Cannabis Entrepreneurs Worried as Big Businesses Move Into Industry
Inc. - Will Yakowicz - 6/24/16
Steve DeAngelo, a veteran marijuana activist turned entrepreneur, warns that as marijuana prohibition ends and corporations start entering the industry, the pioneers could lose their place to disruptive technologies and business models.
Marijuana legalization means that bigger corporate interests and institutional capital will enter the industry and start competing with the businesses and entrepreneurs who have been at it for decades.
But what does this mean for the industry's activists and pioneers who protested federal law, got arrested, and created the very industry that is attracting attention as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy? Entrepreneurs will be displaced, says Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside, the largest dispensary in the U.S., during his keynote address at the National Cannabis Industry Association business summit and expo in Oakland on Wednesday.
DeAngelo explains that there are only ten states in the U.S.that haven't reformed their cannabis laws in some way, there are eight ballot measures across different states to pass more reform this November, and the DEA could recognize that cannabis has medical benefits and might reschedule it this summer. All of this change will open the industry up to new entrants, bigger, more mainstream companies, and institutional investment. While legalization will be overwhelmingly positive, it won't be without negative effects on the current industry.
"This is going to the painful, it will hurt a lot of people who have been in the industry for decades," says DeAngelo. "It's going to hurt the very people who have helped bring the industry to today."
DeAngelo explained that industry newcomers have the ability to raise more money than legacy players because they have more connections to active capital markets outside of cannabis, he says. The new entrants will introduce disruptive business models that will force legacy businesses to change the way they have been doing things for decades.
"Legacy cannabis companies will need to learn how to adapt to a much more intense competitive environment and changing cultural landscape," says DeAngelo. "The folks coming in are not from the cannabis underground, they come with different values. There will be a process of adaptation for the legacy entrepreneurs."
A lot of the folks coming into the legal cannabis market are from other industries and have established political power and financial resources, says DeAngelo.
"Some of these players have been able to influence legislation to game the system to their benefit," says DeAngelo. "In Nevada, there is a provision that gives the distribution of cannabis exclusively to alcohol distribution companies. Guess who put that one in there?"
As the DEA and FDA look to possibly reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, DeAngelo says if the federal government decides marijuana has medical benefits, it will help pharmaceutical companies enter the industry.
"It's evident that rescheduling will be a platform for Big Pharma to come in and take significant marketshare," says DeAngelo.
But as different formulations of cannabis hit the market, more people will try cannabis products.
"More sophisticated products like vape pens, transdermal patches, pills, topical creams, beverages and edibles will provide new adopters, newcomers to cannabis with more socially acceptable ways of using cannabis," says DeAngelo.
Once federal law is reformed and national brands are created, institutional investors will come into he space and start acquiring the strongest brands.
"The institutional investors are almost here, I can hear them in the hall way," says DeAngelo. "When they come, there will be a rich wave of exits, of acquisitions of companies who have played their cards right and been smart. I think those first acquisitions will be science companies, medical companies, companies that do genetics, others that explore new formulations. We will then see cannabis beverage companies that will be acquired by huge mainstream beverage corporations, companies that already make beverages at large scale."
As the cannabis industry changes, as more companies come into the market from outside of the industry, more customers will come to use cannabis.
"I don't think this is a bad thing," says DeAneglo. "All of this is a good thing. There is this monumental collision that is about to happen between the corporate world and cannabis. If we are ever going to achieve our goal, if this plant is ever going to get in the hands of people all over the world, this will be necessary."
Lastly, DeAngelo spoke directly to the legacy entrepreneurs and the newcomers.
The legacy entrepreneurs, DeAngelo says, are going to be called upon to make one more sacrifice--to let go of the cannabis plant and let it go completely mainstream, which will mean some pioneers will lose their place and new entrants will replace them.
"Let's make this sacrifice gracefully, we need to release this plant and allow her to go out, get wings, claim her destiny, to go out and help every single person she can help and we are not going to do it ourselves," says DeAngelo. "We have to welcome these newcomers, we need to let them help the industry."
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Congress mellows on pot crackdowns
Politico - Ben Weyl & Matthew Nassbaum - 6/26/16
Don’t break out the bong just yet, but Congress is quietly chipping away at the federal ban on marijuana. It’s not happening with a sweeping national law, but through modest provisions slipped into spending bills in recent weeks.
For example: Bills funding the Veterans Affairs Department have a line that lifts a prohibition on medical marijuana. The Senate Appropriations Committee has adopted provisions barring the federal government from interfering on pot enforcement where medical marijuana is already legal. And there’s movement in both chambers to make sure banks don’t get penalized for handling money from legal pot businesses.
None of these will bring overnight change on the federal level. But each little measure shows that Congress, following the lead of the states, is moving in the general direction of legalization, advocates say.
“We can kind of look at this as the end of prohibition, or at least the beginning of the end of prohibition,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who backed his state’s 2014 ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana and is helping lead efforts to soften federal restrictions.
Attitudes around the country and on Capitol Hill have changed so quickly that even advocates of rolling back pot restrictions have been surprised. It was only a few years ago that even the most modest reform proposals were rejected in the House and Senate, said Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Now? “We just win all the time,” he said, sounding not unlike a certain presidential candidate.
Most of the winning has taken place during the humdrum, but hugely consequential annual appropriations process, and this year is no different. A series of bipartisan provisions to loosen marijuana laws have been attached to government funding bills and are making their way through the House and Senate. In particular, lawmakers are making it easier for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana and are nudging banks to provide services to the nascent recreational marijuana industry, a key step toward legitimizing sales of the drug and paving the way for easy access at stores where pot is legal.
Democrats have typically been the strongest backers of reforming marijuana laws, but Republicans are increasingly lending their support as opinion shifts in red states, speeding up momentum in Congress.
“The missing component was the constitutionalists and the libertarian conservatives,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a conservative Republican from California, who has rallied GOP support to loosen restrictions.
Rohrabacher helped secure language in a 2014 omnibus spending bill to prohibit the Justice Department from interfering in medical marijuana programs that are legal in the states. The provision was enacted again in last year’s appropriations package and is being pushed on this year’s spending bills as well.
Today, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana; another 18 permit cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that is used to treat epilepsy or seizures in children. Recreational marijuana is legal in four states and the District, with another four voting to do so this year, including California, the most populous state and often a harbinger of change for the country.
“Basically, we have left medical marijuana to the states,” Rohrabacher said, adding, “I think there really is every indication that the states will legalize the personal use by adults of cannabis as well.”
Rohrabacher said he expected marijuana legalization to be a “states’ rights” issue for some time, and that ultimately federal prohibition won’t mean much at all. “Eventually there’s only going to be a few states that held out and kept the ban,” he said.
One of the biggest victories for advocates to come this year would be lifting the longtime ban on veterans even discussing medical marijuana with their Veterans Affairs doctors in states where it is legal.
GOP Sen. Steve Daines of Montana offered an amendment to the VA funding bill in April to allow vets to consider such treatment, calling the restrictions a violation of each state’s 10th Amendment constitutional rights. His amendment was adopted 20-10 in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the bill was easily passed by the Senate.
A similar proposal, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), was defeated in the two previous years. Not this time — it was adopted by the House last month, 233-189. The language was stripped from a conference committee report on the VA bill last week, but even if it ultimately doesn’t make it to the president’s desk on that measure, it could find life elsewhere. The VA also might act on its own to lift the ban after getting endorsements from a majority of the House and Senate.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently adopted bipartisan amendments to the bills funding the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to prohibit the federal government from impeding medical marijuana programs in states where it is legal.
“I want to make sure the law is crystal clear and doctors in my home state of Washington and states like it don’t have to worry about care for their patients,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who offered the amendment earlier this month to the HHS spending bill.
Recreational pot is also high on lawmakers’ agenda.
One of the marijuana industry’s biggest barriers is an inability to access traditional banking services, as most banks are deeply wary of getting involved with a product that remains federally banned. The Obama administration has actually encouraged banks to do business with companies in states where marijuana is legal, but few have done so.
That’s left marijuana dispensaries to conduct business entirely in cash — including transactions with customers and paying employees and taxes — which is catnip to criminals. Just days ago, a former Marine working as a security guard was shot and killed during an attempted robbery at a Colorado dispensary.
Earlier this month, Merkley got an amendment added to the bill that funds the Treasury Department to ensure that banks are not penalized if they provide services to state-sanctioned marijuana businesses. His amendment was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 16-14 vote.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) had hoped the House would vote on a similar proposal when the House takes up its Treasury spending bill. The House easily adopted the language two years ago, but it did not make it to the president’s desk. His amendment, however, was denied a floor vote last week by the House Rules Committee.
Heck called it a “terrible decision” that would undermine public safety, and he cited the news of the security guard’s killing. “Our worst fears were realized,” he said.
The marijuana industry is closely watching debate over the proposal, which could still be enacted in an omnibus spending bill later this year. “This is more than a symbolic effort; this can have a very real policy impact,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “It is simply an unsustainable situation for a 5½-billion-dollar industry to continue to not have access to banking services.”
In the latest sign that corporate America is increasingly eager to embrace the lucrative marijuana business, Microsoft recently began offering new computing services to help state governments track medical and recreational marijuana sales.
Collins, of the drug policy group, said he was disappointed Heck’s amendment won’t come up for a vote in the House but said such efforts would succeed in Congress sooner rather than later.
“The clock is ticking on prohibition,” he said. “The end is nigh.”
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Maine marijuana question first on November ballot
AP, WCSH - 6/27/16
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine residents who vote "yes on 1" this November will legalize marijuana use and possession for those at least 21 years old.
The state has randomly ordered this fall's ballot questions: following marijuana legalization is a new education tax, background checks for gun sales, a minimum wage increase and lastly a question allowing voters to rank chosen candidates.
The proposed 3 percent tax on incomes above $200,000 would support K-12 public education.
A group tied to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending millions to advocate for requiring background checks before individuals not licensed as firearms dealers can sell or transfer firearms, with some exceptions.
Voters will also consider raising the minimum hourly wage to $12 by 2020 and eventually having tipped employees make the same as hourly workers.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Copyright 2016 Associated Press
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Democratic Party Officially Includes Marijuana Reform in Its 2016 Platform
High Times - Mike Adams - 6/27/16
The Democratic National Committee, which is led by embattled anti-pot proponent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has officially made the decision to include marijuana reform in the party’s 2016 platform.
Over the weekend, the DNC announced the party was taking sides with the issue of taming the pot laws in the United States, a position that is said to include the elimination of the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana, tearing down the barriers currently in place with respect the studying the plant’s therapeutic benefits, and allowing the scourge of prohibition to be severed at the neck in those states electing to make the cannabis industry a part of their economic profile.
In a statement, the party said: “We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
While the DNC’s latest stance on pot reform is a positive step forward, it does not go as deep as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for, last week, ahead of the party’s announcement. Sanders, who is still seemingly swinging for the Democratic nomination despite Hillary Clinton having already claimed her position on the ticket, was pushing for the DNC to embrace the total elimination of pot prohibition in the United States.
In a recent email, Sanders suggested that the agenda of the 12 million voters who stood up for the “political revolution” should be a priority for the DNC, calling for supporters to visit his website and select from more than 20 political platform ideas that they would like to see the Democrats get behind.Among the list was to “Remove Marijuana From The Federal Controlled Substances Act.”
According to Marijuana.com, the concept of amending the national drug policy was echoed last Friday during a Democratic Platform Drafting hearing in St. Louis, where Sanders-appointed panel member Bill McKibben told the room that “The idea that marijuana is maintained in federal policy as a drug equivalent to heroin or cocaine or methamphetamine is not only silly, it’s also damaged millions of lives at this point as people have had to cope with the repercussions of that unsound federal policy.
“We’ve begun to see experimentation in states with good effect,” he continued, “and it’s important that the federal government let that experimentation continue in full without any of the problems that are caused by marijuana continuing to be a federally scheduled drug.”
Unfortunately, while it does not appear the Democrats will enter into the final stretch of the election season by taking a bold leap in supporting the end of marijuana prohibition, the party’s decision to side with any pot reform, at all, should be considered, at bare minimum, a victory for the cause. After all, it was not that long ago when DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told The New York Times that she didn’t think the United States should legalize marijuana because it is a gateway drug. Of course, that statement caused the Florida Congresswoman to catch a substantial amount of heat from cannabis advocates all over the country because it was later revealed that her opinion might have been influenced by the thousands of dollars in campaign donations she has received throughout the years from the alcohol industry – makers of a socially accepted substance that has been proven time and again to be the real gateway to addiction.
Although the party’s position on pot reform is likely in the bag, Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority says the DNC’s marijuana platform could still be revised in the coming weeks.
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FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2014 file photo, Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan reacts as the receiving yards for Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins are announced and posted on the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game in Houston. Morgan wants the NFL to study how medical marijuana could help players. Morgan said Thursday, June 23, 2016, on Twitter that its time for the @NFL to take an HONEST look into the potential medical benefits of Cannabis for its players. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Titans' Derrick Morgan wants NFL to study health benefits of cannabis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan has joinedEugene Monroe in asking the NFL to research cannabis's potential benefits on long-term health.
"I feel like the NFL has a responsibility to look into it, to delegate time and money to research this for its players," Morgan told Yahoo Global News. "Given how much influence that the NFL has on society, I think it would help the greater good. There's a lot of people suffering and a lot of people that can benefit from cannabis as a medical treatment."
Morgan and Monroe appeared together in an interview with host Katie Couric. Monroe previously had been the only active player to publicly campaign to get medical marijuana removed from the NFL's banned substances list.
Morgan posted a photo of himself with Monroe and Couric after the interview was posted online and again mentioned the "medical benefits of cannabis" in a series of tweets Thursday.
Morgan, a 2010 first-round draft pick, has recorded 27.5 sacks for the Titans in 76 career games. He signed a four-year, $27 million contract in 2015 with $10.5 million guaranteed.
His 2015 season was cut short by a shoulder injury, and the Titans held him out of team drills during organized team activities and minicamp.
Morgan isn't concerned about the reaction to his stance on cannabis as a potential benefit to NFL players.
"In thinking of the benefits that will come from spreading the awareness and the knowledge about this substance, I think greatly outweighs any backlash or ramifications that might come about it," he told Yahoo. "It's about not only us, but former players, future players and more so society as a whole."
The Titans said in a statement that Morgan "is a valued member" of the team.
"While we will decline comment on the content of his statements, we respect Derrick a great deal, and we believe our players always have the right to express their viewpoints on topics about which they are passionate," the team said.
Monroe was released earlier this month by the Baltimore Ravens, who said the decision to move on from the left tackle was based on football and not a result of his medical marijuana advocacy. Monroe said his release by the Ravens wouldn't deter him from his cause.
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Floyd Landis starts cannabis product business in Colorado
Controversial former rider to produce vape and edible cannabis products
Recreational use of cannabis and was made legal in 2014 in Colorado, sparking a multi-million dollar industry. Anyone over the age of 21 can grow, possess and consume a small amount of the drug, with a wide range of products now available.
According to a press release obtained by Cyclingnews, Landis plans to specialize in products containing cannabis oil sourced from high altitude growers using an industry leading, pharmacy grade CO2 extraction process.
The press release says “the uniquely formulated vape and edible products are crafted for an enhanced consumer experience and are carefully prepared by licensed pharmacists to maximize the many health benefits of recreational cannabis.”
Landis won Tour de France in 2006 but then lost his title after testing positive for an irregular testosterone ratio. He denied doping for several years but then confessed in 2011, leading to Armstrong’s fall and eventual confession.
Since quitting professional cycling, Landis has been fighting a whistle blower legal battle with Lance Armstrong but seems set to start a new career as high-quality cannabis products producer in Colorado. The Floyd’s of Leadville has already created a website and social media accounts.
“I am really excited about this new phase of my life. The cannabis industry is growing fast and I am fortunate to have this opportunity to play a role,” Landis is quoted as saying in the press release announcing his new company and career.
Landis sees the mission of the company as dual-faceted, both as a producer of premium products and as a supporter of alternatives to addictive painkillers. He has often endured chronic pain due to suffering with osteonecrosis in his hip. Landis underwent hip replacement surgery in 2006.
“The therapeutic uses for cannabis can't be ignored. For years I relied on opioid pain relievers to treat my hip pain. With cannabis, I find that I can manage my pain and have a better quality of life. We need to give people a safer alternative,” the press release states Landis as saying.
Floyd’s of Leadville will host its product launch on Thursday June 30 at Club Vinyl in Denver, Colorado.
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Cannabis Church to hold first service, combats marijuana stigma
Lansing State Journal-Eric Lacy-6/24/16
First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason welcomes all to its first service to be held 1-3 p.m. Sunday at 918 Southland Ave. Ordained minister, a licensed caregiver, stresses community outreach.
LANSING -- A non-denominational church eager to combat the stigma often associated with marijuana use plans to hold Sunday its first service that's welcome to all.
The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason is scheduled to hold its inaugural service and potluck from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, led by Jackson resident Jeremy Hall, a 34-year-old ordained minister. It will be held inside the Lansing Herbal Farmers Market, 918 Southland Ave.
Hall is a state-licensed medical marijuana patient and caregiver who intends to have weekly services at the location that inspire and encourage community outreach. He said Lansing is the perfect place for the church because it has shown support of medical marijuana use and dispensaries since the state's Medical Marihuana Act of 2008.
City officials and residents who have voiced opinions in public meetings estimate there could be up to 70 dispensaries in the city.
"What I'm hoping to accomplish in the long run is to provide a place where people can be spiritual, but can also feel safe to take any of their medication," Hall said. "If they also feel cannabis is part of their spirituality, they can combine the two in a safe environment."
Hall estimates at least 40 people will attend the church's first service. As of Thursday afternoon, a Facebook page for the church's first service drew attendance commitments from 39 people. Hall said he believe First Cannabis Church is the first of its kind in Michigan. The church, according to the Facebook page, "leaves religious theology up to the individual" and aims to uplift members and the community through "personal moral growth and philosophical understanding."
Hall encourages both medical marijuana users and non-users to visit the non-profit, agnostic place of worship and bring an an open mind with them. He said marijuana can be part of a religious experience because it can help people in pain and create a sense of belonging.
"You are consuming something that is breaking down all these preconceived notions and barriers and provides an outpouring of love," Hall said.
Lansing voters passed in 2013 a City Charter amendment that mandates nothing in the city's Code of Ordinances applies to the use, possession or transfer of less than once ounce of marijuana on private property by a person who is at least 21.
Since the service will be held on private property, Hall doesn't anticipate any problems or abuse of city rules and regulations. The congregation is expected to pass a marijuana roach collection jar around during the service to provide for marijuana patients in need.
"If you have any extra or if you normally toss them out, please consider saving them up and bringing them with you. Every one helps!!!," the church's Facebook page reads.
Anyone who brings dishes to pass at the church's potluck is asked to label clearly if the dishes are infused with marijuana or oil produced by marijuana.
The church's first service comes at a time with Lansing City Council members are considering creation of a marijuana ordinance that could affect dispensary owners, licensed patients and caregivers. Owners of dispensaries, also known as provisioning centers, have been operating at their own peril since the state's Medical Marihuana Act of 2008.
Chris Walsh, the Marijuana Business Daily's founder, said Lansing can reap the benefits of a growing, multi-billion dollar medical marijuana industry nationally if the city embraces the culture supporting it and passes sensible regulations.
“It’s a lot like whack-a-mole," Walsh said of Lansing and other municipalities across the county lacking regulations. "(Success) really depends on the resources the city has and the dedication it has in enforcing the law.”
The national trade magazine's 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook reports that "cannabis storefronts" average $974 in revenue annually per square foot of space – slightly higher than the typical Whole Foods store.
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Legal weed sparks Colorado debate - why not allow pot clubs?
By-Kristen Wyatt | AP 6/21/16
DENVER — Legal marijuana is giving Colorado a stinky conundrum. Visitors can buy the drug, but they can’t use it in public. Or in a rental car. Or in most hotel rooms.
The result is something marijuana advocates and opponents feared — people toking up on sidewalks, in city parks and in alleys behind bars and restaurants — despite laws against doing so. And they’re getting dinged with public marijuana consumption tickets.
From the capital city of Denver to mountain resorts like Aspen and Breckenridge, police wrote nearly 800 citations in for the new crime of public consumption in 2014, the first year recreational sales began.
Some legalization advocates believe they have a solution — pot clubs. Denver voters may consider a ballot measure this fall to make the city the most populous place in the nation to expressly allow pot clubs.
“People need a place to go,” said Teresa Wright of the Denver suburb of Lafayette. Wright was volunteering in Denver recently to gather signatures to ask voters this fall about allowing private pot clubs in the city.
“You can go out anywhere and see people using alcohol. To socialize, to relax. But not marijuana,” Wright said. “We deserve to have a place. It’s a legal activity.”
But marijuana clubs have proven a harder sell here than legalizing the drug in the first place.
The amendment that legalized marijuana doesn’t give people the right to use it “openly or publicly,” a nod to critics who said legalization would lead to an explosion of Amsterdam-style clubs. But Colorado’s constitution doesn’t ban public use, either, leading to a confusing patchwork of local policies on weed clubs.
Denver and Colorado Springs have existing pot clubs, but the clubs operate somewhat underground with occasional police busts.
The small northern Colorado town of Nederland regulates a club that advertises, “out of state, out of country, and of course locals are welcome.” In southern Colorado, Pueblo County allows clubs but has none.
Things get even more complicated in the Denver suburb of Englewood, where city council members were apparently taken by surprise that the city had licensed a pot club. They then voted 7-0 this month to allow no more clubs.
No other states with legal recreational pot have licensed clubs, either. Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board voted last year to repeal an explicit ban on social marijuana clubs, but the state hasn’t yet finished work on the potential to allow for people to use pot at certain stores that sell marijuana.
Concerns about pot clubs mirror worries about legalizing the drug. Law enforcement officials have said the clubs could lead to more impaired driving, though there’s no evidence that existing underground clubs have been linked to traffic accidents or crime.
“There’s no good regulatory model for what these clubs should look like,” said Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer.
The Democrat planned to propose some sort of pot club bill during the recent legislative session, but gave up after law enforcement, the pot industry, state regulators and even bars and restaurants couldn’t agree on how it should work.
Others worry that pot clubs would further encourage minors to try the drug. One Denver woman interviewed at a popular park said she fears that clubs would further entice her underage grandchildren to try pot.
“The fact is, marijuana is all over the city now,” said Sara Epstein, 77. “It’s so easy to get. Why do they need a club? That’s just going to show kids it’s even easier to get. It’s the wrong message.”
Marijuana activists trying to get a club measure on Denver ballots say pot skeptics should welcome clubs for just that reason.
“You don’t want it in your face? Great. Let’s get it off the street,” said Jordan Person, head of Denver NORML, which is backing the ballot measure. “We’re not going to put more people on the road high. They’re already there, probably driving while they use it. So this is better than that.”
Person’s group has until mid-August to collect about 5,000 signatures to put the question on municipal ballots this November. She had no estimate how much the campaign could cost if the measure makes ballots. Four years ago, Denver County approved legalization nearly 2-to-1.
“For me what it comes down to is personal freedom,” Wright said. “We don’t want to hurt anybody. People just don’t want to smell it, like cigarette smoke. So it makes sense to give people a place to enjoy cannabis with other adults.”
This potential ballot measure could ‘devastate’ Colorado’s pot industry
By- Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press June 17, 2016
DENVER — Pot skeptics have been cleared to start work on the most sweeping effort yet to attack Colorado marijuana legalization.
A ballot measure cleared for petitioning Thursday by the Colorado Supreme Court would set new potency and packaging limits on recreational marijuana.
Under the proposal, packaging would have to include warnings that marijuana carries a risk of “permanent loss of brain abilities.” The measure also includes a new potency limit, meaning that popular forms of marijuana such as vape pens and some edibles would be illegal.
Supporters of the measure say that most marijuana sold today is too strong and that current warning labels are inadequate.
The pot skeptics tried and failed earlier this year to get state lawmakers to limit potency. Lawmakers were sympathetic but resisted the change because the state constitution expressly permits all forms of marijuana. The industry compared the change to regulating the strength of alcohol.
The marijuana critics have proposed changing the constitution to allow potency limits. Backed by legalization opponents including former State House Speaker Frank McNulty, the measure also states that pot businesses can’t get out of the changes by arguing they are impractical.
Marijuana industry attorneys say the measure would ban 80 percent of marijuana products sold today.
“The initiative could devastate Colorado’s fastest-growing industry,” Roy Bingham, head of pot-industry tracking firm BDS Analytics, said in a statement.
Proponents of the measure did not immediately respond to requests for interviews.
The court’s ruling clears supporters to start collecting about 98,000 signatures to put the question on ballots. Signatures are due Aug. 8.
If the petition is successful, Amendment 139 would be the most significant attempt to roll back access to marijuana in any of the four states and District of Columbia that have legalized recreational pot.
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Pot banking effort passes Senate committee — again
By- David Migoya June 16, 2016
Banks wishing to do business with the marijuana industry without fear of government reprisal inched closer to reality — again — when a Senate committee Thursday approved a measure — again — to do just that.
A bill nearly identical to one passed by the Senate last year, this time sponsored by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and would forbid the use of federal funds to penalize a financial institution that works with marijuana enterprises legally operating under state laws.
Last year’s effort failed to reach any debate in the House, a similar fate suffered in 2013 of a bill passed by the House and later stifled in the Senate.
But the third time could be a charm.
This time committee members passed the measure as an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, which gives annual funding for some government operations. This year’s bill, which funds the Treasury Department, the judiciary and agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, is about $22 billion.
“This amendment is really about providing clarity, stability and security for our banks, credit unions and small-business owners who want to be able to operate in full daylight,” Murray said in a statement.
The amendment passed 16-14 and was met with cautious optimism by an industry that’s said banking is a critical need for businesses forced to operate mostly in cash.
“The legal cannabis industry is a billion-dollar business in Colorado and contributes significantly to the tax base, yet we are denied the access to banking that every other industry enjoys,” said Brooke Gehring, a business owner and board chairwoman of the Marijuana Industry Group. “This impacts more than just business owners. Tens of thousands of people who work in the legal cannabis industry as well as service providers have problems banking.”
Stand-alone legislation has been introduced in each house of Congress — SB 1726 by Merkley and HR 2076 by Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada.
“I’m pleased to see the Senate taking action to help provide access to the banking system for legal and licensed marijuana businesses,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “I plan to offer the same amendment in the House so financial institutions are not penalized for helping to get cash off our streets which is a serious public safety concern for our communities.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has said it wouldn’t spend time prosecuting financial service companies that work with legal marijuana businesses as long as they follow strict guidelines of compliance — but stopped short of offering blanket protection against enforcement. Many bankers worry that they could risk losing accreditation and face money-laundering charges if a marijuana business client turns out to be a front for the illegal drug trade no matter how diligent they are at vetting them.
Other efforts have included a push to legalize a credit union in Colorado specifically for the marijuana industry. The Fourth Corner Credit Union, although it obtained state approval to operate, was stymied in its work at landing a critical master account with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System when that group’s rejection was upheld by a federal judge.
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