Colorado: Leading Reformers to be Honored at Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver


Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Seattle Police Department, Organizers of CO and WA Marijuana Legalization Initiatives, Portugal Government’s Drug Agency, Global Commission on Drug Policy, and More

Leading advocates for alternatives to the War On Drugs will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, October 26, at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation's leading organization promoting alternatives to the drug war, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

The Global Commission on Drug Policy is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

Colorado: Denver's Anti-Marijuana-Smell Ordinance Put On Hold


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The moronic proposed city ordinance in Denver which would impose a year in jail and $999 fine for the smell of marijuana and re-criminalize possession of marijuana in some public places didn't get much of a welcome when a council committee took it up on Monday.

The committee discussed and criticized the ordinance and promised to revisit it, probably rewritten, sometime in the future, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle PI.

The restrictive proposed rules were part of a backlash to open use of newly legal marijuana in Denver, and lingering concerns about the culture clashes that acceptance of pot brings up, including how kids will perceive cannabis use, whether its use will hurt businesses downtown, and if people will have to learn to tolerate the smell of marijuana, now that it's nominally legal.

Denver Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell first acknowledged that the citizens of the Mile High City have again and again approved measures to relax the marijuana laws, then he outlined the proposal.

Broadwell said an ordinance banning possession of marijuana in some places would hold up in court because Amendment 64 -- the law legalizing marijuana in Colorado -- allows private property holders to ban it. Broadwell said that means the city should be able to ban it on land it owns.

Colorado: Under Denver Ordinance Just The Odor Of Marijuana Could Get You A Year In Jail


"Bad News, Dude: If That Pot You're Smoking Smells Like Pot, It's Not Legal Anymore"

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It seems the minute marijuana legalization was approved by voters in Colorado and Washington, some politicians started trying to find ways to undermine the will of the people. Now, in Denver, the mere smell of marijuana wafting from your backyard could be illegal if the city council passes a new ordinance.

The ordinance, which will be introduced at Monday's city council meeting, comes in advance of legal retail marijuana sales, which are scheduled to begin in January, reports Jeremy Mayer at The Denver Post.

The ordinance would prohibit pot smoking in parks and in the 16th Street Mall, and would also ban toking in private property if it is "visible to the public," such as on your front porch or in a car, or if the odor of cannabis could be detected from neighboring property.

"Your activities should not pervade others' peace and ability to enjoy," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive," the Mayor claimed. "I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your back yard." The mayor didn't explain why we should have to smell his intolerance from ours.

If the ordinance is approved by the city council, the mayor will sign it and it will take effect immediately. Offenders could face a fine of $999 and up to a year in jail.

Colorado: Pueblo County Approves Recreational Marijuana Sales


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Commissioners in Pueblo County, Colorado on Wednesday night finalized rules for recreational marijuana sales beginning next year, limiting the number of pot shops to 10 and setting zoning rules and licensing fees.

That makes Pueblo County one of only seven Colorado counties that have decided to allow cannabis sales, likely making it a southern marijuana mecca for those who live in pot-dry areas like Colorado Springs and El Paso County, reports Megan Schrader at The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

"That's kind of the way I see it," said Josh Behling, manager of Steel City Meds in unincorporated Pueblo West. "We're kind of an an island right here. It's an hour to Denver (from Colorado Springs) and 30 minutes to Pueblo."

The only other places which have decided so far to allow marijuana sales in southern Colorado are Saguache, Huerfano, and Costilla counties. There are moratoriums on retail sales in place in Manitou Springs, Pueblo and Canon City until later in 2014.

Recreational pot sales won't begin anywhere in Colorado until state retail licenses are issued to the shops, beginning on January 1.

Behling said his store would submit an application next week for a state license, and will then try to get one of the 10 licenses Pueblo County has to offer.

Colorado: Mother Stops Medical Marijuana Treatment For Son, Resumes Chemo After State Intervenes


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A mother who ignited a debate about parental rights when it comes to medical decisions when she chose medical marijuana over chemotherapy to treat her three-year-old son's cancer, has had to resume chemo treatments after state officials intervened.

Sierra Riddle recently moved to Colorado, where marijuana is legal, to help her son Landon in his struggle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with cannabis oil and a strain of high-CBD medical marijuana, Charlotte's Web, which is grown in the state, reports Andrea Rael at The Huffington Post.

A case worker with Human Services started investigating her shortly after she began the medical marijuana treatments for her son, according to Riddle, after a local doctor turned her in for refusing the boy's chemotherapy treatments.

"They are not only forcing me to do something against my will as a parent; they are forcing me to make my child sick," Riddle told CBS4 News.

Landon's grandmother, Wendy Riddle, maintains a Facebook page called "Offer Hope for Landon" where she and the family post updates about the boy's treatment.

On Saturday, Wendy posted:

Colorado: Conservatives, Upset About Legal Pot and Gay Marriage, Want To Secede From State


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Ah, those wacky conservatives. Next month, 11 counties in northern Colorado will vote on whether to secede and form their own state, in which they plan to promote "conservative ideals" that residents say have been lost in a progressive era of legalized marijuana and gay marriage.

The 51st State Initiative would create a new state called New Colorado or North Colorado, and would reject all the liberalism that created such policies as legal cannabis, gun control laws, immigration reform, and modernized marriage laws, reports Jodie Gummow at AlterNet.

"I would've never believed the state of Colorado would become this liberal," complained Lyle Miller, who owns Nan's convenience store in Cheyenne Wells, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times. "I'm afraid for my grandchildren. I want them to have the same heritage I had."

Colorado: Man Tunnels Into Marijuana Dispensary; Gets Busted


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Colorado man was arrested after he allegedly tunneled into a marijuana dispensary through a wall.

Craig Stevens, 43, was arrested in Colorado Springs Friday morning on charges including second degree burglary, criminal mischief, and offenses involving marijuana and theft after police responded to reports of a burglary in process, reports Gillian Mohney at ABC News.

Officers found and arrested Stevens after arriving at the Organic Seeds medical marijuana dispensary. Inside, they found a tunnel from the bathroom of the Birria De Chiva restaurant to the dispensary next door.

Stevens took a sink out of the wall, damaging the wall, before tunneling through to the dispensary on the other side, where he had allegedly taken several plants by the time the cops arrived.

Colorado: The Fight Is On Over Marijuana Taxes


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Not everyone in Colorado is happy with the proposed sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana, which, if approved, will kick in on January 1 when sales begin.

A few dozen activists have joined to oppose the state tax rates, saying the taxes are simply too high and will motivate consumers to purchase pot from the black market instead, reports Kristen Wyatt of The Associated Press. They've organized three joint giveaways, which don't violate Colorado law as long as the joints are free and the recipients are 21 or older.

At a joint giveaway in Denver last week, activists jeered dispensary owners who support the tax, and also criticized Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who attended a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser to support the tax.

"If we overtax it, just watch," said Larisa Bolivar, a former dispensary owner who is now executive director of the campaign against the tax.

The taxes, if approved, would be higher than the taxes on alcohol, but lower than the taxes on tobacco. Tobacco has a 34 percent excise tax; state excise taxes for alcohol are 8 cents per gallon for beer, 7.33 cents per liter for wine, and 60 cents per liter for liquor.

The November 5 ballot measure includes a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax.

Colorado: International Drug Policy Reform Conference Coming To Denver, Oct. 23-26


More Than 1,000 Experts and Advocates to Strategize About Marijuana Legalization, Criminal Justice Reform, Public Health, and Post-Prohibition Models for Drug Control

New Era: Colorado Embarks on Implementation of Historic Marijuana Legalization Law

Which state will be next to legalize marijuana? What do the Obama Administration’s recent announcements about marijuana legalization and mandatory minimums really mean? What are some solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence?

Why do blacks go to jail for drugs at 13 times the rate of whites even though they use and sell drugs at similar rates? What role can faith leaders play in organizing and mobilizing their congregations to end the drug war?

More than 1,000 people will gather to ponder these questions and many more at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, October 23-26 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

Colorado: Marijuana Giveaway Canceled In Fort Collins


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A planned marijuana giveaway scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Fort Collins, Colorado, was canceled after the organizer wouldn't pay $350 in city fees.

Denver-based marijuana activist and attorney Rob Corry had requested a permit to use Washington Park, near Fort Collins City Hall, reports Trevor Hughes at The Coloradoan. But he didn't want to pay the $250 refundable security deposit and $100 administrative fee the city requested.

Corry attracted big crowds when he organized similar pot giveaways in Denver and Boulder to campaign against Proposition AA, which taxes newly legal marijuana sales in Colorado.

"As taxpayers, we already fund and own that park and all of the associated services," Corry wrote to the city's park managers. "So we won't be paying anything to use our park that we already pay for with our taxes."

City officials said if Corry wasn't paying, he couldn't use the park.

Officials said the $250 security deposit would have been refunded if the park had been left undamaged by the planned 100-person giveaway. The $100 administrative fee was to cover extra trash pickup and "other permitting costs," they said, and is a standard charge for reserving a city park for exclusive use.

Corry, in an email to city officials, said he hoped to "work this out" and hold the event at some other time. On Wednesday, he reiterated his desire to reschedule the weed giveaway.

Colorado, Washington Governors Ask Feds To Allow Marijuana Banking


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The governors of Colorado and Washington on Wednesday asked the federal government to change bank regulations to allow marijuana businesses to do banking, and to allow the states to continue implementing voter-approved cannabis legalization.

In a letter to federal banking regulators, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called access to the banking system "a necessary component in ensuring a highly regulated marijuana system that will accurately track funds, prevent criminal involvement, and promote public safety," reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.

"Our states will soon be licensing hundreds of retail stores, each of which will, without a normal banking relationship, be forced to conduct business on an all-cash basis," the governors' letter states. "This creates an unnecessary inviting target for criminal activity."

Banks have been reluctant to cater to marijuana-related businesses, fearing they'd fall afoul of federal money laundering and conspiracy laws. But last month, a Department of Justice memo lessened the threat of criminal prosecution against state-legal marijuana businesses that follow the rules. Inslee and Hickenlooper wrote in their letter than the Justice Department showed "bold leadership" with that memo.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, the most restrictive classification possible.

Colorado: First Hemp Harvest In Half A Century Begins


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

America's first legal hemp harvest in more than half a century began this month in Colorado.

Amendment 64, approved by voters last November, didn't just legalize small amounts of marijuana for adults -- it also cleared the way for industrial hemp production. Farmer Ryan Loflin wasted no time; he planted 55 acres of hemp this past spring, reports Melanie Asmar at Westword.

Hemp advocates from across the United States came to watch last week as Loflin and his crew harvested the first plants by hand. "It felt very historic," said advocate Lynda Parker.

"We think that, obviously, this is a symbolic first hemp harvest," said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). Steenstra predicted that farmers in other states will soon follow Loflin's lead.

Since the federal government doesn't distinguish between marijuana and hemp -- classifying both as a Schedule I controlled substance -- when the federal Department of Justice recently indicated it wouldn't sue to stop state marijuana legalization, Steenstra said that policy should apply to hemp, as well.

The night before the ceremonial September 23 harvest, Loflin hosted a dinner at his farm, featuring hemp-based foods. It was attended by Colorado hemp advocates, as well as national advocates from the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

Colorado: First Legal Recreational Marijuana Store Applications Accepted


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado on Tuesday accepted its first applications from people wanting to open legal recreational marijuana stores, becoming the first state to do so.

All 99 applications accepted on Tuesday and Wednesday were from owners of medical marijuana dispensaries; the general public won't be eligible to apply for recreational marijuana store licenses until next July.

The first hopeful applicants got to the Marijuana Enforcement Division's offices in Denver before 9 a.m., carrying boxes and binders of paperwork, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. Not long after 9, Andy Williams, owner of the Medicine Man medical marijuana dispensary, became one of the first to turn in an application.

"We're excited," Williams said. "Some folks are afraid to be first, but we welcome it."

Applications were accepted by appointment only. By midday Tuesday, the office had taken 23 applications from prospective marijuana store owners, growing facilities and infused-products makers.

All the available appointments -- a total of 99 for Tuesday and Wednesday -- have been booked, according to John Seckman, who's in charge of licensing and background checks for the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

(Photo: CBS Denver)

Colorado: Marijuana Industry Gets $1 Million From Investor Group


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Investors poured more than $1 million into Colorado's legalized recreational marijuana industry this week. Back in May, the same group of investors committed $1 million to cannabis startups at a similar event in Seattle, Washington.

More than 60 investors from The ArcView Group met with 22 capital-seeking marijuana startups in Denver, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. Several of the startups are directly involved in cannabis sales or cultivation, which is a first for ArcView.

The investors had committed "well over $1 million" to the companies by the end of the meeting, ArcView CEO Troy Dayton told John Ingold at The Denver Post.

The total could reportedly have been even higher, if it weren't for Colorado's marijuana laws which require investors to qualify as state residents for three years before making equity investments in a marijuana business.

"This is big, big business," Tripp Keber, the mogul behind Dixie Elixirs cannabis-infused products, said. "There has been an incredible amount of interest that's been expressed to make investments in this industry."

U.S.: Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In its first-ever hearing on cannabis legalization, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday discussed “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws." The move comes shortly after the Department of Justice announced on August 29 that it will not seek to stop Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales, as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

Coming shortly after major announcements from the DoJ limiting the use of mandatory minimums and declaring that the federal government will respect democratically enacted state marijuana laws as long as states smartly regulate the trade, advocates hope these announcements signal a shift in Obama Administration policy toward more sensible drug enforcement, though federal laws still remain unchanged.

The hearing reinforced the growing consensus among legal marijuana regulators, law enforcement officials, and cannabis business professionals that allowing access to banking services is now the most pressing obstacle to the success of the regulated marijuana industry realizing its potential to effectively control cannabis sales in the states where it is legal for medical or adult use, and ensuring the eight federal enforcement priorities outlined in last month's DoJ memo can be upheld, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

Colorado: Hundreds Line Up For Free Joints In Marijuana Tax Protest


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of excited people lined up in Denver's Civic Center Park on Monday to get a free joint, as part of a protest against Colorado's plan to heavily tax recreational marijuana.

The protest was courtesy of the No On Proposition AA campaign, which opposes a plan calling for a 10 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis with the option of going as high as 15 percent (with an additional 15 percent excise tax), reports CBS Denver.

According to spokesman Robert Corry, an attorney who represents clients in the medical marijuana business, state leaders are backing a plan that over-taxes cannabis sales, and that's not what voters approved when they passed Amendment 64 last November.

"We have one of the leading alcohol industries in the world here in our state with less than a one percent tax," Corry said. "That's what the marijuana tax ought to be. That's what we support."

Supporters of Proposition AA, including Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown, claim the money is necessary for "proper regulation" of cannabis.

"We will all be affected by this industry and we need to be ready for it -- administratively, from the police perspective and from a public health perspective, and that's what we need this money for," Brown claimed.

Colorado: Pro-Marijuana Group Places Billboard Outside Denver Broncos' Mile High Stadium


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A huge pro-marijuana billboard now greets visitors to Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos, thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project.

MPP is continuing its strategy of advertising at our near popular American sports events with the billboard purchase just outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High, reports Dan Carson at Bleacher Report.

"Stop Driving Players To Drink," the billboard scolds the National Football League, referring to the NFL's policy of punishing players for smoking marijuana, but allowing alcohol use.

"NFL players are being told that they can go out and get completely drunk, but face no punishment from the leagues," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. "But if a player gets caught using marijuana, they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, forced to sit out games and deemed a troublemaker."

MPP had attempted to air a promotional video at the Indianapolis Speedway in July during the Brickyard 400, but the ad was pulled before the race began.

MPP reportedly paid $5,000 for the ad space. The billboard is located one block west of the stadium.

Colorado voters, like those in Washington state, last November legalized marijuana for adults. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government won't interfere with the state laws legalizing cannabis -- at least not right now.

Colorado: Moms For Marijuana Activist Jenny Kush Killed By Drunk Driver


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A widely recognized marijuana activist was killed on a highway near Denver, Colorado, early Saturday morning, by a drunk driver with a long record of DUI arrests.

Jenny Kush, 34, the mother of four and a founding member of Moms For Marijuana, died after an SUV in which she was a passenger was struck head-on by a vehicle driving the wrong way in the HOV lane on Interstate 25 in the Denver area, reports Jonathan Vankin at Opposing Views.

The drunken driver, Rebecca Maez, 27, was reportedly too intoxicated to notice she had gone the wrong way up the exit ramp onto I-25. She was driving south in the northbound HOV lane when her car hit the vehicle driven by Kush's boyfriend just after midnight as the couple returned home from a concert.

Maez now faces charges of vehicular homicide in addition to another drunk driving violation.

"I had actually just talked to her about 10 minutes before the wreck happened," Paul Garrett, a friend of Kush's, told CBS Denver. "They were at a concert downtown. She was telling me about the t-shirt she got and how much fun she had had."

Kush's boyfriend, identified by activist "Rx MaryJane" as Jeremy Charles, was injured in the crash been has been released from the hospital.

Colorado: Mother Refuses Chemo For Son; Uses Cannabis Oil Instead


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A mother in Colorado says she's doing the best she can to help her three-year-old son fight cancer, but now a doctor may turn her in to the state because she's refusing chemotherapy treatments for the child and is instead using cannabis oil.

Landon Riddle was diagnosed with leukemia, according to his mother, Sierra, reports CBS Denver. After telling Sierra that her son had only a few days to live, doctors placed him on chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Sierra said those treatments helped reduce the tumors, but made her son very sick, including night terrors.

She decided to stop the chemotherapy and give Landon cannabis oil capsules. "I am willing to do whatever I have to do to make sure my child gets to live another day and gets to have that relief and have that quality of life that he deserves," Sierra said.

Under the cannabis oil treatments, Landon now looks healthier and is feeling much better. But in a letter posted online, Sierra wrote, "They want to take away my son because I am refusing chemo!"

She had seen a doctor the day before. "They do not see cannabis as a treatment for cancer," she said.

The cannabis oil Sierra gives Landon is a concentrate made from the marijuana plant, and doesn't contain the psychoactive ingredient, THC.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Obama Administration Wrong Not To Challenge Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's no wonder that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has been foot-dragging for years when it comes to implementation of his state's medical marijuana law, signed by his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine on Corzine's last day in office: He really hates cannabis.

While speaking to a crowd in Point Pleasant, N.J., on Thursday, Gov. Christie said the Obama Administration's decision to not legally challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington was "a mistake" that essentially legalizes cannabis, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Christie vowed that "will never happen" in New Jersey while he is governor. But something tells me Christie doesn't have to worry about a second term.

Christie was responding to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the Obama Administration would not challenge the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to legalize marijuana possession.

"Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department is deferring its right to challenge the legalization laws at this time," the memo read. "Marijuana is and remains illegal under federal law."

Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, claimed Holder overstepped his authority.

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