Archive for the ‘Colorado’ category

The Marijuana Policy Project Launches Effort to Make Adult Use of Marijuana Legal in Arizona

October 30th, 2014

The Marijuana Policy Project has filed paperwork with Arizona election officials to form a committee to begin raising funds for a 2016 citizens’ initiative to make the adult use of marijuana legal.

Despite the state’s traditionally conservative patterns, Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the group has sufficient support in Arizona.

“It appears most Arizona voters are ready to adopt a more sensible policy,” he said. “There were a large number of supporters who got on board (in 2010) and are ready to move forward.”

The Marijuana Policy Project was the primary supporter of Proposition 203, which allows the use and sale of medical marijuana in Arizona, in 2010.

According to Tvert, a regulated retail market will not affect the medical marijuana business in Arizona. There would likely be a differentiation between the medical and adult retail business models — similar to what is currently in place in Colorado.

Moreover, Tvert said that if the 2016 citizens’ initiative in Arizona passes, existing medical marijuana dispensaries could also begin selling retail marijuana products, so long as the inventories are kept completely separate.

“Those businesses have established themselves and demonstrated they’re willing and able to follow the law,” he said. “It certainly makes sense to let those businesses be among the first to start providing marijuana to adults if the initiative passes.”

However, irrespective of what happens with Arizona’s medical marijuana business, Tvert said the initiative coalition will be sensitive to local needs.

“It will constantly evolve,” he said. “It will be, ‘This is what we believe is the best possible policy right now.’”

Legal Marijuana In Alaska Could Generate a Multi-Million Dollar Industry

October 28th, 2014

The state of Alaska stands to gain $23 million in annual tax revenues from a fully legal marijuana market, according to a report released this week by the Marijuana Policy Group — a research organization that does not take a stance on issues associated with making marijuana legal.

The report estimates that the total sales from a legal marijuana market would generate $56 million in 2016 and would climb to $107 million in 2020, if Alaska’s resident voters approve Measure 2 on the ballot next week.

The report was conducted by the same non-partisan group of academics and private researchers that provided the legal marijuana market estimates to Colorado upon the passing of Amendment 64. It now aims to apply the lessons learned from Colorado to Alaska.

Moreover, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the report estimates that there are 103,000 marijuana users above the age of 21 in Alaska, representing at least one-fifth of the state’s adult population. It is reasonable to think that a multi-million dollar legal marijuana market will take the place of the illicit market in years to come.

Eric Holder “Cautiously Optimistic” in Regards to Legal Marijuana

October 22nd, 2014

According to CNN, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he is “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to Colorado and Washington’s implementation of regulated and legal adult marijuana control systems.

Eric Holder

“We don’t want to put into the federal system, low level people who are simply there for possessory offenses,” Holder stated Monday in an interview with CNN’s Evan Perez.

Last year, the DOJ chose eight enforcement areas that the department would concentrate on in a move aimed at calming nerves in Colorado and Washington. The eight “priority areas” have focused on the Justice Department’s attempts to prevent marijuana distribution to minors, as well as inter-state trafficking and violence associated with the illegal trade.

However, Holder noted in his interview Monday that the Justice Department could reverse its non-interventionist stance if Colorado and Washington’s regulatory frameworks are not up to par.

“What I’ve told the governors of those states is that if we’re not satisfied with their regulatory scheme that we reserve the right to come in and sue them. So we’ll see,” Holder said.

It remains to be seen how the new attorney general will treat states that decide to end marijuana prohibition going forward, but supportive lawmakers continue to push legislation that will finally protect states from federal interference and allow them to determine their own marijuana policies.

Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Law Makes the Substance Legal to Possess but Impossible to Obtain

October 17th, 2014

As reported by Iowa Watchdog, in May, Governor Terry Branstad signed into law the Medical Cannabidiol Act. The law allows for residents of Iowa to possess small amounts of cannabidiol if a neurologist certifies that the non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana plants is necessary for the treatment of a child with intractable epilepsy.

On Tuesday, the Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Iowa State Legislature gave final approval to the procedures by which the Iowa Department of Public Health will address the new law.

Beginning on January 30, 2015, after filing the appropriate paperwork and being approved by IDPH, a parent or primary caregiver of a child diagnosed with epilepsy will be able to receive a specific form of identification that will allow them to possess up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.

They will not, however, be able to obtain the actual oil. In fact, cannabidiol will remain illegal to produce or sell in the state of Iowa. Moreover, in Colorado and Oregon, the states where the oil is legal, it is illegal to sell to nonresidents. Therefore, even if an approved resident from Iowa were able to buy the oil in one of the states where it is legal, transporting the substance across state lines remains a federal crime.

“That’s the reality of the situation,” Deborah Thompson, policy advisor for IDPH, told Iowa Watchdog. “There are still some very fundamental barriers to parents getting the oil.”

According to state Rep. Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines:

Rob Taylor

“It was a very limited bill. All it did was give citizens of Iowa who possess and are registered with the state safe harbor under Iowa state law. Meaning we wouldn’t prosecute them if they have cannabidiol,” Taylor said.

When asked what purpose it served to create an approval process of a substance that Iowans will not be allowed to legally obtain, Taylor stated, “It’s one more tool in their toolbox for families dealing with a very, very disturbing disorder.”

State Department’s Top Drug Warrior, William Brownfield, Says Federal Government Must Tolerate Making Marijuana Legal

October 16th, 2014

According to Reason, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, called for flexibility in interpreting anti-drug treaties.

“How could I, a representative of the government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?”

When asked about the federal government’s position on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Brownfield described a clearly prescribed policy:

William Brownfield

“The deputy attorney general’s words were that the federal government will not intervene in the application of the laws of Washington and Colorado on marijuana legalization, but will monitor and hold them responsible for performance in eight specifically designated areas…. We have a national interest to ensure that this does not cause undue harm….”

“The United States of America reserves the right and can at any time it chooses enforce the law against marijuana and cannabis cultivation, production, sale, purchase, and consumption in Washington state and Colorado. The deputy attorney general in a public document has asserted that for now we will not do that unless it crosses the line in eight specifically identified categories in those two states.”

Although there is a long way for the federal government to go in terms of completely eliminating its prohibitionist attitude, those associated have been compelled by the political circumstances in the U.S. to accept that there is value to alternative policies. This is a good sign for countries that have been pressured by the U.S. to mimic and help enforce American prohibition.

Arizona Republican Rep. Ethan Orr Suggests Making Marijuana Legal to Aid State Budget

October 14th, 2014

According to the Tucson Weekly, Arizona Rep. Ethan Orr is looking at Colorado’s recent marijuana venture and the taxes, licenses, and fees that have brought the state more than $7 million so far.

As reported by the Arizona Republic, the Arizona revenue projections released last Tuesday to the legislature’s Finance Advisory Committee predict that the state will end this budget year with a $520 million deficit and possibly up to a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year of 2016.

Ethan Orr

“Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and I think this is a logical place we need to look,” Orr said. “I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it (legalization).”

Orr also said that lawmakers should consider his proposal before supporters in the effort to make marijuana legal take their measure before voters in 2016.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, commends Rep. Orr for demonstrating leadership on the issue.

“While we are not yet familiar with the details of Rep. Orr’s bill, we would likely support any well-written proposal to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol,” Tvert stated.

New Milder Marijuana Edible Options for Novices

October 10th, 2014

According to 9news.com, marijuana product manufacturers in Colorado are making an effort to accommodate inexperienced adult marijuana consumers.

Several companies have begun offering edible products with very small dosages of THC in order to allow people who have low tolerance or little experience with the substance to be able to use it without the potential for becoming overly impaired. This move comes following the launch of MPP’s “Consume Responsibly” campaign, which urges caution when consuming marijuana edibles and other products in order to avoid an unpleasant experience.

The paradigm shift in the marijuana industry is comparable to the alcohol industry’s selling of beer and wine alongside higher content alcoholic options like spirits or liqueurs.

dixie_elixirs_logoThe new low potency edible options include a low-dose marijuana-infused soda — Dixie One — that is 15 times weaker than the Dixie Elixirs company’s best-known soda. There are also light-dose “Rookie Cookies” for people who are not experienced in eating medical-grade marijuana.

“For a long time, the medical market was a race to the strongest edibles. Now it’s a new market, and people want something that won’t get them so inebriated they’re not functional,” said Holden Sproul of the Growing Kitchen, which makes the “Rookie Cookie” and is phasing out some if its stronger offerings.

New Mexico’s State Licensed Medical Marijuana Producers’ Businesses and Bank Accounts in Jeopardy

October 1st, 2014

According to a Drug Policy Alliance press release, just eight short months after the Federal Justice Department and Treasury Department announced new guidelines permitting banks to work with marijuana businesses, credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to nearly half of the state’s licensed medical marijuana producers stating that they will no longer accept their business and will proceed with closing their bank accounts.

The credit unions attest that they are unable to adhere to federal guidelines for servicing the medical marijuana business accounts. This move forces producers to operate on a cash-only payment system or leaves producers struggling to find another financial institution that is willing to accept their business.

Emily Kaltenbach

“It is disappointing to see that the banking industry in New Mexico is failing to protect medical patients and small businesses in light of the assurances the federal administration has provided and a robust and thriving medical marijuana industry in the state,” said Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This abrupt move has all of us asking why they are unexpectedly ceasing to do business with the marijuana industry in New Mexico. We would like to know why they are unable to comply with the federal guidelines.”

Ultimately, these legitimate medical marijuana businesses are being denied the same financial services afforded to other industries in every state, despite generating large amounts of tax revenue, particularly in Colorado and Washington. In the meantime, beginning today, all medical marijuana business transactions in New Mexico will be cash-only.

Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes Says It is Time to Discuss Making Marijuana Legal in Kentucky

September 26th, 2014

According to Kentucky.com, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes — whose tight race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is receiving national media attention — said it is “worthwhile” for elected officials to discuss the prospect of making marijuana legal in the state of Kentucky.

Alison Lundergan Grimes

“I would want to the have the discussion, and I think that it’s worthwhile to bring the experts together and talk about the reclassification, especially for medical purposes,” Grimes said.

In addition, Grimes criticized McConnell for not recognizing the economic benefits Colorado is experiencing after making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol.

Robert Steurer, a spokesman for McConnell’s Senate office, said in a statement yesterday that “Senator McConnell is strongly opposed to the legalization of marijuana as Kentucky families deserve no less.”

According to a Bluegrass Poll of registered Kentucky voters taken in February, 52% favored “allowing the use of medical marijuana in Kentucky.” Just 37% were opposed.

 

Arizona Marijuana Advocates Advance 2016 Initiative

September 23rd, 2014

Advocates of an effort to make marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol in Arizona in 2016 have filed paperwork with state elections officials, granting them permission to raise money to campaign for the citizen’s initiative, according to azcentral.com.

The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative will be fashioned after the voter-approved taxed and regulated recreational marijuana program in Colorado.

Andrew Myers, who is affiliated with the initiative, said Monday the group will bring together a “diverse coalition” to help draft the initiative’s language, adding that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s program to determine what should be replicated in Arizona—and what should be avoided.

Representatives of the Washington, D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates to make marijuana legal and regulated, said it will pursue making marijuana completely legal in Arizona in 2016 because such efforts are more successful during presidential elections, which draw more voters to the polls.

About 50,000 Arizonians already legally use medical marijuana. Patients must first receive recommendations from a physician and then are able to obtain a card from state health officials under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was approved by voters in 2010.

Any effort towards making marijuana legal for adults in Arizona is expected to be countered with stiff opposition from law enforcement officials.

However, Colorado’s Amendment 64, which voters passed in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote, attracted young and new voters while tapping into the electorate’s libertarian streak. There are hopes that Arizona will tap into the same demographic and successfully follow the example of Colorado.