michael elliott

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Colorado: Lawmakers Don't Want To Refund Marijuana Taxes To The Public


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One year after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana, millions of tax dollars are rolling in, just as predicted. The funds were supposed to be dedicated to school construction, along with regulating cannabis sales, but a legal complication may force the state to refund that money to the public -- and lawmakers don't want that to happen.

A strict anti-spending provision in the Colorado Constitution -- a voter-approved measure called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights -- may require the state to refund nearly $60 million in marijuana taxes, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.

Legislators are trying to figure out a way to keep the money, and they're hoping Colorado voters will let them. Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature don't agree very often when it comes to taxes, but it seems both parties agree they want to keep the cash, and legislators are working on a bill which would ask voters' permission to not give the money back.

"Despite our anti-tax feelings in the state, there's an exception being made when it comes to marijuana," said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Denver-based trade organization that isn't taking a stand on the refund issue. "The industry is making a huge economic impact."

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


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: Denver DA's Claims of a Violent Medical Marijuana Industry Questioned


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey on Monday made a startling claim about the medical marijuana industry just before the Denver City Council's decision to ask voters to approve a 5 percent sales tax for cannabis: That the industry is plagued by violence.

"We have had 12 homicides related directly to medical marijuana," Morrissey claimed, reports Jeremy P. Meyer of The Denver Post. "We have had over 100 aggravated robberies and home invasions. Many of you probably didn't read about the double-execution-style homicide that we had down here in Denver, where people were laid down on the floor and executed because they were running a medical marijuana outlet."

After being questioned on Tuesday, the DA backtracked, claiming the numbers he presented on Monday to the council were "loose figures" and admitting that none of the murders occurred in a medical marijuana facility.

Medical marijuana industry figures at Monday's city council meeting had been shocked by Morrissey's claims.

The DA was unfairly casting a bad light on the legally regulated dispensaries, according to Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

Colorado: Audit Says Medical Marijuana Has Inadequate Oversight

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has neither adequately defined its mission nor determined what resources it needs, according to a state audit released on Tuesday.

The auditors found that Colorado's highly touted "seed-to-sale" oversight of 1,440 medical marijuana businesses doesn't actually exist, reports Eric Gorski of The Denver Post.

The audit -- which is quite critical of the MMED -- includes the following highlights:

• A review by auditors of 35 new cannabis business applications found "evidence of potentially disqualifying information" about criminal backgrounds and finances in 13 cases. In 10 of those cases, MMED issued licenses. Five of the 13 files were flagged by auditors for concerns about past felony arrests, financial assistance possibly coming from a "potentially unsuitable person," or involvement in drug and alcohol treatment classes.

• The processing of applications took too long, and the division tried to get those with "problem applications" to just withdraw them instead of persevering through the process. Auditors called this practice "concerning," in part because the law requires the MMED to deny applications that don't meet the requirements.

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