Tag: Colorado

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Colorado, Winter 2017

THE LEAFLY LIST: COLORADO

Winter 2017

The Leafly List ranks the top dispensaries and retail stores in each of the major North American cannabis markets every quarter. This region-specific version is designed to provide helpful, community-based information for cannabis consumers looking for the most relevant dispensaries in Colorado. It highlights the most talked-about locations in the state based on customer feedback metrics* and reviews of each location’s quality, service, and atmosphere. Check out the Leafly List FAQ for more information on how dispensaries are ranked.

The Leafly List is based on 100% objective customer feedback and data collected by Leafly. Businesses CANNOT pay for a spot on the list.

Trinidad, CO

Highland Health Trinidad Colorado Marijuana Dispensary — Leafly List Spring 2017(Courtesy of Highland Health)

Highland Health packages their cannabis at the time of sale to ensure that their customers take home the freshest, highest-quality flower possible. Their commitment to helping their community of patients and customers is obvious; in fact, they’re so driven to help folks get the relief they need that they’re willing to send them to other dispensaries in the area if they aren’t able to procure specific products visitors are looking for.

Index: 92.12

What to Buy: Canyon Lands Infused Chocolate Bar from Blue Kudu

What People Are Saying:

“Hands down, the best dispensary in a 50 mile radius. They have honestly the best bud and concentrates in town plus the price is amazing! They have 2 gents by the name Teddy & Lucas, between them two they’ll definitely take care of you. I’d recommend this place to anyone passing through Trinidad” —MoJo915

2119 Larimer Street Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Ballpark)(Courtesy of Ballpark Holistic)

Ballpark Holistic Dispensary is located in the heart of downtown Denver, just two blocks from Coors Field. It caters to a wide variety of holistic needs and serves both medical and recreational consumers, offering an expansive menu and free parking across the street. Visit its Leafly menu to pre-order your favorite strains.

Index: 88.8

What to Buy: Live Nectar from Harmony Extracts

What People Are Saying:

“Absolutely amazing!!! Super helpful and they know what they’re talking about! very organized as well. Jessica was the best and most informative budtender I’ve ever met in any dispensary. I would definitely ask for her for help.” —alaetracruz

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Lightshade Dayton)

Lightshade’s Dayton location offers many of the same high-quality cannabis products associated with Lightshade’s other Denver-area locations, along with its own unique take on a passionate, professional team of helpful staff. Leafly reviewers appreciate their daily deals, convenient location, and large selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and more.

Index: 87.2

What to Buy: CBD Muscle Freeze from Mary’s Medicinals

What People Are Saying:

“A wonderful experience from start to finish! Great products and the staff could not possibly be more knowledgeable or friendly! Lightshade is everything you could possibly hope for and more!” —RSCHMIDTMAN23

745 East 6th Ave Denver, CO

Lightshade - 6th Avenue medical marijuana and recreational cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado(Courtesy of Lightshade – 6th Avenue)

Established in 2011, Lightshade is known for its high-end genetics and potent cannabis. Among four locations, the 6th Avenue store stands out for offering a wide selection of product and outstanding service.

Index: 87.16

What People Are Saying:

“Came for the deals, came back for the bud, kept coming back for the large variety of selection. Also, definitely one of the most convenient parking setups in downtown Denver.” —intolprog

Colorado Springs, CO

(Courtesy of Rocky Road Remedies)

At their original location, Rocky Road Remedies serves up high-quality medical cannabis to the fine people of Colorado Springs. Patients love the team of sincere staff at Rocky Road Remedies, who each go out of their way to listen so that they can make thoughtful, tailored product recommendations.

Index: 86.24

What People Are Saying:

“In all the dispensaries in Colorado, I put my life in the hands of the most loving staff and the best products in Rocky Road Remedies Original. Their concentrates in particular are absolutely incredible.” —GreenSchmo

4735 W. 38th Ave Denver, CO

The Joint Marijuana Dispensary Denver Colorado November Leafly List(Courtesy of The Joint)

The Joint serves medical and recreational cannabis consumers alike from its location on West 38th Avenue near downtown Denver. Its signature strain offering, Voodoo, is always on the menu, and keeps patrons coming back for more.

Index: 86.04

What People Are Saying:

“This place has everything you need to get your mind and body going on your visit to Denver, located in a convenient area of the city with many places to eat or drink around, and has some of the best deals on the finest quality product. Be sure to check it out!” —MerlynC

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Diego Pellicer Denver)(Courtesy of Diego Pellicer Denver)

Customers are blown away by Diego Pellicer’s unique and well-appointed layout, which feels more like an art gallery or trendy restaurant than a dispensary. While the ambiance is swanky, the budtenders at this beautiful storefront couldn’t be more down-to-earth: They’re always willing to take the time to answer questions to help customers find the perfect strain.

Index: 85.16

What People Are Saying:

“We found Diego Pellicer to be one of the most well stocked and informative dispensaries. The top quality product and little found “gems” of hard to find items has made it a regular stop. Carly was knowledgeable and friendly while taking the time to answer all the questions we had. The atmosphere is of a high class shopping experience with your own personal shopper. I love that the art changes bimonthly.” —Urthat1chick

Aurora, CO

(Courtesy of Altitude East)(Courtesy of Altitude East Colfax)

Altitude’s ‘Frequent Flower Miles’ loyalty program offers special perks for members like double-points days and exclusive email offers as well as points for every dollar spent. While the rewards are nice, Leafly reviewers are most excited about Altitude’s friendly staff and wide selection of quality products.

Index: 85.04

What People Are Saying:

“Amazing people, bud and prices. Plus some of the best budtenders around. Super helpful and always remember reoccurring customers.” —LaurenAsh93

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of House of Dankness)

House of Dankness’s bright and clean, black and white interior is thoughtfully designed to easily cater to both med and rec consumers, but their commitment to serving everyone goes beyond interior design: This Denver dispensary offers a loyalty program as well as medical membership, allowing medical and adult-use regulars to earn points, prizes, and free cannabis.

Index: 84.8

What People Are Saying:

“I just have to rate this place again, because I literally love this place… like Disney land it makes me super happy every time and the staff is super knowledgeable and friendly. I just joined as med member and was the best decision I made choosing them as my caretakers for mmj. Thanks guys! Check out LeeRoy, Venom, Commerce, Tangerine Kush has the most amazing flavor as well as purple swish!! Thanks over and over again Scott!!!!” —Smokinsince95

900 N College Ave Fort Collins, CO

(Courtesy of Infinite Wellness Center)(Courtesy of Infinite Wellness Center)

Infinite Wellness Center stands on three pillars: offering the best products, with the best prices, and all with the best service. Its professional environment is matched by its competitive pricing that offers affordable options for consumers of every income level.

Index: 84.4

What People Are Saying:

“I would like to thank all of the Bud Tenders that have assisted me on my visits. Knowledgeable and answered all my questions. Price wise for me is good, i recently relocated from, St Louis and it nice to able to purchase quality products, for a fraction of the price. It also an honor for each time I have been to the Store have the bud Bud Tenders, thank me for My Service as a disabled Veteran.” —roguemedic

Parachute, CO

(Courtesy of The Green Joint)

This cute shop is located just 30 minutes from Grand Junction and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The Green Joint’s team of helpful staff are great at recommending strains based on preference, intended activity, and tolerance level, and customers love their generous daily deals.

Index: 83.96

What People Are Saying:

“Stepping inside one might think they’ve found Valhalla. Alas, Odin is on vacation​ and Thor can’t find his hammer. But fear not weary traveler! Search out John and bask in the glory of his abundant knowledge. With his guiding hand, find your succor here.” —vintagepimpage

Denver, CO

GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique Colorado Marijuana Dispensary — Leafly List Spring 2017(Courtesy of GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique)

Located conveniently in the Bluebird district of Denver, GroundSwell is popular among medical and adult-use patients alike. Their state-of-the-art rewards program allows members to skip the line by preordering their favorite strains and products, as well as earn points for each purchase that can be redeemed for awards, savings, or swag.

Index: 83.56

What People Are Saying:

“This is, hand down, my favorite spot in Denver for high-quality Cannabis, in all of its forms. The staff is extremely friendly and extensively learned not only in products but the art and science of cannabinoids as well. They do a great job curating top-notch edibles, extracts, and flower; both from in-house and elsewhere. Love the selection of high-CBD products. Can’t recommend GroundSwell enough, whether you’re a connoisseur or curious and looking for guidance. The fact that it’s in my neighborhood, and I get a sweet discount, is an added bonus! :D” —JonnyCreative

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Altitude East Denver)

Altitude’s “Frequent Flower Miles” is not only one of the best-named rewards program in town, it’s also very generous! Regulars earn points that count towards free cannabis or store credit with every purchase and receive exclusive, members-only daily offers and specials. Plus, the staff at this East Denver location are celebrated for their compassion, warmth, and cannabis savvy.

Index: 83.48

What People Are Saying:

“Altitude Denver east is amazing. Great bud tenders, excellent shatter & wax for 25 out door can’t beat for quality. Love this place my main Dispensary” —BlayRay

Denver, CO USA

(Courtesy of The Lodge Cannabis)

If The Lodge lacks anything in terms of its physical footprint, it more than makes up for its small size with its large selection of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products, as well as its team of top-notch staff, who do an exceptional job at being laid-back, professional, cheerful, and real.

Index: 83.44

What People Are Saying:

“Came in for a great deal on some live resin, and will definitely be returning to grab some of their very nice looking flower. Dispensary was clean and service was awesome.” —DaabCity

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Sacred Seed)

Walking into Sacred Seed feels like walking into a well-appointed, comfortable living room, so it’s no wonder that the staff at this Denver dispensary treat each person who comes in like they’ve known them for years. In addition to super-friendly, knowledgeable staff, this mom and pop shop boasts an enormous selection of exclusive, high-quality strains.

Index: 83.2

What People Are Saying:

“A really cool place to start shopping for cannabis. The selection was high quality and various. The staff was very friendly and informative, and the deals were amazing. I’m going back today!” —banksweiser

Trinidad, CO

(Courtesy of Rooted in Trinidad)

Rooted in Trinidad takes customer service seriously and it shows. Leafly reviewers go out of their way to talk about the amazing service, staff, selection, and deals at this Southern Colorado dispensary, which is cherished for its high-end products without high-end price tags.

Index: 82.76+

What People Are Saying:

“A friend took me to Rooted with him. I love this shop. The people are great. They know their products and are always willing to show you something. The products are great and the prices are some of the best in town. The Service, Selection and price point has made a regular out of me.” —lilburashka

Denver, CO

(Google Maps)

Located in the RiNo district in the heart of Denver, this laid-back dispensary keeps their flower in big glass jars so customers know exactly what they’re buying. Leafly reviewers use words like “amazing,” “funny,” and “awesome” when describing the staff at Sticky Fingers, who are known for making tailored recommendations to everyone who stops by.

Index: 82.76+

What People Are Saying:

“I come in from out of state pretty regularly and visit a lot of Rec. dispensaries. I come for the flower and the two things I care about are quality and price. The bud quality here is ABOVE and BEYOND. The prices include tax so there are no surprises. The buds they have are in huge display jars so you know what you’re getting, and the three kinds I got were all amazing. The gal working was sweet, knowledgable and also funny as hell. I’ll be back again and you should visit too. 💚💚💚” —deathblow

Denver, CO USA

(UrosPoteko/iStock)

This family-owned dispensary is close to the Denver airport, making it popular among locals and tourists alike. Whether they’re from down the road or across the world, visitors to Fine Trees are blown away by the wide selection of high-quality cannabis and the welcoming team of downright hospitable staff.

Index: 81.76

What People Are Saying:

“First time here and the customer service was great! The guy was so helpful and they have great deals! Free birthday joint for my girlfriend and $2 joint for me being first time. Would for sure visit again!” —jacob421

Lafayette, CO

(Courtesy of Herbal Wellness)

Herbal Wellness caters to the medical and adult-use cannabis community of Lafayette with a sweet loyalty programs, friendly staff, and diverse array of quality cannabis products. Plus, their shop dog Moose is known to greet humans with a friendly wag.

Index: 81.64

What People Are Saying:

“The environment was over all great picked up some gelato gotta say one of the best strains I’ve had I didn’t get to get a glass jar being a first time patient thanks to Kaine for the recommendation looking forward to being at the shop more often.” —alexgomez123

Colorado Springs, CO

(HighGradeRoots/iStock)

A Wellness Centers’ laid-back vibe pairs perfectly with its large selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals. Leafly reviewers rave about the staff at this Colorado Springs dispensary, who know the regulars by name and treat everyone like family, allowing everyone to take as much time as they need to select just the right product for their needs.

Index: 81.6

What People Are Saying:

“The staff at A Wellness is by far the most friendly and compensating in the springs. They have an awesome selection of edibles, flower, concentrates and also a nice glass selection!” —ashleymccollum

Previous Colorado Leafly List

The Leafly List in Other Regions

Lead image by Adventure_Photo/iStock

Don’t see your favorite dispensary on the list? Make sure you follow, rate, and review your favorite cannabis locations to let the world know where to find the best cannabis products, service, and atmosphere.

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*The Winter 2017 Leafly List uses customer service metrics from the three months prior to its month of publication.

**Lightshade – Havana (86), Lightshade – Holly (85.6), Lightshade – Sheridan (84.72), Lightshade – Iliff (84.68), and Lightshade – Peoria (84.48) withheld due to franchise limitations.

+Visit the Leafly List FAQ for tie-breaking procedures


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Denver Shuts Down 26 Legal Cannabis Businesses, Makes Arrests

DENVER (AP) — Denver authorities shut down 26 legal marijuana businesses Thursday and arrested 12 people suspected of illegal distribution of cannabis after a yearlong criminal investigation.

Potential charges relate to marijuana sales exceeding limits set in state law, police said. Colorado allows people 21 and older to possess an ounce or less of marijuana under a measure approved by voters in 2012.

The city department that regulates marijuana businesses issued the order to close the businesses based on the police investigation, spokesman Dan Rowland said. It marked the first time the city has issued an open-ended suspension to any legal marijuana business since sales began in 2014, he said.

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Colorado has made a concerted effort to avoid a federal crackdown on its marijuana experiment, including police and government enforcement against illegal marijuana grows or sales.

Denver police didn’t name any federal agencies as partners in the investigation.

Gov. John Hickenlooper highlighted those efforts in an August letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who requested information on marijuana legalization. Sessions has been a longtime opponent of state legalization and has suggested the federal government should crack down.

Special Agent Randy Ladd, a spokesman for the Denver division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency wasn’t involved. Denver police didn’t name any federal agencies as partners in the investigation.

The city’s order shuttered 26 retail stores and other marijuana growing facilities operating under the name Sweet Leaf. But the police investigation focused on eight locations licensed by the company, and officers searched those addresses Thursday.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he couldn’t provide more detail on the case because of the ongoing investigation. The department didn’t name the people arrested.

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Matthew Aiken, Christian Johnson and Anthony Suaro, three co-owners listed on the city’s order, didn’t immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. Company officials told Marijuana Business Magazine in April that they had 350 employees and $60 million in revenue.

Rowland said the businesses can’t sell or produce any cannabis products while the order is in place. The city plans to hold a public hearing within 30 days.

“This is a way for us to put a hold on things so we can figure out what’s going on,” he said.

Under Colorado law, marijuana businesses must get separate licenses for various purposes, even if they operate out of the same building. For example, a retail store licensed to sell recreational pot also needs a medical marijuana retail license to sell products designated for medical use.

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“One thing I always say about legalization is it didn’t end law enforcement,” said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver marijuana policy law professor. “If you’re going to have a system that works, people not complying with regulations need to be shut down.”

In Washington state, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, no legal, regulated pot businesses have faced police raids. Some have, however, had their licenses suspended or revoked for failing to follow industry rules.

Sweet Leaf’s website lists one store in Oregon and 10 stores in Colorado. An employee who answered the phone at the Oregon store Thursday said they were open.

Oregon regulators weren’t immediately available to discuss the company’s status in that state.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Coffee Shop Wants to Be Denver’s First Legal Cannabis Club

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s largest city is reviewing the first application from a business seeking to be among the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs, a step that comes more than a year after voters approved a bring-your-own pot measure.

Dan Rowland, a spokesman for the Denver department that regulates marijuana businesses, said the city received the application from the Coffee Joint on Friday.

Co-owners Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov plan to charge a $5 entry fee if they’re approved for the license. Customers could use edible cannabis products or vaporizing pens inside, and the shop would sell food, host events and provide free coffee or tea, she said.

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Denver voters approved the clubs in a 2016 ballot measure, but it took nine months for the city to start accepting applications. Advocates have complained that state restrictions preventing pot use at any business with a liquor license and the city’s own rules unfairly limited potential locations for the clubs.

“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too.”

Rita Tsalyuk, Coffee Joint co-owner

For instance, the city required cannabis clubs to be twice as far from schools and anywhere else children gather as liquor stores.

Customers buying marijuana products often ask where they are allowed to legally use it, and employees have few answers for tourists staying in hotels that ban marijuana use, Tsalyuk said.

Colorado law doesn’t address cannabis clubs. In some cities, they are tolerated, while others operate secretly.

Other states with legal marijuana are at a standstill for developing rules governing places to consume pot products, including Alaska, where state regulators have delayed discussion of rules for retail shops until spring.

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It could be months before Denver residents and tourists would be allowed to legally vape or eat pot products at the Coffee Joint. The city said it has just started to review the application and a public hearing will probably be scheduled within two to three months.

In the meantime, Tsalyuk and Merkulov want to open their business before the end of the year as a traditional coffee shop. For their 1,850-square-foot space, they plan to convert a garage to a space for “vape and paint” events, open a smaller room for private events and put in comfortable furniture.

“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too,” Tsalyuk said.

The proposal has the backing of a local neighborhood association, which submitted a letter of support to the city. Applicants have to show community support for their proposal as part of the licensing process.

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Aubrey Lavizzo, a member of the La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, said the club backers attended two of their meetings and invited members to tour the dispensary.

“They’ve shown us that they really want to be good neighbors,” said Lavizzo, a veterinarian who has had a clinic in the neighborhood for over 30 years.

Merkulov said they are aware of the national and global spotlight on the industry.

“It’s a new apex,” he said. “We hope to prove this can be managed well and be safe.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Teen Marijuana Use Drops in Colorado, Now Lower Than Before Legalization

DENVER, CO — The federal government published survey data Monday that shows the rate of current marijuana use among Colorado teens decreased significantly last year and is now lower than it was prior to the state’s legalization of marijuana for adult use.

The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.

The rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds also dropped in Washington (from 9.17% in 2014-2015 to 7.93% in 2015-2016), and it is now lower than it was prior to legalization in 2012 (9.45% in 2011-2012 and 9.81% in 2012-2013).

Statement from Brian Vicente, partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, who was one of the lead drafters of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:

“Colorado is effectively regulating marijuana for adult use,” said Brian Vicente, who was one of the lead authors of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana. There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs. The days of arresting thousands of adults in order to prevent teens from using marijuana are over.

“These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization. As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me,” Vicente added.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

280E Tax Reform Effort Still Alive, Senator Says

A Colorado Republican’s effort to remove a decades-old tax penalty that forces some cannabis businesses to pay effective tax rates of more than 70% fell short last week, as Sen. Cory Gardner’s proposed amendment to the Senate tax bill failed to make it into the final legislation.

Speaking to Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday, however, the Colorado Republican said he’s still pushing the amendment as the House and Senate come together to hammer out the differences between their two tax bills. With enough support, the provision could be added back into the tax plan Congress ultimately sends to President Trump.

“We, right now, continue to push it in conference committee,” Gardner told MJ Biz. “It’s an uphill climb, but we’re not giving up on it.”

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Gardner also told MJ Biz that the amendment didn’t make it into the Senate version of the tax bill because supporters didn’t receive an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation before the full Senate voted on the bill.

Initial reports said Gardner pulled back the amendment over concern there wouldn’t be enough votes to pass the measure given its price tag. As the lawmakers were considering the tax bill, Gardner reportedly said his amendment could cost upward of $5 billion.

It’s not clear how the provision received that score from the Joint Committee on Taxation if, as Gardner told MJ Biz, supporters didn’t receive an analysis from the committee prior to their vote. Leafly’s email to his press secretary and phone messages left at the both his Denver and Washington, DC, offices were not immediately returned Friday. A message left at his DC office following last week’s passage of the Senate tax bill also went unreturned.

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IRS Section 280E, adopted in the 1980s to penalize organized crime and drug cartels, prevents federally illegal businesses from claiming standard business deductions on their tax forms. Gardner proposed amendments that would exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from the penalty.

As approved, the Senate’s tax bill is expected to cost the federal government $1.4 trillion over the next decade, due largely to significant cuts to corporate tax rates.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Guess Which Industry Didn’t Get a Break in the Tax Bill

The sweeping tax bill passed by the US Senate over the weekend contains all sorts of giveaways to businesses, from generous write-offs for factories and equipment to bargain-basement rates on offshore tax havens. But for all the boons to business it provides, the bill fails to deliver commonsense tax reform to the cannabis industry.

Two separate proposed amendments to the Senate tax bill would have ended a decades-old penalty that currently treats state-legal cannabis businesses like drug cartels. The rule, IRS Section 280E, prevents cannabis businesses from taking tax deductions available to other industries, often pushing their effective tax rates to more than 70%.

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Ending the penalty has high-profile supporters on both sides of the aisle, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But as the Senate tax vote approached, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who sponsored the two amendments, withdrew his proposals after noting the plan’s price tag. “Cory Gardner says it scores at $5B and will be a lot more if all 50 states legalize,” reported Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis.

If cannabis “scored” at $5 billion—which means the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would remove $5 billion from the federal budget over the next decade—it would be among the few parts of the tax bill that were scored at all before the Senate’s vote. Gardner’s quote also raises the question: If all 50 states legalize, why would the federal government continue to treat licensed cannabis businesses like illegal drug cartels?

“It’s time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete.”

US Sen. Cory Gardner

The final Republican tax bill—which is forecast to cost $1.4 trillion over the next decade—proceeded without so much as a vote on the cannabis amendments.

A day after abandoning his proposed cannabis provisions, Gardner, who voted for the tax bill, praised its passage. “For too long, too many Coloradans have felt left behind.” he said in a statement. “They have been forced to cope with a tax system that favors elites and gives advantages to those who know how to game the system.”

“We know workers bear much of the burden of the corporate tax rate,” he continued, “and lowering the corporate tax rate will lead to bigger paychecks for hardworking Coloradans.”

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That’s a controversial claim among economists, but if Gardner believes it, it means he gave up on securing similar benefits for his constituents who work in cannabis. Colorado’s legal cannabis industry supports nearly 27,000 full-time jobs, according to a September analysis by Leafly.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn did better for his corporate constituents. He introduced an amendment that secured a new, lower tax rate on certain income from oil and gas operators. Industry representatives, according to the New York Times, said that without the amendment, they would been excluded from benefits that other industries were getting. Sound familiar?

Gardner himself has acknowledged that 280E “puts thousands of legal marijuana businesses throughout Colorado at a disadvantage by treating them differently than other businesses across the state.” He’s called its removal “commonsense” and touted its bipartisan appeal. But in the wee hours Saturday morning, as senators scrambled to push through a controversial tax overhaul, Gardner didn’t even demand a vote.

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There’s still hope. While Gardner pulled back the amendments from the tax bill debate, a standalone Senate bill, S. 777, dubbed the Small Business Tax Equity Act, would achieve the same goal by exempting state-legal cannabis businesses from 280E. It’s been sitting in the Senate Finance Committee since March.

Gardner added himself as a co-sponsor last month. “Coloradans made their voices heard in 2012 when they legalized marijuana,” he said at the time, “and it’s time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Proposed Tax Amendments Would Benefit Cannabis Industry

Cannabis industry leaders say it’s imperative that supporters immediately contact their US senators to push for a pair of cannabis-friendly amendments to the Republican tax bill currently being debated in the nation’s capital.

The measures, sponsored by US Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), would ease tax restrictions that currently prevent state-legal cannabis businesses from making standard business deductions on their taxes. The restriction, under an IRS provision known as 280E, forces the cannabis industry to pay a far higher tax rate than other legal businesses.

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One of the two amendments, SA 1609, would remove the 280E restriction entirely for cannabis businesses that comply with state laws. A similar amendment, SA 1639, includes the additional requirement that businesses be “properly regulated”—a definition that mandates licensing provisions, track-and-trace systems, limits on advertising, and other specifications.

“Cannabis businesses often pay an effective tax rate upwards of 65-75%, compared with a normal rate of around 15-30%.”

Tom Angell, Marijuana Moment

A vote on one or both of the two proposals could come as soon as Thursday evening.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, which represents the legal cannabis industry, calls 280E “an unjust burden on state-legal cannabis businesses.” It prevents taking tax deductions on business expenses, such as payroll or rent, “on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances.”

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As journalist and legalization advocate Tom Angell notes on his site Marijuana Moment, the provision was adopted in the 1980s as a way to fight organized crime:

The statute was originally intended to to stop drug cartel leaders from writing off yachts and expensive cars, but today its language means that that growers, processors and sellers of marijuana — which is still a Schedule I substance under federal law — can’t take business expense deductions that are available to operators in other sectors.

As a result, cannabis businesses often pay an effective tax rate upwards of 65-75 percent, compared with a normal rate of around 15-30 percent.

The full texts of Senate amendments 1609 and 1639 are available online. Contact information for US senators can be found on the Senate website, or you can call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and request to be connected to a specific Senate office.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

One Strain Five Ways: Sour Diesel in Colorado

While Colorado loves trying new strains as they crop up, they also maintain a healthy appreciation for old standards like Sour Diesel. Below, meet a citrus-flavored Sour Diesel cart, a petite PAX pod, a pre-roll two-pack, a true-to-strain terpene mix, and a Sour Diesel hat pin.

Note: Prices may vary by retailer.

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(Courtesy of Mezz)

Named for jazz legend and famed cannabis consumer Mezz Mezzrow, this flavorful cartridge—filled with Sour Diesel distillate and a hint of lemon-lime flavor—is triple tested for purity and inspires a burst of creativity that would have made its musician namesake proud.

Price: $35

Notes: Goes perfectly with one of the brand’s car key batteries.

When to use it: On the down-low when you’re on the go. 

(Courtesy of Pax)

Designed to deliver consistent flavor and vapor from first hit to last, little PAX Era Pods work with their eponymous device to deliver strain-specific vape hits that are as convenient as they are consistent.

Price: $60

Notes: Produced via partnerships with different cannabis producers in each state market.

When to use it: All day long. 

(Courtesy of Willie’s Reserve)

Willie Nelson’s signature brand churns out great flower, cartridges, edibles, and more, and the pre-rolls are no exception. They bring on a happy, true-to-strain high, complete with all the creative energy and euphoria to be expected of Sour D.

Price: $15

Notes: Pre-rolls contain 0.5g flower.

When to use it: When you want to get high like a rock star. 

(Courtesy of Captain Fogg)

Fogg Flavor Labs, LLC offers pure steam-distilled terpene concoctions designed to match the flavor profiles of specific strains, including Sour D. Use one drop per gram of concentrate to provide a Sour Diesel-like experience no matter what the extract.

Price: $19.99

Notes: Available across the US.

When to use it: Mixed with dabs for an extra-bold bump of flavor. 

(Courtesy of Leafly)

Take a look around a few Colorado dispensaries and you’ll see them everywhere—Leafly hat pins in indica, sativa, and hybrid strain varieties that let budtenders show off their affinity for their favorite cannabis category. The set of three includes Northern Lights, OG Kush, and of course Sour Diesel.

Price: $5

Notes: Set of three (one pin of each strain).

When to use it: As a subtle way to connect with other enthusiasts.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Where Are They Now: Legalization Leaders 5 Years After the Vote

Five years ago today–on November 6, 2012–Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, and Colorado voters passed Amendment 64. Both measures legalized the adult use of cannabis and signaled the start of the state legalization movement that continues today.  

Back in 2012, no state had legalized recreational cannabis. California tried, and failed, with Proposition 19 in 2010.  Fewer than 20 states had legalized medical marijuana. Today eight states (plus Washington, DC) have made the adult use of cannabis legal, while 29 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. Those numbers are expected to continue their growth. 

Even as the numbers came in, a lot of supporters were “still a little in disbelief” that night, according to this Nov. 6, 2012, report from Denver 7, the city’s ABC affiliate:

The efforts in Colorado and Washington State didn’t happen by themselves. They required years of initiative, drive, vision and leadership from political activists, advocates, sponsors and others who saw that legalization’s time had come.

We caught up with a half-dozen of those leaders and asked them to look back at their work, while looking forward at the future of the legalization movement. 

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Betty Aldworth

Aldworth: Now working with 5,000 advocates at SSDP.

In 2012: Advocacy Director, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Colorado 

Aldworth was the campaign’s primary spokesperson. She organized grassroots supporters who worked the field, wrote letters to the editor and represented the campaign in their communities.   

Today:  Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Washington D.C. 

‘In an election, there’s nothing more dangerous than believing you’re going to win.’

Betty Aldworth, Amendment 64 Advocacy Director

When did you know the measure would pass? 

At about 9:15 on election night, Mason, Brian, and I were huddled around (then-Marijuana Policy Project’s government relations director) Steve Fox and his laptop where we were looking at county-by county returns. Denver was slow to come in, but Steve had been running the numbers for hours. I don’t remember what he said, but I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he knew we had it — and that’s when I knew. The AP called it 15 or 20 minutes later. The smartest people I know had been certain we would win for at least a week, but in an election there’s nothing more dangerous than believing you’re going to win.  

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How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career? 

If it weren’t for the work I did on Amendment 64, I don’t think the path to work with Students for Sensible Drug Policy would have opened to me. I was able to work on a state campaign with a national audience, see first-hand how powerful our student movement is, and demonstrate my approach to grassroots, self-governed organizing through the work. Today, I get to support 5,000 young people in 26 countries working on broad drug policy and criminal justice reforms in their communities thanks to my work on Amendment 64.  

What has surprised you about how legalization has rolled out in either state? 

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that youth arrests and racial disparities in those arrests continue to grow. While the story has, overall, been an exceptionally positive one, those arrests demonstrate how critically important it is that we always center the communities most often targeted by the War on Drugs in all our reforms lest we continue to leave them behind. Our task now is to ensure that the examples of California and Massachusetts, where drafters thoughtfully approached these questions, and Senator Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act will provide the benchmarks upon which future reforms will improve.  

Above: Aldworth, at the 2012 victory celebration, advocated a ‘sensible, evidence-based approach.’

Mason Tvert

Tvert: ‘Took nothing for granted.’

In 2012: Co-director, Amendment 64 campaign 

Working for the Marijuana Policy Project, Tvert helped organize the campaign that put Colorado’s Amendment 64 on the ballot. 

Today: Vice President, Public Relations and Communications at VS Strategies, a cannabis advocacy, communications and public policy consulting firm, Denver 

When did you know the measure would pass? 

I was cautiously optimistic heading into Election Day thanks to our tracking poll, but I did not take anything for granted until the results came in that evening.    

How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career? 

‘I’ve been surprised to see so many elected officials still dragging their feet on this issue.’

Mason Tvert, Amendment 64 advocate

It inspired a tidal wave of media coverage and public dialogue, which seemed to create a domino effect. Public support increased, momentum built at the federal level, and other states were inspired to tackle the issue in their legislatures and through ballot initiatives. The issue became more mainstream and legitimate, which meant the work I was doing became more mainstream and legitimate in the eyes of the public and particularly the media.  

What has surprised you about how legalization has rolled out in either state? 

Many elected officials have come around quite a bit, but I have been surprised to see there are still a lot who are dragging their feet on this issue. For example, it’s hard to imagine why city council members in some cities are still outlawing adult sales, forfeiting tax revenue and jobs, and forcing citizens to travel to other communities to purchase this legal product.  

Above: Mason Tvert in 2010, speaking as founder of the advocacy group Marijuana is SAFER Than Alcohol.

Mark Johnson

Johnson: Late poll numbers were promising.

In 2012:  Owner/Partner, Johnson Flora PLLC, Former president, Washington State Bar Association 

Vocal supporter of Washington Initiative 502  

Today: Owner/Partner at Johnson Flora Sprangers PLLC, Seattle 

When did you know the measure would pass? 

For me it was really the last few weeks of the polling. Those numbers made it look very promising. I think the final total was 55% or 56% in favor. 

How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career? 

It didn’t alter my career. I am a civil trial lawyer and cannabis law was not, and is not, a part of my practice. 

What has surprised you about how legalization has rolled out in either state? 

I am surprised at the large number and high quality of available cannabis products. It’s remarkable. 

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Alison Holcomb

Holcomb: People knew prohibition was a failed policy.

In 2012:  Campaign Director, Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Reforms, ACLU 

Holcomb drafted Initiative 502 and was head of the campaign that led to its passage. 

Today: Director of Strategy, ACLU of Washington, Seattle  

When did you know the measure would pass? 

‘Providing people an opportunity to take direct action to change bad policies was inspiring in ways I’d never imagined.’

Alison Holcomb, Campaign Director, Washington’s I-502

I’ll never forget the moment, standing at the podium at our election night party with several microphones, recorders and cameras aimed at me.  Our deputy campaign director Tonia Winchester had handed me her phone with the initial returns downloaded from the Secretary of State, and we were badly underwater.  Struggling to maintain my composure and optimism, I shared the glum news with the room and started explaining how it was early yet, there were still a lot of votes to be counted, yada, yada, yada … and then our friend and amazing harm reduction advocate Kris Nyrop charged the podium and handed me his phone.  “You’re not looking at the King County results.  We’re winning!”  He was right.  The Secretary of State numbers didn’t yet include King County, where initial returns had us leading well over 60 percent.  I knew then we had it in the bag.  

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How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career?  

Writing a ballot initiative and running a statewide campaign marked a significant change from my prior career as a litigator.  Providing people an opportunity to take direct action to change bad policies having widespread negative impacts in their communities was inspiring in ways I’d never imagined.  Since November 2012, I’ve dedicated myself to political and policy advocacy for major systems change. 

What has surprised you about the way legalization has rolled out? 

Honestly, not a lot.  We knew the sky wasn’t going to fall, and also that there would be bumps in the path moving forward.  People understood that treating cannabis use as a crime was a failed policy, and also that we’d have to work together to develop and refine new policies in uncharted territory. 

Above: Holcomb getting out the vote in Seattle, August 2012.  

Brian Vicente

Vicente: Staring down 80 years of prohibition.

In 2012: Partner/Founding Member, Vicente Sederberg LLC 

Vicente was co-director of the Amendment 64 campaign and one of the measure’s primary authors. 

Today: Partner, Vicente Sederberg LLC/ Principal, VS Strategies, Denver 

When did you know the measure would pass? 

As someone who has devoted his entire professional career to legalization, I was always cautiously optimistic that legalization would occur in my lifetime.  The fact that I was part of the team that accomplished this milestone is humbling.  During the campaign and the years of challenging advocacy work prior, we were staring down 80 years of Prohibition laws.  So, to think that a team of young idealists from Colorado could dismantle that longstanding policy was a stretch.  I was skeptical about our chances until the final hours before the win.  I’ll never forget our team and supporters watching the results roll in at the election night party.  It was electric and we knew we had just made history.   

‘I conducted about a dozen media interviews daily for the following six months.  The level of national and international interest was astounding.’

Brian Vicente, Co-author, Colorado’s Amendment 64

How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career? 

Legalizing marijuana had a dramatic effect on my life and career.  Overnight, this issue and advocates such as myself became “mainstream”.  The issue that we had fought so hard for was suddenly being discussed on talk shows, news sources, and by mainstream politicians.  I conducted about a dozen media interviews daily for the following six months.  The level of national and international interest was astounding.  As one of the chief authors of the law, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the details and intent with elected officials and influencers from Australia to Slovenia, as those countries consider implementing the “Colorado model”.  My law practice has grown as well. I started doing marijuana legal work in my basement in Capitol Hill, Denver in 2004.  Our firm now has over fifty staff and four offices around the country and we strive daily to continue to be “thought leaders” in the Post-Prohibition world. 

What has surprised you about how legalization has rolled out in either state? 

I was shocked by the level of institutional support that marijuana legalization received quickly in Colorado.  Remember, nearly every elected officials in the state officially opposed the measure. So to have them immediately contact our office and volunteer their support with implementing it was very important and powerful.  I have also been very happy to see opiate deaths go down in states, like Colorado, that legalize marijuana.  That is a major positive that I did not see coming.  Finally, it has been wonderful to see much of the stigma around adult marijuana use and medical marijuana begin to dissipate.  We still have a long way to go, but I’m glad that more and more adults, both sick and healthy, are looking to use marijuana instead of far more harmful substances like alcohol or opiates.  

Above: Vicente laying the groundwork among activists at Seattle’s Hempfest in the summer of 2010.

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Pete Holmes

Holmes: Activism can change bad policy.

In 2012: Seattle City Attorney 

An outspoken critic of the War on Drugs, Holmes became a primary sponsor of Initiative 502. 

Today: Seattle City Attorney 

When did you know the measure would pass? 

About 8 p.m. that Tuesday night. I was always optimistic but never confident. 

How did its passage change or alter the direction of your life or career? 

It confirmed for me that political activism can change bad policy when legal action falls short. 

What has surprised you about how legalization has rolled out in either state? 

I’m surprised how well it’s worked out here; it’s surpassed our expectations. Given the new administration in D.C., I would rather be an entrepreneur in Washington state than in Colorado.  I’m glad we don’t have home grows now, although we will eventually. I don’t think Attorney General Sessions will target Washington, unless he goes after every state. 

Above: Holmes opens the legal era in Washington with a purchase at Cannabis City, Seattle, July 2014.  

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

On Legalization’s 5th Anniversary, Here’s What We’ve Learned.

Monday, November 6, 2017, marks the five-year anniversary of the glorious back day in 2012 when Colorado and Washington voted to become the first two US states to legalize recreational cannabis.

‘We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization.’

Dr. Larry Wolk, Head of Colorado’s Department of Public Health

Since then, the data generated by those two states have refuted pretty much every dire fear that the nation’s drug warriors predicted would come to pass. Legalizing and regulating cannabis has made for a safer and more just society, while ushering in the beginning of the end of a costly, massively corrupt, and wholly counterproductive war on a largely beneficial plant.

Perhaps the most definitive conclusion to the great “legalization experiment” was given recently by Dr. Larry Wolk, head of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. When asked by CBC Radio what he’s seen in the five years adult-use cannabis has been legal, Wolk said:

“The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization. I think a lot of people think when you legalize you are going from zero to some high-use number, but they forget that even when marijuana is not legal, one in four adults and one in five kids are probably using on a somewhat regular basis. What we’ve found since legalization is that those numbers haven’t really changed.”

So as we celebrate the five-year mark, let’s address the most important sets of evidence that Colorado and Washington have given us.

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No rise in underage use

According to figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths reported having used marijuana in the past 30 days.

Teen use in Colorado has fallen 4% since 2009. Nationally, it’s at a 20-year low.

That’s less than the national average and less than the 25 percent reported in 2009.

Meanwhile, a 2016 study from the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that rates of cannabis use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders haven’t changed significantly in the last ten years.

Even nationally, according to the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health, teen marijuana use is at a 20 year low.

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Arrests Are Way Down*

According to an analysis by the Drug Policy Alliance, arrests in Colorado for cannabis possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana plummeted 95 percent after the state legalized recreational sales.

Arrests in both states fell by 95% to 98%. But troubling racial disparities remain.

The asterisk comes into play when you dig into the numbers and see that marijuana arrest rates for black citizens in Colorado remain 2.4 times higher than for whites (despite using cannabis at roughly the same rate). Even more alarmingly, according to NPR, in the first two years after legalization in Colorado “the marijuana arrest rate for white 10- to-17-year-olds fell by nearly 10 percent… while arrest rates for Latino and black youths respectively rose more than 20 percent and more than 50 percent.”

According to the ACLU, marijuana possession cases in Washington fell 98% the year after legalization, but racial disparities remain strong there as well.

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Traffic Fatalities Did Not Increase

Opponents of legalization often point to misleading statistics showing a rise in “marijuana-related” traffic accidents, but as I noted in a comprehensive primer on drugged driving for Leafly, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Task Force—a federally funded law enforcement organization dedicated to suppressing illegal drugs—admitted in a 2015 report that the term “marijuana-related” does not “necessarily prove that marijuana was the cause of the incident,” and applies “any time marijuana shows up in the toxicology report [of drivers]. It could be marijuana only or marijuana with other drugs and/or alcohol.” It also could mean cannabis use that took place days or weeks before the accident.

Meanwhile, a comprehensive study published this June in the American Journal of Public Health found that “three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

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Violent Crime Didn’t Rise

Just this past February, US Attorney General and longtime cannabis-foe Jeff Sessions tried to claim there’s a link between legalizing cannabis and increased crime.

Violent crime fell in both states after cannabis legalization.

We’re seeing real violence around [marijuana legalization].” Sessions said in a meeting with reporters. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

Well, if unnamed “experts” are telling you, that’s pretty solid, right? Seems strange though, that taking cannabis sales out of the criminal black market and moving them into a legal regulated industry would create crime. Fortunately, the Drug Policy Alliance ran the numbers, and found that in the year after recreational cannabis sales started, Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime, and overall property crime dropped by 8.9 percent. Meanwhile in Washington, violent crime fell 10 percent from 2011 to 2014.

Opioid Use Went Down

Just last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (more on him here), in his role as chair of President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, actually tried to blame the opioid epidemic’s staggering toll of death and addiction on cannabis.

Opioid-related deaths fell 6% in the two years after Colorado legalization.

Marijuana legalization will lead to more drug use, not less drug use,” Christie said. “[Legalization] will lead to more death not less death, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has proven it.”

That is not true.

In fact, this May, NIDA added language to its website affirming that access to legal cannabis is associated with “lower levels of opioid prescribing, lower self-report of nonmedical prescription opioid use, lower treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorders, and reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.”

A separate study that looked into Colorado showed that legalization led to a “reversal” of fatal opioid overdoses, with 2014—the first year of legal adult use cannabis sales—marking the first time overdose deaths decreased since at least 2000, when they began to rapidly rise.

After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” concluded the study, which was published earlier this month in the American Journal of Public Health.

Cannabis Tax Revenue Improved Society

Colorado voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2012, but the state’s first legal sales didn’t take place until New Year’s Day 2014. Since then, according to data analyzed by Denver-based VS Strategies, the state has collected more than $500 million in cannabis revenue (a figure that includes taxes on both medical and recreational cannabis, though the vast majority is recreational). In Washington, where the retail tax rate is 37%, the state’s total tax obligation for fiscal year 2016 is $185 million and according to a new report from New Frontier Data is expected to increase 25% to $233 million for fiscal year 2017.

More than $1 billion has been taken off the illicit market and used to build schools and bolster drug education programs.

Taxes get a bad rap, because we tend to think of paying them rather than what they pay for, but already in two relatively small states we’ve seen well over $1 billion that previously went into the illicit market now going towards public education and other popular programs.

Recent research by Leafly found that more than 149,000 full-time jobs are currently supported by cannabis legalization. New Frontier estimates that by 2020 cannabis will create more jobs than manufacturing in the United States. And the industry’s unprecedented growth shows no signs of slowing down.

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“About a year into this job, I’ve finally accepted how explosive growth is in this industry,” Tom Adams, Editor-in-Chief of Arcview Market Research, tells me. “And the detonator on that explosion has been adult use legalization, which takes an often very limited medical marijuana market in a state and opens the doors of the stores to everybody. When that happens, the legal operators really start gobbling up market share that used to belong to the illicit trade, which makes for growth rates not to be found anywhere else that I’m aware of—including the internet boom at its height.”

Specifically, Adams points to a “compound annual growth rate” in Colorado and Washington in the three years immediately following adult use legalization of over 50%—a rate of expansion he says, that “just does not happen” in other industries.

Those Arcview numbers don’t include the economic benefits of a sustained boom in ancillary businesses like real estate, legal services, accounting, and security, or the government’s vast savings on enforcement, prosecution and incarceration. Not to mention all the people who didn’t lose their jobs, get kicked out of school, or otherwise have their lives and finances disrupted over a cannabis arrest.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

On the retail end, one of the most pronounced changes seen since the onset of legal adult use sales has been a marked shift away from sales of dried cannabis bud (flower) and into products like edibles, tinctures, concentrates, and topicals. It takes time for consumers to discover and adopt these products, but they have each steadily created their own thriving market segments while eating into the overall percentage of sales that goes to flower.

Flower purchases have slowed as consumers discover a vast array of new products and choices.

In its annual report, The State of Legal Marijuana Markets – 5th Edition, Arcview Market Research reports that “on average, while the whole market in [Colorado, Washington, and Oregon] grew 47% in 2016, the pre-roll category grew by 121%. Growing more slowly, although notably more rapidly than flower, were the concentrates and edibles categories, which increased by 75% and 53% respectively… compared with growth of just 31% for dried flowers.”

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Some of this disparity can be attributed to reductions in the price of flower, but the data also reflect a distinct change in preference towards other means of consumption. By the end of 2016, sales of dried flower made up just 55% of the product mix by dollar sales in Colorado and 59% in Washington.

Arcview attributes this in part to the fact that while high quality cannabis flower remains readily available on the illicit market, concentrates, edibles, topicals, tinctures and other alternatives can’t easily be found outside the regulated market.

“Legalization has ushered in the age of the tested, packaged, and branded cannabis product,” the report concludes. “Customers buying a given product know what they’re getting, know what it contains, and are assured of a mostly consistent experience. That’s causing long-time cannabis smokers to try out and even embrace other forms of consumption, from vaping and edibles to topicals and pills.”

For those of you (and me!) who still love flower, Leafly’s cannabis experts recently compiled this list of 100 Strains to Try Before You Die

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From Dispensary Founder to Mayor?

To get past the numbers, and delve into the human impact of adult use legalization, I’ll give the last word to Kayvan Khalatbari, co-founder of Denver Relief Consulting, 2019 candidate for mayor of Denver, and an industry veteran who started up the state’s second oldest cannabis dispensary in 2009 “with a $4,000 investment and a quarter-pound of cannabis.”

‘The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last five years is that people just aren’t as hard to convince on this topic as I thought they would be.’

Kayvan Khalatbari, Denver dispensary pioneer and mayoral candidate

That was quite an accomplishment. But I’ll always admire him most for his dedicated grassroots cannabis activism, including way back in 2007 when he used to dress in a chicken costume and follow around then Denver mayor (now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper with a sign that said, ““Hey, Mayor Chickenlooper, What’s So Scary About Marijuana?”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last five years, and even going back further, is that people just aren’t as hard to convince on this topic as I thought they would be.” Khalatbari tells me. “It turns out the opposition to legalization was wide but not deep, and once we started to get data on adult use, and could show politicians and the public that the sky didn’t fall, and revenue went way up, we really started to build momentum, not just in Colorado but nationally as well.”

One interesting byproduct of that has been rapid acceptance of the industry in rural and more traditionally conservative areas that now increasingly see cannabis as an opportunity to bring in jobs and tax revenue. Those regions have begun steadily wooing businesses out of more urban areas, where some residents and regulators have grown wary of the industry’s relentless growth.

Khalatbari worries, however, that as this process of mainstreaming and expansion takes hold, the cannabis industry will move further and further away from its roots as a social justice movement, and become “just about doing business and making a profit.”

Specific areas of concern including boosting Colorado’s notoriously low rates of minority ownership and employment; increasing the industry’s focus on environmental stewardship; and ensuring a more positive impact on communities where cannabis businesses operate, especially those that were disproportionately targeted by the War on Marijuana. “As we consolidate as an industry, and the size of these businesses get bigger, a lot of that tends to fall by the wayside,” Khalatbari says. “At which point we risk becoming just another industry, and not a better industry.”

To that end, he’s a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Alliance, and was a driving force behind the Initiative 300 campaign, which allowed Denver to create a pilot social use program. Now he’s planning to sue the city for stalling the Initiative 300 system, and throwing up roadblocks to its success. He’s also concerned that rapid consolidation of the industry has pushed out the original mom & pop style operators.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen our ‘unique operators’ in Colorado cut in half in the last two years,” Khalatbari says. “The number of chains have expanded and taken up that market share, which has led to a drop in the price [of cannabis]. We have $100 ounces in Colorado, and obviously that’s good for consumers, but it makes it even harder for those mom & pops to stay afloat and keep up with the economy of scale enjoyed by the bigger operators.”

These are all issues (among many other progressive causes) Khalatbari will be raising in his upcoming campaign for mayor of Denver. And if that sounds like a pipe dream, keep in mind that long before he became the state’s most powerful politician, John “Chickenlooper” started out as a pioneering brewpub owner.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.