Cannabis News of the Day

Lots of Love in D.C. – A business exploits the ambiguities of cannabis laws to create a delivery market. Meanwhile, the District council has moved to ban private cannabis clubs two months after commissioning a study on the issue. And, three years later, the racial divide in arrests for marijuana still exists.

Oregon considers new ways to ingest low doses of cannabis, including candles and edibles, but it’s doing so with caution, say state regulators. Governor Kate Brown has, however, signed into law a bill permitting banks in Oregon to service cannabis businesses. The law may mean very little in the face of federal laws. But investors are still interested. Hilary Bricken talks about cannabis investors.

With cannabis legalization in Massachusetts and Vermont (and Maine) in limbo, Connecticut activists see a big opportunity for the short term. Governor Malloy could not disagree more. However, some other state lawmakers are pushing to bring the debate to the floor of the legislature. The speaker of the Colorado state house spoke to them yesterday.

The GAO’s recent report says that the DOJ should more carefully document the effects of legalization. DOJ is drawing flack from Congress as well, with Senators Grassley and Feinstein, both staunch anti-legalization advocates, holding a pointedly political hearing. So, do “good people” smoke marijuana? The senators would have you believe that this is not the case. Federal criticism aside, the U.N. will have to talk about cannabis this month. But here’s what they won’t talk about.

And finally, if cannabis is legalized, will gangs diversify? Keith Humphreys talks about the vast swathe of lower-income Americans whose views don’t always make it into policy discussions.

Cannabis News of the Day

The Vermont House of Representatives committee that is considering the cannabis legalization bill approved by the state senate weeks ago will likely not vote on the issue before early April. Issues that legislators have expressed concerns over include teen use and highway safety. These concerns are becoming a common refrain throughout the nation as more and more states consider legalization. As mentioned in a previous post, the White House drug czar, Michael Botticelli recently painted a troubling picture of legal cannabis, highlighting the dangers to children.

That said, cannabis legalization is a popular concept. Opinion polls and an analysis of previous cannabis proposals in Massachusetts seem to suggest that an overwhelming majority of state citizens do or will support the current initiative, despite the warnings of the governor and legislators sent to investigate the Colorado pot industry. All their trepidation may have a hard time flying in the face of what could be a $1.1 billion industry by the next election cycle.

Polls in Michigan, meanwhile, show a 53% support for legalization in that state. Pro-legalization activists think this is an underestimate, pointing to the earlier medical marijuana initiative that passed by a margin that was ten points large than polls indicated.

In California, the legal cannabis industry industry has a new investor: publishing mogul Larry Flynt. His $100,000 investment in the cannabis service provider Pineapple Express was undoubtedly welcome for the startup, but his political muscle may be even more important to the legalization movement as a whole. With more and more support rallying to the AUMA, the RAND Corporation’s Beau Kilmer explains what exactly would change in the state if it passes.

With buzzwords like “organic” and “locally grown,” why shouldn’t cannabis be easy to market? The answer has to do with long-standing and ingrained image problems. Popular political opinion can change, but will advertisers be able to brand pot?

And finally, the Supreme Court declared that quashing a cannabis industry in one state because it causes law breaking in other states was well beyond its jurisdiction. But even pot advocates realize that the issue is far from settled.

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Cannabis News of the Day

Information released by the State of Oregon suggests 2,478 people are employed directly by the state’s legal cannabis industry. But these numbers are far from complete, and that’s a problem.

Pot shops in Oregon may have great variety, but they’re also driving down the prices of black-market cannabis. Is the 25% state tax to blame? Next door, in Washington, the amount of seized cannabis has dropped by 80% in the last four years…but, say officials, legal pot is not necessarily responsible. Some Washingtonians disagree, saying that legal cannabis is eradicating crime, but that it could do so faster if Washington’s laws were uniform.

More transparency for the state-licensed cannabis industry in Colorado seems like a good thing. But, with uncertainty over legal protection, many dispensary operators see it as a roadmap for criminals to target their businesses.

“If you’re not first, you’re last?”: Vermont pundits say some true things about legalization while making some questionable claims about prohibition. Again, the objections are all about the kids.

Nipping it in the bud: Michigan’s senate plans to overhaul the rules on voter initiated petitions…conveniently timed to quash a popular measure to legalize cannabis.

In fact, cannabis seems to be popular all over the country, with support for legality reaching an all-time high of 61%. Still, the White House’s drug czar, Michael Botticelli, says that, despite a shift in focus toward harm reduction, America’s youth are still threatened by legalized pot.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is open to a little experimentation.

In a new essay for the Brookings Institution, John Hudak spells out the successes and pitfalls of the idea that made legal cannabis palatable: medical marijuana.

And, fresh from a series of government-sponsored debates, Mark Kleiman explains what is happening in Mexico.

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Cannabis News of the Day

Violent crime is again blamed on cannabis: Like many other cities across the country, Anchorage experienced a spike in violent crimes. Is there a connection to cannabis legalization in Alaska?

No couch potatoes in the Bay Area: Cannabis delivery services are not welcome in San Francisco, at least not as far as the legal system is concerned. At least there aren’t as many people using the postal service to move their products.

As the state house of representative considers an historic bill, Vermont’s governor wants his state to take a smarter approach to cannabis legalization. Next door, state policy makers aren’t so positive: More officials speak out against legalization in Massachusetts.

Legal pot means big money for the Oregon state budget. But how will that money be spent on public health?

The Supreme Court tosses out Oklahoma and Nebraska’s suit against the Colorado cannabis industry. Here’s what that means… And despite what’s been said (here) previously, the cannabis industry may have reasons to be optimistic about the president’s new SCOTUS pick.

Finally some pressure on the feds: GAO says congress “must act.”

But will the next president act first? Rolling Stone tells us that all of the presidential candidates support cannabis legalization…with some catches.

More estimates of just how large the legal cannabis market could become in the short term jive with earlier stats: $23 billion in 4 years. And it looks like, by that time, Washington will be leading the pack.

Is the green boom color biased? Here’s how white America is dominating the burgeoning industry. So are African Americans better off with cannabis reform?

The Ohio Attorney General has said that another cannabis legalization proposal in that state isn’t up to muster, citing issues with language and licensing requirements.

Fed up with the Liberal government, a petition in Canada for full legalization is gathering momentum. Here’s what some people think legalization could look like in Canada.

There seem to be plenty of pros and cons to legalization in California, but here is what Gavin Newsom has to say about a smarter approach to California laws. And, as a refresher, these are the key players in the debate in that state.

And….the trouble with Uruguay

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Cannabis News of the Day

More Massachusetts groups have signed onto the opposition to cannabis legalization in that state. All 14 Massachusetts sheriffs have stated their concern that legalization of the drug will destigmatize it and make children more likely to try it. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has published a response to the eviscerating op-ed it published two weeks ago. Not lost in the debate over whether to legalize are the details of how. Here’s why pundits think that Massachusetts’s proposed stoned-driving law could use some work, and an overview of responses to the stoned-driving problem in America.

The anti-cannabis rhetoric in California, quiet until a month ago, is ramping up, perhaps to hyperbole. Does cannabis make normal people murderers?

The politics of federal cannabis policy get a little more complicated: Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court has a history with cannabis, and he doesn’t seem likely to support rescheduling anytime soon. The 2016 American election, unlike the last Canadian one, has avoided tackling the cannabis issue directly. But here’s why the substance could become an issue before November rolls around. If it does, the election could mean big things for legal cannabis. And with that in mind, here’s where your candidates stand on the issue.

The business end: The U.S. News and World Report wants to tell you how to invest in marijuana legalization. What they’re saying is nothing new: invest in niches and ancillary products, not the plant itself. But what about how to market all these new businesses? The Atlantic weighs in on the art of marketing cannabis to a newly created set of consumers.

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A $44 billion grey area? New projections released in the Marijuana Business Daily 2016 Factbook suggest that by 2020, the US cannabis market will exceed $44 billion. That the industry is not legal on the federal level and perhaps will not be so in four years does not seem to daunt the authors. But Oregon cannabis industry insiders still call federal prohibition the “biggest hurdle” they face in creating successful businesses.

Joining the Party: Outside the U.S., the United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrats are calling for legalized cannabis to be sold in stores. And, surprisingly, Israel is garnering investments to create cannabis-related technologies. According to sources, the health minister (and ultra-orthodox rabbi) wants to “remove the notion of morality attached to the plant.” The move would position Israel as a leader in cannabis tech.

Maine’s botched attempt at cannabis legalization hangs on by a thread: Despite clear support for legalization in the state, the courts will have to decide whether the secretary of state’s office acted appropriately in disqualifying over 40,000 signatures on a recent petition.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has weighed in against legalizing recreational cannabis use in the wake of the recent Globe op-ed by Governor Charlie Baker and others. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the state attorney general has proposed a forum on the issue. And Vermont’s legislature seems on track to be the first in the nation to legalize recreational use of cannabis. But, pundits say, the state should wait.

The increase in DUI’s in Colorado has been the subject of much brow-furrowing over the last few months. The figures have been cited in other states as evidence of the inherent perils of cannabis legalization. However, it seems that many cannabis-related DUI’s are, in fact, dropped at trial, perhaps inflating the stats. While state troopers concede that driving stoned is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk, they believe it is too soon to tell what impact legalization has had on Colorado’s roads.

Cannabis News of the Day

Crashing the party: Vice’s Rachel Pick infiltrates a cannabis business conference in Manhattan and tells us about the less typical breed of pot enthusiasts, the Marijuana Men. One of the “Don Dopers” at that conference may well have been Willie Franklin, a former packaging contractor for the defense industry, who has decided it’s time to put a lid on cannabis. Franklin says his new business comes in response to anticipated federal regulations on pot. At the state level, every legislative pen stroke means the birth or death of whole industries. Colorado may be witnessing one such birth, that of the cannabis club. What’s next? Somewhere to put all the money cannabis-related businesses make. Financial services providers are eager to establish the first cannabis bank. Meanwhile, pundits are quick to point out the challenges – regulatory, ethical, and otherwise – Big Cannabis is likely to create. One such challenge: chemical pesticides and the role government can take in regulating cannabis production.

On the heels of this newly-created commerce is, of course, bureaucracy. The Influence magazine calls the Washington State cannabis market “one of the most tightly regulated industries in America.” In Colorado, caps on grow licenses, and odor ordinances dominate local cannabis legislation. Critics of the Colorado system say “it’s no paradise,” and fear the fallout on the state’s young people. They also tie the rise in parolee drug busts to the legalization of cannabis. Contrast this to a recent Washington Post editorial suggesting that legalization is better than decades of failed prohibition, at least when it comes to hurting the cartels. What is certain about Colorado’s cannabis market is that neighboring states loathe it. There has still been no decision, however, on the tenuous lawsuit brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma. That said, Idaho appears to be all for legalization. No word yet on how Wyoming would feel. And even less on what the Obama Administration is going to do, if they do anything at all.

Along Massachusetts Bay it’s turning out to be no tea party. This week, a special state senate committee released an anticipated report on the potential legalization of cannabis. The state’s governor and attorney general, and the mayor of Boston, writing in the Boston Globe, argue that the state shouldn’t fully legalize the drug, and they say it’s because of the kids. Their comments seem in line with the reputedly “scathing” committee report.

The Liberal government of Canada has a lot to juggle when it comes to cannabis. Everyone wants to weigh in on how not to legalize the drug, but, so far, there’s no consensus on how to move forward. Meanwhile, there may be some strong incentives for the United Kingdom to legalize cannabis…a billion of them, to be exact.

Finally, the snafu in Augusta causes more disgust: the devil is in the details in Maine.

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Not so fast: Could legalization in Canada spread slower than maple syrup? Pundits suppose it could take 2-3 years. The Liberal government backs this up with evidence of a deliberate attitude toward cannabis legalization. Says Trudeau: Just decriminalization is not an option.

A Washington Times op-ed blames drug liberalization for last year’s apparent spike in violent crime. In a surprise move, Robert Weiner and Ben Lasky exonerate the “Ferguson effect” and instead blame less anti-drug spots on TV.

“Just say no!”: Mississippi’s House of Representatives votes down a surprise attempt to change that state’s drug laws. In Maine, a citizen’s petition for legalization fails after 17,000 signatures are invalidated on (what supporters say is) a technicality. In a nice piece of doublespeak, Maine secretary of state Matthew Dunlap tells journalists, “Our goal isn’t to invalidate signatures. The goal is to make sure they are valid.” For comparison, the number of invalidated signatures equals, approximately, a third of the population of Portland, Maine’s largest city. Meanwhile, Portland, Oregon says no to drive-through dispensaries. And legislators in Vermont’s lower house are still not sure if the state is “ready to move forward with legalization,” meaning, presumably, that they will start a process to get the state prepared for the fulfillment of an extremely popular public policy measure…or they won’t.

In the yes column: New Hampshire says yes to legalization…or at least its citizens do…or at least those who participated in a recent poll. 62% approve of legalization for recreational use.


 

Cannabis News of the Day

May the fifth star shine bright? Thanks to favorable local and national moods, Vermont could well be the fifth state to legalize use and production of cannabis for recreational purposes. State senators have already signed off, despite prohibitive federal laws. Now it’s the Vermont House of Representatives’ turn to weigh in. But Speaker of the House Shap Smith thinks it’ll be more of a fight than previously predicted. Meanwhile, border states, especially New York, worry about the effects of pot proliferation.

Oregon plays banker: Both houses of the Oregon legislature have approved a bill to allow financial institutions to provide services to the cannabis industry. National prohibition still limits the extent to which this policy will affect the industry, but pundits believe it is a step in the right direction.

So far, so fast: Vice has just released another documentary on the Colorado cannabis trade, this time with a different spin: the plight of small-scale growers in the face of industrial operations.

With Louisiana potentially set to become the first red state to legalize cannabis, and with Puerto Rico’s governor calling for legal pot, the US cannabis market is headed for a major expansion by year’s end.

In Canada, a clear majority of citizens agree with legalizing cannabis. The issue, a key part of the Liberal government’s campaign platform, has been a hazy policy area during the past few weeks. The nation has the chance to legalize cannabis in a responsible, comprehensive manner; but, some say, the country has a lot to learn.


Cannabis News of the (Leap) Day

The opposition to California’s most potent pot-legalization measure (AUMA) is finally gathering some green: The California Public Safety Institute, which successfully defeated the 2010 recreational cannabis use initiative, has begun fundraising in earnest, tapping law enforcement organizations, faith groups, unions, and other stalwarts of the anti-legalization camp. Though leadership does not anticipate outspending the forces behind the AUMA, they believe they will succeed. This in the face of 60% support for legalization in the state (compared to a 51% approval rating for CA governor Jerry Brown).

Elsewhere in the Pacific Rim…Alaska has revamped its legalization timeline, estimating that the state’s regulatory board will begin approving retail and production facilities by early September.

Rumblings in Michigan: A state senator has introduced a bill that proposes to legalize recreational cannabis use. Some non-profits and victims’-rights groups object.

The Vermont legalization bill makes its way to the state’s lower house.

One year later in D.C.: The District of Columbia, still the largest jurisdiction on the east coast to legalize recreational cannabis, put the federal government’s resolve (or lack thereof) to enforce federal prohibition laws to the test a year ago with Initiative 71. Now, pundits say, there is more work to be done.

Are Canadians getting cold feet? The new Liberal government has been given six months to reformulate Canadian cannabis policy. Many Canadians believe that recreational legalization is a given, but, realistically, it’s more complicated than that. With so much popular support on the side of legalization, why the delay? The answer has much to do with the often complicated relationship between winning elections and writing policy.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Commonwealth, Australia legalizes medical marijuana for the right reasons.