Jan 082015

The Russ Belville Show #519 420RADIO News – DC Anti-Pot Group Violated Campaign Finance Laws [2015-01-08 Thu]

The opponents of the district’s marijuana legalization initiative, “Two Is Enough DC”, were in violation of several campaign finance laws, including failure to officially register as a political committee, failure to file a financial report, and failure to include proper language on its campaign literature.  According to the Office of Campaign Finance in Washington DC, TIE D.C. “may have begun as a blog, but it eventually became a full scale political movement, which was required to register with the OCF,” but it never did. Moreover, the OCF says that TIE D.C. never filed a receipt and expenditure report, which any organization or committee raising funds for campaigning are supposed to do.  OCF says the TIE D.C. website explicitly solicited donations through a PayPay “donate” button and thus “raises the presumptions that it is more likely than not that [it] collected contributions.” The OCF recommended that organizer William Jones receive a fine of $2,000 for violating campaign finance laws.

Founders Fund, a $2 billion company, made its name investing early in new companies like Facebook, Spotify and SpaceX. But now it’s betting on pot.  Privateer Holdings, the company that owns Leafly and Marley Natural announced receiving a “multi-million dollar” investment from Founders Fund, the venture capital firm launched by early Facebook investor Peter Thiel, which it is billing as the first time an institutional investor has backed a startup in the cannabis industry. Founders Fund’s contribution is part of a $75 million Series B round that Privateer is raising. It has already closed more than $50 million of that and Privateer CEO Brendan Kennedy expects to wrap up the round “in the next month.”  The plan is to use the funding to grow its existing services and eventually build up a suite of multi-billion dollar marijuana brands. More than that, Kennedy and Privateer aim to prove that marijuana can be big business.

A court hearing Wednesday to determine the legal status of marijuana hash oil in post-legalization Colorado resulted in the judge turning up his hands and shrugging his shoulders in exasperation.  Attorney Rob Corry, who helped write Colorado’s marijuana-legalization law, argues that Colorado’s constitution now protects the personal possession of marijuana and the processing of marijuana plants into hash oil.  The Colorado attorney general argues that a curiously placed comma in Amendment 64, the legalization measure — means the protection for marijuana does not cover cannabis “oil,” like hash oil. The measure says its definition for marijuana, “does not include industrial hemp, nor does it include fiber produced from the stalks, oil, or cake made from the seeds of the plant.”  By the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones had refused to grant Corry’s motion to dismiss, but ultimately said the attorney general’s position was “way wrong.”

Chief Judge James Gritzner of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa rejected every one of Iowa State University’s requests to dismiss a free speech lawsuit brought against the school by Iowa State NORML, a student group advocating for reform of marijuana laws.  Student-plaintiff Erin Furleigh said, “It feels so good to know the facts can’t be ignored anymore.”  Furleigh and fellow student Paul Gerlich, the vice president and president, respectively, of ISU’s student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), sued ISU in July 2014.  In their complaint, the students detailed how the university censored the group’s T-shirts based on their marijuana-related messaging and imagery, removed NORML ISU’s advisor, and implemented new guidelines for using ISU’s trademark in order to restrict NORML ISU’s speech.  The trial is scheduled for December 2015.

A Cleveland-based group calling itself Ohioans to End Prohibition announced Thursday it plans to propose a constitutional amendment on a 2016 ballot that would legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use. Unlike a proposal announced last month, the group’s “Cannabis Control Amendment” would not limit marijuana production to a certain number of chosen locations.  Ohioans to End Prohibition planned to announce its plan this spring, according to the release, but was prompted to act early after reports surfaced another group was planning an amendment for the November 2015 ballot.  A spokeswoman for that group, ResponsibleOhio, said their amendment would legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana for adults over age 21 and limit production to “10 tightly regulated, heavily taxed growing locations.” Neither of these groups should be confused with Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis, which also proposes non-monopolized cannabis legality, or with Ohio Rights Group, which is fighting for medical marijuana legislation.