The latest in marijuana news, culture and politics
  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Denver Is the First City to Allow Marijuana in Bars and Restaurants

    Advocates in Denver had hoped for pot clubs or 'coffee shops' on this years ballot, but instead voters passed a measure that allow bars and restaurants to create an outside smoking area for customers to enjoy cannabis alongside their meal or beverage. Before anyone can legally toke with their meal, a business would have to gain the support of the community and then a license from the state. But the businesses wouldn't be selling marijuana, they would simply allow their customers to bring their own product from home to enjoy out on the town. The new law also allows for non-service businesses like yoga studios or art galleries to serve marijuana alongside food and drink, as well as set up designated smoking areas. If voters and legislators don't reapprove or make permanent the incorporation of marijuana in local businesses, the measure will end itself in 2020. Legislators are expected to pot clubs again next year. “It’s the sensible thing to do,” said Emmett Reistroffer, a Denver marijuana consultant and campaign manager for the pot-in-bars measure. “This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis.” Patrons at participating bars could use pot inside as long as it isn’t smoked. The law does provide for the possibility of outside smoking areas under restrictive circumstances. The law also allows for non-service establishments, such as yoga galleries or art galleries, to set up pot-smoking areas or hold events serving both pot and food and drink. “The entire goal of this initiative is to provide adults with private places where they can consume cannabis so they’re not consuming in public,” said Tvert, who said the initiative helps not just tourists but adults who may not want to use pot in front of their kids, or tenants whose landlords exercise their right to ban pot use.

  • News Posted Nov 2016

    Several NFL owners, execs eyeing marijuana discipline changes

    NFL team owners and executives have been weighing the option of lessing the penalty for marijuana use in the league. Currently, testing positive for trace amounts of marijuana is still enough for a player to be suspended for 4 games, but after the election, now over half of the country lives in a state with some form of legal marijuana. Is it really fair for a player in one state to be threatened with legal action over marijuana while another player can openly possess the drug? NFL officials are open to change, with the most recent change having loosened the restrictions on positive marijuana test results in 2014. Some executives think that the league should 'follow the country' as more states are legalizing and public opinion is shifting. The NFLPA is making strides by forming a committee to study if marijuana could be an effective pain treatment for players.  Several league executives said the NFL should "follow the country" in the changing attitudes about marijuana use. In addition, the high-profile suspensions of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory also has raised more awareness about the issue. Meanwhile, the NFLPA is forming a committee for a study that, among other things, will examine if marijuana can be an effective pain-management option for players. A league source said team owners seem open to revising pot restrictions as part of CBA discussions, although any changes would depend on many factors in negotiations. There is a consensus that changes to the policy must be made. The general feeling is that discipline standards need to be modified since marijuana use in many parts of the United States is no longer a crime.  

  • News Posted Nov 2016

    Colorado Cannabis Retailers Don’t Sell To Minors, Study Finds

    When demonizing marijuana legalization, one of the biggest fears prohibitionists often speak of is making the drug more available to children. As it turns out, regulating the use of recreational marijuana and requiring an ID of someone 21+ to purchase, similar to alcohol, works pretty well. A recent study in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs reveals that the compliance of Colorado marijuana businesses not selling to minors was potentially higher than even alcohol retailers. The compliance was tested by a small team investigating a dispensary's likelihood to check for ID of potentially underage customers. Officials conclude that minors may not be buying marijuana from retailers, but that more research should be done to determine if minors are having 21+ adults purchasing the drug for them.  Cannabis shops in Colorado are not selling to underage individuals, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. In Colorado it is illegal for minors under the age of 21 to use, purchase, or possess marijuana. With the risk of losing a license to sell cannabis, 19 out of 20 retailers evaluated in this study did not sell cannabis to individuals who failed to identify themselves as being 21 years or older. In addition, the study concluded that the rate of compliance to underage marijuana laws was potentially higher than that of retailers selling alcohol. “This is an entirely new market and I don’t think we know yet how it may evolve and what kind of products or promotions might appear in the near future,” Dr. Saltz wrote. “For some time, research on marijuana/cannabis was difficult, so we’re playing a bit of “catch up” at this point.”

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    When North Dakota medical marijuana passed, it even surprised backers

    It seems even the advocates for the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act were surprised to see it pass with a hefty 65% of voters, and now the Health Department feels ill-prepared with only 30 days before the law goes into effect. Though the law goes into effect quickly, regulators don't expect the program to be up and running for over a year. But once qualifying patients are licensed, they will be able to purchase up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana from a state licensed shop or grow their personal cannabis supply at home. The North Dakota House rejected a bitartisan supported medical marijuana measure last year out of fear, but the voters let themselves be heard and passed the law themselves.  “I thought we may have had a shot but I was surprised by the overwhelming percentage,” said Rilie Ray Morgan, a Fargo financial planner who headed the effort. Under the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, those who receive a doctor’s permission to use marijuana for medicine can possess up to 3 ounces that’s from either a state-licensed dispensary or a personally grown supply. The qualifying conditions include cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma and other illnesses, including chronic back pain, a malady that Morgan suffers. “We think there are up to 15,000 people in the state who could benefit from it and there is a wide range of ailments this could help, no question,” Morgan said

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Medical marijuana amendment approved

    Over the election, Florida was one of many states to legalize medical marijuana. Patients suffering from debilitating conditions will soon have access to medical marijuana Regulations must be set by July 2017 under The Florida Department of Health. The months following, marijuana businesses are expected to be registered and patients will start receiving medical marijuana cards. A similar measure barely failed in florida 2 years ago, and despite even more support this year, there were several opponents putting up an aggressive anti-marijuana campaign including a Repubilcan senator who used his campaign funds for anti-marijuana advertising.  Barnhart said she doesn’t believe much has changed in the last two years — except that more people have heard stories of patients and their families. “For people who don’t have experience with this, and who are voting entirely based on the information and stories they receive from us and patients and families throughout the state, we’re extremely grateful for that faith,” she said

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Arkansas Voters Legalize Medical Marijuana

    Last week Arkansas voters made themselves heard by saying YES on Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, and winning 53%-47%. The passing of Issue 6 amends the state constitution to allow patients with qualifying conditions to be recommended medical marijuana by a physician and sets in place a system for state licensed businesses to cultivate, process, and sell medical cannabis. Officials have 120 days to finish creating rules and regulations for the medical marijuana program, which will be limited to 40 dispensaries and 8 growers. Cannabis will still be prohibited from growing in home. The law went into effect the day after the election, November 9th.  Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, amends the state constitution to permit qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation may legally possess and obtain medical cannabis provided by state licensed dispensaries. The home cultivation of cannabis is not permitted under the law. Under the law, regulators will license up to 40 dispensary providers and up to eight marijuana cultivators  

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Montana passes measure to expand medical marijuana

    Montana voters passed a medical marijuana program back in 2004, but since, opponents fought to handicap the system and restrict patient access. A law was made to limit medical marijuana providers to just 3 patients each, making it nearly impossible for a business to earn money and for patients to find a provider. I-182 was Montana's chance for voters to say that patients should be allowed medical marijuana and providers should have no limit, and around 3am after the election it was official, Montana voters said YES on 182! Initiative 182 also adds PTSD to the qualifying list of conditions, adds marijuana lab testing to the program, and requires annual health department inspections or marijuana business.  If passed, I-182 would mean that providers of the drug will not be limited to the number of patients they can serve. The previous restriction imposed a limit of three, which was sharply opposed by patients and providers in the program. Most medical marijuana patients were left without a registered provider under the restrictions. Since they went into effect, patients have left the program. More than a third of patients registered in September left over the next month — 7,785 remained in October, according to the state health department.

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Maine approves recreational marijuana use

    This week Maine joined the growing list of states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over. It was a close race and took almost 2 days to count, but Yes on 1 came out on top by a fraction of a percent. Retailers and social clubs will be allowed to sell the drug with a 10% tax. Tokers will only be able to smoke in a private residence or nonpublic space. Not only will the recreational marijuana program create jobs for marijuana retailers, there is also a growing job market for companies revolving around the industry that don't ever touch the plant like financial services, security, accounting, transportation and marketing.  Question 1 makes it legal for a person 21 or older to use marijuana. The state will put a 10% sales tax on the drug and allow social clubs and retail groups to sell it. The law will allow people to use it in a nonpublic space or in a private residence and institute a sales tax, with 98% of revenue from sales taxes going to a general fund.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Nov 2016

    What you should know about Nevada’s new marijuana law

    This week Nevada legalized recreational marijuana alongside several other states. The new law will go into effect on January 1st, until then the Nevada police said they will continue to enforce current nonmedical prohibition. After the new year adults over 21 will be able to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 1/8 of an ounce of cannabis concentrates. Regulations for the state's recreational program will be decided over the next two years, but there is no estimated start date. Smoking in public is still prohibited and those caught can be fined up to $600. Despite marijuana being legal for adults in Nevada, state law still allows employees to be fired by employers for a marijuana positive drug test.  First, the law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1 . Las Vegas police said Wednesday that officers will continue to enforce the current law, which outlaws any nonmedical marijuana possession until the new law takes effect. After Jan. 1, adults 21 and older can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, or one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrate. When the general public will be able to buy marijuana from a store is unclear. The Taxation Department has until Jan. 1, 2018, to craft regulations and licensing to allow the stores to operate.

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Marijuana Legalized In Massachusetts: What Happens Next

    Massachusetts became one of 4 states this week to legalize recreational marijuana, making a total 8 US states that allow adults over 21 to make their own choice about using marijuana. Now that voters have said 'Yes on 4' in Massachusetts, starting December 15th adults can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or grow up to 12 plants at home. While the changes in December are beneficial to users, no recreational marijuana shops will be able to open until recreational licenses are issued, a process that will take up to two years. Being late to the recreational party, it allows new states to bypass mistakes made by the early adopter states. Packaging for cannabis products will be regulated not to appeal to children, meaning child-proof containers and no gummy candies. Massachusetts intends to keep cannabis taxes low at 12%, enough to undercut black market sales and still bring in revenue for regulation and enforcement. “This is a trend and this is what the majority of people think is reasonable and acceptable. I hope we see this nationwide,” supporter Brandon Kurtzman told WBZ-TV. However, the lucrative commercial business will not be able to set up shop until January 2018, when the first marijuana dispensary licenses will be approved. “I know that Question 4 passing means jobs for Massachusetts,” Waterfall said. There is also debate over the tax rate. The ballot question puts it at 12 percent—6.25 percent is sales tax, 2 percent would go to city or town, and remaining 3.75 percent would fund regulation and enforcement.

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Californians Legalize Marijuana in Vote That Could Echo Nationally

    Earlier this week, only 5% of the US population lived in a state with recreational marijuana, after the election that number has jumped to 20%! Several recreationally legal states now share borders, and while it's still a felony to transport marijuana across state lines, officials see opportunity for states to work together. Passing with 56% of the vote, Proposition 64 will allow adults over 21 to purchase limited amounts of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants. Recreational marijuana retailers cannot open until licenses are issued, which could take up to two years. California's officials are expecting around $1 billion in tax revenue going to programs such as studying medical marijuana, driver impairment research, youth drug education, and more. “I think of this victory in California as a major victory,” said Lauren Mendelsohn, the chairwoman of the board of directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a group that has campaigned against the government’s war on drugs. “It shows the whole country that prohibition is not the answer to the marijuana question.”  

  • Legalization Posted Nov 2016

    Marijuana wins big on election night

    Last night's election turned out to be a tense race, and while many were left disappointed, the election turned out to be a big victory for marijuana reform in several states. Most notably, California passed Proposition 64 or the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act" which legalizes recreational marijuana for adults over 21. Obama and many others believe that California and other states legalizing is the tipping point for federal marijuana, though with a drastically different presidential cabinet taking office soon, only time will tell. Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada also legalized recreational marijuana last night, but Arizona's proposition did not gain enough votes to pass. Over half of US states have a legal medical marijuana program to some degree, and last night Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas passed new medical marijuana laws. Montana voters also chose to lower restrictions on their current medical marijuana law.  California has long been seen as a bellwether by both supporters and opponents of marijuana reform. The state is home to about 12 percent of the U.S. population. Given the size of the state's economy and the economic impact of the marijuana industry there, California's adoption of legal marijuana could prompt federal authorities to rethink their decades-long prohibition on the use of marijuana. With today's votes, legal marijuana is also making significant inroads in the Northeast. “Marijuana legalization has arrived on the East Coast,” said Tom Angell of the marijuana reform group Marijuana Majority in an email. “What Colorado and other states have already done is generating revenue, creating jobs and reducing crime, so it’s not surprising that voters in more places are eager to end prohibition.”