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California: Study Shows Marijuana Decriminalization Associated With Improved Labor Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Data compiled by economists at the University of California shows that reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with greater overall employment and higher wages.

Researchers at the Economic Self-Sufficiency Research Policy Institute at the University of California at Irvine assessed the relationship between statewide marijuana decriminalization laws and labor outcomes.

The report says that decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. The greatest average wage increase was experienced by African-Americans.

"This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes," the authors concluded. "This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."

Colorado: Retail/Recreational Marijuana Licenses Increase, Medical Licenses Decrease

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The latest Colorado Marijuana Market Report finds that retail/recreational licenses are increasing in number while medical licenses are decreasing. Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is the producer of the quarterly Market Report.

“The total number of active marijuana business licenses issued by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division is at an all-­time record high of 2,971, up from 2,913 in December 2016,” says Seaborn. “52.5 percent of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, down from 54.5 percent in December 2016. 47.5 percent are for recreational/retail businesses, up from 45.5 percent.”

Retail dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all increased in number since December 2016, the report finds, while medical centers, cultivation and manufacturing licenses have all decreased.

The Colorado Marijuana Market Report will be a quarterly publication by Seaborn analyzing the data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Industrial Hemp Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill expanding the availability of licenses for the state's hemp production, reports the Register-Herald. The measure will allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to approve a license for any individual rather than just state colleges and universities.

First-time license applicants will be required to submit their fingerprints and undergo state and federal background checks at their own expense. Individuals granted a license will be “presumed to be growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes,” according to the bill text. Licenses will expire annually on December 31.

The measure passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

Crescent Gallagher, communications director for the Department of Agriculture, said industrial hemp could play a role in improving the state’s economy.

“The department is looking forward to working with individuals who are interested in growing industrial hemp,” he said in an April 5 Gazette-Mail report. “The hope is that hemp becomes a niche crop that helps grow our agriculture industries and spur economic growth to help diversify our economy.”

U.S.: National District Attorneys Association Pens Prohibitionist Paper

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The National District Attorneys Association has released a paper supporting the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

The authors conclude that “federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be applied consistently across the nation to maintain respect for the rule of law.”

The paper goes on to say "As a Schedule I drug, federal authorities have found that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and lacks safety for use under medical supervision."

The NDAA working group called children’s access to cannabis “one of the most significant concerns about legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.”

“Legalization of marijuana for purported medicinal and recreational purposes has increased access by children,” the letter contends. “…It is vitally important to do all we can to prevent access to marijuana by youth in America. Their health, safety and welfare demand no less.”

Montana: Medical Marijuana Sales Tax Bill Heads To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill imposing a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana sales in Montana passed in the House 68-31 and has moved to Governor Steve Bullock's desk. Sen. Mary Caferro, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure, which was amended from 6 percent, will help the state regulate the program.

“The 4 percent tax was an amendment in the Senate and I supported it, and the reason is because the 4 percent tax is enough to set up the system,” she said in the report. “And that’s common practice, industry pays for their regulation.”

The tax will drop to 2 percent in July 2018 and will help cover new regulations including a seed-to-sale tracking system, site and shop inspections, and lab testing.

“The point of the bill, again, is to make sure that Montana has a regulated system so the feds don’t come shut it down,” Caferro said.

Kari Boiter, co-founder of the Patient Rights Network said the sales tax - which was 6 percent at the time - would create undue burdens for those patients on limited incomes.

“We’re already dealing with exorbitant medical costs and debt that we’re trying to pay,” she said in an Associated Press report. “This is just one more thing that adds to the expenses we’re taking on as sick individuals.”

Bullock is expected to sign the measure which his spokesperson called “fair and modest” last month.

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