All posts tagged: Medical Marijuana

Patrick Nightingale Hosts West Virginia Cannabis Seminar

Patrick Nightingale displays his medical marijuana card, issued by the state of California

The first ever West Virginia medical cannabis seminar was held in Morgantown, WV., September 30 with Cannabis Legal Solutions founding partner Patrick Nightingale hosting the event.

CLS is a proud sponsor of WV Cannabis Seminar

Although West Virginia’s medicinal law is very similar to Pennsylvania, there are some differences, most notably in that there are a couple qualifying medical conditions West Virginia does not include.

Naturally, there are also state and local laws in West Virginia regarding things like zoning that may vary as well.

In addition, the actual number of available licenses is smaller in West Virginia due to a smaller population in that state.

Ultimately, Cannabis Legal Solutions has the knowledge and experience to guide our clients through the process of getting licensed, ensuring complete compliance, setting up your business, including real estate and contract legal matters, and assisting with the legalities of day to day operations in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Vinni BelfiorePatrick Nightingale Hosts West Virginia Cannabis Seminar
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Cannabis Business and Taxes: Section 280E

One of the greatest challenges facing the emerging Pennsylvania Medicinal Cannabis Industry is addressing taxes and appropriate deductions for operating expenses.

Because Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, it falls under Section 280E of the Internal Revenue code, which denies a medical marijuana business from deducting the business operating expenses on their tax return, even in states where the sale of medical marijuana is legal.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled on it’s second tax case involving IRC 280E in Canna Care vs. The Commission.

Canna Care, Inc., of California, appealed a decision by The United States Tax Court that IRC 280E applies to a business engaged in the sale of a substance that, while legal in California, is still illegal under Federal law.

The Tax Court ruled that medical marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance and that the sale of medical marijuana is always considered trafficking under IRC 280E, even when permitted by state law.

The Ninth Circuit ultimately upheld the Tax Court ruling, however, Canna Care attempted to raise new issues on appeal, including a Constitutional challenge of IRC 280E as being a violation of the 8th Amendment protection against imposing excessive fines, however, because the issue was not raised in the original case, the Ninth Circuit did not rule on the Constitutional argument.

Challenging federal statues on constitutional grounds can often be difficult, but the constitutional arguments may have some merit. It is a best practice to raise all arguments before the court so they are not waived on appeal.

Further, all cannabis related businesses should consider filing protective refund claims, which will keep open the statute of limitations in the event IRC 280E is overturned by a court.

It is important for a cannabis business to understand the impact of IRC 280E on it’s tax liability and the potential risks of NOT applying IRC 280E when filing a return. The immediate tax savings may be attractive but in the long run, those savings must be weighed against the potential costs of having to defend their position down the road.

Cannabis Legal Solutions is available to help cannabis businesses develop a plan for dealing with IRC 280E and creating a strategy to negotiate the negative affects of IRC 280E and defend their position if challenged.

 

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Vinni BelfioreCannabis Business and Taxes: Section 280E
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Marijuana: Flying in the Face of “Equal Protection Under the Law”.

marijuana law reformWARNING: The following story might make you angry.

An epileptic woman from Michigan visits a relative in Pennsylvania.  She had moved to Michigan from Pennsylvania because medicinal cannabis was the only medicine that was working to alleviate her seizures.  Her husband is her caregiver, and he uprooted his whole life to move his wife to a state where she could legally take medicine for a documented medical condition.  That’s how much he believes in the efficacy of medicinal marijuana, based entirely on his own experience caring for an epileptic.

She has a medical card from her state of residency.  She has a medical condition that qualifies for treatment under Pennsylvania’s Act 16.  For her, in her mind, this is simply medicine.  It’s no different– in her mind– than carrying a vial of prescription medication in her purse.

Unfortunately, her original arrest happened before Act 16 became a reality, in a county where they are not prone to cutting breaks for marijuana possession.

In Pittsburgh, a small amount possession charge is a ticket. No cuffs, no jail, no court appearance. A ticket. Pay the fine and it’s done.

In many of the rural counties surrounding Pittsburgh, a marijuana charge can be catastrophic.  It can affect a person’s ability to get certain jobs. It can impact things like insurance rates and school loans. It often results in the loss of driving privileges. For a young person, it can ruin their life before it gets started.

In this instance, it’s penalizing someone for legally treating her legitimate medical condition, all because she’s in a different state in the same “One nation, under God”.

As was mentioned earlier, this was the original charge, but it gets worse.

Because the county elected to pursue this through the court system, as opposed to just reducing it to a disorderly conduct with a fine, they released her, but an appearance in court before a judge was required.  This meant the woman had to travel from Michigan back to Pennsylvania, all over a simple possession charge.

Unfortunately this woman never received her court papers. She thought they had taken mercy and dropped the charges, and so she never appeared in court. It was an honest mistake resulting from either a clerical error or simply, a lost piece of mail.

Missing a court date is never good, and even in what began as a minor offense becomes magnified and can make an otherwise routine situation much worse. It opens a person up to additional charges, and will result in the issuance of a “Bench Warrant”.

A Bench Warrant does not offer any specifics as to what the person was charged with, so a police officer who discovers a warrant will treat any such situation as potentially life threatening.  In this instance, the discovery of the warrant occurred in Ohio, where the woman had been pulled over in a traffic stop and she was once again found to possess marijuana. Ohio recently decriminalized marijuana, but because of the warrant, instead of getting a ticket and being sent on her way, she was arrested, taken to jail and held for over a week until she could be extradited back to Pennsylvania.

All because she had a small possession charge, even though she had a state issued medical card for treating epilepsy, which is recognized in Act 16 as a legitimate qualifying condition.

Fortunately the authorities have since realized this is a classic mountain out of a mole hill scenario and have released the woman to the care of her husband. But the story isn’t over. She still has to come back to Pennsylvania for another court date, retain an attorney, and spend even more money than she’s already spent.

What should have been a simple fine turned into a nightmare for this woman and her family that cost a lot of money for them and for the tax payers of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

All because of a minor marijuana possession charge.

Does this sound like justice to you?

 

 

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Patrick NightingaleMarijuana: Flying in the Face of “Equal Protection Under the Law”.
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Medical Cannabis Convention and Expo 2017 Wrap Up

The first ever Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Convention and Expo was held April 21 & 22 at David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. The event was a tremendous success with over 2500 tickets sold.

Many visitors from Pennsylvania and across the nation gathered to explore the rapidly growing medical cannabis business landscape including growers and providers as well as support services representatives.

Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society was one of the sponsors and they had KDKA 1020 AM on hand for the first day of the conference with radio personality Mike Pintek doing his show live with special guest co-host, attorney and well-know cannabis activist Patrick K. Nightingale.

This was a great opportunity for those interested in becoming active in the medical cannabis business to meet with and learn from industry professionals.

Attorney Andrew Gross, of Nightingale, Gross & Patterson, LLC, said he is very pleased to be a part of this growing industry. “It’s very exciting to be on the ground floor in a business that can help so many people in need of medicine” said Mr. Gross, adding, “There are many legal and business aspects which need to be addressed by those intending to start a medical cannabis business. Our firm is providing those support services. Everything from entity formation and real estate acquisition/development to licensing and regulatory issues.”

Those who are seriously considering a medical cannabis venture can contact Andrew Gross at 412-553-0140 to schedule a consultation with Nightingale, Gross & Patterson, LLC.

We would like to thank everyone involved in this year’s conference and look forward to working with you in the future to bring this much needed medicine and economic development to Pennsylvania.

 

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Patrick NightingaleMedical Cannabis Convention and Expo 2017 Wrap Up
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Beware Of Charlatans and Snake Oil Salesmen – PA’s Medical Marijuana Law is still in its Infancy

marijuana law reformAs Pennsylvania implements Act 16, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, there has necessarily been a lot of excitement, a lot of interest, and a lot of people trying to find ways to make money.  The grow and dispensary licenses have been referred to as “a license to print money.”  While that may or may not be true, there are clearly many opportunities to participate in the medical cannabis marketplace.

Unfortunately, we have seen some unscrupulous individuals trying to “cash in” on the hopes and ignorance of sick Pennsylvanians.  I have seen physicians advertising that they can make medical marijuana recommendations for Pennsylvania patients.  These physicians will charge a consultation fee and allegedly provide some type of assessment and recommendation.

This may sound good at first glance, but it is illegal under Act 16.  Act 16 provides specific rules for physicians who want to recommend medical cannabis for their patients.  First and foremost, a physician MUST register with the Department of Health.  A physician can only do that AFTER completing a 4 hour training course that has yet to be developed.  Until a physician completes the training course and registers with the Department he or she CANNOT make a medical cannabis recommendation.  Additionally, Act 16 specifically prohibits a physician from advertising that they can make a medical cannabis recommendation.

I know Pennsylvania patients are desperate to legally access Pennsylvania produced medical cannabis products.  Our patient population must know that these individuals are simply defrauding them.  If a potential patient wants to know whether they may qualify for a medical cannabis recommendation they need look no further than the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Website.

Similarly, there has been a significant amount of confusion and undue optimism about “legal” CBD oil readily available in Pennsylvania.

CBD is cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in both cannabis sativa and its derivatives (marijuana) and cannabis ruderalis (hemp).  Some hemp derived products, such as hemp clothing, hemp seeds and hemp milk, are legally sold in the United States.  The source material is grown overseas and the processed or refined products are sold in the US.

CBD oil extracted from hemp plants has been gaining in popularity and has been marketed as “legal in all 50 states.”  Unfortunately, it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA because it has trace amounts of THC (one could not possibly get “high”, but its enough to trigger the Schedule I classification).  Additionally, the CBD oil being sold is extracted from plants grown overseas.  Unlike Act 16 with strict testing protocols and pesticide restrictions a patient has absolutely no idea what conditions the hemp plants were grown in.  The source plants could have mold, pesticides, commercial fertilizers, etc.  Compare and contrast that with a CBD oil produced in Colorado such as Quicksilver which is produced under highly regulated conditions and subject to strict third party testing.

Pennsylvania patients are anxious to participate in Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program.  Unfortunately they must wait for the program to be fully implemented, for physicians to register with the program, and for licensed grows and dispensaries to offer high quality medicines, whether CBD or THC.

Until then, beware the Charlatans and Snake Oil.

Patrick K. Nightingale, Esq.

Executive Director, Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society

www.pamcs.org

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Patrick NightingaleBeware Of Charlatans and Snake Oil Salesmen – PA’s Medical Marijuana Law is still in its Infancy
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President Trump and Legalization: What Now?

Since the election of President Trump, we have received many questions about how this could impact the legalization of Marijuana.

So far, nothing definitive has been said by this administration on the subject, and Trump himself has been ambiguous as to the future of legalization.

In the past, Trump has said that he feels it’s an issue that should be determined on a state by state basis. This would suggest his administration may continue the “look the other way” approach of the previous administration.

But what about our new Attorney General?

There is widespread concern regarding the nomination and expected confirmation of Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) for Attorney General, as many people feel his confirmation does not bode well for the legalization movement.

Sessions has repeatedly made it clear that he is against any attempts to reschedule marijuana, and has hinted he would go after anyone breaking federal law, which ultimately supersedes state law.

How this will impact states where there has been reform is difficult to say. Will Sessions shut down states with full legalization like Colorado? Will he go after medicinal states as well?

At this time, we just don’t know.

Legalized marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, is currently a six billion dollar industry, and that doesn’t include California’s recent legalization of recreational use.

A majority of states already have some type of reform in place– medicinal, decriminalization and/or recreational use. Whether or not this administration is prepared to absorb the financial repercussions of prosecution remains to be seen.

Beyond that, the loss of tax revenue, and the overall economic impact of shutting down one of the fastest growing industries in the country, would give anyone pause.

And that is the one hopeful aspect of all this. President Trump is a businessman who ultimately recognizes a good deal when he sees one.

Let’s all hope “The Art of the Deal” is more than just a book title.

 

Click Here for a complete state by state listing for medical and recreational marijuana reform information.

 

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Patrick NightingalePresident Trump and Legalization: What Now?
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Medicinal Marijuana: A Status Update

marijuana law reformThe initial excitement expressed over the passage of Pennsylvania’s medicinal marijuana legislation has led to some fallacies regarding how the law works.

It has also opened the doors to various scams, intended to capitalize on that initial excitement.

Let me be absolutely clear on this first point: Marijuana is still illegal in Pennsylvania. Until Act 16 is fully implemented merely having a qualifying medical condition under the new law won’t prevent anyone from being arrested and prosecuted for possessing marijuana.

Which brings up my next point. Smoking marijuana is not covered under the new medicinal law, which applies only to medically approved delivery methods such as oils, topical, salves and pill form.  The Department of Health MAY add dry herb as a permissible “medical marijuana product” in 2018, but smoking will remain prohibited as a delivery method.

It is medicine, and is being treated under the law with the same medical and pharmaceutical oversight as any medicine introduced to the marketplace.

Doctors are being trained and certified to recommend medicinal marijuana under very strict guidelines, none of which relate to recreational use.

Only a physician who has been trained and is certified to practice medicine in Pennsylvania will be allowed to make a recommendation.  Prior to considering a medical marijuana recommendation, however, the physician must complete a 4 hour training course and must register with the Department of Health.  A physician recommending medical cannabis may not have a financial interest in a licensed medical cannabis facility such as a grow or a dispensary.

Growing marijuana is still illegal. Claiming a grow operation is for medicinal use is not a defense. Medicinal growers will have to be licensed and regulated by the commonwealth. The process of obtaining a growers license is very strict and very costly.  The application process alone may cost the license winner millions before a single seed is planted.

Finally, a physician MUST have a bona fide physician patient relationship with the patient.

In order to get a recommendation, patients must have a physician patient relationship with their recommending treatment provider.  Because the Department of Health has not yet certified the training requirements for physicians no PA physician can yet make a medical cannabis recommendation to their adult patient.   Any “physician” who offers to do so at present– especially for a fee– is breaking the law.

For more information on medicinal marijuana, we suggest contacting a legitimate organization such as the Pennsylvania Medicinal Cannabis Society with questions regarding prescribing and producing medicinal marijuana.
Visit http://www.pamcs.org for more information.
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Patrick NightingaleMedicinal Marijuana: A Status Update
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How to Handle Police Encounters

Can Police Lie?These are some basic rules for dealing with the police, and most are just common sense.

The first and most important rule is to remain calm.

The problem is, police encounters are often tense for everyone involved. Adrenaline flows, people become nervous and sometimes are not thinking clearly.

Take a couple deep breaths and stay focused on the Officer.

A sudden movement, even for the most innocent of reasons (reaching inside your jacket to retrieve your wallet, for example) can be interpreted as a threatening move by a police officer, unless you ask them first.

“Officer, I need to reach into my jacket for my wallet” or “My registration is in the glove box”.

By not communicating what you are doing, it’s possible you could be reaching for a weapon, or hiding something, which is probable cause for the Officer to investigate further, or even fear for their safety. And it can easily escalate a situation that may have started as a minor traffic stop, but ends up with a felony charge, or worse.

If an officer is approaching with their weapon drawn, it is, at least to them, an incredibly serious situation. It is absolutely imperative to remain calm, keeping your hands in plain sight and making no sudden movements.

In any police encounter, always speak clearly and respectfully, and follow their instructions. The minute the yelling, the outrage, the ‘my rights’ speech starts, all bets are off. No one likes to be told how to do their job, especially someone with a badge and a gun.

An encounter with the police is not a courtroom, unless you make it one. And, I’m sad to say that the cops become Judge, Jury, and yes, sometimes even Executioner in the Court of the Street. It’s a fight you will not win, and should do everything possible to avoid. It is the job of your Attorney to fight for your rights in court. Make your case there.

Remember, you do have the right to an Attorney before answering any questions if you are arrested, and beyond providing them with identification, say as little as possible, without being disrespectful. “I respectfully invoke my right to consult with my attorney before answering any questions.”

With the appalling sniper attack that left 12 Officers dead in Dallas fresh in the mind of every cop in America, it is imperative to keep in mind they have every reason to be cautious when approaching any situation. Even a routine traffic stop can turn deadly in a heartbeat.

To my friends in Law Enforcement, my sincerest condolences for the loss of your fellow officers. As always, we are all counting on your professionalism, training and selfless dedication to help your communities, your fellow officers, and our country, get through these difficult times.

 

 

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Patrick NightingaleHow to Handle Police Encounters
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Pennsylvania Medicinal Marijuana Raises Many Questions for Lawmakers

marijuana law reformThe first thing one absolutely must keep in mind in this discussion is this: We’re talking about medicine.

The legal, scientific, ethical, and of course, clinical factors for official approval of any medication is often a tedious, time consuming process, with input from various state and private organizations being gathered and recorded in order to set up the ground rules for producing, prescribing and marketing said medication.

In the case of cannabis, this process is somewhat more complicated in that this is not a new drug created in a lab, with little or no preexisting legal status to contend with.

Oxycontin, for example, is synthetic and not an actual opiate, so it doesn’t start out as a Schedule 1 narcotic. It goes through the normal FDA and medical community approval process.

Marijuana however, does have the additional burden of it’s preexisting legal status to contend with.  Not to mention the social status from it’s very prevalent role in the counter culture movement, which has to regularly be defended by proponents of full legalization, despite the mountain of evidence showing it is the most benign and non-violent of all recreational drugs.

So now the official process for MM will begin, and it’s going to take time before we see a state approved distribution system in Pennsylvania. There will be committees to oversee the process, which will include state officials, police organizations and the medical community.

There is a very limited list of medical conditions currently treatable with MM, and we’ll include a couple of links for additional information on the specifics of the law as it now stands.

It should be noted there is already a serious effort underway to get State Prosecutors to waive charges against those who are caught with marijuana but have a medical condition which would qualify them for MM under the new law. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

In the meantime, there is still a statewide effort to get marijuana fully legalized for recreational use, that is far from over. We’ve seen progress in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and we’re starting to see similar decriminalization efforts in more rural communities.

The economic benefits of legalization for the state alone should be enough to convince lawmakers this is not just a savings for law enforcement and an overcrowded legal system, but an incredible opportunity for Pennsylvania to raise serious revenue. And not just taxes directly collected from sales, but tourism dollars.

I’d love to have a week long festival at Point State Park called, Potsburgh Fest! Fireworks, music, weed… food sales for vendors would be insane! And no fights at all. Just a sh*tload of really chill people spending money.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but we just won a major victory. It could happen…

For more information on medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society

Pittsburgh NORML

 

 

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Patrick NightingalePennsylvania Medicinal Marijuana Raises Many Questions for Lawmakers
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The Civility of Marijuana: Gov. Wolf Signs Medicinal Marijuana Bill

Patrick testifying at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Hearing on SB 3, Medical Marijuana, February 25, 2015.

Patrick Nightingale testifying at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Hearing on SB 3, Medical Marijuana, February 25, 2015.

It has been a long road to this watershed moment for the medical marijuana movement in Pennsylvania. It took far longer than it had to be, but that is often the way of the world. Often that which truly matters take the longest to achieve. It sounds a tad corny in today’s instantly available digital interface world we live in, but it’s timelessly true, like a black and white grainy film of a Vince Lombardi speech. The hard work, the dedication, the commitment… it’s the longer, harder road that leads to the individual victories that lead to the ultimate goal, the ultimate victory.

There are those voices who would downplay this momentous occasion, lamenting the inequities that inevitably accompany compromise in the world of political maneuvering. Some of our fellow activists in states like NJ and NY have seen good intentions founder on the shores of political obstruction. Their criticisms have reminded us that this bill can still fail to serve the patients here in PA. For today, however, we will savor a hard won victory.

We fully expect that as acceptance of medicinal marijuana grows in the medical community patient access will increase and qualifying conditions will continue to be added to the existing 17 conditions. It will happen.

Some justifiably criticize the high licensing and operation costs built in to the legislation. Obviously “home grow” is the most patient friendly model, but our Legislature decided that if it was going to approve medicinal cannabis it intended to regulate it as MEDICINE. Though highly regulated, PA patients will know that the cannabis products they are relying upon to treat their intractable epilepsy, their chronic pain, their multiple sclerosis, have been tested by third party testing facilities and are free from pesticides and mold.

Which brings me to the civility of all this.

Marijuana is the most sociable and civil of recreational drugs. It is freely shared. That doesn’t happen much with hard drugs. That alone should take it off Schedule 1. People don’t rob gas stations for more weed.

It’s a friendly and, especially in light of truly deadly drugs like Meth and Heroin, a ridiculously harmless drug. I’m talking Barney Fife, Arnold Horshack, Scooby Doo and Shaggy harmless. The medicinal benefits completely outweigh the few potential side effects. Frankly, in comparison to what is regularly advertised on TV by Big Pharma, the potential side effects of medicinal marijuana read like a comic book versus the Bible. Ironically, perfectly legal erection meds leaps to mind. The religious right is really weird.

Fortunately for Pennsylvanians in need of medicine, our Governor is a man of conscience, and he’s kept his word. He is signing the bill as promised.

I cannot think of higher praise one could offer any political figure.

Even more though, we need to recognize the grass roots efforts (pun intended) of ordinary people who, through organizations like Pittsburgh NORML, etc., have worked so hard to bring about this legislation. Let us not bemoan the inequities that will lead to further work towards full legalization, but celebrate the victory our hard work has wrought.

Let us all be grateful Governor Wolf is a decent, compassionate and caring human being. A man who is willing to trust the judgment of countless medical professionals and over 80% of Pennsylvanians in saying, “Give these people this medicine”.

So congratulations, Pennsylvania!

Enjoy this important victory.

It’s still illegal for recreational use, but it’s decriminalized in Philly and Pittsburgh and we’re seeing less urban communities moving that way. Now we have a victory on the medicinal front, and it’s important we stay focused on ensuring patient friendly regulations are put into place over the next 24 months. We need to continue working to open the medicinal marijuana marketplace to all Pennsylvanians who need this valuable medicine.

We’re winning.

My sincere thanks to all who have worked so hard to bring this about.

 

 

 

 

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Patrick NightingaleThe Civility of Marijuana: Gov. Wolf Signs Medicinal Marijuana Bill
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