February 13, 2015
In 2014, Colorado retailers sold $386 million of medical marijuana and $313 million of marijuana for recreational purposes. Total tax revenue collected by the government was $63 million from the sale, while an additional $13 million revenue was collected from licenses and fees. These figures do not include retail sale of marijuana products such as pipes and bongs. If they are taken into account, the sales data may go up further.
Colorado is jubilant over the massive revenue they generate from sale of marijuana now. The state has a clear picture now about its marijuana market. Total marijuana tax revenues are now expected to climb to $94 million per year by 2016. The sales may cross $1 billion by that time. The Colorado revenue figure may catch the attention of other states that are advocating the legalization of marijuana.
Despite the increase in sales of marijuana in Colorado, the growers and retailers of pot are not very happy. They are still not eligible to avail wide variety of tax deductions which are available to other businesses. They feel a big pinch and allege that they are deprived of a fair share in the profits. Ironically, the banks are also hesitant to do business with the marijuana industry fearing federal crackdown, which leaves them with no options but to fend for themselves.
According to Washington Post, the federal government has been taking steps to help the marijuana industry integrate with the rest of the market. The IRS has already made it clear that the accountants who file taxes for marijuana businesses, won't face additional audit or penalties. Even, the Drug Enforcement Agency was prevented from raiding medical marijuana outlets if they are in compliance with state law.
February 09, 2015
Jamaica, which is notorious for drug related offenses, passed the law after a five-hour intense debate in the Senate. The decision came while the nation celebrated the 70th Birthday of Jamaican Music Legend Bob Marley, who had died in 1981. Marley is known for his connection to marijuana. While he publicly advocated use of marijuana, but his country never approved it. He sustained attacks on his life, but survived. He had live in exile for years in England.
The Jamaicans always loved Marijuana, which is known as 'Ganja' in their country. However, it remains a taboo in the country just like the Western countries such as the U.S., England and Canada. According to some statistical data published in 2013, 4,367 people were convicted for drug-related offenses in Jamaica. Most of them were arrested for simple possession of a small marijuana cigarette.
In 2014, there was a massive outrage across Jamaica, after a 31-year-old youth Mario Deane was beaten to death in his prison cell. He was arrested for possession of a marijuana cigarette. The new marijuana would also allow licenses, permits, and other authorizations of pot, which would help the establishment to set up a lawful and regulated industry for medical marijuana.
Although Jamaican Senate has passed the law, the House of Representatives would debate during the next session next week.
January 29, 2015
We're facing a public health juggernaut against e-cigs in CA. The Dept of Pub Health has lined up with the American Lung Assoc, Heart Assoc and Cancer Society in attacking them as a public health danger.
The SF Chronicle has reversed its editorial position from last session, when it called regulations premature.
It will be difficult indeed to calm the fears of the public and legislators in the face of this smokescreen of public health disinformation.
The BART board will be considering a rule to ban e-cigs like tobacco from its trains and stations on Feb. 12th. I'm debating whether to appear. It would seem very difficult to defend vaping on trains, though I don't see why passengers shouldn't be allowed to vape at stations. The instinct of regulators is to ban everything in case anyone complains. I'm tempted to testify anyway if only to refute the American Lung Association's big lie that vaping is just as bad as smoking.
View BART proposal here, starting on page 39.
January 28, 2015
In a major development, a bill to legalize marijuana for medical use was introduced in the Pennsylvania state senate this week. Interestingly, Governor Tom Wolf has come out in support of the bill, raising hopes of its smooth passage. In the past, then Governor Tom Corbett had opposed such a bill. The present Governor made it clear that he would sign a medical marijuana bill into law if it comes to him.
If the bill is passed, Pennsylvania would become the 24th State in the United States to allow pot for medical use. In 2014, a similar bill was passed by the Pennsylvania Senate, but Governor Tom Corbett refused to sign it, leading to its collapse. The change of tune in the Governor's office has made people believe that medical marijuana may be closer than it's ever been before in the state.
The Senate Bill 3 is almost identical to the previous bill, SB 1182, which passed the Senate in September 2014 by a vote of 43-7, but was never considered by the House. The new bill has 25 co-sponsors, including 14 Democrats and 11 Republicans. More Republicans may extend their support to the bill, as Governor Tom Wolf has already started mobilizing opinion in its favor.
As per the provisions of the bill, a person, who grows, processes or dispenses medical cannabis or operates a testing lab, would be required to get license and certification from that board. The licensing fee would be $50,000 with a $5,000 renewal fee every year. In addition, the Department of Health at the state government, will have to approve the patients. The patients would get an access card for obtaining the medicine. The application fee has been fixed at $100, while renewal will cost $50.
Initially, Pennsylvania would limit the number of growers and processors to 65. All employees who work on this field, would have to undergo background checks. The drugs would have all relevant information about expiration dates, health warnings and safety and storage instructions on the packaging.
Governor Tom Wolf met with medical marijuana advocates and family members of affected people to know their point of view and suggestions on the bill. It pains me that anybody, any citizen of Pennsylvania, is not getting the treatment he or she needs because of some legal impediment," said Tom Wolf.
January 21, 2015
Two Democratic lawmakers have filed bills, seeking the use of medical marijuana in Indiana, but the bills may not make any moves due to stiff opposition. Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage and Rep. Sue Errington of Muncie are sponsoring the bills. Sue Errington is taking personal interest in the bills after his friend's daughter died in her 30s of a terminal illness. Errington revealed that the deceased woman was doing well as long as she could get high-grade marijuana.
The bills have been assigned to a House committee where they are unlikely to get a hearing. Tallian had earlier tried to decriminalize marijuana in Indiana with five different bills, but no bill has passed a committee so far. She has decided to adopt a new approach this year by focusing on medical use of the drug.
Although the 'Hoosier Survey' found majority of people supporting the legalization of marijuana by making it regulated substance like alcohol and tobacco, the Indiana General Assembly may not take these findings into account. Randy Miller, Executive Director of Drug Free Marion County, said, "Never in the history of our country has it happened where a substance or medicine is approved by legislation. We’re not saying there isn’t value; we’re just saying we’re going about this the wrong way.”
The Indiana State Medical Association too opposes the legalization of medical marijuana, saying the issue is not a legislative priority at all. 23 states in the U.S. have so far legalized medical marijuana, while Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska have legalized it for recreational use. Washington, D.C., has recently approved a marijuana ballot initiative, which is subject to Congressional review.
January 13, 2015
In July 2014, Mackenzie faced trial for growing medical marijuana at home to make oil to be used in the treatment of his tumors. He and his wife, Loretta Mackenzie, were convicted in Iowa district court for marijuana manufacturing and conspiracy. Their son, Cody, was convicted of drug possession. However, the family was sentenced to probation instead of prison.
After his conviction, Mackenzie traveled to Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal. He was reportedly treated there. However, that could not save his life. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states in the U.S. At least 10 others have legalized medical use of CBD Oil, which Mackenzie needed for his treatment. Mackenzie suffered from severe angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that produces large skin lesions.
Benton Mackenzie's wife and family vowed to fight the cause even they lost him. They have decided to take Benton’s case to the state supreme court, so that changes in the law can be made to prevent any more death. The family believes that although he was not sent to prison, he was beaten by cancer after his marijuana was taken away from him. Loretta wants her husband’s story to save other cancer patients. She says, “I have a pretty strong feeling that the law is going to change because of him.”
January 08, 2015
Taking a dig at the Americal law, Frederick draws attention to the fact that the United States have spent an estimated $1 trillion from the taxpaayers' money to fight the war and defeat the lowly cannabis plant. Slowly, states like Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as well as 70 percent of voters in Washington D.C. have realized this futility and have legalized recreational marijuana use. The 109th Tennessee General Assembly should do the same," he argued.
According to him, Colorado collected approximately $40 million last year in marijuana taxes, while saving another $40 million from not prosecuting and incarcerating marijuana users. "That has shown the way to all," he said. If Colorado can establish a marijuana market, which gave high opportunity to the entrepreneurs to start businesses and create jobs for people, why others can't follow suit, he asked. "Tennessee can follow the Colorado model, it can earn millions of dollars additional revenue while creating a new market for economic growth," said Frederick.
While talking about Tennessee, he lamented that the state is spending millions of dollars in prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of people convicted of marijuana and other drug offenses. He refused to justify the act and said there has been an increase in violence in the Tennessee over the last few years and the state has been in the top five most violent states, as the cops and law enforcement agencies waste their time and energy on drug related cases. "What we want today? keeping violent criminals out of our communities or nonviolent marijuana offenders? he asked.
"If we claim to care for the lives of our children, why not follow more than 25 states and legalize medical marijuana? Instead, our laws force Tennessee parents to take refuge in states like Colorado in order to obtain marijuana medications for children suffering from ailments like epileptic seizures", he said.
December 31, 2014
The officials had seized 400 pounds of marijuana from Cunningham's house, which was estimated to be more than $1 million in the global market. He not only possessed the drugs, but also tried to distribute them to others. Three other people were also arrested along with him. The cops had recovered seven guns from his house, which led to the speculations that he was planning a robbery.
The marijuana was kept inside a secret room, hidden by a fake wall at the home. But, the agents managed to trace those. While Cunningham was sent to nine years in jail, Brian Lee Speldrick (59) was sentenced to two years of probation. However, charges against Holly Joann Swenson (32) and Jerilyn Reis (44) were dismissed.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom hailed the efforts of the agents, who cracked the case and exposed the convict. He also praised the prosecution, saying "This case involved one of the largest marijuana seizures in our county's history."
In another development, the authorities in North Dakota arrested a 34-year-old man for possessing more than 4 pounds of marijuana. The accused, Brian Flem, reportedly tried to distribute marijuana, which is prohibited under the law in North Dakota. He was found driving with a suspended Minnesota driver's license. Flem was in possession of four pounds of paraphernalia drug.
December 23, 2014
Just in time for Christmas, Sarah Jain reviews the brand-new Air by Arizer, which just came out last month.
The Air is basically a slimmed down and upgraded Arizer Solo that is more stealthy and portable. The only drawback regarding the Air versus the Solo is that the Air has about half the battery life of the Solo. See the full review of the Arizer Air.
December 22, 2014
Derek Schmidt is weighing all options before he takes a final call. Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to declare marijuana legalization in Colorado as 'unconstitutional'. They are seeking the reversal of 2012 initiative in Colorado that allowed recreational use of marijuana in that state.
The latest development has triggered a massive debate across the United States. Many pro-Marijuana activists question the move by Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas, saying they don't have any right to interfere in the affairs of other states. They further argue that as nearly 1.4 million or 55% residents in Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, it can't be the business of its border states to intervene and seek scrapping of the law on flimsy grounds. They believe that these states are trying to hide their failure in maintaining law and order and passing the buck.
Oklahoma and Nebraska have claimed that they witnessed more arrests and legal battles because of the influx of marijuana in the recent months. According to these states, their law enforcement agencies are spending more time and funds to deal with marijuana menace even though their states have now allowed its use or sale till date. It would be interesting to see what decision Kansas takes after exploring all options.
November 26, 2014
December 19, 2014
The lawsuit was brought by attorneys general in Nebraska and Oklahoma. They have urged the United States Supreme Court to strike down important parts of the 2012 measure that allowed Colorado to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, some states such as Colorado and Washington state have allowed its recreational use. Alaska, Oregon and District of Columbia have recently approved initiatives for the same.
For the last few months, security personnel and law enforcement agencies in various counties bordering Colorado, have complained about the marijuana influx into their towns. They argued that the number has been on the rise since January 2014 when the recreational sale of pot began in Colorado. Oklahoma and Nebraska claimed that they have witnessed more arrests and legal battles because of the influx in the recent months. They also complained that the law enforcement agencies are spending more time, energy and funds to deal with marijuana-related issues even though their states are not to be blamed for the mess.
The new court challenge is aimed at discouraging the commercial side of marijuana legalization, which created new tax regulations as well as recreational stores and production facilities in Colorado. But, the marijuana advocates are not impressed. They see it as a bad move, which could boost the black market further. "If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed, they will put the violent criminal organizations back in charge,” Michael Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Colorado-based trade group, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has rejected the arguments of Nebraska and Oklahoma, saying, “Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action. However, it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
December 17, 2014
After an increase for the last five years, the marijuana use by students in all three grades has declined to 24% in 2014 as compared to 26% in 2013. Among the high school seniors, the marijuana users fell from 6.5% in 2013 to 5.8% in 2014. The fall is very significant, as many states are making efforts to legalize pot to prevent drug abuse among kids. The anti-marijuana activists may use this report to discourage the legalization process.
According to the survey, teen use of alcohol and cigarettes dropped to their lowest level since the study began in 1975. This is an interesting trend. If it continues in case of marijuana use too, anti-pot efforts will gain momentum. "There is a lot of good news in this year's results, but the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away," Lloyd
Johnston, the study's principal investigator, said.
Interestingly, Synthetic marijuana, chemical concoctions used to simulate a marijuana high, no longer remain on demand. They are being sold at convenience stores and gas stations. But, their sales have dropped significantly in 2014. 11% of 12th standard students were using the drugs in 2011. In 2014, the figure declined to 6%.
Use of all prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers, sedatives and amphetamines, declined from 16% in 2013 to 14% in 2014 among 12th graders. Narcotic painkiller use dropped again from 7% in 2013 to 6% in 2014. However, Heroin use remained stable for teens.
December 12, 2014
The Barack Obama administration has decided to allow the Native American tribes to grow and sell marijuana even in those states where pot remains illegal. This is a significant decision, which may have far-reaching consequences. Some federal restrictions may still apply to the relaxation, as marijuana can't be allowed to grow on public land and can't be sold to minors or drug cartels.
It would be interesting to see how many tribes will take advantage of the decision, as many of them are opposed to legalization of marijuana. The Justice Department guidelines will allow Native American tribes to formulate policies on their own. They can set up schemes to grow and sell marijuana in states where it's illegal, or ban marijuana in states, where it's legal.
It has been a long-standing demand of the Native tribes who sought more autonomy to set their own regulations on issues such as drugs, taxes and gambling. A 2011 survey conducted by JAMA Network, had revealed that 15 percent of Native American adolescents aged 12 to 17 suffer from a drug abuse disorder, compared to 7.9 percent of the entire adolescent population.
Only three tribes in California, Washington state and in the Midwest have expressed interest in selling marijuana. Other tribes may or may not follow suit. A tribe in South Dakota has already rejected a proposal to allow sale of marijuana. Former Klamath Tribes chairman Jeff Mitchell from Oregon expressed confidence that tribal governments will deal with the verdict appropriately and consider social and legal aspects as well as other implications before taking any decision.
The tribal policy in the United States, is based on an August 2013 Justice Department announcement that the federal government won't intervene if the states strictly regulate marijuana and take steps to keep it away from children, criminal cartels and federal properties.
December 09, 2014
Even though nearly 70 percent of voters in District of Columbia had given thumbs up to the recreational use of marijuana in the national capital, the U.S. Congress is looking forward to stall their efforts to legalize the pot. The Initiative 71, which was supposed to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use while still banning sales, may not get the nod of the U.S. Congress.
According to a summary published on the House Appropriation website, the spending bill to be considered by the Congress this week, prohibits both federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.
According to Drug Policy Alliance, the Democrats who openly vouched for Initiative 71, may strike a deal with the Republicans to show that they protected D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law from elimination, even though they failed in the legalization efforts.
D.C.'s legalization initiative in November received the mandate to allow use of small amount of marijuana for recreational purpose. However, as per the provisions, all initiatives in the national capital must get the Congressional approval to become law.
The Ballot 71 initiative would allow adults 21 and above to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants of cannabis at home, and give marijuana to other adults 21 and above. However, it still prohibited legalization, regulation or sale of pot. Only Colorado and Washington have so far legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Apart from D.C., Alaska and Oregon too approved the November initiatives to allow recreational use of pot in their states.