OLCC Seeks Input On Wildfire Impacts To Recreational Marijuana Licensees

OLCC Recreational Marijuana Licensee Wildfire Impact Survey

Survey designed to pinpoint problems, help create collaborative solutions

OREGON:  Wildfires around the state have had a devastating impact on Oregonians.  Authorities still don’t know how widespread the impact is. For evacuees and business owners who lived or worked in the fire zone there are plenty of challenges ahead.

If you’re an Oregon Liquor Control Commission Recreational Marijuana licensee impacted by the state’s wildfires please take 3 to 5 minutes to fill out this short survey.

Some recreational marijuana licensees have already notified the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that their businesses were destroyed by the fire. The OLCC is aware that there are many other licensees located in burn zones around the state. What OLCC doesn’t know is the extent of the damage to those licensed recreational marijuana businesses.

The OLCC wants to be able to help and advise licensees while ensuring that marijuana product remains secure, and accounted for in Oregon’s Cannabis Tracking System.

Licensees directly impacted by wildfire

That’s where we need help from our licensees. If you’re a licensee impacted by the fires please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey. If you know of an impacted licensee please let them know about the survey, and if need be help fill out the survey on their behalf.

Licensees not directly impacted by wildfire

If you have questions related to OLCC’s wildfire response, or have suggestions on how to address the regulatory situation and complexities caused by the wildfires please direct your questions by email to: marijuana@oregon.gov  Use the keywords “Wildfire Response” to start the subject line title.

Wildfire response by OLCC

The agency is working on an approach to address regulatory issues so we can accommodate licensees and help them maintain their operations.

The agency is also considering ways to best utilize our licensing staff to assist wildfire impacted licensees, while still maintaining our commitment to improve licensing processing for new applicants and licensees seeking renewals.

We’ll use the findings of the survey to directly inform temporary rules and licensing actions to help licensed businesses maintain operations to the greatest extent we are able. The more information you are willing and able to provide, the better able we will be to be responsive to the needs of our licensees.

Direct link to the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Licensee Wildfire Impact Survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/296WQD5

Understanding The Medical and Recreational Benefits Of Cannabis

In 2012, the two states of Colorado and Washington sent shockwaves through the United States when they voted to legalize recreational cannabis. With these states legalizing, a domino effect has started around the country. As of 2019, the majority of states now have passed legalizations for recreational cannabis (11 states, including the District of Columbia), or medical cannabis (33 states).

People everywhere benefitted from these laws being passed. Consumers were able to go to the dispensaries for the first time to buy cannabis legally. Business owners set up dispensaries that people would flock to, and these businesses meant new employment opportunities for job seekers. Legal cannabis also saw revenue in cannabis-friendly states go nowhere but up.

With all of these new laws being passed in favor of cannabis comes a new awareness about the plant itself. More research about its medicinal qualities has come out in recent years. Cannabis is non-addictive and offers a variety of benefits for both medical and recreational users alike.

shutterstock_106154153The Medical Benefits of Cannabis

Cannabis offers many medicinal qualities to patients for all kinds of conditions. Recently, the DEA considered the reclassification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. While they regrettably didn’t reclassify cannabis, they did express their support to the further research of the plant, and worked on processes to make it easier for researchers.

Over the years, many studies have been made as to just what sorts of conditions cannabis can treat. Medical cannabis can help people with the following conditions:

  • People with epilepsy: Cannabis (notably the CBD found in the cannabis plant) can be a big helper for people suffering from epilepsy and seizures. Studies done on people taking Epidiolex (an FDA approved drug made of CBD) who were suffering from seizures experienced a mild drop in seizure occurrences.
  • People with severe pain and inflammation: Cannabis can help treat pain, as the effects felt after smoking may help to relieve the feelings of pain people with chronic issues experience.
  • People with eating disorders: Folks with eating disorders can benefit from cannabis, because it can increase a patient’s appetite and encourage them to eat more. 
  • Cancer patients: Not only can cannabis help control the feelings of nausea associated with chemotherapy, but it can also help control the vomiting. Research suggests that cannabis might also be able to reduce or even kill cancer cells, and possibly even slow the growth of tumors.
  • Depression: People who suffer from anxiety or depression can greatly benefit from cannabis. Cannabis can provide a feeling of happiness, and can help someone suffering from depression enjoy the little things more.

As you can see, cannabis offers medical patients a whole lot of healing qualities. What about recreational users, then?

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The Recreational Benefits of Cannabis

Recreational cannabis has taken many states by storm. In some of the states where cannabis is legal, law enforcement has even seen a drop in drug related stops and arrests, as well as drops in drinking and driving incidents and violent crimes.

Recreational users experience several benefits from being able to enjoy cannabis. Not every recreational user is looking to “get stoned,” but rather enjoy the benefits offered by one of the most versatile plants on the planet.

  • Liven up social gatherings. Someone having some friends over to their house might enjoy breaking out some cannabis and sharing it. Many friends and social circles were built on smoking together, and it is still a bonding experience among both friends and families today. 
  • Have a great nightcap! There are many people in the world who start drinking the minute they get home from work to deal with the day’s stress. Recreational cannabis users look forward to going home and sparking up, then just enjoying some music or a good show on the couch. Another bonus: there are no hangovers from smoking cannabis. 
  • Cannabis can bring out your creativity. Anyone who considers themselves creative can reap some benefits from cannabis. A lot of musicians, writers, artists, and actors get inspired after a good smoke. Certain strains can really unlock your creativity and get those neurons firing!

Now that you know some of the benefits offered by medical and recreational cannabis, you have to decide how you’re going to enjoy it.

Luckily, whether you choose to smoke or vape your weed, there are plenty of options around to enhance and personalize your cannabis experience.

Smoking Cannabis

Smoking is the tried and true method. It’s faster and a little cheaper initially than vaping. All you have to do is find your flower and put it in your preferred smoking device, and you’re off to the races.

Speaking of smoking devices, there is no shortage of them on the market. Beautiful glass pipes and water vases of all sorts of different designs, hookahs, and more are on offer for you to choose from at dispensaries and head shops. You can also just roll up a good old fashioned joint and pass it around.

volcano vapingVaping Cannabis

Vaping has been in the public eye for a while in the form of nicotine delivery systems. Lately, legal states have sold a lot of cannabis vapes, too. You can choose from cannabis oil vaporizers or dry herb vaporizers.

Cannabis oil vapes are refillable tanks with batteries. You can buy your favorite type of THC or CBD oil and refill your tank whenever it gets low. These can be super convenient and very discreet.

Dry herb vapes are devices that heat up dried herb. These are perfect for relaxing at home. Just insert some fresh cannabis and press the button, and you’re good to go.

No matter which type of vape you want, you will have plenty of options available at your local dispensary or online. Many reputable and popular brands offer more vapor devices than ever nowadays, with popular kits like the Volcano Vaporizer for sale and more, you’ll find something that will agree with your personality and your wallet!

Puff, Puff, Pass

As we become more and more aware of the medical and recreational benefits of cannabis, more people will have access to it and more states will continue to legalize it. This is good news for anyone who is a cannabis enthusiast, or for anyone who depends on it for medical reasons.

What’s your story with cannabis? Are you a recreational or medical user, or maybe a little bit of both? Do you prefer smoking or vaping, and what are some of your favorite products?

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Seeks Input On Recreational Marijuana Regulations

OREGON: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will hold several Rules Advisory Committees (RACs) beginning in late summer and continuing into this fall. The purpose of an advisory committee is to increase the public’s involvement in the drafting and development of administrative rules.

These meetings will focus on reviewing legislative changes made during the 2019 session and address other issues that have arisen within the licensed and regulated marijuana industry.

In order to fill the RACs, the Commission is asking licensees, partner agencies and businesses associated with the cannabis industry, to apply to be on the committees.

The Commission will use this recruitment process to obtain fresh perspectives on both the condition of the industry’s operating environment and the current state of the rules and regulatory process.

To apply to be considered for appointment to the committee please fill out this survey by August 1, 2019.

The Commission will review all responses and fill the membership of the committees in a manner that best represents the industry and reflects a wide range of perspectives on industry issues.

Following the completion of the committee work, the Commission will hold both a Public Hearing and provide a subsequent two-week comment period in order to acquire additional perspectives on the proposed changes considered by the committees.

Stakeholders and other interested parties will be notified about all committee and hearing dates, and the information will be published on the Commissions’ website.

Click here to apply for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program RACs.

The Higher Ground Legal Stash Box, Valentine’s Day Edition!

A Highly Curated Cannabis Collection

By Michael A. Stusser

While we have yet to discover cannabis-infused edible underwear (ewww!), pretty much every other item you might purchase for your puffing-paramour this Valentine’s Day is available in a canna-friendly version! Chocolates? You bet! Candles! Sure thing! And flowers…? Well – obviously!

Curated from legal markets across the country, the Higher Ground Legal Stash Box highlights the most amazing products and packaging in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Hand-selected by Michael Stusser, host of Higher Ground TV, the items in each anthology represent the gold standard of legal offerings for cannabis connoisseurs!

The notable selections in this month’s Valentine’s Edition of the Higher Ground Legal Stash Box include:

My Bud Vase: One of our favorite companies in the cannabis space is My Bud Vase, which turns elegant vintage vases into gorgeous one-of-a-kind smoking pieces. My Bud Vase are also incredibly discrete, should you wish to put your cannabis lifestyle in plain site. (Ours even came with flowers!) The artist creating these sophisticated devices is Doreen Sullivan, and she’s as fab as her collectables.

mybudvasepic

Velvet Swing: With luck, there will be sexy-time.Velvet Swing is the world’s first water-soluble cannabis lubricant. The sensual lube has both THC and CBD, as well as a custom terpene blend designed specifically for sexuality. As Velvet Swing founder Mistress Matisse explains, “THC is a vasodilator, and it sharply increases blood flow to the intimate areas where it’s applied, resulting in very sweetly swollen and sensitized bits. It also stimulates your own natural lubrication. We often refer to Velvet Swing as “liquid foreplay”, and when you try it, you’ll see why!” The combo can improve blood flow, sensation, and orgasmic potential – and who wouldn’t like some of that?! The tagline pretty much says it all: ”Better Orgasms.”

VelvetKiss

Cannabis Basics: Love. We love Cannabis Basics, a ground-breaking company created by Ah Warner that’s been concocting Cupid’s cures since 1995. The health and beauty aids in her line include essential oils, whole-plant infusions, and extractions rich in multiple cannabinoids and terpenoids for relaxation and rejuvenation. So this Valentine’s Day, grab some Love Yourself Body Oil, Naked Lip Butter or Hemp Massage Oil from one of our favorite brands.

Passion Dose Pen. With a formula designed specifically to stimulate sensuality and enhance your sexual experience, the Passion pen delivers euphoria (and, for some, with a dominant THC formula, perhaps TOO much euphoria). Best of all, the pen’s innovative design vibrates when you’ve gotten a pre-measured dose – little somethin’ extra for your lip-smackers.  Formulas best for Valentine’s:  Arouse, Calm, Bliss, and our fav, Passion.

Dosist

Firefly: The (now vintage) fire-engine-red vaporizer featured in our box is a perfect match for your Valentine’s lipstick, nail polish, cufflinks or tie…Still a classic. The elegant Firefly uses dynamic convection technology to deliver delicious flavorful vapor draws will go well with that chocolate-covered strawberries.

Verdelux Chocolates: Verdelux are creating some of the world’s best edibles, including Bon Bombs and luscious lumen drops. Crafted in small batches, they’re lovingly handmade in the tradition of Victoria confectionaries. The decadent Pink Sapphire bar contains CBD and THC, and is perfect for a relaxing and unwinding on date night.

BONBOMBS

The Leira Cannagar: Better than ugly slippers, silly boxers or nasty-scented cologne, a Canna-Gar is perf for St. Valentine’s special day! CannaGars are small-batch cannabis cigars, using the finest flower from grower Gold Leaf Gardens. Each cigar is hand-rolled, and cured. The 6” Corona is full of 10 ounces of primo ganja, then covered in 3 grams of rosin oil – then wrapped in at least two layers of handsome, pure cannabis leaves, making it the most luxurious cigar on the market.

Saints Joints: The exquisite box from Saints and Gold Leaf Gardens is as good as getting jewelry. Gold Leaf reaches back to the botanical roots of the rich Hawaiian islands. Saints also has created The Artist’s Series Pack, a five joint multi-strain sampler collection of all-organic first-rate flower. A percentage of their Limited Edition Pride Packs go to Equal Rights Washington.

SAINTSRose

RED ROSES: Ya didn’t think we’d leave out an actual rose, did you!? The best option here, of course, is to grow your own flowers to give as gifts. You can also give a living plant that will grow in your garden for years to come, reminding you of that special person and day. For ganja flowers, you might consider a Valentine’s bouquet from Lowell Farms!

lowellbouqet

If you are buying a dozen roses for your loved one, please consider locally grown organic flowers, as this means fewer “flower miles,” and also ask that your local florist switch from plastic cellophane wrapping to butcher’s paper. Growers who have taken steps to minimize ecological impacts and improve worker conditions include Veriflora and Florverde.

EDITORS NOTE: (Sadly), the Higher Ground Legal Stash Box is not available for purchase. Stay tuned to MJHeadline news where we will continue to curate the best in legal cannabis, and highlight the most  innovative and elegant brands in upcoming Higher Ground Legal Stash Boxes.

HGValentineStash

Higher Ground is the World’s first talk show highlighting cannabis culture. Think of it as “The Daily Show” meets “Good Morning America”…but with a giant bong on the desk. For more on Higher Ground and host Michael Stusser, visit www.highergroundtv.com  or www.michaelstusser.com

What Would “Greater Enforcement” Mean for Washington’s Cannabis Businesses?

Justice Department has options to crack down, but may galvanize the push for even wider legalization

By Andy Aley

WASHINGTON: In statements that were perhaps inevitable but nonetheless surprising to the cannabis industry, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on February 23, 2017, provided the first official comments on how the Trump administration may address recreational marijuana.

Responding to a question from an Arkansas reporter regarding medical marijuana, Spicer indicated that the Trump administration sees “a big difference” between medical and recreational marijuana, stating that federal law needs to be followed “when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”

Spicer also indicated that enforcement decisions will primarily be a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) matter, stating that enforcement is “a question for the Department of Justice,” but that he believed there would be “greater enforcement of [federal law], because again, there’s a big difference between medical use, which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was on how the Department of Justice would handle that issue,” which, Spicer stated, is “very different from the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into.”

Although Spicer’s statements should probably not be considered as the Trump administration’s definitive policy statement on recreational marijuana use, they do raise a variety of concerns for cannabis businesses.

A New Direction for the Department of Justice

The August 29, 2013 DOJ Memorandum (the “Cole Memo”) is the closest thing the cannabis industry has to an official federal policy statement on DOJ’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) in states that have legalized the possession, production, processing and sale of marijuana.

The Cole Memo is well-known throughout the cannabis industry, but to recap, it is essentially soft guidance to federal prosecutors regarding DOJ’s view on the appropriate allocation of federal resources regarding enforcement of the CSA.

The Cole Memo outlines eight general federal enforcement priorities related to marijuana in states in which it has been legalized, and notes that these enforcement priorities are less likely to be threatened in states with “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the medical and commercial cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana . . . .”  In these situations, the Cole Memo provides guidance to federal prosecutors that “enforcement of state law by state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity.”

The Cole Memo is, however, non-binding, and expressly states that it is “intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion” and does not provide “a legal defense to a violation of federal law, including any civil or criminal violation of the CSA.”  This means that DOJ is free to reverse course and begin enforcement actions related to CSA violations in states that have legalized marijuana.  The appointment and subsequent confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been an outspoken critic of marijuana use, raised the possibility of a change within DOJ.

Spicer’s recent statements indicate that Attorney General Sessions would be free to pursue a policy change without interference from the White House.

Exactly what that change would look like remains uncertain, but keep in mind that despite state-level legalization, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA, and the federal government can seize, and seek the civil forfeiture of, real or personal property used to facilitate the sale of marijuana, as well as money or other proceeds derived from such sales.  In addition, there is potential risk of criminal investigation or prosecution for aiding and abetting violation of the CSA or for conspiring to violate the CSA.

DOJ’s best, and perhaps most likely to be used, enforcement actions are criminal prosecutions and civil forfeiture cases brought against individuals and businesses directly participating in the cannabis industry (producers, processors and retailers).  Those actions are simple to implement, as DOJ simply needs to allow Drug Enforcement Agency agents to conduct investigations of and/or raids on producers, processors and retailers, then tell federal prosecutors that they are free to seek the indictment of these individuals and businesses for violating federal law.

The Distinction Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana is Critical – For Now

Spicer’s statements also highlight the “big difference” between how the Trump administration views medical and recreational marijuana.  This view is reflected in federal law, which currently grants limited protection to medical marijuana users and, by implication producers, processors and retailers.  The “Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment”, which is a rider to the federal spending bill currently in effect, prohibits DOJ from spending funds to prevent states’ implementation of their medical marijuana laws.  In United States v. McIntosh,a 2016 case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that this rider “prohibits DOJ from spending money on actions that prevent the [states listed in the rider from] giving practical effect to their state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The Ninth Circuit rejected a broader argument that the rider prohibits DOJ from bringing federal charges against anyone licensed or authorized under a state medical marijuana law for activities occurring in that state, including situations where those activities do not fully comply with state law.  The court determined the rider “prohibits the federal government only from preventing the implementation of those specific rules of state law that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” and that DOJ does not “prevent the implementation” of rules authorizing conduct when it prosecutes individuals who engage in conduct unauthorized under state medical marijuana laws.

Accordingly, prosecuting individuals who do not strictly comply with all state-law requirements applicable to medical marijuana remains permissible.  For cannabis businesses engaged in the production, processing or sale of medical marijuana, having robust policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with state law is critically important.

Also notable is that the current federal spending bill expires on April 28, 2017.  If the current bill is not extended, or if this rider is not included in the next spending bill, this protection will be lost and all marijuana industry participants will be again exposed to the risk of federal criminal prosecution and civil forfeiture actions, in addition to other enforcement actions.

There is also ambiguity in states, such as Washington, with overlap between the medical and recreational laws.  In July 2016, Washington’s previously unregulated medical marijuana market was integrated into the regulated recreational marijuana market, with new laws taking effect that focused on creating a patient authorization database, a consultant certification program and a certification for “compliant products” for medical use.

Under Washington state law, participation in these medical marijuana programs is essentially voluntary.  Medical marijuana patients in Washington are not required to participate in the patient database, and producers and processors are not required to obtain “compliant product” certifications from the Washington State Department of Health.  Many producers and processors have not sought this certification due to the increased product testing and compliance costs, and many medical marijuana patients have refused to register for the patient authorization database due to privacy concerns.  Given the current landscape, however, cannabis businesses may want to reconsider their participation in state medical marijuana programs.

The Need for a Congressional Solution

Spicer’s comments should also serve as a reminder that the status quo – that is, DOJ’s discretionary decision to not enforce federal law against state-sanctioned marijuana activities – is not viable as a long-term solution for the industry.  Spicer’s statements are at odds with polling data on legalization of marijuana, with an October 2016 Gallup poll indicating that 60 percent of Americans support legalization, and a February 23, 2017 Quinnipiac University poll indicating that 71 percent of Americans (including majorities of both Democrats and Republican voters and in every age group) believe that the federal government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana.

A renewed focus on federal enforcement is also certain to trigger resistance from states such as Washington, Colorado and Oregon that have seen positive economic benefits from marijuana regulation.  Since regulated sales began in Washington in 2014, the state has collected approximately $430M in additional tax revenue.  Fiscal year 2017 tax revenue in Washington alone is projected at $272M.  It is difficult to envision states willingly giving up this tax revenue while disregarding the will of their voters.

Indeed, earlier this month, amid uncertainty over the Trump administration’s approach to cannabis laws, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee wrote to Attorney General Sessions asking that the guidance in the Cole Memo be maintained, and that any changes to the policy be coordinated closely with states that have established cannabis markets.  Ferguson has already responded to Spicer’s statements, stating in an interview that he intends to resist any efforts by the Trump administration to interfere with Washington’s regulated marijuana market.

Taking a “glass half-full” approach, Spicer’s statements could be what it takes to galvanize public support around re-scheduling or de-scheduling marijuana and to finding a viable long-term solution to the industry.  Industry participants and other stakeholders have an opportunity to use this potential shake-up to the status quo as an effective lobbying strategy in order to convince Congress that a well-regulated industry operating in the light with substantial state oversight is a better outcome, both economically and socially, than pushing it back toward an unregulated black market.

 Andy Aley is  co-chair of Garvey Schubert Barer’s cannabis practice

 

The Expectations Of The Legal Cannabis Market After Elections

MAINE: In California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, voters decided that recreational cannabis use is now legal. Now as for Arizona, it was the only state that rejected the proposal. Making it four of the five states, where the proposal of legalization of cannabis for recreational use were approved. Companies in this sector profiting from the growing demand, views this as a highly positive development for the legal cannabis industry, as it may bring billions of dollars to the industry and to the states themselves.

District of Columbia, along with other 8 states now recognizes recreational marijuana use as a legal practice for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota assed ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana use only.  California is of course the most populated state and the largest market for cannabis. California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the proposition could generate up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue, as well as $100 million in saved taxpayer money on an annual basis.

The Cannabis Industry Is Coming To Anchorage Alaska

ALASKA:  Alaska is the next US state that will soon be selling recreational marijuana, and the cannabis industry is watching with keen anticipation.

The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office issued its first licenses for cannabis producers and testing facilities this month.   Retail licenses are to be given out in September.

In anticipation of the opening of the market, the cannabis industry will assemble at The Last Frontier for CannaCon Alaska — the state’s first major trade show.   Billed as the place  ‘where the cannabis industry does business,’ CannaCon will be a two day event in Anchorage, September 9-10, at the Dena’ina Convention Center.

Bringing producers, processors and retailers together with the businesses that support them,  CannaCon will feature a line up of  experts to share their valuable cannabis industry knowledge with attendees.

For those from legal cannabis states where marijuana retail shops have been operating for a couple of years there is a great deal of interest in seeing how Alaska manages legalization. Back in 2014 when CannaCon had its first show in Tacoma, Washington attendees and exhibitors were filled with hope and anticipation for the future of cannabis. Two years later and those same people are still making their dreams happen but with the realization that legalization comes with a heavy and burdening dose of bureaucracy.

Running a cannabis business in any state has proven to bring very uniques challenges not found in mainstream industries. It is hopeful that Alaska will be able to learn from the mistakes of other states and be able to launch a successful recreational marijuana industry with minimal roadblocks.

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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.

Pot Fans, Foes Fume As Washington DC tests Limits Of High Life

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Almost a year has passed since it became legal to smoke, but not sell, marijuana in Washington, D.C., and pot enthusiasts and opponents alike are chafing under a compromise that leaves smokers in a haze over how to obtain their weed.

Sales of equipment to grow the plants indoors are booming, bartenders are getting joints as tips and the city council is deliberating whether to license cannabis clubs.

Both smokers and police complain that the city’s ban on sales, imposed by congressional conservatives, are leaving residents to bump up against legal limits around the drug.

“It is kind of the Alice in Wonderland of cannabis legalization. It’s like there’s all these rules and regulations that no one follows,” said Alex Jeffrey, executive director of DC NORML, a marijuana reform advocacy group.

Connecticut Cops Told To Prepare For Legal Recreational Marijuana

CONNECTICUT: — Robert Ticer is no fan of legalized recreational marijuana.

And the Avon, Colo., police chief said Thursday that more pot in Connecticut’s future would increase challenges for cops on this state’s roads.

“It’s mind-boggling,” he said of marijuana’s spread through Colorado, speaking at the Webster Bank Arena as part of a traffic safety summit. “It’s crazy.”

Full legalization was approved as a Colorado constitutional amendment in 2013, and there are now 505 medical dispensaries and 322 retail stores selling recreational cannabis — outnumbering the 405 Starbucks stores and 227 McDonald’s — Ticer said.