Pot-license “points” systems in Aurora, Thornton invite legal scrutiny

Cities and towns in Colorado have devised all sorts of ways to decide how many pot shops can open and where, but two communities using a points-based system to evaluate and select prospective recreational marijuana businesses — Aurora and Thornton — are running into legal hot water.

Aurora is facing a lawsuit alleging that it didn’t follow its own rules for ranking pot shop applicants for the two dozen licenses it issued. Thornton, which has four available licenses for recreational…

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Vermont man grew pot because he thought it’d be legal soon, police say

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — Vermont police have arrested a man who acknowledged growing marijuana to prepare for possible statewide legalization of the drug.

St. Albans police say they came across Michael Marshall while investigating a hunting violation. Marshall fled into a house after a confrontation with police, and then consented to a search of the residence. Police say they then found and seized 13 full-grown marijuana plants and 27 smaller plants.

Police say Marshall told them he thought…

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New studies shine light on cannabis consumers’ spending habits

America’s legal marijuana market topped $6.5 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow to $24 billion by 2025, yet data-driven insights into consumers have remained elusive.

Two new studies are shining a light on the cannabis consumer, providing insight into actual purchase behavior as the industry prepares for four new state recreational markets, including California, and six new medical markets expected to come online in the next eight months.

As the legal recreational and medical cannabis…

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In a first, drug use eclipses alcohol in fatal crashes

By Ashley Halsey Iii, The Washington Post

For the first time, statistics show that drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk.

Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, eclipsing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol, according to a report released Wednesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

Of the drivers who tested…

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Creating standards for cannabis industry gets ASTM International board approval

ASTM International, a century-old standards organization, gave the official go-ahead to establish a standards-writing committee for the cannabis industry, officials announced Tuesday.

ASTM’s board of directors approved the formation of Committee D37, a group that will develop standards for cannabis, its products and processes, officials said. The committee, reported on by The Cannabist in March, is scheduled to hold its first meeting on June 11.

“This committee will help meet a need for…

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Colorado bill adding PTSD to medical marijuana list heads to governor’s desk

A bill to add PTSD to the list of Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Colorado Senate on Tuesday voted 32-2 to re-pass Senate Bill 17, which was amended in the House.

What’s happened to this point:

The state House on Friday passed SB 17 by a vote of 39-25, with one member absent. The vote came a day after the bill was amended in second reading to add a stipulation that one of the two recommending physicians required for minor patients be…

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Denver marijuana shops get green light to stay open until 10 p.m.

Denver marijuana licensees on Monday received permission from the city to keep their stores open until 10 p.m. — a move the industry says will help it compete with businesses in some neighboring cities.

Stores that offer recreational or medical marijuana sales (or both) will get the option to adjust their hours beginning May 1. Denver has 218 storefronts, making up the lion’s share of stores in the metro area.

The City Council approved a change to the city’s allowed sales hours —…

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The Cannabist honored with journalism awards for health, business coverage

There are scores of stories to be told about the evolution of marijuana legalization in America, and cannabis journalism is receiving mainstream recognition.

The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace, who covers national business and policy matters along with Colorado-based topics, has received multiple honors for her in-depth reporting in the past year. The Denver Post, which oversees The Cannabist, also picked up a number of awards for topical marijuana coverage.

Wallace, who worked on The Denver…

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Mayor Hancock: Denver to review 4/20 event that left Civic Center in “disrespectful state”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday ordered a city review into rampant fence-hopping, public pot-smoking and slow trash cleanup that left Civic Center in a “disrespectful state” during and after last week’s 4/20 celebration.

Delivering his most forceful critique of the annual event, Hancock said the city’s inquiry could yield penalties for organizers and affect how the event unfolds in future years.

“Our parks and public spaces are held in the public trust. … When you leave…

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Videos from Civic Center show park was left a mess overnight after 4/20 event

Videos recorded by city security cameras in Civic Center show that cleanup activities following the large 4/20 celebration late Thursday night left plenty of trash strewn about the park.

The clips, provided to The Denver Post by police in response to a public records request, show that organizers, volunteers and a hired cleanup crew didn’t make much headway after the pro-marijuana event ended around 8 p.m. and vendors cleared out of the park in the hours afterward.

In a few locations,…

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Study: National medical marijuana laws would save lives — and a billion taxpayer dollars

A fascinating study in Health Affairs last year by a father-daughter pair of public policy researchers found that Medicare prescriptions for things like painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications dropped sharply in states that introduced a medical marijuana program.

The implication? Offered the choice between taking medication prescribed by a doctor and self-medicating with pot, many older patients opted for the latter.

But the study left one big question unanswered: Since the…

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Here’s how Jeff Sessions has disrupted marijuana industry with words alone

As cannabis enthusiasts celebrate 4/20 across the country, the long shadow of the Trump Administration isn’t just a major buzz kill — it has also has sent chills across a blossoming cannabis industry and the wider decriminalization and legalization movement.

The administration has yet to crack down on enforcement of federal drug laws in its first 92 days, and as the 420 holiday weekend rambles on, the president has remained silent on the issue. Instead, he has allowed new Attorney General…

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Denver cannabis church’s debut doesn’t go exactly as planned

A musky marijuana bouquet wafted into a south Denver neighborhood as 4:20 p.m. approached on 4/20.

The International Church of Cannabis, which claims marijuana as its primary sacrament, officially opened for services at 3 p.m. Thursday in a 113-year-old house of worship at 400 S. Logan St. in the West Washington Park neighborhood.

At 4:20 p.m., Elevation Ministries leader Steve Berke called on the approximately 70 congregants in the main sanctuary to join him in silence with their sacrament….

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Denver wakes up to Civic Center Park covered in piles of trash after 4/20 rally

Denver woke up Friday to piles and piles of trash covering Civic Center the morning after the annual 4/20 rally downtown.

The garbage was mostly strewn around trash cans and appeared to have been pulled out of bags and boxes that had been emptied and tossed aside.

Early Friday, city workers took photos of the trash piles as people walking to their offices picked their way through the mess, some stopping to stare and take their own pictures. A worker mentioned that the park had been clean the…

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Two arrested after gunfire near Denver’s 4/20 celebration; no one hurt

A brief gunfire incident occurred early Thursday evening near the annual 4/20 cannabis celebration in downtown Denver.

Police said nobody was hurt, and officers arrested two people soon after at least one shot rang out near 15th Street and Cleveland Place. It was unclear whether the incident was related to the 4/20 festival.

In all, five people were arrested at the Civic Center event and 20 people were written up with civil citations, police said.

Long lines, some over an hour, greeted…

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Colorado House rejects late attempt to bar pot use in churches

The Colorado House on Thursday rejected a last minute attempt to ban pot use in churches, an amendment that was introduced on the same day the controversial International Church of Cannabis opened in Denver.

Proposed by state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, the amendment to a broader bill on pot use would have barred pot use in churches, while still allowing exceptions for religious purposes. Pabon argued it was needed to protect Colorado’s reputation, after the International Church of…

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Marijuana has truly gone mainstream, survey finds

By Christopher Ingraham, (c) 2017, The Washington Post

Many marijuana users hide their stash in their closets. Most people who use marijuana are parents. There are almost as many marijuana users as there are cigarette smokers in the U.S.

Those facts and many more are among the conclusions of new survey from Yahoo News and Marist University, which illustrates how pot has become a part of everyday life for millions of Americans.

1. Nearly 55 million adults currently use marijuana

More…

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Six essential Colorado cannabis tours, from party buses to free-form adventures

They won’t adorn you with a hemp lei when you step off the plane, but Colorado remains a top destination for travelers looking to celebrate the “high holiday” of April 20.

Whether it’s to see the now seemingly annual Snoop Dogg concert or join thousands for the infamous 420 Rally at Denver’s Civic Center Park, there’s no shortage of marijuana revelry to take part in. It’s no coincidence there has been a big spike in dispensary sales every April in the state’s recreational marijuana era.

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Denver 4/20 in the Trump era: Marijuana celebration or political rally?

There was a time — before the vendor booths, before the concerts with famous headliners, before the documentary crews and before the cannabis tour groups — when 4/20 in Denver meant a simple protest rally.

Eleven years ago, only a couple thousand people gathered in Civic Center park for the annual marijuana smokeout in defiance of state and federal laws. The rally planned for Thursday could hardly look different — 250 vendor booths, tens of thousands expected to attend and the…

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Colorado’s first drive-thru pot shop opens on 4/20 (of course) in Parachute

By Alex Zorn The Post Independent

It started with a late-night epiphany after people were knocking on the window of a Western Slope marijuana store.

Thursday, Mark Smith’s dream will be realized when camera crews from “The Today Show” and other national programs are expected to descend on his shop in Parachute as it becomes the state’s first known legal drive-thru marijuana dispensary.

“I didn’t set out thinking this would be national news,” Smith said. “I didn’t have some…

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Marijuana DUIs drop 33 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with last year, but officials still concerned

The number of citations for driving while under the influence of marijuana dropped by 33.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, but the number of people using marijuana and then driving continues to be a concern for Colorado officials.

“We’re still troubled by the fact that marijuana users are still telling us they routinely drive high,” Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said Monday. “We’re pleased with the…

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Colorado lawmakers pass measure allowing counties to levy, collect marijuana taxes

State lawmakers approved a bill Monday that would allow counties to levy and collect sales tax on recreational marijuana, a move inspired by a standoff between Adams County and three of its cities that could wind up in the state Supreme Court.

The measure, if signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, would allow counties to impose a pot tax in unincorporated areas without challenge but would have to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with cities and towns to tax weed there.

Adams…

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Dispute over marijuana taxing authority in Colorado may continue — despite state bill designed to defuse it

A bill designed to resolve a high-stakes standoff over taxing authority between Colorado counties and cities when it comes to recreational marijuana sales is expected to pass out of the legislature Monday.

But the measure, if signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper next month, may not stop a protracted legal battle between Adams County and three of its cities from winding up at the state’s high court.

House Bill 1203, sponsored by Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, authorizes counties to…

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Wanted: cannabis tracking system for billion dollar market

DENVER — Washington state regulators have begun accepting bids for a new seed-to-sale tracking system to keep tabs on marijuana commerce, a deal with an initial value of about $3 million.

The competition likely will be fierce, given that the contract involves one of the nation’s largest cannabis markets.

But businesses won’t be squaring off against the provider of the state’s current seed-to-sale system, BioTrackTHC. The company said it has no plans to bid for the new contract, saying it is…

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Jared Polis: Leave cannabis regulation to the states, President Trump

Editor’s note: The Denver Post opinion pages solicited commentary from various marijuana policy and industry leaders, as well as the public, for a special cannabis-themed edition of the Sunday Perspective section the weekend before 4/20. The Cannabist will be presenting these op-eds throughout the week.


It turns out we are more the rule than the exception here in Colorado: A majority of Americans now live in an area that allows legal access to recreational or medical marijuana. You only…

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Digging into the details of Canada’s new law legalizing marijuana nationwide

Canada on Thursday released a plan to legalize recreational marijuana use across the country by July 2018. With a solid Liberal majority in government the plan is widely expected to become law, but it would leave the details of implementation, including commercial regulations, to individual provinces.

The bill’s backers framed it as an effort to reduce adolescent drug use and take profits out of the black market. “Criminal prohibition has failed to protect our kids and our communities,” said…

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4/20 in Denver: The best concerts around this year’s high holiday

Scenes from Snoop Dogg's Wellness Retreat concert on 4/20. Photo by Seth McConnell, heyreverb.com.
Scenes from Snoop Dogg’s Wellness Retreat concert on 4/20. (Seth McConnell, The Know)

Bob Marley flags, $4.20 sandwich specials, friends visiting from less cool states — it’s that time of year when the whole city starts to feel like a University of Colorado dorm.

That’s right: It’s almost 4/20. Per usual, Denver will be in full party mode for the weed-happy holiday, packing in more concerts than you can shake a vape pen at.

Don’t let the haze overwhelm you. Below, our handy guide to Denver…

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Colorado ends plans for pot clubs over Trump uncertainty

By KRISTEN WYATT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers on Thursday backed off plans to become the first U.S. state to regulate marijuana clubs, saying approval of Amsterdam-style pot clubs could invite a federal crackdown.

It was perhaps the starkest display yet of legal pot states’ uncertainty on how to regulate the drug under President Donald Trump. Alaska marijuana regulators recently delayed planned rules for on-site pot consumption at dispensaries.

Colorado’s measure, which would have…

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Erie should keep ban on retail marijuana sales, committee says

Erie should uphold a year-and-a-half-long ban on recreational marijuana sales, according to a recently unveiled report by the Retail Marijuana Ad-Hoc Committee, a task force created by the town last year to examine if such an option would be viable.

The committee on Tuesday night cited a number of factors that could be set in motion if such an embargo were lifted, including a net revenue drain on the town; limited demand as surrounding towns eat away at potential profits; limited allowable…

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Denver officials scrutinizing out-of-state CBD products sold in local pot shops

Denver is clamping down on CBD products that originate outside of Colorado.

A bulletin issued Wednesday by Denver Environmental Health’s Public Health Inspections Division outlines a policy prohibiting out-of-state-made cannabidiol (CBD) products intended for human consumption.

“It has come to DEH’s attention that some CBD products originate from unregulated manufacturing facilities, have been illegally shipped across state lines, contain unapproved ingredients, or have been made in unsafe…

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This is how Colorado could help pot shops under a federal marijuana crackdown

Concerned about a potential crackdown from President Donald Trump’s administration, Colorado lawmakers are advancing a bill that would allow recreational pot to be reclassified as medical marijuana so that it could not be seized by federal authorities.

The legislation would allow a one-time transfer prompted by a change in law or a shift in federal enforcement policy and drew no debate as it won final approval in the state Senate on a 28-7 vote Wednesday.

The effort comes after the White…

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So how do you get marijuana through TSA when traveling?

Cannabis users had a brief but intense moment of euphoria this week after the Transportation Security Administration seemed to give a green light to air travelers to pack medical marijuana in checked or carry-on luggage.

But the TSA’s apparent new acceptance of THC – which appeared on its website – went up in smoke almost as fast as news of the supposed change zipped through social media. In 24 hours or so, the TSA’s website went from green to red.

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Sessions’ right-hand man, Steven Cook, thinks Holder DOJ was “soft on crime”

When the Obama administration launched a sweeping policy to reduce harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, rave reviews came from across the political spectrum. Civil rights groups and the Koch brothers praised Obama for his efforts, saying he was making the criminal justice system more humane.

But there was one person who watched these developments with some horror. Steven Cook, a former street cop who became a federal prosecutor based in Knoxville, Tennessee, saw nothing…

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Colorado bill making it a crime to grow recreational weed for others heads to gov’s desk

DENVER — Colorado was set Monday to outlaw marijuana growing co-ops soon after the state Senate unanimously approved a bill (HB17-1221) making it a crime for people to cultivate recreational pot for other people.

The bill supported by the office 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…

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44 in Congress support effort to keep DOJ handcuffed in medical cannabis states

A bipartisan collection of nearly four-dozen U.S. House members want the feds to maintain their hands-off enforcement position toward states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican lawmaker from California, has spearheaded spending bill amendments that prevent the Justice Department from meddling in medical marijuana states. On Monday, he announced that he is urging the Commerce, Justice and Science committee chiefs to continue that path.

In a letter…

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Cannabis companies flock to Canada as US laws keep them off stock exchange

When Hadley Ford created a company for investing in the fast-growing business of legal marijuana, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker left New York and headed north of the border.

While more than half of U.S. states allow marijuana for medical or recreational use, the drug is still outlawed by the federal government, starving pot entrepreneurs of institutional capital. Major stock exchanges won’t accept listings for businesses that Washington deems illegal, and banks and…

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New federal bill would reschedule marijuana as Schedule III

The latest marijuana-centric bill before Congress would place cannabis as a Schedule III substance, a classification shared by Tylenol with codeine, ketamine and dronabinol.

Two Florida congressmen, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, introduced legislation Thursday that would transfer marijuana to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act from its current standing as a Schedule I substance, the strictest of the classifications.

Read the complete story at The…

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Bay Area company gives free cannabis products to cancer patients

OAKLAND — After Alex Lee had surgery for brain cancer in 2013, he had to take a chemotherapy capsule that made him nauseous. Ron Gershoni, a college buddy who was just getting into the cannabis extraction business, brought him a big jar of cannabis oil.

“As soon as I took the the pill I would feel nauseous,” said Lee, a 37-year-old San Francisco resident who works in technology sales. “I would immediately do a dab (a marijuana oil extract that users vaporize and inhale) or several dabs to…

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Jeff Sessions has created a task force to review federal marijuana policies

In a memo sent this week to the U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a task force within the Justice Department will evaluate marijuana policy as part of a larger review of crime reduction and public safety.

The Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety will “identify ways in which the federal government can more effectively combat illegal immigration and violent crime, such as gun crime, drug trafficking, and gang violence,” according to the memo issued…

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California police not down with Gov. Brown’s marijuana plan

LOS ANGELES — California law enforcement officials objected Wednesday to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed streamlining of the state’s marijuana regulations, saying his plan could endanger public safety.

Brown’s administration released documents late Tuesday outlining proposed changes to square the state’s new recreational pot law with its longstanding law on medical marijuana.

But the California Police Chiefs Association representing all of the state’s municipal police forces said the governor’s…

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“Godfather of Grass” John Robert Boone deported from Canada

A runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche, or kraut pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, pork, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings.[2][3][4] They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle. In Nebraska, the Runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape. The bierocks of Kansas, on the other hand, are generally baked in the shape of a bun.

History[edit]

The Runza sandwich originated in Russia…

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Why you shouldn’t be surprised that Trump loyalist Roger Stone is a champion of legal marijuana

Roger Stone caused an internet sensation last week when he wrote a blog post on his website imploring the Trump administration not to interfere with marijuana legalization efforts.

In doing so, he criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions while invoking individual and states’ rights, industry growth and even the Bible.

“Tens of millions of Liberty minded Americans… (are) fully expecting (Trump) to end the ineffectual and wasteful War on Weed,” Stone wrote in the post titled, “Mr. President:…

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Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke introduces federal bill to curb driver’s license suspensions for drug offenses

Just five days after announcing his longshot bid to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke introduced a bill that seeks to repeal a federal law encouraging states to suspend or revoke driver’s licenses of people convicted of drug offenses.

The bipartisan Better Drive Act introduced Wednesday would repeal Section 159 of Title 23 in the United States Code, which reduces states’ highway funding by 8 percent per year if they—don’t automatically suspended the…

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Denver council advances 10 p.m. closing time for marijuana stores

A measure that would extend Denver’s marijuana shop sales to midnight was pared back to 10 p.m. before a committee on Monday sent it to the full City Council.

The momentum of the revised proposal gave hope to marijuana industry representatives who have pushed for a later closing time to compete with neighboring cities. But the council also has heard push-back in recent weeks from some dispensary neighbors and others concerned about the change.

Denver allows its 216 medical and…

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Four governors team up, urge feds to keep marijuana enforcement status quo

Governors in four states have joined forces with a marijuana message for two top officials in the Trump administration.

In an open letter, the governors on Monday asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”

The signatories of the letter are Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska; Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado; Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon; and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington. They…

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Thousands attend Ann Arbor’s annual Hash Bash

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Several thousand people gathered Saturday on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor to celebrate marijuana.

The annual Hash Bash started Saturday afternoon on the school’s Diag and has become a rallying effort for legalizing marijuana use.

The Ann Arbor News reports that attorney and activist Jeffrey Hank released a pair of white doves Saturday as symbols of the fight to legalize pot.

Read the full story on The Cannabist.

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Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’ NFL agenda topped by lifting ban on marijuana

What a fun little way to refer to AT&T Stadium is now becoming true of the NFL as a whole. It is, increasingly, becoming Jerry World.

Just look at the recent owner’s meeting in Arizona. The Dallas Cowboys’ owner, in an owners-only meeting, Jones reportedly raised several significant topics near and dear to his heart, including lifting the NFL’s ban on marijuana use, ending off-the-field investigations and the future of Commissioner Roger Goodell. And that was the subtext. The story of the…

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Summit County ganja-preneur wants to expand cannabis, food and wine tours beyond Colorado

Philip Wolf, the founder of Cultivating Spirits, speaking at a cannabis, food and wine event. Wolf found that different terpene strains in marijuana affect mood.

Courtesy Cultivating Spirits

Philip Wolf, the founder of Cultivating Spirits, speaking at a cannabis, food and wine event. Wolf found that different terpene strains in marijuana affect mood.

Now Wolf and his new business partner Branden Nadon want to expand the business into California and Nevada, which also has legalized recreational marijuana. They also want to expand into other Colorado locations.

Wolf’s idea to blend marijuana with a wine pairing experience came to him while he was…

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4 get federal prison for conspiring to ship Colorado pot

PUEBLO — Four men who conspired to grow marijuana in Colorado to sell it in Florida have been sentenced to federal prison terms.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that the men were arrested in March 2016 in one of multiple raids conducted last year in Pueblo County.

The ring leader, Dennis Rodriguez, was sentenced to the longest term — 2 ½ years in prison — on Thursday. Judge R. Brooke Jackson sentenced Rodriguez’s brother Angel and Daniel Bingham to 14 months and sentenced Nathaniel…

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DEA asks Colorado AG’s office for info on marijuana crimes, “for the new administration”

Amid speculation about how the Trump administration will confront marijuana legalization in states such as Colorado, a Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor has sent an e-mail to a prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office seeking information, “for the new administration.”

The e-mail was sent early last month by a supervisor on the financial investigations team in the DEA’s Denver field office to Michael Melito, a senior assistant attorney general. The e-mail asks for…

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