Archive for the ‘Tax and Regulate’ category

Missouri Legislature to Consider Allowing Public Vote on Regulating Marijuana

January 21st, 2015

Missouri State Rep. Brandon Ellington’s HJR 15 would give voters a chance to put an end to the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, and would replace it with legalization, taxation, and regulation for adults 21 and over.

Brandon Ellington
Rep. Brandon Ellington

A companion bill also sponsored by Rep. Ellington, HB 166, would expunge some marijuana-related convictions if voters approve the constitutional amendment.

The Missouri-based Show-Me Cannabis is also in the process of preparing for a similar voter initiative in 2016. If approved, that measure would not only allow and regulate retail sales for adult use, it would also provide unique protections for medical marijuana patients. In addition, the measure would allow individuals to remove harmful marijuana-related convictions from their records.

In the coming years, there will be several opportunities for Missouri to join the four states that have moved away from failed and wasteful marijuana prohibition policies.

D.C. Councilmembers Introduce Marijuana Regulation Bill

January 13th, 2015

Last week, District of Columbia Councilmember David Grosso and three of his colleagues made it clear that Congressional bullying wasn’t going to stop them from considering a more rational approach to marijuana. On January 6, they quietly introduced legislation to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Grosso
Councilmember David Grosso

This sensible proposal comes on the heels of voters’ overwhelming vote for Initiative 71, which will make marijuana possession and limited cultivation legal for adults 21 and older when it becomes effective. It also comes just four weeks after Congress approved a spending bill that prohibits the District from spending any money to enact a law to legalize “recreational marijuana” until at least through this summer.

The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2015 would create a framework for a legal and responsible marijuana industry, complete with licensed cultivators, product manufacturers, retail stores, and testing labs. Allowing licensed businesses to grow and sell marijuana to adults 21 and older will create jobs, increase tax revenues, and allow D.C.’s law enforcement to direct their focus on more serious matters. Regulating these businesses means D.C. will know who is selling marijuana, under what conditions, where, and to whom.

If you are a resident of the District of Columbia, please email your councilmembers today and ask them to support B21-0023! Let them know that D.C.’s elected lawmakers, not Congress, should decide District policy. Then, please pass this on to other District residents.

Navigating the Marijuana Industry Labyrinth

January 12th, 2015

(This post is the first in a series providing insights into the legal marijuana industry. It is a guest post from the staff at MedMen.)

While ultimately an exciting endeavor, opening a marijuana business can be a tedious process involving a multitude of legal and monetary procedures. A close eye for detail is required. Dealing with rules and regulations and licensing applications, meeting zoning requirements, preparing concise and detailed business plans and operational protocols, attending local and state meetings, planning to manage operations once certified, and so much more are big tasks. Think: 24-hour notaries, multi-disciplined organizational issues and consensuses, leaps of faith toward the long-term investment, preparing management deals, and accountability — and it does not stop there.392_weed_grow

Starting a successful medical and/or recreational marijuana business typically requires commitments of hundreds of thousands — and at times even millions — of investment dollars. Some states are moving in the direction of merit-based oligopolies that require substantial liquidity in order to succeed and multi-million dollar bonds to further show financial security. Marijuana has graduated to a big-business process.

Securing real estate and building a qualified team for any marijuana industry venture are two of the earliest and most fundamental aspects of obtaining a license. Locking down locations that make sense demographically while still satisfying strict locational regulations is not cheap. Landlords realize the tight supply, so favorable terms are hard to come by, meaning substantial capital is necessary. The applying team must also be comprehensive. Building a solid team, not only financially but resourcefully, is crucial in legitimizing marijuana businesses. Solid teams include healthcare to business management professionals, legal experts to accountants, horticulturalists to those experienced in law enforcement and security, and beyond. Not to mention experts to manage the marijuana-specific aspects of the operation. This range of experience is hard to come by for a mom-and-pop operation.

The complications do not end once a license is secured. Banking in the marijuana industry is currently in flux. Many banks refuse to deal with marijuana-related businesses; however, recent federal protocols have safeguarded banks willing to commit to these businesses. Still, banks are looking into the financial histories of those applying for accounts. A mom-and-pop operation is at a disadvantage to a big-business operation whose members can show ties to multi-million dollar companies operating their finances spotlessly. Accountability is crucial, and past business practices are just about the only way to show it in the emerging marijuana industry.

Ultimately, every state is going to have different marijuana laws, just as every state has different alcohol laws. Some will be more conducive (or even limit) the marketplace to bigger businesses. Others will foster an environment that ensures smaller businesses can compete. There could even be some where marijuana sales are limited to state-run stores.

States are going to experiment, learn from their experiences, and learn from each other, just as we have seen take place with alcohol in the 80 years following the end of prohibition. In any case, it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.

Arizona Legislature to Consider Bills to Legalize and Decriminalize Marijuana

January 9th, 2015
CARDENAS
Rep. Mark Cardenas

MPP believes legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over is a more sensible approach than continuing failed prohibition policies, and so does Arizona state Rep. Mark Cardenas. He recently introduced HB 2007, a bill that would treat marijuana like alcohol, similar to the laws of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. If you are an Arizona resident, please take a moment to contact your state senator and representative and voice your support.

Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition, and both national and Arizona polls now regularly show support for a better approach. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Regulating it would replace the underground market, and law enforcement officials’ time could be more effectively directed to addressing serious crime.

Rep. Cardenas has also introduced HB 2006, which would establish a $100 civil penalty for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. In addition to the four states that have legalized marijuana for adults, well over a dozen states have lowered criminal penalties with sensible alternatives to putting people in jail for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Please support these important bills, and pass this message on to friends, family, and supporters in Arizona!

Maine Lawmakers Likely to Consider At Least Four Marijuana Bills

December 30th, 2014

State legislators in Maine are planning to introduce at least four marijuana-related bills in the upcoming session.

From the Portland Press Herald:

The marijuana OUI bill is being proposed by the Department of Public Safety, which wants to set a limit that will allow police officers to determine when a driver is too stoned behind the wheel.

russdm
Rep. Diane Russell

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, said she will introduce her fourth bill to tax and regulate the use of recreational marijuana. She said this bill will be the Legislature’s last chance to get out in front of two competing citizen initiatives that are likely to end up on the 2016 ballot. Two groups – the Marijuana Policy Project and Legalize Maine – plan to launch petition drives to collect signatures for 2016 referendums to legalize recreational drug use, as the states of Colorado and Washington have both done. The two proposals differ in approach and details, such as whether marijuana use should be limited to private homes or allowed in social clubs.

Russell also will sponsor a bill to remove the list of qualifying conditions for which patients can be approved to use medical marijuana. That would effectively leave it to patients and doctors to determine when the drug might help with a medical condition. Previous bills have been introduced to expand the number of approved conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hillary Lister, director of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, anticipates legislation specifying that the state cannot collect identifying information about medical marijuana patients. She said patients and caregivers are concerned about a recent rule change that requires medical providers to give patients a certification card that is generated through an online portal.

The Department of Health and Human Services also will propose amendments to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, but details of those amendments will not be released until the bill is finalized and the language becomes public, said department spokesman David Sorensen.

Nevada Marijuana Initiative Headed to the 2015 State Legislature

December 9th, 2014

A petition aimed at allowing the adult use of marijuana in Nevada has met its signature requirements and will be submitted to the 2015 state legislature.

According to The Washington Post:

Supporters of the measure to make marijuana legal in Nevada turned in 138,453 valid signatures, according to the Secretary of State Ross Miller’s (D) office, far above the approximately 100,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify an initiative.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal provided a good rundown on where it will go from here:

The state legislature has 40 days to act on the measure. If lawmakers pass it and the governor signs it, the measure becomes law. If the legislature does nothing or the governor does not sign the measure, the initiatives will go on the ballot for voters to decide in 2016.

Furthermore, if lawmakers amend the measure, both the original version and the amended version would go on the ballot. If the initiative passes with more than 50 percent of the vote, the one with the larger number of “yes” votes become law.

Marijuana Credit Union Could be Open in Colorado by January 1 Under State Charter

December 2nd, 2014

Colorado marijuana businesses may soon be able to move away from using cash-only systems.

According to The Denver Post:

The Colorado Division of Financial Services … issued Fourth Corner Credit Union an unconditional charter to operate, the first state credit-union charter issued in nearly a decade.

The next hurdles will be obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration, the federal regulator of credit unions, and getting a master account from the Federal Reserve System.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office called the charter “the end of the line” for the state’s efforts to solve the marijuana industry’s nagging problem: obtaining banking services. Although the NCUA insurance is not guaranteed — sale and consumption of marijuana remain illegal under federal law — Fourth CornerFourth Corner can operate until NCUA makes its decision.

“A Colorado law of 1981 allows a credit union to open its doors while an application for share-deposit insurance is pending,” said attorney Mark Mason, one of Fourth Corner’s key organizers.

Currently, many banks and other financial service providers have been unwilling to work with the marijuana industry out of fear of violating federal law. Some lawmakers have been trying to address this issue with the help of the National Cannabis Industry Association, but until they are successful, such credit unions may be the only solution available to marijuana businesses.

Report Shows Arizona Could Gain $48 Million In Taxes Annually From Regulating Marijuana

December 2nd, 2014

According to a report acquired by the Phoenix New Times, Arizona stands to gain $48 million in tax revenue annually by regulating marijuana like alcohol:

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee produced a report in September on the estimated impact of legal marijuana, but didn’t release the data publicly. New Times obtained a copy of the report this morning.Arizona

Prepared in response to a legalization bill proposed earlier this year by a group of Democrats, the JLBC report shows that Arizona could enjoy a large boost in revenue for schools, health care and other services simply by taxing people who already use marijuana.

The Democrats’ bill would have made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and would have allowed the plant to be sold in retail shops with an added $50-per-ounce tax.

The bill died in committee back in April, but a similar measure could be revived when the legislature reconvenes in January. Whether or not lawmakers do anything, Arizona voters are likely to see a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016. Coordinated by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative is still in the drafting stage but will almost certainly include a tax-collection scheme.

To learn more about MPP’s efforts in Arizona, make sure to sign up for email alerts.

ALASKA RESIDENTS: North Star Borough Officials To Consider Marijuana Regulations TODAY

December 2nd, 2014

On Nov. 4, 53% of Alaska voters approved Measure 2 to legalize and regulate the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana in Alaska. Tomorrow, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, City of Fairbanks, and City of North Pole city councils will hold a special public forum to discuss potential marijuana regulations at the local level.

Local governments have authority under Measure 2 to impose reasonable regulations, such as limitations on business hours and zoning. If you are a Fairbanks North Star area resident, please let your local elected representatives know you appreciate them taking this new law seriously and expect sensible regulations.

Please attend the hearing and testify in favor of allowing licensed cultivation centers and retail stores to do business. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
6 p.m.
Pioneer Park Civic Center
2300 Airport Road
Fairbanks, Alaska

Comments are limited to three minutes. Here are suggested talking points to incorporate into your testimony:

  • Thank you for being proactive, and inviting input from the public.
  • It is early in the process, but deliberate and thoughtful rulemaking is appreciated.
  • Reasonable regulations should protect public safety, but also allow the industry to exist.
  • Local lawmakers should continue studying to prepare for this new industry.

Nearly 60% of voters in the Fairbanks North Star Borough voted for Measure 2. Make sure elected officials hear from that sensible majority.

The Initiative Petition to Make Marijuana Legal in Nevada Makes Its Deadline

November 13th, 2014

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, an initiative petition that would make the adult use of marijuana legal in Nevada could come to fruition if signatures presented to county offices are valid.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Nevada have “unloaded much more than the 101,667 registered voter signatures needed to qualify the petition,” said Joe Brezny, spokesman for the coalition.

The deadline to submit signatures for the petition was Wednesday. In Clark County alone, more than 145,000 signatures were submitted.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Nevada is now working to present signatures to county offices in rural Nevada and Washoe.

If county officials deem the signatures valid, the Nevada State Legislature could possibly pass the initiative as early as the spring. Approval would take a two-thirds vote in both chambers, due to the petition’s tax component. The petition would also need the signature of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to become law. Rejection within the Nevada State Legislature, however, would set it up for a popular vote in 2016.