Releaf Magazine
1Aug/150

WASHINGTON D.C. FAIR WILL FEATURE A MARIJUANA GROWING COMPETITION

For the first time in the history of the event, the 2015 Washington D.C. Fair will feature a marijuana growing competition.

With the legalization of cannabis being enacted in D.C. five months ago, this competition is an opportunity for citizens to show off their green thumbs. It will be called the “Best Buds” category, adding it to a list of other contests including homebrew and pickled food competitions.

Each plant will be judged in four categories:

  • Appearance: How well is the plant manicured and does it have trichomes?
  • Touch: Does the stem snap? How sticky is the plant?
  • Odor: What is the smell like and is it sweet, spicy or murky?
  • Story: Was the light used artificial or natural? Grown in soil or hydroponically? Was the plant grown organically?

The entries will not be judged on how high, nor the type of high that results when consumed because the fair must follow the law — it is illegal to smoke in a public place.

Anna Tauzin, a board member and outreach director for the fair, stated:

“Now that it’s legal for residents of the District to grow their own plants, we wanted a way to highlight this new freedom while also showing off the agricultural talents of the District’s people.”

The judges for the competition have not been selected yet, but are expected to be a mix of cannabis experts from around the area. After the Denver County Fair canceled their Pot Pavillon exhibit, it appears that the D.C. Fair will be one of the few featuring cannabis themed events.

The winner will receive a blue ribbon and other items from local businesses.

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VIA Whaxy

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29Jul/150

Oregon To Begin Recreational Marijuana Sales Early

Oregon adults will be able to legally purchase recreational marijuana beginning Oct. 1, about a year earlier than had been expected.

Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a law on Tuesday allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in existing medical marijuana dispensaries, starting just three months after Oregon's reformed marijuana law went into effect.

The measure "is a smart solution to a short-term logistical problem," Kristen Grainger, Brown's spokeswoman, told The Huffington Post. "Oregon’s new recreational marijuana law went into effect in July 2015, but Oregonians couldn’t lawfully buy it anywhere for another year or more. If marijuana is legal to use, it shouldn’t be illegal to buy."

The new marijuana law allows adults 21 and older to buy up to one-fourth ounce of recreational marijuana per day at medical marijuana shops. Consumers also may buy seeds and up to four non-flowering cannabis plants. The 25 percent state tax on marijuana sales won't begin until Jan. 4, so early shoppers can buy their newly legal weed tax-free for a few months.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, charged with regulating and monitoring the industry, will issue licenses to new recreational marijuana retailers later. Those shops, which will be allowed to sell up to one ounce per transaction, are likely to open before the end of 2016.

State voters in November approved Measure 91, which legalized the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana for adults. The law took effect July 1, but sales hadn't been expected to begin until late 2016, giving state authorities time to establish a regulatory framework and issue licenses to retailers.

“I think this is a step forward," U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) told HuffPost of the new law. "The state is doing a careful job of rolling this out in a thoughtful way, working to keep with the intent of the ballot measure.”

Blumenauer has been a vocal supporter of ending marijuana prohibition-style policies, offering several congressional bills aimed at reforming marijuana policy.

To date, four states, and the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado and Washington state were the first to legalize the substance for adult use in 2012, with the first shops opening in both states in 2014. Twenty-three states, including Oregon in 1998, have legalized medical marijuana.

Despite more than half of all states forging their own way on marijuana policy, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as one of the "most dangerous" drugs alongside heroin and LSD.

Multiple recent polls have illustrated the dramatic shift in public opinion on the issue, finding record high percentages of Americans in support of legalization for recreational purposes.

In April, CBS News found 53 percent in support of legalization, the most since CBS began asking the question in 1979. That same month, Fox News found a record 51 percent in favor of legalization. In March, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source on public opinion research, found 52 percent in favor.

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VIA Huffington Post

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22Jun/150

This Survey Says That Marijuana Prices Are Crashing in Colorado

People are flocking to buy weed, but they're not paying as much for it.

Special delivery for CannaRabbit. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Corey Young

It's been a little over a year since Colorado began allowing stores to sell marijuana for recreational use and the market continues to grow rapidly. But there are clouds (ahem) on the horizon.

Nicholas Colas and his team at Convergex, a global brokerage company based in New York, surveyed a number of marijuana stores in Colorado last week to get a better picture of the state of the nascent market.

What they found was that prices are declining faster than some had expected, while the number of people visiting the stores has increased.

Here's more from the note:
Since last June, the average price of an 1/8th ounce of recreational cannabis has dropped from $50-$70 to $30-$45 currently; an ounce now sells for between $250 and $300 on average compared to $300-$400 last year. More competition and expansion of grow facilities contributed to this price decline, but it is also a natural result for any maturing industry as dispensaries try to find the market’s equilibrium price.

Even with the declining prices, sales are still exceeding those of last year for recreational marijuana.

According to the note, sales increased by 98 percent year-over-year in April. Taking that into account, Colas expects stores to gross up to $480 million this year, which would be a 50 percent increase over 2014.

One thing his team will be keeping an eye on is the average size of each transaction, as it appears to be decreasing -- perhaps as the novelty value of legally purchasing pot wears off -- as well as a key upcoming date:

Our contacts still report between 100 to 300 customers entering their stores each day, but they only spend about $50 per visit compared to $100 last June. About half of these customers are tourists in most stores we interviewed. ... The 10% sales tax on recreational cannabis will be repealed only on that day (September 16) due to a provision included in a bill Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier this month. The bill also permanently cuts the 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana to 8% in 2017 in an effort to squeeze out the black market.

Meanwhile, the popularity of legal weed has sparked a fast-growing industry that Colas compares to Silicon Valley. The note talks about a camp called "CannaCamp Mountain Resort," where guests can "hike, zip line, and roast marshmallows, all the while smoking cannabis" (though they have to bring their own. Due to state laws, the camp can't sell to campers directly). The owners of CannaCamp also run two "Bud and Breakfasts."

Here's a look at the story count for "marijuana" going back to 2000 on the Bloomberg Terminal:


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VIA Bloomberg.com

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1Jun/150

Legal pot boosts R.I. careers

By Ross Kaplan and Austin Davis

As students all over Rhode Island walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, we must wonder: how many of them will actually choose to stay and work here? As young entrepreneurs from Rhode Island, we find ourselves torn between a desire to live in our home state and a desire to work in a place with more opportunities.

With the cultural tide shifting toward marijuana legalization, we decided to leave our jobs — Ross was an electronics engineer, developing new technologies for the Department of Defense, and Austin was a founding member of a company that helps Rhode Islanders find legal representation — and pursue our passion for entrepreneurship.

If Rhode Island passes the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act this year, our dilemma will be over. This proposal to end prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol, supported by 57 percent of Rhode Island voters according to a recent poll, would open up a new world of opportunities for young entrepreneurs like us who are eager to get in on the ground floor of the rapidly growing cannabis economy, what some are calling the next Silicon Valley.

Some may laugh off the idea of boosting our state’s economy by making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, but the potential economic and fiscal benefits for Rhode Island are no joke. From hemp farming to medical research to business consulting, the potential job opportunities that would be created by ending our decades-old policy of marijuana prohibition — before other states in the region — are tremendous.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., initially a skeptic of regulating and taxing marijuana, recently said that regulating marijuana “is not as vexing as we thought it was going to be.” He went on to credit his state’s forward-thinking marijuana policies as part of the reason young professionals are flocking to Colorado.

Governor Hickenlooper is certainly on to something. Localities with forward-thinking policies on civil issues like marijuana have some of the strongest economies in the nation. Such cities as Denver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, which have chosen to reject the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition, have become magnets for young professionals, and those cities’ economies are thriving as a result.

A recent national Pew poll showed that a whopping 68 percent of the millennial generation favors legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older. A recent statewide poll put support at 73 percent among millennial voters in Rhode Island. Support among our age group is so strong partly because punitive marijuana laws have disproportionately burdened young people. Another reason is that we see the economic opportunities opening up around these new laws.

If Rhode Island’s state leaders fail to seize the opportunity again this year, neighboring states might beat us to the punch. In that case, we, like many of our peers, would be forced to make a difficult decision: stay in our home state that we love or leave to go somewhere else where there are more opportunities.

Most observers seem to agree that a system of legal marijuana is inevitable, and our state has already decided that using marijuana should not be a criminal offense, so why should we wait? We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the “first mover” in a new regional economy, which would give entrepreneurs like us a head-start advantage over other competitors in New England.

No one would argue that legalizing marijuana will solve all of our state’s economic and fiscal problems. But at a time when a clear majority supports the idea, the proposal at least deserves a vote in the General Assembly. To ignore this issue, which is so important particularly to young people, sends the message that all the talk about job creation and rebuilding our economy is just talk. We urge our state leaders to “walk the walk” and pass the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.

 Ross Kaplan and Austin Davis are the co-founders of Heritage Cannabis Company, which offers marketing solutions to lawful participants in the cannabis industry.

 

 

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28May/150

New Denver hotel allows marijuana use

DENVER — In LoDo, the Nativ Hotel is set to open. Thursday through Saturday there will be a series of functions to welcome the boutique hotel that allows marijuana use.

“We have something for everyone here at Nativ,” said owner Mike Alexander. “We have door bells on rooms, living plant walls on our outdoor patios where guests can consume marijuana on their stays, the Stereo Lounge in the basement, and original art work throughout the hotel. We even have a coffee bar specializing in CBD infused lattes.”

The rooms have all glass showers, the champagne suites have self-cleaning hot tubs and there is a lunch/happy hours lounge called Pourtions. The cannabis friendly hotel is the first of its kind in Denver. Some of the rooms even have the Monsieur Bartenders … meaning no more mini-bars. This pour system allows for customers to make up to 800 combinations without ever leaving their room.

Co-owner Richmond Meyer said, “We chose the name Nativ because we want everyone—no matter where they are from—to feel as if they are a native Coloradan while they are here. Our goal is to allow everyone to have an awesome time for however long they stay with us.”

The Nativ is staging three days of understanding between Thursday and Saturday. Grand Opening is Thursday night. Expect a big crowd as the new cannabis hotel is going to be the spot to be.
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VIA KDVR

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18Apr/150

The 9 States Likely To Legalize Marijuana Last

by Phillip Smith
Marijuana prohibition in the U.S. is dying, but it isn’t going to vanish in one fell swoop. Even if Congress were to repeal federal pot prohibition, state laws criminalizing the plant and its users would still be in effect — at least in some states.

And it’s probably a pretty safe bet that Congress isn’t going to act until a good number of states, maybe more than half, have already legalized it. That process is already underway and is likely to gather real momentum by the time Election Day 2016 is over.

Colorado and Washington led the way in 2012, followed by Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., last year. California, where one out of every eight Americans lives, is very likely to go green in 2016 via the initiative process, and so are a handful of other states, including Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Longer shots next year (or even this year, in Ohio’s case) are Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.

But just as the end of federal alcohol prohibition in 1933 didn’t mean the end of state-level prohibition — Mississippi didn’t end it until 1966, you couldn’t drink in a bar in Kansas until 1987, and dry counties remain in a number of states — ending federal marijuana prohibition isn’t going to magically make it legal everywhere.

There are two critical factors to consider in assessing how likely a state is to get around to freeing the weed: public opinion and access to non-legislative (read: initiative and referendum) political remedies.

Opinion polls consistently show stronger support for legalization in the West and the Northeast than in the Midwest and the South. But barring access to the initiative process — which only half the states have — means that even in states where public opinion strongly favors legalization, residents are going to be beholden to the legislature to get it done. Note that so far, every state that has legalized it has done it through the initiative process. That could change this year, but it seems unlikely at this point.

But even having the initiative process isn’t going to help if popular support is lacking. That’s why some states make the list even though they have the initiative process. And even having public opinion on your side isn’t going to guarantee victory in the legislature, especially if the Republicans are in control.

Here are the nine states least likely to legalize it anytime soon and, after that, a few brief notes on a handful of states that some would think should be on the list, but might surprise us.

1. Alabama:  This Heart of Dixie state still has several dry counties and about a third of the counties in the state are either partially dry or have localities that are dry. Although Democrats hold some local offices, Republicans dominate state elected offices and the state legislature. The state has no initiative process, and the legislature has so far failed to pass even medical marijuana legislation.

2. Idaho:  This heavily Mormon-influenced state has the initiative process, but so far even campaigners for medical marijuana haven’t been able to qualify a measure for the ballot, so it’s hard to see how they could get a legalization initiative on the ballot, let alone pass it. An Idaho Politics Weekly poll from February shows what an uphill battle it is. Only 33% of respondents favored legalization, with 64% opposed (and 53% “strongly” opposed). And the conservative Republican legislature is more concerned with fending off sharia law than legalizing pot, although it did manage to pass one of those no-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil bills this year.

3. Kansas:  Another state dominated by Republicans, with no initiative process, and little popular support for legalization, anyway. An October 2014 poll showed only 31% in favor of legalization and, distressingly, an ever larger percentage (33%) saying marijuana possession should be a felony. While voters in Wichita this week approved a municipal initiative decriminalizing pot, the state attorney general has already asked the state Supreme Court to overturn it. Kansas is another one of those states where the legacy of alcohol prohibition lingers, too: Almost all of its counties are either dry or semi-dry. Be glad you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

4. Louisiana:  The state has some of the country’s harshest marijuana laws, including up to 20 years in prison for repeat possession offenders and up to life in prison for potpossession if the person has a previous felony. Efforts have been afoot in the state legislature for several years to fix those draconian laws, but have so far gone nowhere. An October 2014 poll showed roughly two-thirds supported fixing those laws, but that hasn’t yet influenced Baton Rouge. Tellingly, the poll didn’t even ask whether respondents supported legalization. And there is no initiative process, anyway. In Louisiana, not sending people to jail for life for pot would be progress.

5. North Dakota:  At the top of that geographical tier of Great Plains states destined to be a bastion of reaction on marijuana legalization, the agricultural state has approved industrial hemp production (in part because North Dakota farmers can see their Canadian counterparts just across the border profiting from it), but is unwilling to move even on medical marijuana, let alone legalization. The legislature this year killed a bill to even study legalizing medical marijuana, and an effort last year to put a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot couldn’t manage to qualify. An October 2014 poll found that even medical marijuana couldn’t get majority support (47%), and the prospects for legalization were even grimmer. Only 24% supported legalization, with 68% opposed.

6. Oklahoma:  Good luck. The state government is dominated by Republicans and is one of the most conservative in the country. The state has the initiative process and state Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) is likely to try again to get it on the ballot next year, but even if it were to make the ballot, it would likely get creamed. Apoll this month found only 31% for legalization. This is also one of those states where alcohol prohibition still lives on; about a third of the state’s counties are completely dry.

7. South Carolina:  There is no initiative process here, so it will be up to the legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. The legislature passed a bill for no-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil last year, and Republican lawmakers have introduced medical marijuana and decriminalization bills this year, but they have yet to pass. ThePalmetto Politics Poll last July barely had majority support for medical marijuana (53%), and didn’t even bother to ask about legalization.

8. South Dakota:  The state has the initiative process, but it also has the dubious distinction of being the only state to twice defeat medical marijuana at the polls. The Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused to act on medical marijuana bills and didn’t even consider any marijuana reform bills this year. There is no recent polling on support for legalization, and given the performance of medical marijuana initiatives, even if a legalization initiative were to qualify for the ballot, it would get crushed.

9. Utah:  The Mormon heartland, another state where Republicans dominate the legislature and the executive branch, and another state where the only legislative concession to pot law reform has been the passage of a no-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil bill. A March poll found 72% of Utahans supported medical marijuana, but that didn’t stop the legislature from quickly killing a medical marijuana bill this year. That poll didn’t ask about legalization; the last one that did, from 2013, was not encouraging: It had 57% opposed to legalization. Utah has the initiative process, but that won’t be much good until Utahans get on board with legalization.

Why Some States Didn’t Make the Bottom 9

There are several states that some might have expected to see on this list, but who I think may surprise us and come around more quickly.

In the South and Mid-South, Mississippi and Arkansas would seem like good candidates to be among the last to legalize, but both states have the initiative process and some associated activism around it. They still have to get public opinion on their side, but they can circumvent sclerotic legislatures once they do. And there is hope that demographic trends will turn Georgia, of all the Deep South states, into a place where pot can be legalized at the state house before the bitter end.

On the Great Plains, Nebraska is the only state from Texas to Canada that didn’t make the bottom nine. It’s certainly as solidly conservative as the others and it just hates legalization next door in Colorado, but this is a state that decriminalized weed nearly 40 years ago. Perhaps one of these days, Cornhuskers will wake up and remember that.

In the Intermountain West, Montana and Wyoming share many of the same political and cultural characteristics as Idaho and Utah, but the influence of the Mormon Church isn’t nearly as strong. Montana has the initiative process and has used it to approve medical marijuana, only to see that rolled back by Republicans and Christian conservatives. Wyoming also has the initiative process. In both states it will be a struggle between deeply rooted Western individualistic libertarian notions and equally deeply rooted Christian conservativism, but they won’t necessarily have to wait on state legislatures.

We’ll have to check back in 2026 or so and see how prescient this was.

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VIA reset.me

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29Mar/150

States Urge Supreme Court to Consider Legal Marijuana Use

The states that made use of recreational marijuana legal urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider their rights and reject a lawsuit from other states trying to ban pot sales. Oklahoma and Nebraska have filed a suit directly with the Supreme Court that contends that Colorado’s marijuana legalization violates federal drug regulations.

Colorado law enforcement officials, backed by Washington state officials, have argued that the court should reject the suit. They are defending their states’ rights to regulatory oversight of legal marijuana sales in their states. In their briefs, both states’ law enforcement officials argued that the Supreme Court should adhere to its long-standing policy of not getting involved in policy disputes between states.

The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma contend that the easy access to pot in their neighboring state (Colorado) has resulted in their residents travelling to Colorado to purchase legal marijuana. They then come home and sell the pot illegally to others.

Colorado’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has publicly criticized Oklahoma and Nebraska for blaming Colorado for its efforts to regulate marijuana within their borders. She pointed out that Colorado’s sovereignty is at stake. she accused the neighboring state of trying “to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree.” She pointed out that the federal government has chosen to generally ignore Colorado’s pot sales system despite having the power to do something about it under the Controlled Substances Act.

A spokesperson for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt noted in a statement that their state does not want to impose drug enforcement on Colorado. They maintain they are simply challenging regulations that have made Colorado a large-scale hub for the commercial marijuana growing and selling, which they say has created a tide of drugs flowing into Oklahoma, Nebraska and other states that are illegal in those jurisdictions.

Coffman noted that the neighboring states did not object to Colorado’s medical marijuana sales, which could also have resulting in drugs going across borders. That would be a tougher argument to win since 22 states have legalized medical marijuana, which is also something that the federal government choses to ignore.

“My office remains committed to defending Colorado’s law,” according to a statement from Coffman. “At the same time, I share our border states’ concerns regarding illegal marijuana activity.” She pointed out, “This lawsuit, however, even if successful, won’t fix America’s national drug policy.”

A friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday by Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson asks the high court to dump the lawsuit, which would also threaten laws in his state. Ferguson said he filed the brief to protect his state’s interests and to protect the desire of Washington’s voters from other states’ interference.

Many experts have criticized the lawsuit. Even within Oklahoma, a group of conservative legislators asked Pruitt to drop the suit. They felt, like Colorado and Washington, that it infringed on states’ rights to pass and enforce their own laws.

The states that allow legal recreational marijuana use urge the Supreme Court to consider their voters’ preferences and to support their sovereignty. The high court has yet to indicate whether it will take on the Nebraska-Oklahoma case.

By Dyanne Weiss
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VIA Guardian LV

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25Mar/150

New Report Provides Comprehensive Data on Marijuana Arrests and Charges in Colorado After Legal Regulation for Adult Use

Marijuana Possession Charges Decrease From 30,000+ in 2010 to Less Than 2,000 in 2014

More Good News for Colorado as Marijuana Legalization Continues to Gain National Momentum

All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, while Denver has experienced a decrease in crime rates.

Now, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance brings another jolt of good news by providing comprehensive data on marijuana arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The report compiles and analyzes data from the county judicial districts, as well as various law enforcement agencies via the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

The report’s key findings include:

  • Since 2010, marijuana possession charges are down by more than 90%, marijuana cultivation charges are down by 96%, and marijuana distribution charges are down by 99%.
    The number of marijuana possession charges in Colorado courts has decreased by more than 25,000 since 2010 – from 30,428 in 2010 to just 1,922 in 2014.
  • According to raw data from the NIBRS, drug-related incidents are down 23% since 2010, based on a 53% drop in marijuana-related incidents.
    In 2010 the top five counties for marijuana possession cases in Colorado were El Paso, Jefferson, Adams, Larimer, and Boulder. Marijuana possession cases in these counties all dropped by at least 83% from 2010 to 2014.
  • Marijuana distribution charges for young men of color did not increase, to the relief of racial justice advocates wary of a ‘net-widening’ effect following legalization. The black rate for distribution incidents dropped from 87 per 100,000 in 2012 to 25 per 100,000 in 2014.
  • Racial disparities for still-illegal and mostly petty charges persist for black people when compared to white people, primarily due to the specific increase of charges for public use combined with the disproportionate rates of police contact in communities of color. The marijuana arrest rate for black people in 2014 was 2.4 times higher than the arrest rates for white people, just as it was in 2010.

The report also reveals a decline in synthetic marijuana arrests, presumably because people are less likely to use synthetic marijuana when marijuana itself is no longer criminalized.
“It’s heartening to see that tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Coloradans have been spared the travesty of getting handcuffed or being charged for small amounts of marijuana,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “By focusing on public health rather than criminalization, Colorado is better positioned to address the potential harms of marijuana use, while diminishing many of the worst aspects of the war on drugs.”

“The overall decrease in arrests, charges and cases is enormously beneficial to communities of color who bore the brunt of marijuana prohibition prior to the passage of Amendment 64,” said Rosemary Harris Lytle, Regional Chair of the NAACP. “However, we are concerned with the rise in disparity for the charge of public consumption and challenge law enforcement to ensure this reality is not discriminatory in any manner.”

“What is often overlooked concerning marijuana legalization is that it is first and foremost a criminal justice reform,” said Denise Maes, Public Policy Director for the ACLU of Colorado. “This report reminds us of how law enforcement and our judiciary are now able to better allocate time and energy for more pressing concerns.”

In January, DPA released Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report. It found that since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, Denver has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, and the state has shown a decrease in traffic fatalities while increasing tax revenue, economic output and employment opportunities. Updated data reveals that the first year of legal retail marijuana sales resulted in $52.5 million in tax revenue excluding revenue from licenses, fees and medical marijuana. Millions are allocated to fund youth education, drug prevention efforts and the improvement of public school infrastructures. In addition, the state is enjoying economic growth and the lowest unemployment rate in years.

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VIA Drug Policy

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14Mar/150

Should Massachusetts Lawmakers Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

Legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts would generate at least $50 million annually in tax revenue, according to one survey.

By Jason Claffey

State lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts.

The state approved medical marijuana in 2012.

Since 2012, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., have approved recreational marijuana.

“The time has long since come to take a more realistic approach to marijuana in our society.,” said State Rep. David Rogers, D-Cambridge, and State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, in a statement. “Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations.”

Rogers and Jehlen in January presented legislation that would allow anyone who’s at least 21 years old to purchase marijuana. It would also allow “cannabis cafes” where food and drinks—but not alcohol—could be served.

Legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would generate at least $50 million in tax revenue, according to one survey. Groups are organizing for a possible voter referendum in 2016 if state lawmakers don’t approve legalization this year. Efforts are underway in Vermont and Maine to legalize marijuana by 2016, too.

One opponent of legalization in the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

“We have seen the detrimental effects it has on families, especially youth,” said A. Wayne Sampson, the organization’s executive director, said in an interview last year with the Boston Globe.

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VIA The Boston Globe

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24Feb/150

Marijuana Officially Legal in Alaska for Private Use

Members of the Alaska Cannabis Club roll a joint at their medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska on February 20th, 2015. Mark Thiessen/Corbis

After voting to legalize marijuana this past November, Alaska residents can finally bask in the smoke of decriminalized weed as the law allowing the "private use" of the drug was officially enacted on Tuesday. Under the new law, Alaskan residents will now be allowed to smoke weed in their own homes and grow up to six plants per residence. However, getting high in public is still illegal in the form of a strictly enforced $100 fine. Consequently, because of the public ban and threat of fines, a legal weed outdoor celebration party scheduled for Tuesday in Anchorage was canceled, USA Today writes.

Alaska has largely stayed out of pot issues since 1975, when the state Supreme Court legalized pot use inside the home as part of their unique and protective privacy laws. However, being in possession of marijuana was still a crime, creating a catch-22 that Alaska has grappled with for three decades until the November decision to decriminalize weed clarified the issue. "For the people of Alaska, it's a day where all of this 'Is it legal?' or 'Isn't it legal?' is straightened out," said Cynthia Franklin, the director of Alaska's liquor control board.

However, there are legitimate concerns about the effect legalized weed will have on Alaska, especially in a Native American community already rife with drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide. "When they start depending on smoking marijuana, I don't know how far they'd go to get the funds they need to support it, to support themselves," said Edward Nick, council member in Manokotak, told the Associated Press. Details about the sale of marijuana in Alaska are still being worked out.

In an effort to make sure Alaskan citizens don't descend into reefer madness, the state plans on lining buses with slogans like "Consume responsibly" and "With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility."

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VIA Rolling Stone

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