CNN takes on restrictive banking issues, Free Press details activists excluded from public meetings, NBC affiliate reports on children removed from their parents for marijuana use
FLINT- A trio of stories circulating in mainstream media circles has brought to light the hardships and discrimination endured by medical marijuana patients and activists across the United States.
CNN's Jose Pagliery filed a syndicated report detailing California businessmen's difficulties in obtaining banking for marijuana-related businesses- even if the business does not involve producing or distributing the Schedule 1 drug. Daniel Williams of Canna Security installs and maintains alarm systems for marijuana dispensaries in California. He was denied a loan to expand his business and risks his life to physically carry thousands of dollars in cash to his bank for deposit because his cannabis clients are ineligible for traditional banking. The situation "almost makes it impossible to run a proper and legitimate business," Williams said.
Greta Carter's business provides acupuncture and wellness services for medical marijuana patients, but does not retail marijuana, yet she's forced to "bank in secret," per the CNN report. When her bank dropped by to inspect her business she hastily removed any sign or poster related to the marijuana industry. "Those of us that have banking are doing it covertly," she said. "The irony is that these people are trying to come out of the shadows."
CNNMoney surveyed some of the largest financial institutions in America and learned that none of them will offer services to the marijuana industry, including JPMorgan, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, whose statements against banking with cannabusinesses are already published. HSBC did not respond to CNN's questioning but Michigan businesses have been denied their services as well.
More than a simple inconvenience, failure to allow traditional banking makes cannabusinesses targets for thieves- and for under reporting income or taxes, a major concern with Washington State's new legal marijuana law. Tracking sales without the advantage of bank records will prove difficult for state auditors and IRS agents- and may be the driving force that corrects this imbalance.
Having to change your identity just to attend a public meeting featuring your US House Representative is the stuff of science fiction films and Orwellian novels- or is it?
Macomb County is just north of Detroit and features two of Michigan's most populous cities- Warren and Sterling Heights- and carries the third-largest concentration of medical marijuana patients in the state. The Detroit Free Press's Bill Laitner reports that a recent public meeting featuring Rep. Sander Levin launched a new statewide campaign to educate citizens about the dangers of marijuana use- and that advocates for medical and legalized marijuana were intentionally excluded from the meeting.
Tim Beck, whose Coalition for a Safer Detroit recently shepherded a decriminalization bill through legal challenges and onto the November 2012 ballot, signed up to attend the meeting. According to the Free Press article, event organizers screened potential attendees and as a result Beck received a voicemail message denying him access to the seminar.
Beck showed up anyway and accessed the meeting using a false name. "I wanted to know what these people were up to, and they're doing the right thing," he said after the meeting. "This is a valuable service to the state because no rational person who believes that marijuana should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol thinks kids should be using any of these substances," Beck said.
Despite his support for keeping cannabis out of the hands of children Beck was still targeted and discriminated against because of his political beliefs. Other activists have been similarly refused participation in public meetings regarding marijuana use, including this reporter. Marijuana has been available for medical use in Michigan since 2008; Ann Arbor decriminalized pot possession 40 years a go and that November 2012 election saw 5 different cities relax marijuana laws.
CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES
In Idaho, three friends went for a hike in the mountains. When they returned the babysitter told them police had executed a search warrant on the home where their four children had been staying- and all four boys had been taken into custody by Idaho's Health and Welfare office. Why? Marijuana was found in the home.
The married couple and their friend were all high-profile members of Compassionate Idaho, an organization striving for legalization of medical marijuana. The warrant originated from a situation at the children's school; once the marijuana had been located at the residence it was up to officers on the scene to determine if there was danger to the children. "Police make decisions on if kids need to be taken, and he said the courts work with agency recommendations to determine the return of children," said the Health and Welfare department, as reported by NBC affiliate KTVB.
The trio of parents stridently argue that their involvement with Compassionate Idaho resulted in both the search warrant and the decision to place the children in foster care. Sarah Caldwell's children have been returned to her, but homeowners Lindsey and Josh Rinehart are still fighting for the return of their boys. "They say their goal is to return our children to our home once it is deemed safe. They say our children will be in foster care for 30 days," Lindsey Rinehart told KTVB.
The Rineharts flatly state the facts- ""We were not dealing. We were not buying. We were not selling. We were not growing." Lindsey Rinehart suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; Child Protective Services (CPS) has forced her to adopt traditional treatment methods for her illness. "Even if I could access cannabis, which I can't, and won't because I'm cooperating with CPS, I want my children back. I'm going to have to go back on a whole bunch of really toxic medication," Lindsey Rinehart said. Her MS symptoms have begun to return.
To donate to the legal defense fund to assist in the return of the Rinehart boys, visit:
Source: The Compassion Chronicles