U.S.: GOP Candidates Out of Touch On Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This week's Republican presidential debate in Colorado showed that the GOP candidates are out of touch with the majority of American voters when it comes to marijuana legalization, according to a leading financial advisor.

"Once again, the Republicans don't take the opportunity to speak to an overwhelming percentage of Americans in regards to state rights and legalization of marijuana," said David Dinenberg, CEO and founder of Kind Financial, a financial services firm for the legal cannabis industry. "The party should realize that several 'Red' states have some form of legalization on the 2016 ballots and the voters and consider the candidates' position on marijuana."

Dinenberg has made it no secret that he thinks the public debate should mirror the increasing intensity of the conversation, with more than 63 percent of Americans who believe marijuana should be legal. David would know, as he's well-versed in the political and financial angles of cannabis legalization issues.

"Last night's debate in Colorado revealed quite a bit about who is grounded in facts with a plan for the U.S. economy and who is just in it for a political dance," Dinenberg said. "How far cannabis has come in this country and how sophomoric the candidates can be!"

U.S.: What Happened When States Legalized Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the sale of marijuana for recreational use became legal in Colorado and Washington last year -- and in Oregon this year -- a few predictions, both good and bad, were made about the outcome. Here's what has actually happened so far.


• No increase in teen use: Opponents of legalization claimed young people would flock to weed if the legal penalties were removed. That hasn't happened, reports Daniel Dale at The Star. Major studies have found no increase in teen use in states the legalized medical marijuana; in Colorado, fewer students said they used pot after legalization than before.

• Tax windfall: Colorado has taken in more than $86 million in cannabis taxes and fees this year, far more than for alcohol. Washington state is predicting $1 billion in marijuana taxes over the next four years. "All that money that was going to criminals and the hands of cartels is now being sent toward legitimate taxpaying businesses," said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Colorado: Feds Reject Marijuana Bank


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal government has dealt yet another setback to attempts to provide banking services to the marijuana industry.

The Federal Reserve, in a Wednesday court filing, said it doesn't intend to accept any money connected to cannabis sales, because marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, reports the Associated Press.

The stance, taken in response to an attempt by a Colorado-based company, appears to signal a shift in the position of the federal government. Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department had issued rules for how banks can accept marijuana money.

"We're frustrated," said Andrew Freedman, in charge of marijuana coordination for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "We tried to do the most with the building blocks of instructions they sent us, set up the most rigorous solution. And we still are left with confusion."

The court filing came in a legal tussle between the Federal Reserve and Fourth Corner Credit Union, established in 2014 to serve Colorado's marijuana industry, now worth $700 million annually.

Fourth Corner can't open without permission from the Federal Reserve, which said in its court filing that "transporting or transmitting funds known to have derived from the distribution of marijuana is illegal."a

U.S.: Hillary Clinton Says Feds Shouldn't Interfere With Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hillary Clinton is feeling the heat when it comes to federal marijuana policy. Just after her first primary debate with fellow Democrats who want to be President, Clinton is finally giving some answers about how she'd handle states which have legalized cannabis.

Clinton had declined to take a position on marijuana legalization in Tuesday's CNN debate, but she wasn't asked at the debate how she'd handle legalization by states as President, reports Brandon Rittiman at KUSA.

In stark contrast to GOP candidate Chris Christie, who has said he'd use federal power to stop legalized sales of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington, Clinton said "I want to give you the space" to experiment with cannabis policy.

"I really believe it's important that states like Colorado lead the way so we can learn what works and what doesn't work," Clinton told 9NEWS political reporter Rittiman. "I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado."

Clinton had previously expressed support for state-level medical marijuana laws, but appears to be the first time she's supported recreational legalization at the state level.

U.S.: Cannabis Industry Innovator Named One of Fortune's 'Most Promising Women'


For the first time ever, Fortune Magazine has honored a cannabis industry innovator as one of its 2015 "Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs" list.

Jessica Billingsley, cofounder and COO of MJ Freeway Business Solutions, is the first woman ever from the cannabis industry to accept the prestigious Fortune Most Promising Women Entrepreneur Award. MJ Freeway is a Denver-based woman-owned software company and leading provider of marijuana business software including point of sale, inventory tracking, manufacturing, and cultivation management.

This tremendous accolade is presented annually to 10 female founders of thriving, innovative, groundbreaking companies with revenue in the $1 million-to-$25 million range.

"The Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs add so much to the Fortune Most Powerful Women community by sharing how they create companies from scratch and scale their organizations at a pace and level of flexibility that are often the envy of Fortune 500 giants," said Pattie Sellers, assistant managing editor at Fortune and executive director, MPW/Live Content, Time Inc/

“I am honored to have received this award, but it is not my award," Billingsley said. "MJ Freeway's team of women and men who have worked with vision and determination to build this company all won this award.

"I'm proud of the culture, success, and commitment to diversity that my co-founder, Amy Poinsett, and I created," Billingsley said. "But I am even prouder of the team that lives it every day serving our customers.”

Colorado: Marijuana Sales Top $100 Million In August


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis sales surpassed the $100 million mark in August for the first time ever in Colorado, according to recreational and medical marijuana sales data released on Friday by the state Department of Revenue.

Marijuana sales once again eclipsed the previous month's numbers, with recreational cannabis racking up $59.2 million in sales and medical marijuana getting $41.4 million, reports Elizabeth Hernandez at The Denver Post.

The combined $100.6 million in cannabis sales continues the 2015 trend of month-to-month record-setting.

"It means that $100 million is going to licensed, taxpaying businesses, creating jobs and helping to build new schools, instead of going to cartels and drug dealers -- as is the case in the 46 states that don't regulate marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal polices for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Legal recreational cannabis sales began on January 1, 2014, in Colorado, which was the first state to launch a retail cannabis program. There were $46.4 million in total sales that month, with $14.7 million in recreational and $32.2 million in medicinal sales. August 2014 was the first month when recreational sales exceeded medical sales.

Colorado: Marijuana Pesticide Concerns Prompt Liability Lawsuit


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two cannabis users in Colorado -- one of them a medical marijuana patient with a brain tumor -- have sued the largest pot grower in the state for allegedly using a potentially dangerous pesticide on the weed they later purchased.

Brandan Flores and Brandie Larrabee have brought a lawsuit against LivWell Inc., seeking class-action status and alleging the company has for years inappropriately used Eagle 20, a harsh fungicide containing myclobutanil, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

Neither Flores, who lives in Denver, nor Larrabee, who lives in Grand Junction, claim they were sickened from using the marijuana they got at LivWell, but both say they wouldn't have used it if they had known it was treated with Eagle 20.

"In a larger sense they're saying the marijuana industry can't go on unchecked and someone has to do something to stop these people from using Eagle 20 and other harmful pesticides," said attorney Steven Woodrow, representing Flores and Larrabee.

The two are asking for unspecified financial damages for money they overspent to buy cananbis they said should have been discounted because of the pesticide. The 40-page lawsuit, filed on Monday in Denver District Court, says the fungicide myclobutanil, when heated, produces "poisonous hydrogen cyanide" and alleges that consumers who smoke marijuana treated with Eagle 20 ingest the gas.

Colorado: Marijuana Pesticide Regulations Deprioritized


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado regulators have known since 2012 that some marijuana in the state is grown with dangerous pesticides, but pressure from the cannabis industry and lack of guidance from the federal government delayed their regulatory attempts, and they ultimately decided on a less restrictive approach than originally planned.

Three years of emails and records, along with dozens of interviews, show state regulators struggled with the issue while the marijuana industry protested that proposed pesticide limits would leave their crops vulnerable to parasites and disease, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

As state officials were preparing a list of allowable pesticides on marijuana last year, officials at the Colorado Department of Agriculture stopped the process -- under pressure from the cannabis industry, according to The Post.

"This list has been circulated among marijuana producers and has been met with considerable opposition because of its restrictive nature," wrote Mitch Yergert, the CDA's plant industry director, shortly after the April 2014 decision. "There is an inherent conflict with the marijuana growers' desire to use pesticides other than those" that are least restrictive.

Colorado: Overcapacity Drives Down Marijuana Prices


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's lots of weed in Colorado, man. In fact, there's so much marijuana, overcapacity in dispensaries is driving down prices. Retail cannabis prices have dropped for a year now, but seem to be stabilizing in the third quarter, according to a marijuana store survey by chief market strategist Nicholas Colas and Jessica Rabe, both with Convergex.

Colas surveyed retail pot stores in Colorado and fought that cannabis fell from $50-$70 for an eighth-ounce to $30-$45, reports Debra Borchardt at Forbes. An ounce fell from $300-$400 to the lower end of $300 an ounce. According to Colas, all his contacts said that more competition was the reason for the downward pricing pressure, as more dispensaries and grow facilities open.

Colas said there were 156 retail marijuana stores and 204 retail cultivation facilities at the start of 2014, according to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. "At the end of December 2014, there were 322 retail stores and 397 retail cultivations respectively," he said, representing roughly double the number at the beginning the year.

As of August 3, those numbers have increased to 385 retail stores and 496 retail cultivations, a 20 percent and 25 percent increase respectively.

Prices seem to be stabilizing, but Colas said some stores sell ounces for $200. The survey participants told him they had to lower prices to compete.

Colorado: Marijuana Growers Have Legal Alternatives To 'Organic' Label


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's marijuana industry has thus far benefited from the regulatory gray area where it resides, but according to an expert in organic certification, any other operation that routinely labeled its products "organic" without certification would have been shut down and fined almost immediately.

"If those farmers were farming any other agricultural crop, they would be contacted within a month or two," said Chris Van Hook, an accredited organic certifier for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and owner of Clean Green Certified, which offers alternative organic certifications for cannabis, reports Emilie Rusch at The Denver Post.

"It's very clear in the organic regulations," Van Hook said. "It's an $11,000-per-violation labeling infraction to call an uncertified product organic."

Industry figures are working to find a way to legitimately market cannabis products as pesticide-free and environmentally friendly. Van Hook established his "Clean Green" certification seal in 2004, and another organization, based in Denver, could begin certifiying marijuana as pesticide-free later this year.

"The quicker the cannabis industry can address the misrepresentation, the better it will be for consumers and farmers," Van Hook said. Clean Green, based in Crescent City, California, has already certified more than 100 cannabis grow operations, processors and collectives.

Colorado: Cannabis Infused Beer Available at Beer Festival... Sort Of


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Beer is the main attraction at Denver's Great American Beer Festival. But of course with the advent of legal marijuana, Colorado -- home of more than 200 breweries -- has another big draw. This year, at the Festival, one brewer offered a "cannabis-infused" beer, made with legal hemp oil, but with no THC.

Yes, sadly, the whole story is just half-a-step away from being cool, because commercially made "cannabis beers" aren't allowed under Colorado's legalization law. The THC is stripped from hemp used in the production of legal hemp oil used to make the cannabis-infused beer from Dad & Dude's Breweria, reports Chris Morris at Fortune

That means you won't get a cannabis high from drinking the beer; Indica Double IPA is made with cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive but medicinal cannabinoid which, though becoming more and more well known, is still obscure enough to have had its name misspelled as "cannabidoil" on Fortune Magazine's website.

Exactly why the beer is "cannabis infused" seems to be a bit unclear, since it isn't psychoactive, and Dad & Dude's cofounder Mason Hembree says the cannabidiol doesn't impact the flavor of the beer at all. Oh, wait, I almost forgot: marketing gimmick.

"Finding a legal hemp oil was difficult," Hembree said. "Locally cultivated cannabis is not legal for brewers, yet."

U.S.: Willie Nelson's New Marijuana Brand Willie's Reserve Gets Funding


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Country music legend Willie Nelson is teaming up with private investors looking to cash in on a celebrity-endorsed brand of marijuana.

Tuatara Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, this wee announced its partnershipwith Nelson, 81, known for such standards as "Always On My Mind" and "On The Road Again," as well as for his well-documented fondness for cannabis, reports Tom Huddleston, Jr., at TIME.

Under the partnership, Tuatara will lead a group of investors financing the development of a legal recreational marijuana brand featuring Nelson's name and likeness.

"Willie's Reserve" will be a "premium cannabis lifestyle brand" for recreational marijuana users in states where it is legal, starting with Colorado and Washington "and also other states as regulations allow." Local businesses in those states will grow, distribute, and sell Willie's Reserve marijuana based on the brand's specifications and "quality standards," according to a press release from Tuatara and Nelson.

"I hear stories from people across the country about how the end of marijuana prohibition is improving their lives," Nelson said. "Legal marijuana makes sense. Good business will prove it can work in America," said Nelson.

Colorado: Gas and Grass -- First Marijuana Gas Stations Ready To Open


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The advent of recreational marijuana in Colorado has led to some interesting business models. Now a hybrid that combines a traditional filling station with a cannabis dispensary is set to open two locations in Colorado Springs.

Gas and Grass, operated by Denver-based Native Roots, will open its first two locations in Colorado Springs next month, one at West Uintah and 17th Street, the other at Academy and Galley, reports Andy Koen at KOAA.

"It's really just kind of pairing the convenience in one specific stop," said spokesperson Tia Mattson.

The dispensary will have its own separate entrance and must follow all the same rules that apply to other medical marijuana stores in Colorado, according to Mattson. The gas station will be open to the public.

"I believe we'll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes and similar things that you would pickup in a convenience store," Mattson said.

Native Roots' 11 dispensaries and retail marijuana stores operate all over Colorado. The stores have a uniform look with merchandise and pricing structures in common, like most any other retail chain.

The stores, in addition to cannabis products, sell marijuana themed shirts, hats and souvenirs. The gas station idea simply expands the other-than-cannabis business concept, Mattson said.

Colorado: Activists Pull Back On Denver Marijuana Nightclubs Measure


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Activists campaigning to allow marijuana to be legally used in adults-only businesses such as bars and nightclubs said on Thursday they are withdrawing a ballot measure that would have put the issue before Denver voters this November.

Sponsors said they were pulling the initiative because they hope to reach a compromise with city officials and business groups that could result in a local ordinance allowing some limited social cannabis use in Denver, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.

Colorado's recreational marijuana legalization law doesn't allow "public use." But activists said restrictions had prohibited cannabis everywhere except in private homes and a few 420-friendly bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the state.

The ballot proposal would have allowed adults to consume cannabis edibles or inhale vaporized marijuana outdoors, if blocked from public view.

Organizers said it's still too early to know what might be included in any compromise ordinance. If that effort stalls, they said, the ballot measure might be reintroduced next year.

Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Colorado: Denver Cracks Down On Pesticides In Marijuana Products


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver health officials on Tuesday started inspecting and quarantining hundreds of cannabis products because their labels listed pesticides not approved by the state for use on marijuana.

The city's move came about six months after officials had quarantined 100,000 plants at 11 grow facilities due to concerns about pesticide use, report David Migoya and Ricardo Baca at The Denver Post.

No safety standards exist for pesticide use on marijuana. Since cannabis is illegal under federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, has never established any limits.

However, since marijuana is legal in Colorado, the state Department of Agriculture there has created a listed of allowed pesticides, as has its counterpart in Washington state, where recreational pot is also legal.

The quarantines were put on Mountain High Suckers and MMJ America after Denver's Department of Environmental Health late Monday warned businesses that products with labels reflecting the use of banned pesticides should be removed from shelves and destroyed, or returned to the manufacturers.

Colorado law requires all cannabis product labels to list pesticides, contaminants, fungicides and herbicides that were used, from germination to packaging.

Colorado: Patients Sue Over Board's Decision Not To Allow Marijuana For PTSD


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Five PTSD patients on Thursday filed suit in Denver District Court challenging last month's decision by the Colorado Board of Health not to make post-traumatic stress disorder the first condition added to the state's medical marijuana eligibility list in 15 years.

The rejection came despite a recommendation from Colorado's chief medical officer and a panel of physicians.They said that some questions about marijuana's effectiveness as a treatment for PTSD, but that people are using cannabis anyway and the medical inclusion would allow more understanding of how people use marijuana to treat stress related issues.

The Board of Health, however, claimed there is insufficient federal research and denied the PTSD request on a 6-2 vote.

"The board in effect established a standard that was impossible to meet," said Bob Hoban, an attorney for the PTSD patients. "They insist on having a federal study, which in effect is a futile standard."

Authorities have three weeks to respond to the complaint, with no hearing date set. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is also named in the study; a spokeswoman for that department on Friday declined to comment.

Marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older in Colorado, with no medical authorization needed. But medical marijuana is taxed at 2.9 percent, compared with at least 25 percent for recreational weed. Also, medical marijuana patients are legally allowed to possess two ounces of weed instead of just one.

Arizona: 'High Profits' Star Katherine Grimm To Appear At Southwest Cannabis Conference


Katherine Grimm, breakout star of CNN’s popular docu-series "High Profits," will appear at the inaugural Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo on October 27 and 28 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Grimm, who will attend a meet-and-greet with attendees and appear as a panelist, is the unlikely star of the CNN Original Series, produced by Bat Bridge Entertainment, that followed the saga of a Breckenridge, Colorado recreational marijuana dispensary. As the owner of Clever Gent Bud, Grimm stood out as the show’s intelligent, strategic cannabis entrepreneur.

Organizers also announced featured breakout session speakers including Scottsdale attorneys Laura Bianchi and Ryan Hurley of the Rose Law Group who will discuss the latest legislative issues related to cannabis in Arizona, and the country.

More than 300 exhibitors are expected at the two-day event that includes interactive workshops, leading industry guest speakers, a job fair, business-to-business networking and more. Thousands of attendees from across the Southwest are expected to attend.

The first annual Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo is presented by the Southwest Expo Group, software developer MJ Freeway and New Times Phoenix. Tickets and convention information are available by calling the Southwest Event Group at 1-877-775-1568 or online at The Phoenix Convention Center is located at 100 N. 3rd Street. Doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m during the event.

Colorado: Cannabis-Focused Denver Ad Agency Makes Inc. 5000 List


Denver Digital Marketing Agency Ranks on the 2015 Inc. 5000 with Focus on Cannabis Marketing Arm

Inc. magazine has included cannabis-focused marketing agency JEMSU on its 34th annual "Inc. 5000," an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. JEMSU, a Denver-based digital advertising and marketing agency, ranked 1,187th on the list.

This is the first year JEMSU qualified for the list, which represents a definitive portrait of America’s most successful independent entrepreneurs. According to the list, JEMSU is the 33rd fastest-growing company in Colorado and the 4th fastest growing advertising and marketing company.

Chris Sams, CEO of JEMSU, identified several sectors of the business that contributed to such staggering growth including strategic partnerships, national expansion and the acquisition of two smaller companies. One of the most influential factors proved to be the explosive growth of legal cannabis businesses in Colorado.

Many of these business owners found that traditional agencies either were uncomfortable with or uninformed about the cannabis industry. Sams saw the potential early on and created Marijuana Marketing Gurus, which operates as an arm of JEMSU.

Through Marijuana Marketing Gurus, a specialized team at JEMSU provides SEO, web design, video production and display advertising for a range of clients in the cannabis industry.

Colorado: Cannabis Chamber Warns Against Overregulation of Edible Products


The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday urged against a culture of dangerous potential overregulation of legal cannabis edibles in Colorado.

At the HB13-1361 and HB14-1366 Work Group Meeting on August 11, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) of the Department of Revenue (DOR) discussed with various stakeholders the creation of new rules surrounding all edible cannabis products.

The Chamber also stands behind the consensus at the meeting regarding standard measurement procedures and the need for public education to always be the number one priority.

However, many proposed new regulations on edible products could create a strong negative impact not only on legal, licensed, compliant marijuana business throughout Colorado, but also on public safety for adults and children alike, according to the Chamber.

“The more we encourage overregulation, the more we risk pushing marijuana activity back onto the black market and into home kitchens without oversight or any regulation whatsoever,” said Tyler Henson, president of the Cannabis Chamber.

Furthermore the Chamber announced it is "disappointed in the letter that was signed by many of our state legislators that asked MED to ignore the rule of law and create rules based on false propaganda that has been perpetuated by prohibitionists."

“The letter that was signed by 85 state legislators is troubling," Henson said. "The letter is riddled with misleading information and asks the MED to create rules based off intent rather than what the bill mandates the state to enact.”

Colorado: Innovative Cannabis Dispensary Good Chemisry Celebrates 5th Anniversary


More than 200 guests toasted Good Chemistry’s Fifth Anniversary at Spill Lounge on Saturday night. The celebration crowned a year of exciting developments for the Colorado dispensary and producer, capped by the grand opening of a new Aurora location that showcases the industry’s leading retail design, and consumer-friendly and helpful shopping experience.

Good Chemistry’s original location on Colfax in Denver’s Capitol Hill will also incorporate the new category system once renovations are complete this month, according to Wednesday press release.

“I got involved in the cannabis industry in its nascent stages because I wanted to aid people who suffer from a variety of illnesses by giving them the opportunity to add cannabis to their treatment plans,” said Good Chemistry founder and CEO Matthew Huron. “My background in cultivating medical marijuana has distinguished Good Chemistry with innovative programs such as the Good Chemistry Compassion Program.

"It is very rewarding to recognize our fifth anniversary, and we know there is still enormous work to be done in this field,” Huron said.

Good Chemistry will continue fifth anniversary celebrations when it sponsors AIDS Walk Denver on Saturday, August 15. The company also returns for the fourth year in a row as a Universal Sponsor for One Colorado Education Fund’s Ally Awards, which will be held the following Saturday, August 22. One Colorado is an organization dedicated to securing and protecting equality and opportunity for LGBT Coloradans and their families.

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