Colorado: Marijuana Legalization Task Force Issues Recommendations

Illustration: The Denver ChannelBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado's marijuana task force issued 58 recommendations on Wednesday regarding how legal marijuana should be grown, sold and taxed in the Mile High State.

The government regulators, cannabis advocates and law enforcement officials on the Amendment 64 Task Force were appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper to recommend how to implement the constitutional amendment passed by voters in November which legalized marijuana use for adults 21 and older, reports Alan Gathright at The Denver Channel.

The task force's 165-page report now goes to the governor's desk and to the Legislature, which will consider its recommendations as laws are written to regulate legal marijuana.

The Legislature will have to then go back to voters for approval of sales and excise tax rates for cannabis, according to task force leaders.

While agreeing that there should be a special cannabis sales tax, the task force left it up to the Legislature to set the taxation rate.

A 25 percent sales tax was recommended by a task force working group, according to Task Force Co-Chair Jack Finlaw, the Gov. Hickenlooper's chief legal counsel. But some members worried that imposing such a high tax would make legal marijuana too expensive, feeding the black market.

Washington: Lawmaker Wants To Increase Legal Marijuana Licensing Fees

Washington: Lawmaker Wants To Increase Legal Marijuana Licensing FeesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Well, that didn't take long.

Months before any marijuana stores have even opened, one Washington state lawmaker is already proposing that license fees required to grow, process, or sell cannabis be increased.

Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), who chairs the House committee in charge of marijuana, said Washington will be leaving "money on the table" unless it increases the cannabis licensing fees, reports The Associated Press.

Hurst wants to create a new "certificate" to be issued by the Liquor Control Board, which was put in charge of marijuana under Initiative 502, the cannabis legalization measure approved by Washington voters in November.

His bill would make the certificate a required precursor to obtaining marijuana licenses, and it would require the Liquor Control Board to set the price of the certificate and of the licenses.

Under I-502, those wishing to grow, process or sell marijuana legally must already pay a $250 application fee and a $1,000 annual renewal fee. Hurst says that's too cheap.

Colorado: CU Officials Say 4/20 Gathering Is Unwelcome On Campus

Colorado: CU Officials Says 4/20 Gathering Is Unwelcome On CampusBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Officials with the University of Colorado at Boulder said they still firmly oppose a large-scale marijuana party that traditionally takes place on campus every 4/20. With April 20 falling on Saturday this year, the party could be huge.

Despite the fact that Amendment 64, approved by voters in November, made marijuana use legal for all adults in the state, it is still illegal to smoke pot in public, CU-Boulder officials said, reports Brittany Anas at the Boulder Daily Camera.

"4/20 is most certainly an unwelcome gathering on the campus," sniffed CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.

CU officials said the smoke-out "disrupts academics," and they'll be making a stern announcement as early as next week about what the school's plans are to squelch the 4/20 celebration.

Last spring, CU took the unprecedented step of actually shutting down the Boulder campus to outside visitors on April 20. Norlin Quad -- the location of the party, which had grown to 12,000 pot-smokers -- was completely shut down.

University officials even put a foul-smelling fertilizer on the Quad to deter crowds. As a result, a far smaller crowd of only about 300 people gathered on a smaller campus field.

Washington: Residents Seek Answers About Legal Marijuana At Final Public Forum

Photo - Washington: Residents Seek Answers About Legal Marijuana At Final Public ForumBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 200 people attended a marijuana forum Thursday night in Bremerton, Washington, the last of eight meetings the state Liquor Control Board has held around the state as it prepares licensing regulations for the newly legal cannabis industry.

Speakers overwhelmingly supported rules that would allow a marijuana cottage industry, rather than a market dominated by a few large corporate producers and a black market, reports Josh Farley at The Kitsap Sun.

"My biggest fear is that Big Agra, Big Pharma, and other corporations, having had no real great investment, interest or sacrifice, will lobby hard to seek control and dictate to those who are now in this historic position," said Christy Stanley, a Kingston mother of four who wants a future in the cannabis industry.

Stanley focused her support on the cottage industry that could develop and asked that no barriers be erected that could hinder that type of development, rather than a big corporate takeover.

Some of those attending expressed concerns about high taxes, the scientifically unsupported low marijuana blood limit for driving included in the legalization measure, and "exposing drug use to children."

New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

Photo - New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Mexico state Senator Ortiz y Pino's Senate Memorial 80, requesting the state Economic Development Department to study the budgetary implications of taxing and regulating marijuana in the state, on Wednesday passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on a 6-1 bipartisan vote.

The memorial bill will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee before being heard by the entire Senate.

"Legislators on both sides of the asile want to know how taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico will improve our economic success as a state," said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Many of the best ideas defy political labels."

"As marijuana reform becomes a mainstream position, political candidates and elected officials are finding it less and less of a political third rail," Kaltenbach said.

A new poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico's registered voters -- 52 percent -- say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, taxing and regulating it in a way similar to alcohol. Forty percent were opposed.

A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last year suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market.

U.S.: Senator Leahy To Attorney General Holder: Leave Marijuana Alone

Photo - U.S.: Senator Leahy To Attorney General Holder: Leave Marijuana AloneBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what he called "a bit of editorializing," U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Wednesday morning suggested to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice should pursue "more serious things than minor possession of marijuana."

Sen. Leahy also asked Atty. Gen. Holder what many people in Colorado and Washington have been wondering about: if Holder was prepared to announce the federal government's official response to the voters of those two states legalizing marijuana at the ballot box last November. But, once again, Holder didn't offer a straight answer.

The Attorney General did say he'd had "good conversations" with elected leaders in the two states, including with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson.

"We expect our ability to announce a policy relatively soon," Holder said.

Both Washington and Colorado are moving ahead with their state-run legal marijuana programs, but could face lawsuits and prosecution from the federal government, which officially considers all forms of cannabis a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

Yes, it's been awhile since federal drug policy had a meaningful reality check.

Global: United Nations Warns America Not To Legalize Marijuana

Photo: Raymond Yans, president, INCB. Photo source: United Nations International Narcotics Control BoardBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United Nations has warned the United States against legalizing marijuana, either for medical use or for all adults. Doing so, according to the U.N., violates international law.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the arm of the U.N. in charge of overseeing drug treaties, issued the stern warning about the "unprecedented surge" of marijuana legalization in the U.S., reports Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times. The group apparently has issues with both medicinal cannabis use and general legalization.

"In some U.S. states, they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the [treaties]," INCB scolded in its new report.

The INCB, part of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, singled out Colorado and Washington for particular criticism, since voters in both those states approved general legalization in November.

"They also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing," claimed Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, reports The Guardian.

Medical marijuana laws, as adopted by 18 states in the U.S., are little more than "a back-door to legalization for recreational use," Yans claimed.

Washington: Officials Delay Announcement of State Marijuana Consultant

Source: Victoria TaftBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington state officials were supposed to name the Evergreen State's new marijuana consultant on Tuesday, but said they had received so many applications for the new position that they are delaying the announcement of a winner.

There were 98 applications for the job, which pays $87,000 a year. The chief duty of the marijuana consultant will be to advise the state Liquor Control Board on rules governing Washington's new legal marijuana industry, according to spokesman Mikhail Carpenter, reports The Associated Press.

Additionally, the marijuana consultant will be expected to "gather input" from police, farmers, cannabis users and others to help Liquor Control Board director Pat Kohler "understand the product and the industry itself," The Seattle Times reported last month.

According to Smith, the consultant is needed to determine how much weed is consumed in Washington, so the state can come up with a way of knowing how much should be grown and sold. "We're trying to get that sweet spot," Smith said, "where we can get that right amount that is produced in Washington state to meet the market demand."

California: Poll Shows Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A poll released last week shows a solid majority of Californians surveyed in February -- 54 percent -- support allowing marijuana to be legalized, sold and taxed like alcohol.

The level of support has risen four percentage points since Field Poll last posed the question to the state's registered voters in 2010, reports A few months after that poll, Proposition 19, which would have made California the first state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis, got only 46 percent of the votes cast, losing by just under 700,000 votes.

Voters in Washington and Colorado last year ignored federal marijuana laws, passing initiatives which permit adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis. Tellingly, opinion polls in those two states, taken just ahead of the November election, showed less support for legalizing marijuana than voters in the new California poll are expressing.

Marijuana legalization got the most support in the San Francisco Bay area, where almost 70 percent of voters endorsed the idea.

A group of marijuana activists has already announced plans to put another initiative on the 2014 ballot.

U.S.: Former DEA Heads Urge Justice Department To Block Marijuana Legalization

Source: Salem-NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seeking to thwart the will of the voters of Colorado and Washington state, former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration are pushing for continuation of the disastrous policies of the War On Marijuana. For the second time in six months, the former DEA heads have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to block state-level efforts to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

On Tuesday, the former DEA heads sent a letter to Holder calling on him to block implementation of new laws in Colorado and Washington. Holder will appear on Wednesday before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The ex-DEA directors sent a similar letter to Holder back in September, urging him to speak out against the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, as he had done in October 2010 before California's Proposition 19 legalization vote.

But the White House and Attorney General this time chose to remain silent, allowing citizens in Washington and Colorado to vote without the threat of federal obstruction. Both initiatives won with about 55 percent of the vote, exceeding President Obama's margin of victory in Colorado as well as the margins of victory by the candidates for governor and attorney general in Washington state.

United States: Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year, 300 Economists Say

By Huffington Post Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! Your plans to celebrate 4/20 this Friday could actually make the government some money, if only such activities were legal. That’s according to a bunch of economists, and some prominent ones too.

More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.

That's as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it's still minimal when compared to the federal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

While the economists don't directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an "open and honest debate" about the benefits of pot prohibition.

"At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition," the petition states.

United States: Your Voice, Your Vote - Oregon Cannabis Tax Act

By Ms. Sylence Dogood, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Those who continue to debate the issue of marijuana legalization in support of its prohibition by using false propaganda created in the 1930's to manipulate voters by fear, only succeed in talking themselves deeper into a hole, because research has shown that propaganda to be mostly lies. By educating yourself on the merits of the cannabis plant for its medicinal and industrial properties, you will learn that all of the wasted money thrown into the war on drugs must stop, and as a global community we should be harnessing the benefits to our community and our economy by openly allowing the growth, use and sale of industrial hemp and medical and recreational cannabis.

According to Paul Stanford, Chief Petitioner of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 in the attached video from KATU Channel 2 News "Your Voice, Your Vote" debate, "We want to take the stigma out of marijuana and allow it to be a real medicine that doctors can prescribe through pharmacies." Taking the stigma from marijuana is a matter of education about cannabis and telling the truth rather than spouting propagandist lies.

Wasting Our Tax Money

United States: Pat Robertson - Marijuana should be legal

By AP, Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! RICHMOND, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government's war on drugs has failed.

The outspoken evangelical Christian and host of "The 700 Club" on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network he founded said the war on drugs is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. He said people should not be sent to prison for marijuana possession.

The 81-year-old first became a self-proclaimed "hero of the hippie culture" in 2010 when called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions.

"I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance," Robertson said on his show March 1. "The whole thing is crazy. We've said, `Well, we're conservatives, we're tough on crime.' That's baloney."

Robertson's support for legalizing pot appeared in a New York Times story published Thursday. His spokesman confirmed to AP that Robertson supports legalization with regulation. Robertson was not made available for an interview.

Montana: Petition Aims To Put Marijuana Legalization On Ballot

By Lauren Maschmedt, NBC Montana

There is a truth that must be heard! BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana medical marijuana supporters are campaigning for a new petition drive.

This one would legalize marijuana across the board.

The petition aims to put Constitutional Initiative 110 (CI-110) on the ballot in the 2012 elections.

CI-110 calls for an amendment to the 'adult rights' article in the Montana Constitution.

As it stands, the article states adults have the right to purchase, consume or possess alcohol.

Supporters want the article expanded to include marijuana.

It classifies adults as over 18, but of course under federal law, no one can possess alcohol under 21.

Trained petitioner Rick Whatman said the over 21 law would apply to marijuana, rather than allowing it over 18.

"I think with all the support that we have on this initiative, that we should do very well with it" Whatman said.

Whatman was a trained petitioner and supporter for Initiative Referendum 124, which was backed by grassroots organization Patients for Reform, Not Repeal and put Senate Bill 423 on the November ballot.

At the end of the 2011 session, state lawmakers passed SB 423, which placed strict new regulations on medical marijuana.

Seeing the success at gathering enough signatures for IR-124, Whatman said he has no doubt they'll be able to do it again.

And the process will be streamlined the second time around, he said.

Colorado: Recreational marijuana measure to be put to voters

By Keith Coffman

There is a truth that must be heard! (Reuters) - Colorado voters will be asked to decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in a November ballot measure, setting up a potential showdown with the federal government over America's most commonly used illicit drug.

The measure, which would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, is one of two that will go to voters in November after a Washington state initiative to legalize pot earned enough signatures last month to qualify for the ballot there.

"This could be a watershed year in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana prohibition in this country," Art Way, Colorado manager of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The Alliance supports the initiative.

"Marijuana prohibition is counterproductive to the health and public safety of our communities. It fuels a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy, wastes billions of dollars in scarce law enforcement resources, and makes criminals out of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens."

Colorado is one of 16 states and the nation's capital that already allow marijuana use for medical purposes even as cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law - and public opinion is sharply divided on the merits of full legalization.

Washington: Seattle mayor - Legalize marijuana so we can stop crime

By Jake Ellison, KPLU

There is a truth that must be heard! In his "State of the City" address, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn made an impassioned plea today for the legalization of marijuana saying in the illegal trade in drugs was fueling crime in the city.

"It is time we were honest about the problems we face with the drug trade. Drugs are a source of criminal profit, and that has led to shootings and even murders. Just like we learned in the 1920s with the prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of marijuana is fueling violent activity," the mayor said in the written version of his speech.

He added that the war on drugs "fuels a biased incarceration policy. The drug war's victims are predominantly young men of color."

In a speech that covered the decline and recovery from the recession and the pressure funding cuts have put on city services and workers, the mayor’s focus on crime in the streets brought out the most reaction, according to the Seattle Times.

From his speech:

United States: Marijuana Policy Behind the Scenes - My Notes from a Drug Policy Reform Conference

By Rick Steves, Washington I-502

There is a truth that must be heard! With a group of respected and caring citizens, I have co-sponsored Initiative 502 in Washington State (, which will legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana for adults. We worked very hard last year to gather more than 350,000 signatures. Last month, we turned them in, and last week, our state government certified that we had gathered enough good signatures. This means that (unless our legislature simply accepts the initiative outright), I-502 will be on the ballot in November of 2012.

I’m working with a wonderful group of activists who (like their counterparts did in the 1930s to end the prohibition against alcohol) endeavor to end the US government’s war on marijuana. We believe that it's not a question of if the USA will stop sending pot smokers to’s a matter of when. While there are many good reasons to be waging this battle, for me this is a matter of civil liberties and pragmatic harm reduction.

Washington: Initiative to legalize marijuana will go to voters

An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters, Washington state lawmakers said Thursday.


There is a truth that must be heard! OLYMPIA, Wash. — An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters, Washington state lawmakers said Thursday.

If passed, Initiative 502 would make Washington the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. It would place the state at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee that was considering the initiative, said the Legislature would not act on it, meaning it will instead automatically appear on the November ballot.

"We will have more opportunities on the campaign trail this year to discuss this issue," Hunt said.

Because the measure proposes new taxes on marijuana production and consumption, the Legislature would need a two-thirds majority to pass it.

The initiative was certified by the secretary of state's office last month after pro-legalization campaigners turned in more than the 241,153 necessary valid signatures.

Colorado: Verification of Initiative 30 to require line-by-line review

Scott Gessler
Secretary of State

William A. Hobbs
Deputy Secretary of State

There is a truth that must be heard! Denver, Colorado - Today Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that the proposed ballot measure concerning "Use and Regulation of Marijuana" will require a line-by-line review of signatures.

Petitions for proposed initiative #30 were submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on January 4. The office immediately began verifying a random sample of the signatures as set forth in state statute. Section 1-40-116(4), C.R.S., requires the verification of each signature filed if the random sample shows the number of valid signatures falls between 90 percent and 110 percent of the signatures needed.

Random Sample Summary:

• Total number of qualified signatures submitted: 163,598
•5% of qualified signatures submitted (random sample): 8,180
•Total number of entries accepted (valid) from random sample: 4,436
•Total number of entries rejected (invalid) from random sample: 3,744
•Number of projected valid signatures from random sample: 88,719
•Total number of accepted entries necessary for placement on ballot: 86,105
•Percentage of presumed valid signatures: 103.04%

Because the 103 percent projection falls between the 90 and 110 percent described in statute, the Secretary of State’s office has notified the proponents the petition will require a line-by-line review. The office has until February 3 to complete the review.


Michigan: Petition drive seeks to legalize pot

By Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News

There is a truth that must be heard! It may be a lot of smoke in the air, but an effort is in the works to try to make it legal for Michigan residents over age 21 to smoke marijuana.

A petition drive is expected to launch this week aimed at asking voters in November amend the state constitution and legalize marijuana.

If enough signatures are collected and the measure were to pass, Michigan would become one of the first states in the nation to abolish criminal penalties for anyone using, growing, selling and delivering what has been a federally controlled substance for decades.

The move also would put Michigan in the forefront of a national movement to end the prohibition on marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana is Michigan's next frontier, activists say, since the state's 2008 medical marijuana law is vague and has lead to chaos among patients and medical authorities and police and court officials in the implementation and enforcement of the law.

Proponents for a change contend that many judicial officials have used their authority to limit the law for those who need it. Meanwhile, they add, the state Legislature has not responded to the confusion.

"The medical law is not working," said Matthew Abel, an attorney who is coordinating the petition campaign. "Rather than try to rebuild that and have more of the same type of problems, we needed to go something broader than that.

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