An important part of Proposition 64, California's ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, also includes a clause lowering the cost of county-issued medical marijuana cards. Nevada County patients will soon have access to cheaper medical marijuana cards by visiting the Public Health Department by appointment only. The previous price for a medical marijuana card was $170, but the new rate will be an even $100. Discounts of $50 are available to members of MediCal, and the fee is waived for those in the County Medical Services Program. Those with a county-issued medical marijuana card will also be exempt from paying taxes on their medical marijuana, but a physician's marijuana recommendation by itself does not qualify for the exemption. Prop 64, which legalized the adult recreational use of marijuana, exempts medical cannabis from sales tax. Qualified patients must have a county-issued medical marijuana card to receive the tax exemption. A physician’s recommendation isn’t enough to waive the tax, Blake said. Nevada County residents can receive a medical marijuana card from the Public Health Department, 500 Crown Point Circle, Grass Valley, by appointment only. According to Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, Prop 64 makes the county-issued ID cards more valuable because they’re required to receive the tax exemption. There was no tax exemption before the proposition.
Several new bills introduced in the Massachusetts legislature aim to make improvements to the states newly passed recreational marijuana program, but some bills would instead heavily restrict certain regulations that it's 1.8 million voters supported. The senator proposing the new restrictions, Jason M. Lewis, is considered the top authority on the recreational marijuana industry, despite his open opposition to this past election's marijuana question on the Massachusetts' ballot. If the pending bills are passed, adults over 21 would only be able to possess up to 2 ounces in their home, compared to the current 10 ounces. The marijuana stores scheduled to open in July 2018 would be limited on their products due to the legislation for an additional 2 years, halting cannabis infused products like brownies, sodas, and massage oils. Officials would also be able to permanently ban the sale of all marijuana products besides cannabis buds. Most bills never become law, but what Lewis filed carries special weight. That’s because he’s seen as the Legislature’s top authority on the recreational marijuana industry and likely to be the cochairman of a new Senate-House committee on the drug. Other lawmakers have also filed marijuana-related legislation, including a measure to increase municipal control and one that would raise the legal age for purchasing it to 25. “These proposals go too far in unwinding the will of the people and provide further evidence that Senator Lewis, who was a leading opponent of Question 4, would be an inappropriate choice to chair the proposed special committee on marijuana,” he said.
New Mexico's medical marijuana program has been doing so well that patient numbers have nearly doubled in a years time, but current regulations are limiting the supply of cannabis. A proposal made by a New Mexico Senator would increase the number of plants a cannabis producer can grow at one time, as well as increase the amount of medical marijuana a patient can possess. Currently, growers can have up to 450 plants at once, but if the bill is passed that number would increase to 1000. Patients are given up to 8 ounces of cannabis for a 90-day span, but the new law would allow them up to 5 ounces in only 30 days. A lawmaker wants to increase the amount of marijuana that licensed medical-cannabis producers in New Mexico can grow. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the proposal by Democratic Sen. Cisco McSorley of Albuquerque also would increase the amount of marijuana that the program’s participants can possess. Officials said in November that the number of participants had grown from 18,600 to nearly 33,000 in a year’s time. The large patient volume also has strained supplies
While Arkansas did not legalize recreational marijuana, the state did expand on it's medical marijuana program with new regulations being implemented this year. Officials say they need more time to finish preparing regulations, so a unanimous vote pushed back the deadline for regulations from March until May. The deadline to begin accepting dispensary applications will also move back from June to July 1st. Another proposal would stop dispensaries from selling candy-like products that might appeal to kids, as wellas halting any and all advertising The House voted Tuesday to delay the launch of the state’s voter-approved Arkansas medical marijuana program and ease a restriction on doctors who certify a patient is eligible to use the drug. “They obviously do need an extra 60 days to get it done, so I don’t have a problem with that,” David Couch said. House said he’s working on other bills, including one that would direct the independent commission regulating the dispensaries to restrict the sale of candy-style products and another that would restrict dispensary advertising.
Entrepreneurs are taking any chance they can to incorporate marijuana into a good business model, like this Oregon company hoping to build a cannabis-friendly RV park. The company Grow Condos specializes in renting and selling space to marijuana growers, and their new park is planned for a 2.65 industrial property site. The park, called Smoke on the Water, would include both a campground and a legal cannabis dispensary. If the park is successful, owners hope to create more in other marijuana friendly states. The park will be called Smoke on the Water, Grow Condos Chief Executive Officer Wayne Zallen said. If the project moves forward, the company hopes to expand with campgrounds in other marijuana-friendly states. The RV parks would include tent camping and a pot dispensary, he said. The company already has a 15,000-square-foot facility in Eagle Point, Oregon, where it offers for lease or sale indoor grow spaces, which are all occupied. The project, called Nuggetville, was submitted to the city of Eugene in December. The 40-page plan shows blueprints for four warehouses on a 2.65-acre site on industrial property.
The city of West York, Pennsylvania is looking to lower penalties for marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a simple fine. Mayor Shawn Mauck has proposed the ordinance in time for the police department to refocus their efforts on more serious crimes and dangerous street drugs like opioids. Under current policy, a misdemeanor for marijuana possession can not only comes with fines, but also jail time, which can cause normal citizens to lose jobs and make it harder to get hired in the future. Proposed fines would be $250 for possession of cannabis and $350 for smoking in public. Currently, police can charge people in possession of a small amount of marijuana with a misdemeanor. The penalties can include fines and jail time, which could result in the loss of a job. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Mauck said. "We're ruining someone's life for a joint." Under the proposed ordinance, police would be able to issue a summary to people with a small amount of weed. The proposed fines would be $250 for possession and $350 for smoking in public, although Mauck says he would like to see the fines be lower. By giving a fine, police would save the time and money of a court case
More than half of U.S. States have some type of legal marijuana law, but despite the lax attitude about marijuana that many Americans are moving towards, some places are still trying to crack down. Maryland's Court of Appeals ruled last week that marijuana odor is enough probably cause to search a person's vehicle without a warrant, even though the drug is decriminalized in the state. In 2014 Maryland's General Assembly passed a law decriminalizing under 10 grams of marijuana and the defendants believe that police have no way of knowing if the amount causing the odor is under the decriminalized limit. While states like Massachusetts have ruled the opposite in favor of the drivers privacy, Maryland officials chose to follow other state's example and allow police to continue to search for any amount of cannabis. The searches had been previously upheld by trial courts and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, but attorneys for the appellants argued before the Court of Appeals that police should be required to cite factors that give them reason to believe the amount they smell is larger than 10 grams. The smell of marijuana indicates only its presence, not its amount, they argued. The state attorney general's office argued in December that marijuana remains defined under state law as "contraband," which is subject to seizure and enough to provide probable cause that there may be evidence of a crime found in the vehicle. "By definition, if law enforcement officers may still seize marijuana, then law enforcement officers may still search for marijuana," the court ruled.
One of the most consistent problems persisting around the marijuana market nationwide is marijuana businesses not being able to open a bank account. Since federal law still deems marijuana an illicit substance, most banks choose not to work with cannabis businesses out of fear of federal interference and money laundering charges. This has caused big problems for the small businesses who are forced to take and secure massive amounts of cash daily, making them easy targets for theft. The small portion of banks who have been willing to work with the marijuana market are doing so in states with recreational marijuana programs as the regulations are much tighter than medical marijuana only states. Often small local banks or credit unions, these community entities are more likely to continue working with marijuana businesses as they want to keep their community safer and happier, while big banks will continue to deny and shut down any marijuana business acounts they can. In the coming year, it should come as no surprise if more cannabis related businesses manage to find access to banking services than ever before. At this point, local banks and credit unions simply want a way to ensure the safety of their community by seeing to it that large sums of cash simply don’t exist outside of a financial institution. The only way to put an end to the problem is for more financial institutions to stand up and finally say that enough is enough. In the state of Oregon, a first of its kind study determined that those same voters who wanted cannabis to be legalized in the first place really want to see cannabis businesses offered access to the banking industry just like any other legitimate business. American Banker reported on a survey from 2015 that was conducted by Marijuana Business Daily of 400 professionals in the cannabis industry – and the results were that only about 40% of them were able to obtain a bank account of any sort. As of March 2016, nationwide data suggested that there were only 301 banks (at the time) who were willing to deal with any cannabis related businesses.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana by Colorado in 2012, the state has become a massive tourist attraction, but many visitors are finding it difficult to enjoy the legal buds when there is hardly anywhere legal to smoke. Joel Schneider wanted to join the marijuana industry and he found great success in opening the first hotel of it's kind, a Bud+Breakfast. Guest must be over 21 and rooms cost $299-$399 a night. With comfortable rooms, a stocked bar, chef catered meals, and special 420 happy hour events to keep guests entertained and happy, it's no wonder the Bud+Breakfast business model is doing so well. Now running 3 properties, Schneider's revenue averaged $110,000 a month last year. Soon he hopes to expand his business to other recreational states like California. At the time, Schneider was commuting from his home in New York and staying at a hotel in downtown Denver. "I find myself smoking in my bathroom. I find myself hiding with a towel under the door and the shower on," he said. Even though he was in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, "there was no place to smoke, and it wasn't fun." That's when he got the idea for opening a cannabis-friendly hotel, even though smoking isn't allowed in hotels. Schneider discovered that B&Bs are considered private property, which would give him more flexibility. "Now it was up to me to find the right private property," he said. "I get up at 4:20 it seems like every morning to get high," Schneider said. "I tell my guests, 'Come down in your underwear, probably there's going to be someone else sitting in their underwear, too, and you can just pass a joint with each other.' That's what I want, I want them to feel like they're home.
Most businesses in the marijuana industry require a large investment to get started, but with lots of hard work and a great idea anyone can succeed in a thriving market. Two retired women are proof of just that after they started their child-resistant cannabis container company and filled an important need in the Colorado cannabis community. With the marijuana industry still new and growing, regulations often change, meaning the businesses have to adapt quickly to remain in compliance with local law, and thats exactly what these ladies have done. When regulations prompted for child-resistant containers, they started their business, Higher Standard Packaging, and took the product a step further with food safe FDA approved containers made out of milk jugs. Higher Standard Packaging never hired any new employees outside of founders Ms. Baker and Ms. Diner, and their family-owned delivery vehicle has made it easy to keep costs low and profits high. “We thought consumers would want to store their edibles or medicines in containers that were F.D.A.-approved to store food in,” said Ms. Diner, “so we looked into making them from recycled plastic milk jugs.” They decided to start Higher Standard Packaging in the spring of that year, and since then, they have sold nearly seven million units of packaging to Colorado cannabis dispensaries and beyond. The initial set of products consisted of plain white canisters in different sizes with child-resistant caps, made by manufacturing partners in California. To find customers, they cold-called more than 100 businesses, mainly in the Denver area, and visited them with samples and price sheets. Within the first six months, the company began selling other items: tubes, child-resistant caps and more recently, child-resistant, single-serving barrier bags (made of heavy-duty plastic that requires scissors to open). But their mainstay remains plastic containers for flower — the term for dried marijuana that is ready to smoke.
The green rush of the North American marijuana industry is unlike any new market to exist. In just a few short years of limited legalization, the marijuana industry began bringing in billions in revenue, $6.7 billion in 2016 to be exact. Experts in marijuana market research expect the trend of rapid growth to continue at about 26% each year, meaning a $21.6 billion industry by 2021. The more the legal market expands the faster it will overcome black market sales, which at $46 billion are still a majority of total marijuana sales in North America. $46 billion makes up 87% of the total $53 billion spent on legal, medical, and illicit cannabis in North America last year. But illicit sales have actually dropped from 90% of total sales in 2015, meaning legal markets are slowly but surely converting black market buyers to legal users. The total marijuana market of $53 billion is more than Americans spend on both McDonalds and Starbucks, but at the moment most of it is going willingly untaxed and unregulated. The North American legal weed market posted $6.7 billion in revenue in 2016, up 30% from the year before. The illicit market generated 87% of total pot sales, down from 90% in 2015. "The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history," Dayton said in a statement. Unlike other fast-growing markets, which include organic foods, home video, and mobile, "the cannabis industry doesn't need to create demand for a new product or innovation — it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels."
The National Academy of Sciences is not the first organization to request cannabis be reclassified down from a Schedule 1 drug and they probably wont be the last. Just last week, the academy published a report analyzing 10,000 scientific abstracts on medical marijuana use and came to almost 100 conclusions justifying the medical value of cannabis and cannabis products. The report called The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research finds that “cannabis has both therapeutic value and public health risks.” These papers underline the same theme being preached by marijuana advocates for years, loosen restrictions to allow cannabis research, then educate the public. Even the few available studies for medical marijuana have found great value in the drug as a treatment specifically for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and symptoms of chemotherapy. The report entitled The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research went on to conclude that “cannabis has both therapeutic value and public health risks.” The report recommends more research and noted that the classification as a Schedule 1 drug impedes research and that researchers can't get the cannabis they need in order to address specific research needs. They suggest “political and non-political strategies to resolve regulatory barriers to cannabis research, an objective and evidence-based analysis of cannabis policy is necessary.” The committee found evidence to support therapeutic uses of cannabis to treat chronic pain in adults. For adults with multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, they said there was substantial evidence that short-term use of certain oral cannabinoids improved symptoms. They also found that cannabinoids helped adults with chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.