Releaf Magazine

Legal Cannabis Market Projects Huge Numbers

13182119-mmmainCannabis Industry Expected to Be Worth $50 Billion by 2026

Bloomberg Markets - Jennifer Kaplan - 09/12/2016

The legal cannabis industry in the U.S. may grow to $50 billion in the next decade, expanding to more than eight times its current size, as lawful pot purveyors gain new customers and win over users from the illicit market, according to a new report.

Legalizing recreational use in California, where the drug is already medically permitted, is on the ballot in November, and approval of that measure alone would triple the size of the nation’s current $6 billion legal industry, according to a report from 10 Cowen & Co. analysts released on Monday. In all, voters in nine states will vote on weed-related initiatives this November -- five to legalize the drug for all adults and four to allow for medical use.

Pot already is legal for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, and is medically permitted in 25 states. Cowen’s forecast assumes federal legalization of the drug, a measure that has more than 50 percent popular support.

“Cannabis prohibition has been in place for 80-plus years, but the tides are clearly turning,” the analysts said.

Expanding Industry

The expanding industry will affect big business even though the current competitive landscape is largely made up of smaller startups. Because the plant is still federally illegal, large companies have shied away from getting involved.

Legal weed would be a major opportunity for Big Tobacco, Cowen said. Vapor technology -- a popular technique for ingesting both tobacco and cannabis -- is an essential part of tobacco’s less combustible-dependent future. Companies like Altria Group Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. already have expertise in vapor and crop-growing technologies, as well as familiarity dealing with complex regulatory frameworks.

Tobacco companies may make up about one-fifth of the cannabis industry by 2036, adding more than 20 percent to their revenue, and nearly doubling tobacco’s underlying growth, the analysts said.

For alcoholic-beverage makers, legal marijuana is more foe than friend. Alcohol consumption has declined over the past five years, especially with men, while cannabis use has risen. The number of drinkers who also used marijuana increased, and the number of cannabis users who drank decreased, Cowen said.

For both the potential winners and losers, the scale of the changes to come are unusual, the analysts said.

“A 24 percent, 10-year revenue compound annual growth rate is hard to find in consumer staples, in particular one with a $50-plus billion end-point,” Cowen said.

Post to Twitter


Nov. 8 will be a historic day for cannabis in America

130814195816-01-marijuana-medium-plus-169From California to Maine, nine states to vote on marijuana Nov. 8

The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 09/05/2016

This is a pivotal year for American drug policy. More states than ever will consider easing restrictions on marijuana use this November: Voters in five states will decide whether to fully legalize recreational use, while voters in four more will weigh in on whether to allow medical marijuana.

The outcome of these initiatives could set the tone for the national marijuana legalization discussion going forward. Big state victories for the pro-marijuana contingent -- recreational weed in California, medical marijuana in Florida -- could widen the gap between state and federal marijuana policies, ratcheting up pressure on Congress and the next presidential administration to provide a fix.

On the other hand, a string of defeats would signal public unease about condoning the use of an intoxicating substance that isn't tobacco or alcohol. Defeats would suggest that opponents' longstanding criticisms of the legal marijuana industry are making inroads among voters.

As campaigning shifts into high gear in the fall, here's a rundown of where marijuana will be on the ballot in November -- and how those contests are shaping up.

California — Recreational marijuana

A "yes" on weed in the world's sixth-largest economy would loom large in the marijuana debate, making marijuana legal along the entire West Coast.

California is home to nearly 40 million people and an existing $2.7 billion market in medical marijuana. Legalization of recreational marijuana could cause that industry to swell to $6 billion or more by 2020, according to ArcView Research, a marijuana industry research firm. That kind of money is already drawing the interest of businesses and investors, who could leverage their newfound legal lobbying clout to pressure Congress and other states to relax restrictions on marijuana sales and use.

Polls have shown the legalization measure drawing the support of 60 percent -- or more -- of voters, making it perhaps the marijuana initiative most likely to pass this fall. Legalization has been endorsed by some high-profile state and national politicians, as well as the California Democratic Party, the ACLU and NAACP of California, and the California Medical Association. It's opposed by a number of law enforcement groups and some politicians, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Supporters of the legalization measure also hold a huge fundraising advantage over opponents. According to Ballotpedia, supporters had roughly $11.5 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 16, compared to opponents' $186,000.

Nevada — Recreational marijuana

While home to only 2.8 million people, legal weed in Nevada could have outsize national impact due to Las Vegas's draw as a tourism destination -- 40 million visitors per year.

Still, there's a lot less money in play in Nevada than there is in California -- supporters of legalization have a little more than $1 million in cash on hand, while opponents have zero, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures.

That dynamic could change heading into the fall. Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has long opposed marijuana liberalization, and almost single-handedly bankrolled the campaign opposing Florida's medical marijuana initiative in 2014.

A late infusion of Adelson cash in Nevada could tip the scale of public support for the legalization measure there. A July poll found that 50 percent of Nevada voters supported the measure, while 41 percent opposed it.

Arizona — Recreational marijuana

Arizona is the third act of the marijuana legalization trilogy playing out in the West this November. It's also the state giving marijuana proponents their toughest fight -- a July poll found that only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure, while 53 percent oppose.

The measure is not fundamentally different from other legalization bills on November ballots. But Arizona has different demographics than its neighbors to the north and west. The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996, and Republicans are less likely to support marijuana legalization than other Americans.

Massachusetts — Recreational marijuana

Massachusetts, on the other hand, is one of the deepest blue states in the nation, but voters there don't seem to be warming up to the legalization measure on their ballot this fall. Just 41 percent said they'd vote for it in July, down from the mid-to-high-50s a few months earlier.

Some elected officials have been campaigning fiercely against the state's marijuana measure, including Governor Charlie Baker. In March, he joined the state attorney general and Boston's mayor to pen an op-ed in the Boston Globe that was highly critical of legalization efforts. Soon after it published, a state Senate committee released a report detailing how lawmakers could blunt the measure's impact should it pass , such as requiring child-resistant packaging on marijuana products and putting strict limits on advertising.

Maine — Recreational marijuana

Marijuana appears to be on stronger footing in nearby Maine. Polls conducted there earlier this year suggest the state's legalization measure currently enjoys upwards of 50 percent support.

That initiative was nearly derailed when Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap invalidated tens of thousands of petition signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot. But a judge reversed Dunlap's decision on an appeal from the pro-legalization campaign, clearing the measure's way forward.

Maine has traditionally been at the forefront of marijuana change. The state was one of the first to decriminalize the use of small amounts of marijuana in the 1970s, and it was quick to follow California's lead in legalizing medical marijuana in 1999. In 2013, residents of Portland, the state's largest city, voted to legalize the possession of marijuana.

Florida — Medical marijuana

On the medical marijuana side of the ledger, Florida is the biggest fight. Supporters and opponents have poured close to $10 million into the contest there. It would make Florida the first state in the South with a robust medical marijuana law.

Florida voters narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment for a California-style medical marijuana market in 2014. While 58 percent of voters approved it, the measure failed to meet the 60-percent threshold necessary for a constitutional change.

This year's measure is similar to the failed 2014 initiative, but supporters hope that a more Democratic-leaning electorate in a presidential election year will tip the scales in their favor.

Florida's bill has garnered a number of high-profile endorsements from state and national political leaders, as well as groups like the NAACP, ACLU and some labor organizations. Most recent polls show support surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for passage.

But the 2014 amendment also had blockbuster polling numbers in the summer leading up to the election, only to collapse going into the fall. This could have been due to a late infusion of Adelson cash for the anti-marijuana campaign and a growing unease among voters with the specifics of the marijuana law.

Arkansas — Medical marijuana

Arkansas is also making a play to be the first southern state allowing medical marijuana. The effort recently received a boost when the state Democratic party put a call for medical marijuana into their party platform.

Voters there narrowly rejected medical marijuana in 2012, but a June survey put support at 58 percent among likely voters.

That support may be stymied by the fact that there are going to be two competing medical pot measures on Arkansas' ballot: One of those is a simple state statute, while the other is a constitutional amendment.

The measures are similar, and voters are free to vote for both. If both pass with a simple majority vote, the measure with the most support will be enacted. But there's also a danger of "splitting the ticket," and diluting medical marijuana support between two measures.

North Dakota — Medical marijuana

In something of a surprise move, a medical marijuana measure recently qualified for the ballot in North Dakota. How this one will play out is anyone's guess. It appears the last polling on medical pot in the state was done in 2014, when 47 percent of voters approved of medical pot and 41 percent opposed it.

North Dakota's always been a bit of an odd man out when it comes to medical marijuana. Its neighbor to the west, Montana, approved medical pot by ballot in 2004. Its neighbor to the east, Minnesota, approved it via legislature in 2014.

But North Dakota is a notoriously conservative state. Authorities there have already been warning about the alleged cost to implement the measure. But backers dispute the official cost estimates.

Montana — Medical marijuana

Wait, doesn't Montana already have medical marijuana? Well, yes and no. Voters approved medical pot in 2004, but since then, state lawmakers have been working to undermine that measure. In 2011, they passed legislation that, among other things, prevented medical dispensaries from charging for their services beyond the cost of recouping a licensing fee. In the year following the law, the number of medical marijuana providers plummeted by 90 percent.

Post to Twitter


Our thoughts and prayers are with the Splitt family

Jack Splitt, the teenager who changed Colorado medical pot law, dies

The Denver Post - By. Monte Whaley & Ricardo Baca - 08/25/2016

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the Splitt family. Jack did so much for so many-UA

Jack Splitt was a charmer, a flirt and a fighter for the right to open Colorado school doors for medical marijuana treatments for eligible students.

But most of all, the 15-year-old, who died Wednesday, was a good son and a role model for his younger brother, Cooper, their mother said Thursday. Stacey Linn also said Jack, who battled cerebral palsy and the brutal pain that accompanied it, came to Cooper in a dream early Wednesday, hours before his death.

“He was standing tall and in a powerful voice told Cooper, ‘Please do not be sad. I am free,’ ” Linn said.

Later that day, Jack died. He left behind a legacy in state marijuana law and a huge gap in his family.

“He fought hard for children everywhere, there is no doubt,” Linn said, “but we’ll also remember his smile.”

Jack’s work in the state legislature to turn around perceptions of medical marijuana was nearly unmatched, say lawmakers and advocates. Splitt was the inspiration behind “Jack’s Law,” which requires schools to allow parents to provide medical marijuana treatment to their children on school grounds. The law became official this summer.

Splitt’s work at the legislature helped win the hearts and minds of all lawmakers, said the law’s sponsor, state Rep. Jonathan Singer.

“Anyone who knew him knew that he was charming, he was engaging. He changed more minds on the issue of medical marijuana than I think I ever did, and he finally put a human face to what most people perceive as a Cheech-and-Chong subject,” said Singer, a Democrat from Longmont. “But it’s not a Cheech-and-Chong subject. It’s kids’ lives and their well-being.”

Jack and his mom began to fight for a change after a school employee ripped a skin patch that was delivering cannabis-derived medication off his arm in February 2015. They helped get a law passed in 2015 to allow schools to create policies to permit a student’s use of medical marijuana, but none did.

This year, they lobbied for a state law requiring schools to allow a parent or caregiver to administer medical marijuana on campus. Teri Robnett, founder of Cannabis Patients Alliance, doubts “Jack’s Law” would be on the books today if not for the boy.

“Oftentimes we know that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, but when you have a sympathetic face that can really bring focus to the issue, you can really do amazing things,” Robnett said. “And that’s what Jack did.”

“Jack’s Law” was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in June.

“You watched how even his facial expressions can change liberal and conservative lawmakers’ minds,” Singer said. “The biggest case in point: When we passed Jack’s Amendment (in 2015), one of the conservative lawmakers came up to me a day after and said, ‘Jonathan, I came into this hearing expecting to vote against your bill, and tonight I’m talking to my constituents about why I voted for your bill.’

“This year when Jack came back to the same committee to help pass Jack’s Law, the very same lawmakers were so thrilled to see him, they couldn’t contain themselves. They all said on the record how glad they were to see him, and so many of them will be crushed. … I can’t change minds that quickly, but he could. And he didn’t even need to use his words to do it.”

Jack started classes at Wheat Ridge High School last week and was enjoying learning and being with his friends. But Wednesday, he stayed home because he wasn’t feeling well, Linn said.

Splitt suffered from debilitating muscle contractions and dealt with the pain by using cannabis-derived treatment. They worsened Wednesday, and he succumbed, his mother said.

“Jack had a tough life, but he was a trouper and a very, brave young man,” she said. “When he smiled at you, it changed your life. I’ve had people tell me that when Jack smiled at them a year ago, they can still remember his smile.”

Amber Wann is a family friend and a supporter of Linn’s Cannability Foundation, a major force behind “Jack’s Law.” Her son Benjamin, who turns 15 Friday, has epilepsy and they treat it with medical marijuana.

“At first meeting Jack, it’s his smile that speaks volumes,” Amber Wann said Thursday. “To talk with him and say hi to him and have him look you in the eye, it was his handshake to you, his way of welcoming you to his world, and as simple as that may seem, it honestly meant the world to have Jack smile at you. It meant the world to us.”

Jack’s only relief came through his daily medical marijuana treatments, which allowed him to relate better to his family and friends, some of whom he knew since elementary school, Linn said.

“He loved being around them and they loved being around him,” she said. “When he didn’t show up for school Wednesday, they all wanted to know where he was and how he was doing.”

“Jack’s Law” gives Colorado school districts the authority to write policies for where on campus the treatments can take place and what forms of cannabis can be administered. If a school district does not create a policy, parents and private caregivers have no limitations on where they can administer the treatment.

Post to Twitter


Oregon’s Whopping Cannabis Tax Revenue

Legal Cannabis Flowers and Packages. Legal cannabis and it's pacOregon’s Legal Marijuana Raised More Than $25 Million In Tax Revenue This Year

CNN - By. Kate Samuelson - 08/23/2016

According to Oregon’s Department of Revenue, the state has collected more than $25 million in taxes on marijuana in 2016 so far.

As KGW reports, the total revenue from January 1 to July 31 this year is far more than the $18.4 million the Oregon Liquor Control Commission anticipatedfor the two-year period starting in July 2015.

A statement on the Department of Revenue website explains that medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on their recreational marijuana sales in January, which spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk told KGW has contributed to the high amount of tax, the revenue of which will pay for police, addiction programs and schools in the state.

In January alone, the state collected $3.48 million in taxes.

In 2014, Colorado brought in $76 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales when the state became one of just two (along with Washington) to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 or older. Figures from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2015 showed that itoutpaced revenue from alcohol taxes in the fiscal year ending on June 30.

By July 8 this year, Washington state’s treasury had taken in more than $250 million in excise tax since marijuana legalization began in July 2014.

Post to Twitter


Booming Cannabis Sales

legal-cannabis-sales-232-percent-2015-600x399Legal Cannabis Sales Grew 232% in 2015 Gray Brosious- 5/16/16

Marijuana likely to be a leading growth sector for years to come.

Legal cannabis sales grew 232 percent in 2015, making recreational marijuana one of America’s fastest growing sectors, according to a report from New Frontier, a company specializing in cannabis industry data and analysis.

Legal cannabis industry growth rates shot up higher in 2015 than those of the electric vehicle industry (222 percent), Solar PV installation industry (60 percent) and even the Big Data sector (40 percent).

U.S. medical and recreational marijuana markets combined grew by 31 percent in 2015, which is quite a bit smaller than the growth rate of the recreational marijuana industry by itself but still very healthy numbers.

A fairly recent explosion of new cannabis-enfused edibles, concentrates and other marijuana products have been a key part of the sector’s growth in 2015.

New Frontier predicts the marijuana industry’s growth rates will not slow down any time soon:

Post to Twitter


Does your governor do this?

Gov. Gregoire meeting with feds over marijuana law

Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire will meet with Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Tuesday to discuss the state's recent passage of a measure to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use.


Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire will meet with Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Tuesday to discuss the state's recent passage of a measure to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis said Monday that the meeting was added to a slate the governor had already scheduled in Washington, D.C., on other state matters. But on the issue of marijuana, Curtis said Gregoire wanted to meet with federal officials because "we want direction from them."

"Our goal is to respect the will of the voters, but give us some clarity," he said.

Initiative 502 passed with 55 percent of the vote last week. The measure decriminalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana beginning Dec. 6, but the state has a year to come up with rules governing the state-licensed growing, processing and labeling of pot before sales to adults over 21 can begin. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.

Home-growing marijuana for recreational reasons remains barred, as does the public display or use of pot.

Colorado also passed a measure legalizing the drug. Colorado's governor and attorney general spoke by phone Friday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with no signal whether the U.S. Justice Department would sue to block the marijuana measure.

If Colorado's marijuana ballot measure is not blocked, it would take effect by Jan. 5, the deadline for the governor to add the amendment to the state constitution. The measure allows adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and six marijuana plants, though public use of the drug and driving while intoxicated are prohibited.

Colorado's measure also directs lawmakers to write regulations on how pot can be sold, with commercial sales possible by 2014.

Gregoire went to D.C. on Monday for a meeting with the Council of Governors and Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass at the Pentagon to discuss National Guard issues, and for another meeting with Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss plans to deal with a leak at a large, double-walled tank of waste at Hanford, the nation's most contaminated nuclear site.

Curtis said that the meeting with Cole was added to her schedule on Monday.

"Our biggest concern is that the state has a fairly big startup cost in creating the whole licensing and regulating scheme around this," he said. "We want some sort of clarity on this before we get a year down the road on the process."

Gregoire will return to Washington state on Tuesday night.

Post to Twitter