Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson Named Pot Company CEO

NEW MEXICO: A Nevada-based startup that plans on selling medical and recreational marijuana products named former New Mexico governor and U.S. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson as its CEO and president, the company announced Tuesday.

The announcement came as Cannabis Sativa Inc. said it had acquired marijuana research business Kush while company officials work to navigate changing state laws on marijuana and potential challenges from the federal government, which still views marijuana as a controlled substance.

Johnson said he hoped to expand Cannabis Sativa into a major marijuana business and intends to work out of New Mexico to help develop products that are legal in states like Colorado and Washington.

Seattle Vice: Marijuana Industry Springs From Northwest Tradition

WASHINGTON: In the 1860s, Washington state gave Benjamin Sprague a franchise to captain a boat. He called it Gin Palace Polly, and used it to bring liquor and women to logging camps around Puget Sound.

Today, it’s state-licensed marijuana sales that highlight the region’s free-wheeling attitude toward trade in what some consider vice. This “economy of sin” is what the Puget Sound Business Journal’s May 30 print edition explores — the burgeoning local industries built on products that once were illegal: marijuana, beer and liquor.

The economic impact of these industries adds up to billions, and the entrepreneurs are as creative as they come. To whet your appetite, we asked local historians to explain why the Northwest seems to have a particular bent for making a buck off people’s peccadillos.

In Colorado, The Number Of Women In Marijuana Industry Is Getting Higher

COLORADO:  Christie Lunsford used to feel so lonely.

As a medical marijuana caregiver, she would attend cannabis industry meetings and be the only woman in the room.

“The first time I saw another female, I was really excited. That was in 2010,” said the 43-year-old Denver wife and mother, who has branched out to cannabis marketing, product development and sales.

These days, she attends some cannabis-industry meetings that are all-women — and all about women. What began several years ago with a trickle of women tiptoeing into the brave, new weed world has turned into a stream in Colorado.

This summer, the state will have its own cannabis network for women, Women Grow. The new organization will stage educational symposiums and regular monthly events where like-minded women in the industry can connect and mentor or be mentored.

Continue reading here.

Marijuana Brands Push Past Bans To Go National

NEW YORK: Marijuana may still be an illegal drug at the Federal level, but that isn’t stopping some companies from building a national presence. “I think people are already positioning themselves for a national cannabis industry,” said David Bienenstock, a marijuana consultant. “The people who make a smart move now will be rewarded later.”

The opportunity for investors seems obvious. First, there is an established customer base. Granted, most of these consumers have been buying their product in the black market, but many probably prefer to do a legitimate transaction, assuming the price is right. Next, there are no entrenched players. The field is wide open to the budding entrepreneurs to be the first to market.

However, it isn’t that simple. The industry is subject to many regulations and restrictions. For instance, the product can’t be transported across state lines. This has caused many of these companies with national aspirations to become creative with their corporate structures. Also, the promotional efforts are challenging. It’s difficult to build a national brand when your advertising is limited.

Colorado Lawmakers Shy Away From Pot Bank

COLORADO:  A Colorado plan to set up the world’s first financial system for marijuana survived less than 24 hours before state lawmakers changed course Thursday night and shelved the idea.

The proposal would have allowed state-licensed marijuana businesses to create a financial co-op, sort of an uninsured credit union.

The measure was introduced late Wednesday and cleared a House committee on Thursday. But a few hours later, another House committee gutted the plan by amending the bill to say that Colorado will continue studying the problem of marijuana businesses having a hard time accessing banking services.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed reservations about whether the financial-services plan would work.

“Let’s take some time to have this properly vetted,” said Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, who sponsored the amendment to study the matter.

 

Treasury Defends Rules On Banks, Marijuana Sellers

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday defended the Obama administration’s guidelines to banks conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers as congressional Republicans questioned whether the guidance amounts to tacit federal approval of a drug illegal in most states.

The Justice and Treasury departments issued a roadmap in February that would allow the new businesses to make payroll, save money and pay taxes, a move that enables the legalized marijuana industry to operate in Colorado and Washington state. In 2012, the two states became the first to approve recreational use of marijuana.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, challenged Lew at a hearing, questioning whether guidance to banks on doing business with legal marijuana sellers represents a “rubber-stamp” by the federal government for a predominantly illegal activity.

“Without any guidance, there would be a proliferation of cash-only businesses, and that would make it impossible to see when there are actions going on that violate both federal and state law and that … would be a real concern,” Lew told the House subcommittee on financial services. “We thought that the clarity, bringing it into daylight, was a better solution.”

Reports Of Problems Vex Washington Pot Lottery

WASHINGTON: Andrew Elliott is hoping to score one of the golden tickets of Washington’s legal marijuana industry: a license to sell pot, granted in part on a series of high-tech lotteries held this week.

He almost didn’t get a shot. Just days before the lotteries began, the state’s Liquor Control Board informed him he had been disqualified because his proposed pot shop in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood was too close to an area frequented by children — a game arcade which, it turns out, doesn’t exist.

Thanks to quick work by his lawyer, Stephanie Boehl, the board agreed at the last minute to put Elliott back in the Seattle lottery. But some others disqualified haven’t been so lucky.

Interviews with applicants and their attorneys detail a number of reported problems, from one rejection based on a typo to potential issues with the state’s software to technicalities that torpedoed what might otherwise have been strong applications.

Most troubling, they say, is that some people weren’t informed until this week, after the lotteries had started, that they’d been disqualified, leaving them no meaningful way to appeal what might have been mistaken decisions by the board.

Why The Mayor of Copenhagen Wants to Get Into the Marijuana Business

DENMARK: The city of Copenhagen should be growing its own weed, said its mayor last week. According to Social Democrat Frank Jensen, the Danish capital can only get a grip on its huge trade in Cannabis if the state itself muscles in and displaces the pushers. Aware that a municipal government peddling its own grass might sound a little crunchy, Jensen is emphasizing the proposal’s seriousness. “This isn’t a hippie proposal,” he told newspaper Berlingske. “It’s being discussed by people in suits and ties.”

If the suits alone aren’t enough to persuade you, this is how it would work. The municipality of Copenhagen would supervise the growing of marijuana and then sell it at a market-busting price, from five or six outlets across the city. [Read more…]

Insurance Brokers Reach Out To Marijuana Inc.

COLORADO: As political and cultural momentum builds for legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, it’s created a so-called “green rush” of people trying to cash in on the surge in cannabis-related businesses.

That surge is also creating new opportunities and challenges for a segment of insurance companies — firms that are now offering policies to marijuana growers, manufacturers and dispensaries in the states where cannabis is legal.

Of course, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But last August the Justice Department announced it would not challenge state marijuana laws, and just last month Attorney General Eric Holder said legal marijuana business should have access to the banking system, if only out of consideration for public safety. [Read more…]

Insurance Brokers Reach Out To Marijuana Inc.

COLORADO: As political and cultural momentum builds for legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, it’s created a so-called “green rush” of people trying to cash in on the surge in cannabis-related businesses.

That surge is also creating new opportunities and challenges for a segment of insurance companies — firms that are now offering policies to marijuana growers, manufacturers and dispensaries in the states where cannabis is legal.

Of course, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But last August the Justice Department announced it would not challenge state marijuana laws, and just last month Attorney General Eric Holder said legal marijuana business should have access to the banking system, if only out of consideration for public safety. [Read more…]