Obama: Marijuana a good business

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:23 PM PST

The Obama administration on Friday gave the banking industry the green light to finance and do business with legal marijuana sellers, a move that could further legitimize the burgeoning industry.

For the first time, legal distributors will be able to secure loans and set up checking and savings accounts with major banks that have largely steered clear of those businesses. The decision eliminates a key hurdle facing marijuana sellers, who can now legally conduct business in 20 states and the District.

So far, the Obama administration has dealt with the legal dilemmas posed by Colorado and Washington — where state laws now allow recreational marijuana use — largely by choosing not to enforce the federal statutes. Eighteen other states allow the sale of medical marijuana — though federal law does not allow that, either.

COMMENT: When it comes to the regulation of marijuana, President Obama has had a hard time squaring his words with his actions - most notably, his campaign promise to defer to state medical marijuana laws, followed by a flurry of federal raids on state-licensed dispensaries and the closures of hundreds in California.
Now Obama has discussed the subject in a national television interview, and it's hard to reconcile his words with the law.
It happened Jan. 31, when CNN's Jake Tapper brought up the president's headline-making observation during a recent New Yorker magazine interview that marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol. Could that mean, Tapper asked Obama, that he would consider removing marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, reserved for dangerous drugs that have no accepted medical use?
"What is or isn't a Schedule One narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama replied.
 The White House has tried to spin his comments, suggesting that Obama was really saying it was a job best suited for Congress, which placed marijuana in Schedule One in 1970, alongside heroin and LSD, and has repeatedly rejected bills to ease restrictions. But the straightforward meaning of his words was that he and his administration have no authority to reschedule the drug 'by ourselves'.

Last year, for example, the administration said it would not challenge Colorado's and Washington's legalization of the drug, as long as they kept a tight rein on marijuana businesses. The administration agreed in August not to prosecute legal dealers as long as they met eight requirements, including not selling to minors.

This was not, federal officials said, a change in the law itself. Marijuana was still illegal, as far as the federal government was concerned, in all 50 states. Instead, it was just a declaration that the Justice Department had bigger things to worry about.

On Friday, the administration went a step further by laying out a path for banks to bring marijuana commerce out of the shadows and into the mainstream financial system.

The Treasury Department issued new rules that could make it easier for banks to do business with marijuana dispensers. In separate guidance, the Justice Department directed U.S. attorneys not to pursue banks that do business with legal marijuana dispensers as long as the dealers adhere to the guidelines issued in August.

A senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, acknowledged that the decision could draw legal protests from anti-legalization groups. Some lawmakers have complained that the administration is enabling an industry that is in violation of federal law.

"Marijuana trafficking is illegal under federal law, and it's illegal for banks to deal with marijuana sale proceeds under federal law. Only Congress can change these laws. The administration can't change the law with a memo," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

Financial institutions have feared that they would run afoul of money laundering statutes by accepting money from an activity considered illegal under federal laws. That has made it difficult for the growing crop of legal marijuana dispensers who must operate exclusively in cash, placing them at greater risk of being robbed.

Anwar's mistakes led to Ops Lalang

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 03:09 AM PST

Anwar Ibrahim yesterday denied his involvement in Operasi Lalang 1987 by blaming his boss at that time Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the person responsible for issuing directive to the police to haul up the protesters.

However, the former prime minister today took a jibe at his former deputy by saying Anwar also played a key role in the operation.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) said today that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also played a key role in Operasi Lalang of 1987.
The operation witnessed the Internal Security Act being invoked to detain 108 political leaders and activists without trial.  Anwar was the deputy prime minister then.
Denying Anwar's allegation that he (Dr Mahathir) was fully responsible for Operasi Lalang, Dr Mahathir said: "As a member of the cabinet, he (Anwar) should also take responsibility. Unless he had said, 'I'm resigning from the cabinet because I don't agree.'
"He never said such things. He agreed, supported everything including the ISA."
Dr Mahathir also described the opposition leader as a master of deception and not a ideal thinker and that his party (PKR) was a party on "Anwarism", set up solely to fulfill his (Anwar's) ambitions.
The former prime minister said Anwar had also portrayed himself as a human who could not do wrong or sin in his path towards his personal interest and political career.
"His party is not Party Keadilan (party for justice) but a party for himself, his family and not for the race, religion and others. It is not even about ideology. 
"He is a master of deception, an expert in denying what he had said before and reimaging himself as sinless. If Anwar is right, he would have been Prime Minister today," he said.
He said Anwar had the skills to manipulate people with his scholarly approach when in fact he was neither a thinker nor a leader capable of leading the country.
"But he is no thinker but a glib talker, good at convincing people for himself. This is Anwar."
Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters after opening a seminar titled "Kassim Ahmad: An Evaluation" organised by Friends of Pena Pak Kassim at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya. – Bernama
Yesterday, MCA president Liow Tiong Lai told the people of Kajang that Anwar played an important role in the notorious Ops Lalang 1987.

Reminding them to 'teach Anwar a lesson' by not voting him in Kajang by-election on March 23, Liow also said part of the factors that led to the demonstration was Anwar's (the education minister then) move to deploy teachers who did not comprehend Mandarin in Chinese schools.
MCA president Liow Tiong Lai has reminded Kajang's Chinese community that it was PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim who caused the notorious Operasi Lalang in 1987. 
This, he argued, was because Anwar had deployed teachers who did not comprehend Mandarin in Chinese schools.
Liow blamed Anwar for suppressing Chinese education in the 1980s when the latter was education minister, stirring dissatisfaction in the community and following that, Operasi Lalang in which 108 politicians and activists were arrested was unleashed. 
"It is clear in the Chinese educationists' minds till now. (From) that kind of action, we can see that he (Anwar) is a man with many promises, but can't deliver them.
"He is good at manipulating situations," Liow said. 
He claimed that based on historical facts, Anwar is an unreliable man who is utilising the Kajang by-election for his own interests and agenda.
"I believe the voters will teach him a lesson this time. We must remember that Anwar is a leader who can't be trusted... he can promise anything to win the votes," said Liow.

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