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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U.S. Gov't Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1
Santa Monica Observer--Stan Greene-06/20/16
Federal Preemption means weed will soon be legal in all 50 states, with a prescription
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will reclassify marijuana as a "Schedule Two" drug on August 1, 2016, essentially legalizing medicinal cannabis in all 50 states with a doctor's prescription, said a DEA lawyer with knowledge of the matter.
The DEA Lawyer had told the lawyer representing a DEA informant of the DEA's plan to legalize medicinal cannabis nationwide on August 1, 2016. When questioned by our reporter, the DEA lawyer felt compelled to admit the truth to him as well.
"Whatever the law may be in California, Arizona or Utah or any other State, because of Federal preemption this will have the effect of making THC products legal with a prescription, in all 50 states," the DEA attorney told the Observer. Federal Preemption is a legal doctrine that where the US Government regulates a particular field, State and local laws are overridden and of no effect.
He explained that "there are five DEA schedules. Nothing on Schedule One is ever legal, and that is where Cannabis is today. Schedule Two drugs are available with a prescription."
On Schedule Two, marijuana will join drugs like Percocet, Aderall, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and other drugs that are legal, even common, with a prescription. There are also other drugs that are not on any schedules but that are illegal on a federal level, he said. Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are available over-the-counter.
He opined that the 135 medicinal cannabis clinic owners in Los Angeles will no doubt oppose this move by the Federal government, because the rule change will eliminate any reason for people to visit medical marijuana clinics. "In my opinion, CVS pharmacy, Rite-Aid and Walgreens will sell Schedule Two THC products similar to what users call "edibles," but will not sell smokable weed because of the health risk smoking anything entails," said the DEA lawyer.
The Los Angeles based DEA Attorney who spoke to us, asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press about the matter. He speculated that this action will be taken in the closing days of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, so as to motivate the Democratic base to turn out and vote for Hillary Clinton, and other down ballot candidates. She will certainly not reverse this policy decision taken in the waning days of the Barack Obama administration, he said. But Donald Trump might.
"Marijuana enforcement is a big drain on DEA resources," he said was another reason for the change, noting that a majority of the American public favor the legalization of marijuana for medical use.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is in favor of legalizing marijuana and in fact owns a business which peddles pot in New Mexico.
California will vote on November 7th, 2016, whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Because of Federal preemption, the DEA's reclassification of cannabis as a Schedule Two drug, will have the legal effect of requiring a prescription in California--i.e., it will continue the status quo.
Since the Golden State legalized medical marijuana almost 20 years ago, Federal authorities have occasionally raided medical marijuana clinics here. They have forced major banks, like Bank of America, to close clinic bank accounts. The Feds have even seized real estate belonging to landlords who rent space to pot clinics. The Federal war on medicinal marijuana will abruptly end on August 1, 2016.
UPDATE 6/19 9 a.m. PDT: The Denver Post is now reporting that the DEA could reclassify Marijuana as a Schedule II drug, as early as July 1, 2016. https://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/17/how-the-dea-should-classify-marijuana/
8/01 is the new 4/20!
Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, can refer to the use of cannabis and its cannabinoids to treat disease or improve symptoms; However, there is no single agreed upon definition, says Wikipedia. The use of cannabis as a medicine has not been rigorously scientifically tested, often due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations. There is limited evidence suggesting cannabis can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, to improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms. Its use for other medical applications, however, is insufficient for conclusions about safety or efficacy.
In California, there are "weed doctors" who will write a prescription for cannabis to anyone claiming to suffer from anxiety, which means they passout prescriptions for pot like chocolate bars at a Halloween party. As with so many other trends that started in California, expect to see medicinal marijuana sold in your town soon!
Medical cannabis can be administered using a variety of methods, including liquid tinctures, vaporizing or smoking dried buds, eating cannabis edibles, taking capsules, using lozenges, dermal patches or oral/dermal sprays. Synthetic cannabinoids are available as prescription drugs in some countries; examples include: dronabinol and nabilone.
Recreational use of cannabis is illegal in most parts of the world, but the medical use of cannabis is legal in certain countries, including Austria, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands (where it is also legal recreationally), Portugal and Spain.
In the United States, federal law outlaws all cannabis use, while 25 states and the District of Columbia no longer prosecute individuals for the possession or sale of medical marijuana, as long as the individuals are in compliance with the state's medical marijuana sale regulations.
The DEA lawyer gave us his legal opinion that if you happen to live where recreational marijuana is now legal, i.e. Colorado or Washington State; after August 1, you will need a prescription, as you would need throughout the U.S.
However, an appeals court ruled in January 2014 that a 2007 Ninth Circuit ruling remains binding in relation to the ongoing illegality, in federal legislative terms, of Californian cannabis dispensaries, reaffirming the impact of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
As explained above, moving marijuana from Schedule One to Schedule Two, would have the effect of legalizing medicinal marijuana, throughout all 50 States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. This action may be taken by the DEA unilaterally--i.e., without specific Congressional authorization -- because Congress has previously granted the DEA rule-making authority over what drugs are on which schedules.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States. Not only is the DEA the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, sharing concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad.
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Medical marijuana dispensary manager shoots armed robbers clad in masks, body armor
By Leo Stallworth and ABC7.com staff
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
WALNUT PARK, Calif. (KABC) --
The manager of a medical marijuana dispensary in Walnut Park opened fire on two armed men after he said the suspects tried to rob him.
The incident occurred at around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday in the 2400 block of Florence Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The store manager told Eyewitness News that the suspects barged into his business clad in body armor and with their faces covered, pointing assault rifles at him.
The manager said he had no other choice but to grab his handgun and shoot at the suspects, firing at least 10 shots in self-defense.
Jasmine Chavez, who lives just behind the business, said when she came out of her home a short time after the shooting, she saw the suspects being wheeled into an ambulance.
She then talked to the manager of the business.
"His reaction was wow, like lucky to be alive," Chavez described. "He's like, I had to do what I had to do to save my life and his employee there as well."
Local resident Hector Martinez, who has worked at a marijuana dispensary as a security guard, says the owners of such businesses usually have security guards around all the time.
"A lot of money is kept inside, and that's why they always hire guards and actually have to escort people with that amount of money out so they won't get robbed," Martinez said.
Authorities said both suspects were taken to the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds, though their exact conditions were not immediately released.
The investigation was ongoing.
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GFarmaLabs plans to build nation's largest commercial cannabis farm in Desert Hot Springs
By Leticia Juarez
Thursday, June 16, 2016 02:47PM
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) --
The first and largest marijuana cultivation farm in Southern California will be located in Desert Hot Springs.
GFarmaLabs is spearheading this initial movement.
"It's going to be filled with greenhouses. It's going to be an agricultural center out in the middle of the desert," Berto Torres of GFarmaLabs said.
Legal marijuana cultivation can prove to be beneficial for the city of Desert Hot Springs. Land values are skyrocketing, and new businesses are sprouting up overnight.
Ben Breinberg moved from the Netherlands five months ago to open a hydroponic business.
"This is going to be the biggest in the world. So yeah, I'm happy to be right in the middle of it," Breinberg said.
However, there are mixed reactions from residents. Desert Hot Springs resident Joan Davis is concerned about the new cultivation businesses.
"We have to look at the big picture. Our children are our future, and where is the future for them and this?" Davis said.
Resident Jonathan Thomas is more supportive.
"If somebody settles here with a business and is doing productive things for the city, I don't see how somebody could have a problem with that," Thomas said.
Everyone, though, agrees that Desert Hot Springs needs the money. The city declared insolvency in 2014.
Mayor Scott Matas said in a statement, "We anticipate the GFarmaLabs project will provide local jobs and spur up to $1 million in tax revenue allowing for more funding for police, education, health resources and infrastructure within the city."
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Marijuana dispensary security guard fatally shot during attempted robbery
FOX 31 Denver
AURORA, Colo. -- A security guard was killed after being shot during an attempted robbery at a marijuana dispensary, the Aurora Police Department said.
Police arrived at Green Heart Marijuana Dispensary (19005 E. Quincy Ave.) about 9:45 p.m. Saturday where they found the guard inside who had been shot multiple times.
The man, later identified as Travis Mason, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The suspects are believed to be two black males armed with handguns, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 303-739-6067 or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
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The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft.
By- Nathaniel Popper| June 16, 2016
As state after state has legalized marijuana in one way or another, big names in corporate America have stayed away entirely. Marijuana, after all, is still illegal, according to the federal government.
But Microsoft is breaking the corporate taboo on pot this week by announcing a partnership to begin offering software that tracks marijuana plants from “seed to sale,” as the pot industry puts it.
The software — a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business — is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain in the daylight of legality.
But until now, even that boring part of the pot world was too controversial for mainstream companies. It is apparent now, though, that the legalization train is not slowing down: This fall, at least five states, including the biggest of them all — California — will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
So far, only a handful of smaller banks are willing to offer accounts to companies that grow or sell marijuana, and Microsoft will not be touching that part of the business. But the company’s entry into the government compliance side of the business suggests the beginning of a legitimate infrastructure for an industry that has been growing fast and attracting lots of attention, both good and bad.
“We do think there will be significant growth,” said Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”
Microsoft’s baby step into the business came through an announcement on Thursday that it was teaming up with a Los Angeles start-up, Kind, that built the software the tech giant will begin marketing. Kind — one of many small companies trying to take the marijuana business mainstream — offers a range of products, including A.T.M.-style kiosks that facilitate marijuana sales, working through some of the state-chartered banks that are comfortable with such customers.
Microsoft will not be getting anywhere near these kiosks or the actual plants. Rather, it will be working with Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering software only to state and local governments that are trying to build compliance systems.
But for the young and eager legalized weed industry, Microsoft’s willingness to attach its name to any part of the business is a big step forward.
“Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will,” said Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of Green Wave Advisors, which provides data and analysis of the marijuana business. “It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business.”
David Dinenberg, the founder and chief executive of Kind, said it had taken a long time — and a lot of courting of big-name companies — to persuade the first one to get on board.
“Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” said Mr. Dinenberg, a former real estate developer in Philadelphia who moved to California to start Kind. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.”
It’s hard to know if other corporate giants have provided their services in more quiet ways to cannabis purveyors. New York State, for instance, has said it is working with Oracle to track medicinal marijuana patients. But there appears to be little precedent for a big company advertising its work in the space. It is still possible — though considered unlikely — that the federal government could decide to crack down on the legalization movement in the states.
The partnership with Kind is yet another bold step for Microsoft as its looks to replace the revenue from its fading desktop software business. On Monday, it announced that it was buying LinkedIn.
Microsoft has put a lot of emphasis on its cloud business, Azure. The Kind software will be one of eight pieces of preferred software that Microsoft will offer to users of Azure Government — and the only one related to marijuana.
The conflict between state and federal laws on marijuana has given asomewhat improvisational nature to the cannabis industry.
Stores that sell pot have been particularly hobbled by the unwillingness of banks to deal with the money flowing through the industry. Many dispensaries have been forced to rely on cash for all transactions, or looked to start-ups like Kind, with its kiosks that take payments inside dispensaries.
Governments, too, have generally been relying on smaller start-ups to help develop technology that can track marijuana plants and sales. A Florida software company, BioTrackTHC, is helping Washington State, New Mexico and Illinois monitor the marijuana trade inside their states.
Kind has no state contracts. But it has already applied, with Microsoft, to provide its software to Puerto Rico, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes earlier this year.
Twenty-five states have now legalized marijuana in some form or another, with Pennsylvania and Ohio the most recent. The biggest business opportunity, though, will come from states that allow recreational use of the drug, as Colorado, Oregon and Washington already do.
This fall, five states — including, most significantly, California — will vote on whether to join that club.
Mr. Karnes, the analyst, said he expected legal marijuana sales to jump to $6.5 billion this year, from $4.8 billion last year. He says that number could climb to $25 billion by the year 2020 if California voters approve the recreational measure this year, as is widely expected.
The opening up of the market in California is already leading to a scramble for the big money that is likely to follow, and Microsoft will now be well placed to get in on the action.
Ms. Nelson of Microsoft said that initially her company would be marketing the Kind software at conferences for government employees, but it could eventually also be attending the cannabis events where Kind is already a regular presence.
“This is an entirely new field for us,” she said. “We would have to figure out which conference might be the premier conference in this space. That’s not outside the realm of possibility.”