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Political Games Get in the Way of Marijuana Reform

legalize marijuana

obama-marijuanaIn some sort of bizarre word game today the Obama Administration said that marijuana laws are a states rights issue. This coming from a presidency that has shown nothing but contempt for states rights.  Of course, this was in opposition to a Republican led effort to meddle in the affairs of Washington DCs new marijuana decriminalization policies.

Republicans, who claim to stand by a platform of less government interference, and states rights, seem to think it is the governments place to dictate marijuana policy to states.

The White House took the conservative position of stating that The Obama administration believes marijuana policy is a states’ rights issue.  An odd statement considering the Obama administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview with President Obama, the President justified the raids by saying: I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 places marijuana into the schedule 1 classification meaning it has no known medical value. If marijuana was simply to be moved to a schedule 2 classification (like cocaine) it would be perfectly legal to be grown, cultivated, and used for medical purposes in this country. Would it take an act of congress to move marijuana from schedule 1 to schedule 2? No. According to the law itself, under Part B: 811 (a) … the Attorney General may by rule add to such a schedule or transfer between such schedules any drug or other substance (emphases added).

presidential-bubbaWhat that means is the Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, who was named to the position by President Obama on July 16th, 2013, could create marijuana reform simply by writing a note saying “Marijuana has shown considerable medical value, and I am therefore moving it from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2.” And poof… medical marijuana would be legal in all 50 states, and then it would truly be a “States Rights” issue as to weather the state wants to re-criminalize it.

It is really sad that this level of politics is going on while sick people are being denied their medicine, and young adults who where force fed pharmaceuticals during their adolescents are now having their records tarnished for being caught with an herb.


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Colorado Marijuana Demand Exceeds 130 Metric Tons

colorado marijuana demand

Colorado Marijuana Demand Report Released

blue-dream-18The Colorado Department of Revenue and The Marijuana Policy Group released a report entitled “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”.  The report estimates the total demand for marijuana in the state and reveals a number of new and unique characteristics related to Colorado’s market for marijuana.

The report states “The demand for marijuana by Colorado adult residents is estimated to be 121.4 metric tons in 2014. In addition, the demand by visitors to the state is estimated to be 8.9 metric tons for a total estimated demand of 130.3 metric tons.”  That’s 31 percent higher than a previous Department of Revenue estimate and 89 percent higher than a study by the Colorado Futures Center.

The report also reveals there are 485 thousand “regular” adult marijuana users in Colorado (or 9% of the population). The highest frequency users (near daily) account for 66.9% of demand.

The Colorado Marijuana Tourism trade is also booming, with purchases by out-of-state visitors currently representing about 44% of metro area retail sales and about 90% of retail sales in heavily visited mountain communities. And by “heavily visited mountain communities”, I am sure they mean the ski resorts…

The entire report can be downloaded here

When combined with previous reports about the decrease in violent crime in Colorado since the legalization of recreational marijuana use, and the higher then anticipated tax revenues, the idea of recreational marijuana may be becoming more and more attractive to other states looking to boost their economy. However one must wonder what the effect of those other states legalization efforts will have on Colorado where nearly half of all demand is coming from marijuana tourism.

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Recreational Marijuana stores open in Washington State

marijauna-shakeIt is High Time for Recreational Marijuana

The first recreational marijuana stores in Washington state opened Tuesday June 8th. Washington’s medical marijuana industry operates with very little government oversight. However, The marijuana is heavily taxed at every step in the process. The government collects a 25 percent tax when growers sell it to processors, then again when processors sell it to retail stores and yet again when stores sell it to consumers. (raising questions about the legality of “triple taxation”).

Possessing marijuana in small amounts and consuming it at home has been legal in Washington for almost two years now, since voters passed Initiative 502 in 2012, however, the legalization of recreational marijuana stores just happened in November of 2013 with the first 25 licenses being issued around the state by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which administers recreational marijuana, on July 7th of 2014 and the first stores opening a day latter.

Low Supply, High Demand

Washington’s law only allows for recreational marijuana to be sold from licensed grows, and it has to be produced in state. Those growers have yet to harvest a full crop which is constricting the availability of recreational marijuana in the sate. The New York Times is reporting hundreds of people standing in line at some retail establishments.

The low supply and high demand is also causing prices of recreational marijuana to spike in the state with reports of 1 gram (a dime bag) going for $25.


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Is D.C. Next to Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

presidential-bubba-458,000 people have signed a petition in Washington D.C. (more then twice the number required) to a recreational marijuana initiative on the ballot in November.

The law would allow adults to have up to two ounces of marijuana on them. Also allowed under the proposed law would be cultivation of up to six plants at home. However, the proposed law would not legalize the sale of marijuana, because a current law bars voters in D.C. from doing that by ballot initiative. The D.C. City Council is considering a bill that would, however, undermine that law by allowing the District to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana.

The Bills Co-sponsor, Councilmember David Grosso (I), said in a press conference Monday “Even once we’ve legalized marijuana and stopped putting people in jail for it, it is important for us to regulate it in a way that is done responsibly for the District,”

Opponents of the bill fear that legalizing recreational use of marijuana will lead to higher use amongst teens. That is a flawed logic of ignorant people. I remember when I was a teenager it was far easier to get a bag of weed then it was to get a bottle of booze… because the drug dealers didn’t ID. I bet if D.C. does legalize recreational marijuana use, the stores in D.C will check ID’s.

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Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana is Coming

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana - NORMLThe Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act – SB1182

Just days after Philadelphia passed a new law lowering the penalties for possession of marijuana to a $25 fine, the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee voted unanimously in favor of SB1182, A senate bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana by anyone with a recommendation from a reputable physician.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana: What you Need to Know

Much like Minnesota, and New Yorks recent medical marijuana bills, the Pennsylvania bill will not allow smoking marijuana, but will allow for vaporizing it, as well as edibles, ointments and tinctures. The bill also has restrictions on home cultivation.

In Pennsylvania medical marijuana legalization for medicinal purposes supported by 84% of the population, according to the latest poll by the Franklin and Marshall College. Unfortunately they are going to have to wait a bit longer.  The state senate was expected to vote on the medical marijuana bill before being let out for summer recess, (politicians have recess… isn’t that a sign that they should be treated like pre-schoolers?), but the GOP leadership did not bring the bill up for vote, effectively pushing it until the fall session.

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North Carolina Legalizes medical Marijuana Extract

blackberry-7North Carolina Legalizes Medical Marijuana… Kinda

As more and more states in the West, and North East begin to loosen restrictions on marijuana, The southern states have been slow to follow.  However the times they are a changing, albeit very slowly, for the deep south.  After Florida started the trend with it’s “hyper restrictive” medical marijuana bill that only allowed for the use of the low THC strain of medical marijuana known as “Charlottes Web”, North Carolina has now joined the “big Government” oversight of medical marijuana treatments.

Gov. Pat McCroy signed a bill allowing neurologists to participate in clinical trials using a marijuana extract oil that is taken orally, and doesn’t produce a “high”.

Although a positive baby step for the people of North Carolina, these highly restrictive laws on medical marijuana use beg the question: If you believe that marijuana can be a medical benefit to someone, even in these limited circumstances you allow for, does that not mean that marijuana does in fact have at least some “medical value” and therefore should not be classified as a schedule 1 narcotic, and should be completely legal for medical use?

Your Doctor can prescribe any number of cocaine or opiate based medications, but you can’t have anything with THC? The only reason why medical marijuana is not easily prescribed by a doctor is that the government has classified it as having “no medical value” (here are 700 medicinal uses for marijuana).  Yet laws like Florida’s, and North Carolina show that even the cynical concede some amount of medical value which in turn means it should be completely legalized for medical use.

On August 14th 1970 the Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs [Roger O. Egeberg] sent a letter to the US Congress in regards to if marijuana should be classified as a schedule 1 narcotic. It was based on this letter that marijuana was indeed classified schedule 1. The letter reads in part:

‘…Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marihuana be retained within schedule I at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue. If those studies make it appropriate for the Attorney General to change the placement of marihuana to a different schedule, he may do so in accordance with the authority provided under section 201 of the bill..'”

The “studies” referenced in the letter where concluded in the 1972 Schafer Commission report, which recommended removing marijuana from the scheduling system and decriminalizing it.


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Legal Cannabis Reduces Violent Crime in Colorado

smoke-bud-lower-crimeLegal Cannabis Reduces Violent Crime

We have all heard the stories before “Legalizing marijuana will increase crime” . While most marijuana users will tell you that the only thing they are a danger to on marijuana is the refrigerator, most non-users seem to think smoking a bowl makes you a crazed criminal.

Crime Data for Denver, the largest city in Colorado which legalized recreational marijuana use in Jan of 2014 shows an 10% drop in violent crime.

Homicides went down from 17 to 8 (a 53% drop), automobile break-ins from 2,317 to 1,477 (down 36%) automobile thefts also so a drop of over 1/3rd and sexual assaults dropped from 110 to 95 (down 14%). Thus showing that marijuana users really are more “peace love and happiness” then some politicians want everyone to believe.

Legalization of recreational use of marijuana was bound to lower crime rates simply by pushing out black market dealers, and eliminating arrests for simple possession, but it is nice to see hard evidence that legalization also reduces violent crime rates.

Legal Cannabis Increases Revenue

Colorado is also reaping the financial benefits of legalization of Marijuana  earning $12 million in taxes since January to help schools, law enforcement, and substance abuse treatment. By years end, taxes on marijuana in Colorado are expecting to bring the state a $30 million windfall.

It really does amaze me that, in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we are still arguing about a plant that is clearly good for both the economy and the civil welfare of the people. Colorado is leading the way with their marijuana reforms, and hopefully soon, the rest of the nation will follow their lead, and we will have legal cannabis nationally.


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Colorado Recreational Marijuana is Changing: What You Need to Know

colorado-recreational-marijuanaOnly 6 months into the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, things are about to change.

Starting July 1st, Colorado is taking applications for recreational marijuana “specialty” business. Previously, Only owners of medical marijuana shops could open recreational marijuana shops in the state. Also, all business had to grow, package, and sell there own marijuana, a “seed to Sale” model. These new licenses will allow businesses to open in October of this year.

Starting this month, newcomers to the marijuana business can now apply for a license for a Colorado recreational marijuana business, and all recreational marijuana business can now “specialize”. What that means is that a farm can grow marijuana and then sell it to a separate business that will process and packedge it, and then sell that packaged product to a retail establishment that can sell it to the public, and those can all be separate businesses.

What effect this will have on the Colorado’s recreational marijuana business has yet to be seen. Although one might expect this to cause recreational marijuana stores to pop up like Starbucks… that probably will not happen. Currently, Many cities in Colorado still have bans on recreational marijuana businesses. Others, like Aurora, have caps on the number of recreational marijuana businesses that will be allowed. And still others, like Denver, have moratoriums on new stores (Denver will not be accepting applications from newcomers until 2016).

Colorado has also seen a lower then expected demand for recreational marijuana. Although the state has declared more the $200 million in sales in the first 4 months of legalization, over half of that has come from medical marijuana dispensaries. However, Colorado has stated that in the first 6 months of the legalization of recreational marijuana, the state has collected more then $11 million in marijuana taxes

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Medical Marijuana: What States Have it.

medical-marijuana-statesMedical Marijuana in the USA

At the time of writing, almost half of the states in the US have legalized some form of medical marijuana. Cannabis has been used medicinally by humans since the dawn of civilization, yet it is still illegal in many places. Some scientists believe that the reason marijuana is so useful for treating so many ailments could be that those ailments are, in fact, just symptoms of cannabinoid deficiencies.

We at thought we would share with you what states have medical marijuana, and how much they let you have.


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Alaska legalized medical marijuana in 1998 allowing for up to one ounce of “leaf” marijuana, and up to 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature)

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In 2010 Arizona legalized Medical Marijuana. You are allowed up to two and a half ounces, and up to 12 plants. Arizona also accepts prescriptions from other medical marijuana states.

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California was the first US state to legalize medical marijuana, allowing patients to have up to eight ounces of marijuana and 6 mature plants (or 12 immature plants)

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Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000, and recreational marijuana in 2014. The state allows people to have two ounces usable, and 6 plants (3 mature, and 3 immature)

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Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012 allowing patients to have one months supply on them (although how much “one months supply” is has yet to be determined) Connecticut’s law is unique in that it requires a pharmacist to be able to distribute the marijuana. As of this writing, there are currently no dispensaries in Connecticut selling medical marijuana due to zoning issues.

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Delaware legalized medical marijuana in 2011 allowing patients to have up to six ounces.

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Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill to allow for very limited medical marijuana in June 2014. In it’s current form Floridas’ law only allows for the “Charlottes’ Web” strain of marijuana which is very low in THC. There is a less restrictive medical marijuana initiative expected to reach voters this fall.

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Medical Marijuana was legalized in Hawaii in 2000. A patient there can have up to three ounces, and 7 plants (3 mature plants, and 4 immature)

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2013 was the year Illinois legalized medical marijuana allowing patients to have two and a half ounces.

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In 1999 Maine legalized medical marijuana allowing patients to have up to two and a half ounces and 6 plants.

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Maryland legalized medicinal marijuana in 2014 allowing patients to carry a 30 day supply (yet to be determined)

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In 2012 Massachusetts legalized medicinal marijuana allowing patients to carry up to a 60 day supply for personal medical use.

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In 2008 Michigan passed Proposal 1 legalizing Medical marijuana. Patients are allowed to have two and a half ounces and 12 plants.

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In 2014 Minnesota legalized very limited medical marijuana use. The state allows for a patient to have a 30 day supply of “Non-Smokable” marijuana.

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Montana legalized medical marijuana in 2004 allowing patients to have one ounce “usable” marijuana, 4 mature plants, and 12 seedlings.

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Nevada legalized medical marijuana in 2000. Patients there can one ounce usable, and 7 plants (3 mature and 4 immature). Nevada also allows for from other states with a prescription for medical marijuana to buy from dispensaries within their state. (bonus points for a Vegas Vacation…)

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New Hampshire

In 2013 medical marijuana became legal in New Hampshire. Patients there can have two ounces of usable cannabis during a 10-day period.

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New Jersey

In 2010 New Jersey legalized medical marijuana allowing patients in that state to carry up to two ounces usable cannabis.

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New Mexico

In the state of New Mexico, Medical marijuana has been legal since 2007. Patients in that state can have up to six ounces usable marijuana, and 16 plants (4 mature, 12 immature).

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New York

New York legalized medical marijuana in June of 2014. The law is very strict and only allows for “non-smokable” marijuana

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An early adopter, Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998 allowing patients there to have up to twenty-four ounces usable marijuana, and 24 plants (6 mature, and 18 immature)

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Rhode Island

Legalization of medical marijuana happened in Rhode Island in 2006. The state allows for patients to have up to two and a half ounces usable cannabis, and 12 plants.

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Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004 allowing patients to have 2 ounces usable, and 12 plants.

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In 1998 Washington state became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana. In July of 2014 Washington state will also open its first, legal, recreational marijuana dispensaries. People in Washington state are allowed up to twenty-four ounces usable cannabis, and 15 plants.



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Washington Gets Ready For Recreational Marijuana

presidential-bubba-14Washington States first recreational Marijuana stores are set to open July 8th. One day after state officials are expected to announce the first licenses. The Liquor Control Board expects to issue about 20 licenses for retail Cannabis stores on the 7th of July, and those licensees could open their stores the following day. The first 20 licenses will be spread around the state with geography and population concerns factored into the decision making process.

The Liquor Control Board is expected to approve emergency regulations to limit the types of edible marijuana products that will be allowed to be sold in the state and the and the kinds of labels and packaging they can carry. There seems to be a concern over “overdoses” in Colorado due to bad labeling of edible marijuana products.  (As a medical Marijuana patient, and someone who has “overdosed” on marijuana let me assure the readers that a marijuana “overdose” is a lot of paranoia and very little danger… it can also be cured with a bag of M&M’s)

In Seattle, a retailer who already runs several medical marijuana facilities, expects to open his first recreational marijuana store in a former state run liquor store at 14343 15th Ave NE on the 8th of July.

Washington state will continue to have medical marijuana dispensaries (in some cases literally) alongside recreational marijuana dispensaries. The medical marijuana dispensaries will offer a lower price to Dr prescribed patients. Some recreational retailers fear the black market and the medical marijuana dispensaries will have such lower prices that it will be hard to compete, yet others feel the tourists will prop up the recreational markets.

Washington State and local law enforcement officials will also be looking for drivers impaired by marijuana as part of their summer patrols for driving under the influence in their “Drive High/Get a DUI” campaign.