By Steve Elliott
Michigan state Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) on Wednesday said he supports legalizing and taxing marijuana, and using the proceeds for state road repairs and other funding issues.
Dillon said legalization will not only benefit the state by bringing in more funds, but will also give law enforcement more time to concentrate their efforts on violence and property crime, reports Fox 17 News.
In states like Colorado, where cannabis is already legalized, violent crime has fallen 6.9 percent, according to Dillon. He also pointed to several cities across Michigan, including his hometown of Grand Rapids, which have recently voted to decriminalize pot.
"We know that attitudes are quickly changing," Dillon wrote in a May 19 guest editorial on MLive.com. "Recent surveys show that more than half of Michigan residents are in favor of legalizing, regulating and taxing the adult use of marijuana."
While legalization won't be a panacea for all of Michigan's challenges, "However, taking marijuana off the black market will generate much needed revenue, allow us to redeploy law enforcement resources to focus on violent and property crime, and ease the tax burden on the middle class," Dillon wrote.
"Our current marijuana laws are broken," Dillon wrote. "It is time to fix them."
A cannabis documentary called Pot (the movie) recently had its world premiere at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. The film is unlike any other on the subject, covering the most common misconceptions and under communicated aspects of marijuana. While the medical side is slowly becoming better understood, the movie also brings to light the public health aspect of the recreational side, presenting cannabis as safer than alcohol.
Michael Hope is an artist, musician and the independent filmmaker behind Pot (the movie). He is on a grassroots mission to educate the public and inspire change when it comes to the perception and legislation of cannabis.
“For the last 90 years or so, there has been a huge misinformation campaign against marijuana,” said Hope. “There are people struggling with disease and disabilities who could benefit from legislative changes related to cannabis use.”
Hope’s goal is to deliver widespread viewing of his movie, which advocates for pragmatic laws for recreational and medicinal use while introducing people to some of the exciting science about cannabis in a digestible and entertaining way. Through a crowdfunding campaign themed “Hope for Liberty and Justice,” he plans to raise $150,000 to help promote the film and make it as accessible as possible with a town-hall style tour offering low or no-cost screenings.
“I firmly believe that once people are informed and understand the benefits, they will stand up and support this movement,” said Hope. “People will care if we educate them.”
Baker, an order-ahead and loyalty platform for the burgeoning Colorado marijuana industry, has launched publicly. During a successful three-month beta run, dispensaries saw thousands of dollars of orders coming through the Baker app, which allows customers to reserve up to an ounce of their favorite cannabis strain and skip the line.
Dispensaries can easily list their menus, manage inventory, post real time specials and manage loyalty programs on the app, according to the company. Customers order ahead, browse member-only specials and earn loyalty rewards at their favorite dispensaries, and have their order waiting when they arrive.
With more than 400 licensed recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales in Colorado, Baker fills a pressing need for the kind of reservation and loyalty tools which have revolutionized other industries, according to CEO Joel Milton.
The app, which is launching in Colorado with 20 dispensaries, is rapidly adding locations within Denver and in the coming months will expand to other cities with legal marijuana nationwide, according to Milton.
“We currently have a waiting list (well over 1,000+ people and 20+ dispensaries) so that each new user and dispensary has the best possible experience when they first use Baker,” Milton said.
He noted that demand at dispensaries has grown so fast, that many locations often have lines out the door, with the regular customers who know what they want waiting alongside tourists who want to linger and ask a lot of questions.
Four Western Washington recreational retail marijuana businesses this month failed compliance checks conducted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).
Officers, working with underage investigative aides, checked 22 businesses for sales of marijuana to minors. The first checks represent an 82 percent no-sales-to-minors compliance rate.
The four businesses will be cited for selling marijuana to minors. The individuals who sold the marijuana will be referred to their respective prosecuting attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution.
The WSLCB and local authorities regularly conduct compliance checks of area businesses licensed to sell alcohol. The checks, conducted May 15-18 in Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce and Cowlitz Counties, were the first marijuana compliance checks.
The checks followed a recent communication to all licensees that enforcement officers were beginning compliance checks and recommended best practices for avoiding an illegal sale.
Compliance checks are proven tools to reduce the sale of age-restricted products to minors, according to the WSLCB. Investigative aides assist officers with compliance checks. These individuals are from 18 to 20 years old. They must either present their true identification or none at all if asked by a clerk.
Liquor enforcement officers are empowered to issue Administrative Violation Notices to businesses that fail compliance checks. Fines or temporary license suspensions can be issued depending on the severity of the infraction or the frequency with which a business has been cited.
By Steve Elliott
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday hinted at support for marijuana legalization, saying police didn't focus on arresting people for pot when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, indicated an openness to legalization during an online question and answer session on Reddit.com.
"I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana [when I was mayor]," Sanders said. "Our police had more important things to do."
Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He said he supports decriminalizing cannabis in Vermont, and is watching the situation in Colorado "very closely."
"Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I'm going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," Sanders said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months."
Sanders, who announced in April that he's running for President, has acknowledged using marijuana when he was younger, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He has been an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, telling Time magazine in 2014 that he had "real concerns" about American drug policy.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.
The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.
According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"
Logistics Trust, Inc. has launched a subsidiary named Doobster, a mobile application and platform that allows a consumer of legal marijuana to order products from their smartphones, tablets or computer and have the products delivered to their physical location. The company said it is launching in 15 states.
Started as a logistics and compliance consulting company in January 2013 by Scott Abadjian, founder and CEO, Logistics Trust said it now plans to provide consumers with a user-friendly, on-demand mobile (SaaS) platform.
"Consumers can register and order products quickly and with confidence," the company announced in a press release. "Products are delivered to a consumer’s location within minutes by using smart algorithms, advanced routing, heat maps, GPS, location services and other techniques."
“Doobster is not Uber for marijuana; we are more than a marijuana delivery app,” Abadjian said. "The Company intends to make the term 'doobster' synonymous with quality logistics and compliance facilitation services within the legal marijuana industry.
"Another objective of the Company is to create long-term value for its customers and business partners through the quality of its technology and services, its ability to facilitate compliance with applicable state and local laws, and its active commitment to helping customers and business partners build wealth," Abadjian said.
Doobster Platform users will include the following parties:
• State-authorized Cooperatives/Collectives/Dispensaries (“vendors”; “dispensaries”);
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana-infused coffee has been around awhile, but now you can get cannabis-infused Keurig-style coffee pods.
Seattle recreational marijuana store Uncle Ike's Pot Shop has started selling "Catapult" K-Cup style coffees infused with cannabis, reports Meredith Engel at the New York Daily News.
The pods, made by Fairwinds Manufacturing, work in single-serving coffeemakers and include 10 milligrams of THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That's not a big dose, but it's the maximum allowed by Washington state in recreational cannabis edibles.
The pods cost $10 each, and that's a bargain, according to Uncle Ike's sales manager Jennifer Lanzador. "People might scoff at the price, but when you think of Starbucks (charging) $4, $5 a cup anyway, and you get the nice kick of THC, it's really not an expensive price at all," she said.
"It's delicious," Lanzador said. "Sometimes with edibles you'll get that real pot flavor, (but) I did not notice much of a pot taste."
With both energy-boosting and calming effects, it reminded her of a Red Bull/vodka cocktail, Lanzador said. "I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis," she said, reports Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist.
A new Harris Poll finds that the growing acceptability of marijuana among state lawmakers reflects attitudinal shifts amongst the general American public since 2011. Support for the legalization of marijuana for both medical treatment and recreational use has increased by seven percentage points over the past four years.
Currently, four in five adults (81 percent) favor legalizing marijuana for medical use, up from 2011 when three quarters of Americans (74 percent) indicated the same. Meanwhile, according to Harris, half of Americans are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (49 percent), up from the two fifths (42 percent) who felt that way in 2011.
• Nearly nine in ten Democrats and Independents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical treatment (87 percent & 86 percent, respectively) and over half support recreational use (58 percent & 55 percent, respectively)
• While a majority - albeit a slimmer one - of Republicans also support the legalization medical marijuana (69 percent support, 23 percent oppose), a similar majority opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use (27 percent support, 65 percent oppose).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,221 U.S. adults surveyed online between February 11 and 17, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.
Federal law or each state for itself?
The Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-1 that would end marijuana prohibition in the state.
HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.
Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013.
Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.
“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State," said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.
“State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action," Fazio said. "Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound marijuana policy.”
Human Rights Should Take Priority Over Drug Enforcement, New Letter Says
As the United Nations prepares for the first comprehensive review of global responses to drug problems in nearly two decades, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations is pushing for the international body to respect countries that move away from prohibition.
"Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups write in a new letter being released on Tuesday.
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are among the signatories. Also notable are a number of organizations devoted to health policy and AIDS services.
The letter's release is timed to a United Nations "High-Level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem" taking place in New York on Thursday, May 7, in preparation for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) scheduled for April 2016. Advocates believe that countries should take the UNGASS as an opportunity to pursue a range of reforms to global drug policy, including revising provisions of the UN Drug Conventions that threaten to stand in the way of reform.
Regulate Rhode Island on Tuesday unveiled a billboard in Providence that informs state officials — who are considering investing tax dollars in building a new stadium in the city — of another way to attract new businesses, good jobs, and young professionals to Rhode Island: regulating and taxing marijuana.
The ad campaign was launched at 11 a.m. ET with a news conference in front of the billboard. Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat was joined at the event by Paul DeFruscio, CEO of Jennifer Rose Associates LLC, a company that specializes in packaging marijuana-infused products, and Marc Shepard, co-founder of New England Cannabis Conventions.
The “Field of Dreams”-themed ad features stadium lights shining on two young professionals standing among a small field of marijuana plants, and it reads, “If we build it, they will come… It’s time to establish a regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island.”
“State lawmakers have repeatedly said that rebuilding our economy is their biggest priority,” Moffat said. “It’s time for Rhode Island to invest in a more sensible marijuana policy. Establishing a regulated marijuana market for adults would attract entrepreneurs, create jobs, and raise revenue.
“Regulating and taxing marijuana would be a home run for Rhode Island,” Moffat said.
Legislators are currently considering S 510/H 5777, the “Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act,” which would end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
Cannabis business portal, Ganjapreneur.com, recently released a new version of their mobile app which includes several new features geared toward marijuana industry professionals
For entrepreneurs and investors who are keeping tabs on the nascent cannabis industry, staying informed about the state of the legalization movement is extremely important. To serve this need, Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to cannabis business news and culture, has recently upgraded their mobile app for Android and Apple devices with several new features and news categories.
The app originally launched in fall 2014, only a few months after the site itself announced its presence on Ganjapreneur.com. Built as a news reader which also contains business listings, job openings, and interviews with prominent business owners and cannabis experts, the Ganjapreneur app's user base grew quickly and, according to the company, it gains an increasing number of users on a daily business.
"In such a volatile market, if you're an investor -- or thinking of investing -- staying informed is critical," said Noel Abbott, Ganjapreneur's CTO. "Our app aggregates relevant news articles and editorials from around the web, and new content is posted throughout the day."
By Steve Elliott
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, once a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, has changed his tune. Maybe it was the stacks of cash.
The Democratic governor told Fox Business Network that cannabis is "not as vexing" as he thought it would be. Hickenlooper partly tied Colorado's strong fiscal health to the popularity of, and economic opportunities connected to, the legal marijuana industry.
"It's all those young people coming and they look at marijuana and say, 'Hey, we can drink whiskey; why can't we have a legalized system with marijuana?'" he said on FBN.
"If you look back, it has turned out to be not as vexing as some of the people like myself" first thought it would be, Hickenlooper said.
The governor had forcefully spoken out against legalizing pot in the past, and said "Colorado is known for many great things -- marijuana should not be one of them."
But now that he's seen the green light, Hickenlooper said the state has been busy "building a regulatory system, making sure we keep it out of the hands of kids, making sure we keep our streets and roads safe."
Photo of Gov. John Hickenlooper: Daily Camera
By Steve Elliott
According to Paul Stanford, who heads up the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF Clinics, which has authorized more patients in Washington than anybody else), which owns Hemp News, if 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state contributed $1,000 apiece, a voter initiative or referendum could qualify for the ballot, potentially saving medical cannabis in the state.
According to Stanford, who has plenty of experience on the political scene, $500,000 is the minimum amount needed to gather enough signatures to qualify. Will Washington's medical marijuana community step up to the plate?
"It's a matter of survival," Stanford said. "The clock is ticking, and it's time for the leaders of Washington's medical marijuana community to step up and take action. CRRH supports the preservation of safe access for Washington state patients."
"We authorized about 35,000 patients last year in Washington State," Stanford said."History, we've helped about 100,000 patients in Washington State get their cards since 2003, when we started helping patients in Washington. We started in Oregon in 2001, and we had people coming to our clinics there saying 'We need a doctor in Washington.
"We want to uphold our responsibility to the patients of Washington," Stanford said. "We're going to have petitions in our offices for patients. We've pledged $1,000 to the campaign, and we're going to be donating more."