Mason Tvert

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Colorado: Price Of Legal Marijuana Soars With High Demand

LegalAtLastColoradoAmendment64

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

On the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, retailers were selling top-shelf cannabis at prices up to $400 per ounce, not including taxes, according to reports.

"I think people were a little bit surprised at the price," said Rachel Gillette, executive director of Colorado NORML, reports Erik Ortiz at NBC News.

Medical marijuana patients, who have been able to buy their cannabis for medicinal use at Colorado dispensaries since 2010, are used to paying around $250 an ounce, according to Gillette.

Colorado doesn't impose any price restrictions on marijuana, leaving the market open to supply and demand. One shop was selling marijuana on Wednesday for $70 an eighth-ounce -- a markup of $25 from the previous day's price of $45, reports The Associated Press.

"It's a new industry; it's a new market," Gillette said "I think things will work themselves out in a few years. We saw the same thing happen with the medical marijuana industry before the prices came down."

Industry observers also pointed out that while prices may be initially high in Colorado's legal marijuana market, along with that high price comes arrest protection.

A Colorado State University report released last April predicted retail prices ending up around $185 an ounce.

Colorado: Location Set For First Modern Legal Marijuana Sales To Adults

3-DDispensaryDenver

Denver Issuing Marijuana Retail Store Licenses

Amendment 64 campaign leaders to hold January 1 news conference at 3-D in Denver — a licensed marijuana retail store with on-site cultivation facility

Leaders of the campaign that made marijuana legal in Colorado will gather January 1 at 3-D (Denver’s Discreet Dispensary) — a licensed retail marijuana store with on-site cultivation facility — to recognize the first-ever legal marijuana sales to adults.

A news conference with the owner of 3-D will be held at 7:30 a.m. MT on Wednesday, and the first sale will take place at 8 a.m. MT. The store is located at 4305 Brighton Boulevard in Denver.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licensing began issuing the first local marijuana business licenses on Friday, December 27, and 3-D is set to receive one. It received its state license earlier this week from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The first customer in January will be Sean Azzariti, a Denver-based Iraq war veteran who can now legally use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Azzariti appeared in a Yes on 64 campaign television ad last year in which he discussed how legalization would benefit those suffering from PTSD — a condition that is not covered under Colorado's medical marijuana law despite repeated efforts to add it.

WHAT: First-ever retail marijuana sales to adults and news conference with leaders of the campaign that made marijuana legal in Colorado

Colorado: First Marijuana Business Licenses Issued; Legal Cannabis Sales For Adults To Begin January 1

ComeVisitUsMarijuanaIsNowLegalized

Amendment 64 campaign leaders will hold a news conference on the morning of January 1 at a Denver marijuana store — with an on-site cultivation facility — to recognize first-ever adult marijuana retail sales

First customer will be a Denver-based veteran with PTSD who uses marijuana to alleviate his symptoms; the former Marine appeared in a Yes on 64 television ad discussing how legalization would benefit Coloradans with PTSD — a condition not covered by the state's medical marijuana law

The Colorado State Department of Revenue issued the first licenses to marijuana businesses in Colorado on Monday, December 23. Retail marijuana stores will begin selling marijuana to adults 21 and older on January 1.

The state approved 348 total licenses, including 136 for retail stores, 178 for cultivation facilities, 31 for product manufacturing facilities, and three for testing facilities.

Leaders of the campaign in support of Amendment 64, the successful ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol approved in November 2012, will hold a news conference at 7:30 a.m. on January 1 at a Denver marijuana retail store that includes an on-site marijuana cultivation facility. The specific store will be announced later this week.

U.S.: Would Regulating Marijuana Like Tobacco Reduce Teen Use?

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Following Release of Federal Report on Drug Use, the Marijuana Policy Project Calls on NIDA to Investigate Whether Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol and Cigarettes Could Produce Similar Reductions in Use Among Teens

NIDA-sponsored Monitoring the Future Survey Shows Drop in Current Alcohol and Cigarette Use Among 8th-, 10th-, and 12-graders; Slight Increase in Current Marijuana Use Among 8th- and 10th-Graders and Slight Decrease Among 12th-Graders

Following the Wednesday release of a national survey on teen drug use, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) called on the agency to investigate whether regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could produce similar reductions in use among teens.

Cigarette and alcohol use continued their long-term decline, reaching the lowest point since the survey began polling teenagers in 1975. Also notable is the decline in "synthetic marijuana" use (that garbage actually has nothing to do with cannabis) in 2013.

According to the annual "Monitoring the Future" national survey on drug use, the current use of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among teens in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Current marijuana use increased slightly among 8th- and 10th-graders and decreased slightly among 12th-graders. Current use is defined as use within the past 30 days.

U.S.: Report Expected To Show State Marijuana Laws Have Not Resulted In Increased Teen Pot Use

TeenPotUse

NIDA-sponsored 'Monitoring the Future' survey, which will be released Wednesday, underscores the benefits of regulation versus prohibition — teen alcohol and tobacco use have declined again while there has been no significant change in teen marijuana use

The Monitoring the Future national survey on drug use scheduled to be released Wednesday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is expected to show that changes in state marijuana laws and the escalating marijuana legalization debate have not resulted in increased teen marijuana use. It also found that teen alcohol and cigarette use declined significantly while teen marijuana use remained relatively consistent, underscoring the benefits of regulation compared to prohibition.

A summary of the report released last week to members of the media indicates that marijuana use did not increase among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in 2013 despite the passage of laws making marijuana legal for adults in Colorado and Washington in November 2012. The findings undermine the argument often made by marijuana policy reform opponents that passage of such laws and heightened public debate about the benefits of legalizing marijuana will result in more teens using the substance.

Colorado: It's Legal To Smoke Marijuana On Your Front Porch, Says Denver City Council

HoldingJoint

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Denver City Council on Monday overwhelmingly approved allowing adults to smoke marijuana on their front porches and private property, even if it's in clear public view.

In a 10-3 final vote, the council approved a measure eliminating the controversial front-yard cannabis smoking ban introduced last month, which had previously appeared poised to pass with a 7-5 vote, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post.

"Fortunately, common sense ultimately prevailed," said Mason Tvert, a key supporter of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado. "If adults are able to consume alcohol -- and even smoke cigarettes -- outside on their own property, there's no logical reason why they should be prohibited from using a less harmful substance," said Tvert, who is communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"City officials need to move on and focus their time and attention on getting the necessary regulations in place to ensure these businesses are able to open on January 1," Tvert said. "There is no need for further proposals designed to prevent adults from being able to use marijuana responsibly."

A widely reviled first draft of the law would have banned even the smell of marijuana, or the sight of someone smoking marijuana, if it could be smelled or seen by anyone else.

MPP Challenges Drug Czar To Explain Marijuana/Alcohol Contradiction

MasonTvertMarijuanaIsSafer

Organization Challenges Drug Czar to Explain the Self-Contradiction He Included In An Invitation to TODAY’s First-Ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference

The Marijuana Policy Project is challenging U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske to explain the self-contradicting statement he included in an invitation to the first-ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference, which will be held Monday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. It can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The email invitation distributed Friday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) included a graphic with the following quote from Kerlikowske: “Drug policy reform should be rooted in NEUROSCIENCE—NOT POLITICAL SCIENCE.”

“Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it poses far less harm to the brain than alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and coauthor of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? “The ONDCP has long championed laws that steer adults toward using alcohol and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana. If the drug czar is truly committed to prioritizing neuroscience over political science, he should support efforts to make marijuana a legal alternative to alcohol for adults.”

Iowa: Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Medical Marijuana

IowaStateSenatorJoeBolkcom

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa lawmaker has said he will introduce two bills in the upcoming session of the Legislature which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) said that similar efforts have failed over the past decade, reports The Associated Press.

"I think we're a cautious state, we have some conservative views on this issue," Sen. Bolkcom said. "I think what has been missing in Iowa is the compelling stories and recently, people are courageously coming forward and are sharing stories about not getting the care they need."

Bolkcom said one of the bills he plans to introduce would reclassify cannabis as a drug with medical benefits, and the other bill would create a medical marijuana program modeled after the one currently operating in New Mexico.

According to a 2010 poll for The Des Moines Register, 64 percent of Iowans support legalizing medical marijuana, but many lawmakers have been wishy washy.

Gov. Terry Branstad does not support medical marijuana, according to spokesman Tim Albrecht.

State Rep. Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield), chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, is also a vocal opponent of medicinal cannabis. "In my opinion this movement is based on one thing and that's to legalize marijuana to get high," said former state trooper Baudler.

Colorado: Recriminalization? Denver Council Bans 'Visible' Pot Smoking In Yards and On Balconies

DenverPublicToking

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Ignoring opposition from marijuana advocates and civil libertarians, the Denver City Council on Monday night voted to ban people from smoking legal marijuana in private yards or on balconies if the activity can be seen from the street or sidewalk.

The council passed the measure on a 7-5 vote on the first reading, report Lance Hernandez and Jaclyn Allen at The Denver Channel.

"Everyone up here tonight is going to make some enemies," Councilman Charlie Brown, normally a strong advocate of regulating marijuana, told his fellow council members. "I can't support it," he said. "I believe in individual property rights."

"Government can't solve all these problems," Brown said. "And neither can our police department."

"I would rather see police going after serious drug problems than playing security patrol for the Stepford Wives," one opponent of the ordinance told the council.

But a parent who favors the ordinance claimed that allowing residents to smoke cannabis in their front yards "undermines our conversations with our children by making it appear OK." (Umm... wait, I thought it was legal now?)

It's ridiculous that people can drink on their own property, but are prohibited from smoking marijuana in the same locations, according to cannabis advocate Mason Tvert, a major backer of Amendment 64, the legalization measure approved last year by Colorado voters.

Colorado: First-Ever Marijuana Retail License Issued In Colorado

Annie'sDispensary

State-regulated businesses to begin selling marijuana to adults on January 1, 2014

What is being called "the world's first-ever marijuana retail license" was issued in Central City, Colorado on Thursday. The recipient of the local license, Annie's, which is currently operating as a medical marijuana center, still must receive its state license. Businesses in localities across Colorado are scheduled to begin selling marijuana to adults 21 and older starting January 1, 2014.

"Colorado is moving forward and leaving marijuana prohibition behind," said Marijuana Policy Project director of communications Mason Tvert, who co-directed the successful campaign in support of the statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

"For the first time in history, those who sell marijuana are receiving licenses from the state instead of rap sheets," Tvert said. "Marijuana will be sold to adults by legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market.

"Colorado is proving to the rest of the world that marijuana can be regulated like alcohol," Tvert said. "It will not be long before voters and lawmakers in other states decide to adopt similar policies. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is finally starting to be treated that way."

Colorado: Voters Approve Heavily Taxing Legal Marijuana Sales

MasonTvertAndBrianVicente

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado voters on Tuesday approved a statewide ballot measure imposing special excise taxes on legal marijuana wholesale and retail sales. The Denver Post called the election with Proposition AA ahead 65-35 with 65 percent of precincts reporting. Retail marijuana sales are scheduled to begin on January 1 in localities throughout Colorado, including the state's largest city, Denver, and they will begin in other cities throughout 2014.

The taxes make cannabis one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in the state, according to John Ingold at The Denver Post.

According to the state's voter guide, Proposition AA is expected to bring in $67 million a year. With $27.5 million going toward school construction, as specified in Amendment 64, the rest will to toward paying for regulation of legal marijuana stores. Some cities, which will also get a cut of the statewide tax on pot, plan to use the money for projects such as road repairs.

Proposition AA was referred to the ballot by the Colorado General Assembly in accordance with Amendment 64, the initiative approved by state voters in 2012 to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

California: Poised To Legalize Marijuana - Will It Be 2014 Or 2016?

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nearly two-thirds -- 65 percent -- of Californians support the legalization, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana in the state, according to a new Tulchin Research poll.

The poll, taken during the last two weeks with 1,200 likely 2016 voters, showed a "solid majority" back proposals to legalize adult recreational cannabis, according to the San Francisco-based pollster, reports Kathleen Miles at The Huffington Post.

The poll found 32 percent oppose pot legalization, and 3 percent are undecided.

The poll results were released during a Thursday news conference by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and American Civil Liberties Union representatives. Newsom and the ACLU announced the launch of a two-year research project on proposals to legalize recreational cannabis.

Newsom will head a panel of 16 experts, including academics, doctors and policy wonks, who will study the political and legal issues involved in legalization.

"This is about real people," Newsom said. "Communities are devastated because of this abject thing called the Drug War. Forget the politics; this is the right thing to do."

"But we need to answer the tough questions before we put it on the ballot," Newsom said. "I want the research in order to be more convincing to others."

Colorado: Leading Reformers to be Honored at Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver

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Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Seattle Police Department, Organizers of CO and WA Marijuana Legalization Initiatives, Portugal Government’s Drug Agency, Global Commission on Drug Policy, and More

Leading advocates for alternatives to the War On Drugs will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, October 26, at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation's leading organization promoting alternatives to the drug war, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

The Global Commission on Drug Policy is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

U.S.: Marijuana Heats Up As Midterm Election Issue

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana is heating up as a midterm election issue in the United States, with activists in Alaska, Arizona, California and Oregon -- all of which already have medical marijuana laws in place -- announcing plans for ballot initiatives to legalize the recreational, adult use of cannabis.

Nobody's saying "it can't be done" anymore, since voters in Colorado and Washington state led the way by legalizing recreational pot use last year. The number of states that allow medicinal cannabis use is now up to 20.

Although marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level -- placing it in the most restricted class of drugs -- the Obama Administration said it won't challenge state laws legalizing and regulating it. This has provided additional impetus to legalization efforts in other states.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which works to increase public and political support for cannabis law reform, will spend about $100,000 by the end of the 2014 election cycle, estimates spokesman Mason Tvert, reports Michelle Martinelli at Open Secrets.

"It's also worth noting that our strategy has shifted over the years, from supporting the few members of Congress who support marijuana policy reform, to focusing on the ever-increasing number of supportive congressional challengers," Tvert said.

Colorado: Marijuana Giveaway Canceled In Fort Collins

JointGiveawayDenver

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A planned marijuana giveaway scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Fort Collins, Colorado, was canceled after the organizer wouldn't pay $350 in city fees.

Denver-based marijuana activist and attorney Rob Corry had requested a permit to use Washington Park, near Fort Collins City Hall, reports Trevor Hughes at The Coloradoan. But he didn't want to pay the $250 refundable security deposit and $100 administrative fee the city requested.

Corry attracted big crowds when he organized similar pot giveaways in Denver and Boulder to campaign against Proposition AA, which taxes newly legal marijuana sales in Colorado.

"As taxpayers, we already fund and own that park and all of the associated services," Corry wrote to the city's park managers. "So we won't be paying anything to use our park that we already pay for with our taxes."

City officials said if Corry wasn't paying, he couldn't use the park.

Officials said the $250 security deposit would have been refunded if the park had been left undamaged by the planned 100-person giveaway. The $100 administrative fee was to cover extra trash pickup and "other permitting costs," they said, and is a standard charge for reserving a city park for exclusive use.

Corry, in an email to city officials, said he hoped to "work this out" and hold the event at some other time. On Wednesday, he reiterated his desire to reschedule the weed giveaway.

U.S.: ‘Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users’ Named by Marijuana Policy Project

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Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, and Stephen Colbert top list released Wednesday by Marijuana Policy Project

A list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users” in the United States was released Wednesday by the Marijuana Policy Project.

The MPP's annual list is topped by President Barack Obama, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and television show host Stephen Colbert. They are followed by television show host Jon Stewart, entertainer and entrepreneur Jay-Z, Secretary of State John Kerry, business magnate George Soros, and comedian Bill Maher.

“The goal here is to dispel the myth that marijuana users are ‘losers’ who lack motivation and highlight the fact that they are typically productive and oftentimes quite successful,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “As this list demonstrates, many of our nation’s most successful citizens have used marijuana.”

The list is composed of Americans who have used marijuana at least once during their lifetimes, including some who speak openly about their current marijuana use. They were selected based on their “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and … media profile,” which is the criteria used by Out Magazine to select its “Power 50” list of LGBT Americans. The list includes known supporters and opponents of marijuana policy reform.

U.S.: NFL Under Pressure To Ease Harsh Penalties For Marijuana Use

MarijuanaFootball

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Football League has fallen behind the times, when it comes to acceptance of marijuana. The NFL, so far, has stubbornly refused to follow the lead of the public's shifting opinion about recreational cannabis use.

The Marijuana Policy Project highlighted this discrepancy recently when it paid $5,000 for a 48-foot-wide billboard in Denver prior to the Broncos' season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, reports David Lariviere at Forbes. The billboard urged the league to "stop driving players to drink" with harsh marijuana penalties, noting "a safer choice is now legal (here)" after Colorado voters in November approved legalization measure Amendment 64.

The MPP has also launched a petition on Change.org directed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling on the league to change its harsh penalties for marijuana.

"For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league," said Mason Tvert, director of communications at MPP.

Colorado: Pro-Marijuana Group Places Billboard Outside Denver Broncos' Mile High Stadium

StopDrivingPlayersToDrink(MPPMileHighBillboard)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A huge pro-marijuana billboard now greets visitors to Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos, thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project.

MPP is continuing its strategy of advertising at our near popular American sports events with the billboard purchase just outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High, reports Dan Carson at Bleacher Report.

"Stop Driving Players To Drink," the billboard scolds the National Football League, referring to the NFL's policy of punishing players for smoking marijuana, but allowing alcohol use.

"NFL players are being told that they can go out and get completely drunk, but face no punishment from the leagues," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. "But if a player gets caught using marijuana, they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, forced to sit out games and deemed a troublemaker."

MPP had attempted to air a promotional video at the Indianapolis Speedway in July during the Brickyard 400, but the ad was pulled before the race began.

MPP reportedly paid $5,000 for the ad space. The billboard is located one block west of the stadium.

Colorado voters, like those in Washington state, last November legalized marijuana for adults. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government won't interfere with the state laws legalizing cannabis -- at least not right now.

U.S.: Federal Agency Takes Heat For Refusing To Admit Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol

MarijuanaLessHarmfulThanAlcohol

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One can kill you; the other doesn't. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

Well, it seems nothing is simple when it comes to federal bureaucrats, who demonstrated their tenuous grip on reality this week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a statement refuting a claim in a recent ad by the Marijuana Policy Project that described cannabis as being "less toxic" than alcohol. NIDA is part of the National Institute of Health, a federal agency.

"Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual," the agency lied.

Not surprisingly, MPP quickly fired back, rightly calling NIDA's statement "preposterous," reports David Knowles at the New York Daily News.

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report no marijuana-use-only deaths each year and there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the MPP. "It reports tens of thousands of people die from alcohol alone each year and hundreds die from acute overdose."

Citing statistics from the CDC, PolitiFact noted that there were 41,682 deaths attributed to alco0hol in 2010, while cannabis wasn't listed as the cause of any deaths.

Kansas: At The Crossroads of 'Marijuana Trafficking'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With marijuana laws relaxing seemingly everywhere, the blossoming domestic cannabis industry has increased the quality of pot, and not just in states where it's legal for medical or recreational purposes. Neighboring states like Kansas have become way stations for the high-grade marijuana flowing to more populated cities to the east.

In the past, reports Roxana Hegeman at The Associated Press, most of the weed seized by cops came in the form of compressed bricks, much of it from Mexico and selling for between $400 and $500 a pound.

Just a few years back, 70 percent of the marijuana seized in Wichita was compressed, according to Chris Bannister of the undercover narcotics division of the Wichita Police Department. In contrast, today about 85 percent of the marijuana seized is "medical-grade," Bannister claimed, and just 15 percent is "traditional marijuana."

"The quality is there, the demand is there, and the price reflects that," Bannister said. "And it is driving down the price of traditional pressed marijuana."

"Drugs go east; cash goes west," said Chris Joseph, a Topeka lawyer who handles drug-related traffic cases. "Really the Colorado angle is that it is just a different source, it is not so much that the amount of drugs and money on the highways has really changed."

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