Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Since marijuana was legalized in 2012, a running joke depicting strangers slipping marijuana-infused candy to young trick-or-treaters continues to be told. But proponents of legalization are expressing their frustration with such myths. They insist that there has been zero evidence of this ever happening and argue that opponents of legalization use this as a scare tactic to prevent legalizing marijuana. The Associated Press for Snopes reports:
Advocates say marijuana candy has seemingly become the new “razor blades in the apples” Halloween urban myth, with police around the country sharing the message despite the lack of any known cases.
Sharon Lauchaire, a spokeswoman for the [New Jersey] attorney general, said there have been “several instances” in the state and elsewhere of children becoming ill after eating edible marijuana. She declined to respond to follow-up questions to cite specific cases and evidence of anyone doing this on Halloween.
Although politicians and law enforcement officials are unable to cite instances of strangers preying on innocent children, they maintain that such warnings are still necessary. Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Ocean County, New Jersey, admitted that the likelihood of a stranger giving a trick-or-treater marijuana-infused candy is "very slim." But he insists that the official warning to "check your kids' candy[.] If something's not in a manufacturer's wrapper...throw it out" remains warranted.
Such concerns are exacerbated by the extreme similarities between marijuana edibles and regular candy. Bill Brothers, owner of the Encanto Greens Dispensary in Arizona, admits that he probably could not tell the difference between marijuana gummy bears and regular ones if they were side by side. Brothers also believes that these 'Halloweed' fears could be relieved if the marijuana industry improved the labeling of its edibles. For example, the industry could increase the size of any marijuana-related words on the packaging and stop designing the wrapping like candy wrappers.
[Children being exposed to marijuana-infused candy is] an ongoing concern no matter what day of the year it is. Halloween is the unofficial candy holiday, so people should take extra precautions even if the October 31sts of the past haven’t shown up anything yet.
If parents of young trick-or-treaters are still worried about strangers using their expensive edibles to poison children, they should take solace in the fact that there has never been a confirmed case of someone dying from an overdose of marijuana. Further, the only known case of a child dying from poisoned candy occurred in 1974 when the culprit was none other than the child's own father.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Proponents for legalizing marijuana often argue that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and thus should be similarly regulated. But opponents have maintained a strong rebuttal: law enforcement is unable to detect with certainty whether people are impaired enough that they cannot safely operate a vehicle. But a company called Hound Labs is currently developing a solution to this problem: a marijuana breathalyzer. Lauren Silverman of Marketplace reports:
The Hound device is a small, black breathalyzer that has a tube sticking out of it — you blow through it a few times, and... it’s able to analyze and detect the amount of THC in someone’s breath in minutes.
If Hound Labs is successful, this will revolutionize law enforcement's strategy for cracking down on impaired drivers, regardless of whether the state has legalized marijuana in some form. Currently, standard breathalyzers cannot detect marijuana, and urine and blood tests are not sophisticated enough to show whether someone consumed marijuana minutes or weeks ago. Further, results of such tests can take days or weeks to confirm through lab tests.
This current time delay is problematic because law enforcement officers want to prevent actually-stoned people from operating vehicles, not those who may have consumed the drug weeks ago. The Hound product solves this problem by recording the person's current level of THC within minutes. The company explains the effectiveness of this method through research showing "the level of THC in someone's breath rises right after smoking, and then trails off after a few hours."
Although police officers have shown an interest in such a marijuana breathalyzer, some are still concerned because they measure an amount, not a behavior. Sergeant Marc Vincent, a Drug Recognition Expert in Texas, voiced his concerns:
“Just because there’s marijuana [in their breath] — I need to be able to show, prove impairment that they can’t safely operate a vehicle[.]”
While some legalized states like Colorado and Montana have determined the limit for marijuana impairment as five nanograms of THC in blood, scientists still disagree on what amount indicates someone is too impaired to safely operate a vehicle. This causes a problem for companies like Hound Labs because law enforcement departments are unlikely to purchase marijuana breathalyzers until a reliable measuring-system standard is in place.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Some New York citizens are attempting to hold a state referendum to convene a state constitutional convention. They hope to accomplish state-goals like dismantling campaign finance laws, enacting term limits, and ending gerrymandering. But other supporters are seeking a state constitutional convention for a very different reason: the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Tom Precious of The Buffalo News reports:
Stymied in their efforts to get the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to go along with their idea, these advocates see a convention of delegates brought together to consider changes to the constitution as a means to loosen marijuana laws.
It's not an easy sell. Nowhere on the statewide ballot is there any guarantee that any issue, whether it’s marijuana or anti-corruption ideas, would even be considered in a convention…. Recent polls reveal that 49 percent of New Yorkers support adult-use legalization of marijuana, compared to the 47 percent who remain opposed.
This referendum, known as Proposal 1, is seeking support from left-leaning citizens like proponents of Senator Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter. Such support is crucial because of the appeal that a constitutional convention could lead to sweeping changes in the law which would create more equal opportunities and treatment for the state's citizens.
Surprisingly, this effort is not inducing the support of pro-legalization groups like the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project. These groups are hesitant to support Proposal 1 because of their alliances on broader policy agendas with various groups that actively oppose the referendum.
Opponents of Proposal 1 fear the uncertain outcomes that could result from a constitutional convention—the United States last held one in 1787, and it led to the creation of an entirely new constitution. And while voters in New York consider whether to hold a state convention every twenty-years, the last one actually held was in 1968 and produced no changes to the state's constitution.
Another problem facing proponents of a state constitutional convention involves being badly outspent by their opponents:
[T]he one anti-Proposal 1 group, funded almost exclusively by an array of labor unions, has raised $1.5 million for its campaign to stop the convention. Four main groups backing the convention question have brought in under $400,000.
Meanwhile, pro-legalization supporters have raised less than $150,000 and spent just $9,700 in campaign expenditures since July. Raising money has proven difficult for supporters due to the overwhelming union opposition and the difficulty in convincing potential donors that the marijuana issue would even be decided if a convention was held.
Labor unions maintain a firm opposition to Proposal 1 because of the possibility that it would strip away hard-won rights, like collective bargaining. Nick Reisman of Spectrum Local News asked New York's AFL-CIO President Mario Cliento his take on Proposal 1:
“With those strong labor protections comes a way of life. We want to be able to protect what we have for ourselves and our families well into the future and that's why the labor movement in this state is so adamantly opposed to a constitutional convention[.]”
While every state that has legalized adult-use marijuana has done so through legislation, some citizens in New York have grown impatient with their state's legislature and thus are pursuing legalization through a different avenue. But this road to legalization contains many uncertainties— the most prevalent being whether the marijuana issue will even be raised if a convention is held.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Despite worries that an increase in dispensaries would decrease the value of the homes nearby, there seems
to be an opposite effect. Reporting on a recently released study by researchers at University of Wisconsin Madison and California State University Sacramento, Colorado Springs Independent revealed that the prices of homes in Denver increased in 2014 after Colorado’s Amendment 64 was passed, which legalized recreational marijuana:
In particular, the report found that single-family residences within .1 mile[s] of [recreational dispensaries that were newly converted from medical dispensaries] increased in value by over 8 percent more relative to comparable properties farther away (between .1 and .25 mile away) over that year. That’s an average of almost $27,000 in added value, whereas homes more than .1 mile away from a [dispensary] weren’t impacted.
Although great news for Denver, and possibly an incentive for legalization in other states that are debating on whether to legalize the drug, researchers also caution that that the increase in property values could also be due to other factors such as “a surge in housing demand spurred by marijuana-related employment growth, lower crime rates, and additional amenities locat[ed] in close proximity to retail conversions.” Nonetheless, all of these changes were related, at least in part, to Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
These findings are in stark opposition to concerns voiced by opponents of legalizing marijuana, who have constantly cited increasing crime rates and decreasing property values as an anticipated result of legalization. And while the study was fairly small, another study in 2016 by researchers at the University of Mississippi found similar, positive results. The study found that in municipalities that passed ordinances to allow for the sale of marijuana in response to Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, those municipalities experienced a 6% increase in housing values on average. Both studies even went as far as to consider retail dispensaries as amenities that could be included in the estimation of property values.
With the increase in the number of states legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, we will soon be able to determine whether the effect of increasing property values is a trend among these states or only a stroke of luck for Colorado.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Marijuana advocates continue to develop new and exciting ways to partake in the booming business of marijuana consumption. Loopr, a Denver-based marijuana party bus company, plans to create another "green line" in Massachusetts' transit economy. But instead of a green line focusing on transporting passengers via the subway, Denver's 'Puff Bus' will provide passengers a fun transportation experience largely revolved around marijuana consumption. Alban Murtishi of MassLive.com reports:
Loopr allows patrons to consume various forms of marijuana while riding on a bus through downtown Denver. The bus route stops at restaurants, hotels, nightspots and marijuana dispensaries.
According to the company, the Loopr vehicles, called Puff Buses, offer dazzling multimedia experiences with curated music and light shows.
Riders are allowed to smoke or consume marijuana in the back partition of the bus. The bus comes equipped with several different smoking implements, such as water pipes, vaporizers and hookahs.
The company doesn't sell marijuana, but partners with different dispensaries to get riders discounts.
While at first glance the 'Puff Bus' sounds like a fun experience, the potential legal hurdles will likely hinder its operation. Although party buses involving alcohol consumption are quite common in America, there are many differences concerning marijuana and alcohol, especially pertaining to their legal statuses and effects on third persons.
The obvious concern is how the federal government will react to such a company. Loopr supporters will point to the federal government's lack of enforcing its marijuana ban on Loopr's current business model in Denver, Colorado. Supporters will argue that the states should retain their autonomy and decide for themselves if they want to enact the appropriate legislation to permit such a mobile-marijuana-consumption company.
Opponents of legalization will face a tough battle if they depend on federal enforcement. It has been 5 years since Colorado first legalized marijuana, and the federal government has not shown an intent to fully enforce its ban, instead requesting legalized states to follow certain priorities.
However, a strong argument against Loopr involves public safety. Unlike alcohol, marijuana use has a noted effect on those around it, even if they don't personally consume the drug. Opponents can argue that the bus driver will be affected by the rampant marijuana consumption in a small and enclosed bus, thus impairing the driver and creating an unsafe environment for fellow commuters on the road.
Opponents can bolster this argument by referring to one of the federal government's listed priorities from the 2013 Cole II memo: To prevent drugged driving and exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences.
Ultimately, until the federal government clarifies the national law or decides to enforce the current ban, legalized adult-use states like Massachusetts will issue the final decision on whether to legalize businesses such as Loopr.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The nation’s top law enforcer continues to speak out against marijuana legalization. In Tom Angell’s September 20 article for Forbes, Sessions is quoted as saying:
“It doesn’t strike me that the country would be better if it’s being sold on every street corner. We do know that legalization results in greater use.”
But his opinion may be the result of misinformation. Sessions must not have read Angell’s September 14 article titled Study: Rise in Marijuana use not Caused by Legalization, in which Angell discusses the conclusion of a recently published study in the journal Addiction. The study found that:
“Medical and recreational marijuana policies did not have any significant association with increased marijuana use. Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S.”
So, contrary to Sessions’ assertion, the study shows that an increased use of marijuana has resulted in legalization, rather than that marijuana legalization has resulted in increased use. Which makes perfect sense, being that the United States is a democracy comprised of state governments that are beholden to their citizenry.
The federal government may not be able to justify its anti-marijuana position for much longer. But at this point it doesn’t seem like the Attorney General will have much of a hand in effecting change at that level.
--Buds of Steel
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Flow Kana bills itself as a branding, marketing and distribution company for small marijuana farmers who grow “sustainable, sun-grown cannabis ... that embraces California values and the small farmer ecosystem.”
In an interview, Steinmetz said the venture will create a facility – called the Flow Cannabis Institute – that will acquire marijuana grown by 80 to 100 farmers in Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties. The facility will then dry, cure and trim the pot and package it for sale at dispensaries with branding labels for Flow Kana and individual farms.
Founder, Michael Steinmetz, feels that there is a big difference between cannabis grown commercially in a warehouse and cannabis grown in the hills.
Boutique cannabis farmers are grouped together and work collectively using the resources that Flow Kana provides to assist them in going to the market effectively.
They stand to compete with "big marijuana" next year when recreational Marijuana sales begin in California.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va) wants Congress to get off its collective derrière and resolve the problem of marijuana legalization by turning it over to the states. Earlier this year he introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (H.R. 1227), which would remove cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) from the Controlled Substances Act entirely and turn regulation over to the states.
It's basically the same bill that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) introduced a couple of years ago. In a story on PJ Media, GOP Lawmaker on U.S. Pot Policy: ‘We’re Completely on Our Asses,’ he has some blunt words about why he favors the approach:
On Monday, Garrett doubled down on the legislation, explaining the reasons he supports state discretion over medical marijuana policy. After he outlined his reasoning to his constituents, Garrett said at the Cato Institute, “I didn’t have anyone vehemently opposed.”
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, bringing it in line with alcohol and tobacco standards. Decriminalization would eliminate a justice system that Garrett believes disproportionately disenfranchises the poor and politically weak, would allow medical professionals rather than the federal government to make key decisions for conditions like epilepsy, and would allow states to realize hundreds of millions of dollars in economic revenue annually.
Garrett’s district grows about seven-eighths of all tobacco in Virginia, and his state, Kentucky and Tennessee, he said, could be economic “monsters” in the industry of agricultural hemp due to climate advantages if marijuana were decriminalized.
. . .
“You should be free to do what you so choose to do so long as it’s not an impact on others that’s negative. That’s easy, and that’s who we’re supposed to be as a nation,” he said, adding that the government closest to the people – local government – governs the most efficiently.
Garrett, a former prosecutor, described the Republican Party as “AWOL” when it comes to marijuana policy. At the same time, he said that more dangerous drugs like heroin should be treated differently for their rapid and widespread destruction.
“I am not pro-marijuana. I’m not anti-marijuana,” he said. “I’m pro-Constitution. I’m pro-liberty. I’m pro-government that enforces its laws.”
Friday, September 8, 2017
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., has announced new sentencing guidelines in low-level marijuana possession cases. As reported in an article in PoliticoNewYork, the change will be an encouraging step for supporters of immigrant rights and recreational marijuana use.
The new approach is expected to help some immigrants avoid penalties that could lead to deportation and comes amid backlash from municipalities and states over President Donald Trump's immigration policies — specifically the use of courts to identify and deport undocumented immigrants. Vance announced that his office is also working on a policy, to be implemented in the spring, to end prosecutions for low-level drug possession.
The sentencing guidelines for marijuana possession in the Manhattan DA's office previously offered a 12-month "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal" — or ACD — on the first offense, where the case is adjourned for 12 months and then dismissed and sealed if the defendant isn’t arrested again.
On a second offense, the previous guidelines allowed for the defendant to plea to either a marijuana violation or a disorderly conduct violation.
Now the Manhattan DA will offer an ACD for three months for the first offense and an ACD for six months for the second offense.
Vance explained the decision in a statement saying that a year is too long to have an open criminal case for a low-level, non-violent offense because it is publicly searchable online and can interfere with applications for college financial aid, housing or a job.
The city expects that some 4,100 individuals a year will be affected by the change. The program is set to being in the Spring of 2018. Proponents expect that it will mean fewer deportations for low-level possession.
-- Clarissa Dauphin
The Illinois Legislature held hearings this week on a bill that would generally legalized marijuana in the state. The bill was introduced by two Chicago Democrats, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy. Legislators heard testimony from those for and against legalization.
Advocates for legalization said that doing so would allow marijuana use to be safely regulated. But those against legalization said that it would mean even broader use, particularly by teenagers, and lead to more addiction and less-safe roads. The Associated Press reports:
The plan would require cannabis to be tested and labeled for safety and sold by "legitimate, taxpaying business people" in dispensaries similar to where medical marijuana — legal in Illinois since 2014 — is sold. Like alcohol, sales to anyone younger than 21 would be prohibited.
"Right now, anyone can go to a street corner and buy it," Cassidy said. "Drug dealers don't 'card,' but you can't even get into a dispensary if you're under 21."
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin cited statistics that show marijuana can lead to use of stronger narcotics and noted the nation is battling an opioid-abuse epidemic.
Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said when he was a prosecutor, he saw many cases where marijuana use did not lead to abuse of stronger stimulants. "But I never saw one on harder drugs who didn't start on marijuana," Righter added.
Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland State Police major who is executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, said Prohibition should have taught the U.S. a lesson about banning such a product.
"You cannot regulate any activity that is prohibited," Franklin said. "All you do is drive it underground."
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
New Jersey, Vermont, and Rhode Island--at least according to predictions from John Schroyer at Marijuana Business Daily. He offers a good rundown of what's up for state legislatures in 2018.
“You will hear about some wins through the legislative process, and there will be wins at the ballot. So I do expect the strong movement forward to continue” in 2018, said Bryan Meltzer, a New York-based attorney who tracks potential new business opportunities and markets for roughly two dozen cannabis industry clients.
Also upbeat about the chances for further legalization victories through legislatures next year are Marijuana Policy Project’s executive director, Rob Kampia, and the Drug Policy Alliance’s senior director of national affairs, Bill Piper.
“I feel pretty bullish overall,” Piper said. “(Legalization efforts are) being driven by strong demand from the public, and all the work that activists – including business owners – are doing at the local level is having an impact.”
Kampia, however, was lukewarm and chose to hedge his bets on potential legislative moves.
“If you ask me about my level of optimism in August of any year, my level of optimism is about the same,” he said. “You maybe pick off one or two, and sometimes you get lucky.”
The piece goes into a good deal of detail and is well worth a read.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Many projected the decriminalization of marijuana would create several job opportunities. However, the legalized marijuana industry has also created a more unexpected career path for some: marijuana wedding planners. A recent article in Time titled Marijuana Is the New Moneymaker for Wedding Planners explains how the trend is all the new rave at weddings of marijuana minded couples.
Specialists have launched entire businesses to meet this new wedding-weed demand. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legally sold since 2014, Bec Koop operates cannabis-friendly Irie Wedding & Events and is one of the founders of the Cannabis Wedding Expo, an event where brides and grooms can meet marijuana vendors. Koop offers a litany of wedding services: day-of coordination, overall planning, floral arrangements, cannabis open bars. She also offers consulting services for venues looking to bring in cannabis-inclusive events.
These individuals have not only been employed to complete the typical tasks associated with being wedding planners, but also have diversified their businesses to provide consulting services for those clients looking to allow the use of marijuana in their venues.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
The big money continues to flow into medical and recreational weed. In new industries, small players can often get a head start and find success before the big players intervene. Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Apple were started by a few guys working out of their garages. ,Many of the countries young cannabis businesses started the same way, but things are changing, according to a story on the STATnews medical news website, by editor Charles Piller, Big-name tech investors pour millions into marijuana — both medicinal and not. From the article:
The storied Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark Capital has launched a slew of tech companies: Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, Instagram. Now its search for the next big thing has led it to … pot.
Benchmark recently invested $8 million in Hound Labs, a startup here in Oakland that’s developing a device for drivers — and law enforcement — to test whether they’re too buzzed to take the wheel.
And that’s just the start. Wealthy investors are pouring tens of millions into the cannabis industry in a bid to capitalize on the gold rush that’s expected when California legalizes recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. They’re backing development of new medicinal products, such as cannabis-infused skin patches; new methods for vaporizing and inhaling; and “budtender” apps like PotBot, which promises to scour 750 strains of cannabis and use lab research, including DNA analysis of each strain, to help customers find the perfect match.
Among the noted investors: tech and biotech mogul Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and made a fortune with the cancer drug startup Stemcentrx. Thiel contributed $300,000 to the California ballot campaign that paved the way for legalization. And in the first public endorsement of the industry from a major biotech investor, Thiel’s Founders Fund has sent millions to Privateer Holdings, a Seattle private equity firm that backs research into medical marijuana products, among other cannabis-related ventures.
With big companies already investing millions into marijuana startups, will there be any room for small "mom and pop" type businesses? It seems that big investors are already positioned to out-compete small businesses in this new field, reducing business opportunities for small investors.
-- Zac Artim
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission recently released new rules related to the pesticide testing of marijuana plants. Starting August 30, 2017, every batch of usable marijuana must be tested directly for pesticides. This is a substantial change from the 2016 rule which stated that one-third of every batch of usable marijuana must be tested for pesticides. The OLCC offers this brief summary of the major changes:
Producer or grower transferring to retailer:
- Must be tested for pesticides, moisture content/water activity and potency.
Producer or grower transferring to a processor (making an extract or concentrate):
- Must be tested for moisture content/water activity unless the processor is processing in a way the uses effective sterilization.
Producer or grower transferring to a processor making a marijuana product (example: tincture made from flower material and alcohol):
Must be tested for pesticides and moisture content/water activity.
The full test of the rules themselves is here.
-- Matthew Richter
Friday, June 17, 2016
Two private British public health groups have released a new document calling for decriminalization of marijuana and all other "illegal drugs." nd The Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health, two organizations whose membership works in the public health field, have released Taking a New Line on Drugs, which recommends that the U.K. take law enforcement out of drug policy at the possession level, while keeping it up against those who manufacture and sell the stuff. The paper's executive summary sets out the suggestions:
From a public health perspective, the purpose of a good drugs strategy should be to improve and protect the public’s health and wellbeing by preventing and reducing the harm linked to substance use, whilst also balancing any potential medicinal benefits. RSPH is calling for the UK to consider exploring, trialling and testing such an approach, rather than one reliant on the criminal justice system. This could include:
a. Transferring lead responsibility for UK illegal drugs strategy to the Department of Health, and more closely aligning this with alcohol and tobacco strategies.
b. Preventing drug harm through universal Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in UK schools, with evidence-based drugs education as a mandatory, key component.
c. Creating evidence-based drug harm profiles to supplant the existing classification system in informing drug strategy, enforcement priorities, and public health messaging.
d. Decriminalising personal use and possession of all illegal drugs, and diverting those whose use is problematic into appropriate support and treatment services instead, recognising that criminalising users most often only opens up the risk of further harm to health and wellbeing. Dealers, suppliers and importers of illegal substances would still be actively pursued and prosecuted, while evidence relating to any potential benefits or harm from legal, regulated supply should be kept under review.
e. Tapping into the potential of the wider public health workforce to support individuals to reduce and recover from drug harm.
There's some special pleading here, of course -- turning things over to the health authorities means more money and jobs for health workers. And decriminalizing without maintaining penalties against those who make and sell the stuff isn't going to do much to harm the criminal gangs involved in the trade.
Still, an interesting take on the subject.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Ohio voters knocked out a crony capitalist legalization bill last fall. So what's happening these days in the Buckeye State? Over at Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform, Professor Doug Berman offers his thoughts. The whole piece is worth reading, but here's his summary:
I am encouraged (though not especially surprised) not only that (1) Ohio's elected officials now understand that they cannot and should no longer ignore the significant interest in marijuana reform amoung the citizenry, but also that (2) some state leaders are trying to co-opt into the effort persons who previously raised tens of millions of dollars to support reform in 2015. Thoughtout the 2015 reform effort in Ohio, I had an inkling that, even if the ResponsibleOhio's full legalization efforts went very badly (and it did), the conversations engendered and the monies raised through the reform effort would garner significant attention from significant public officials.
The good news seems to be that medical marijuana is moving forward in the Republican-dominated legislature. The bad news is that recreational marijuana might not get off the launching pad this year.
Medical marijuana businesses that have been open for years in Seattle are now, as the result of recent legislation, facing a grim choice. The state liquor and cannabis board says there are too many applications for cannabis facilities in the city, so existing businesses have been given only 14 days to decide whether to (a) move out of the city, or (b) sign a document recognizing that they may not get licenses and releasing the state from liability. Seattle's KING-TV is reporting the story:
The CPC in Georgetown has served thousands of patients since 2010. It works with hospitals, specializing in hard-to-find treatments for chronic disease, cancer, seizures and PTSD.
"We were always going to do this stuff anyways," founder Jeremy Kaufman said while pointing to new security cameras.
Kaufman is making a lot of changes to his building, adding new security cameras, constructing new walls, removing doorways, and clearing out his basement filled with cannabis plants. It's all part of applying for a new marijuana retail license, required by legislation that's combining medical and recreational pot under one regulatory system.
The original deadline gave shop owners until this summer to comply with license application requirements.
"We were supposed to have until July 1, 2016," Kaufman said. "Then this letter came out last week. It's like, 'Get licensed within 14-days or get out of Seattle. And you're just like Ok..."
Kaufman and other Seattle dispensaries got a notice from the Liquor and Cannabis Board last week. It says there are too many applicants in Seattle and not enough available licenses. It gives shop owners 14-days to choose an address outside of Seattle, or sign a form acknowledging the risk of remaining in Seattle and losing their business.
"It's beyond frustrating. It's absolutely beyoind frustrating," Maryam Mirnateghi said.
Mirnateghi's invested more than a million dollars in her new location, outfitting it with 37 security cameras, all without any guarantee. She's refusing to sign the notice, which forces dispensary owners to assume full liability.
"To ask my to sign away my rights or lose my application? That's extortion," she said.
Mayor Murray recently sent a letter to the LCB, asking for a delay on the marijuana retail store cap, writing that "it unfairly disadvantages long-time good actors".
"I've been open for 6-years," Kaufman said. "I pay taxes. I have employees who bought houses and have kids here."
Kaufman's now forced with making 6-months of business decisions in 10 days, aware the treatment that he credits with saving his life is now at risk for thousands more.
"That's it? I'm a patient. I built this place - we built this place - for people like me," he said. "I'm absolutely terrified."
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Jacob Sullum: Legalization Lawsuit Shows Conservative Constitutionalists Have Marijuana-Related Memory Loss. As usual with Mr. Sullum, the whole thing is worth reading. Some highlights:
Last week, two days before Mexican authorities recaptured Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt pointed to another drug lord, this one hiding in plain sight: John Hickenlooper, a.k.a. the governor of Colorado. “The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects, and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing, and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 States in 2014,” Pruitt writes in a Supreme Court brief joined by Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”
Hickenlooper actually was a drug dealer of sorts before he got into politics, having cofounded Wynkoop Brewing Company, a Denver brewpub, in 1988. But he ended up running the drug trafficking organization described in Pruitt’s brief by accident. He was elected governor two years before Colorado voters decided, against his advice, to legalize marijuana. Pruitt and Peterson are trying to overturn that result, claiming that it hurt Oklahoma and Nebraska by encouraging an influx of Colorado cannabis. Their argument shows how readily some conservative Republicans let their anti-pot prejudices override their federalist principles.
This, of course, is true. But it goes both ways. What's also interesting, though, is how many folks who believe the federal government has nearly total power over the states -- e.g., Governor Jerry Brown -- let their pro-pot opinions suddenly turn them into John C. Calhoun states-righters with respect to marijuana. When it comes to guns, for example, President Obama is all for federal control, but when it comes to pot . . . well, not so much. Mr. Sullum continues:
The Commerce Clause has been the most important excuse for expanding the federal government since the New Deal, and Raich stretched it further than ever before. It is precisely the sort of decision that an avowed federalist like Pruitt, who has resisted Obamacare as an unconstitutional extension of federal power, should condemn. Instead he is relying on it to force his policy preferences on a neighboring state.
To be fair to General Pruitt, however, that's what lawyers do. Obamacare is constitutional; it's the law. He's stuck with it. He's simply arguing that if liberals are going to force conservatives to have federal health care, conservatives are going to force liberals to follow the Controlled Substances Act.
Perhaps he even thinks that we'll get a limited Commerce Clause only if liberals find that some of the stuff they like gets taken away. It was U.S. Grant who said, "I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
This is good news for Arizona weed advocates. According to the Arizona Republic, "A marijuana legalization campaign is nearing its goal of gathering 150,000 valid signatures to get on the November ballot." Details:
The initiative would ask Arizona voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use and establish a network of licensed cannabis shops where sales of the drug would be taxed.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is a few thousand signatures short of gathering the 150,642 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, spokesman Barrett Marson said Wednesday. However, some of those signatures are likely invalid — gathered from people who cannot vote — and the group aims to collect 225,000 signatures, he said.
"Arizonans are clearly excited about this initiative," Marson added.
Many others are not, including one group that has been educating the public about harms of the drug on children and society. The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has pointed to news articles and statistics and a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey that shows Colorado leads the nation in past-month marijuana use following its legalization of the drug in 2012.
Under the proposed Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes without obtaining licenses, as long as the plants are in a secure area.
It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado's, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana.
The initiative also would create a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the "cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana" and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. It also would establish a 15 percent tax on retail sales, with proceeds going to fund education, including full-day kindergarten and public health.
Under the 2016 Arizona initiative language, driving while impaired by marijuana would remain illegal, as would consuming marijuana in public and selling or giving the drug to anyone under 21.
Taxation of the program would pay for the state's cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. And 20 percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.
Revenue from the taxes could not flow into the state's general fund, which would allow it to be spent for other purposes.
Friday, January 8, 2016
Colorado Springs Gazette: Colorado Springs lawmaker joins marijuana social clubs bill:
Colorado lawmakers will bring bills next session to deal with unregulated social marijuana clubs where pot is both sold and consumed outside of the state's strict licensing regulations for recreational marijuana.
Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, confirmed Thursday that he and Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, are working on a bill to address the proliferation of pot clubs. He said many ideas are in the works.
"The first one is modeling something after what you saw with some of the dry towns, people paying an annual membership or a monthly membership to be part of a social club where they can safely consume cannabis," Singer said.
. . .
Singer said a bill that's in the works would likely allow consumption at clubs but ban sales. Singer said statewide guidelines are needed on such clubs, but local municipalities would have final say on the issue.
He said he's also working to allow consumption on the premises of licensed recreational and medical retail stores. Singer said it'd be similar to alcohol tastings at a craft brewery or winery. He said consumption would have to comply with the clean indoor air act, so likely edibles or vaporizers would be used.
"Everyone agrees there is a problem," Singer said of the conundrum of where to consume cannabis other than a private home. "Tourists come to Colorado, buy our marijuana, and we say 'by the way don't smoke it in the hotel, don't smoke it on the street, don't smoke it in bars ... and make sure you consume it before you leave the state."
The 2016 session begins Wednesday. Lawmakers have spent time drafting bills, but none have been officially introduced to receive bill numbers and titles.