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U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

Vermont: New Report Outlines Options Regarding Marijuana Legalization

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Legalizing recreational marijuana production, distribution and possession in Vermont could generate significant tax revenues, but also involves costs and important decisions about how best to regulate the substance, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The report makes clear that if Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated.

The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. Researchers say the goal of the report is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.

The RAND report provides the most-detailed accounting available about the wide number of issues that face state officials -- in Vermont and elsewhere -- when considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.

“Our conversation about whether to legalize marijuana must be rooted in facts and be transparent about the uncertainties,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “This RAND report will serve as a critical foundation for our ongoing discussion about the best course for Vermont.

"I continue to support moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont but have always said that we have to proceed with rigorous research and preparation before deciding whether to act," Shumlin said. "This report will help us do that.”

Vermont: RAND Corporation To Study Issues Around Marijuana Legalization

VermontTheGreenMountainState

Could the Green Mountain State become the Green Marijuana State? Researchers from the RAND Corporation will study the issues related to potentially legalizing the production, distribution and possession of marijuana in Vermont, officials said on Wednesday.

In May 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that requires the state secretary of administration to report to the General Assembly regarding the taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana in Vermont. A May poll from the Castleton Polling Institute found 57 percent of Vermonters favor cannabis legalization, reports the Marijuana Policy Project.

“We are pleased to help the state of Vermont think through the potential consequences associated with alternative marijuana policies,” said Beau Kilmer, project leader and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

Kilmer met with state Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and other Vermont officials this week to discuss the study.

The law calls for the report to analyze the possible taxing systems for the sale of marijuana in Vermont, including sales taxes, use taxes and excise taxes, as well as the potential revenue each may raise. In addition, the study will examine any savings or costs to the state that would result from regulating marijuana and the experiences of other states with regulating and taxing marijuana. Issues surrounding public health and public safety also will be addressed.

Washington: Liquor Control Board Wants Legal Marijuana Input From Users, Growers

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor Control Board -- which has been put in charge of implementing marijuana legalization in the state under Initiative 502, approved by voters last November -- wants input on rules and regulations for the newly legal cannabis industry.

The WSLCB has announced a couple of surveys to help with research their consultants at BOTEC Analysis Corporation are sponsoring, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

One, by the RAND Corporation, aims to measure marijuana consumption throughout Washington, with questions about amount used, which products, and how much money spent. "The survey will be the most detailed yet on cannabis use habits," the board said.

It's confidential and short; about 15 minutes for heavy users, less for others, according to the board. "Not immediately clear if it will take heavy users longer because they have more questions to answer or because their response time is somewhat slowed from all that marijuana," quipped The Spokesman-Review.

The RAND Corporation survey can be taken by clicking here.

BOTEC isn't commenting on the survey, apparently to avoid doing or saying anything that would "shape" the responses.

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