Panel of Councilmembers Approves Legislation that Would Establish Licensing and Regulation of Marijuana in Washington, D.C.
Council Acts Just Weeks After Nearly 70% of D.C. Voters Approved Ballot Measure Legalizing Marijuana
D.C. lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of legislation that would legally regulate and license the production, distribution and sale of marijuana in the District of Columbia during a meeting of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which is chaired by D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large).
Tuesday's action by D.C. lawmakers on a tax and regulate bill comes just three weeks after nearly 70 percent of voters in the District of Columbia approved Initiative 71, a ballot initiative that legalizes possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. However, due to D.C. law, the initiative was not allowed to address the taxation and regulation of marijuana sales.
The panel of Councilmembers voted to approve sections six through eight of the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” (Council Bill #20-466), which was introduced in 2013 by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large). Tuesday's vote followed a hearing on Council Bill 20-466 that was jointly held by the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
By Steve Elliott
A Democratic state senator from Gwinnett County not only pre-filed a broader version of medical marijuana than has previously been considered by the Georgia Legislature -- he also pre-filed a constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate sales of cannabis, using the tax proceeds to fund education and transportation.
Senate Bill 7, the medical marijuana bill filed by Sen. Curt Thompson of Norcross would allow doctors to authorize up to two ounces to patients with medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer's, reports Dave Williams at the Atlanta Business Chronicle. This is in contrast to legislation pre-filed last week by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), which would be restricted to legalizing cannabis CBD oil for treatment of seizure disorders in children and adults.
A bill pushed by Peake during this year's General Assembly that would have opened the door to CBD oil only died on the final day of the legislative session.
"While I adamantly support cannabis oil treatments for children with severe medical problems, I believe physicians should have the ability to care for all of their patients, regardless of age," Sen. Thompson said in a prepared statement.
Latest ‘Consume Responsibly’ ads feature a young child looking at a glass of wine and cookies, and it reads: ‘Some juices and cookies are not for kids: Keep “adult snacks” locked up and out of reach’
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.
The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”
MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert was accompanied at the Monday unveiling of the billboard by Jane West, a marijuana consumer and mother of two small children, who serves as director of Women Grow, a national organization dedicated to helping women influence and succeed in the cannabis industry.
“We need to treat marijuana like any other product that is legal for adults and not meant for children,” West said. “A marijuana-infused cookie might look like a regular cookie to my four-year-old, just as a glass of wine might look just like grape juice. Whether it’s marijuana, alcohol, or household cleaning products, it’s our job as parents to keep them locked up and out of reach.”
By Steve Elliott
Legalized marijuana is inevitable, California Attorney General Kamala Harris admitted this week, and she has no "moral opposition" to that happening and is "not opposed" it, she said.
This comes as something of a surprise, since Harris won reelection in California last month by beating the pro-marijuana Republican candidate, Ron Gold, reports RT.com. But while Harris said pot legalization has a "certain inevitability," she didn't actually endorse it.
Harris, the consummately cautious politician, hedged her bets by claiming she had "concerns" over the law enforcement implications of legalization.
"I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana,” Harris told Buzzfeed News in an interview. “I'm the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective.
"I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized,” Harris said. “We're watching it happen right before our eyes in Colorado and Washington.
"I don't think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said to Buzzfeed. “I think there's certain inevitability about it."
Northsight Capital, Inc. on Thursday announced the launch of what it called "the first marijuana strain rating website," www.RateMyStrain.com. The site offers a free service where anyone can discreetly search, rate, review, discuss, and learn about the medical or recreational effects of more than 750 marijuana strains.
RateMyStrain.com also allows users and dispensaries to post their own new strains on the site for others to see and review.
Legalized marijuana industries (medical and recreational) are so new and rapidly expanding that people are often unfamiliar and uninformed of all the effects that come from using different marijuana strains, whether for recreational or medical purposes.
RateMyStrain.com says it provides users with one of the largest online libraries of marijuana strains that will allow them to search for strains based on: strain type (indica, sativa, hybrid), strain name, effects, rank, medical or recreational usages, and more.
Another feature on RateMyStrain.com is the “Suggest a Strain” option, which allows users to suggest a marijuana strain to be added to RateMyStrain.com’s library of marijuana strains. This feature is vital in the swiftly developing marijuana industries where dispensaries are constantly growing their own exclusive, one-of-a-kind marijuana strains.
RateMyStrain.com is a sister site to www.WeedDepot.com. Cannabis industry businesses will be able to cross-advertise on both sites.
By Steve Elliott
Maine voters could be looking at not one but two marijuana legalization measures on the 2016 ballot, if two competing groups are both successful at qualifying for the ballot.
Legalize Maine, based in the northeastern part of the state, on Wednesday announced a plan to have its own measure on the ballot, joining the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has already announced its referendum, reports Sarah Delage atr WCSH.
Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine said the group is focused on jobs. According to McCarrier, marijuana legalization would bring economic development to rural areas.
McCarrier said his group is moving forward with its own legalization plan after talking with people in other states who have worked with the Marijuana Policy Project.
"We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP or the Washington D.C. policy," McCarrier said. "These will be competing measures and we will win."
MPP, based in the District of Columbia, plans to put a similar question on the 2016 ballot. The group put the question to voters in Portland and South Portland, where it was approved, and in Lewiston, where voters rejected it.
"Ideally it makes sense to have one initiative," said David Boyer of MPP. "But if we can't see eye to eye then we will move forward and we hope voters choose the plan that will make marijuana legal and stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol."
Oregon marijuana legalization activists involved in the successful campaign for Measure 91, which legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older in the state, on Thursday sent an open letter to district attorneys statrewide.
Open Letter to Oregon District Attorneys
Criminal justice advocates and leaders call upon you to start now on implementing important drug policy reforms.
Although Oregon voters passed Measure 91 with a 12-point margin, implementation of this better, smarter approach to marijuana policy will not be complete until the first half of 2016. We don't have to wait until then to start to mitigate the damage done by decades of criminalization, wasted law enforcement time and squandered taxpayer money.
Prosecutors in Oregon's largest county have already decided to dismiss, and stop prosecuting, marijuana-related offenses that would no longer exist under Measure 91. Other county prosecutors should follow Multnomah County's lead.
A strong majority of Oregon voters have directed the state to stop treating marijuana as a crime and to better prioritize our limited law enforcement resources. With so many lives and so much money at stake, waiting would be unreasonable and clearly damaging to Oregon's communities. We should work quickly to limit the damage already caused by a feckless war against marijuana.
We urge you to cease enforcement of marijuana laws that will no longer exist when provisions of Measure 91 take effect in July.
Anthony Johnson, Director, New Approach Oregon, Chief Petitioner of Measure 91
Next Generation Management Corporation on Tuesday announced its wholly owned subsidiary, NextGen Holdings, LLC, has entered the rapidly growing cannabis infused edibles market by signing an agreement with Merry Jan's Edibles, an Oregon based bakery. Both parties have agreed to terms; final partnership agreement is being drafted.
Merry Jan's has more than 30 years baking experience and is currently supplying a small number of existing marijuana dispensaries with a variety of gourmet cookies, brownies and other baked goods and confections. Merry Jan's THC-infused cannabutter is made in-house.
"Now that Measure 91 has passed, legalizing marijuana in Oregon, we will continue to expand operations by strategic partnerships," said Darryl Reed, CEO of NextGen. "Our role in the newly formed partnership will be to assist in the expansion of the brand by hiring sales staff, increase awareness through social media and other forms of mass marketing.
"Merry Jan's is currently working on rolling out a Holiday platter that will include cannabis infused cookies, pecan pie bars, raspberry white chocolate bars and chocolate mint brownies," Reed said.
"NextGen also continues to look for a location in the Portland, Oregon, area to open a licensed dispensary," Reed said.
Next Generation Management Corporation's wholly-owned subsidiary, NextGen Holdings, LLC, was formed to hold its Oregon cannabis assets.
By Steve Elliott
In yet another sign of the epochal changes in public perception towards marijuana, the mainstream Garden Media Group, headquartered in Pennsylvania, has identified "Smoke Your Garden" as the next big garden industry shift.
"With an increasing number of states decriminalizing marijuana, more people will begin growing their own and need seeds, plants and products," Samantha Arcieri of the Garden Media Group told Hemp News on Wednesday. "We’ve concluded that all products associated with the cultivation and growing of marijuana could be the next big ticket items for independent garden centers across the county."
"Garden Centers can capitalize on new laws by carrying products that help people cultivate these plants and can become leaders in the industry," the 2015 Garden Trends Report reads.
"New business opportunities range from tech companies that track seed-to-sale operations to real estate agents who find space for growers," according to the report. "Garden centers can capitalize on new laws by carrying grow lights and hydroponic supplies, plant nutrients and additives, potting soils and growing media, eco-renewable mulch, and eventually cannabis seeds and new cultivars."
"The legal marijuana market is growing at a rate poised to overtake even that of global smartphones!" according to the report.
Matt Gray, CEO of The Stoner's Cookbook, discussed the history of the website and the launch of its new crowd-funded recipe book for cannabis cooking in his recent interview with Ganjapreneur
Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to cannabis business news and culture, has published an interview with Matt Gray, CEO of The Stoner's Cookbook, a resource for marijuana culinary enthusiasts to find and share infused recipes. In the interview, Gray discussed how he became involved in the project more than a year ago.
"I was the co-founder and CEO of a successful education startup in Toronto called Bitmaker Labs," Gray said. "We trained full-stack software developers and got them jobs at top tech companies across North America.
"After exiting that business I was eager to get into the cannabis industry," Gray said. "I saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime. I met the founders of The Stoner’s Cookbook through a mutual friend and I knew I could help them turn their passion into a high-growth business."
The Stoner's Cookbook currently has over 2.8 million followers on Facebook and boasts millions of website impressions each day. The types of recipes shared, Gray said, vary dramatically.
By Steve Elliott
This may be the golden age of marijuana in Colorado, and things are about to change.
Supply-and-demand is ever-so-slowly leading to lower prices on the recreational front, and legislative changes are in the offing that could make it more difficult for doctors to authorize medicinal cannabis for severe pain, reports Jeremy P. Mayer at The Denver Post. Voters could be asked to add a special tax onto medical marijuana, and there's even been some reckless talk about discontinuing medicinal cannabis altogether, lumping all cannabis sales into the recreational market.
"It is fluid," said Samn Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. "Everyone knew this was going to happen.
"This is the first-of-its-kind regulation," Kamin said. "We knew we weren't going to get everything right the first time."
Medical marijuana caregivers in Colorado may grow up to six plants for up to five patients, for a total of 30 plants, but some get a waiver to grow more. As of May, the state had about 5,000 registered caregivers.
A bill will be introduced in the Colorado Legislature next session to reduce the number of plants that caregivers can grow for their patients, and require the caregivers to go through a much more stringent approval process with state health officials.
By Steve Elliott
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has endorsed the legalization of marijuana, making her one of the first high-ranking officials in the Big Apple to take such a position.
"Yes, I do support the legalization of marijuana," Mark-Viverito said at an unrelated news conference on Thursday, reports Mara Gay at The Wall Street Journal. "I think based on conversations that we're seeing nationally, the way people feel about it, I think that it's just something that is appropriate at this time."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced a new policy under which those stopped for low-level marijuana possession will be given tickets instead of being arrested. That change is a "step forward," Mark-Viverito said.
She added that she's concerned that the mayor's new policy doesn't do enough to improve the "initial interaction" between police and New York City residents. She said she supported the outright legalization of cannabis, and said she had used it herself.
"If you're asking whether I have smoked marijuana, yes," Mark-Viverito said.
Mayor de Blasio said on Monday that issuing court summons instead of arresting people for low-level marijuana possession is "good for New Yorkers of color and particularly young people of color."
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and other Members of Congress whose states have legalized or relaxed restrictions on marijuana and who support the District of Columbia’s right to legalize marijuana will host a press conference on how Congress should respond to local and state marijuana legalization nationwide, Thursday November 13, at 11 a.m. on Capitol Hill, Studio B, House Press Gallery.
The other hosts are Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Norton welcomed their support, all of whom have issues with the treatment of their states’ marijuana laws by Congress, but whose jurisdictions do not face the possibility of Congressional meddling like the District.
“I am pleased to stand with my colleagues in a bipartisan response to threats we are already receiving to overturn the will of District of Columbia voters,” Norton said. “Recent polling shows that 54 percent of people nationwide support marijuana legalization.
"The D.C. marijuana legalization ballot initiative, approved by two-thirds of voters, is in line with the majority of Americans," Norton said. "Even when opinions differ on the underlying issue of marijuana legalization, there is no debate that local laws in this country are for local jurisdictions.”
Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) member and former State Senator Chris Marr will leave the regulatory panel in January 2015, the former Spokane auto dealer has announced.
In a prepared statement to Governor Jay Inslee, fellow board members and Board Executive Director Rick Garza, Marr thanked them all for their hard work over the last two years during which Washington undertook the implementation of I-502, the legalization of recreational use of cannabis, reports Jim Boldt at Cannabis Wire.
Marr said he will pursue a career in lobbying. He leaves the Board at probably its second most important juncture, the real possibility of legislative action to mend the medical marijuana (MMJ) law and blend it with the state’s new recreational use law.
In addition to Marr’s leaving, LCB chair Sharon Foster’s term on the Board is up in January and rumors are she will not ask for reappointment. This would leave the Board with an institutional knowledge shortage, according to Cannabis Wire, and only one remaining member, Ruthann Kurose, who worked through the problematic implementation of the recreational use law, I-502.
Those involved in cannabis policy in Washington mention former state Rep. Lynn Kessler and former state Senator Tracey Eide as possible candidates for either or both slots.
Marr's statement is below:
By Steve Elliott
In the wake of the approval of marijuana legalization initiative Measure 91 in Oregon, the Multnomah County District Attorney's office announced it will dismiss low-level marijuana cases.
"Because it is clear that a significant majority of voters in Multnomah County support the legalization of marijuana in certain amounts, this office will dismiss the pending charges related to conduct which will otherwise become legal July 1, 2015," announced the office in a prepared statement, reports Kyle Iboshi at KGW.
Measure 91 allows anyone 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in a public place, and up to eight ounces at home.
A total of 50 pending marijuana cases will be dismissed, according to the Multnomah County D.A.'s office.
"This office does not plan to prosecute future charges for conduct related to marijuana possession and delivery of marijuana which will become lawful under Measure 91 absent exceptional circumstances," the written statement reads.
Prosecutors in other Oregon counties are considering taking similar action.