industry

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The payday loan industry, which is vilified for charging exorbitant interest rates on short-term loans that many Americans depend on, could soon be gutted by a set of rules that federal regulators plan to unveil on Thursday.

People who borrow money against their paychecks are generally supposed to pay it back within two weeks, with substantial fees piled on: A customer who borrows $500 would typically owe around $575, at an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. But most borrowers routinely roll the loan over into a new one, becoming less likely to ever emerge from the debt.

Mainstream banks are generally barred from this kind of lending. More than a dozen states have set their own rate caps and other rules that essentially prohibit payday loans, but the market is flourishing in at least 30 states. Some 16,000 lenders run online and storefront operations that thrive on the hefty profits.

Under the guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the watchdog agency set up in the wake of 2010 banking legislation — lenders will be required in many cases to verify their customers’ income and to confirm that they can afford to repay the money they borrow. The number of times that people could roll over their loans into newer and pricier ones would be curtailed.

The new guidelines do not need congressional or other approval to take effect, which could happen as soon as next year.

The Obama administration has said such curbs are needed to protect consumers from taking on more debt than they can handle. The consumer agency — which many Republicans, including Donald J. Trump, have said they would like to eliminate — indicated last year that it intended to crack down on the payday lending market.

“The very economics of the payday lending business model depend on a substantial percentage of borrowers being unable to repay the loan and borrowing again and again at high interest rates,” said Richard Cordray, the consumer agency’s director. “It is much like getting into a taxi just to ride across town and finding yourself stuck in a ruinously expensive cross-country journey.”

Lenders say the proposed rules would devastate their industry and cut vulnerable borrowers off from a financial lifeline.

“Thousands of lenders, especially small businesses, will be forced to shutter their doors, lay off employees, and leave communities that already have too few options for financial services,” said Dennis Shaul, the chief executive of the Community Financial Services Association of America, a trade group for payday lenders.

According to the group’s website, “More than 19 million American households count a payday loan among their choice of short-term credit products.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the median fee on a storefront payday loan was $15 for every $100 borrowed.

Both sides agree that the proposed rules would radically reshape the market. Loan volume could fall at least 55 percent, according to the consumer agency’s estimates, and the $7 billion a year that lenders collect in fees would drop significantly.

Interactive Feature | Consumer Watchdog Timeline The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has provided for $11 billion in relief for over 25 million consumers and has issued about one regulation a month.

That will push many small stores out of business, lenders say. The $37,000 annual profit generated by the average storefront lender would instead become a $28,000 loss, according to an economic study paid for by the trade association.

Companies and individuals could go through the courts to try to overturn the rules or they could seek legislative action. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a frequent target of scathing criticism from Republican lawmakers. Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said that he wants to repeal or dismantle nearly all of the Dodd-Frank act, the law passed in the aftermath of the financial crisis that created the agency.

The Democratic presidential candidates generally support stricter lending rules. Senator Bernie Sanders has called for a 15 percent rate cap on all consumer loans and for post offices to become basic banking centers, a change that could “stop payday lenders from ripping off millions of Americans,” he said in a January speech.

Hillary Clinton praised the payday lending proposals that the consumer agency released last year and urged her fellow Democrats to fight Republican efforts to “defang and defund” the agency.

Consumer advocates are eager for new payday lending rules, but some say the bureau’s rules do not go far enough.

“This misses the mark,” said Nick Bourke, a research director at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has conducted extensive research on small-dollar lending. “The C.F.P.B. is proposing an underwriting process, which is helpful, but clearer product safety standards are needed.”

In particular, Mr. Bourke said he was frustrated that the agency had dropped a proposal to require that longer-term loan payments consume no more than 5 percent of a borrower’s monthly income. The draft rules instead simply require that lenders make sure that customers can afford to repay the loans and still cover their basic living expenses and other debts.

But others interested in consumer issues said they were happy for any new protections at all in an area of the lending market that has been operating as something of a Wild West.

“We’ve been working toward this day for years,” said George Goehl, an executive director of People’s Action Institute, a group that says it fights for racial and economic justice. “For decades, predatory payday lenders have gotten away with taking money from people who didn’t have much to begin with.”

Candice Byrd, 29, is a former payday borrower who welcomes more restrictions on an industry she views as rapacious and destructive. In 2011, while working a sales job, she took out a $500 loan from a storefront in Bloomington, Ill., to help cover a car payment that was due.

The loan had a six-week duration, but halfway through the period, the lender suggested that she roll it over into a new loan. “She was like, ‘You’re a good customer. This would be helpful for you,’” Ms. Byrd recalled. “It was the worst idea ever.”

The second loan set off a worsening cycle that lasted two years as Ms. Byrd borrowed repeatedly to cover the carrying costs on her mounting debt. Unable to pay her bills, she said, she lost her car and her apartment. To extricate herself, she walked away from her final two loans, leaving her credit report in tatters.

Ms. Byrd now pays cash for anything she needs. She doubts that the rules the consumer agency has planned would have prevented her from going into debt, but they probably would have ended the cycle sooner.

“These places want you to keep borrowing,” she said. “They don’t want you to climb out of the hole.”

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The payday loan industry, which is vilified for charging exorbitant interest rates on short-term loans that many Americans depend on, could soon be gutted by a set of rules that federal regulators plan to unveil on Thursday.

People who borrow money against their paychecks are generally supposed to pay it back within two weeks, with substantial fees piled on: A customer who borrows $500 would typically owe around $575, at an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. But most borrowers routinely roll the loan over into a new one, becoming less likely to ever emerge from the debt.

Mainstream banks are generally barred from this kind of lending. More than a dozen states have set their own rate caps and other rules that essentially prohibit payday loans, but the market is flourishing in at least 30 states. Some 16,000 lenders run online and storefront operations that thrive on the hefty profits.

Under the guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the watchdog agency set up in the wake of 2010 banking legislation — lenders will be required in many cases to verify their customers’ income and to confirm that they can afford to repay the money they borrow. The number of times that people could roll over their loans into newer and pricier ones would be curtailed.

The new guidelines do not need congressional or other approval to take effect, which could happen as soon as next year.

The Obama administration has said such curbs are needed to protect consumers from taking on more debt than they can handle. The consumer agency — which many Republicans, including Donald J. Trump, have said they would like to eliminate — indicated last year that it intended to crack down on the payday lending market.

“The very economics of the payday lending business model depend on a substantial percentage of borrowers being unable to repay the loan and borrowing again and again at high interest rates,” said Richard Cordray, the consumer agency’s director. “It is much like getting into a taxi just to ride across town and finding yourself stuck in a ruinously expensive cross-country journey.”

Lenders say the proposed rules would devastate their industry and cut vulnerable borrowers off from a financial lifeline.

“Thousands of lenders, especially small businesses, will be forced to shutter their doors, lay off employees, and leave communities that already have too few options for financial services,” said Dennis Shaul, the chief executive of the Community Financial Services Association of America, a trade group for payday lenders.

According to the group’s website, “More than 19 million American households count a payday loan among their choice of short-term credit products.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the median fee on a storefront payday loan was $15 for every $100 borrowed.

Both sides agree that the proposed rules would radically reshape the market. Loan volume could fall at least 55 percent, according to the consumer agency’s estimates, and the $7 billion a year that lenders collect in fees would drop significantly.

Interactive Feature | Consumer Watchdog Timeline The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has provided for $11 billion in relief for over 25 million consumers and has issued about one regulation a month.

That will push many small stores out of business, lenders say. The $37,000 annual profit generated by the average storefront lender would instead become a $28,000 loss, according to an economic study paid for by the trade association.

Companies and individuals could go through the courts to try to overturn the rules or they could seek legislative action. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a frequent target of scathing criticism from Republican lawmakers. Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said that he wants to repeal or dismantle nearly all of the Dodd-Frank act, the law passed in the aftermath of the financial crisis that created the agency.

The Democratic presidential candidates generally support stricter lending rules. Senator Bernie Sanders has called for a 15 percent rate cap on all consumer loans and for post offices to become basic banking centers, a change that could “stop payday lenders from ripping off millions of Americans,” he said in a January speech.

Hillary Clinton praised the payday lending proposals that the consumer agency released last year and urged her fellow Democrats to fight Republican efforts to “defang and defund” the agency.

Consumer advocates are eager for new payday lending rules, but some say the bureau’s rules do not go far enough.

“This misses the mark,” said Nick Bourke, a research director at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has conducted extensive research on small-dollar lending. “The C.F.P.B. is proposing an underwriting process, which is helpful, but clearer product safety standards are needed.”

In particular, Mr. Bourke said he was frustrated that the agency had dropped a proposal to require that longer-term loan payments consume no more than 5 percent of a borrower’s monthly income. The draft rules instead simply require that lenders make sure that customers can afford to repay the loans and still cover their basic living expenses and other debts.

But others interested in consumer issues said they were happy for any new protections at all in an area of the lending market that has been operating as something of a Wild West.

“We’ve been working toward this day for years,” said George Goehl, an executive director of People’s Action Institute, a group that says it fights for racial and economic justice. “For decades, predatory payday lenders have gotten away with taking money from people who didn’t have much to begin with.”

Candice Byrd, 29, is a former payday borrower who welcomes more restrictions on an industry she views as rapacious and destructive. In 2011, while working a sales job, she took out a $500 loan from a storefront in Bloomington, Ill., to help cover a car payment that was due.

The loan had a six-week duration, but halfway through the period, the lender suggested that she roll it over into a new loan. “She was like, ‘You’re a good customer. This would be helpful for you,’” Ms. Byrd recalled. “It was the worst idea ever.”

The second loan set off a worsening cycle that lasted two years as Ms. Byrd borrowed repeatedly to cover the carrying costs on her mounting debt. Unable to pay her bills, she said, she lost her car and her apartment. To extricate herself, she walked away from her final two loans, leaving her credit report in tatters.

Ms. Byrd now pays cash for anything she needs. She doubts that the rules the consumer agency has planned would have prevented her from going into debt, but they probably would have ended the cycle sooner.

“These places want you to keep borrowing,” she said. “They don’t want you to climb out of the hole.”

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Tech industry leaders including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc, Microsoft Corp, AT&T and more than two dozen other Internet and technology companies filed legal briefs on Thursday asking a judge to support Apple Inc in its encryption battle with the U.S. government.

The rare display of unity and support from Apple’s sometime-rivals showed the breadth of Silicon Valley’s opposition to the government’s anti-encryption effort, a position endorsed by the United Nations human rights chief.

Apple’s battle became public last month when the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a court order requiring the company to write new software to disable passcode protection and allow access to an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the December killings in San Bernardino, California.

Apple pushed back, arguing that such a move would set a dangerous precedent and threaten customer security, and asked that the order be vacated. The clash has intensified a long-running debate over how much law enforcement and intelligence officials should be able to monitor digital communications.

Apple’s industry allies, along with several privacy advocates, filed amicus briefs – a form of comment from outside groups common in complex cases – to U.S. District Judge Sheri Pym, in Riverside, California, who had set a Thursday deadline.

Six relatives of San Bernardino attack victims on Thursday weighed in with their own amicus brief opposing Apple. Three California law enforcement groups, three federal law enforcement groups and the San Bernardino district attorney also filed in favor of the government.

The companies backing Apple largely echo the iPhone maker’s main argument, that the 1789 All Writs Act at the heart of the government’s case cannot be used to force companies to create new technology.

One amicus filing, from a group of 17 Internet companies including Twitter Inc and LinkedIn Corp, asserted that Congress has already passed laws that establish what companies could be obliged to do for the government, and that the court case amounted to an “end run” around those laws.

Apple, and some of the other briefs, did not go quite that far, but also asserted that Congress, not the courts, needed to address the issue. Congress has struggled without success for years to address law-enforcement concerns about encryption.

The victims’ families argued that Apple’s arguments were misplaced because the government had a valid warrant, and “one does not enjoy the privacy to commit a crime.” The families also asserted that Apple “routinely modifies its systems” to comply with Chinese government directives.

Apple has also advanced a free speech argument, on the grounds that computer code is a form of expression and cannot be coerced. The families pushed back against that defense: “This is the electronic equivalent of unlocking a door – no expression is involved at all,” they said.

The San Bernardino District Attorney’s summary argument, contained in its application to file an amicus brief, alleges the iPhone might have been “used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino County’s infrastructure.” The court document contained no evidence to support the claim.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged U.S. authorities to proceed with “great caution”, warning: “A successful case against Apple in the U.S. will set a precedent that may make it impossible for Apple or any other major international IT company to safeguard their clients’ privacy anywhere in the world.”

“It is potentially a gift to authoritarian regimes, as well as to criminal hackers,” he said in a statement.

TWO BIG COALITIONS

The tech and Internet industries largely coalesced around two filings. One includes market leaders Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon.com and Cisco Systems, along with smaller, younger companies such as Mozilla, Snapchat, Slack and Dropbox.

That group noted that Congress passed the All Writs Act more than 200 years ago, and said the Justice Department’s effort to use the law to force engineers to disable security protections relies on a “boundless” interpretation of the law that is not supported by any precedent.

The brief also advanced constitutional arguments, saying the order violated free speech, the separation of power and due process.

The second industry coalition, which includes Twitter, eBay Inc and LinkedIn, contended in its filing that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) of 1994, along with other statutes, has already made it clear what the companies could or could not be forced to do.

CALEA requires telephone companies to allow interception of communications, but notably excludes “information service” companies from such mandates. Apple said it was rightly considered an information company in this context.

AT&T’s filing, by contrast, called for a “new legislation solution” that “applies equally to all holders of personal information,” an apparent reference to the exemption for information providers in CALEA.

Semiconductor maker Intel Corp filed a brief of its own in support of Apple.

“We believe that tech companies need to have the ability to build and design their products as needed, and that means that we can’t have the government mandating how we build and design our products,” Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager for the company’s Intel Security Group, said in an interview.

The Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society filed a separate brief on Thursday on behalf of a group of well-known experts on iPhone security and encryption, including Charlie Miller, Dino Dai Zovi, Bruce Schneier and Jonathan Zdziarski.

Privacy advocacy groups the American Civil Liberties Union, Access Now and the Wickr Foundation filed briefs on Wednesday in support of Apple.

Salihin Kondoker, whose wife, Anies Kondoker, was injured in the San Bernardino attack, also wrote on Apple’s behalf, saying he shared the company’s fear that the software the government wants Apple to create to unlock the phone could be used to break into millions of other phones.

Law enforcement officials have said that Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were inspired by Islamist militants when they shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others on Dec. 2 at a holiday party in San Bernardino. Farook and Malik were later killed in a shootout with police, and the FBI said it wants to read the data on Farook’s work phone to investigate any links with militant groups.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that the government had overstepped its authority by seeking similar assistance from Apple in a drug case.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Dustin Volz in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Dan Levine, Heather Somerville, Sarah McBride, Julia Love in San Francisco and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Jonathan Weber, Grant McCool, Bill Rigby, Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)

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Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur previously criticized for raising the price of life-saving drugs, was arrested early Thursday in New York City. York Daily Record

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Making the energy industry safer for the climate may not cost as much as you think, even if the price tag is $16.5 trillion.
That’s the sum the International Energy Agency estimates it will cost the 187 governments to clean up pollution under the pledges made for the United Nations climate talks in Paris, which concluded on Saturday. In all, governments will spend $13.5 trillion meeting their goals. If they spent $3 trillion more, it would hold temperature increases to the ceiling they adopted of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
It’s an eye-popping figure. Yet the world is already set to invest about $68 trillion on its energy needs by 2040, even without a climate plan, the IEA projects. That will go for everything from renewable energy to coal-fired plants and building efficiency upgrades. The Paris deal is intended to fundamentally tilt the spending toward the greener side of the business.

“The strength of the agreement is that it allows a thousand policy flowers to bloom,” Paul Bledsoe, a climate aide during U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration, said in an interview in Paris. “This sends a powerful economic signal that fossil fuels will be saddled with financial and legal premiums to remain part of the energy mix, and clean energy will enjoy subsidies.”
The deal endorsed the 2-degree goal and called on nations to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.” That more ambitious target implies vast cuts to emissions from burning fossil fuels that will go beyond the IEA’s estimate.
“Politically as well as technologically, this is no walk in the park,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Institute near Berlin, and a lead author of the UN’s most rigorous assessment of climate economics. The target may trigger “a fundamental shift of investments towards renewables, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage,” he said.
Energy Investment
In its latest assessment of the world’s energy outlook, the IEA forecast that fulfilling national climate plans in the Paris deal would nudge total investment up only slightly, to around $69 trillion by 2040. That would hold down temperature increases but not all the way to 2 degrees. Achieving that objective would require investment of more than $70 trillion, according to the Paris-based agency. Spending on fossil-fuel based power generation …Read More

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To hear Donald L. Blankenship tell it, the U.S. coal industry has been undone by inept regulators, evil unions, the media and “global warming hoaxers.” But for jurors at his criminal trial in Charleston, West Virginia, it’s the king of coal himself who bears responsibility for his fall.
Blankenship, 65, the former chief executive of Massey Energy Co., was found guilty by a federal jury on Thursday of a single misdemeanor charge for orchestrating a conspiracy to violate mine safety rules before the April 2010 deaths of 29 miners.
Prosecutors mounted a painstaking case that took years to play out against an influential CEO. The misdemeanor conviction, though, fell short of their goal. Had Blankenship been convicted of all charges, he could have been jailed for a maximum of 30 years.  Acquitted of two counts of securities fraud, he now faces a prison term of no more than one year. His lawyer vowed to appeal.

“We’re disappointed but not as disappointed as we could have been,” Blankenship’s attorney William Taylor said after the verdict was read. “We’re pleased the jury found him not guilty on the felony charges.”
Didn’t Testify
Although he didn’t testify at the trial, Blankenship’s own words came back to haunt him as jurors reviewed internal memos and listened again and again over seven weeks to recordings he secretly made of telephone conversations.
Company managers were told by Blankenship to keep quiet about safety issues and instead focus on what “pays the bills,” according to one memo. Their job, he said, was simply to “run coal.”
Then death came to the Upper Big Branch Mine in rural Montcoal, West Virginia, and Blankenship’s tightly run empire crumbled.

To get a conviction, prosecutors argued that Blankenship ran the mine as a “lawless enterprise,” creating a corporate culture that encouraged cutting corners on safety to speed up coal production.
Criminal Plot
They labeled him the “kingpin” of a criminal plot to violate federal mine safety standards and defraud the government, and a “micromanager” who lied about Massey’s safety practices and misled investors to prop up the company’s stock price.
Yet even as prosecutors built their case against Blankenship from 2010 through this year, he was determined …Read More

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The trials and tribulations of the cannabis industry are nigh endless but we have to commend the leaders and legislators out there fighting the good fight. This week is full of battles to be won (and some have been won already!). Here’s the latest from the front lines of the cannabis movement:

U.S. Updates

CALIFORNIA
When federal prosecutors tried to shut down the oldest medical dispensary, not just in Berkeley, but in the entire state of California, the city of Berkeley decided to fight back. Berkeley Patients Group was founded in 1999 and has long been a model for safe access, even as it grew and gained popularity as well as financial success. In 2012, when U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag moved to seize all assets and close the dispensary’s doors, the city of Berkeley decided that this aggression would not stand and sued to block the forfeiture, arguing that the city would suffer irreparable harm from the loss of one of the most respected legal cannabis dispensary in the community. And wonder of wonders, the city of Berkeley won! Federal authorities ruled in favor of the city and Berkeley Patients Group won the right to serve the community and its patients. It’s a beautiful day in Berkeley!
In addition to this ruling, California’s medical marijuana law may be been expanding, with the recent introduction of HR 262, to protect medical marijuana assets from civil forfeiture, and Assembly Bill 266, which would serve to regulate the vastly unregulated medical marijuana market in California.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The nation’s capital has been in hot water regarding retail cannabis. First, voters passed the measure to legalize cannabis. Then Congress tried to veto the measure via a sneaky rider in their Omnibus spending bill, which denied the District federal finding for a retail market. President Obama then came back (thanks, Obama!) with another sneaky little rider attached to his 2016 budget, which allowed local funding to be used to implement retail cannabis sales in the District. Now after a threat from the District’s new attorney general, the D.C. Council has abandoned plans for a hearing on taxing and regulating cannabis in the District. Will D.C. ever be able to tax, regulate, and sell retail cannabis as per the will of the voters? Stay tuned next week as …Read More

The trials and tribulations of the cannabis industry are nigh endless but we have to commend the leaders and legislators out there fighting the good fight. This week is full of battles to be won (and some have been won already!). Here’s the latest from the front lines of the cannabis movement:

U.S. Updates

CALIFORNIA
When federal prosecutors tried to shut down the oldest medical dispensary, not just in Berkeley, but in the entire state of California, the city of Berkeley decided to fight back. Berkeley Patients Group was founded in 1999 and has long been a model for safe access, even as it grew and gained popularity as well as financial success. In 2012, when U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag moved to seize all assets and close the dispensary’s doors, the city of Berkeley decided that this aggression would not stand and sued to block the forfeiture, arguing that the city would suffer irreparable harm from the loss of one of the most respected legal cannabis dispensary in the community. And wonder of wonders, the city of Berkeley won! Federal authorities ruled in favor of the city and Berkeley Patients Group won the right to serve the community and its patients. It’s a beautiful day in Berkeley!
In addition to this ruling, California’s medical marijuana law may be been expanding, with the recent introduction of HR 262, to protect medical marijuana assets from civil forfeiture, and Assembly Bill 266, which would serve to regulate the vastly unregulated medical marijuana market in California.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The nation’s capital has been in hot water regarding retail cannabis. First, voters passed the measure to legalize cannabis. Then Congress tried to veto the measure via a sneaky rider in their Omnibus spending bill, which denied the District federal finding for a retail market. President Obama then came back (thanks, Obama!) with another sneaky little rider attached to his 2016 budget, which allowed local funding to be used to implement retail cannabis sales in the District. Now after a threat from the District’s new attorney general, the D.C. Council has abandoned plans for a hearing on taxing and regulating cannabis in the District. Will D.C. ever be able to tax, regulate, and sell retail cannabis as per the will of the voters? Stay tuned next week as …Read More

The trials and tribulations of the cannabis industry are nigh endless but we have to commend the leaders and legislators out there fighting the good fight. This week is full of battles to be won (and some have been won already!). Here’s the latest from the front lines of the cannabis movement:

U.S. Updates

CALIFORNIA
When federal prosecutors tried to shut down the oldest medical dispensary, not just in Berkeley, but in the entire state of California, the city of Berkeley decided to fight back. Berkeley Patients Group was founded in 1999 and has long been a model for safe access, even as it grew and gained popularity as well as financial success. In 2012, when U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag moved to seize all assets and close the dispensary’s doors, the city of Berkeley decided that this aggression would not stand and sued to block the forfeiture, arguing that the city would suffer irreparable harm from the loss of one of the most respected legal cannabis dispensary in the community. And wonder of wonders, the city of Berkeley won! Federal authorities ruled in favor of the city and Berkeley Patients Group won the right to serve the community and its patients. It’s a beautiful day in Berkeley!
In addition to this ruling, California’s medical marijuana law may be been expanding, with the recent introduction of HR 262, to protect medical marijuana assets from civil forfeiture, and Assembly Bill 266, which would serve to regulate the vastly unregulated medical marijuana market in California.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The nation’s capital has been in hot water regarding retail cannabis. First, voters passed the measure to legalize cannabis. Then Congress tried to veto the measure via a sneaky rider in their Omnibus spending bill, which denied the District federal finding for a retail market. President Obama then came back (thanks, Obama!) with another sneaky little rider attached to his 2016 budget, which allowed local funding to be used to implement retail cannabis sales in the District. Now after a threat from the District’s new attorney general, the D.C. Council has abandoned plans for a hearing on taxing and regulating cannabis in the District. Will D.C. ever be able to tax, regulate, and sell retail cannabis as per the will of the voters? Stay tuned next week as …Read More

The trials and tribulations of the cannabis industry are nigh endless but we have to commend the leaders and legislators out there fighting the good fight. This week is full of battles to be won (and some have been won already!). Here’s the latest from the front lines of the cannabis movement:

U.S. Updates

CALIFORNIA
When federal prosecutors tried to shut down the oldest medical dispensary, not just in Berkeley, but in the entire state of California, the city of Berkeley decided to fight back. Berkeley Patients Group was founded in 1999 and has long been a model for safe access, even as it grew and gained popularity as well as financial success. In 2012, when U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag moved to seize all assets and close the dispensary’s doors, the city of Berkeley decided that this aggression would not stand and sued to block the forfeiture, arguing that the city would suffer irreparable harm from the loss of one of the most respected legal cannabis dispensary in the community. And wonder of wonders, the city of Berkeley won! Federal authorities ruled in favor of the city and Berkeley Patients Group won the right to serve the community and its patients. It’s a beautiful day in Berkeley!
In addition to this ruling, California’s medical marijuana law may be been expanding, with the recent introduction of HR 262, to protect medical marijuana assets from civil forfeiture, and Assembly Bill 266, which would serve to regulate the vastly unregulated medical marijuana market in California.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The nation’s capital has been in hot water regarding retail cannabis. First, voters passed the measure to legalize cannabis. Then Congress tried to veto the measure via a sneaky rider in their Omnibus spending bill, which denied the District federal finding for a retail market. President Obama then came back (thanks, Obama!) with another sneaky little rider attached to his 2016 budget, which allowed local funding to be used to implement retail cannabis sales in the District. Now after a threat from the District’s new attorney general, the D.C. Council has abandoned plans for a hearing on taxing and regulating cannabis in the District. Will D.C. ever be able to tax, regulate, and sell retail cannabis as per the will of the voters? Stay tuned next week as …Read More