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California lawmakers propose cut to recreational cannabis taxes

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California lawmakers on Thursday launched a bipartisan bid to temporarily reduce taxes on the state’s emerging recreational cannabis industry in order to help legally run pot businesses compete financially with black market growers and sellers.

Legislation introduced by assemblymen Tom Lackey, a Republican from Palmdale, and Rob Bonta, an Oakland-based Democrat, comes 2-1/2 months after a law took effect legalizing adult marijuana use in the most populous U.S. state.

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“California cannabis businesses are making significant investments as they embrace the regulated marketplace while, at the same time, being undercut by unregulated competitors,” Bonta said in a statement. The bill is aimed at “keeping customers at licensed stores and helping ensure the regulated market survives and thrives,” he said.

The marijuana market in California, which lays claim to the world’s sixth-largest economy, is valued by most experts at several billion dollars annually and is expected to generate at least $1 billion a year in tax revenue.

California pot farmers and other cannabis workers have complained at local government meetings in recent months that new regulations, licensing rules, fees and taxes have stifled their businesses and made it harder to offer products at affordable rates.

Lackey and Bonta’s legislation, which would suspend a $148-per-pound marijuana cultivation tax and cut an excise tax on cannabis sales to 11 percent from 15 percent, is aimed at lowering costs for cannabis operations as they get up to code. Both provisions would expire in June 2021.

“We need to give legal businesses some temporary tax relief so they do not continue to be undercut,” Lackey said.

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The bill is awaiting a referral to a California State Assembly policy committee before it can make it to the assembly floor for a vote. It would then be moved to the state’s senate.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Daniel Bases and James Dalgleish

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‘You’re lying again’: Twitter fires back at Lindsey Graham’s claim that ‘Biden’s behavior was harmful to the United States’

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In a series of tweets this Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave his opinion that additional testimony in the impeachment effort against President Trump is "unnecessary," regardless of the leaked revelations from an unpublished manuscript of John Bolton's upcoming book. According to Graham, "one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office."

Graham then turned the focus of his thread to Joe Biden, writing that "there is ample evidence for the President to be concerned about conflicts of interest on behalf of Hunter Biden and that Vice President Joe Biden’s failure to take appropriate action was unacceptable."

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Harvey Weinstein demanded threesome from aspiring actress, trial hears

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Former Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein demanded a threesome from an aspiring actress in return for movie roles, his rape and sexual assault trial heard Wednesday.

The ex-Miramax boss said he had asked the same of Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, accuser Dawn Dunning told the New York court.

There is no suggestion that any of the three actresses ever acquiesced to the alleged request.

Dunning, 40, testified that she first met Weinstein when she was waitressing at a New York nightclub in 2004.

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Trump signs long-awaited North American trade deal

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the new USMCA North American trade pact with Canada and Mexico into law, pronouncing a "glorious future" for US industry.

The USMCA, crafted over years of negotiation between the three countries, replaces the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Trump has long campaigned against NAFTA, which he said resulted in shipping US jobs abroad.

"Today, we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare," he said at the new treaty's signing ceremony in the White House.

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