Recreational

Washington: Tipping Now Allowed In Marijuana Stores

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you know a particularly good budtender at a recreational marijuana store in Washington state, you can now legally show your appreciation by adding a little greenery to the scenery.

Monetary tipping of budtenders wasn't allowed in Washington recreational marijuana stores until Monday, March 14, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised its policy, effective immediately.

"The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has received several inquiries asking about the practice of bud tender tip jars," Deputy Chief Steve D. Johnson said in an email under LCB letterhead. "In response, the LCB has reviewed their position and this bulletin is to clarify the policy on allowable tipping."

"Tipping has not been an allowable practice in a licensed retail marijuana location," the email reads. "This position was adopted based on an interpretation of RCW 69.50.357, and indications that prices of products were being manipulated based on the size of a tip to avoid paying excise tax.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Inititiative Backers Launch St. Patrick's Day Billboard In Boston

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Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts launched a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard Monday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will hold a news conference today at 12 p.m. ET in front of the digital billboard, which faces Seaport Blvd. on the south side of District Hall. The ad will run through Sunday, March 20, when local and state leaders will gather for the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the nearby Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively. It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Backers File Lawsuit Challenging Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine will file a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday that challenges the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson will announce the details of the suit at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET Thursday in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana (One Portland Square, 9th Floor). Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell.

Last week, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot. While 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

It appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

WHAT: News conference to discuss lawsuit challenging the Maine Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Office of law firm Verrill Dana, 9th Floor, One Portland Square, Portland

WHO: Scott Anderson, partner, Verrill Dana
David Boyer, CRMLA campaign manager

North Dakota: Petition To Put Marijuana Legalization On Ballot Approved For Circulation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A petition to place a measure on the November 8 ballot which would legalize marijuana has been approved in North Dakota.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Wednesday approved the petition, reports Valley News Live. The sponsoring committee will need to get at least 13,452 valid voter signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.

If approved, the measure would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess, use and distribute cannabis, and would prevent the state from requiring a license to do so (I just love that part!), according to Mike Nowatzki at Forum News Service.

It would also prohibit the state, cities and counties from taxing marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia at more than 20 percent.

Eric Olson of Fargo, chairman of the 26-member sponsoring committee, said advocates will start collecting signatures right away. The group is shooting for 20,000 signatures "for a safe margin," Olson said.

California: Anti-Marijuana Activist Is Determined To Stop Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Anti-marijuana activist Roger Morgan is determined to stop marijuana legalization in California -- and because of failure of Prop 19 in 2010, he feels he has a good chance.

Morgan is leading the Stop Pot 2016 campaign, the primary political opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), the cannabis legalization initiative backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Napster founder Sean Parker, reports Zach Weissmuller at Reason.com.

Morgan's "Safe and Drug-Free Community Act" aims to keep commercial cannabis illegal, and to more heavily regulate medical marijuana in California.

In an often-contentious interview with Weissmuller, the two discuss what science does and doesn't say about the effects of cannabis on the brain; the unintended consequences of prohibition; and what lessons California voters can draw from legalization in places in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Plan To Ban Home Cultivation If Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters haven't even legalized marijuana yet, and already state lawmakers are planning how to gut important parts of the law, in case it passes.

A sharply worded Senate report released on Tuesday says that if voters legalize recreational cannabis in the state, lawmakers should promptly cancel their wishes by outlawing home cultivation, imposing high taxes, and prohibiting most edible products, reports Joshua Miller at The Boston Globe.

While the report from the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana claims not to take an official stance on the proposed ballot question to legalize, it repeatedly, and even shrilly, warns of legalization's supposed dangers. The authors claim that legalization could make it easier for children to access marijuana -- despite the fact that it would be limited to adults 21 and older, and black market drug dealers certainly aren't asking for ID currently.

The bipartisan 118-page propaganda piece, I mean "analysis," comes the same week Gov. Charlie Baker, Atty. Gen. Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston published a scathing op-ed in The Boston Globe opp=osing legalization, and the Massachusetts Legislature's judiciary committee heard testimony on the ballot measure.

Washington: Board To Close Marijuana Retail License Application Window March 31

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Monday announced it will stop accepting marijuana retail license applications March 31 at 5 p.m.

The WSLCB had begun processing retail applications on Oct. 12, 2015, to accommodate additional demand and provide additional access points before the medical and recreational marketplace are merged on July 1, 2016.

“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” said WSLCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith. “We’ll meet the retail cap with priority ones and twos that we’re already processing.”

Retail Cap

On January 6, the Board adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to "align the two markets," i.e., preside over the shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries which weren't able to obtain a 502 license.

Based on staff’s recommendation, the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.

Priority System

SB 5052, the so-called "2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act," which was devised by I-502 merchants as a way of eliminating the medical competition -- and then passed by a Legislature grateful for the productive new source of campaign donations, both over and under the table -- directed the WSLCB to issue licenses in the following priority order.

Massachusetts: Backers of Legalization Initiative To Respond To Senate Committee Report

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The special Massachusetts Senate Committee on Marijuana is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the Senate Reading Room of the State House to release its report regarding the potential impact of regulating marijuana for adult use. Backers of a proposed November ballot initiative to regulate cannabis like alcohol in Massachusetts will hold a media availability outside the Senate Reading Room immediately following the Tuesday news conference to respond to the report.

The report is expected to include recommendations for regulations that should be enacted if marijuana prohibition is repealed by the legislature this session or by voters in November. Members of the committee traveled to Colorado in January to examine the state’s system of regulating marijuana cultivation and sales for adult use.

“We commend the Senate committee members for traveling to Colorado to examine the state’s marijuana regulatory system,” said CRMLA Communications Director Jim Borghesani. “Based on news accounts of the trip, however, it appears some committee members traveled to Colorado with a bias against regulating marijuana and sought information to buttress their positions.

Massachusetts: Backers of Marijuana Legalization Urge Legislators To Approve H. 3932

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Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will testify at a legislative hearing Monday in support of a measure that would end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary is considering H.3932 because the CRMLA submitted more than 105,000 signatures in support of the proposal in December. The measure will appear on the November ballot if the Legislature does not approve it.

“This is the Legislature’s opportunity to embrace a far more sensible marijuana policy,” said CRMLA campaign manager Will Luzier.

“Marijuana prohibition does not eliminate marijuana use," Luzier said. "It only ensures that marijuana is unregulated, untested, untaxed, and sold by gangs and criminals. It is time to regulate marijuana and stop punishing adults for consuming a substance that is less dangerous than alcohol.”

Alaska: Marijuana Proponents Say Measure Would Amount To A Ban On Rural Cannabis Shops

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Backers of the 2014 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Alaska are urging legislators to oppose a measure that would severely limit marijuana business locations and access to marijuana for adults in rural Alaska. The amendment was recently snuck into HB 75, an otherwise non-controversial bill intended to clarify marijuana rules following the passage of Ballot Measure 2.

HB 75 was originally intended to establish the maximum number of marijuana plants that can be cultivated per household and define key terms in the law. It was recently expanded to allow the state government to request background checks on marijuana business applicants, at which time Sen. Lyman F. Hoffman (D - Dist. S) introduced an amendment that would make it very difficult to establish marijuana businesses in any unincorporated area of the state.

"Alaskans spoke loud and clear when they adopted Ballot Measure 2, and this amendment would defy the will of the voters,” said Tim Hinterberger, an official proponent of Ballot Measure 2 who served as chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “It is disappointing that some senators would use the state's need for background checks as an opportunity to ban marijuana businesses in rural Alaska. We strongly urge members of the House to oppose this offensive proposal and either amend HB 75 or oppose it and address background checks in a separate bill."

U.S.: Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Claims Legalization To Blame For Violent Crime Spike

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You might think that the uptick in violent crimes in major cities in the U.S. is related to the "Ferguson Effect," as asserted by FBI Director James Comey. But a former White House national drug policy spokesman is now claiming that the violent crime spike is due to marijuana legalization, of all things.

Robert Weiner, who used to be a national drug policy spokesman for the White House, and senior policy analyst Ben Lasky claim the "Fergson Effect" argument consists of "convenient rationalizations by law enforcement,' in a new op-ed for The Washington Times.

"Violent crime has spiked in many U.S. cities over the last year, including a 54 percent increase in homicides in Washington, D.C., in 2015 -- as well as 63 percent in Baltimore and 13 percent in Chicago," Weiner and Lasky write. "It is no coincidence that this uptick comes at a time when drug laws are being loosened throughout the country. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, either for medical purposes or overall."

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Respond To Determination That Measure Didn't Qualify

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has responded to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot.

At least 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, and state officials determined that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

Based on a document the Secretary of State’s Office provided to the campaign, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary. The notary’s commission is current, according to state records.

“We are very disappointed by the Secretary of State’s determination," reads a prepared statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "Based on documents they have provided, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

"We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality,” the statement reads.

Colorado: Cannabis Chamber To Hold Press Conference On Marijuana Edibles Standards

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The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) has scheduled a press conference for Thursday afternoon. Attendees will hear from several C4 members, as they discuss C4’s recent all member, voluntary adoption of new edibles standards. There will be time for questions.

The newly adopted standards are as follows: C4 manufacturers will no longer produce or sell marijuana infused edibles that are in the shapes of humans or animals. Animal shapes such as gummy bears, gummy worms, “sour patch kids,” and other items will be prohibited.

“I am proud to announce that members of the C4 organization, along with our Board of Directors, began discussing this initiative to address these concerns in the fall of 2015,” said Tyler Henson, C4 president.

“C4 has worked to ensure our members adopt manufacturing and sales standards which recognize that legal marijuana should only be consumed by adults," Henson said. "This is done in good faith and in the spirit of cooperation with cannabis regulators, community leaders, and our elected officials as we work together to continue to advance both public safety and robust industry standards.”

U.S.: HBO's VICE Series Features White Collar Weed

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Season Four of the Emmy-winning television series VICE on HBO includes the segment "White Collar Weed," and will air on Friday, February 26, at 11 pm ET.

The episode will include two segments, "White Collar Weed," hosted by correspondent Hamilton Morris; and "Beating Blindness," hosted by correspondent Isobel Yeung.

Small-scale weed farmers have been fighting to legalize marijuana for generations, but the closer they get to ending the prohibition on cannabis, the closer they get to a new threat -- corporate takeover of their way of life.

VICE's Hamilton Morris travels to California's renowned Emerald Triangle to meet struggling mom-and-pop marijuana growers, then he visits with the investors and entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the next big consumer market -- if it could put the small guys out of business.

See an advanced clip from Friday's "White Collar Weed" segment, below:

D.C.: Friday Marks One Year Anniversary of Marijuana Legalization In Nation's Capitol

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Marijuana Arrests Down 85% After First Year

Congress Continues to Prevent District from Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

This Friday marks the one year anniversary of the implementation of marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia. In the 2014 election, District voters overwhelmingly passed Ballot Initiative 71 with 70 percent support, legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allowing individuals to grow up to six plants in their home.

Overall, marijuana arrests decreased by 85 percent from 2014 to 2015. Marijuana possession arrests fell from 1,840 in 2014 to just 32 in 2015.

“The decrease in marijuana arrests is an enormous victory for District residents, who have resoundingly rejected the criminalization of marijuana,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana law enforcement has particularly damaged communities of color in the District, who have borne the brunt of prohibition.

"We hope that law enforcement continues to responsibly enforce the new law and completely eliminates any racial disparity in arrests,” Piper said.

Vermont: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Proposal

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As full Senate prepares to vote on S. 241, a new VPR/Castleton poll finds 55% of Vermonters support passing such a law and only 32% are opposed

The Green Mountain State could become even greener. The Vermont Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday approved a bill (4-3) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. It is now expected to receive a full Senate vote.

“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill.

It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

California: NORML Endorses Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA)

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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on Monday announced that its Board of Directors has formally voted to endorse the California ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Founded in 1970, NORML has been a voice for marijuana reform in states all across the country and has helped increase public awareness of the failures and costs of marijuana prohibition. But the organization's credibility has taken a terrible hit since 2012, when NORML supported I-502, the Washington state legalization measure that has resulted in the decimation of the state's medical marijuana community and the virtual repeal of protections designed to protect safe access for patients.

"With the largest population of both marijuana producers and consumers in the United States, along with the largest voting delegation in Congress, the importance of voters in America's most populous and influential state, California, passing a binding marijuana legalization ballot initiative in 2016 can't be overstated,” said Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director. “On the matter of ending marijuana prohibition in America, as California goes, so too goes the rest of the nation."

NORML joins the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, California Medical Association and California NAACP, among others, in support of AUMA, which has been supported to the tune of a million bucks by Napster founder Sean Parker, who was also in on Facebook at the ground floor with founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Alabama: Bill Filed To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill filed by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in the Alabama House would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Currently, that "offense" would get you a Class A misdemeanor in the Heart of Dixie, punishable by jail time and fines.

HB 257, sponsored by Rep. Todd, would make possession of an ounce or under simply a ticketable offense, reports Adam Powell at Alabama Today. "Possession charges for people clog up a lot of our court services," Todd said. "This would help eliminate some of that bottleneck."

The bill would lower penalties for recreational cannabis consumers, and would, Todd said, create much-needed revenue for the state, since offenders are forced to pay tickets.

"I believe it's safer than alcohol," Rep. Todd said. "If people could take their emotions out of it, I think most people would agree with me."

Todd said she'd spoken with law enforcement officials, and most are supportive, specifically because the measure would remove a lot of work processing and jailing nonviolent marijuana offenders. She does expect opposition, however, from district attorneys, she said.

California: Vouchers For 2,000 Grams Of Weed To Be Given Away Friday At San Jose City Hall

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A California activist today announced he will be giving away vouchers for free weed at San Jose City Hall, Friday, February, 19, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Dave Hodges, founder of Weed4Votes, and the All American Cannabis Club, will give away vouchers for 2,000 grams of weed to California residents today, Friday, February 19, in San Jose, California, at San Jose City Hall.

This is part of Weed4Votes project called Weed4Voters, according to Hodges. The Weed4Voters program promotes awareness of the Marijuana Legalization efforts in the state for 2016.

During the Weed4Voters event, a voucher for 1 free gram of weed will be given to any California resident who provides their contact information to Weed4Votes.com.

What:
Weed4Voters will be passing out 2,000 vouchers for free grams of marijuana today, Friday.

When:
TODAY
February 19, 2016
2pm - 8pm

Where:
Across the street from San Jose City Hall
200 E Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95112

Recreational marijuana users can redeem their vouchers for free pot after legalization passes. Medical marijuana patients may not have to wait for legalization to redeem their vouchers. "Patients are encouraged to ask their favorite cannabis collectives and delivery services if they are participating in the Weed4Voters voucher program," Hodges said.

Colorado: Marijuana Trends Analysis Includes Comparisons With Washington State

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Shatter is the most popular style of concentrate in Colorado, candy is the first edible choice for most cannabis consumers in the state, and sativa is more popular in Colorado than in Washington state.

This represents a small look at the sweeping range of insights released on Thursday through BDS Analytics’ GreenEdge™ database, which the company says is "the cannabis industry’s most reliable source of data analytics."

Among other things, the in-depth analysis of the Colorado cannabis market, with comparisons to trends in Washington state, finds:

• The top 10 flower strains in Colorado account for roughly 20 percent of total flower sales
• Durban Poison, a pure sativa, was the No. 1 strain in Colorado in Q4 2015
• Colorado’s leading edibles brands include Wana, Cheeba Chews, Incredibles and Dixie Elixirs
• Colorado’s total cannabis sales for 12-month period through Sept. 2015 were 3.8 times larger than Washington’s
• Data analysis reveals zero correlation between top strains in Washington and Colorado, other than popularity of Blue Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid.

“We have now normalized and categorized millions of transactions in Colorado and Washington State in our GreenEdge™ database, which is the backbone of this detailed report,” said Roy Bingham, BDS Analytics founder and CEO. “Sales growth in both states remains impressive — compared to growth in other industries, it is jaw-dropping.

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