Search Results for: Marijuana Policy Project

Mass Governor Baker Signs Marijuana Compromise Bill

MASSACHUSETTS:  Gov. Charlie Baker today signed the marijuana compromise bill sent to him last week by the Legislature, setting the stage for creation of the regulatory structure to oversee legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts.

“We thank the governor for signing the bill and we urge all of the executive and legislative officials involved in the new regulatory system to make timely appointments and ensure proper funding so legal sales can begin on the timetable set by lawmakers last December,” said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign.

This legislative outcome means that by January 2020, Massachusetts will be the only state in the country where all bans on adult-use marijuana businesses will require approval by local voters.

Appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board are to be made by August 1, and appointments to the Cannabis Control Commission are to be made bySeptember 1.  The appointments are spread among the governor, the attorney general, and the treasurer.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg earlier this year submitted a first-year Cannabis Control Commission budget of $10 million, which included a one-time $5.5 million expenditure for seed-to-sale and licensing software necessary to monitor product flow and applicant licensing. The current budget allocates $2 million for the Commission’s first year.

“We take elected officials at their word that there will be no more delays in implementation of the legal sales system. The state will benefit greatly from the tax revenues and jobs created by the new industry, and we are confident lawmakers will secure appropriate funding to get the regulatory system up and running on the current timeline,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 campaign and the subsequent advocacy effort to defend the law.

After numerous public hearings by the Committee on Marijuana Policy, the House and Senate came out with separate, and very different, bills making changes to the law passed by voters in November. The House bill repealed and replaced the law, dramatically altering the tax rate, local control, and the application and enforcement provisions. The Senate bill took a far more moderate approach, making few changes to the November ballot law. After more than 1,000 telephone calls from Massachusetts voters and intense media pressure generated by the Yes on 4 Coalition and the Marijuana Policy Project, the final bill reflected the Senate’s approach more than the House’s.

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum sales tax rate (which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes) will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17% and the local option will be 3%.

 

Delaware General Assembly Creates Task Force To Explore Regulating And Taxing Marijuana For Adult Use

DELAWARE: The General Assembly recently passed a concurrent resolution to create a task force that will study regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use in Delaware.

The Adult Use Cannabis Task Force “shall study adoption of a model for regulation and taxation of adult-use cannabis in Delaware, including local authority and control, consumer safety and substance abuse prevention, packaging and labeling requirements, impaired driving and other criminal law concerns, and taxation, revenue, and banking issues.” It will hold its first meeting no later than September 7, 2017, and it must report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly by January 31, 2018.

“The General Assembly is ready to take a serious look at regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is an opportunity for a variety of stakeholders to come together and examine every aspect of this issue. We hope it will pave the way for the General Assembly to adopt a more thoughtful approach to cannabis next session. Lawmakers can see the direction the country is moving on this issue and they know most Delaware voters support making marijuana legal for adults.”

The 23-member task force will be co-chaired by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, Democrats who sponsored legislation this year to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol for adults 21 and older. It will also include:

•    a state senator and a state representative from the minority caucus, appointed by the Senate president and House speaker, respectively;
•    the Secretary of the Department of Finance;
•    the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control;
•    the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security;
•    the Director of the Division of Public Health;
•    the Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health;
•    the State bank commissioner;
•    the Attorney General;
•    the Chief Defender, Office of Defense Services;
•    the Mayor of the City of Wilmington;
•    the Chair of the Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee;
•    a marijuana policy reform advocate and a medical marijuana industry representative, both appointed by the Governor;
•    a physician with experience recommending treatment with medical marijuana, appointed by the Medical Society of Delaware
•    the President of the Delaware League of Local Governments;
•    the Chair of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council;
•    the Chair of the Employer Advocacy Committee of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce;
•    a representative of AAA Mid-Atlantic; and
•    a pharmacist, appointed by the President of the Delaware Pharmacist Society.

More than 60% of Delaware voters support making marijuana legal, according to a September 2016 poll by the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication.

West Virginia Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

WEST VIRGINIA: A medical marijuana bill received final approval in the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice. He has publicly expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and is expected to sign the bill into law, making West Virginia the 29th state to adopt an effective medical marijuana law.

SB 386, introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan), received initial approval from the Senate last week (28-6). The House substantially amended the bill before approving it on Tuesday (76-24). The Senate passed the new version on concurrence Wednesday afternoon (28-6), along with some minor amendments, and the House signed off on the final version Thursday (74-24).

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill WestVirginians,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.

“This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program,” Simon said. “It is critical that the state implement it promptly. We are committed to working with officials to make sure the program is as effective as possible and to get it up and running in a timely fashion. Many patients cannot afford to wait much longer.”

SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the original version of the bill and the medical marijuana programs in most other states. A summary of SB 386 is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.

“There is nearly universal support for legalizing medical marijuana in the U.S., and it spans the political spectrum,” Simon said. “This is the third state in a row to pass a medical marijuana bill through a Republican-controlled House and Senate. Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue with some other states and at the federal level.”

A February 2017 Quinnipiac University Poll found 93% of U.S. voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted effective medical marijuana laws, and 18 states have adopted medical marijuana laws that are ineffective because they are either unworkable or exceptionally restrictive. Once S.B. 386 is signed into law, only three states in the nation — Idaho, Indiana, and Kansas — will lack any form of medical marijuana law.

Colorado Government Reports $1.3 Billion In Marijuana Sales Generated Nearly $200 Million In Tax Revenue in 2016

COLORADO: The Marijuana Policy Project issued the following statement in response to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s announcement that $1.3 billion in regulated marijuana sales took place in calendar year 2016, generating nearly $200 million in state tax revenue. These figures do not include millions of dollars in revenue generated by local taxes on marijuana.

For more information, click.

Statement from Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“Over one billion dollars in marijuana sales that once took place in the underground market were instead conducted in regulated businesses this year. The state received nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, whereas just a decade ago it was receiving zero. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the 42 states that still choose to force marijuana sales into the criminal market and forego millions of dollars in tax revenue.

“Marijuana tax revenue is not going to cover the state’s budget, but it is going to cover important programs and services that would otherwise be left out of it. This money is just the tip of the iceberg. The state is also reaping the invaluable public health and safety benefits of replacing an underground market with a tightly regulated system. Marijuana is now being sold in licensed businesses, rather than out on the street. It is being properly tested, packaged, and labeled, and it is only being sold to adults who show proof of age. The system is working.”

 

2016: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has released its list of the top 10 events that shaped marijuana policy in 2016:

#1 Adult Use Marijuana Laws Win Big on Election Day

Voters in eight states on Election Day decided in favor of legalizing marijuana. Voters in four states: California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada backed statewide initiatives regulating the adult use, possession, and sale of cannabis. Voters in four additional states: Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota endorsed initiatives either legalizing or expanding the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Twenty-nine states now recognize the medical use of cannabis by statute, while eight states permit its adult use and retail sale.

#2 Record Percentage of Americans Say Marijuana Use Should Be Legal

A greater percentage of American adults than ever before say that the use of cannabis should be legal. An October Gallup poll reported that 60 percent of respondents back legalization, the highest percentage ever reported by the poll. Sixty-three percent of respondents age 18 or older endorsed legalization in this year’s American Values Survey, a 30 percent increase in public support since 2014.

#3 Marijuana-Related Tax Revenue Exceeds Projections

Tax revenue collection from retail marijuana sales is greatly exceeding initial projections. In Colorado, regulators took in $129 million over the 12-month period ending May 31, 2016 – well exceeding initial estimates of $70 million per year. In Washington, tax revenue totaled $220 million for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2016. Regulators had initially projected that retail sales would bring in only $162 million in new annual tax revenue. In Oregon, marijuana-related tax revenues are yielding about $4 million per month – about twice what regulators initially predicted.

#4 Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Less Prescription Drug Use

Patients who have legal access to medical cannabis mitigate their use of prescription drugs, particularly opiates. Data published by University of Georgia researchers in July reported that patients in medical marijuana states spent $165 million less on conventional prescription drugs, particularly those used to combat anxiety, depression, and pain. Separate data published in September in the American Journal of Public Health reported lower rates of opioid prevalence in medical marijuana states, while an April study commissioned by Castlight Health also reported lower rates of opiate abuse.

#5 Teens’ Marijuana Use, Access Falls In Era of Legalization

Fewer teens report being able to obtain marijuana, according to federal data released in 2016. Data reported by the US CDC in September found the percentage of teens that perceived cannabis to be “fairly easy or very easy to obtain” fell by 13 percent between the years 2002 and 2014, while separate data compiled by the University of Michigan determined that younger teens are finding it more difficult than ever before to procure the substance. The CDC report concluded, “[S]ince 2002, the prevalence of marijuana use and initiation among U.S. youth has declined” – a finding that is consistent with prior studies.

#6 Anti-Marijuana Zealot Tapped For US Attorney General

President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as US Attorney General. Senator Sessions has been one of the most outspoken opponents of marijuana law reform in Congress. He received a failing grade on NORML’s 2016 Congressional Scorecard for stating, “[G]ood people don’t smoke marijuana.” His confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled for January 10-11, 2017.

#7 Medical Cannabis Laws Associated With Fewer Traffic Accidents

The passage of medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced traffic fatalities among younger drivers, according to data published in December in the American Journal of Public Health. Investigators from Columbia University reported: “[O]n average, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. …. MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. … It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.”

#8 DEA Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position With Regard to Scheduling Marijuana

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration in August rejected a pair of administrative rescheduling petitions challenging the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical utility. The decision continues to classify marijuana in the same category as heroin. In a separate announcement, the DEA acknowledged for the first time that it will consider issuing cannabis cultivation licenses for private entities engaged in “commercial product development.”

#9 Twin Study: Marijuana Use Does Not Adversely Impact IQ

The cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct effect on intelligence decline, according to longitudinal data published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Investigators evaluated intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20. They concluded: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline.”

#10 Cannabis Use Not Associated With Increased Health Care Utilization

Marijuana consumers do not access health care services at rates that are higher than non-users, according to data published in August in the European Journal of Internal Medicine. Researchers assessed the relationship between marijuana use and health care utilization in a nationally representative sample of 174,159,864 US adults aged 18 to 59 years old. They concluded, “[C]ontrary to popular belief, … marijuana use is not associated with increased healthcare utilization, [and] there [is] also no association between health care utilization and frequency of marijuana use.”

Teen Marijuana Use In Colorado And Washington Dropped More Than The National Average in 2014-2015

COLORADO: The federal government quietly published new national survey data this week that shows rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado and Washington — the first two states to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use — decreased more than the national average in 2014-2015. Fewer teens in the two states are reportedly using marijuana than in 2012-2013, just prior to the commencement of legal adult marijuana sales.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2014-2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on Tuesday along with a press release that did not include any mention of marijuana.

According to the NSDUH:

  • In Colorado, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 1.43 percentage points from 12.56% in 2013-2014 to 11.13% in 2014-2015, compared to 11.16% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 2.46 percentage points from 20.81% in 2013-2014 to 18.35% in 2014-2015, compared to 18.76% in 2012-2013.
  • In Washington, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 0.89 percentage points from 10.06% in 2013-2014 to 9.17% in 2014-2015, compared to 9.81% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 1.92 percentage points from 17.53% in 2013-2014 to 15.61% in 2014-2015, compared to 16.48% in 2012-2013.
  • Nationwide, the rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds dropped 0.02 percentage points from 7.22% in 2013-2014 to 7.2% in 2014-2015, and the rate of past-year use dropped 0.42 percentage points from 13.28% to 12.86%.

The overall findings of the NSDUH are in line with those of the annual Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which were released last week and found little change in rates of teen marijuana use.

“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow in an article published last week by U.S. News and World Report. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up.”

Statement from Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“Survey after survey is finding little change in rates of teen marijuana use despite big changes in marijuana laws around the nation. Colorado and Washington are dispelling the myth that regulating marijuana for adult use will somehow cause an increase in use among adolescents. Legalization opponents will surely continue to make dire predictions about teens, so lawmakers and voters need to be informed about these government reports that invalidate them.

“Decades of arresting and prosecuting countless adults failed to prevent teens from accessing and using marijuana. States like Colorado and Washington are taking a new approach and actually controlling the production and sale of marijuana. Their success has already inspired a handful of other states to adopt similar laws, and more are sure to follow.”

San Bernardino Initiative Projects $15-20 Million in Revenue

CALIFORNIA: The San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016 (SBRMA) announced that the citizen-backed initiative submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify for the upcoming November ballot. SBRMA projects that passage of this model legislation will result in an economic windfall for San Bernardino government and residents with $15-20 million in new revenue and over 1,200 living wage jobs. Today, San Bernardino has more than 30 illegal marijuana businesses near schools and homes despite a citywide ban. SBRMA will restrict the location of authorized dispensaries and generate the funds needed to enforce these common-sense regulations.

“Considering the amount of money the city has spent chasing down dispensaries, it certainly makes sense to consider bringing the market above ground and generating some revenues from it,” wrote the San Bernardino County Sun’s editorial board on June 28, 2016. “If anything has been accomplished by decades of prohibition, it is the enrichment of the black market.”

Common-Sense Regulation Keeps Marijuana Away from Schools and Homes 

SBRMA is the first comprehensive, municipal ballot initiative that builds on California’s recent Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. SBRMA addresses citizen concerns for public safety, nuisance and safe access. It does so by restricting the location of marijuana businesses, moving them away from schools and homes and by regulating security concerns, criminal background checks, odor, hours of operation and much more.

California cities like San Diego, Palm Springs and San Jose have already benefited from similar efforts. Cities that regulate this market see a significant increase in revenue and a dramatic decrease in the number of illegal businesses, criminal activity and citizen complaints. The SBRMA initiative will generate new revenue from a variety of regulated businesses, including medical marijuana dispensaries. This will pay for law enforcement and contribute to the overall city budget. This ballot initiative incorporates the best practices of successful cities across California and will deliver similar results.

San Bernardino’s Failed Ban 
In 2007, San Bernardino banned the sale of medical marijuana. Yet, over 30 illegal marijuana businesses operate in violation of this ban and near schools and homes. “The effort to shut [dispensaries] down has been unsuccessful,” said San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis. “We need to re-strategize our approach.” Rather than encouraging an illegal black market to profit, cities like San Diego, Palm Springs and San Jose have seized the opportunity to license and regulate the market. By signing the petition, San Bernardino voters are asking for similar responsible legislation that acknowledges the futility of banning medical marijuana and regulates it, generates revenue and keeps it away from children. These voters are demanding comprehensive regulation with the power of real enforcement and the benefit of new revenue for police officers, the fire department, infrastructure improvements and city services.

Enthusiastic Voters Demand Fast Action
As recently as 2014, the City Attorney encouraged fast action. The voters’ enthusiastic response to SBRMA meant that this important initiative obtained signatures in record time with over 6,000 signatures submitted. While San Bernardino has a network of illegal marijuana businesses that attract criminals, other California cities regulate this market with responsible policy and collect millions of dollars. San Bernardino citizens demand similar regulations that eliminate confusion, generate new revenue and offer legitimate patients safe access to a handful of well-regulated dispensaries.

Competing Measures May Reach the Ballot
Two competitive measures may also appear on the upcoming ballot. “The city attorney is rushing an initiative to the ballot,” notes Craig Baresh, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Coalition. “But this measure is a mess. It does not generate any funds for enforcement and violates the city’s own law for planning commission review of any zoning changes. Also, given that the city found that dispensaries have adverse effects on traffic and noise, this measure invites lawsuits because it violates state environmental law. A second measure may also appear on the ballot, but it is a flagrant attempt to protect the existing illegal dispensaries and exempt them from any taxes. And this second measure offers no regulations if state voters pass the initiative to legalize recreational use. SBRMA will be the only comprehensive measure on the ballot that generates revenue for enforcement and doesn’t protect illegal operators or invite lawsuits.”

Act Now
The time has come for common-sense regulations. SBRMA encourages voters to contact city council members to support SBRMA and to vote ‘Yes’ on SBRMA in November. Learn more and volunteer at http://www.sbrma2016.com.

About San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016 
The San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016 (SBRMA) is a citizen-backed initiative that will bring comprehensive and rational reform to medical marijuana laws in the city and projects $15-20 million in new revenue and 1,200 living wage jobs. This projected revenue will deliver an economic windfall to the City of San Bernardino through new revenue to support public safety and enforcement. To achieve this, SBRMA will end the current ineffective ban, eliminate illegal marijuana businesses and offer licensing for well-regulated businesses located far from schools and homes. SBRMA will be on the ballot on November 8, 2016. Learn more at http://www.sbrma2016.com.

LCB Says Licensed Marijuana Canopy Enough To Meet WA Recreational And Medical Marijuana Market Demand

WASHINGTON: The amount of marijuana allowed to be grown by state-licensed producers in Washington is enough to satisfy both the medical and recreational marijuana markets, a University of Washington study finds.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) tasked the UW-based Cannabis Law and Policy Project (CLPP) with calculating the “grow canopy,” or square footage, required to supply the state’s medical marijuana market as it becomes folded into the state’s retail system, as required by the 2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act. The group’s report estimates that between 1.7 and 2 million square feet — or the equivalent of 30 to 34 football fields — of plants is needed to satisfy the medical marijuana market, and concludes that the 12.3 million square feet of canopy currently approved by the LCB is enough to supply the state’s total marijuana market.

Beau Whitney, a leading economist in the cannabis space, has looked into the proposed expansion of the retail stores thinks that is misleading, “Sure on the surface, there is enough supply to support the expansion, but the system is unsustainable at the current tax level of 37% + 9% local tax. With such high levels of taxation, we are looking at sustaining over $320M in black market demand-based activities. The only way to ensure a viable retail system is by lowering prices, through reduced taxes, and driving more people into the regulated systems.”

Mr. Whitney recently published a white paper on the Oregon retail market, and will publish a Washington retail white paper in early June. He is also the VP of Regulatory (Compliance) and Governmental Affairs for Golden Leaf Holdings. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries must either obtain a state license or close by July 1, 2016. Of the 343 retail stores licensed by the LCB, approximately 81 percent have sought endorsements to their license to sell marijuana to authorized medical patients.

“It was important to design this study the right way and engage in careful empirical research reaching out directly to medical dispensaries and growers across the state,” said Sean O’Connor, principal investigator for the report, CLPP faculty director and Boeing International Professor at UW Law.

CLPP Executive Director Sam Mendez described the survey process: “There’s no master list of these dispensaries, so we used a variety of resources to identify as many as possible. Once the survey was complete, we applied the findings to other published research regarding averages of marijuana output per square foot, outdoor and indoor growing market share and amounts used for edibles and concentrates to reach our estimates.”

The report found that:

  • There were an estimated 273 medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington in January 2016
  • Dispensaries sell an average of 9.55 pounds of marijuana flower monthly
  • The average price of marijuana per gram sold by these dispensaries is less than $10
  • Marijuana flower comprises 60 percent of sales at dispensaries, followed by concentrates (22 percent) and edibles (18 percent)
  • The potential market value based on 10 million square feet of canopy is more than $8 billion

Study Methodology

Determining the size of Washington’s medical marijuana market was no easy task for the UW team, since dispensaries and collective gardens have gone mostly unregulated until recently. The UW researchers, which included five law students, started by compiling a list of possible Washington dispensaries using the databases of three websites — leafly.com, weedmaps.com and headshopfinder.com — among other sources. They came up with 467 possible contacts and called them for phone surveys in January and February 2016.

Interviewees were asked whether the dispensary grows its own marijuana, how much marijuana it sells, the average price of various products and what proportion of sales are flower, edibles, tinctures and concentrates, among other questions. Some refused to participate. Others did not appear to be affiliated with a dispensary or seemed to be out of business. The researchers also posted an online survey, sending it to all applicants for recreational marijuana retail licenses and promoting it widely through social media. All told, they found 273 likely dispensaries.

A report released in December 2015 by BOTEC Analysis Corp. estimated that the state’s marijuana market is divided roughly into thirds for medical, recreational and illicit use. Since February 2014, as an interim policy, the LCB has restricted marijuana producers to a single license. That decision will later be put into rule.

The Cannabis Law and Policy Project was launched in 2014 to provide thoughtful leadership on the responsible development of recreational and medical marijuana industries in Washington State and across the country. The group, which is based in the UW School of Law, but draws on experts in various other departments, focuses on advising the state on regulatory issues related to marijuana.

 

The report’s lead authors are O’Connor and Mendez, with contributing law student authors Ada Danelo, Harry Fukano, Kyle Johnson, Chad Law and Daniel Shortt. Dr. Nephi Stella, a professor in the UW School of Medicine, was a consultant on the report.

The Wink In Weed: Evolving To Better Serve The Marijuana Marketplace

By David Rheins

Businesses are living organisms that follow a natural lifecycle. From conception as an idea in the mind of the entrepreneur, through each phase of development, the rough edges of each business are honed, shaped and sharpened by market realities. We learn and evolve as we grow: adding employees, encountering and overcoming competitive challenges, exploring opportunities, and servicing our customers. The marketplace is unambiguous about what it wants — voting with money and mindshare – and in that way influences the trajectory of every business participant.

The idea for the creation of the Marijuana Business Association came back in early 2012, before recreational marijuana was legal in either Washington or Colorado. We saw that there was a tremendous support for creating a legitimate cannabis industry among would-be licensees and consumers, but practically no institutional support or infrastructure to help them.  We built our core services in direct response to the common needs and concerns voiced from the literally hundreds of activists, dispensaries, growers, topical-makers, and entrepreneurs we spoke with as we were refining our business plan.

Blue Line Protection Group Inc. said it's opening a new 12,000-square-foot facility in Denver that will be able to house its armored vehicles, count companies' cash, and store cash in vaults. It's scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year, the company said.

Getting and staying informed is one of the biggest challenges for our business members — licensed growers, processors and retailers, and the many ancillary business professionals who support them.  State regulations are dynamic, and ever-changing. Most first generation cannabis businesses are ill-informed, and under resourced.  They have an ongoing need for reliable information about getting licensed and staying compliant, and the technical challenges of their new profession as a grower, or processor or retailer.

The Marijuana Business Association was created to provide participants in the newly legal cannabis industry with three core values: Reliable Business Intelligence, Professional Community and Commercial Opportunity.   Three years ago, MJBA began publishing MJHeadlineNews on Facebook as a social forum for aggregating the day’s most important cannabis news from both the mainstream media and the pot press.  The site immediately generated tremendous response, and attracting a national audience. Today the MJHeadlineNews page boasts 160,000 Likes with robust community engagement.

"Forcing businessmen and businesswomen who are operating legally under Oregon state law to shuttle around gym bags full of cash is an invitation to crime and malfeasance," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. "It's time to let banks serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government."

Increasingly we’ve seen the mission of our MJNewsNetwork.com as not only disseminating the news from other sources, but also the creation of our own original content.  We’ve now published hundreds of original videos from MJBA events and other industry happenings on our Marijuana Channel One on YouTube. And are in the process of building out our suite of web sites, professional educational programming and publications to deliver even more value.

MJBA Meetups have become a reliable monthly occasion where cannabis professionals can share news, and engage in professional networking in an ideal environment for establishing one’s professional and personal brands. We’ve grown, from monthly meetings in Seattle, to supporting regular MJBA meetups in Spokane, Bellingham, Tacoma, Portland, Denver and New York. Thousands of industry professionals have attended our job fairs, vendor fairs and professional education seminars, and tens of thousands more have watched the 300 original videos we’ve captured from MJBA and other cannabis industry trade events.

As the needs of the marketplace have evolved over the past three years, MJBA has evolved our offerings to map to the changing needs of our membership – partnering with leading business intelligence firm TetraTrak/Front Runner to host Professional Education Seminars for producers, processors and retailers, and hosting business boot camps with NWMJ Law that provide members with access to leading attorneys, CPAs and other business experts.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8rOgEvxQ2Y&w=560&h=315]

Two years ago, we launched the MJBA Women’s Alliance to provide a forum for cannabis businesswomen to build their personal and professional lives.  More than 100 women-owned or operated cannabis businesses have joined in the MJBA Women’s Alliance, participating in our many a Seminars, VIP Speaker Luncheons and Charitable Events. This Spring we decided that the Women’s Alliance had achieved enough scale and momentum to sustain it, and so we have spun it off as a separate new entity: The Cannabis Women’s Alliance — a social purpose corporation with Morgan acting as CEO and Roxanne Taylor as COO.

Team MJBA

MJBA Women’s Alliance

It does my heart proud to see this project take flight on its own. As a parent of a recent High School graduate, I feel the same familiar mix of pride at achieving the significant milestone, and sadness that this precious first chapter of our organizational is ending.

With California, Nevada, Arizona and a dozen or so more States voting for marijuana legalization in November, 2016 represents an inflection point for the legal cannabis industry. Our grand experiment has met with enthusiastic response from eager consumers, and a begrudging realization among politicians that end of prohibition is inevitable so they might as well have a part in crafting what comes next.  I remain excited about what comes next for the industry and the MJBA.

Stay tuned to this space…

The Future of Marijuana Policy: MJNN’s Exclusive Q&A With BOTEC’s Mark Kleiman

By David Rheins

It’s time for marijuana policy, and marijuana policymakers  in this country to get serious.  Over the past twenty years medical marijuana has grown wild and wide, with a patchwork of 24 different state policies, no two alike.  Adult-use marijuana has been legalized in four states, plus DC, and here too each local market has its own set of regulation, and levels of taxation.

Legal marijuana accounted for some $5.4 Billion in 2015, and current tax revenues in Colorado, Washington and Oregon are being measured in the hundreds of millions.  Voters in some 14 additional states, including California, Arizona and Nevada, are considering legalization of pot in 2016, and in this presidential election year, rescheduling or de-scheduling of cannabis has gained support among savvy politicians who seed the tide of prohibition has finally turned.

That marijuana prohibition is ending is widely accepted. How best to unwind it, is a subject for debate.  To consider the best way forward, some of the top policy minds in legal cannabis — scientists, journalists, academics, lawyers and industry leaders — will gather in New York for the Cannabis Science and Policy Summit, April 17-18. The meeting will serve as an ideal opportunity for the industry’s stakeholders to take stock, evaluating what the past two years of legal recreational marijuana has looked like, and charting a path forward.

MJNewsNetwork had the opportunity to ask Mark Kleiman, BOTEC’s chairman and event chair of the Cannabis Science and Policy Summit, to give his perspective on the state of the state of legal cannabis. Here is our exclusive Q&A:

It’s been nearly 2 years since Washington State opened its first recreational marijuana market, how well have your market estimates held up? 

That depends on what you mean by our market estimate.  In terms of market share, our prediction of a roughly even split between commercial, medical, and illicit markets seems to be holding true.  In terms of price, we predicted a significant drop, which has occurred at the production level but hasn’t occurred at the retail level.  In terms of overall size, no one was sure what would happen, so our very broad prediction of between $0 and $2 billion has held true with the latest figures from the WSLCB putting I-502 revenue at roughly $460 million last year.

What new insights have you had about the legal cannabis market since you first issued your report?

I’ve been surprised at the strong movement towards edibles and concentrates in the recreational market.  The interaction between alcohol and cannabis (or to be more accurate, the lack of interaction) was also surprising.  I expected more that users would substitute cannabis for alcohol, and thus we would see alcohol consumption drop, which hasn’t been the case.

Who is the typical recreational cannabis consumer? How much do they consume?

There is no “typical” recreational cannabis consumer.

The typical consumer (in sense of median consumer) uses cannabis about once a month and as such really consumes a negligible amount of it.  The average consumer, on the other hand, consumes about $1,000 dollars of cannabis a year.  If you ask users how much they spend, you find that there are actually very few people spending $1,000 per year.  Instead, you find lots of people who spend a negligible amount on and a few people who spend well over $1,000 per year, which is what pulls the mean up.

Interestingly, we have no idea if this use pattern holds true for consumers of recreational cannabis, as there has yet to be a study of only users of legalized recreational cannabis.

Washington’s marijuana excise tax is 37% Colorado’s is 25% and Oregon is 17%; why such a wide disparity between the legal recreational states?  What should the right level of taxation be?

These differences stem from the fact that cannabis legalization has been a piecemeal process that heavily relied upon horse-trading to reach enough votes to become law.  Thus, the tax rates we see are the results of political negotiation, not rigorous analysis.  What they ought to be, however, is the same everywhere and based on the THC content, not a percentage of price.

What are the greatest challenges to the legal cannabis industry?

The single biggest challenge is dealing with the incoming price collapse.  Everyone involved in the cannabis industry have based their financial projections on being able to continue selling a licit product at illicit prices, which can’t continue forever.  This is a challenge that both industry and government have to worry about, as falling prices mean reduce profits and increased problematic use patterns, which is a public health issue.


 

The single biggest challenge is dealing with the incoming price collapse.  Everyone involved in the cannabis industry have based their financial projections on being able to continue selling a licit product at illicit prices, which can’t continue forever.  This is a challenge that both industry and government have to worry about, as falling prices mean reduce profits and increased problematic use patterns, which is a public health issue.


 

What is the future of legal cannabis in the US? Will we continue to see legalization happen one state at a time, or do you envision an end to Federal prohibition in the not too distant future?

First, cannabis is here to stay.  Second, whether we see state-by-state or an end to federal prohibition depends on this election.  If Democrats get both houses and the presidency, federal prohibition isn’t long for this world. Otherwise, state-by-state will continue.

This being said, California is really the place we should be watching.  California accounts for about an eighth of the U.S. population and much more than that in terms of cannabis consumption and production.  If California legalizes, all the other dominoes start falling too.


 

Mark A.R. Kleiman, MPP, PhD, is the chairman of BOTEC Analysis and a world-renowned expert in crime reduction, justice, and drug policy. In addition to his work with BOTEC, Dr. Kleiman is a Professor of Public Policy and the Director of the Crime Reduction & Justice Initiative at New York University’s the Marron Institute, a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the United States National Research Council, and co-editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis.