Colombian President Announces Support for Medical Cannabis

This Thursday Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said at a Bogota forum on illegal drugs that he supported the use of marijuana for medical use as a means to ease the suffering of terminally ill patients and deprive criminals of profits from the illegal drug trade. President Juan Manuel Santos referred to a bill in Colombia’s congress that would legalize medical cannabis, saying “We look favorably upon the initiative for medicinal and therapeutic use of marijuana”

He also called it a way to “remove criminals from being the intermediary between the patient and a substance that will ease their suffering.” Colombia was a significant world producer of marijuana in the 1970s before its cultivation was displaced by coca leaves to produce cocaine.

Canadian Judge Says Let Them Eat Pot Brownies

Health Canada currently allows people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to medicinal marijuana, but only in the form of dried marijuana. This week, a Court of Appeals Judge ruled that’s unconstitutional.  Parliament has been given one year to re-craft regulations to allow medicinal cannabis users to use products made from cannabis extract such as creams, salves, oils, brownies, cakes, cookies and chocolate bars. In her written reasons, Justice Risa Levine said that when patients choose to use edible forms of marijuana, it “was a matter of necessity, or put another way, the restriction to dried marijuana interfered with their physical or psychological integrity.”

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