City Council To Ponder Early Marijuana Sales

OREGON:  The Salem City Council has two decisions to make about marijuana sales in the city, and members will begin the process Monday, Aug. 31.

The most immediate is whether the city is going to allow or prohibit the “early sales” period beginning on Oct. 1, of recreational marijuana from medical marijuana facilities. A decision that’s made somewhat complicated to both local city code and state law.

In Nov. 2014 Oregon passed Measure 91, which, legalized the recreational sale and use of marijuana in Oregon. And at the end of legislature passed a law that allowed for sales of tax-free recreational marijuana at medical dispensaries to begin Oct. 1 – more than three months ahead of the planned start date of recreational marijuana sales on Jan. 4.

Colorado Resorts Continue Rocky Mountain Quest To Attract Oregon Skiers

COLORADO:  Hey, Oregon skiers, the heavy breathing you feel over your shoulder may by a representative of a Rocky Mountain ski area trying to get you to go skiing or snowboarding there this winter.

Hot on the heals of an Aug. 20 Portland visit by representatives of Ski Utah, marketeers of Colorado skiing and tourism wined and dined Portland journalists on Aug. 26. They hit Seattle, too.

The Utah visit beat the arrival of my first Powder magazine of the season by one day and the Colorado visit beat Ski magazine’s arrival by two days.

Pioneer Pot States Have Collected More Than $200 Million In Marijuana Taxes

WASHINGTON AND COLORADO: The first two states to legalize recreational marijuana have collectively raked in at least $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, according to the latest tax data — and they’re putting those dollars to good use.

In Colorado, after about a year and a half of legal recreational marijuana sales, the state has collected more than $117 million in excise taxes from both the recreational and medical marijuana markets, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Washington state got a slower start. Its retail shops didn’t begin selling recreational marijuana until July of last year, but they are keeping pace with Colorado’s. About $83 million in excise taxes have already been collected in the year since sales first began, according to the most recent tax data from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.


Marijuana Producers Gobble Up Warehouse Space In Denver Area

COLORADO:  Steve Badgley has been hunting for a larger warehouse in the Denver area for more than a year. But his construction-supply business keeps getting squeezed out by a new entrant into the real-estate market: the marijuana industry.

Since voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of the drug in 2012, growers and distributors have gobbled up most of the available warehouse space in the Denver area, a major logistics hub for companies moving goods between the Midwest and the West Coast.

The marijuana industry is poised to expand quickly. Legal sales in Colorado of medical and recreational cannabis totaled about $700 million in 2014, the first full year for which statistics are available, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Colorado tax data. The number of active licenses to grow the plant for retail consumption shot up to 397 from 204, according to Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The problem for Denver business owners: marijuana producers require lots of space to grow, package and store their products. In all, growers and distributors took up a third of all the warehouse space leased in Colorado over the past 18 months, according to Cresa Partners, a brokerage.


Does The Legal Marijuana Industry Have A Race Problem?

WASHINGTON:  For decades, people of color have paid a heavy price for the war on drugs. It’s well known that minorities are arrested and jailed at disproportionate rates on marijuana-related charges. But, now that recreational weed is legal in Washington, are those same people who were once likely to be racially profiled reaping the benefits of the industry of legal pot?

We cold-called 270 marijuana producers, processors and recreational retailers in Washington state to determine who exactly is running and being employed by these pot shops, and who is actually benefitting.

Out of the producers and processors we were able to make contact with, 110 provided employee demographic information consistent with what could be expected: The marijuana industry is mostly saturated with white males, many of whom are not only employed by businesses but also run them.

Despite marijuana’s newfound legality, for some people of color entering this business is understandably wary territory, if not entirely out of the question. The American Civil Liberty Union’s War on Marijuana report found that, “a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates.”


Oregon’s Hot Hash Oil Market Drives Demand For Marijuana ‘Trim’

OREGON:  Cameron Yee opened a gallon-sized plastic bag of dried leaves from a popular strain of cannabis called Lemon Haze. He thrust his hand into the bag and gave the leaves a vigorous stir.

As recently as a few years ago, the small leaves snipped from harvested cannabis flowers ended up in the trash. After all, when it comes to marijuana, the flower is the star.

But when Yee’s fingers emerged coated in greenish dust, he was delighted.

“That is fantastic,” he said, eyeing the THC-rich crystals that will end up in one of his company’s concentrates.


Demand Grows For New Ways To Consume Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  Smoking is clearly the popular way to consume marijuana, as demonstrated by the thousands of pounds of marijuana flower legally sold each week. A growing number of consumers seek a more discreet and portable experience that companies continue to develop — anything from coffees to breath sprays to candies.

However, when a suspected marijuana-infused product becomes evidence in a crime, there is no valid way for state labs to test it, making it difficult prove that it’s actually marijuana.

When marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, Washington stores may make a big push to sell marijuana-infused products, because they won’t be available right away on the other side of the river.


Going To Pot: Will Legal Weed Hurt Medical Marijuana Users In Washington?

WASHINGTON:  Stephen Damgaard uses medical marijuana for nerve damage in his spine, eating a small brownie made with cannabutter each morning. The weed in the butter comes from one of Seattle’s many medical dispensaries — an untaxed and illegal medical pot shop that up until now has been tolerated by authorities.

But almost everything about marijuana in Washington is about to change, as the state moves to regulate both its 17-year-old medical marijuana program and the legalization of recreational marijuana passed by voters in 2012. And critics say the changes will hurt the users of medical marijuana. Fear of higher prices, possession limits and lack of access to the specific marijuana products that high-use patients need has left medical marijuana advocacy groups fighting back against laws that both Democrat and Republican legislators see as good.

Most medical marijuana, previously untaxed and almost completely unregulated, must now be purchased in the same regulated retail stores that sell weed to recreational users. In addition to paying a 37 percent tax on purchases, medical marijuana patients face lower possession limits and tight restrictions on growing marijuana in group collectives. By July 1, 2016, the new regulations will be fully in place and medical patients will be part of the retail market.

The 23 Ways Colorado Says Marijuana Will Ruin Your Kid’s Life

COLORADO:  Yesterday, in this space, we noted that a new series of public service announcements from the Colorado Department of Transportation, released under the umbrella term “Hank’s How to Get Hit by a Car,” had stolen the thunder from the State of Colorado’s latest anti-marijuana campaign aimed at those under 21.

Here’s why.

Whereas the CDOT spots are bizarre and amusing, the approach taken by Project What’s Next is utterly predictable — a low-key version of War on Drugs era characterizations of cannabis as something that will utterly destroy lives. And such overstatements tend to ring false when a teen smoking his first joint doesn’t wind up dead in a gutter ten minutes later.

The home page of the web site features the phrase “Don’t Let Marijuana Get in the Way of,” with flashing animation filling in different ways to finish that thought.

Oregon Releases Draft Recreational Marijuana Rules

OREGON:  Oregon public health officials have released draft rules for medical marijuana dispensaries selling legal recreational pot.

The Oregon Health Authority‘s rules limit the type of marijuana products sold as of October 1 to seeds, dried leaves and flowers and plants that are not flowering. As expected, edibles won’t be sold to recreational users at medical marijuana dispensaries.

The products can be purchased in limited quantities, including up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana flowers or leaves per day.

Only adults age 21 and older will be able to enter the dispensaries, which will verify age via a state or federally issued ID. Each purchase will be recorded.