When Oregon was still discussing possible marijuana legalization, experts were estimating sales revenue of $2-3 million for the years time. It wasn't until the end of January 2016 that Oregon raised $3.48 million, crushing estimates and exceeding expectations. With customers paying between 17-25% tax rates on marijuana, Oregon raised $10.5 million after the first three months of the year, raising so much tax revenue they had to decide where it all could go. 40% education, 25% mental health and drug services, 20% local jurisdiction, and 15% to state police. Oregon will experience even more sales after June 2nd when shops will legally be able to sell marijuana edibles, vape pens, and infused lotions. New Jersey marijuana advocates think their state would greatly benefit from a program similar to Oregon's, potentially raising $300 million in tax revenue. Sales are likely to soar even higher as marijuana stores will be able to sell cannabis edibles, vape pens and weed-infused lotions starting on June 2. The study from New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform claimed that the state could earn $300 million in annual sales tax revenue if the drug were legalized, considering that residents spend more than $869 million on illegal marijuana currently, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Los Angeles County officials cannot agree on regulations for allowing medical marijuana within it's boundaries, so they placed another short-term ban on growing - one month. While some lawmakers are still fighting the access to medical marijuana within parts of California, many have accepted that voters will likely legalize recreational marijuana this November, making medical marijuana policy secondary. The ban in Los Angeles has not only hurt the businesses that were located there, but the locals who have relied on their home dispensary must travel elsewhere or turn to the black market. "We have people who have seizures, we have people who have glaucoma, we have those with degenerative bone diseases, chronic pain, and unfortunately they are denied their medications now because of the closure of our cannabis clinics, our dispensaries," said Greg Hernandez of Lake Los Angeles. "The only thing that this ban has gone ahead and done is reignited the black market right here in the Antelope Valley." "Cannabis is not going away," he said. "I would encourage the board to get ahead of this instead of behind."
Marijuana opponents tend to preach that legalizing marijuana means more teenagers are going to use and abuse the drug, but unfortunately for them the data says otherwise. In a study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine, 216,000 students from all 50 states were surveyed to show that from 2002 to 2013, teenagers with marijuana-related problems are declining. Even with cities and entire states decriminalizing, or legalizing medically/recreationally, significantly less teenagers are struggling with issues related to marijuana. Researchers found a link between problem behaviors (fighting, proporty crime, selling drugs) and later marijuana abuse, but it seems that now children are more likely to be treated for behavioral problems early on, removing the increased likelihood of marijuana problems. Those drops were accompanied by reductions in behavioral problems, including fighting, property crimes and selling drugs. The researchers found that the two trends are connected. As kids became less likely to engage in problem behaviors, they also became less likely to have problems with marijuana. The study's first author, Richard A. Grucza, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry, explained that those behavioral problems often are signs of childhood psychiatric disorders.
Last year, Louisiana legislators passed a strict medical marijuana bill that has yet to provide any real progress for patients. Words from a relieved mother stuck with lawmakers as Governor John Bel Edwards signed a follow up bill that expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include: seizure disorders, HIV, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and more. Even with the passing of this new bill, it is still estimated to take 18-24 months for any patients to recieve their medication. For some, that could be too long. Families should not have to consider moving to an entirely new state for the sake of access to safe and effective medication for their children. The bill also gave LSU and Southern University the deadline of Sept. 1 to decide if they want to be the state-sanctioned grower. “Connor’s neurologist in New Orleans feels (medical marijuana) is the last resort for him in order to control his seizures, because we’ve obviously tried everything and the meds just aren’t working for him. They’re making his body waste away,” Corkern said. The Corkerns are from Edwards’ hometown of Amite and attend the same church as the governor, and they had a significant advocate on their side — the governor’s wife Donna — who attended committee hearings with Katie Corkern and who was on hand for the bill signing. Mills has estimated Louisiana is 18 months to 24 months from getting medical marijuana to patients. The state-sanctioned grower needs to be selected, along with 10 distributors.
When it comes to marijuana policy reform, many places suffer from the slow progress of bureaucracy, but when the system is as broken as it is, any progress is progress. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey personally handled some delays for the implementation of the bill by asserting his outdated skewed beliefs to dictate how New Jerseyans treat their illnesses. New Jersey's medical marijuana bill was signed 6.5 years ago and has since only opened 5 dispensaries and currently serves 6,636 patients. Requests continuously pour in for the state to adapt new qualifying conditions to be able to help more patients around the state. Patients and patient advocacy groups continue to push for changes to the law so more people could be helped. They've asked the health department for years to consider adding medical conditions that qualify patients for the program. Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett recently announced she has appointed a panel of medical experts that will review requests for additional medical conditions from the public. Bennett will have the final word.
Nunn, a town in Colorado that banned any cultivation or recreational sales of marijuana has overturned the bill to pass a new bill that would ban recreational sales, but allow a cultivation facility within town limits. A 22,000 square-foot cannabis greenhouse is planned to be the town's exclusive marijuana grow for at least the next 5 years, the program is considered a trial run. Some locals are concerned about the type of people a marijuana facility will bring in to town, but maybe they fully grasp that no marijuana can be sold within the town or by the cultivator. Even with many biased opinions, the town is too tempted by the potential revenue of a marijuana business in town, some which say could make up to $35,000 monthly for the town at the start. Once legislators see the lack of issues introduced by the facility, they will likely be tempted to open a recreational retailer. He said for five years, the company would essentially be a part of the town’s trial run for marijuana cultivation. Officials would observe how the industry operates, how the business works with the state and how well the business actually works in bringing in revenue for the town. One main reason for voting in favor of marijuana cultivation is to see how much money it will generate. And if everything goes as planned, the total would be a decent chunk of change for the town — roughly $35,000 per month when first starting out, Callaway said. According to Callaway, the town would receive 5 percent of the value of each plant grown in the facility, based on the negotiations underway with St. NoCo.
Coachella remains one of the largest music and arts festivals around the world, and if everything goes well, you may soon be able to legally purchase and enjoy marijuana during your coachella experience. Coachella's host city only recently allows for medical marijuana facilities, but on very limited zoning restrictions. While officials are open to expanding the zone for marijuana businesses, Mayor Hernandez has expressed his concerns with introducing such an industry too fast. If passed, Coachella would still have to obtain two permits, but they are definitely interested as one of the 2 parties who have applied for the proper permits. Around 75% of Coachella goers support the taxed system for allowing marijuana sales with over half who 'strongly support'. “This is a new industry and it’s an industry that has a lot of variables,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is shotgun it and spread it throughout the city and not have a plan for it.” Businesses would still be required to obtain two permits and maintain a number of stringent standards requiring filtration systems and odor mitigation. In the last four months, two applications for the city permit have been submitted, one by Cultivation Technology Inc. for an 111,500 square-foot establishment and one for a 165,000-square-foot facility by Coachella Research and Development Park, according to the city.
MILegalize is a group currently pursuing signatures for an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan, but the governor has an upcoming choice to pass or veto a seperate bill that would not only effect the outcome of MILegalize's initiative, but could limit progress for years to come. If the bill passes, it would disallow the use of signatures gathered outside of a 180 day period, even when signatures are accompanied by a validated affidavit. MILegalize needs 252,523 signatures total by June 1st and they will need each and every signature possible to bring their initiative to November's ballot. If the secondary bill passes, it will not only hinder the voter's ability to legalize marijuana, but other important groups like The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan also plan to use signatures passed the 180 day mark. Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, pointed to it as politically motivated and urged his colleagues to vote against it Wednesday. "I beg you, do not diminish the power of the people because you're wrapped up in the current politics. What about the issues five years from now? What about the issues 10 years from now?" Irwin asked. "I think it's a foolish move and very shortsighted and it's going to result in a cost to the taxpayer in litigation," Hank said
Trinidad, Colorado will soon be home to the world's first Marijuana Mini-Mall. The duo entrepreneurs Sean Sheridan and Chris Elkins plan to bring in 5 dispensaries next to one another on the same street, as zoning laws in Trinidad make it one of the few, if only, places possible. While Sean and Chris hope the shops bring in close to $5 million a year, the real question on everyone's mind is, how are people going to get home? Opponents of marijuana law reform often use driver impairment as a platform to fight widening policy, but advocates are prepared to promote accountability by encouraging smokers to use Uber and Lyft if they feel impaired. Entrepreneurs Sean Sheridan and Chris Elkins are preparing to open the World’s First Marijuana Mall in Trinidad, Colorado. They have high expectations for the 5 dispensaries they plan to bring in: “If they’re not doing $5 million a year, then we’re not driving enough traffic,” Sheridan said. Ride-sharing companies will play an important role in making your next trip to the pot mall even safer & more enjoyable. As part of their “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign, the CDOT even suggests using Uber and Lyft.
After an uphill battle through the Senate and House, Illinois is on it'sway to decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. A similar bill failed last year after Governor Rauner decided regulations must be more strict. Last year's bill decriminalized the possession of 15 grams of marijuana and reduced penalties for possession from 6 months in jail and a up to $1,500 fine, down to no jail time and a max $125 ticket. To appease the governor, this year's bill only decriminalizes up to 10 grams of cannabis and offenders would owe a fine between $100-200. By removing jail-time for all low level offenders, the court system is no longer clogged up with non-violent users, police are no longer spending up to 4 hours per low level bust, and the tax-payers are no longer paying $38,000 a year to house and feed each prisoner. Illinois’ criminal-justice system must ensure public safety – it must also be fair and effective. Refocusing priorities by reforming the way the system punishes people for low-level possession offenses will lower costs and allow police to focus on serious crimes, while also ensuring that the state doesn’t ensnare people caught with small amounts of marijuana in a costly and ineffective system.
Voter passed marijuana initiatives are moving faster than some legislators are comfortable with. Ohio could join of the list of states legalizing some form of marijuana this November, but legislators are doing everything they can to pass their own bill first. The legislative bill allows patients to puchase non-smokable forms of marijuana to be vaporized, but no home grows would be allowed. Communities would be able to vote against having local dispensaries, as well as employers maintaining the right to test for drugs in the workplace. The bill also creates a 9 member Medical Marijuan Control Commission to regulate all aspects of the legal dispensaries. After passing the House, the legislation will be tweaked by the Senate during this week, hoping to pass the bill by the end of the month. The bill would bar patients from smoking the substance but allow them to use it in vapor form. They couldn't grow it at home. Communities could opt out of hosting dispensaries, and employers who want to maintain drug-free workplaces would be protected from liability. They're seeking to head off a proposed November ballot issue supported by the national medical marijuana movement.
When Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, it was not through the legislature, and it did not have the approval of Gov. Hickenlooper, but it was the voters who came together to bring positive change. Similar to many legislators, Gov. Hickenlooper was concerned for public health and safety, but after several years of ironing out the details in the program, the governor now shares the opinion of so many Colorado residents, the sky isnt falling and the law is working. Not only is the industry showing massive success, but Colorado continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (4.2%) and the state has been ranked as one of the best places to live. Many were unsure it could happen, but it seems like marijuana has settled as a permanent part of Colorado. “In the short run, there have been a lot fewer public safety and health issues than the governor feared in the beginning,” said Freedman, who is often referred to as the state’s marijuana czar. “In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization.” Marijuana consumption has not changed much from pre-legalization levels and there has been no significant increase in public health and safety problems, he said. As for the $100 million in tax revenue, Freedman noted, that's out of a $27-billion state budget. Some 70% of the money is earmarked for school construction, public health initiatives and other projects. The rest goes back into regulating the industry.