Colorado Set To Prohibit Marijuana Co-Op Growing Operations

By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

COLORADO: Colorado was set Monday to outlaw marijuana growing co-ops soon after the state Senate unanimously approved a bill making it a crime for people to cultivate recreational pot for other people.

The bill supported by the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper passed 35-0 but it was unclear when he would sign it. There are no state estimates on how many collective recreational marijuana growing operations exist in Colorado, though they are popular among users who share the cost of electricity, water and fertilizer to grow their pot.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it has a nagging black-market problem. Law enforcement and state lawmakers attribute the black-market problem in part to weak restrictions on who can grow pot.

The Colorado state constitution authorizes people over 21 to grow their own pot, or to assist someone else in growing pot. That language allows groups to designate a single “farmer” to care for their marijuana plants, allowing them to avoid pot taxes that approach 30 percent, depending on the jurisdiction.

But police groups and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, have called on lawmakers to curb the practice of assisting other recreational pot users.

The bill had already passed the House.  The governor plans to sign another bill this week in the state’s pot crackdown. It limits the number of marijuana plants that can be grown in a home to 12 plants, which would force medical marijuana users authorized to grow more than 12 plants to grow it in agricultural or commercial locations or to buy it from dispensaries that tax marijuana.

Hickenlooper plans to sign that bill this week, his office said.  The bill passed Monday also provides $6 million a year in marijuana tax revenues to give law enforcement agencies more money to investigate illegal pot growing operations.

Gov. Hickenlooper Orders Pesticide-Tainted Marijuana Destroyed

COLORADO:  Colorado’s governor ordered the destruction Thursday of marijuana treated with unapproved pesticides, his first action on the matter after months of product recalls and media warnings about unhealthy pesticides on pot.

The executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper called marijuana treated with certain pesticides a “threat to public safety” and said it should be destroyed.

The governor acknowledged that there’s scant scientific evidence about which pesticides and fungicides are safe to use on marijuana, but he said that questionable pot should be destroyed until more is known.

“When a pesticide is applied to a crop in a manner that is inconsistent with the pesticide’s label, and the crop is contaminated by that pesticide, it constitutes a threat to the public safety,” the order said.

How Is Marijuana Legalization Going? The Price Of Pot Peace Looks Like A Bargain.

In 2012 John Larson, a retired high school math and science teacher, voted against I-502, the initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington. Yet this week Larson was one of the first government-licensed marijuana merchants to open a store in that state: Main Street Marijuana in Vancouver. “If people were dumb enough to vote it in, I’m all for it,” he toldThe New York Times. “There’s a demand, and I have a product.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also seems to have had a change of heart about marijuana. The former brewer, who opposed Amendment 64, his state’s legalization initiative, is not about to become a budtender. But in a recentinterview with Reuters, Hickenlooper conceded that the consequences of letting people grow, sell, and consume pot without risking arrest have not been as bad as he feared.

“It seems like the people that were smoking before are mainly the people that are smoking now,” Hickenlooper said as Colorado marked six months of legal recreational sales last week. “If that’s the case, what that means is that we’re not going to have more drugged driving, or driving while high. We’re not going to have some of those problems. But we are going to have a system where we’re actually regulating and taxing something, and keeping that money in the state of Colorado…and we’re not supporting a corrupt system of gangsters.”

Colorado To Offer One-Day Tax Holiday On Marijuana

COLORADO:  Colorado will repeal sales taxes on marijuana Sept. 16, thanks to a quirk in its constitution.

The one-time-only holiday from the 10 percent state sales tax on recreational pot is likely to generate buzz in the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana.

The little-noticed provision is part of a larger bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Thursday that includes a ballot initiative in November and a permanent tax cut on recreational pot sales in 2017.

“This fiscal glitch that we have with the constitution … that’s part of the magic of living in Colorado,” the Democratic governor said.

In Colorado, Legal Pot Fails To Meet Predictions Of Supporters, Critics

COLORADO:  Before Colorado became the first state to allow marijuana for recreational purposes, supporters boasted that legalization would generate a sizable tax windfall, while opponents warned that it could have dramatic social consequences.

Slightly more than a year into the state’s experiment with sanctioning pot sales to adults 21 and older, neither prediction is proving entirely true. Marijuana so far hasn’t been the boon or bane that many expected, offering potential lessons to other states considering legalization.

The office of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last February estimated the state would haul in nearly $100 million in revenue from recreational marijuana taxes in the fiscal year that began in July. But sales have been slower than expected—due in part to a 25% tax rate that experts say has steered potential users toward medical marijuana, which is cheaper.

State economists revised their own, separate forecast on Dec. 22, estimating that recreational pot sales would generate $58.7 million in tax revenue for the fiscal year, down from $67 million.

 

Colorado Pot Credit Union Could Be Open By Jan. 1 Under State Charter

COLORADO:  The world’s first financial institution established specifically for the marijuana industry could be open in Colorado by Jan. 1.

The Colorado Division of Financial Services late Wednesday issued Fourth Corner Credit Union an unconditional charter to operate, the first state credit-union charter issued in nearly a decade.

The next hurdles will be obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration, the federal regulator of credit unions, and getting a master account from the Federal Reserve System.

Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s office called the charter “the end of the line” for the state’s efforts to solve the marijuana industry’s nagging problem: obtaining banking services.

Although the NCUA insurance is not guaranteed — sale and consumption of marijuana remain illegal under federal law — Fourth Corner can operate until NCUA makes its decision.

 

Colorado Residents Looking At Pot Tax Rebate

COLORADO:  Last Monday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled the state’s $26.8 billion proposed budget for next fiscal year. The budget includes $167.2 million in tax rebates for Colorado taxpayers, including $30.5 million in rebates due to total state recreational pot revenue that was higher than predicted.

The rebates are mandated by the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), because the revenue from marijuana sales is different than projections included in the election book for the 2013 Proposition AA. Under TABOR, since the estimate was off, the state has to either refund the excess cash or go to voters to ask if the state can keep it.

The budget proposal was announced one day before the Nov. 4 election that gave Hickenlooper another term. The spending plan includes a 7 percent increase from the current year’s budget, representing $1.7 billion in new spending of state and federal money. $908 million in state spending includes $107 million in additional funds for higher education, $103 million for road projects and a 2 percent pay hike for many state employees.

Colorado’s economy is improving, but much of the new money is due to tax collections exceeding the state’s revenue cap, triggering rebates under TABOR for the first time in 15 years. The provision requires refunds if the revenue is greater than the rate of population growth and inflation. Unless, that is, the voters decide to return the money.

 

Hickenlooper: Marijuana Regulators Have Done ‘A Very Good Job’

COLORADO:  When Colorado voters passed a ballot measure in 2012 legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was in the minority voting no. But two years later, eight months into the legalization experiment, Hickenlooper says he’s pleased with the way his state has handled voters’ wishes.

“I think [state regulators have] done a pretty good job. Not perfect, but all things considered, I think they’ve done a very good job,” he said in an interview in his office at the state Capitol. “I’m a constant-improvement person, so I always see ways to make things better.”

State officials are continuing to fine-tune regulations on the nascent cannabis industry. This month, the Department of Revenue issued draft rules that would limit the amount of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, to 10 milligrams from 100 milligrams in serving sizes of edible pot products. The rules would also require child-proof packaging and clear labels identifying the product inside as containing THC.

 

Colorado’s Governor Sees The Light On Marijuana Legalization

COLORADO:  In 2012 John Larson, a retired high school math and science teacher, voted against I-502, the initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington. Yet last week Larson was one of the first government-licensed marijuana merchants to open a store in that state: Main Street Marijuana in Vancouver. “If people were dumb enough to vote it in, I’m all for it,” he told The New York Times. “There’s a demand, and I have a product.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also seems to have had a change of heart about marijuana. The former brewer, who opposed Amendment 64, his state’s legalization initiative, is not about to become a budtender. But in a recent interview with Reuters, Hickenlooper conceded that the consequences of letting people grow, sell, and consume pot without risking arrest have not been as bad as he feared.

“It seems like the people that were smoking before are mainly the people that are smoking now,” Hickenlooper said as Colorado marked six months of legal recreational sales at the end of June. “If that’s the case, what that means is that we’re not going to have more drugged driving, or driving while high. We’re not going to have some of those problems. But we are going to have a system where we’re actually regulating and taxing something, and keeping that money in the state of Colorado…and we’re not supporting a corrupt system of gangsters.”

 

Cannabis Business Summit Takes Debate Over Pot Edibles Safety Seriously

COLORADO:  Between the hotel room antics of Maureen Dowd and a tragic pot-related tourist death and a fatal earlier this year, marijuana’s national image has taken some heavy hits recently. All of those incidents involved edibles — and like members of any industry, marijuana salespeople (medical and adult-use alike) are concerned about the effect this could have on the potential future viability of their businesses.

But unlike other industries, the marijuana businesspeople in Colorado are hyper-aware that their fortunes could turn on a legal or political dime at any moment. And judging from some of the new products and in-depth discussion at the ongoing Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center, some thoughtful and serious steps are being taken to mitigate the damage done to pot’s reputation.

During a morning panel about successes and challenges here and in Washington, Andrew Freedman, the director of marijuana coordination for Governor John Hickenlooper‘s office, noted that an edibles task force (and a solution to the banking issues that dispensaries face) are priorities for his office. And in a question-and-answer session after the discussion, more than one authority on stage acknowledged that if the nationwide trend toward marijuana legalization can be reversed at this point, the turning point could hinge on edibles. After all, on top of being associated with such high-profile incidents as Dowd’s edible nightmare and two deaths, they’re also perceived to be inherently appealing to children.