FEDERAL NEWS ROUNDUP

Top 5 marijuana moves by the feds

Plenty has been happening on the federal front in regulations and rulings related to marijuana.

1 House nixes letting vets discuss medical marijuana with doctors

Doctors who participate in VA medical programs aren’t allowed to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients even if it’s legal under state law. In 2011, the Veterans Health Administration issued a directive banning VA providers from even filling out forms seeking recommendations or opinions about veterans using marijuana in medical marijuana states. A House bill that would have cut off funding to implement that directive in states where medical marijuana is legal—the same tactic used by the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment—lost by a vote of 225 to 195 on April 30.

2 U.S. bans use of federal water for legal marijuana crops

Taking the drug war to the agricultural front, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) (part of the Interior Department) issued a new policy May 20 banning the use of federal irrigation water to cultivate cannabis, even in states where cultivation is legal. The policy also mandates USBR employees to notify the Justice Department if they become aware of any such use. While it may be illegal in the state, marijuana is illegal under federal law, a USBR spokesman explained, saying the department needs to implement the irrigation program in compliance with federal laws.

3 DEA okays big increase to marijuana research supply

May 2: Even though marijuana is illegal, the federal government is allowed to grow a limited quantity each year to conduct research. To accommodate the growing interest in medical marijuana research, the DEA approved increasing the 2014 production quota from 21 to 650 kilograms. At one brick per kilogram, that’s enough marijuana to fill a cargo van.

4 SEC issues marijuana stocks scam alert

The marijuana industry is drawing the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last month, the SEC issued an alert warning investors about “pump and dump” investment scams in fraudulent marijuana companies. The pump: Fraudsters make false and overly optimistic projections about small, thinly traded marijuana companies, hoping to create unwarranted demand for their stock. The dump: Once share prices and volume peak, the fraudsters sell off the shares at a profit and leave investors with worthless stock. The SEC says that in the past two months, it has suspended trading in five bogus marijuana companies.

5 FBI considers loosening restrictions on hiring marijuana users

The FBI is finding its longstanding hiring policy those-who-smoked-pot-in-the-last-three-years-need-not-apply increasingly unworkable and is openly discussing loosening the rules. Of course, it has nothing to do with morals. The FBI needs to hire 2,000 new people this year. And many of its highest priority recruitment targets are computer programmers and hacking experts who use marijuana. Blanket refusal to hire marijuana users would also cripple efforts in the prime recruitment states of Washington and Colorado where recreational marijuana use is legal.

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