Amendment 64

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Colorado: Brookings Institution Says State Is Successfully Regulating Marijuana

Brookings

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.

“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

“This report reflects what is actually happening on the ground here in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado initiative campaign. "The state is proving that regulating marijuana works. It explains why the new law is experiencing just as much public support now as it did when voters approved it in 2012.

Colorado: Lawsuit Claims Marijuana Taxes Violate 5th Amendment

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A lawsuit was filed on Monday in Denver District Court by activist attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr., seeking to permanently end Colorado's marijuana taxes on the grounds that paying them violates a citizen's Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination -- since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Corry goes beyond that, accusing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of violating the federal "Kingpin" statute (the federal law against operating "continual criminal enterprises") for collecting taxes on a federally illegal substance, reports Denver Direct.

The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed licensed medical and recreational marijuana store, as well as the "No Over Taxation" issue committee, which worked against Proposition AA, a marijuana tax issue approved by Colorado voters last year. Also signing onto the complaint were Kathleen Chippi, Larisa Bolivar, Miguel Lopez and William Chengelis.

Corry is seeking a refund of all marijuana tax monies collected by Colorado, as well as unspecified damages.

In the event that the suit is successful, it could be the basis for overturning all regulations regarding marijuana in Colorado, on the same grounds. As long as marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, states can't require people to give any information about themselves in order to buy or distribute it, Corry claims.

Colorado: Hershey Sues Company Over Lookalike Marijuana Candies

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Hershey Company is suing a Colorado company which makes marijuana edibles, claiming the packaging of TinctureBell's products is so similar to those made by the Pennsylvania-based chocolate and candy company that consumers can't tell the difference.

The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver, claims the Ganja Joy bars made by TinctureBell look too much like Almond Joy bars made by Hershey, reports Daniel Wallis at MSN.

Besides the alleged trademark infringement, Hershey's lawsuit claims TinctureBelle "also creates a genuine safety risk with regard to customers, including children, who may not distinguish between Hershey's candy products and defendants' cannabis" and might eat the cannabis-infused candies by mistake.

Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults, back in 2012.

Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper tightened the rules on edibles and concentrates, as media hype increased around sensationalistic press accounts such as Maureen Dowd's ill-advised consumption of an entire 16-dose candy bar. (Dowd was fine, other than the horribly misleading column she wrote about it.)

Colorado: Symphony Invites Supporters To Bring Their Own Weed

ClassicalCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Smart move, Colorado Symphony! The struggling musical unit decided the new era of legal marijuana could increase support for the arts. At a Friday fundraiser, the first of three such planned events, people were free to bring their own weed, and to smoke it.

The symphony is billing the events as "Classically Cannabis," but the buzz was almost killed by Denver city officials before the first one could be held. The city send a letter urging the symphony to cancel, claiming that selling tickets to anyone was allowing people to smoke marijuana in public, which is still against the law, even under Amendment 64, Colorado's legalization law approved by voters in November 2012.

So the symphony made access to the event by invitation only, and the city grudgingly gave the go-ahead.

At $100 per person and extra donations from marijuana-business patrons, the symphony raised $50,000 Friday night.

"At least people are speaking about the symphony, and it's creating awareness for our orchestra," said Obe Ariss, director of development for Colorado Symphony. "We've heard from people and we absolutely respect and acknowledge everybody's opinions."

"We saw this and it just seemed like a perfect opportunity to support the symphony, to also show that we support it in light of the recent legalization," said attendee Katie Shives, reports CBS This Morning.

Colorado: Marijuana Sales Up; Crime Down

Chillin'(PotLeaf)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When Colorado made history by becoming one of the first two U.S. states to legalize marijuana, opponents claimed this would cause an increase in crime, but as legal sales of cannabis have increased, crime has gone down in the state.

Sales of recreational marijuana reached almost $19 million for the month of March, an increase of almost $5 million from February, reports Joseph Chisarick at Liberty Voice. The first three months of recreational cannabis sales have brought in about $7.3 million in taxes for Colorado; add in the taxes from medical marijuana and the total goes to $12.6 million.

The state also gets fees through the licensing of growers and sellers; that revenue stream has brought in another $903,000 in the first three months of legal sales.

Meanwhile, compared to the same period in 2013, 2014 has seen an overall reduction in both violent and property crimes in Denver since marijuana legalization. Notable reductions were seen in homicide, down by more than 52 percent, and theft from motor vehicles, down by 36 percent.

All forms of violent crime saw a reduction over the same period. Meanwhile, Colorado is seeing job growth; at least 13 different positions have been created by the industry, from marijuana writers to grow-site operators.

Colorado: Symphony Tries To Calm Denver's Concerns Over Classical Cannabis Concerts

JointGivingOffMusicalNotes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Colorado Symphony now says a series of marijuana-friendly classical fundraising concerts will be by invitation only, in an attempt to calm concerns from Denver city officials that audiences were going to break the law by smoking pot in public.

The symphony also said, in a Tuesday statement, that it was taking information about the three events off its website and refunding the money for tickets already purchased, reports 7 News Denver. The events, "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series," had been scheduled to begin later this month at Denver's Space Gallery. The concerts will now be open only to a list of VIP guests, by invitation.

"We provide you with this letter to dissuade you from hosting the event," reads the letter signed by Stacie Louks, director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. "[H]owever, if you go forward, we will exercise any and all options available to the City of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners, event organizers responsible for any violations of law."

"We are also ready to hold individual attendees responsible for any violations of City ordinances or state law prohibiting public consumption of marijuana," the letter states.

Colorado: Under the 'Positive Influence' of a Marijuana Dispensary

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Recreational marijuana has created an influx in tax dollars -- millions of dollars, in fact -- since January, which are being used to benefit Colorado’s public school system. This altruistic notion has carried over to one of Denver’s own recreational and medical dispensaries, Walking Raven.

Walking Raven says it is on a mission to give back to the local community by participating in donation campaigns. For the past four months the dispensary has been collecting goods, including toothbrushes, deodorant, and clothing, which are then donated to the Harm Reduction Action Center (HRAC), according to management.

HRAC is a local organization in Denver that uses harm-reduction principles to reduce the negative consequences of drug use impacting individuals, families and the greater community. The non-profit depends solely on donations from individuals and organizations like Walking Raven.

"We are just like any other business in the area, and we care about the well being of our neighborhoods and the folks living in them," said co-owner and Managing Director Luke Ramirez. "By participating in volunteer groups and supporting donation drives, we hope to make a positive impact on all citizens in our area, regardless if they consume cannabis or not."

Since the first of this year, Walking Raven has already collected more than 200 items, which they will be donating directly to HRAC. More than 60 Walking Raven patrons have already been participating in the donation process, and continue to do so on a daily basis.

Colorado: Army Veteran Wants To Give Away Marijuana To Others Who Have Served

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Vietnam-era Army veteran wants to give away marijuana to others who have served in the military. It's a simple matter, the way Roger Martin sees it.

"True patriots support cannabis for heroes," he said, reports CBS Denver.

Martin, 61, said he's on a mission to help veterans in Colorado -- and by helping them, he means giving them free cannabis. "To help them be in a position where they can lessen the drug use they're taking and hopefully live a more productive life," he said.

He's the executive director of Operation Grow4Vets, a nonprofit that gives away free marijuana and growing supplies to Colorado veterans who are hooked on prescription drugs or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Martin said that years ago, he was hooked on Oxycontin. He said that his life changed when another doctor switched him to cannabis.

His website, www.grow4vets.org, says cannabis is a "safe alternative to deadly drug cocktails." The group only went online for the first time on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning more than 200 veterans had already applied for free marijuana.

Veterans and companies are donating marijuana, edibles, cannabis oil, and grow supplies, according to Martin.

"We owe these veterans," Martin said. "When you enlist in the military they promise to take care of you. A lot of times they don't."

Colorado: Veterans Suffering From PTSD Absurdly Denied Legal Marjuana

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Veterans With PTSD Who Use Legal Marijuana in Colorado Can Lose VA Medical Care and Benefits

Legislation to Add PTSD As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana Rejected By Colorado Legislature

A bill on Monday failed to pass the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee that would have added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of ‘debilitating medical conditions’ that qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation.

This timely bill (HB14-1364) would have addressed a major gap in access to medical marijuana in Colorado for veterans and all those suffering from PTSD. The bill sought to ensure that veterans won’t lose their VA benefits for following their physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana.

On average a veteran commits suicide every hour in the United States -– and medical marijuana has been proven to reduce suicide. But Colorado veterans who use marijuana to manage their symptoms of PTSD risk losing their Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. VA policy permits veterans in compliance with their state medical marijuana law to continue to receive all their benefits and remain eligible for care in the VA medical system.

Washington: 71% of Residents Support Legal Marijuana Stores Opening In Their Neighborhood

AmericasBoomingCANNABUSINESS

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than seven in 10 Washington state residents support a legal marijuana business opening in their neighborhood, according to the results of a new survey, with the level of support in Colorado is almost as high.

The survey of nearly 2,200 consumers from Washington and Colorado revealed what residents of both states think about the legalization of recreational cannabis, according to Avvo, Inc., an online legal Q&A forum.

Seventy-one percent of Washington residents, and 67 percent of Colorado residents, support cannabis businesses opening in their neighborhoods, according to the survey.

Forty-three percent said they plan to make a marijuana purchase in the future, and 70 percent of them believe that bringing cannabis to a dinner party will become as routine as bringing a bottle of wine in the not-too-distant future.

While residents of both legal states are welcoming marijuana businesses, they do have concerns: 43 percent are worried about kids having greater access to marijuana (but they already did, of course, under prohibition, and legal marijuana stores won't sell to them under legalization), and 42 percent are concerned about increased numbers of people driving under the influence of marijuana (but statistics show that traffic fatalities have fallen in medical marijuana states).

Colorado: Appeals Court Approves Retroactive Reversal of Marijuana Convictions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Residents of Colorado who were convicted of marijuana possession before recreational legalization measure Amendment 64 was passed may be eligible to have those convictions overturned, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled.

Under Amendment 64, as of January 1, adults 21 and older are allowed to buy up to an ounce of cannabis. But with more than 9,000 marijuana possession cases being prosecuted each year until then, thousands of state residents are now wondering how legalization impacts their previous convictions, reports RT.com.

A three-judge state appeals court panel on March 13 ruled that part of an earlier decision in a case against a Colorado woman sentenced in 2011 for marijuana possession should be vacated.

If "there has been a significant change in the law," there can be post-conviction relief, the appellate court wrote.

"Amendment 64, by decriminalizing the personal use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, meets the statutory requirement for 'a significant change in the law' and eliminates and thus mitigates the penalties for persons convicted of engaging in such conduct," the judges wrote.

Colorado: Governor's Mansion Gets Draft Beer System; Marijuana Activist Holds Toga Protest

MasonTvertTogaProtestColoradoGovernorsMansion

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado marijuana activist Mason Tvert, unhappy that the Governor's Mansion recently installed a draft beer system, put on his toga Friday afternoon and held a protest "toga party" outside Gov. John Hickenlooper's official residence.

The draft beer system, which was finished just in time for a private beer party at the mansion Friday night, was paid for by private donors, reports Ryan Parker at The Denver Post. The system has three taps that feature rotating Colorado-made beers.

Tvert, wearing a sheet, appeared behind a podium with a "Colorado Governor's Mansion" sign with "Governor's Mansion" crossed out and replaced with "Delta House," a reference to the 1970s fraternity party movie Animal House. He called the new beer system "home-brewed hypocrisy."

Tvert, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he showed up in a toga because Gov. Hickenlooper is "turning the governor's mansion into a fraternity house."

"This is just another example of the pro-alcohol, anti-marijuana culture," said a toga-clad Tvert.

While others attended the protest, Tvert was the only one wearing a toga.

Gov. Hickenlooper co-founded a downtown pub in the late 1980s, and frequently mentions his fondness for Colorado beers.

"He should be ashamed," Tvert said. "It's a hypocritical message."

Gov. Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, took a light-hearted view of the protest.

Colorado: Marijuana Stores Face Privacy Concerns In Handling Customer Info

BudMedPotShopDenver

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With voter-approved Amendment 64, recreational marijuana sales are now legal in Colorado. The law doesn't require stores to keep records on recreational customers, as medical marijuana dispensaries are required to do, but retail stores aren't prohibited from gathering information, either.

Store owners say they're taking a cautious approach, reports Eric Gorski at The Denver Post. Many of the shops are trying to balance customer privacy with their desire to know their customers, including, for instance, which strains of cannabis they enjoy.

"You have to find a healthy balance," said Brooke Gehring, of Bud Med, a chain of recreational and medical marijuana outlets in Colorado. "How do we capture information that is pertinent to the success of our new retail business, versus the privacy of adults who now have this right and are able to shop at our stores?

Customers punch their cellphone numbers or email addresses into tablet computers at the counter at Bud Med stores to receive promotional offers, according to Gehring.

The text of Amendment 64 forbids state officials from requiring customers to provide marijuana stores with any personal information other than a government-issued ID to confirm their age. Video cameras capture recreational marijuana customers; the required footage must be preserved for 40 days and can be inspected by state enforcement agents.

Texas: Sen. Ted Cruz Says Not Enforcing Federal Marijuana Laws 'Dangerous To Liberty'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has once again blasted President Obama for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in states which have legalized cannabis.

Sen. Cruz said he supported an "intelligent conversation" about drug policy in a new interview with the libertarian magazine Reason, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. But Cruz certainly didn't provide any intelligent conversation, himself.

"I will say one thing that's been dismaying about the Obama Administration," Cruz said. "The Obama Administration's approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is going to stop enforcing certain drug laws.

"Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone -- it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome -- because the idea that the President simply says criminal laws that are on the books, we're going to ignore," Cruz said. "That is a very dangerous precedent."

Cruz claimed Obama overstepped his authority by declining to arrest marijuana users and sellers in Colorado and Washington. Only Congress could enact such a policy, he said.

Colorado: Recreational Marijuana Sales Top $5 Million In First Week

ColoradoPotShopJanuary1

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's newly legal recreational marijuana shops made bank in the first week of legal sales.

The 37 new recreational cannabis dispensaries around the state reported first-week retail sales adding up to about $5 million, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post.

Colorado expects retail cannabis sales to reach $600 million a year, from which it expects to collect almost $70 million in taxes. No official sales figures will be available before February 20, when businesses are required to file January tax reports, according to Julie Postlethwait of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.

New Year's Day sales, on the first day the shops were allowed to open, topped $1 million, according to Denver's 9News. Business slowed slightly on subsequent days, according to shop owners, but many stores still had lines of waiting customers.

"Every day that we've been in business since January 1 has been better than my best day of business ever," said Andy Williams, owner of Denver's Medicine Man dispensary.

The larger shops reported selling 50 to 60 pounds of cannabis in the first week. Smaller shops sold 20 to 30 pounds, according to proprietors.

Colorado residents may legally buy up to an ounce of marijuana per transaction. Tourists can buy one-fourth ounce, about 7 grams.

Colorado: Marijuana Not Banned At Colorado Springs Airport

JohnMcGinleyColoradoSpringsAirport

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver International Airport announced that marijuana is banned there, despite its legal status in Colorado, but it's still allowed at the Colorado Springs Airport, according to an official there.

"We talked to TSA about that issue," said John McGinley, assistant aviation director at Colorado Springs Airport, reports Bonnie Silkman at KRDO. "If they find it in someone's possession, they refer it to our law enforcement.

"If our law enforcement says it's within the legal limit, they're going to take no action," McGinley said. "In that case, TSA is not on their own going to throw the marijuana in the trash."

The question had arisen because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

When KRDO asked a TSA spokesperson about the policy, the answer backed up McGinley's assertions.

"TSA's screening procedures are focused on security," the spokesperson said. "If an officer discovers an item that may violate the law, TSA refers the matter to law enforcement. There has been no change to this policy or how it is implemented in the field."

Meanwhile, Denver International Airport officials are sticking to their policy of banning marijuana.

Colorado: Long Lines For Smooth Rollout of Legal Marijuana Sales

LongLineLegalMarijuanaColorado

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At 8 a.m. on January 1, an ex-Marine named Sean Azzariti became the first person in Colorado to legally buy a bag of recreational marijuana under legalization measure Amendment 64, approved by state voters last year.

Azzariti, an Iraq veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had been unable to buy marijuana under Colorado's medicinal cannabis program, because PTSD isn't an authorized condition under the state's MMJ law, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. He bought an eighth ounce (3.5 grams) of Bubba Kush for $40 and some cannabis-infused truffles for $9.287, comprising the very first legal sale under Amendment 64.

"It hasn't even really sunk in fully, but it's a huge honor to say the least," Azzariti said, reports CBS News.

The implementation of Colorado's marijuana legalization law makes it the first U.S. state -- and the first political jurisdiction anywhere on Earth -- to permit recreational marijuana since the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was adopted through the United Nations back in 1961.

Colorado: World's First Modern Legal Adult Marijuana Sales Begin

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The Marijuana Policy Project — the largest financial backer of the Colorado legalization initiative — will support efforts to pass similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol in 13 more states by 2017

About three dozen state-licensed marijuana retail stores in Colorado at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, January 1, began legally selling marijuana to adults 21 years of age and older. The state is the first jurisdiction in the modern world to establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Colorado made marijuana legal for adults in November 2012 when 55 percent of voters approved a statewide ballot initiative known as Amendment 64.

“The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest financial backer of the campaign in support of Amendment 64. “The state is demonstrating to the rest of the nation and the entire world that regulating marijuana works.

“It’s only a matter of time before lawmakers and voters in more states adopt similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol,” Kampia said. “The dominoes are falling.”

Colorado: Denver International Airport First City Facility To Ban 'Legal' Marijuana Possession

FlyingWithMarijuanaPaperAirplane

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver International Airport plans to enforce a marijuana ban in early January, becoming the first city facility to prohibit cannabis possession on its property. Airport officials claim they're trying to combat interstate pot trafficking.

The Denver City Council recently passed ordinances banning the display and transfer, but not the possession, of marijuana on city-owned property including parks, the 16th Street Mall, and streets and sidewalks near schools, report Kristen Leigh Painter and Eric Gorski at The Denver Post.

Ironically, under legalization measure Amendment 64, marijuana will be banned at the airport, when before it was allowed. Back in 2010, Denver Police and the federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) had announced that medical marijuana patients traveling to one of five states (Maine, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island and Arizona) from DIA could pack their cannabis openly. Those five states recognize out-of-state medical cannabis authorizations.

"We talked to all of (the federal agencies involved), and they've expressed concern for good reason, but it was our decision based on the way the airport operates," claimed DIA spokeswoman Stacey Stegman. "We didn't want to impact other airports and other agencies, and we didn't want to facilitate transporting marijuana across state lines."

Colorado: Legal Marijuana Sales Start Wednesday

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Amid Rapid Changes Elsewhere, State Becomes First Government in World to Control and Regulate Marijuana

The eyes of the world will be on Colorado this New Year’s Day as adults 21 and over become eligible to legally buy marijuana for the first time since worldwide cannabis prohibition was instituted by the Single Convention Narcotics Treaty in 1961. Marijuana has been illegal in the United States since 1937.

Sales will be tightly controlled, regulated like alcohol is currently, and subject to a number of restrictions preventing sales to minors, intoxicated driving, smoking in public and other undesirable behavior. The Colorado Legislative Council estimates marijuana will generate $67 million in tax revenue annually.

“This Wednesday Coloradans stop buying marijuana from street gangs and cartels and start buying it from licensed, regulated sellers who create jobs and pay taxes to the government,” said 36-year policing veteran Lieutenant Tony Ryan (Ret.), a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “Soon our jails will be less crowded, our schools will be better funded, and our police more able to focus on violent crime.”

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