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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Colorado Supreme Court sides with Northglenn on local controls for marijuana licensing

Northglenn City Council—had the right to deny a medical marijuana license because the new dispensary was deemed superfluous, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The state’s highest court ruled that Northglenn’s code—language listing criteria such as “number, type, and availability” of existing medical marijuana centers when considering new applications was not “unconstitutionally vague.”

Read the rest of this story at The Cannabist.

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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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Brands want to cash in with 4/20 munchies jokes. Marijuana advocates say it’s time to grow up

When you and your buds get the munchies on April 20, the high holiday for marijuana users, a small army of marketing professionals are working to ensure that in your haze, you’ll reach for their brand of blazed, er, glazed doughnuts. Or Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Or Burger King. Or any other brand of junk food – even from a wholesome, family-friendly company – that suspects its biggest fans may be spending the day more flame-broiled than a Whopper.

4/20, as the holiday is known, is when brands…

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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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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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El Paso County passes on medical marijuana testing businesses

A relatively new sector of the medical marijuana industry – labs that test the drug for potency and contaminants – will be welcome in Colorado Springs, but not in unincorporated El Paso County.

On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve amendments to the county’s existing medical marijuana policy, including one that would prohibit testing facilities.

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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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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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Colorado cannabis sales top $126M in February 2017 amid federal uncertainty

In a month when the phrase “greater enforcement” was uttered by the Trump administration in relation to marijuana, Colorado’s cannabis sales continued their surge.

In February, licensed shops brought in nearly $126.1 million in sales, with more than $86.4 million in recreational revenue and $39.6 million in medical marijuana revenue. It’s the third-highest monthly sales total in Colorado’s recreational marijuana era, according to The Cannabist’s calculations of Colorado Department of Revenue…

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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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Glenwood Springs voters add 5% tax to sales of marijuana in their town

By John Stroud, Glenwood Post-Independent

Glenwood Springs voters have agreed to join other area municipalities in assessing special taxes on the retail sale and transfer of recreational marijuana products within the city.

City voters, in the mail ballot election that concluded Tuesday, voted 1,205 to 813 to impose a new, local 5 percent tax on the sale of retail marijuana, as allowed under Colorado law. The tax could be increased in future years to as much as 15 percent without additional…

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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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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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Buzzkill for utilities’ high hopes of legal-weed power surge

By Christopher Martin, Bloomberg News

With local restrictions on marijuana easing across the U.S., power suppliers from California to Maine were expecting a little buzz of their own from newly legitimate pot farmers. After all, a 5,000-square-foot warehouse filled with hydroponic growing systems can draw five times the electricity of a typical industrial user.

But after an initial jolt in electricity use, when Western states began legalizing marijuana cultivation and sales, demand has fallen…

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13 California marijuana dispensaries owe $12 million in taxes, says report

Thirteen medical marijuana dispensaries owe more than $12 million in unpaid state taxes, according to a report recently published by the Board of Equalization.

The list includes several pioneers of the medical marijuana movement, who opened dispensaries not long after California became the first state to legalize weed as medicine in 1996.

Many of the businesses on the list have long been shut down, though a few continue to sell marijuana in some fashion.

The list comes from the Board of…

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EPA fines Colorado hydroponics shop for sale of unlabeled pesticides

A Colorado grow-supply business is paying a federal fine because of its pesticide packaging.

Grow Depot, a Northglenn hydroponics and indoor gardening store at 970 W. 104th Ave., was cited and fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly repacking and selling unlabeled pesticides, the agency announced Monday.

It’s the first time the EPA has penalized a Colorado grow shop for unlabeled pesticides, officials say.

Grow Depot agreed to pay a $27,500 penalty and stop the sale…

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Denver council faces pushback against midnight closing time for marijuana shops

Some neighbors of marijuana shops and a group that advocates for tighter restrictions on legal cannabis have begun pushing back against a proposal that would extend Denver’s cutoff for sales to midnight.

During its meeting at 3 p.m. Monday, the Denver City Council’s special-issue marijuana committee is set to consider the proposal that would allow shops to extend their hours beyond the city’s current 7 p.m. mandatory closing time. Councilwoman Kendra Black, the panel’s chair, is…

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Colorado marijuana sales holding steady with $109 million in January 2017

By Alicia Wallace, The Cannabist Staff

Colorado marijuana shops kicked off 2017 by selling nearly $109 million in recreational and medical cannabis in January, marking a 23 percent increase from January 2016, the latest revenue data show.

The Cannabist’s calculations of state tax revenue data that dropped Thursday afternoon show that recreational marijuana sales in January 2017 totaled $77.9 million — up $21.4 million year-over-year — while the month’s medical marijuana sales were…

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Denver FBI honors youth program partly funded by pot taxes

The Denver FBI honored a youth dropout prevention group Thursday, apparently without realizing it is partially funded with taxes from the marijuana industry.

The U.S. Justice Department, the FBI’s parent agency, considers the marijuana industry operating in Colorado and other states illegal, and new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated he wants stronger enforcement of federal law.

But Thursday’s episode reaffirmed that revenue from sales of the drug has gotten so widely…

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Midnight closing time for Denver marijuana shops? New council proposal floats idea

Denver may be ready to match some neighboring cities’ late-night closing times for marijuana stores.

A first-stab proposal set to be considered in a City Council committee Monday would extend the cutoff for sales from 7 p.m. to midnight. That’s the latest closing time that both Edgewater and Glendale allow for their pot shops.

Councilwoman Kendra Black says she is optimistic about the measure’s chances to get to the council floor, but it’s possible the members will settle on…

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Nederland marijuana business ordered to stop peddling investments in medical, recreational pot businesses

State regulators have ordered a marijuana business owner from Nederland to stop soliciting investments in what they describe as unregistered securities for ventures in recreational and medical pot.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies says it has issued a cease and desist order for John W. Long Jr., of Nederland, along with his businesses, Green Farms Consulting and Green Farms Holdings.

“The presence of a new, popular and seemingly lucrative industry like marijuana can be very…

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Weed 101: This Colorado university’s cannabis classes keep growing

The University of Denver is broadening its cannabis curriculum by delving into the business-specific facets of the marijuana industry.

DU’s Daniels College of Business will have its first “Business of Marijuana” course get underway on March 28, officials for the school announced Thursday. It’s the third class centered on legal weed for the private university, which also offers courses in marijuana law and cannabis journalism.

The course’s aim is to help students understand the different…

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Colorado governor suggests he may veto pot clubs bill without changes

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday expressed reservations about two major pieces of marijuana legislation in Colorado — in one case citing concerns about the Donald Trump administration’s potential crackdown.

The Democrat pledged to veto a measure that won preliminary approval in the state Senate earlier in the day to allow pot clubs with local approval. To win his support, Hickenlooper said the measure needs to ban smoking marijuana indoors.

Under the bill, Senate Bill 184, local…

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Colorado legislature looks to address the “wild west” of pot clubs

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado nearly five years ago opened a vast landscape of unknowns, and now the state is looking to settle one of the last frontiers.

The General Assembly is advancing bipartisan legislation to make Colorado the first state to allow pot clubs — an issue once considered taboo but one the industry says is overdue.

“What we are lacking as an industry and as consumers is a place to consume,” said Jordan Person at Denver NORML, the local…

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Colorado looks at ban on co-op growing to stop black market

Colorado may ban collective marijuana growing under a bill that calls some patient-owned marijuana grows a “public nuisance.”

A bill up for its first hearing in a House committee Monday would ban co-op pot growing by setting a statewide limit of 12 marijuana plants per residential property.

The change would effectively force some medical marijuana patients to buy from a licensed grower instead of growing their own plants.

Supporters including Gov. John Hickenlooper say the change is needed…

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Final available recreational pot license issued in Aurora

Aurora this week awarded the city’s 24th — and final — recreational pot license to The Green Solution after spending several weeks evaluating and scoring four candidate businesses.

The store will be located at 19370 E. Quincy Ave.

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Longmont to consider partial repeal of medical, recreational pot sales ban

Later this year, Longmont’s city staff is expected to present the City Council with a report about its options if it wants to partially repeal the city’s ban on shops selling medical and recreational marijuana inside the city limits.

At least some council members indicated during meetings last year that they’d be willing to consider revising or ending Longmont’s prohibitions against pot shops.

The issue resurfaced on Tuesday night, when Mayor Dennis Coombs floated a motion to have…

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Jeff Sessions to Attorneys General: “We don’t need to be legalizing marijuana”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his opposition to marijuana legalization while addressing a collection of the nation’s attorneys general on Tuesday.

In responding to a question about the war on drugs, Sessions noted a rise in heroin overdose deaths and those from the painkiller fentanyl. Stating that “crime does follow drugs,” he added that in the 1970s and ’80s, many lives were destroyed by drug abuse, adding that the drugs today are more powerful.

Read the full story at The…

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Denver social marijuana advisory group works through details — but disagrees about alcohol

Denver city officials have brought together a disparate group to advise them on how to implement the city’s first-of-its-kind social marijuana use permit program. When the panel met this week, the gaps between competing interests were hard to miss.

Neighborhood advocates and others wary of open marijuana consumption pressed during a two-hour discussion Wednesday for concrete restrictions on a number of fronts for Initiative 300-authorized consumption areas. Businesses will be able to…

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America’s marijuana industry headed for $24 billion by 2025, report says

The latest gaze into the crystal ball puts the U.S. marijuana industry north of $24 billion by 2025.

New Frontier Data, a cannabis market research and analytics firm, gave The Cannabist a first look at its 2017 annual report, which aims to track the long-term potential for the industry. The report acknowledges external factors such as federal rescheduling or a full-scale crackdown could shake up the near-term.

By mapping out state-by-state sales to $24.5 billion in 2025 and projecting that…

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Aspen leaders poised to reconsider marijuana clubs

Aspen city leaders could give private pot clubs another whiff of consideration, but they first want to see how regulations are addressed by Denver and the state of Colorado.

“I’m open to having the conversation,” Mayor Steve Skadron said Monday, noting he is watching the state capital to see if it creates any regulatory model for private cannabis clubs that Aspen could mimic. “I know Denver is making some progress on bring-your-own pot clubs, and perhaps that could weigh into our…

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Colorado mountain town approves first drive-through marijuana shop

The Tumbleweed Express in Parachute will be the first drive-thru marijuana dispensary in the state.

Alex Zorn, Post Independent

The Tumbleweed Express in Parachute will be the first drive-thru marijuana dispensary in the state.

The western Colorado town of Parachute is getting a drive-through marijuana shop, believed to be the first in the state.

The Parachute Board of Trustees approved a business license for Tumbleweed Express last week, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Saturday.

“As far as I can tell, we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” said…

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Colorado preparing for pot clubs, despite uncertainty about feds

DENVER — At risk of raising the ire of the White House, Colorado is on the brink of becoming the first state with licensed pot clubs. But the details of how these clubs will operate are as hazy as the underground clubs operating already.

Denver officials are working on regulations to open a one-year pilot of bring-your-own marijuana clubs, while state lawmakers are expected to consider measures to allow either marijuana “tasting rooms” run by marijuana dispensaries, or smoke-friendly clubs…

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“Top Chef” winner and local Boulder celebrity Hosea Rosenberg talks about crafting food-weed pairings

By Linnea Covington, Special To The Cannabist

Don’t leave a bag of chips around chef Hosea Rosenberg. It’s his guilty pleasure and if he has been smoking weed he will eat them all, especially Chili Cheese Fritos. But if those aren’t available, still beware. It doesn’t matter what type of salty, fatty and crunchy food is there. When the munchies hit him hard, he will devour them.

“I get the munchies bad and I get hungry no matter what I smoke,” said the winner of “Top Chef” season five. “If I…

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Colorado sold $1.3 billion worth of marijuana in 2016

It’s a billion-dollar business — and then some.

In 2016, Colorado’s dispensaries bagged $1.3 billion in recreational and medical cannabis sales, based on Colorado Department of Revenue tax data released Thursday.

To put the state’s third year of regulated recreational marijuana sales in perspective, Year One totaled $699.2 million (combined with medical sales) and Year Two jumped up to $996.2 million. The trend should continue in Year Four, but beyond that? It’s a murkier…

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What will be AG Jeff Sessions’ first move on marijuana?

A new lawman has come to town, and the marijuana industry could be in for major upheaval.

But just how much change Attorney General Jeff Sessions might impart — and how quickly he’ll address federal marijuana enforcement — remain the multibillion-dollar question.

“It’s not like you could see agents come into every storefront in the United States tomorrow and deal with this. That’s not a reality,” drug policy expert John Hudak said Wednesday.

But if Sessions rescinds the 2013…

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Colorado puts new focus on worker safety in cannabis industry

For the first time, Colorado health officials have issued a set of guiding principles for marijuana businesses to address—occupational health and hazards.

Workers in the cannabis industry, including budtenders, extraction technicians, trimmers and cultivators, are key figures in a report released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Slips, trips and falls are hazards common to every industry, but the marijuana industry has special considerations,” Roberta…

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Pro talk: Colorado agriculture office shares pot knowledge

North Carolina wants to know if marijuana could one day replace tobacco as a cash crop. Louisiana is wondering how pot holds up in high humidity. And Washington state has questions about water supplies for weed.

Colorado agriculture officials this week briefed officials from about a dozen states — some that have legalized weed, others that joked their states will legalize pot “when hell freezes over” — to go over the basics of marijuana farming and swap stories about regulating a crop that…

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Charitable cannabis companies find giving back isn’t as easy as you’d think

Tim Cullen ran into an unexpected obstacle recently when he decided it was time his cannabis business should—start donating money to nonprofit organizations.

“I have been shocked at how few places will take our money,” said Cullen, CEO of the Colorado Harvest Company chain of shops and a shareholder with O.penVape, a company that makes vape pens.

But—then Levitt Pavilion Denver came calling. O.penVape and Colorado Harvest Company together donated $250,000, becoming the largest private…

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More Colorado businesses dropping pot from pre-employment drug tests

Marijuana testing by Colorado businesses has slowly declined over the past two years as 7 percent dropped the drug from pre-employment tests while 3 percent removed it from all drug tests.

The results of a December survey by the Mountain States Employers Council marks a shift from its 2014 survey — the year recreational consumption of pot became legal — when one in five employers reported implementing more stringent drug-testing policies. But this doesn’t necessarily mean businesses…

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Boulder DA named to pot advisory group for Trump administration

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett has been selected to join a group of prosecutors from across the country who will help advise the Donald Trump administration on policies regarding marijuana.

The National District Attorney’s Association created a policy group featuring 14 district attorneys who will issue advice on possible law or policy changes regarding marijuana as more and more states legalize it.

Garnett said he is the only active prosecutor from Colorado in the group, but said…

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Glenwood Springs pot tax votes could reopen detox center talks

Glenwood Springs voters will decide two city marijuana tax questions in the April 4 municipal election.

And, although no decisions have been made about how the hundreds of thousands of dollars in anticipated new tax revenues would be spent if voters approve the measures, it could reopen talks about establishing a detox center in Glenwood Springs or elsewhere in the region.

One ballot question approved by City Council at the special meeting Thursday night will ask for a 5 percent tax on the…

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New weed sellers want you to swap chamomile for cannabis

By Jennifer Kaplan, Bloomberg News

Visit a dispensary in one of the 28 states that legally sell marijuana and you’re likely to find products with monikers like God’s Green Crack, Super Lemon Haze, or Skywalker. That’s all about to change as a new breed of “ganjapreneurs” swoop into the fledgling industry. In a classic consumer-marketing move, they’re getting rid of stoner slang and replacing it with supermarket-friendly names that purport to help customers live better.

Their…

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Colorado moves to crack down on black-market pot ads online

By Kirsten Wyatt, The Associated Press

DENVER — Weed on Craigslist? It is widely for sale in Colorado, but legislation moving through the state Legislature aims to crack down on those who sell marijuana illegally using online ads.

A bill approved unanimously by the state Senate on Monday would make it a misdemeanor to advertise pot if the person does not have a license to sell the drug.

It’s already a crime to sell pot without a license in Colorado, but it’s not illegal to place an…

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Bill makes it a crime to advertise marijuana sales without a license

The state Senate gave initial approval Monday to a measure designed to crack down on advertisements online for illicit marijuana sales.

The bill — Senate Bill 15 — would create a new criminal offense for a person to advertise the sale of marijuana without a retail license. As a level 2 drug misdemeanor, a person convicted would face up to one year in jail and a fine as high as $750.

Sen. Irene Aguilar, a Denver Democrat and the bill sponsor, told lawmakers that more than 690 ads for…

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