GovBeat: Moody’s: Washington might not see the marijuana tax windfall previously projected

July 22nd, 2014 by marijuana - Yahoo! News Search Results No comments »
A slow start to sales, high taxes and easy-to-get medical pot may translate to lesser-than-expected revenues.

FDA to review marijuana safety

July 21st, 2014 by marijuana - Yahoo! News Search Results No comments »
Drug's current status could be downgraded

Green Gold: Colorado Underestimated Pot Demand

July 21st, 2014 by The General No comments »
A study on the Colorado marijuana market is providing economists and business professionals an inside look at the pot industry for the first time. Regulators in the Centennial State have released the brief for the Colorado Department of Revenue, which reveals a number of interesting items, including that Coloradans are consuming a lot more cannabis than was previously estimated. There is also a large market for tourists taking part. The study accounts for recreational and medical marijuana, giving an in-depth look at the total market activity for what may be the first time in history.

What is the major takeaway from the study? That folks in Colorado are consuming a lot of marijuana — 130 metric tons per year, actually. Of the state's 5.36 million people, 485,000, or 9%, are identified as regular adult marijuana users. While that doesn't seem like an awful lot, the most frequent users are by far creating the most demand. Heavy users especially, or those who use cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, have been the biggest drivers. According to the study's numbers, the top 21.8% of the heaviest users account for 66.9% of the demand. In stark contrast, the lightest users — those that use marijuana less than once per month on average — make up roughly one-third of the entire user pool but only represents 0.3% of total demand.

As far as tourists and visitors are concerned, out-of-state customers are definitely bringing money into the state. There is an estimated 8.9 metric tons of demand for visitors alone, and the numbers are skewed between rural and urban environments. It's estimated that 44% of retail sales in metro areas like Denver are made by out-of-state visitors, and a whopping 90% in the more rural mountain counties. All of the data shows a large underestimate by regulators as to how big the demand would actually be for retail marijuana in the state, and most of that demand has been driven by the heaviest users, according to the study.

"This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated. Our point estimate of demand is 121.4 tons per year for adult residents. This is 31% higher than a recent Department of Revenue assessment, 89% higher than a study by the Colorado Futures Center, and 111% higher than an older study by the Colorado Center for Law and Policy. The primary difference is caused by much heavier dosage amounts consumed by the state's "heavy user" population — those who consume marijuana on a daily basis," the study said.

Green gold
There is a big incentive for in-state residents to procure their marijuana products from marijuana dispensaries, as the prices are often lower, along with the tax rate. Before legalization kicked in, Colorado already had a thriving medical marijuana community, which was a factor in helping the legalization process move forward efficiently. The medical market has persevered as an area that moves lots of product, remaining more or less the same over the past six months as retail sales have shot up. The study also shows that those who live in-state are not foregoing their medical marijuana licenses in favor of buying product from legal retail shops. This has been a factor in skewing retail sales figures in favor of out-of-state visitor purchases, as many residents are simply continuing to buy from established medical dispensaries as they had before legalization.

"Using the latest retail marijuana tax statistics from the Department of Revenue, we also found that conversions from medical to retail consumption is relatively low. Instead, retail supply of marijuana is growing, while medical marijuana is relatively constant. This may indicate that medical consumers would rather pay the medical registration fees as opposed to the higher tax rates, or that there are currently relatively few retail outlets compared to medical centers. Therefore, the retail demand is derived primarily from out-of-state visitors and from consumers who previously purchased from the Colorado black and gray markets," regulators concluded."

As for the large discrepancy between urban and metro sales figures to non-residents, regulators make note that Colorado is known as a skiing destination, particularly in the mountain counties where out-of-state sales are spiking. These tourist destinations, including popular towns like Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen, tend to have a higher percentage of tourists than actual residents, thus medical sales are lower and retail sales are higher.

One other factor the study identifies is the fact that prices for retail products are higher in the mountain regions than they are in places like Denver. "Retail prices in mountain communities were 50 – 100% higher than prices for similar marijuana strains in the Front Range. The price difference is most pronounced for small servings. For example, a single gram serving near Keystone resort cost $14.00, whereas the same gram for an identical strain cost $7.00 in Denver," the study says. Thus, a higher tourist concentration and loftier prices is leading to a boom for retail shops in the state's mountainous regions.

Lessons for other states
As Colorado has pressed on as the nation's first state to open the legal marijuana market, other states, and the federal government, have been keeping a close eye its progress. Washington, the other state to pass a legalization initiative, has taken their time rolling out its retail network. Retail sales started last week in the Evergreen state, and shops in Seattle have already run out of product. Washington's retail system and legalization laws are different than Colorado's, and others are waiting to get a chance to compare the two markets side by side.

It's been widely publicized that the Colorado market has been a huge new source of tax revenue for the state, pulling in more than $25 million so far this year, according the the Denver Business Journal. Washington retail stores, after three days of operation,pulled in roughly $148,000 according to The Seattle Times. There have been only a small handful of stores that have actually opened to the public so far, and hopes are sales will pick up significantly over the next six months to see Colorado-like returns.

But as the Colorado study shows, everyone may be severely underestimating demand. Washington's laws, which separate marijuana businesses into classifications of 'producer,' 'processor,' and 'retailer,' may also be a hindrance to the market's growth. Other states will be watching how that system compares to Colorado's when crafting their own ballot initiatives. If Seattle stores have run out in less than a week, it's safe to assume that demand has also been underestimated in Washington.

But Washington's shortage was expected; a rush at the opening of the retail market also happened in Colorado. Washington shops were not as prepared, however, as producers are not able to supply the market as easily. Things should even out as time marches on, and the two states can compare the success or failure of their legalization efforts side by side.

Headed into future election cycles, there will be more states trying to implement their own legalization efforts. Alaska and California are popular picks, and Oregon is probably not too far behind its northern neighbor. Residents of Oregon voted down a legalization initiative last year, as residents wanted the proposed law to be restructured. If there's anything to take away from the first official study of the legal marijuana market in Colorado, it's that there will probably be more of a demand than anyone thought. The lesson? Be prepared.

News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: Sam Becker
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Website: Green gold: Colo. underestimated pot demand

Colorado Cannabis Coalition To Promote Responsible Edibles Consumption

July 21st, 2014 by The General No comments »
Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation, a Denver-based organization launched last month, will announce Wednesday a new campaign with a message about appropriate consumption of edible marijuana products for first-timers. The council will officially launch the campaign, called "First Time 5," at medical marijuana center and retail store Sweet Leaf, located at 2215 E. Mississippi Ave. in Denver. The campaign includes posters that will be available for free to all marijuana retail stores, which direct people to a website that encourages novice consumers of marijuana edibles to limit their intake to five milligrams of THC the first time they try a product.

"We wanted to get the message across in a very direct way," said Steve Fox, executive director of the council. "The amount is very low so that people will understand to start slow." Currently, "one serving" on many pot edibles is 10 milligrams of THC, Fox said. The logo promoting just five milligrams for a first-time user will also be available for edibles producers to put on their packaging on a voluntary basis, Fox said.

Matthew Aiken, co-owner of Sweet Leaf, and Tripp Keber, managing director of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, will be present at the campaign's launch to speak to the industry's responsibility to properly educate and instruct users. The council will also be requesting that Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration use a "significant portion" of a $5.8 million public education budget allocation to conduct the kind of consumer education used in the First Time 5 campaign.

Fox declined to name a specific amount the group will recommend. The state legislature in April approved a spending plan for the revenues coming to Colorado as a result of pot-related taxes and fees, including a budget for educating the public. So far, Fox said, most of the education has centered around explaining the effects of marijuana use, rather than helping consumers understand how to use the products safely.

While the first six months of legal pot in Colorado have not resulted in any major spikes in crime or other negative impacts feared by some opponents, there have been several stories about people accidentally ingesting too much THC via pot brownies or other foods. For this reason, Fox said, the Council for Responsible Cannabis Regulation decided to make edibles consumption its first mission. The council's overarching mission is to help Colorado become and remain a model for responsible regulation of pot and to help other states regulate marijuana in a similar fashion, Fox said.

News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: Molly Armbrister
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Website: Colorado cannabis coalition to promote responsible edibles consumption - Denver Business Journal

R.I.P. James Garner – A Fan Of Marijuana And Legalization

July 21st, 2014 by The General No comments »
James Garner, one of America’s most iconic actors whose work in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” and then “The Rockford Files” created two of popular television’s memorable characters, died on Sunday. And, if his memoir “The Garner Files” can be relied upon, he likely had a puff or two of cannabis on his way down his last dusty trail.

From his memoir: “I started smoking marijuana in my late teens. I drank to get drunk but ultimately didn’t like the effect. Not so with grass. Grass is smooth. It had the opposite effect from alcohol: it made me more tolerant and forgiving. “I smoked marijuana for 50 years. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It opened my mind to a lot of things, and now it’s active ingredient, THC, relaxes me and eases my arthritis pain. I’ve concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol should be illegal. But, good luck with that.” Well, Jim, one out of two ain’t bad. Happy trails.

Here’s part of his obit by the Associated Press: Although he was adept at drama and action, Garner was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially with his hit TV series, “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files.” His quick-witted avoidance of conflict provided a refreshingly new take on the American hero, contrasting with the steely heroics of John Wayne and the fast trigger of Clint Eastwood. Well into his 70s, the handsome Oklahoman remained active in both TV and film. In 2002, he was Sandra Bullock’s father in the film “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The following year, he joined the cast of “8 Simple Rules … For Dating My Teenage Daughter,” playing the grandfather on the sitcom after star John Ritter, who played the father, died during the show’s second season.

When he received the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, “I’m not at all sure how I got here.” But in his 2011 memoir, “The Garner Files,” he provided some amusing and enlightening clues, including his penchant for bluntly expressed opinions and a practice for decking people who said something nasty to his face — including an obnoxious fan and an abusive stepmother. They all deserved it, Garner declared in his book. His favorite film, though, was the cynical 1964 war drama “The Americanization of Emily,” which co-starred Julie Andrews.

Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner (some references say Baumgarner) in Norman, Okla. His mother died when he was 5, and friends and relatives cared for him and his two brothers for a time while his father was to California. In 1957, Garner married TV actress Lois Clarke, and the union prevailed despite some stormy patches. She had a daughter Kimberly from a previous marriage, and the Garners had another daughter, Gretta Scott. In the late 1990s, the Garners built a 12,000-square-foot house on a 400-acre ranch north of Santa Barbara. My wife and I felt … we’d just watch the sunset from the front porch,” Garner said in 2000. “But then the phone started ringing with all these wonderful offers, and we decided, ‘Heck, let’s stay in the business for a while.’”

News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: Jake Ellison
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Website: R.I.P. James Garner - a fan of marijuana and legalization - The Pot Blog

Correction: Marijuana Research-Professor Fired

July 21st, 2014 by marijuana - Yahoo! News Search Results No comments »
TUCSON, Ariz. — In a story July 18 about a marijuana researcher who was fired from the University of Arizona, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the university is looking for a new researcher who can raise more money. The study is already funded. A corrected version of the story is below: Professor aims to resume research on pot and PTSD Firing of Arizona professor highlights ...

Hemp, Inc. (OTCMKTS:HEMP) Goes Through A Week Of Corrections

July 21st, 2014 by The General No comments »
For five sessions in a row the stock of Hemp, Inc. (OTCMKTS:HEMP, HEMP message board) went nowhere but down. Admittedly the corrections were not that big but they were still enough to drop HEMP from an opening price of $0.695 on Monday to a close at $0.602 on Friday. The company tried to stop its depressing performance and issued a PR that actually contained some material information – the launch of their hemp-based cosmeceutical product line. The PR was issued early in the morning on Wednesday but it failed to influence the stock. In fact HEMP suffered its biggest loss for the week on that day when it slid down by 5%.

It seems that investors are starting to be less and less enticed by the PRs of the company and with a good reason. As we told you in our previous articles HEMP decided that it is a good idea to publish their July 3 press release two more times – on July 10 and July 11. The purchase of a line of decortication equipment and 15 million pounds of raw and processed kenaf is certainly rather significant but does it warrant repeating so many times? HEMP also tried to lure investors in by proudly announcing that the dividend of a little more than 2 million BioAdaptives, Inc (OTCMKTS:BDPT)'s shares they distributed among their shareholders had reached a value of $9 million based on the closing price of $4.60. The press releases came last Monday and since then BDPT have lost close to 70% of their value. At the moment their stock is trading at $1.50.

In addition to the fluff PRs HEMP is still surrounded by a multitude of red flags. For the first quarter of the year the company reported over $5.4 million in sales but as it turned out $5.3 million of them came in the form of 2.9 billion shares from 8 consulting partners. These partners are various pennystocks and most of them are either extremely thinly traded or are sitting deep into the double and triple zero territories. One of them – WebXU, Inc. (OTCMKTS:WBXU) actually got suspended by the SEC on June 5. Attempting any trades with the stock HEMP should be preceded by extensive research. Use caution and weigh all the risks in order to avoid any unnecessary losses.

News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: Georgi Kamburov
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Website: Hemp, Inc. (OTCMKTS:HEMP) Goes Through A Week Of Corrections

Illinois Seizure Bill Becomes Law

July 21st, 2014 by Chris Lindsey No comments »
Pat quinn
Gov. Pat Quinn

On Sunday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that will add seizure conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis program for both adults and minors. The new law also allows parents to seek permission for minors to access medical marijuana for other qualifying conditions. Special thanks are owed to bill sponsors Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Lou Lang, and the many parents and advocates who tirelessly worked to make the bill a reality for seriously ill patients.

In other news, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules gave its final approval last week for regulations the three state agencies will use to oversee the program. A preliminary version of these rules can be found here, with the official version to be published soon. This important step finally allows the program to move forward. News outlets are currently reporting that patients may be able to sign up as early as September, although it is not yet clear when dispensaries and cultivation centers will be operational.

The rules are far from perfect. The Illinois program is by far the most expensive in the nation for cultivators, with a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, and a first-year license of $200,000. That means the Department of Agriculture will receive a windfall of $4.4 million for issuing just 22 cultivation center licenses during the first year of the program, not including application fees. Unfortunately, the enormous tab will surely be passed along to patients.


High taxes may slow marijuana revenue in Washington state -Moody's

July 21st, 2014 by marijuana - Yahoo! News Search Results No comments »
High state and local taxes and a paucity of storefront licenses mean revenue from legalized marijuana sales in Washington state could be minimal this year, according to Moody's Investor Service. Stores opened this month in Washington, where the second state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana forecast it will collect $51.2 million in revenues during the upcoming 2015-17 biennial ...

Australia – Greens Unveil Push To Legalise Marijuana

July 21st, 2014 by The General No comments »
Terminally and chronically ill Canberrans would be allowed to grow marijuana and use the drug to alleviate their pain and symptoms, under a proposal by the ACT Greens to legalise medical cannabis. Greens minister Shane Rattenbury will on Monday release new draft laws and a discussion paper for community feedback on the proposal. The laws would allow people with a terminal or chronic illness to access medical marijuana without fear of being prosecuted. "This legislation aims to make life for people who are dying from a terminal illness or have a chronic disease more bearable and more dignified," Mr Rattenbury said.

"It's about showing compassion to members of the community who are suffering and it's about making sure they're not being criminalised for taking action to make their lives better." The push, which would need support from Labor or Liberal members of the Legislative Assembly to become law, comes a month after a multi-party group of federal MPs moved to legalise medicinal cannabis. Mr Rattenbury, who serves as Territory and Municipal Services Minister and holds the balance of power, will move the legislation as part of a private members bill. Under the proposed legislation, people would have to apply to the ACT Chief Health Officer for approval to possess and use cannabis.
Applications would fall into three categories – the first is for a terminal illness with a prognosis of death within a year, the second category is for a serious illness or condition such as cancer, AIDS or HIV, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or epilepsy or the third is for chronic or debilitating conditions.

Mr Rattenbury said people would need support from their doctor, while the third category of patients would need support from two doctors specialising in their particular illness. Patients – or someone they had nominated – would also have to apply for a permit to grow cannabis for their own personal use. The permits would be valid for 12 months. People convicted of a drug offence in the past five years or anyone who had breached a cultivation licence granted under the scheme would not be allowed to have a permit. Mr Rattenbury believed the time was right to consider the benefits of medical marijuana. “A growing number of countries around the world have legislated to legalise its use and public surveys conducted by the Commonwealth Health Department show nearly 70 per cent of Australians support legalising cannabis for medical purposes," he said.

Calvary Hospital emergency medicine specialist Dr David Caldicott said he supported legalising medical marijuana. “I think the issue regarding medical marijuana is one of compassion. What we’re talking about is providing an alternative tier of symptom relief for people who are largely dependent on a far more dangerous drug which is morphine. To provide an alternative to that is always good," he said. He said a supervised, mandated system would also open the door to more medical research into medical marijuana. But Dr Saxon Smith from the Australian Medical Association believes more research is needed before a decision is made about legalising medical marijuana.
"It still remains quite a controversial topic in medical literature," he said.

"We hear the case reports, certainly in the media and the like, of people having a good response to whatever their underlying condition is but the question is, is there a longevity in that response? Most importantly, what are the short term and long term adverse events and potential negatives of taking it which we just don't know yet. "Whilst the AMA may sound somewhat conservative, it's actually all about ensuring the right medication is being used in the right patient for the right outcome and minimising the downside." Mr Rattenbury believes his exposure draft contained adequate safeguards. "It is limited to those people who have a genuine medical condition who would benefit from that," he said. "I hope both the community and my colleagues stop and consider this carefully and don't just make a knee-jerk response. "This is about treating people in our community with compassion and dignity." The exposure draft and discussion paper will be open for community consultation until September 15.

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Author: Natasha Boddy and Tom McIlroy
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Website: Greens unveil push to legalise marijuana