IRS regulations are making it difficult for legal pot businesses in Colorado and Washington to make a profit, which some say is a way for the federal government to continue its war on drugs.
Tax code adopted in the early 1980s holds people accountable for income taxes whether the money they make is legal or not. But, despite marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado (and potentially several other states following this week's elections), pot shop owners are not allowed to write off business deductions under the law. One Colorado business owner, who sold medical marijuana before recreational weed went legit, said he paid nearly $20,000 to the IRS last year and didn't earn a profit.
"If (the federal government) can't put them out of business legally when voters are mandating these businesses to move forward, it's very easy to put them out of business financially," Denver accountant Jordan Cornelius told USA Today.
A researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine is finding that marijuana use in young people could restructure the brain's pleasure center. Moderate use by adults poses little risk, according to a New York Times article, but "young people who smoke early and often are more likely to have learning and mental health problems."
Some fear existing studies are outdated. The average THC content of modern marijuana is much higher than that used in the older studies that provide the basis for current understanding of marijuana's effect on the developing brain. With increased potency comes potential differences in the way young users' brains develop and the probability of addiction.
Another study reinforces theories that early pot use reshapes the nucleus accumbens, which is at "the core of motivation, the core of pleasure and pain, and every decision that you make," according to the NYT. "Similar changes affected the amygdala, which is fundamental in processing emotions, memories and fear responses."
A federal judge has ceased Lake County's warrantless medical marijuana raid program, saying the voter-approved ordinance that spurred the practice could harm patients.
In June, Lake County residents voted to "prohibit growing marijuana plants on vacant land or on privately owned outdoor parcels of 1 acre or less," according to SFGate, and to "limit growth on larger parcels to six mature or 12 immature plants, and in indoor growing areas to 100 square feet."
That led to at least seven property-damaging searches of private property without warrants, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of medical growers who were subjects of the raids.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson wrote that denying the injunction against the Lake County Sheriff's Office "would leave numerous medical marijuana patients in Lake County vulnerable to future warrantless seizures of their medicine, which could lead to significant pain and suffering."
A San Diego TV news station reported last week that an undercover cop is under investigation for a T-shirt he wore during an Imperial Beach marijuana raid.
The shirt, worn by a narcotics officer during a raid of a grow that the owner claims is legal, read, "Fuck the growers ... Marijuana is still illegal."
"We got the runaround trying to find out who wore the T-shirt with the F word on it," explained one of the news team's investigative journalists, and the grow operator said the officer refused to pose with him for a picture.
The sheriff's department quickly came out against the shirt's vulgarity, but perhaps administrators should be more worried about their officers' undercover efficacy.
That shirt's a narc signal, dude. Inspector Clouseau, move over.