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Colorado: State Tops $1 Billion In Sales For 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado has passed the $1 billion mark already for cannabis sales in 2016, reaching the milestone after 10 months.

Roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales of legal recreational and medical marijuana were sold by the end of October, according to tax data released from the state's Department of Revenue. 2015 saw total sales of $996 million according to reports from the state.

Colorado has collected more than $150 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales through October 2016, the first $40 million being allocated to school projects.

The state fell just short of the $1 billion mark last year.

It only took Colorado 10 months to pass $1 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2016, one year after the state came up just shy of that milestone revenue figure.

Marijuana businesses in Colorado, which voted to legalize the drug for recreational use in 2012, reported roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales of medical and recreational marijuana and related products this year through the month of October, according to the latest batch of tax data from the state’s Department of Revenue. That number easily tops the roughly $996 million in total marijuana revenue the state reported in 2015.

Alaska: Fairbanks Groups On Mission To Stop Marijuana Commercialization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Efforts are underway in Alaska to stop cannabis businesses from opening in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

A Salcha man is launching an initiative that he hopes will keep the legal marijuana trade out of the borough, while the president of a strip mall condominium association is claiming pot shops are banned in the River Mall under condo association rules, because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, reports Amanda Bohman at the Daily News-Miner.

The borough has already issued more than 40 land use permits for marijuana businesses, mostly cultivation. Another six applications for land use are pending, according to the borough Department of Community Planning.

Eleven of the 40 cannabis related permits are for marijuana retail storefronts.

The initiative which would prohibit cannabis commerce in the borough is pending review by Borough Clerk Nanci Ashford-Bingham, who said she got the application on last week.

Jim Ostlind of Salcha said he plans to get enough signatures to get a question on the local ballot asking voters to stop "marijuana commercialization."

Colorado: Life Flower Medical Marijuana Recalled Due To Pesticides

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado marijuana regulators on Friday announced a big recall of medicinal cannabis grown with unapproved pesticides. The marijuana in question was sold by a dispensary with storefronts in Boulder and Glendale.

The recall is one of a series in which Guardian, a pesticide that had been sold as "all natural," was found to contain concentrations of a substance banned for use on cannabis, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at .

Colorado in January had removed Guardian from its list of approved pesticides for use on marijuana.

More than 92 lots of cannabis, with each lot containing up to dozens of plants, produced by Life Flower Dispensary at its grow on Arapahoe Road in Boulder and sold at its storefront on Leetsdale Drive in Glendale are subject to the latest recall, according to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.

"We were using Guardian in late September and early October, and there are a couple of those plants still in flower," said Neal Bigelow, general manager at Life Flower. "That's exactly what we're going through."

Colorado regulators found the presence of abermectin, which isn't allowed for growing cannabis.

Colorado: Cannabis Critics Announce New Grow Competition

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two cannabis critics for The Denver Post’s "The Cannabist" on Wednesday announced the launch of a new marijuana cultivation competition.

Jake Browne and Sohum J Shah, writers for The Cannabist, made the announcement with event partners and sponsors Dark Horse Genetics, Cultivate Colorado, and Pazoo, Inc., licensing partners to analytical laboratory, Steep Hill Colorado.

With local authorities in Adams County denying the annual High Times Cannabis Cup a permit in 2016, a unique opportunity to provide an alternative competition presented itself for the first time in years. Browne and Shah's revolutionary new grow competition is based on quantitative analysis as opposed to qualitative rating thanks to their strategic partner, Steep Hill Labs.

Unlike other competitions, the inaugural Grow-Off is limited to licensed Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities in Colorado and will be fully compliant with state laws and regulations.

Colorado: 13th Marijuana Recall In Denver In 13 Weeks

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Denver-based marijuana company has recalled 27 cartridges of its THC-infused vape pen oil due to potentially dangerous levels of pesticides.

The Denver Department of Environmental Health found that Advanced Medical Alternatives vape pen oil contained pesticides not allowed to be used on cannabis in the state, report Ricardo Baca and David Migoya at The Denver Post.

The recall is the second in eight days for Advanced Medical Alternatives, and the 13th in 13 weeks issued by the city's Department of Environmental Health.

“Advanced Medical Alternatives, LLC is committed to excellence in providing safe and the highest quality products to its customers,” the company wrote on its website. “Accordingly, the company has voluntarily recalled certain products that may contain potentially unsafe pesticide residues.”

The business said it is changing its testing program to try to avoid similar problems in the future.

“Furthermore, the company is voluntarily implementing a new testing program for each crop produced by the company and/or that is incorporated into products produced by the company," the note read. "The company will continue to strive to be a leader in developing and/or implementing the highest industry standards. Thank you in advance for your continued support of such efforts and the company.”

Colorado: Marijuana Pesticide Concerns Prompt Liability Lawsuit

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two cannabis users in Colorado -- one of them a medical marijuana patient with a brain tumor -- have sued the largest pot grower in the state for allegedly using a potentially dangerous pesticide on the weed they later purchased.

Brandan Flores and Brandie Larrabee have brought a lawsuit against LivWell Inc., seeking class-action status and alleging the company has for years inappropriately used Eagle 20, a harsh fungicide containing myclobutanil, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

Neither Flores, who lives in Denver, nor Larrabee, who lives in Grand Junction, claim they were sickened from using the marijuana they got at LivWell, but both say they wouldn't have used it if they had known it was treated with Eagle 20.

"In a larger sense they're saying the marijuana industry can't go on unchecked and someone has to do something to stop these people from using Eagle 20 and other harmful pesticides," said attorney Steven Woodrow, representing Flores and Larrabee.

The two are asking for unspecified financial damages for money they overspent to buy cananbis they said should have been discounted because of the pesticide. The 40-page lawsuit, filed on Monday in Denver District Court, says the fungicide myclobutanil, when heated, produces "poisonous hydrogen cyanide" and alleges that consumers who smoke marijuana treated with Eagle 20 ingest the gas.

Colorado: Marijuana Pesticide Regulations Deprioritized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado regulators have known since 2012 that some marijuana in the state is grown with dangerous pesticides, but pressure from the cannabis industry and lack of guidance from the federal government delayed their regulatory attempts, and they ultimately decided on a less restrictive approach than originally planned.

Three years of emails and records, along with dozens of interviews, show state regulators struggled with the issue while the marijuana industry protested that proposed pesticide limits would leave their crops vulnerable to parasites and disease, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

As state officials were preparing a list of allowable pesticides on marijuana last year, officials at the Colorado Department of Agriculture stopped the process -- under pressure from the cannabis industry, according to The Post.

"This list has been circulated among marijuana producers and has been met with considerable opposition because of its restrictive nature," wrote Mitch Yergert, the CDA's plant industry director, shortly after the April 2014 decision. "There is an inherent conflict with the marijuana growers' desire to use pesticides other than those" that are least restrictive.

Colorado: Marijuana Growers Have Legal Alternatives To 'Organic' Label

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's marijuana industry has thus far benefited from the regulatory gray area where it resides, but according to an expert in organic certification, any other operation that routinely labeled its products "organic" without certification would have been shut down and fined almost immediately.

"If those farmers were farming any other agricultural crop, they would be contacted within a month or two," said Chris Van Hook, an accredited organic certifier for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and owner of Clean Green Certified, which offers alternative organic certifications for cannabis, reports Emilie Rusch at The Denver Post.

"It's very clear in the organic regulations," Van Hook said. "It's an $11,000-per-violation labeling infraction to call an uncertified product organic."

Industry figures are working to find a way to legitimately market cannabis products as pesticide-free and environmentally friendly. Van Hook established his "Clean Green" certification seal in 2004, and another organization, based in Denver, could begin certifiying marijuana as pesticide-free later this year.

"The quicker the cannabis industry can address the misrepresentation, the better it will be for consumers and farmers," Van Hook said. Clean Green, based in Crescent City, California, has already certified more than 100 cannabis grow operations, processors and collectives.

Colorado: Denver Cracks Down On Pesticides In Marijuana Products

MMJAmericaDurbanPoison[AAronOntiveroz-TheDenverPost]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver health officials on Tuesday started inspecting and quarantining hundreds of cannabis products because their labels listed pesticides not approved by the state for use on marijuana.

The city's move came about six months after officials had quarantined 100,000 plants at 11 grow facilities due to concerns about pesticide use, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

No safety standards exist for pesticide use on marijuana. Since cannabis is illegal under federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, has never established any limits.

However, since marijuana is legal in Colorado, the state Department of Agriculture there has created a listed of allowed pesticides, as has its counterpart in Washington state, where recreational pot is also legal.

The quarantines were put on Mountain High Suckers and MMJ America after Denver's Department of Environmental Health late Monday warned businesses that products with labels reflecting the use of banned pesticides should be removed from shelves and destroyed, or returned to the manufacturers.

Colorado law requires all cannabis product labels to list pesticides, contaminants, fungicides and herbicides that were used, from germination to packaging.

Colorado: Marijuana Tax For Schools Hits Record; Exceeds 2014 Total

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just-released marijuana tax data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that schools in the state received more money from the state's cannabis excise tax in the first five months of 2015 than they did all year in 2014.

"It sounds very encouraging," said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), reports Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist. "Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition."

Recreational marijuana is taxed three ways in Colorado: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a special 10 percent special cannabis sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers.

The excise tax money grew from $2.5 million in March to $3.5 million in May. It brought it $13.6 million through May 2015, more than the $13.3 million it drew in all of 2014. The two main reasons for the jump are more marijuana stores opening and a one-time tax-exempt transfer which benefited the shops.

Recreational marijuana sales stayed roughly the same in Colorado between March and May, totaling $42.4 million in March and $42.5 million in May. May's medical cannabis sales in Colorado totaled $32.4 million, their highest since October 2014.

U.S.: Rep. Blumenauer Grills FDIC On Blocking Financial Services To Marijuana Businesses

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Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) on Thursday sent a letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg asking for clarification on what guidance the FDIC provides to banks who offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses, and what role, if any, the FDIC played in M Bank’s decision to abruptly suspend operations in Colorado.

Last week, M Bank publically announced it would offer banking services to marijuana businesses in Colorado, only to abruptly reverse course a week later. A Denver Post article from January 26 cites industry insiders familiar with the situation claiming that the FDIC stepped in to warn M Bank executives that their actions were "too risky."

If this assertion is accurate, Rep. Blumenauer, who founded a marijuana working group in Congress, is demanding answers as to why this is the case.

Blumenauer is leading the effort in Congress to reform our outdated federal marijuana laws, which includes banking regulations.

"Having the FDIC clarify how it assesses risk and gives guidance, and how that aligns with guidance given by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Treasury, is important if we’re going to have a stable and transparent financial system that provides much needed banking services to marijuana businesses," Blumenauer said.

Colorado: These Are The Good Old Days - Things About To Change In Marijuana Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This may be the golden age of marijuana in Colorado, and things are about to change.

Supply-and-demand is ever-so-slowly leading to lower prices on the recreational front, and legislative changes are in the offing that could make it more difficult for doctors to authorize medicinal cannabis for severe pain, reports Jeremy P. Mayer at The Denver Post. Voters could be asked to add a special tax onto medical marijuana, and there's even been some reckless talk about discontinuing medicinal cannabis altogether, lumping all cannabis sales into the recreational market.

"It is fluid," said Samn Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. "Everyone knew this was going to happen.

"This is the first-of-its-kind regulation," Kamin said. "We knew we weren't going to get everything right the first time."

Medical marijuana caregivers in Colorado may grow up to six plants for up to five patients, for a total of 30 plants, but some get a waiver to grow more. As of May, the state had about 5,000 registered caregivers.

A bill will be introduced in the Colorado Legislature next session to reduce the number of plants that caregivers can grow for their patients, and require the caregivers to go through a much more stringent approval process with state health officials.

Colorado: Denver Police, Federal Agents Conduct Large Raids On Marijuana Grows

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Tuesday morning conducted large raids on multiple marijuana growing operations near Denver.

One Denver police officer seen in a blue hazmat suit entering a building on North Bryant Street told The Denver Post that he and other officers were executing a search warrant, and that several other raids were being conducted around town.

"It's a very large and successfu investigation," claimed James Gothe, group supervisor of the DEA's special support unit in Denver. "We're assisting."

Gothe called it an "ongoing operation" and wouldn't comment other than to say it involved the Denver Police Department and the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

The Denver Police Department announced at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on Twitter that area law enforcement officers were conducting "an ongoing investigation into drug activity," but claimed no further information was available.

Denver police spokesman Ron Hackett said officers are investigating illegal drug activity at "multiple locations," reports The Denver Channel. Hackett said the department "may" provide more information about the raids later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

U.S.: Hundreds of Marijuana Store ATMs Shut Down

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of automatic teller machines in medical marijuana dispensaries were shut down on Wednesday, just days after ATMs were turned off in recreational cannabis shops.

The machines in Colorado and Washington were part of a network served by MetaBank, a South Dakota company which in January had warned ATM providers that machines located in marijuana shops violated federal banking rules, reports David Migoya at The Denver Post.

The machines, both cashless and the traditional ATMs which dispense cash, continued to work until this week, according to owners of cannabis shops impacted by the shutdown.

"Just like that, it was out of commission," said Andy Williams, owner of Medicine Man, a Denver recreational and medical marijuana dispensary that has an on-site cash-dispensing ATM. "I got a warning the night before saying they'd lost their bank, and that was it.

The ATM machines are the lifeblood of many marijuana shops, which are forced by federal banking rules to otherwise work in cash only rather than accepting credit and debit cards from their customers.

A number of trade organization Marijuana Industry Group's clients lost ATMs, both of the cash-dispensing and cashless variety, according to executive director Michael Elliott.

Colorado: Recreational Marijuana Passes Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Retail recreational marijuana sales, for the first time, passed medical marijuana sales in Colorado in July.

Recreational pot sales had lagged behind medical sales since the legal marijuana shops created by legalization measure Amendment 64 opened on January 1, reports Katy Steinmetz at Time. But according to tax figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue, recreational has pulled into the lead.

During July, Colorado got $838,711 from a 2.9 percent tax on medical marijuana, meaning patients spent about $28.9 million at dispensaries. Meanwhile, the state took in $2.97 million from a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, putting those sales at about $29.7 million, according to Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist.

The margin, though less than $1 million, represents a victory of sorts for advocates of recreational legalization, who have argued it will be profitable for the state.

"Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons they use alcohol," said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Now that it's a legal product, they are choosing to access it in a similar fashion."

Colorado: Denver Could Lose Bid For Republican Convention Due To Legal Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver would just love to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. It has historically been a popular city for conventions; the Mile High City's scenic vistas and tourist attractions make it a fun place to visit. But that "High" thing is the hang, you see: Denver is also the poster child for legal recreational marijuana since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64.

"Well, big deal," you may be thinking. "The voters expressed their will at the ballot box; isn't that how American democracy works?" Not so fast, Grasshopper. While a majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization, just 36 percent of Republicans agree with that position.

That means an overwhelming two-thirds of GOP members are against legalizing pot.

Denver, undeterred, is still trying to sell itself as the perfect site for the RNC, reports Jon Murray at The Denver Post. But when RNC staffers visited the Mile High City in April -- precursor to a larger scouting mission that started today -- the lunch topic turned to marijuana. And the GOP visitors had plenty of questions.

Colorado: Denver Warns Symphony To Cancel Bring-Your-Own-Marijuana Concert

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems as long as there are any laws at all against marijuana, there are going to be buzzkills looking to make sure nobody has a good time. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra may abandon its plans for bring-your-own-cannabis performances after Denver city officials on Thursday threatened to cancel the events.

The letter, hand-delivered and prepared by city attorneys, along with licensing and police officials, "urges" the CSO to cancel the concerts, report Jon Murray and Ray Mark Rinaldi at The Denver Post. In the city's view, the three planned "High Note Series" concerts risk violating state and city laws banning "public consumption" of marijuana.

The letter is addressed to CSO President Jerry Kern, and is signed by Stacie Loucks, director of Denver's Excise & Licenses Department.

The series, scheduled for the Space Gallery in Denver's Art District, was scheduled to kick off on Friday, May 23.

Should the orchestra ignore the city's advice, the letter says, "We will exercise any and all options available to the city of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners (and) event organizers responsible for any violations of law."

Loucks also warned that concert attendees would be "held accountable" for using marijuana in public. "With the foregoing in mind, we advise that you cancel the effort," the letter reads.

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

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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

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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.

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