Cannabis

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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Illinois: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Identical legislation was introduced Wednesday to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in Illinois by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and would allow facilities to sell marijuana to adults over 21 years of age and tax those sales "in a manner similar to alcohol."

Steans said the taxes collected from marijuana sales would help solve the state budget recover.

"Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor's $5 billion budget gap," she said.

Steans pointed out that Oregon collected more than $60 million in new tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, and Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, collected more than $140 million in 2016 from legal marijuana sales.

Steans introduced legislation last year to decriminalize possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which is now the law. Illinois began its medical marijuana program in 2013.

U.S.: Jeff Sessions Makes New Controversial Statements About Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make statements that upset marijuana advocates and business investors, but it is remarks he recently didn't say that has mostly interested journalists covering the marijuana industry.

In prepared remarks, Sessions had planned to repeat a line he had used earlier when addressing a group in Virginia, saying that marijuana was only "slightly less awful" than heroin. He chose not to repeat the line, however.

He did question the current situation when it comes to abiding by the Cole memo, as the Obama administration had done.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions replied to a question as to whether his Department of Justice (DOJ) would sue states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

“I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that,” Sessions said, “but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are two main points to take away from Sessions' remarks for marijuana businesses.

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.

Massachusetts: Hearings On Recreational Marijuana Begin In Statehouse

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hearings on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts began today, March 20, in the Statehouse in Boston, where lawmakers are considering changes in the voter-approved legislation legalizing marijuana.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a Democrat, supported legalization, and has said he intends to respect voters' wishes while considering changes, including a significant increase in the proposed 3.75 percent sales tax, decreasing the number of plants citizens are allowed to grow, and increasing the legal age for purchase past 21.

Governor Charlie Baker opposed legalization and signed a bill that will likely delay the opening date of marijuana shops from January to July 2018.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Democrat, also opposed legalization.

The joint House-Senate committee beginning its hearings in the Statehouse today was created by DeLeo and Rosenberg.

According to the Associated Press, members of the "Yes on 4" group that helped lead the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana are expected to testify.

The group has been defending its victory since Election Day, when 54 percent of state voters approved marijuana legalization, responding to lawmakers attempts to weaken, delay or substantially change the law.

Nova Scotia: Class-action Lawsuit Launched Against Canopy Growth Over Pesticide In Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia has launched a class-action lawsuit against Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) and its subsidiary Mettrum over recalls of medical marijuana that contained unauthorized pesticides.

Wagner's filed a statement of claim with Nova Scotia's Supreme Court alleging that Mettrum breached its contract with consumers and that its development, distribution and sale of medical marijuana was negligent.

Mettrum was purchased earlier this year by Canopy Growth, Canada's largest publicly traded medical marijuana producer.

Lawyer Ray Wagner says representative plaintiff Neal Partington, a house painter from Nova Scotia, says he suffered vomiting and severe nausea over the six months that he was taking Mettrum products to deal with symptoms of an injury.

Wagner said it could take six to eight months before the court decides whether to certify the class-action lawsuit.

Virginia: Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Is "Only Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement in Richmond today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "dependency" on marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions addressed the group: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."

He said he supports a renewed drug awareness campaign on the "terrible truth about drugs" much like the ones started decades ago.

He continued: "In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse."

Nevada: Senate Bill Would Allow Cities To License Public Consumption Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill being considered by the Nevada Senate would allow cities to license public consumption of marijuana.

Nevada Senate Bill 236, proposed by Senator Tick Segerblom, would legalize cannabis clubs and marijuana use at events in Nevada.

“If we’re going to attract people to Nevada to use marijuana, which I think we are, then we need to find a place to use it,” Segerblom said while speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “My concern is that given that fact, we’re going to have lots of people come here to Nevada and want to purchase it, and then we’re going to have to figure out where they can use it, or if they don’t have a place for them to use it. Then, they’re going to be walking up and down the strip or walking in downtown Reno, which I don’t think any of us want that.”

Currently, Nevadans can only use marijuana in their homes per state law. Many tourists stay in hotels, but because it’s still illegal under federal law, marijuana is not allowed in any building where gambling takes place.

When asked about the federal government and their policies on marijuana at the recent MJ Biz Con in Las Vegas, Senator Segerblom answered by saying, “We protect state rights. They aren’t going to tell us what to do.”

New Mexico: Bill Approved To Lower Marijuana Penalties

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill recently approved by the New Mexico State Senate would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a $50 fine if passed. The Senate voted to replace penalties which could include jail time for simple marijuana possession with a purely monetary penalty.

If the bill passes, possession of a half ounce of marijuana or less would be handled much like a traffic ticket with no court appearances required unless the fine is challenged. The passage of the bill through the Senate was only challenged by eight Republicans and one Democrat who voted against the bill. The proposed bill has now moved to the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces told the Associated Press the changes would free up resources for courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys to focus on pursuing violent crime cases amid a state budget crisis.

Ontario: Cannabis Culture Dispensary Back In Business One Day After Police raid

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Ottawa, Ontario reopened recently one day after a police raid had closed it down.

The shop had just opened about three weeks ago.

Police arrested five men at the shop Thursday morning and charged them with five counts of possessing a Schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking (marijuana, THC oil, THC shatter, hashish and CBD oil) and one count of possessing the proceeds of crime under $5,000.

A spokesman for Cannabis Culture said Thursday night that the shop would reopen as soon as possible.

Customers were visiting the shop again by 10:30 am Friday.

Activists Marc and Jodie Emery, the couple that founded Cannabis Culture, have been granted bail.

Marc Emery faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery is charged with five similar counts.

California: Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated With Fewer Hospitalizations From Opioids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in the number of opioid-related hospitalizations.

A researcher from the University of California at San Diego, assessing the association between medical marijuana laws and hospitalizations related to opioid use, reported both immediate and long-term reductions in opioid-related hospitalization following changes in law.

"This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies. ... We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year."

The author also dismissed the argument that liberalized marijuana were associated with an increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations, saying "While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations."

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Would Outlaw Smokable And Edible Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last year, 72 percent of Floridians voted to amend the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with certain qualifying illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's. The Florida Legislature must now come up with medical marijuana rules.

Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues introduced the first medical marijuana regulations yesterday, and they would ban patients from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Only patients that are terminally ill would be allowed to vaporize.

"It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana," says Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign director. "There was unanimous agreement that the new amendment would expand use."

Rodrigues' bill defines the "medical use" of cannabis as "the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana authorized by a physician certification."

Specifically, however, the bill says medical use does not include "possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking or vaping or in the form of commercially produced food items made with marijuana or marijuana oils, except for vapable forms possessed, used, or administered by or for a qualified patient diagnosed with a terminal condition."

Massachusetts: Senator Patricia Jehlen To Lead Committee On Marijuana Policy

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senator Patricia Jehlen has officially been named as leader of the new Committee on Marijuana Policy, according to The Common Wealth Magazine. The lawmaker will be in charge of the Senate side of the state Congress, and charged with looking at how to ‘revamp’ the new marijuana law.

Senator Jason Lewis, Vice Chair of the committee, has been an opponent of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that his concerns arise from being a father as well as a public official.

“I am opposed to the likely ballot question because this is the wrong time for Massachusetts to go down this road, and a commercial, profit-driven market is the wrong approach to take,” Sen. Lewis said in the Boston Globe report.

The House Chair has not been named at this point, but the duo will handle issues such as taxes on retail sales of marijuana, the local control over dispensary locations, and the potency of edibles.

Nearly two million voted 'yes' to Question 4 on Election Day, making Massachusetts one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use.

Despite vigorous campaigning against marijuana legalization from Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo,

Massachusetts: State Treasurer Seeks Clarity From Trump Administration On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who's in charge of implementing the new recreational marijuana law in the state, wrote Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking guidance on federal enforcement of marijuana.

"In recent weeks, comments from the Trump Administration suggest that the [Department of Justice] may be considering a change [in enforcement]," Goldberg wrote to Sessions. "I would greatly appreciate your prompt response to clarify whether this is true — and if so, what changes we should prepare for before we commit significant public resources to implementing Massachusetts' recreational marijuana laws."

In a briefing last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he believes "you'll see greater enforcement of [recreational marijuana]," drawing a distinction between medical and recreational cannabis.

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the Justice Department is sending "mixed messages" around marijuana policy.

"I certainly would like to get some clarity and some certainty on that, and that's just one example of an area where we need more information," she said in a Herald Radio interview on Monday.

Pennsylvania: Auditor General Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) said Monday he strongly supports legalizing marijuana in the state, and said it is a taxable asset the state needs.

"Cities in Pennsylvania and some towns have started their own decriminalization process," DePasquale pointed out.

He cited states that have legalized marijuana and have been reaping the benefits of legalizing and taxing the plant.

"The regulation and taxation of marijuana train has rumbled out of the station across the United States," DePasquale said. "The question is whether Pennsylvania is going to miss its stop as the train moves its way across the country and allow other states to pick up the business opportunities."

"I'm a hundred percent behind him," Dan Skaggs of Lords Valley told WNEP16. "Looking at the revenue that alone Colorado has generated, we could get Pennsylvania out of bankruptcy."

But State Representative Sid Kavulich, a fellow Democrat, says the state shouldn't be so quick to follow Colorado's lead.

"It's still too early, Colorado certainly," said Kavulich, who represents the 114th District. "Let's wait a few years, see what kind of revenue comes in, what develops over a few years with the general legalization."

Germany: Medical Marijuana Program To Begin In March

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Qualifying patients in Germany should be able to obtain medical marijuana as early as next month, as a result of medical marijuana legislation recently passed by the German government.

Regulators will license marijuana cultivation under the new program to provide the drug for patients with qualifying conditions. Patients will not be permitted to grow their own plants under the new law. Health insurance providers will cover marijuana-related expenses for patients.

Regulators will import marijuana from the Netherlands and Canada in the early stages of the program.

Germany joins several other nations, including Jamaica and Colombia, which have recently passed legislation to legally produce and supply medical marijuana.

Nevada: Feds Threaten To Shut Down Las Vegas High Times Cannabis Cup

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by Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Feds threaten to shut down the 2017 Las Vegas High Times Cannabis Cup in a Feb. 16 letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe.

The article reports that U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, based in Las Vegas, sent a Feb. 16 letter to the Moapa Paiute Tribe reminding the tribe that the transport, possession, use and distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The letter obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal said that the marijuana trade show and festival, planned for March 4 and 5, would be in violation of that law.

In the letter, Bogden states, “I am informed that the tribal council is moving forward with the planned marijuana event referred to as the 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup because it is under the impression that the so-called ‘Cole Memorandum’ and subsequent memoranda from the Department of Justice permit marijuana use, possession and distribution on tribal lands when the state law also permits it. Unfortunately, this is an incorrect interpretation of the Department’s position on this issue.”

The Cole Memorandum provides guidance to federal officials in states that have legalized marijuana in some form.

The Guidance Memorandum, another memo, indicates that tribal governments and U.S. attorneys should consult government-to-government as issues arise.

Utah: Lawmakers Planning For How They Would Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Utah lawmakers took a first step Monday to outline how medical marijuana would be cultivated, produced and sold if it ever is made legal in the state.

The Senate Health and Human Services voted 5-0 to approve SB211, and sent it to the full Senate.

"This is a road map leading to medical marijuana," said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City. "We are getting it set up, getting it ready. And all we have to do then is have a quick vote — and we'll have the legal structure" to accommodate prescription cannabis.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said, "It does create the pattern on how the state would handle it, if and when a [legalized medical marijuana] policy is adopted."

Vickers said legalization could come soon "by the Legislature, it could be adopted by a referendum process, it could be adopted by the Legislature itself putting something on the ballot for next year."

So, Vickers said, "We felt like it was prudent to continue the discussion how the state would handle things, realizing nothing would be triggered until you had something in place that said we're going to legalize this type of cannabis product and for these conditions."

U.S.: Marijuana Lobbyists Denounce White House Attack On Legalized Recreational Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, issued a statement denouncing the White House's attack on recreational marijuana in response to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's comments to reporters regarding the Trump administration's marijuana policy in yesterday's press briefing.

“It would be a mistake for the Department of Justice to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have created carefully regulated adult-use marijuana programs,” Aaron Smith said. “It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace.

“These programs are working. Marijuana interdictions at the Mexican border are down substantially, youth use has not increased in states with legal access to cannabis, and responsible cannabis businesses are contributing tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact to their communities.

“The American people overwhelmingly support this approach. National polls show that 60% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for adult use. Furthermore, 71% of Americans – including majorities in both parties and every age group – oppose the federal government cracking down on these voter-supported programs.

Colorado: Parachute Getting State's First Drive-through Marijuana Shop

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The town of Parachute in western Colorado will soon be home to what is almost certainly the state's first drive-through marijuana shop.

The business will open in a former car wash in March.

The new store, named Tumbleweed Express, had their business license application approved by the Parachute Board of Trustees last week.

"We think the drive-through is a very creative and innovative idea," Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur said. "The really good news is that other businesses are benefiting from it," he added.

He said that travelers stopping to buy marijuana in Parachute are more likely to stop at restaurants and other shops.

The store had already received an approval from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. No-one under the age of 21 will be allowed on the premises -- not even in the back seat of a car or van.

“As far as I can tell, we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” said Robert Goulding, spokesman for the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The shop is required to have security and surveillance. Marijuana is not allowed to be seen outside of the store.

Parachute Mayor Roy McClung said the town's economy would have been in serious trouble without legalized recreational marijuana.

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