recreational marijuana

Illinois: Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new poll shows that a majority of Illinois voters support legalizing marijuana, following the introduction of two bills into the General Assembly proposing legalization.

The poll from the Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed that 74.4 percent of Illinois citizens are in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Only 21 percent are opposed, and 4.6 percent either don't know or refused to answer the poll.

The Simon Institute said it collected data from live telephone interviews collected between March 4 and March 11.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and State Senator Heather Steans introduced identical pieces of legislation into both chambers of the General Assembly on March 22. Both lawmakers said the tax revenue from legal recreational marijuana could help with the state's budget deficit.

The bills are SB316 and HB2353.

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.

California: San Diego Allows Recreational Pot Sales In Medical Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The San Diego City Council met on Tuesday to consider proposed regulation changes in marijuana business practices in the city. One of the main issues discussed was the possibility of allowing recreational pot sales in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Terrie Best, Chapter Chair of Americans for Safe Access in San Diego, told The Weed Blog that “council voted to grandfather in (and write land use law within 9 months) business tax certification holders in the areas of manufacturing, cultivation and testing. Deliveries will now need to be connected to a Medical Marijuana Card Clinic (MMCC) conditional use permit only, no stand-alones. We also may have lost events where products are used and consumed.”

She added, “Our outdoor Proposition 64 six plant personal right must be exercised under a green house, and all MMCC’s will be allowed to sell to adults 21 and over along with their patient clients.”

Best applauded the city council, saying “Not too bad for a town FULL of loud prohibitionists. I am upset about the delivery loss and event ban though. But, I don’t think it will stop us.”

Massachusetts: Governor Signs Measure To Delay Opening Of Retail Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a measure Friday that delays the opening of marijuana retail outlets by six months in the state. Groups of protesters gathered outside the State House in protest of the move.

Retail dispensaries were supposed to be allowed to open in January 2018, but that won't happen.

The bill was proposed by lawmakers earlier this week. It will not affect the new laws on possession or growing at home, but the openings of retail pot shops will be delayed, as well as the deadline for regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition reacted strongly to the governor's decision. In a statement, it said it was "appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly." It added that the delay would deprive Massachusetts "of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July."

Coalition members and supporters protested outside the State House Friday, urging Baker to not sign it.

"This bill, S2524, not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself," the coalition wrote online.

Nevada: Recreational Marijuana Legal Sunday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Nevada on Sunday, January 1, following the passage of Question 2 in the last election.

Adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth ounce of cannabis concentrate as of Sunday, but it will be a while before individuals can buy pot without a medical marijuana prescription card, due to Nevada's need to establish a licensing and taxation infrastructure.

“A lot of them seem to think that when Jan. 1 hits, everything’s going to be legal and open. … But it’s going to take a while to set a template,” said Jim Bergen, a dispensary manager at Mesquite’s Deep Roots Harvest medical marijuana outlet.

The Department of Taxation is responsible for developing licensing qualifications and procedures, as well as the regulation of businesses that deal in the drug’s cultivation, distribution and retail sales in Nevada.

“The Department is already working to develop temporary regulations,” Deonne Contine, the agency’s executive director, stated in a news release following last month’s elections. “We intend to hold a public workshop very early in 2017 and then have our temporary regulations adopted so we can begin issuing licenses.”

The law allows the agency until January 2018 to finalize the rules for legal sales.

Oregon: Dispensaries, State Work To Continue Recreational Marijuana Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New rules affecting recreational marijuana retailers in Oregon take effect January 1.

Saturday will be the end of limited retail sales from the Oregon Health Authority, which began in October 2015, following the passing of Measure 91. Recreational sales and licenses will be governed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission starting January 1. Medical dispensaries that wanted to continue selling recreational are working to beat a Sunday deadline to pay fees and file applications.

Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program, said the organization is processing hundreds of applications from around the state.

“It’s a challenging time right now,” Pettinger said. “There are a lot of moving parts to all of this.”

Kayla Dunham, owner of The Agrestic In Corvallis, is planning a grand opening of a second location Sunday under the new law. She just received approval from the OLCC on Tuesday.

“There is always worry when what you’re trying to do is in the hands of someone else,” she told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “And especially with these bureaucratic agencies, but every experience I’ve had so far with the OLCC has shown us they are motivated.”

“They’ve been extremely fast with their processing,” Dunham said. “They seem to have a lot of devotion to making sure things happen in the right way.”

Maine: Marijuana Ballot Question Recount Could Take Weeks

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State said today that recounts of a pair of ballot questions could take four to six weeks.

Ballot questions that legalized recreational marijuana and approved a tax on high earners to fund public education are both facing recounts. The department is getting ready to announce a schedule for the recounts.

Both measures were narrowly passed by voters on November 8.

The two recounts will likely take place at the same time and may begin as soon as this week.

California: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Explains Why He Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom participated in a one-hour meeting with the Press Democrat editorial board on October 11. He admitted that there he doesn’t like pot, and has never used it, but still sees a lot of benefits to be gained from legalizing cannabis through Proposition 64. “I’m not pro-marijuana. I’m just vehemently anti-prohibition,” he said to the board.

Newsom began working on a committee in 2013 that was formed specifically to study the possibilities of marijuana legalization in California. “We began our work by saying ‘we don’t believe this should be California’s next Gold Rush,” he mentions about the committee’s original goals, explaining that legalizing marijuana shouldn’t be mainly about generating revenue. “This is not what we should be doing with a drug that is of concern, particularly for our children and youth and as it relates to public safety. We shouldn’t be promoting it as a government entity and revenue generation.”

He told the Press Democrat that Prop 64 will protect and preserve the growing high-quality cannabis, rather than resulting in “the cannibalization and monopolization, large multi-national folks coming and destroying that,” Newsom stated.

Utah: LDS Leaders Ask Mormons To Oppose Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The LDS Church's First Presidency is asking the church's members in three western states to oppose bills that would legalize recreational marijuana.

In letters sent Wednesday to Arizona, California, and Nevada, Church President Thomas S Monson and his counselors said, "We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use."

"Drug abuse in the United States is at epidemic proportions," the First Presidency noted, "and the dangers of marijuana to public health and safety are well documented. Recent studies have shed light particularly on the risks that marijuana use poses to brain development in youth. The accessibility of recreational marijuana in the home is also a danger to children."

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over 21. On Nov. 8, Nevada residents will vote on Question 2, Arizona residents will consider Proposition 205 and Californians will decide on Proposition 64. Maine and Massachusetts also have recreational marijuana on voters' ballots next month.

New Jersey: State Sees Renewed Push To Make Marijuana Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Following Gov. Chris Christie's surprising reversal on expanding the medical marijuana program, a new batch of bills to allow recreational pot in New Jersey are being proposed.

Christie is not likely to change his strong opposition to legalizing marijuana, even though he signed a bill last month to add post-traumatic stress syndrome to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. It was the first time a mental-health condition had been added to the list.

But lawmakers say three legalization bills are being introduced this year to get discussions started, in anticipation of the end of Christie's term in 2018.

The newest proposal was introduced last month by Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R., Morris). It would allow cannabis to be sold the same way as tobacco, to anyone over 19. Carroll, a Libertarian, admits the measure is bold and more "far-reaching" than other marijuana bills.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a municipal prosecutor, introduced the state's first legalization bill in November.

His proposal called for cannabis to be regulated the same way as alcohol, sold by stores with a state license, and restricted to those 21 and over. The product would be taxed under his bill, and the revenues used for education and other public purposes.

Massachusetts: Another Poll Shows Support For Recreational Marijuana Is High

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A second poll on Question 4, the Massachusetts initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, suggests support for the initiative is high.

A new poll conducted by WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio and UMass-Amherst shows a 53 percent. majority of voters surveyed support the statewide ballot initiative legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts. Seven percent of the 700 people polled remain unsure.

Passing the initiative this November would allow the use, cultivation, possession and distribution of recreational marijuana for individuals at least 21 years old.

According to WBZ, "Support for the measure (in the new poll) cuts across all demographic categories, with only voters over 55 years old and self-described conservatives opposing the measure."

The support does not come without some concerns, however.

WBZ reports:

41% of those polled say they'd be bothered if a pot store opened up in their neighborhood
52% didn’t like the idea of pot ads on TV or radio
61% expressed alarm over the prospect of people using in public.
25% claimed people growing pot in their homes would be troubling

U.S. Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States Election Day 2016

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Nine ballot measures for marijuana legalization on election day 2016 will amount to the largest number of voters in history casting a vote to determine marijuana laws.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, and now they have the chance to be joined by five more states. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November.

Four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri -- will be voting on laws to make medical marijuana legal.

"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.

California: Voters To Decide Whether To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Tuesday that initiative proponents turned in more than enough signatures to get the question of legalizing recreational marijuana on the November ballot.

If legalization passes in California one in every six Americans will be living in a state with legal marijuana sales, including the entire West Coast.

Former Facebook president Sean Parker led the coalition that promoted the initiative.

"Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself," Jason Kinney, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

If passed, legalization will mean that adults 21 and over will be able to buy an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail outlets and also grow up to six pot plants for personal recreational use.

Pot smoking would be prohibited in areas where tobacco use is banned now, including restaurants, bars and other enclosed public places.

Sales of both recreational and medical weed would be taxed initially at a rate of 15 percent. Counties and cities would be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses and impose their own additional taxes an fees.

Oregon: Marijuana Edibles Market Growing

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Following the rollout of edible marijuana products to Oregon's recreational cannabis market on June 2, manufacturers of pot-infused chocolate bars and gummy bears are stepping up their production.

The Oregon Legislative Revenue office expects a 10 to 15 percent increase in collected taxes for June recreational sales as a result.

The trend is expected to continue for the next few months, at least. The estimate is based on preliminary reports from the industry, and trends seen in Washington and Colorado, following their introduction of cannabis-infused products.

“It is a new range of products, a new market, and not necessarily the same market that marijuana leaves have been in for a long time,” said Mazen Malik, the senior economist at the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office. “Sales should be toward the higher end (of a 10 to 15 percent boost) in the beginning of the month, and then come down. People want to see how this works.”

Oregon recreational pot taxes in 2016 had reached $14.9 million total by May 30, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. The Legislative Revenue Office anticipates gross tax revenue should average $3.7 million per month.

Oregon: Portlanders Could Vote On 3% Marijuana Tax

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council will consider referring to voters a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana. Money raised would go to alcohol and drug treatment, support for small businesses, and public safety.

Currently, recreational marijuana is taxed at 25 percent in Oregon. That will drop to 20 percent starting January 1, but cities and counties have the option of enacting a 3 percent local tax. But voters have to approve it.

It will be on the November 2016 ballot if the city council refers it to voters.

The tax was proposed by Commissioner Amanda Fritz. She says it would raise $3 million per year and the ballot measure would ensure the money doesn’t go into the general fund.

“There’ll be a robust conversation at council about, are these the right items to dedicate it to? There’s been some suggestions to not dedicate it at all or to put it to something that’s not related to marijuana use, and I think the taxes work best when there’s a clear nexus between the people who pay and the people who benefit and to make sure that that’s fair,” says Fritz.

Fritz says the amount of tax revenue going to each cause will change every year based on input from the community during the budget process.

Washington: Microsoft Is Starting A Marijuana Software Service

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Washington-based Microsoft Corp., one of the nation's largest tech companies, plans to offer software for governments to track marijuana in states where it's legal.

The New York Times reported the news, calling Microsoft "the first big company to say it's serving the legal marijuana trade."

The software is designed to help states where pot is legal track marijuana plants from “seed to sale” — a service known as track-and-trace.

The Times says that large companies have shied away from any involvement in the marijuana industry until now, with the drug still illegal in most states and under federal law.

A number of states have legalized recreational marijuana, like Washington, Microsoft's home, and half of the states have legalized medical marijuana in some form. California, Arizona and several other states will vote on legalization this fall.

State-legalized marijuana sales are expected to climb to $6.5 billion this year, up from $4.8 billion last year, according to marijuana-industry analyst Matthew A. Karnes of Green Wave Advisors.

Microsoft has branded its cannabis-compliance software Kind Government Solutions, and will offer the software to government and regulatory agencies via its cloud-computing Azure Government platform.

New Jersey: Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Legalize Marijuana In Atlantic City

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

One New Jersey lawmaker believes legalizing marijuana in Atlantic City would be a good idea for the struggling city.

Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said he will introduce a bill Thursday to let voters decide whether to make recreational use of marijuana legal only in Atlantic City.

The bill is called Promoting Opportunities for Tomorrow, or POT.

It would put the question on a statewide general election ballot, giving voters the opportunity to vote to permit the commercial growth, sale,possession, consumption, and taxation of marijuana within the city limits of Atlantic City for adults 21 years of age and over.

Marijuana would be taxed at 20 percent of its market price, with Atlantic City and the state sharing the revenue.

Atlantic City is struggling with severe financial problems that began with the contraction of its casino industry. Four of the city's 12 casinos shut down in 2014, and the state is considering a takeover of the city's finances unless it comes up with a turnaround plan in five months.

Gusciora wrote in the bill that criminalization of marijuana "is archaic and has had a disparate, harmful impact on minority communities" throughout New Jersey, including Atlantic City.

Colorado: Weed Sales Set New Monthly Record At $117.4M

April 2016 set a record for highest monthly total marijuana sales in Colorado.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado's monthly cannabis sales broke a record with their highest total yet: $117.4 million worth of flower, edibles, and concentrates sold in April 2016.

The state Department of Revenue reported that marijuana shops sold almost $76.6 million in recreational cannabis for April, significantly passing the previous high-water mark of $62.2 million for December 2015.

In comparison, recreational sales increased more than 80 percent from $42.4 million in April 2015. Medical marijuana sales for the month also were going strong at $40.8 million, which is a 22 percent increase from the previous month.

The record-setting sales also meant a healthy revenue payoff for the state. There are three different taxes on Colorado’s recreational cannabis — the standard 2.9 percent state sales tax, a special 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers, which is earmarked for school construction projects. The more than $5.5 million collected in excise tax is a monthly record from when recreational sales began in January 2014, and brings the yearly total to $16.7 million.

Ontario: Anger After Dozens Of Marijuana Shops Raided By Toronto Police

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana is legal in Canada but only licensed providers can sell it to people who are approved by a doctor to use it.

Police made 90 arrests Thursday while raiding 43 Toronto marijuana shops.

The raids come just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government is on the verge of making marijuana legal for recreational use.

Protesters gathered outside police headquarters Friday, calling the marijuana dispensaries essential.

People held up signs reading "Bad Laws, Bad Cops" and "Save Our Dispensaries."

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders held a news conference addressing the storefront raids on Friday but was shouted down by protesters.

He said the crackdown was on stores that police believe are selling marijuana to recreational users.

There are 83 known unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in Toronto.

He said the raids, which collected 269 kilograms of dried marijuana and many edibles such as cookies and candies, came in response to "significant complaints" from community members.

The stores had been selling marijuana products with "inaccurate information" about the amount of THC they contain, he said, calling it a "genuine health concern".

Louisiana: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Measure

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill Thursday to expand medical marijuana law in the state.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana for decades, but there has been no legal infrastructure for its production or distribution and it was limited to only three qualifying conditions.

The new law will allow people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, wasting syndrome, seizure disorders and spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, or multiple sclerosis to seek a doctor’s “recommendation” for non-intoxicating cannabis oil treatment.

“This is one of those bills that I believe will have a positive impact on people who need it the most,” Edwards said.

Critics are concerned that the expansion of medical marijuana could lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Edwards said he's comfortable that the new law won't lead to that.

“We’re not gonna have a slippery slope where it becomes a medicine recommended for every ailment out there,” he said. “It’s carefully crafted, but it’s meaningful.”

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