Colorado MJ Sales At All Time High

COLORADO: Colorado’s total marijuana sales hit an all-time high in March 2015, according to numbers released By the Colorado Department of Revenue.  

Sales in March topped $72 million, 9 percent higher than the prior month’s $66 million in sales. Colorado medical marijuana accounted for $31 million in sales in March while retail (recreational) marijuana accounted for $41 million, both increasing 9 percent from February.

Sales in 2015 reached $200 million with $114 million being attributed to recreational purchases and $86 million going to medical purchases.

Vermonters Return From Marijuana-Policy Tour

VERMONT: Vermont leaders say touring through Colorado’s medical and recreational marijuana landscape this week gave them a lot to think about.

Nine people from Vermont, including Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan and representatives from both sides of the legalization debate, met with Colorado regulators, marijuana businesses and nonprofit organizations during the busy three-day trip.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Darrow said he knew little about marijuana policy before boarding the plane to Colorado.

“I went out there thinking this was a pretty simple proposition, a binary question — yes or no, legalization?” Darrow recalled.

But the group encountered a slew of issues associated with the rising marijuana industry: For example, taxed and regulated legal sales are still more expensive than black market marijuana or medical marijuana, Darrow said.

Main Denver Airport Bans Sale Of Marijuana-Themed Souvenirs

COLORADO:  Tourists who fly to Colorado to try legal pot can forget about buying souvenir boxer shorts, socks or sandals with a marijuana leaf on them when passing through the Denver airport.

The airport has banned pot-themed souvenirs, fearing the kitsch could taint the state’s image.

Marijuana possession and any pot-related advertising were already forbidden. Airport executives extended the ban this month after a retailer sought a free-standing kiosk to sell the boxer shorts and similar items that played off Colorado’s place as the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales.

Airport officials feared the souvenirs would send the wrong message.

“We don’t want marijuana to be the first thing our visitors experience when they arrive,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said.

NORML Head Rips John Hickenlooper for Calling Colorado’s Pot Legalization “Reckless”

By Michael Roberts

COLORADO: Yesterday during a debate with Republican gubernatorial rival Bob Beauprez, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper described Colorado voter’s legalization of marijuana as “reckless.” In response, Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, calls Hickenlooper a hypocrite — and that’s not all.

As originally reported by the International Business Times’ David Sirota, Hickenlooper was asked during the debate, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, what he would tell other states thinking about legalizing cannabis.

“Any governor that looks at doing this before we see what the consequences are, I would view it as reckless,” he replied.

Would that same term apply to Colorado voters? In response to that query, Hickenlooper said, “I think for us to do that without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless. I’m not saying it was reckless because I’ll get quoted everywhere, but if it was up to me I wouldn’t have done it, right. I opposed it from the very beginning. In matter of fact, all right, what the hell — I’ll say it was reckless.”

This isn’t exactly a new position for Hickenlooper. Back in 2012, he actively opposed Amendment 64, the measure that ultimately legalized limited marijuana sales to adults 21 and over in Colorado; it passed with more than 55 percent of the vote. His statement about the proposal reads:

Colorado is known for many great things — marijuana should not be one of them. Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are okay.

Federal laws would remain unchanged in classifying marijuana as a Schedule I substance, and federal authorities have been clear they will not turn a blind eye toward states attempting to trump those laws. While we are sympathetic to the unfairness of burdening young people with felony records for often minor marijuana transgressions, we trust that state lawmakers and district attorneys will work to mitigate such inequities.

St. Pierre’s take? He understands that Hickenlooper is in a tough battle against Beauprez, who opposes marijuana legalization. But that doesn’t mean he thinks Hickenlooper’s making the right move.

“I think he’s surely caught up in an election,” he allows, “which is unfortunate, because he’s a former brewer and a seller of a drug far more dangerous than marijuana. And he also contacted NORML specifically asking for donations to his reelection, because he is championing a change of law. So it seems rather hypocritical to turn to an audience and say he thinks what the people did was reckless. What we’re seeing is a politician in full election mode.”

Do Hickenlooper’s actions belie his comments at the debate? St. Pierre argues that they do.

“In fact, Hickenlooper supports these reforms,” he says. “He has championed them against a federal government that has otherwise opposed them, and against his own law-enforcement community, which definitely opposed them. So he’s trying to have it both ways, like most politicians want it. Behind the scenes, he’s a legalizer with a capital ‘L.’ But when he’s in public, he speaks about recklessness and Cheetos.

“If I were a resident of Colorado and had a business related to cannabis in the state, I would want my governor to commit one way or the other and stop trying to have it both ways. Either he’s a person who believes adults can access these products just like they do alcohol, or he’s not. And behind the scenes, he believes otherwise. He believes this is an industry, he believes the industry’s viable, he appreciates the industry’s taxes. So he needs to be much clearer regarding what he believes adults in Colorado should be able to do in the privacy of their homes, which is what the law relegates people to right now. That’s a lot different thank walking around with the President of the United States in a beer hall.”

St. Pierre acknowledges that in comparison with all the other issues with which a governor has to grapple, marijuana is “a small slice of the pie. But in many ways, he’s been almost spineless on this topic. I can’t believe a smart politician would say to people that they were reckless — which might be a code term for dumb — but ‘now I want you to vote for me.’ That’s a very strange dynamic to set up politically.”

To St. Pierre, Hickenlooper can be characterized as “an overly repentant liberal” — his list includes Jerry Brown, Diane Feinstein, Michael Bloomberg and Project SAM’s Patrick Kennedy — “who are liberal in every sense of the word but cannot get over their previous use of a herbal drug that didn’t seem to impair them in their lives in any way.”

Moreover, St. Pierre continues, the typical politician “would kill to be as popular as marijuana. Usually in votes about marijuana, we get 54 percent, 55 percent — I’ve seen votes as high as 64 percent. Hickenlooper is a very smart, aspiring, ascending politician. But on this issue, he’s got a very blind side.”

Judge Denies Bankruptcy Protection To Denver Marijuana Business

COLORADO: Buzz kill? A U.S. bankruptcy judge has dismissed the case of a Denver marijuana business owner, saying that though his activities are legal under Colorado law, he is violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.

In dismissing the case filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver by Frank Anthony Arenas, Judge Howard Tallman said he realizes the “result is devastating for the debtor.”

The Arenas’ case is at least the second bankruptcy involving a marijuana business tossed out of bankruptcy court in Colorado. At least two others have been dismissed in California.

Tallman made a similar decision in a 2012 case involving Rent-Rite Super Kegs West Ltd, a company that operated a warehouse partially rented to a tenant engaged in cultivating marijuana.

Violations of federal law create significant impediments to the debtors’ ability to seek relief from their debts under federal bankruptcy laws in a federal bankruptcy court,” Tallman wrote in the Arenas’ decision last month.

Arenas, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has appealed the decision to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

June Was Best Month Yet For Colorado Marijuana Sales

COLORADO: New marijuana tax records from Colorado show June was the best-selling month yet for the state’s recreational pot experiment, with $24.7 million in total sales.

The numbers released by the Department of Revenue also show recreational pot inching toward medical pot in total sales.

In January, Colorado’s statewide sales tax on medical pot produced nearly twice the taxes produced by recreational pot. By June, the statewide 2.9 percent sales tax from medical pot brought in less than 20 percent more than the same tax on recreational weed.

Since January, Colorado has reaped $29.8 million in taxes from marijuana. That figure includes taxes, licenses and fees from both medical and recreational pot.

Colorado Gov. Still Isn’t High On Legalized Marijuana

COLORADO: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper did not support marijuana legalization before voters in his state gave it the stamp of approval at the polls in 2012. Four months into this “great social experiment” he tells us he still wouldn’t have supported it despite tax revenues coming in higher than officials thought and a burgeoning new industry.

“You don’t want to be the first at something like this,” he tells us in the accompanying video interview, taped at the Milken Institute Global Conference Tuesday. “It’s hard to create laws and regulations when no one has done it before,” he says. “Plus, Colorado becomes the butt of a lot of jokes…It comes with the territory, but we want to make sure there are no adverse consequences. It’s a great social experiment; we have an obligation to do it right.”

Gov. Hickenlooper announced his opposition to Amendment 64 in September 2012. The Nov. 6 ballot measure sought to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, and went on to pass.

“Colorado is known for many great things –- marijuana should not be one of them,” he said at the time in a statement. “Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.” While Hickenlooper voiced sympathy towards the inequities of felony records for young people with “often minor marijuana transgressions,” he looked to state lawmakers and district attorneys to mitigate these issues.

Study: Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Increase Crime

COLORADO:  Three months after Colorado residents legalized recreational marijuana with the passage of Amendment 64 in Nov. 2012, Sheriff Tom Allman of Mendocio County, Calif. – a haven for marijuana growers – warned that an onslaught of crime was headed toward Colorado.

“Thugs put on masks, they come to your house, they kick in your door. They point guns at you and say, ‘Give me your marijuana, give me your money,’” Allman told a Denver TV station in February. His state became the first to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996; Colorado followed suit in 2000.

But a new report contends that fourteen years later, even after Colorado legalized the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use on Jan. 1 of this year, violent and property crime rates in the city are actually falling. [Read more…]

Telluride Colorado Airport Clarifies Marijuana Rules

COLORADO: The Telluride Regional Airport Authority has decided to handle the issue of marijuana at the airport with an advisement to passengers.

The board voted at its March meeting to install signs at TEX that advise anyone boarding flights that they risk prosecution if they enter federal airspace with marijuana. The new warning signs will be placed in various locations at the airport.

Sales and possession of retail marijuana might be legal in Telluride, but marijuana is still federally illegal, which puts TEX in a tough position. According to TEX Board Chairman Jon Dwight, the board is attempting to walk a fine line between conflicting federal and state laws. [Read more…]

Will Pueblo Be The Amsterdam of Colorado?

COLORADO: Will Pueblo County become the Amsterdam of Colorado?  That’s how one local medical marijuana operator described his hopes last week in a lengthy article in The Washington Post newspaper — an ambition that might be shared by marijuana users but one that is a worst-case scenario for local economic development officials.

“Let’s put it this way,” said Jack Rink, president of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. “If I were a CEO looking for location to move my company, that’s not an image that would attract me.” [Read more…]