By Steve Elliott
A Nevada-based company that plans to sell recreational and medical marijuana products has named former Libertarian Presidential candidate New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as its CEO and president, the company, Cannabis Sativa Inc., announced on Tuesday.
The company also said it has acquired Kush, a marijuana research business founded by Steve Kubby, a fellow Libertarian who once called for California to secede from the United States. Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian Party nominee for California governor, was named chairman by Cannabis Sativa Inc.
Johnson said he hoped to expand the company and said he intends to work out of New Mexico to help develop products that are legal in Colorado and Washington, reports the Associated Press. Johnson will be paid $1 a year and receive equity in the company.
The company will make marijuana-based oils aimed at helping children with epilepsy, according to Johnson, who said it will also make cough drop-like products for recreational use.
"Couple of things hit you when you try the product," Johnson said. "One is, wow, why would anybody smoke marijuana given this is an alternative? And then secondly, it's just very, very pleasant. I mean, very pleasant."
By Steve Elliott
It's been almost a year and a half since Washington state voters approved Initiative 502, the limited marijuana legalization measure, in 2012. But there still isn't a single state-licensed cannabis store open in the state -- and once the shops finally open, presumably next week, Washington could then face a marijuana shortage.
What's wrong with this picture? How did Colorado get so much more right in implementing legalization than did the weed-friendly Evergreen State? Well, Colorado -- unlike Washington -- built its recreational marijuana infrastructure on the already existing medical marijuana system, rather than foolishly opting, as did Washington, to build an entirely new system from the ground up.
Wait a minute, you may be saying. That's just crazy. They had, in place, a system of retailing marijuana -- and proprietors experienced in doing so -- but they are completely eliminating that system and turning the business over to a new set of retailers? Yes, you're getting the idea -- and that has resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare, reports Jordan Larson at Vice.
Producers, processors and retailers have had trouble getting the necessary licenses and space to retail, warehouse, and grow cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
Former President Bill Clinton, who once infamously said he "didn't inhale" when he tried marijuana, said on Sunday that he thinks states should be able to legalize cannabis regardless of federal law.
"Look, I think there's a lot of evidence to argue for the medical marijuana thing," Clinton said in a "Meet the Press" interview with NBC's David Gregory, after being asked if it's time to "give pot a chance." "I think there are a lot of unresolved questions."
"This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where this is going," Clinton said, reports Dylan Stableford of Yahoo News. "Are there adequate quality controls? There's pot and there's pot; what's in it? What's going to happen? There are all these questions."
States like Colorado and Washington, where voters in 2012 chose to legalize marijuana, should be allowed to experiment with their cannabis laws, Clinton said.
"I think we should leave it to the states," Clinton said. "If the state wants to try it, they can. And then they'll be able to see what happens."
Back in 1992, Clinton was a Democratic candidate for President when he commented on his own marijuana use during a campaign forum in New York. "When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two and didn't like it," Clinton said of his time as a student at Oxford University in the late 1960s. "I didn't inhale, and I didn't try it again."
Members of Congress May Take Away DC Voter’s Right to Vote on Initiative
In less than 75 days, the DC Cannabis Campaign has collected more than twice the number signatures required to place Initiative 71 on November’s General Election ballot. However, the Campaign is alarmed that members of Congress may prevent District voters from being able to vote on the ballot initiative due to policy riders that were added to the District of Columbia’s 2015 appropriation budget.
“We are proud of our petition circulators who braved the heat to further democracy in the District of Columbia,” said Campaign chairman Adam Eidinger, “but I am very concerned that members of Congress will use their power to stop District of Columbia voters from being able to fully participate in the democratic process. We deserve the right to vote on Initiative 71.”
With the citizens of Colorado and Washington state voting to legalize marijuana in 2012, the Campaign believes that voters of the District of Columbia should be afforded the same right to vote on cannabis legalization. The appropriations rider introduced by Congressman Andy Harris (R, MD-1) on June 25 could prevent the District of Columbia Board of Elections from using its funds to print the ballots that include Initiative 71.
Worse, the policy rider may impede the District of Columbia’s decriminalization of marijuana law set to take effect mid-July and prevent any changes to the District’s medical marijuana program.
New Approach Oregon turned in at least 145,710 signatures Thursday, more than enough to qualify
The New Approach Oregon campaign, which is working to regulate marijuana, on Thursday turned in at least 145,710 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State, more than enough to qualify a measure for the ballot.
That means Oregon voters in November 2014 can vote yes to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. The campaign has finished collecting signatures.
Thursday's signature turn-in coincides with the six-month anniversary of the start of regulated sales of marijuana in Colorado. Marijuana sales in Colorado projected to result in $30 million in tax revenue in the next year. Colorado has already seen a 10 percent drop in violent crime and a 50 percent drop in homicides.
In Oregon under the current system, more than 10,000 adults in Oregon are arrested every year for marijuana, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon State Police. That’s an average of one person every 51 minutes.
“It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on treating marijuana use as a crime,” said Peter Zuckerman, press secretary for the New Approach Oregon campaign. “Prohibition of marijuana is ineffective, costs the state tax revenue and fuels violence. It’s time to try something new.”
By Steve Elliott
More Americans are using marijuana as their concerns over its health risk declines, according to a report released on Thursday from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
UNODC said it's still too early to understand the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, as well as in the South American country of Uruguay, but research suggests that perceptions of risk have declined.
Worldwide cannabis use seems to have decreased, according to the report, mainly reflecting a decline in some countries in western and central Europe.
"However, in the United States, the lower perceived risk of cannabis use has led to an increase in its use," the UNODC report said.
The number of Americans aged 12 and older who used marijuana at least once in the past year increased from 10.3 percent in 2008 to 12.1 percent in 2012, according to the report.
By Steve Elliott
A website known as the "Priceline of pot" allows medical marijuana patients to compare cannabis costs at 1,100 dispensaries in six states, according to Wikileaf founder Dan Nelson.
Nelson, a financial blogger, said based the site on the interest rate comparison model for banks, reports Jolie Lee of the USA TODAY Network. "I thought the same dynamic could be applied to the medical and legal marijuana businesses," Nelson said.
Users of the site can set how much they want to pay, and how many miles they can travel for marijuana. They have to actually travel to the listed dispensaries to complete the purchase. Favorite strains can also be located.
Sites such as Wikileaf, along with competitors Weedmaps, Leafly and THC Finder, give dispensaries the opportunity for exposure. Nelson said Wikileaf is different, because the other sites are focused on user ratings.
His site, Nelson said, is the first to offer price comparisons. "I'd go to a dispensary that offered me a strain for this amount of money, and I'd walk two blocks down, and a dispensary would offer me twice as much for the same amount of money," Nelson said.
By Steve Elliott
The first group of about 20 retail marijuana stores will open in Washington state on July 8, if all goes according to plan. Of course, we were also told that the first stores would already be open by now, so a wait-and-see attitude might be best.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board plans to issue the first retail marijuana licenses on Monday, July 7, and the new licensees will use the first 24 hours to get the cannabis into their store tracing program, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle P.I. Once that's done, the stores can open on July 8, according to Brian Smith, communications director for the LCB.
Pricing at the stores, opening as part of the implementation of limited legalization measure I-502, isn't expected to be very consumer-friendly. "I would assume $20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices," said Michael Perkins, who said he expects to open a store in Seattle on July 8.
Perkins said that even at those prices, "I expect to run out of product."
By Steve Elliott
It's Primary Election Day in Maryland, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur says marijuana should be legalized and taxed. None of the other candidates in the race, from either party, share that position.
"Marijuana prohibition makes our communities less safe and wastes valuable law enforcement resources," Mizeur said, reports Jayne Miller at WBAL-TV. "Why should we treat something less toxic and addictive any differently than alcohol or tobacco?"
Mizeur said she'd use the funds to help pay for education. "Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education," she said.
Both other candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination said they support the Maryland Legislature's move this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but neither Attorney General Doug Gansler nor Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is willing to support legalization.
"I do not support the legalization of marijuana at this time," Brown said. "The states of Colorado and Washington -- two states that have legalized it -- will provide an example of the socioeconomic challenges and pitfalls to marijuana legalization.
"We will learn from their experiences and assess whether addition changes to Maryland's law are warranted," Brown said.
By Steve Elliott
It's Hail Mary, but hold the Jane, according to Pope Francis, who just proved that there are definite limits to how cool the "Cool New Pope" is willing to be. Could he who is without sin cast out the stoners?
The Pope has been taking social media by storm, bringing the Roman Catholic Church into the 21st Century, and has garnered an enormous amount of good publicity in doing so, reports Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post. But he isn't willing to endorse the legalization of marijuana.
The Pontiff told members of a drug enforcement conference meeting in Rome on Friday that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects," reports the Associated Press.
"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," the Pope said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs. Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise." This dude sounds as bad as Nancy Reagan.
Pope Francis has frequently railed against the "evil" of drugs, and has met with recovering addicts on several occasions.
By Steve Elliott
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Friday that states which have legalized marijuana "probably" wouldn't be treated well if he is elected President.
The governor was campaigning with New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein when he was asked by Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C., perhaps. If you were President, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"
"Probably not well," Christie responded, walking away from the conversation, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens." Christie's statement was captured in a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
"It's one thing for Governor Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado; quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became President," Slattery said.
"Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs," said Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, of the governor's comment.
Twenty-three states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, with New York being the latest; Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use as well. Alaska votes on legalization in August.
Maine: Citizens for a Safer Maine Submit Petition Supporting Marijuana Legalization Ordinance In YorkSubmitted by steveelliott on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 15:24
Group submits more than 200 total signatures; 100 signatures of registered town voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 200 signatures to the York town clerk on Thursday in support of an ordinance making marijuana possession legal for adults. One hundred signatures of registered York voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot.
The York Board of Selectmen can now hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and place it on the ballot. If it does not act on the petition, supporters will have 30 days to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the local votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in order to trigger a general referendum.
“Adults should not be punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and our laws should reflect that,” said Sherry DaBiere, a York resident and realtor who submitted the petition. “Law enforcement has more serious crimes to deal with.”
“Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, and arresting adults for possessing it is a waste of time and resources,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens and saddling them with criminal records that can hurt them for the rest of their lives.”
By Steve Elliott
With less than three months until Election Day in Oregon, and as many as three separate marijuana legalization initiatives vying to appear on the ballot, a new poll shows 51 percent of voters support allowing adults to use, possess and grow cannabis.
The SurveyUSA poll released on Tuesday didn't ask voters which of the three measures they would prefer; instead it simply asked them whether they would support or pose allowing adults in Oregon to use, possess and grow marijuana for their personal use, while allowing the state to regulate and tax it, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.
Just more than half, 51 percent of those polled support marijuana legalization, while just 41 percent oppose it. There are no regional differences within the state on this question, according to the poll, but there are enormous age differences: younger voters support legalization by 48 points, while senior citizens oppose it by 24 points.
Democrats were more likely to support cannabis legalization, and Republicans were more likely to oppose it, according to the poll.
None of the three initiatives has yet qualified for November's ballot, but supporters of all three said they are optimistic that they will turn in more than enough signatures to qualify before the deadline on July 3.
By Steve Elliott
The Marijuana Policy Project is setting the stage for a 2016 marijuana legalization campaign in Massachusetts.
MPP, the Washington, D.C.-based group that organized and financed Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in that state, has opened a ballot committee with Massachusetts campaign finance regulators, reports Paul McMorrow at CommonWealth.
Executive Director Rob Kampia opened a ballot referendum committee with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Tuesday. The committee, called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, allows MPP to begin raising and spending money in the state.
MPP plans to put a cannabis legalization question on the ballot for the Presidential election year; it also plans on waging 2016 legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, Montana and Nevada. Alaska will vote on legalization in August, and Oregon will vote either this year or in 2016.
The Marijuana Policy Project spent $2 million in Colorado getting Amendment 64 approved; it passed by 10 percentage points, running more than five points ahead of President Obama in the state.
"We're going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition," said Mason Tvert, MPP's director of communications. "We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part.
By Steve Elliott
With the first stores selling recreational marijuana expected to open in July, a dark cloud looms over implementation of cannabis legalization measure I-502 in Washington state: Attorney General Bob Ferguson's legal opinion that municipalities can ban the supposedly legal pot shops. Now, a lawsuit has been brought by a man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in central Washington.
At least 10 counties and cities in the state have already banned marijuana businesses, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times. Sixty-nine more municipalities, and 12 counties, have instituted moratoriums on pot businesses, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center.
A man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in the central Washington town of Wenatchee, right in the middle of apple-growing country, is challenging the right of local governments to ban cannabis businesses, and also raising the possibility that the law legalizing marijuana could come under "sharp legal scrutiny," as the Times puts it.
Plaintiff Shaun Preder has been told by Wenatchee that he won't be getting a license to sell marijuana, because pot is still illegal under federal law. Wenatchee apparently believes it needs the federal government's permission before issuing any business licenses.