Alaska

New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

Alaska: Feds Block Rainforest Farms From Paying Taxes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.

“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.

Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”

Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.

Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.

Colorado: Lawmakers Back Off Plan To Legalize Social Cannabis Clubs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Colorado have backed down from a plan that would have legalized social cannabis clubs after Governor John Hickenlooper expressed disapproval, saying that the move could attract a crackdown from the Trump Administration, according to an Associated Press report.

The proposal was approved last month, after it originated in the Colorado Senate with bipartisan support. House lawmakers ultimately turned down the measure, however.

Gov. Hickenlooper said last month that he would veto any cannabis club measure allowing indoor smoking that came across his desk, saying that “given the uncertainty in Washington … this is not the year to be out there carving off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana.”

There currently are about 30 cannabis clubs operating in Colorado, all private clubs operating under local laws.

The social use measure would have been the first statewide acceptance of social cannabis clubs.

The legislature's retreat demonstrates the uncertainty felt by lawmakers in legalized states about the Trump Administration, who has so far refrained from making a firm statement one way or another about its stance on the marijuana legalization laws that have been passed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington D.C.

Alaska: Marijuana Control Board Delays Decision On Onsite Marijuana Consumption

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board was expected to consider recently whether to move forward with proposed rules allowing marijuana customers to consume their purchases on site, something no other state with legalized recreational has yet allowed. However, discussions about onsite marijuana consumption have been delayed until next month by Alaska marijuana regulators.

Kim Kole, Owner/Founder of Raspberry Roots, has been very active in following the roll out of this policy, and explained that the Board had to delay the discussion and creation of onsite consumption regulations because there were so many potential licenses to be approved on the 2 day agenda.

“Unlike Colorado and Oregon, Alaska is starting this industry from scratch, so we didn’t have any cultivations, manufacturers, or retails established. This, coupled with onerous regulations in the municipality of Anchorage (by far the largest city) is why our roll out has been particularly slow. Demand far exceeds supply, so it’s imperative for the viability of the industry to get as many cultivators up and running before our tourist season starts in a couple of months. The Board did approve an additional meeting in May to address more cultivations and onsite regulations in time for the influx of people this summer.”

Oregon: Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Marijuana Merchants From Keeping Buyer Information

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon lawmakers approved a bill Monday to ban sellers of marijuana for recreational use from keeping information from their customers to protect buyers from possible penalties under federal law.

Although more than two dozen states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

The bill, passed by the Oregon House of Representatives 53-5, bans merchants who sell recreational marijuana from keeping information for more than 48 hours that they collect from identification, such as a driver license.

The state Senate approved the bill in March. It now goes to the desk of Oregon Governor Kate Brown for her to sign into law.

"I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure that their personal identification information is not somehow compromised," Senator Floyd Prozanski told a committee last month.

Recent comments from members of the Trump administration indicate that federal anti-marijuana laws might be stepped up.

Brown and the governors of Alaska, Colorado and Washington - states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized - sent a letter in early April to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requesting to work with the administration if they planned to enforce federal marijuana laws.

U.S: Governors From Four Marijuana States Ask Trump Administration To Leave Cannabis Alone

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governors from the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana want the Trump administration to leave marijuana research alone.

In a letter sent Monday, the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington say that marijuana legalization has expanded their economies.

The governors also say in the letter that legal marijuana can be regulated to protect public safety and that legalization reduces "inequitable incarceration," or people of color being disproportionately jailed for cannabis crimes.

The letter was addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The governors say they opposed legalization at first, but warn that a federal pot crackdown at this point "would divert existing marijuana product into the black market."

Massachusetts: State Expects To Make $300M From Marijuana Sales Tax By 2020

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts in July 2018, but the state expects to collect as much as $172 million each year just from sales taxes.

The number was calculated by the Department of Revenue, which assumes marijuana will be taxed at a rate of 12 percent. A 3.75 percent excise tax is expected to be added to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax, and another 2 percent cities and towns can impose if they host a cannabis shop.

If the 12% total remains, Massachusetts would have the lowest marijuana tax rate of any state that has legalized recreational marijuana, except for Maine, where the tax rate is 10%.

Washington has the highest tax at 37%. Colorado has a 29% tax on marijuana, followed by Alaska at 25% and Oregon at 17 percent. Oregon municipalities can enact an additional tax of up to 3 percent with the approval of voters.
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U.S.: New Report Shows Marijuana Could Be Legal In All 50 States By 2021

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new report suggests that every state in the nation could have legal marijuana for medical or recreational use by 2021.

The latest research by GreenWave Advisors shows the marijuana legalization movement is expected to expand into a significant number of states in the next few years. There is already momentum to get marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballots in 2018 and 2020, which could lead to marijuana being legal in some form in all 50 states, the Motley Fool reports.

Last year should be noted as one of the biggest ever in the history of marijuana law reform with voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voting to legalize recreational cannabis. These states joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana and running a regulated and taxed cannabis trade.

Connecticut: Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut lawmakers debated Tuesday on recreational marijuana legalization, and found only disagreement.

“It is time to consider legalizing marijuana for adults,” said State Rep Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, and sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational use during testimony before the General Assembly public health committee.

“I realize this is a difficult issue for many,” Ziobron said. “But legal marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana has never caused a fatal overdose in the 7,000 years of reported human use.”

Carolyn Dennis of Milford told the committee she opposes legalizing marijuana, especially under the guise of raising revenue.

"Do not threaten our state’s future by endangering the future welfare of our citizens’ health for a dollar,” Dennis said. “I expect that unlike the supporters of this proposed bill, you will not let budget woes take a front seat over the health of the residents and workers, children and adults in the state.”

Massachusetts and Maine voters last year authorized recreational use and the sale of weed is expected to begin next year. Weed is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Nevada and Oregon.

U.S.: New Poll Shows Americans Want Feds To Respect State Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday morning, a vast majority of U.S. citizens believe in legalizing marijuana, and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws.

Ninety-three percent of Americans surveyed in the poll support legal medical marijuana, and 59 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The nationwide survey included 1,323 voters. The results reflected trends similar to those indicated in national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October.

Alaska: First Retail Cannabis Outlet In Anchorage To Open This Month

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaskans voted to legalize marijuana more than two years ago, allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of pot, cultivate up to six plants, and to open retail cannabis stores. This month Anchorage will finally see its first cannabis retail outlet open its doors.

Alaska Fireweed’s General Manager William Ingram has announced that they are the first to pass their final inspection and plan to open the store on December 17 at "high noon"

“I couldn’t be more excited to finally open our doors; it’s been a grueling process”, Ingram said. He said it’s taken over 8 months of inspections to get to this point. “I think people expected things to be further along by now, but we’re glad to be where we are”, he says.

Ingram said the clinic will offer nine strains of marijuana on opening day, each grown by licensed cultivator Greatland Ganja. Dried bud, pre-rolled joints, and some devices such as pipes and bongs will be available for purchase.Ingram said customers should expect "a long line", and should remember to bring cash, as it will be the only form of payment they can accept.

Maine: Final Results Are In, Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Final results of Maine's referendum to legalize recreational marijuana were tabulated Thursday, declaring recreational marijuana legal in the state. The count took nearly two days because of how close the race was, with victory coming within a fraction of a percentage point.

Supporters had already claimed victory and predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas.

The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it," said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

People 21 or older will now be allowed to possess and use up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities.

The campaign that pushed for legalization turned immediately toward the implementation process on Thursday. They said they hope marijuana will be available in retail establishments by 2018.

"We're excited that Maine is going to join many other states that have decided to have a smarter marijuana policy — a policy that no longer punishes adults for smoking marijuana," said David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes On 1.

U.S.: Legal Marijuana Hasn't Caused Any Of The Problems Opponents Said It Would

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of the measures to legalize marijuana in 2012 in Washington and Colorado said that doing so would wreak havoc on society, and that children would end up using the drug and high drivers would terrorize the roadways. They said the fiscal benefits associated with taxed and regulated marijuana wouldn’t be worthwhile.

According to a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that lobbies for progressive reform of drug laws, those dire predictions have not come true. In fact, legalization has had a negligible effect on rates of youth marijuana use and traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington, and in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., which have all since approved marijuana for recreational use. In addition, marijuana arrests have plummeted and total revenue from legal weed has surged past $500 million.

“This report shows that a lot of those fears don’t come to fruition in the case of legalization,” said Joy Haviland, staff attorney at DPA. “It’s clear that prohibition has not worked, so states need a new solution going forward.”

Th report finds that marijuana legalization has made no discernible mark on traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado, and total arrests for driving while impaired have declined in both of those states.

U.S.: Pro-marijuana Campaigners Launch TV Ads Ahead Of November Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maine and Massachusetts launched their first television ads today, hoping to boost public awareness and support ahead of November votes on the issue.

Voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this Election Day, following the lead of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department officer and current professor of criminal justice at Merrimack College, promoting legalization as a way to better regulate marijuana use.

"Question 4 requires strict product labeling and child-proof packaging and bans consumption by kids," Nolan says in the 30-second spot, citing the question's position on the Nov. 8 ballot, the start of a $650,000 ad campaign.

The Maine ad also features an ex-law enforcement official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion. He argues that legalizing the use of the drug by adults would free up police resources to investigate violent crimes. The Maine group has budgeted $1 million for its ad spending.

The campaigns launch a week after the group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona launched its first blast of TV ads. Voters in California and Nevada will also face ballot questions on the issue this year.

Alaska: Army Says Troops Are Banned From Attending Marijuana Fairs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Army stated Thursday that soldiers in Alaska are officially banned from attending marijuana fairs, even though pot is now legal in the state.

The ban applies to fairs and conventions and goes so far as to include hemp products, the Associated Press reported.

According to a letter from Army Maj. Bryan Owens, the reason that 11,000 Alaska-based soldiers are banned from these sorts of events is because the events may negatively affect the health and discipline of troops. Authorities say the letter is necessary since the military expects cannabis-related events to increase in the state, since the drug has been legalized there for recreational purposes. In addition, some suppliers have started offering marijuana discounts to troops.

Moreover, marijuana itself is still banned in the military, as it remains a Schedule I drug on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act.

As of today, 25 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legal marijuana.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Therefore Alaska, being one of those four states, allows adults over 21 to purchase up to an ounce of pot and to grow up to six plants.

California: New Poll Shows Majority Favor Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday shows a majority of Californians support a state measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

The poll reports that 58 percent of the state's voters favor the legalization measure and that the support spanned "most lines of age, race, income, and gender."

The measure is doing best among younger voters: 67 percent of those 18 to 24 years of age said they would vote for Proposition 64. About 50 percent of voters 65 years and older support the measure.

In 2010, the last time California voted for pot legalization, nearly 54 percent of voters opposed the measure.

The LA Times reported :

"Some of the change appears to have come from the ability of Californians to watch what has happened in other states that legalized recreational pot use: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska," said Jon Cohen, an executive for SurveyMonkey, the firm that conducted the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

"Some of the calamitous predictions of legalization opponents haven't come to pass" in other states, Cohen said.

Alaska: Officials To Issue Cannabis Licenses This Week, Retail Outlets To Open By End Of Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost two years after Alaskan voters approved legalizing marijuana's recreational use for adults, the state's Marijuana Control Board has announced it will begin issuing cannabis business licenses this week allowing cannabis retail stores to open.

The Board expects most of the retail outlets to be open by the end of the year. Since licenses for cultivation facilities and testing sites were issued in June, seeing the stores open by year-end should be easy.

The stores will be able to legally sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years of age. The Board also plans to discuss this week whether it will allow on-site consumption at these stores, something that's currently not allowed.

Question 2, which was approved by voters in 2014 with 53% of the vote, is what made all these changes possible. Because of Question 2, anyone over 21 in Alaska can legally possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana, and can cultivate up to six plants.

Alaska: Credit Union Closes Accounts Connected To Marijuana Businesses

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has restricted 10 accounts of people applying for state licenses for marijuana businesses, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Recreational marijuana was made legal in 2014 in Alaska, winning a ballot initiative to legalize.

The state is currently creating regulations for those who want to legally grow, sell, and test marijuana.

In July, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union told marijuana license applicants to close their accounts by August 19.

A letter sent to customers said that the credit union, being federally chartered, does not offer accounts to anyone in a marijuana-related business or any other business that violates federal law.

In 2014 the US Department of Justice said financial institutions are subject to prosecution for conducting financial relations with marijuana-related conduct.

US: Five States Officially Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan certified a marijuana legalization initiative for November's ballot, meaning this year's election will see five states voting on the issue.

Four states have already legalized marijuana through voter's ballots, Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana in 2014, but not commercial sales.

Those states have a combined population of about 17 million people. Legalization in the most populous state, California, alone would more than double that figure, and winning in all five states would triple it.

On November 9 we could see almost a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization if all five states were to pass it. The five states are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. California seems most likely to win, based on current information. The possibility of legalization in Maine and Nevada is looking good as well. It will be a tougher sell in Massachusetts, with Arizona looking like the state with the biggest hurdle to jump for pot legalization.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

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