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  1. Washington and Colorado -- The first two states to legalize recreational marijuana have collectively raked in at least $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, according to the latest tax data -- and they're putting those dollars to good use. In Colorado, after about a year and a half of legal recreational marijuana sales, the state has collected more than $117 million in excise taxes from both the recreational and medical marijuana markets, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. Read More...
  2. Washington, D.C. -- Even as support for ending marijuana prohibition is building around the country, Congress and the Obama administration remain far too timid about the need for change. Last year, residents in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted to join Colorado and Washington State in making recreational use of marijuana legal. Later this year, residents of Ohio are expected to vote on a ballot measure that would legalize it. Nevadans will vote on a legalization proposal next year. And Californians could vote on several similar measures next year. Read More...
  3. Denver -- Colorado has made an unusual plea to federal authorities: Let our colleges grow pot. In a letter sent last month, the state attorney general's office asks federal health and education officials for permission for Colorado's colleges and universities to "obtain marijuana from non-federal government sources" for research purposes. Read More...
  4. Colorado -- Oklahoma and Nebraska have filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to deem Colorado's marijuana laws unconstitutional, The Denver Post reports. The states, which border Colorado, claim in the suit that their neighbor's recreational pot policy is "draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice system." Because recreational weed is not legal in Nebraska and Oklahoma – and those states must abide by federal law, which also prohibits it – the they want Colorado's policy overturned. They are not seeking financial damages. "The State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system," the lawsuit – which Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed Thursday – alleges. "Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining [our states'] own marijuana bans." Read More...
  5. Colorado's 40 casinos — and hundreds of others, including in the gaming mecca in Las Vegas — are bound by the same money-reporting rules that have made banks reluctant to let legal marijuana businesses open bank accounts, federal authorities now say. That means casinos can keep anyone associated with legal weed enterprises — from dispensary to grow operations — away from gaming tables anywhere in the country. And if they do allow them to play, casinos must file the same suspicious activity reports banks must file whenever they handle money derived from pot profits, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. "FinCEN's guidance applies to all financial institutions covered under FinCEN regulations, including casinos," FinCEN's public affairs director Stephen Hudak told The Denver Post. Because the government says casinos are financial institutions, like banks, they must have stringent anti-money-laundering programs in place. Filing suspicious activity reports, or SARs, to crack down on money laundering by criminal and terrorist organizations is not new for casinos. What is new is that it now extends to the legal marijuana trade. While FinCEN in February announced how banks could work with legal marijuana businesses, the government only now realized it extends to casinos. That's in any casino in the country — whether in Colorado, Atlantic City or Las Vegas — on land, on water or on sovereign American-Indian soil. So a casino on the Las Vegas strip would, by law, have to pay attention to the owner of a marijuana dispensary in Colorado who heads there to gamble. Currently, 22 states have legalized the sale of medical marijuana and two — Colorado and Washington — have legalized recreational sales. Colorado and 41 other states have some form of legal casino gambling. The news — revealed June 12 at a Las Vegas conference directed at curtailing money laundering — has stopped state regulators and the casino industry in its tracks. "The (Colorado) Division of Gaming was unaware of the FinCEN guidance," spokeswoman Cameron Lewis told The Post. "Division management will be taking this matter under discussion." Similarly, the Colorado Gaming Association, the trade group that represents the state's casinos, was unaware of the requirement. "To my knowledge, we have not been contacted by FinCEN regarding any issues dealing with ... marijuana suppliers," executive director Lois Rice said. Like banks, casinos must "know their customer" and have some knowledge of their source of funds. The casino industry keeps close track of gamblers through a variety of methods including high-roller clubs, frequent-player programs and other in-house incentives. "Casinos most comply with the government's guidance on filing suspicious-activity reports" said Jim Dowling, an anti-money-laundering consultant. "Their alternative is to not conduct a financial transaction with these individuals who were involved directly, or indirectly in the MJ business," said Dowling, a former IRS agent who was also an adviser on money-laundering issues to the White House. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, FinCEN's requirements for doing business with the marijuana industry modified how financial institutions are to file SARs. The reports must now reflect that clients are in states where marijuana sales are allowed. Although the pot industry saw it as a first step in obtaining banking services — and more recent efforts have included the theoretical creation of a marijuana financial cooperative — Colorado banks have mostly shied from opening the door too widely. The marijuana-specific reports would either identify the cannabis-related business or employee as legally operating under appropriate guidelines, identify them as one conducting suspicious activity, or as one where the casino has ended its banking relationship "in order to maintain an effective anti-money-laundering" compliance program. The seven-page guidance also notes a number of "red-flag" scenarios that would require a bank or casino to file a SAR, including for a customer "depositing cash that smells like marijuana" who might be trying to conceal involvement in marijuana-related business activity. "There are a number of ways money laundering can occur in a casino," Dowling said, "and keeping track of this is very labor-intensive." FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery told attendees at the Las Vegas conference that it's no secret casinos are targets of organized crime. "Illicit actors are also looking to game the system so that they can move or hide funds among the many cash and non-cash transactions you conduct daily," she said. "Think about what happens each time a customer enters your casino. Often, the first thing a customer does is conduct a financial transaction — they buy chips. And the last action a customer takes is usually also a financial transaction — they cash out those chips." Casinos, like banks, must know who is bringing them money, she said, and meeting that obligation relies on the casino's ability to understand with whom it is doing business. "It's one thing when it's organized crime or terrorist money laundering, when the individuals might be unknown," Dowling said. "It's quite another matter when it's a licensed business and the individuals associated with it are indeed known." With a dispensary's difficulty in obtaining a banking relationship, casinos could become an easy substitute. For instance, "chip walking" — when chips are not redeemed — is a well-known problem at casinos. A marijuana business without a bank account could choose to pay its employees with casino chips, which are redeemed for cash, a transactions that is, by definition, now laundered. Chips purchased with marijuana-derived funds also can be redeemed for cash or a casino's check, which could then be deposited into a personal bank account. Though Colorado has a $100 limit on the size of a bet, there is no limit on how many chips a customer can purchase. FinCEN's rules require casinos to file SARs when it "knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect" a transaction is suspicious, but only when the amount of money involved — typically buy-ins or cash-outs — is at least $5,000, at once or in a single day. http://www.denverpost.com/marijuana/...owners-workers
  6. CO Attorney Claims Requiring Marijuana Business to Pay Taxes Violates US Constitution Colorado Attorney Rob Corry is asking the Denver District Court to block marijuana taxes in Colorado, claiming that requiring marijuana businesses to pay taxes violates the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. The Fifth Amendment protects people from self-incrimination. Corry argues that by paying taxes, marijuana sellers and growers are effectively forced to incriminate themselves under federal law, which still considers marijuana to be illegal. As a part of his case, Corry is seeking a preliminary injunction to block the state from collecting tax on marijuana. If the injunction is denied, Corry plans to advise his marijuana shop clients to stop paying their taxes. However, if shops do that, it is likely their retail licenses would be revoked by the state, forcing them to close and putting the country’s first legal marijuana system in jeopardy. Corry’s lawsuit has the potential to backfire for marijuana advocates. A strict interpretation of that argument could pave the way for Colorado’s own court system to find its state system for selling pot illegal. Corry called that an outside chance, but didn’t seem concerned at the possibility. The state attorney general’s office is not paying much attention to the sit. Carolyn Tyler, spokesperson for Attorney General John Suthers stated, “Mr. Corry’s claims are bizarre and lack legal and logical consistency. We will aggressively defend the state against any legal challenge.” Corry has been known for his radical stance on marijuana in the past. His opposition to the 2013 ballot question that enacted taxes on marijuana led to more scrutiny and stricter regulations of marijuana from the city of Denver, rather than eliminating taxes for marijuana businesses as Corry had hoped. [Source]
  7. Colorado -- More than a decade after voters here first said marijuana could be medicine, Colorado is preparing to embark on the largest state-funded effort to study the medical benefits of cannabis. Under a bill signed this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state health department will give out about $9 million in grantsin the next five years to researchers for marijuana studies. Most importantly, the research is expected to include clinical trials on the kinds of marijuana products actually being used in Colorado — something that federally funded studies on marijuana have lacked. "Our intent is to be rigorous scientifically, but to also act with some expediency because these are products that a large percentage of our population is using today," said Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer of the health department. "We want to make sure that what's happening out there in everyday practice isn't harming people." Nearly 20 years after California became the first state in the U.S. to pass a medical marijuana law, the research on marijuana's health effects is still largely polarized. Several studies — matching the anecdotal experiences of medical marijuana patients — have found cannabis or its isolated components can be effective in managing pain, tremors, nausea, inflammation and other conditions. Other studies, though, have taken a dimmer view of marijuana, summed up by a new National Institute on Drug Abuse review, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that concludes marijuana is bad for brain development and can lead to addiction. Although the review says marijuana may have therapeutic potential, it finds the evidence less than convincing. Snipped Complete Article: http://drugsense.org/url/F1O7Memv
  8. State regulators are informing Colorado’s marijuana testing labs that they cannot analyze samples for individual users. This is particularly difficult for patients who relocated to the Rockies to access medical cannabis for their children and who would like to use marijuana-testing labs to better regulate dosage. The state's Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) requires every licensed recreational pot business to utilize Colorado's inventory tracking system to monitor all cannabis-related samples. The mandatory testing structure – established to specifically analyze recreational weed – commenced on May 1 by gauging edibles for potency, with any product failing a test barred from release into the marketplace. Colorado currently has seven licensed professional cannabis testing labs. As there is no state requirement for medical pot products to be tested, and because the MED only permits analysis of samples from licensed businesses, patients and their personal caregivers are prevented from having their medicine scientifically evaluated. While a provision in the law allows for labs to test for the medical cannabis industry, such product appraisal remains voluntary for dispensaries. Some of these labs had tested for individual users for years before being formally licensed as part of the regulatory process developed following Amendment 64's passage in 2012. The crackdown on individual testing is a setback for patients who desire pot and extract purity, as lab analysis reveals the presence of undesired residuals such as butane. Testing also gauges proper dosages – especially critical for child patients – as well as providing a cannabinoid profile to allow for the most effective treatment of a given malady. http://www.hightimes.com/read/colorado-prohibits-lab-testing-marijuana-individuals
  9. One of many maddeningly absurdities of the War in Drugs is how we treat the people who were once “criminals” when their past activities are no longer “crimes.” Consider the marijuana prisoners in Washington and Colorado. There will be men and women serving time -- not just federal, but state time -- for cultivating marijuana plants, processing, transporting and selling them as part of a commercial marijuana operation. Meanwhile, already in Colorado and soon in Washington, men and women will be licensed to legally cultivate marijuana plants, process, transport and sell them as part of a commercial marijuana operation. Eddy Lepp currently sits in a federal prison in Colorado for doing what is going on in countless Denver warehouse grows. Some might make the argument that those activities were illegal in the past and those men and women need to serve their time. Why? What is the purpose of their continued incarceration, to send a message to never grow and sell marijuana again? What is the net societal gain in taxpayer funding of the continued incarceration of successful illegal marijuana cultivators and sellers who could be contributing members of society, paying taxes by legally cultivating and selling marijuana? The further you dig into this rabbit hole the more absurd it becomes. Did you know almost all the 21 medical marijuana states ban someone who has been busted for growing marijuana from becoming medical caregivers and working in or owning a dispensary? In many cases, the person was busted for a personal grow and many of those were for medical purposes before any medical marijuana laws existed. Where is the logic in banning some of the best medical growers in a state from helping sick people because they were helping sick people before it was legal? Don’t we want to encourage good growers to follow the law rather than forcing them to make their living illegally? Apparently not, if this latest press release from my friend Lynnette Shaw is any indication. I met Lynnette many summers ago at some cannabis event. She was fierce and brash and ebullient as she joined me for a podcast interview, explaining about her work with the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), one of the first dispensaries to help those who were now called “medical marijuana patients” in 1997 just after California passed the Compassionate Use Act. I remember Lynnette’s zeal to fight Uncle Sam on the medical marijuana issue. She had such hope and determination and just knew that with the right legal strategy, an eye on the Constitution, and proper education of elected officials, she and the rest of the Bay Area medical marijuana community could change the world… and they did! But not without great personal cost. The feds attacked Lynnette and MAMM with every alphabet soup agency in their drug war arsenal. The feds went after MAMM’s building’s landlord and had it seized through asset forfeiture. The IRS, treating her like Al Capone, used tax law to bankrupt her, even seizing her Social Security. The courts, to heap insult upon injury, then declared she was banned for life from working in, consulting for, or selling to any legal cannabis business. Understand that for over a decade, Lynnette was working with city and county officials, trying to stay well within California’s state laws and guidelines, paying taxes and getting business licenses, and was generally considered by patients, officials and neighbors to be operating a top-notch facility, a standard-bearer for what legal, regulated medical marijuana in California could be. The Lynnette I saw at the most recent event was humbled and contrite, cautious and weary. But even after all her work helping patients has been rewarded with personal devastation, she still keeps fighting to get back into her passion -- helping sick and disabled people. Help support Lynnette Shaw in her fight to remove the lifetime injunction that is unjust and cruel, unnecessarily burdens patients, and essentially leaves her without a career. FOUNDER OF FIRST LICENSED DISPENSARY IN NATION TO FILE FOR RELIEF FROM FEDERAL CIVIL INJUNCTION LYNNETTE SHAW, ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE MEDICAL CANNABIS DISPENSARY SYSTEM, HAS LIFE SENTENCE BARRING HER FROM PARTICIPATION. Lynnette Shaw created the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax California in 1997. It was the first legal/licensed/registered/taxpaying medical cannabis dispensary in the country. It operated trouble-free, working closely with local police and Town/County/State officials, until the Federal Government closed it down in Dec. 2011. "My top notch legal team advises me that the time is right to seek dissolution of my Federal permanent civil injunction that is cruel, unusual and unique." stated Lynnette Shaw. "I fought like a wildcat from the Delta to preserve our patients' rights for over 15 years. The Feds finally crushed MAMM by instituting a forfeiture action against our landlord. They set every enforcement agency against me including the IRS. The IRS retroactively removed my tax deductions after 15 years then zeroed out my Social Security. I am bankrupt. "However, the Town of Fairfax is willing to stand up for all the work I did for over 15 years. They want me back! More importantly, our members need the return of MAMM. I have no husband or children, no relatives close by. The patients were my family. All I am asking is to be able to return to work for the many patients here in Marin that have nowhere to turn for medical cannabis. I deserve to be allowed to serve the community again, after protecting everyone except myself from the Feds and going down with the ship, in the name of love and compassion. “I am informed that since MAMM closed, County health facilities are inundated with seriously ill patients who no longer have access to medical cannabis which they had used successfully to treat their symptoms. As well, I am informed that there has been a proliferation of street-drug dealers in Marin since MAMM was closed. Of course, these drug dealers are unregulated, as are their wares. “There are currently thousands of licensed dispensaries in 21 states operating successfully. My time to be freed has come. “We intend to ask Judge Breyer to dissolve the injunction in the name of public interest and my Constitutional rights. There is a good future in legal medical marijuana. I am interviewing potential business partners/investors/donors who wish to see the recovery of the Marin Alliance and its time-tested and successful dispensary system." http://www.hightimes.com/read/pioneering-dispensary-owner-barred-life
  10. Colorado lawmakers approved the world's first financial system for the marijuana industry Wednesday, a network of uninsured cooperatives designed to give pot businesses a way to access basic banking services. The plan seeks to move the marijuana industry away from its cash-only roots. Banks routinely reject pot businesses for even basic services such as checking accounts because they fear running afoul of federal law, which considers marijuana and its proceeds illegal. Read More...
  11. Denver -- The federal government has reluctantly agreed to let Colorado be the first state to collect taxes from the legal sale of recreational marijuana, but it also has made clear it doesn't agree with the move and may try to stop it, if isn't tightly controlled. Instead of keeping a low profile with the money, however, some Colorado lawmakers are trying the bold move of using millions of dollars they've collected so far from pot sales to seek matching funds from the federal government to keep kids off drugs. Read More...
  12. Boulder, Colo. -- A new Colorado law, signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) Monday, closes a loophole in the state's marijuana laws, extending the same packaging requirements to medical marijuana products that already exist for recreational ones. Under the new law, edible marijuana products sold to medical marijuana patients must be in opaque, child-proof packaging. The law also allows marijuana businesses to confiscate fake IDs from minors, just as liquor stores do, and requires that marijuana grown in a home with minors must be enclosed and locked. Read More...
  13. Denver -- A Colorado law that allows adults to legally possess and use marijuana may now allow some people found guilty of minor marijuana crimes to challenge their convictions in court, a state appeals court ruled on Thursday. The decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals stemmed from a 2010 drug case in which a woman from the mountains west of Denver was convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana and a concentrated form of the drug — both of which are now legal under a 2012 ballot measure approved by Colorado voters. Her lawyers argued that the legal landscape had shifted since she was charged and that her marijuana convictions should thus be thrown out. Read More...
  14. Colorado Police Ask For More Money for Marijuana Enforcement The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police wrote a letter to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper this week, asking for some money from the state’s recreational marijuana program to go back into police enforcement. The letter comes in response to a plan released y the Governor last week that detailed the ways that tax revenues would be used. Police were allotted only a small portion of the revenue. In the letter, the Chiefs ask Governor Hickenlooper to create a grant program for police departments throughout the state to help cover costs related to recreational marijuana legalization and enforcing the new law. Police Chiefs are arguing they could use the tax revenue to train officers to better identify high drivers, target marijuana traffickers, create a statewide database of marijuana crimes, and purchase oral fluid testing kits that could be used to test drivers at DUI checkpoints. Hickenlooper’s budget proposal predicted that the recreational marijuana program would bring in even more money than originally anticipated. The governor’s office anticipated that the state will earn over $133 million in the next fiscal year off of recreational marijuana, but only $3 million of that is being allotted to the police forces throughout the state. The Chiefs are requesting that 10 – 15% of the state’s tax revenue from marijuana goes to them. The majority of the funds raised through taxing recreational marijuana are slated to go to marijuana addiction treatment and youth prevention. Department of Public Safety executive director Jim Davis responded to the Police Chief Association, stating, “We are confident that once we fully understand the needs and plans, we can submit and support supplemental funding requests.” Davis has requested a meeting with the group to find out more about police needs. [Source]
  15. Phillip Morris Introduces Marlboro Marijuana Cigarettes Phillip Morris, the world’s biggest cigarette producer, announced today that they will join the marijuana legalization bandwagon and start producing marijuana cigarettes. Marketed under the brand “Marlboro M”, the cigarettes will be made available for sale through marijuana-licensed outlets in the state of Colorado, and the state of Washington when it becomes commercially legal there later this year. Serafin Norcik, Phillip Morris’ Sr. Vice President for Marketing said in an interview that the company has been high on the idea of marketing cannabis, and has been monitoring the market for some time. It was only when the recent legalization initiatives — winning in Colorado and Washington — that they finally made the decision to take a leap of faith. Norcik added that they have begun contacting former drug lords in Mexico and Paraguay, currently the largest marijuana-producing countries in the world, for the possibility of setting up a distribution ring across the North and South American continents, to streamline the supply lines. Since only tobacco products are currently banned in advertisements and promotions in the United States, Phillip Morris also has set aside a huge $15 billion advertising budget just to promote the new “Marlboro M” and are now negotiating with major networks and publishers, to start marketing the product to consumers in the beginning of 2015. Norcik also revealed that a big initial push is planned around January next year, and have acquired most of the ad airtime for Superbowl XLIX. However, since marijuana will be legal only in Colorado and Washington during the 2015 Superbowl, all the ads will be blacked out in all other States and will only show a static “M” logo with smoke blowing in the background, for the duration of the ad. Phillip Morris shares hit an all-time high on the marijuana news and shot up to $998.00 from $83.03 just a few hours after the announcement went public. http://abriluno.com/phillip-morris-introduces-marlboro-marijuana-cigarettes/ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I can remember back in High School talking about the day we could buy a pack of what I recall saying would be "Marlboro Blue's" lookie lookie.. How times have changed... I wonder how they will be able to market such a product, seeing as tobacco ads are a no/no would this fall into the same category, being as its sold by Marlboro? Trix
  16. It will be the Menards of marijuana, the Wal-Mart of weed, or maybe the High Depot; whatever the illustrious industrialists choose to call it, Colorado may soon be the birthplace of the first ever marijuana superstore. According to a report in Vail Daily, a Denver-based developer has submitted a proposal for a $5 million marijuana mega-complex to be built in Eagle. The facility, which will operate under the name Rocky Mountain Pure Retail Marijuana, would consist of a 6,000-square foot retail storefront that would operate self-sufficiently with the use of a 22,500-square-foot indoor cannabis farm. In addition, the super complex would also include a 45,000-square-foot green house facility, a 3,600-square-foot extraction lab, a 3,750-square-foot “prohibition museum,” and another 12,000-square-feet of “other commercial space.” The Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the proposal earlier this week, and while there was some skepticism, they voted to approve it under a number of stipulations. Now, it must go before the Eagle Town Board for final approval. “There was a lot of discussion about the size of the proposal. Some members felt it is terribly large,” said Eagle Town Planner Tom Boni. “This whole project is something quite different for the Western Slope and the some of the commission members felt it is not in keeping with the character of the town.” However, representatives for Colorado Cannabis Company, the developers requesting permission to build the facility, say they fully intend to work with the town of Eagle to ease their concerns and create “the nation’s premier retail marijuana destination.” “Rocky Mountain Pure will be a destination that Coloradans and visitors alike will come to know as the location to not only purchase the best available products, but to learn about the wonders of cannabis and the last 90 years of prohibition, to enjoy the facilities and to even gather together for a cup of coffee in our world-class botanical gardens,” said Ethan Borg with the Colorado Cannabis Company. A public hearing on this proposal is scheduled for February 11. http://www.hightimes.com/read/first-ever-marijuana-superstore
  17. Tokers React to High-Priced Legal Marijuana Sales in Colorado When the first legal marijuana sales in America began January 1 in Colorado, Facebook and Twitter lit up with posts by excited tokers showing their sales receipts for their first legal buy. Those posts were followed by thousands of re-tweets and shares by pot smokers nationwide reacting to the prices shown on the receipts. “$400 an ounce?” asked one Twitter user about a receipt showing a purchase of an eighth ounce of Girl Scout Cookies for fifty dollars, plus $14.25 in taxes, for a total of $64.25. “You can keep your legalization if weed’s gonna cost $65/8th!” Others noted the prices for the same strain of marijuana in their local medical marijuana dispensary, ranging from twenty to forty dollars an eighth. On the other hand, reactions from tokers in the less-marijuana-tolerant parts of the country ranged from bemusement to disgust at the denigration of legal weed prices. “$60 an eighth is what I pay here in Chicago,” one Facebooker wrote, “and that’s for a short bag of ‘what’s available’ bought on the street from a gang banger. I’d love to wait in line in the snow to have the selection, security and quality they’re getting in Colorado for about the same price!” Rachel Gillette, executive director of the Colorado chapter of NORML, told NBC News, “It’s a new industry, a new market. I think things will work themselves out in a few years. We saw the same thing happen with the medical marijuana industry before prices came down.” Indeed, a confluence of factors has led to the initial high prices in Colorado, including a limited inventory for retailers, thanks to Colorado’s separation of the medical and recreational markets. Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and the chief petitioner of the Amendment 64 campaign told HIGH TIMES that the current recreational shops were limited to only the number of plants allowed for their medical marijuana patients. Retailers had to decide how much marijuana to keep for patients versus how much to sell for recreational use. Now that these retailers can grow more plants for recreational sales, expect the supply to increase, leading to lower prices come late spring. That’s the point made by Toni Fox, owner of Denver’s 3-D Cannabis Center. She told Denver’s alt-weekly Westword, “It's all supply and demand. Once I can produce more cannabis, our prices should go down. I don't think there's going to be a lot of wholesale available on the retail side for a few months, and we can't cultivate our retail plants until January 1. So I can transfer my medical grow over, but that's only roughly 1200 plants. After the 1st, I can grow 3600, and then the prices will definitely go down.” But some retailers were also guilty of jacking up the prices, anticipating the rush of tokers eager for the novelty experience of their first legal weed purchase. The Associated Press reported one dispensary selling a high-grade marijuana strain for $70/8th that it was selling for $25/8th on the medical side. Others reported setting the prices high to keep purchases small so they would not run out of inventory on “Green Wednesday,” the first day of sales. And with just a few dozen recreational outlets open across the state so far, pot shops don’t yet have to slash prices to compete. Of course, the 15% excise tax and 10% sales tax on marijuana are also adding to the purchase price of marijuana, as well as the state and local sales taxes. Medical marijuana cardholders aren’t subject to all the taxes and the price of a medical marijuana “red card” has dropped to just $15, so analysts expect many of Colorado’s local tokers with medical qualifications will choose to get their supply from the medical marijuana market. Others will continue utilizing the black market, which is now enhanced by the legal right of any adult to cultivate six marijuana plants. That’s a concern to Colorado State Rep. Jonathan Singer. He helped write the law on marijuana sales and doesn’t want to change the tax structure yet. However, he told NBC News, “If marijuana continues to funnel into the black market, I am happy to look at shocking the black market out of the legitimate industry by slashing taxes, but this is way too early in the game.” For now, it seems expensive legal marijuana is very popular, with lines around the block at most pot shops even on the third day of legal sales Friday. As the novelty wears off, these prices will only be acceptable for tourists accustomed to high black market prices in their states and Colorado retailers will have to lower prices to attract the loyal local customers who will keep the businesses afloat. And if a Coloradoan still thinks the price of weed is too darn high, they can always grow their own. http://www.hightimes.com/read/tokers-react-high-priced-legal-marijuana-sales-colorado
  18. Seems easy enough? Denver -- Have questions about marijuana? The city of Denver is hoping to have that covered after it launched an informational website Dec. 9. The site is simple in construction and serves to answer frequently asked questions such as "is it illegal to drive high?" and "is it illegal to consume marijuana in public?" The answer to both questions is yes, by the way. The city's marketing office put the site together after embarking on the endeavor in late October. "The goal was to provide clarity and I think the site does that," said Sarah Kurz, director of strategic marketing for Denver. Kurz said her office met with several outside groups such as Denver Public Schools, Denver Health and AAA Colorado to determine what questions should be answered on the site. She said all the groups were insistent that the information needed to be out there as soon as possible. View the site at: http://www.colorado.gov/marijuanainfodenver Snipped Complete Article: http://drugsense.org/url/WwjnMILE
  19. Colorado Committee Considers Changing Rules for Lawyers Looking to Help Marijuana Businesses Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, but its illegal federal status is causing some headaches for certain professionals, including lawyers. Attorneys in Colorado could have peace of mind soon, now that a committee is working to change the way lawyers can interact with marijuana-related businesses. Currently in Colorado, attorneys would be breaking one of the state’s rules of professional conduct by helping marijuana businesses because they would be helping clients participate in illegal activities– at least on the federal level. According to an opinion released earlier this year by a Colorado Bar Association ethics panel,”Unless and until there is a change in applicable federal law or in the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot advise a client regarding the full panoply of conduct permitted by the marijuana amendments.” Despite the rule, no lawyers have been punished for helping medical or recreational marijuana businesses, according to the Colorado Bar Association. A state committee of lawyers and judges is now recommending that the Colorado Supreme Court change the rule. The new rule would provide an exemption for lawyers who help marijuana businesses do things that are deemed legal under state law, regardless of whether they conflict with federal law. While some attorneys want the protections to provide legal advice to all clients in need, others feel the rule change is unnecessary or inappropriate. James Coyle, head of Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel stated, “I don’t think there is a need for the new rule.” Another proposed rule would allow attorneys in Colorado to use recreational marijuana without breaking a conduct rule against using illegal substances. The Supreme Court is accepting written comments on the proposed rule changes until February 25th. A public hearing on the proposed rules will be held on March 6th. [Source]
  20. Colorado Issues First Licenses for MJ Businesses Colorado on Monday became the first U.S. state to issue special licenses for recreational marijuana businesses. After weeks of scrutiny of applications, officials at the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division slipped 348 approved licenses into the mail and sent them out to hundreds of stores, products-makers and cultivation facilities. Those businesses could begin producing and selling marijuana to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1, assuming the businesses also have the approval of their local governments. The number includes 136 marijuana shops, most of which are in Denver. But stores with approved state licenses also pop up in places from Telluride to Alma to Garden City. Marijuana advocates hailed the finalized licenses as a watershed moment for Colorado's legalization of cannabis, which voters approved in November 2012. "Colorado will be the first state to have a legal marijuana market for adults," said Mason Tvert, a Denver-based spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of Colorado's legalization push. "We expect it to set an example for other states." Opponents of legalization, though, said the licenses are another step in what they fear is an increasingly disastrous pot policy. "We're seeing ... a massive marijuana industry growing before our eyes," said Kevin Sabet, who is with a national anti-marijuana group called Project SAM. "I hope it's not going to be too late before we realize that the road we're on is going to produce a massive public health problem and public safety problem in Colorado." State marijuana regulators have previously said they would make a decision on the hundreds of recreational cannabis business applications submitted in the month of October by the end of the year. And it appears they denied very few — if any — applications in doing so. Snipped Complete Article: http://drugsense.org/url/T99uIrVL Trix
  21. Denver Police Officers Not Allowed to Work Off-Duty at Pot Shops A departmental order issued by the Denver Police Department bans police officers from working as security guards at recreational marijuana shops in their 0ff-duty time. Denver police officers are allowed to work off-duty security jobs at venues such as bars and sporting events. Officers are paid about $45 per hour by the private businesses to stand as an armed guard. This allows businesses to offer a police presence but does not take away from city resources. However, department policy does prohibit officers from providing off-duty services to “any establishment which constitutes a threat to the status of dignity of the police as a professional occupation.” Recreational pot shops are considered by the Denver PD to fall under that category. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure those businesses are safe, but we’re not going to work inside those businesses,” said Sonny Jackson, a department spokesman. “It’s a new industry, and we’re not sure what it’s going to entail.” The memo, delivered to all Denver PD sworn personnel, states, “This restriction prohibits officers from providing security at any such location and from providing security for the transportation of financial proceeds from any marijuana-related business. Officers can expect future revisions regarding policies pertaining to marijuana as the laws are developed and finalized.” Up until last week, Denver police had no written policy about secondary employment at medical marijuana businesses. The new regulations come as a result of the conflict between state and federal law. Police Union President Nick Rogers said, “Can you imagine a Denver cop in full uniform working at a marijuana store when the feds come and serve a search warrant?” Police will be on hand to help with crowd control when recreational marijuana shops begin to open next year, but do not expect to see them step foot inside a Denver pot shop. [Source]
  22. Feds Call Out CO in Releasing Study on Teen MJ Use Colorado -- Federal drug abuse officials called out Colorado by name Wednesday in releasing a new national survey of illicit drug use among teenagers, saying marijuana legalization efforts are clearly changing youth attitudes in a dangerous way. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy noted many teens report getting their marijuana from others with medical marijuana access. Past-month pot use by high schoolers jumped over five years, and perceived risk by teens is plummeting, said the annual report of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Colorado, Washington and other states heading toward legalization are conducting a "large social experiment (that) portends a very difficult time" for drug-abuse control, said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Legalization advocates, meanwhile, cited other statistics in the report showing the recent national trend in high school use of pot is flat. The most recent three years of the survey show little change in self-reported use in the annual tally. In 12th-graders, for example, use in the past month was 22.7 percent of respondents, little changed from 22.9 percent in 2012 or 22.6 percent in 2011. A similar flat trend held among 10th- and eighth-graders in those years. The federal officials cited changes from 2008 to 2013 to make their point: Past-month use by 12th-graders nationally rose from 19.4 percent to 22.7 percent; among 10th-graders, use went from 13.8 percent to 18 percent. Snipped Complete Article: http://drugsense.org/url/S6C3cpEd
  23. Will Colorado Have Enough Pot Stores? Colorado -- Call it Black Wednesday. Recreational marijuana goes on sale legally in Colorado on Jan. 1, and Denver officials are worried that the city’s retail shops won’t be anywhere close to meeting demand. At a city-council meeting Monday, lawmakers in Colorado’s largest city raised questions about licensing delays and the prospect of people queuing up for hours in what have been historically low temperatures. Read More...
  24. Colorado Tackles Medical Marijuana Business Application Backlog For almost three years, Colorado has struggled with a bureaucratic backlog that has led over 100 medical marijuana businesses to operated without a finalized state license. These businesses are considered “operational pending” which means that they are allowed to remain open and serving patients while the state decides whether to approve or deny the applications that were submitted all the way back in 2010. While any backlog is unfavorable, the state has made big strides. There were over 900 operational pending collectives just last year, and the state hopes to eliminate the last 100 pending applications this month. According to Marijuana Enforcement Division spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait, there could be a number of reasons for the delays in processing the applications. Investigators could need to run a background check on a new owner, or an owner could be delinquent in paying taxes. A dispensary could have been caught staying open past state-mandated hours or could be under investigation for more significant noncompliance with state rules. “I would guess, if it’s been this long since they have been licensed, there is probably some issue that needs to be resolved,” she explained. “What that issue was, I can’t speak to.” Postlethwait explained that a change in how licenses are processed is the biggest reason the division was able to minimize the backlog so quickly. The state previously had to wait until it had received verification of local governmental approval of a license before passing final judgment on a license. Lawmakers this year approved a change in state law eliminating that hurdle, although businesses still must obtain a local license. New concerns about the backlog have been raised following a number of recent DEA raids in the state. Of the businesses raided, 12 had pending applications. While operational pending businesses are held to the same standards as fully licensed stores, law enforcement officials do not believe the state is doing enough to clear the backlog. “The state has never been able to deal with this in an effective way,” explained Police Sgt. Jim Gerhardt of the North Metro Task Force. “I think it’s just another example of some of the flaws in the infrastructure around this issue.” However, many medical marijuana advocates are encouraged by the progress the state has made on the backlog in the past year. A recent push to clear it was sparked earlier this year after an unfavorable audit of the Marijuana Enforcement Division. State Representative Angela Williams who chairs the legislature’s audit committee stated, “It’s clear to me that the Department of Revenue is working diligently. They have made progress.” [Source]
  25. Courts, US Public at Odds Over Worker Firings Colorado -- A worker in Colorado who undergoes a random drug test is found to test positive for marijuana use, but in less than a month pot-smoking will legal in there. Can a company with a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use still fire that worker, or should it instead adjust its policy on employee drug use? That's just one of many questions that employers in both Colorado and the state of Washington are wrestling with as they adjust to new marijuana laws, which as of Jan. 1 will permit individuals to buy and possess up to an ounce of pot. Read More...
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