Study: Marijuana Use Linked to Lower Prevalence of Fatty Liver Disease

LOWELL, MA — Subjects who consume cannabis are significantly less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as compared to those who do not, according to population-based case-control data published in the journal PLOS One.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease in humans, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School…

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Study: Cannabis Often Substituted for Prescription Medications

Adults often substitute cannabis for the use of prescription medications, according to data published in the Journal of Pain Research.

Investigators from the Bastyr University Research Institute assessed the frequency of drug substitution among a self-selected national sample of 2,774 self-identified marijuana consumers.

Just under half of respondents (46 percent) reported using cannabis in place of prescription medications. Respondents were most likely to use cannabis in lieu of…

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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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Can Decriminalizing Marijuana Lead to Higher Wages? Study Says Yes.

(Flickr/neetalparekh)

IRVINE, CA — Reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with greater overall employment and higher wages, according to data compiled by economists at the University of California.

Researchers at the Economic Self-Sufficiency Research Policy Institute at the University of California at Irvine assessed the relationship between statewide marijuana decriminalization laws and labor outcomes.

Authors reported that decriminalization is…

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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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Colorado House votes to bar cops from helping with federal marijuana crackdown

DENVER — Colorado may prohibit law enforcement officers from assisting in a potential federal marijuana crackdown.

The state House voted 56-7 Wednesday to bar public employees from assisting federal agents in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.”

The Colorado bill doesn’t specifically mention marijuana. But sponsors say it is inspired by threats that federal authorities may try cracking down on the marijuana industry. Federal…

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West Virginia Governor Signs Limited Medical Marijuana Measure Into Law

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (D) signs Senate Bill 386, the Medical Cannabis Act, on April 19, 2017. The Governor was joined for the bill signing by two of the initiative’s primary supporters, Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), as well as Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) and Dr. Rahul Gupta the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. (image/Office of the Governor)

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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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Colorado Lawmakers Pass Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana for PTSD

Approximately 8 million adults suffer from PTSD, including many military veterans. (WikiMedia Commons/USMC)

DENVER, CO — Lawmakers in the Colorado legislature have passed a measure to add post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in the state.

The measure, Senate Bill 17, will now be sent to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.  It was approved

Previous attempts to add PTSD to the conditions that qualify a…

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Texas Medical Marijuana Supporters Push for Hearings on Critical Legislation

Medical marijuana supporters outside the Texas capitol on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 (Heather Fazio)

AUSTIN, TX — A group of patients, caregivers, and medical professionals gathered at the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to allow hearings on critical medical marijuana legislation.

The group called on House Public Health Committee Chairman Four Price and Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner to schedule hearings on HB 2107…

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Washington Lawmakers Send Marijuana Reform Bill to Governor

OLYMPIA, WA — Lawmakers in Washington state have sent a comprehensive marijuana reform bill to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee (D), making several changes to the state’s cannabis regulation policies.

The bi-partisan Senate Bill 5131 was sponsored by Sens. Anna Rivers [R] Steven Conway [D], and received overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature.

Among the notable changes made by SB 5131 is a provision that makes it legal for adults 21 or older to share up marijuana…

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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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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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Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Opens in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD — After lengthy delays, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has opened up the patient and caregiver registry for the state supervised medical marijuana program.

Starting Monday April 24, open enrollment for all patients and caregivers is available on the agency’s website.

The registry was opened in a three-phase roll-out earlier this month. Previously, patients and caregivers with last names starting A through L could only register in the week beginning…

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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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Just Say “No” to Taxpayer Funded Medical Marijuana Raids

Since 2014, the Department of Justice has been prohibited from using taxpayers’ funds to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that regulate its medical use.

But that could all change this week as Congress decides how to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. 

At issue is a provision known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state…

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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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7 protesters arrested for handing out free joints near U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON — The conflict between federal and local laws on marijuana played out in the shadow of the Capitol on Thursday, when seven pro-pot activists were arrested for doing something that’s been legal in Washington for the past two years — handing out free joints.

U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that they invoked federal law in making the arrests. Two women and one man were charged with possession with intent to distribute pot, while four women were charged with simple possession,…

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Vermont Moves Closer to Legalizing Recreational Marijuana for Adults

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Senate approved a bill on Friday that would regulate the production and sale of marijuana and eliminate penalties for personal possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older.

The Senate amended H. 167, an unrelated House-approved bill, to replace it with a revised version of a marijuana regulation bill that passed last year in the Senate and failed in the House.

The Senate also amended H. 167 to include the same home cultivation…

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Study: Medical Marijuana Legalization Linked to Lower Medicaid Costs

(Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance)

Patients use fewer prescription drugs in states where access to medical cannabis is legally regulated, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the association between medical cannabis regulations and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries between the years 2007 and 2014.

Researchers reported, “[T]he use of prescription drugs in…

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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 PTSD marijuana bill advances to House vote, gains amendments focused on children

Colorado doctors should be allowed to recommend medical marijuana in treating PTSD symptoms of adults, but there should be additional guardrails when it comes to children, state lawmakers decided Thursday.

An amended Senate Bill 17, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder to Colorado’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, passed a second reading Thursday in the state House.

“On this auspicious day, we’ve got a serious bill,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Jonathan Singer,…

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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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CBS Poll Finds Support for Legalizing Marijuana at Record High

More than six in ten Americans believe that the social use of marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide polling data provided by CBS News.

The percentage marks a significant increase since 2013, when only 45 percent of respondents endorsed legalization, and it is among the highest levels of public support ever reported in a national poll. Only a majority of those respondents over the age of 65 did not support legalization.

Source: CBS…

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Homeland Security Chief: Marijuana Possession is Grounds for Deportation

United States Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly Speaks at George Washington University on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (DHS handout)

In a speech Tuesday, United States Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly announced that the Trump Administration would use marijuana possession as a reason for deporting immigrants.

“ICE will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation removal apprehension…

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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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Oregon Governor Signs Legislation Protecting Cannabis Consumers’ Privacy

Oregon Governor Kate Brown

SALEM, OR — Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed legislation into law this week limiting the ability of government officials to obtain data identifying customers who purchase marijuana at state-licensed retail facilities.

Voters legalized the commercial production and retail sales of cannabis in November 2014. Retail sales of cannabis to those age 21 or older began in October 2015.

The new law, which took effect immediately upon signing, states “A…

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Canada Lawmakers Introduce Marijuana Regulation Measures

OTTAWA, ON — Liberal Party members introduced legislation late last week to legalize and regulate the possession, use, and sale of cannabis by those age 18 and older.

The legislation follows through on a 2015 campaign pledge by the Party, which has promised to regulate the marijuana market by mid-2018.

The proposed measures establish a legal framework for the commercial production and retail sale of herbal cannabis, germinating seeds, immature plants, and cannabis-infused…

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Governor Signs Bill Making West Virginia the 29th Medical Marijuana State

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (D) signs Senate Bill 386, the Medical Cannabis Act, on April 19, 2017. The Governor was joined for the bill signing by two of the initiative’s primary supporters, Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), as well as Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) and Dr. Rahul Gupta the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. (image/Office of the Governor)

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North Dakota Governor Signs Bill Amending Voter-Approved Medical Marijuana Initiative

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (North Dakota Office of the Governor)

BISMARK, ND — North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed legislation on Tuesday amending provisions of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act – a voter-initiated measure approved by 65 percent of voters last November.

Senate Bill 2344 makes several significant changes to the law. Specifically, it removes provisions permitting patients the option to home cultivate their own cannabis if they do not…

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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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Tennessee Governor Signs Law Repealing Citywide Decriminalization Statutes

NASHVILLE, TN — Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation last week repealing municipal statutes in Memphis and Nashville that reduced local penalties for marijuana possession offenders.

House Bill 173 nullifies both cities’ decriminalization ordinances and preempts any other city from enacting similar reforms.

City council members in Nashville and Memphis both passed ordinances last fall providing local law enforcement the discretion to cite and fine minor marijuana…

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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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How to score free and discounted Lyft and Uber rides during Denver 420 festivities

Rideshare apps Lyft and Uber want to make sure Coloradans celebrating 4/20 don’t drive high.

The respective rideshare juggernauts announced separate promotions to provide discounted and even free rides to and from festivities surrounding April 20, the unofficial annual marijuana holiday.

Related: Colorado marijuana DUIs down 33 percent from first three months of last year

Lyft will expand their existing “320 Movement” partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to offer free…

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“Marijuana is not a factor” in war on drugs, Homeland Security Secretary says

Two high ranking Trump administration officials; two vastly different positions on marijuana.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to revive the war on drugs, and a crackdown on weed appears to be a major part of that. He is expected to pursue harsher punishments for using and distributing marijuana, which were relaxed under President Trump’s predecessor, as The Washington Post’s Sari Horowitz has reported. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions opined last year.

It’s a far cry from…

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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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Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Iowa

The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee has introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in the state. The bill already received unanimous support by a subcommittee at a hearing last week, and may receive a full Senate vote as early as this week.

The bill would allow patients suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable pain, and a host of other aliments access to this life-saving treatment option if their doctors certify them for the program.

The…

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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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Tom Marino, Trump’s Reported Drug Czar Pick, is Drug War Extremist; Linked to Scandal

Republican Congressman Tom Marino, Pennsylvania 10th (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON, DC — President Trump is expected to soon nominate Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA/10th) to be Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (colloquially referred to as the “drug czar”). Marino, a former prosecutor with no background in health or treatment, supports a punitive, 1980’s style approach to drugs, including mass incarceration and coerced treatment, even for medical and…

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