Tag: Colorado

A ‘Higher’ Calling: Inside Denver’s International Church of Cannabis

Tucked away on 400 Logan St. in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, rests a 113-year old red brick building with a story to tell. Under the April sun, this antiquated church may not seem out of the ordinary…until you take a closer look. This is the new home to Elevation Ministries of the International Church of Cannabis (ICOC), a Colorado religious non-profit organization that seeks to educate and enlighten those who believe the use of cannabis as a sacrament can simulate ascension to a higher state of being.

William Berke, father of owner Steve Berke, instructs guests they can enter for a private viewing of opening day at the International Church of Cannabis Thursday, April 20, 2017 on Logan Street in Denver, CO. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)William Berke, father of owner Steve Berke, instructs guests they can enter for a private viewing of opening day at the International Church of Cannabis Thursday, April 20, 2017 on Logan Street in Denver, CO. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Though it would seem April 20th would be the perfect day for a massive grand opening celebration, spirits weren’t as high as expected due to some last-minute legal hurdles that prevented the group from allowing the “public” consumption they had hoped to provide.

Co-founder Zach Gardner wipes down tables outside on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)Co-founder Zach Gardner wipes down tables outside on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Those who made their way out to the grand opening on April 20th were met with a warm and enthusiastic team of Elevation Ministries staff members eager to introduce Denver to their renovated space and culture. No formal theology or dogmas come attached with the practice of Elevationism, as outlined by members of the church. Instead, the organization is proud to promote total inclusivity of all walks of life.

Owner Steve Berke, center, and Michael Malone, right, check age and identification of visitors like Arvada resident Joel Allen, left, on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis Thursday, April 20, 2017 on Logan Street in Denver, CO. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Behind the astral-themed entrance doors, the interior decor inside is welcoming and modern, a stark contrast to the building’s anachronistic interior design. Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and American Artist Kenny Scharf are largely responsible for the elaborate and extensive array of wall paintings, murals, and scattered art installations. Various visual art pieces can be seen throughout the facility, including several waist-high, hand-carved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles statues, digitized tile art, and a hollowed out television flush with South Park figurines, some of which can be purchased at their retail counter.

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The church believes cannabis is their sacrament and calls themselves “Elevationists.”

For a city that welcomes tens of thousands of annual travelers every year to visit and experience legal cannabis, Denver has some pretty draconian social consumption bylaws. Currently, those seeking to consume their legal cannabis must do so only on private property with permission by the owner and out of public sight. However, with Initiative 300, a bill passed by the city of Denver last November, city residents and lawmakers sought to change these rules to allow safe access points for social consumption with the implementation of a 4-year pilot program.

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These provisions would eventually grant organizations (namely businesses) the ability to seek approval by neighborhood and city business groups to allow for consumption areas (with caveats) onsite for those who wish to use cannabis in a public atmosphere.

Tay Lomax smokes at a private viewing on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Steve Burke, founder of ICOC and Elevation Ministries, was confident that he would be able to allow for “open and public consumption” on the premises after his legal team, Vicente Sederberg LLC, advised him on the ambiguous language pertaining to what “open” and “public” could be defined as. However, he was informed prior to the church’s grand opening that the ministry would have to restrict consumption to a private listed event at 3 p.m. Although public access to the church was allowed between 12-2 p.m., which saw a healthy turnout of several dozen visitors, many more were present later that afternoon, eager to spark up under the electric neon wall art.

Visitors were in awe of the International Church of Cannabis on its opening day.

Burke and his team at the Ministry plan to utilize their new space to the fullest extent over the upcoming months, with daily 420 sacraments where members who sign up will be allowed access to onsite private consumption. Both members and the general public will also be able to visit the space for lectures, industry events, workshops, and even cannabis-themed weddings.

Guests greet each other at a private viewing on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

As for the rest of the busy 4/20 weekend, the church hosted a handful of gatherings which included live music, comedy performances, and even food trucks to welcome in new members and neighborhood locals to the newly renovated space.

Featured comedian Kyle Grooms takes pictures of the interior of the International Church of Cannabis. Artwork in the chapel was completed by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

If you are interested in learning more about Elevation Ministries and the International Church of cannabis, stop by the next time you are in the area and spark up a conversation, or even a joint. Both are encouraged!

Chicago resident Andrea Camp, from left, gets a light from Lakewood resident Kimm Miller, as Mia Jane smokes at a private viewing on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)Chicago resident Andrea Camp, from left, gets a light from Lakewood resident Kimm Miller, as Mia Jane smokes at a private viewing on opening day of the International Church of Cannabis. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)


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.

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 patient for medical marijuana in Colorado, most recently in 2015.

The Colorado Board of Health, which oversees the state medical marijuana program, has not added any new qualifying conditions since the program began in 2001.  Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000,

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to affect eight million Americans annually, including many military veterans returning from combat, as well as victims and witnesses of violent crimes, such as sexual assault.

Although adults 21 or older can purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, allowing those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder access to the state’s medical marijuana program is beneficial for several reasons, including significantly lower taxes on medical marijuana versus recreational marijuana.

Medical marijuana patients can also possess up to two ounces of marijuana, double that of recreational users.

The bill will allow medical marijuana patients under 21 who suffer from PTSD legal access to marijuana for the first time.

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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.

Colorado Cannabis Industry Sets Sales Records in Early ’17

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s marijuana industry — one of the most mature in the nation — continues to thrive, posting record-setting sales figures through the first two months of 2017.

Combined sales of medical and recreational marijuana in January and February 2017 totaled over $235 million, up 30 percent from the same period in 2016, Marijuana Business Daily reported Monday.

It’s too soon to know if sales will continue at such a strong clip throughout the rest of 2017.

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While medical marijuana sales are up slightly in 2017, sales of recreational marijuana have increased substantially. January 2017 recreational sales were 38 percent higher compared to January 2016, while February 2017 recreational sales were a whopping 48 percent above those in February 2016.

Wholesale prices in mid-January 2017 were down 33% in Colorado versus mid-January 2016.

In fact, February 2017 ranks as the second-highest monthly total for recreational marijuana sales in the Colorado program’s history, falling just short of the $88.2 million sold in September 2016.

The sales figures are especially striking because they come amid a time of historically low wholesale marijuana prices, meaning that a 48 percent increase in sales represents an even larger increase in consumption.

According to Cannabis Benchmarks — which tracks marijuana prices — wholesale marijuana prices in mid-January 2017 were down 33 percent in Colorado versus mid-January 2016.

Generally speaking, two market forces fuel rising sales: Increased spending by existing users and new consumers entering the market.

In Colorado, it’s likely a mixture of both.

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Considering the Trump administration’s relatively unfriendly stance toward recreational marijuana, it’s conceivable that more out-of-state visitors are visiting Colorado to stock up on product that may no longer be available in the coming months.

This phenomenon has been on full display in the firearms industry. Gun sales spiked during the Obama administration when many believed their Second Amendment rights were being threatened. But since president Trump took office and the perceived threat has subsided, firearm sales have sharply declined.

And while marijuana retailers aren’t passing 100 percent of the savings realized by the lower cost of wholesale marijuana on to their customers, retail prices are facing downward pressure — as dispensary and recreational store owners in especially competitive markets such as Denver have more room to compete on price.

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For consumers who have stuck to their black-market dealers, lower prices may have persuaded some to finally make the transition to the legal side of the industry.

For consumers already purchasing marijuana legally from a recreational store or dispensary, lower prices may be encouraging increased consumption.


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.

State of the Leaf: Congressman Urges Trump to Respect State Cannabis

US News

California

Assembly Bill 1578 successfully cleared a committee vote, 5-2, and will now move to the full Assembly floor. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), is designed to protect Californians who are operating lawfully under California cannabis laws. Absent a court order, it says, local and state agencies, including regulators and law enforcement, shall not assist in any federal enforcement actions against state-authorized cannabis activity.

“AB 1578 is intended to prevent federal government overreach in the era of Trump,” said Lynne Lyman, Drug Policy Alliance’s California director, testified at Tuesday’s committee hearing. “We do not want the federal government harassing, intimidating, or prosecuting people who are operating lawfully under state law.”

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Also having its first hearing Tuesday was Senate Bill 180, by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), which cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 5-2 vote. Dubbed the RISE (Repeal of Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements) Act, Mitchell’s bill would repeal the three-year sentencing enhancements that are tacked onto new drug-possession convictions for past drug convictions. These enhancements are the leading cause of long sentences that create crisis-level overcrowding in county jails.

Meanwhile, as the state gears up to open adult-use markets next year, a California Supreme Court committee is advising judges in the Golden State to stay away from investments in cannabis businesses. The court’s Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions said Wednesday that maintaining any interest in a business that involves medical or adult-use cannabis is incompatible with a judge’s obligation to follow the law. That’s because marijuana remains illegal under federal law despite its growing acceptance among states. According to its opinion, Maryland, Washington and Colorado also prohibit judicial involvement with marijuana.

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Colorado

Three months in and the Trump administration has yet to articulate even a cursory cannabis policy. That’s frustrating to many in legal states, and one lawmaker is now addressing the president personally. “It’s about time our president tells us where exactly he stands on marijuana,” Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulder) writes in a Denver Post op-ed. In it, Polis urges the White House to, for starters, “leave cannabis regulation to the states.” He makes a mostly dollars-and-cents argument in an apparent effort to appeal to Trump’s business background.

“Colorado has proven that allowing responsible adults to legally purchase marijuana gives money to classrooms rather than cartels; creates jobs rather than addicts; and boosts the economy rather than the prison population,” writes Polis, a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

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Also in Colorado: DUI arrests fell by a third during the first quarter of the year! But the Colorado Department of Transportation is still singing a Reefer Madness tune.

Delaware

Delaware’s new Gov. John Carney can’t make it through a town hall meeting without someone raising the legalization question. He’s been peppered with questions about ending cannabis prohibition during a tour the state to discuss this year’s budget priorities. The questions ultimately prompted him to host a legalization roundtable with advocates and reform-minded legislators on April 19.

“We need our governor to do the right thing and legalize.”

Kim Petters, advocate

“I’m glad it’s not on 4/20, because we have an event planned that day,” Delaware NORML executive director Cynthia Ferguson quipped.

Jokes aside, advocates are pressing hard. “I’m grateful the governor is willing to come on out and listen to what 61% of his constituents want to see happen,” one advocate, Kim Petters, told Leafly. “I just hope this isn’t a way to appease activists to keep us at bay another year. Legalization must happen in 2017. The cost and human toll of prohibition is just too high to wait any longer. We need our governor to do the right thing and legalize.”

District of Columbia

Advocates in the nation’s capital are gearing up for 4/20 in the most hospitable way possible: by rolling thousands of free—free!—joints to be passed out on Capitol Hill on the high holiday. It’s a repeat of the group’s widely publicized joint giveaway on the National Mall during Donald Trump’s inauguration. That stunt, meant as a gesture of resistance, was a global media sensation.

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Advocates hope to generate a similar buzz on 4/20, but there’s a serious side of the demonstration, too. A recurring federal budget amendment that protects legitimate medical cannabis businesses from DOJ enforcement actions is set to expire at the end of the month. And nothing draws attention to that deadline quite like free joints on Capitol Hill.

Florida

Cannabis decriminalization in Florida? There’s a bill for that. Given the legislation’s dim prospects, however, it’s largely symbolic, timed to drive the debate as Florida lawmakers scramble to implement the state’s young medical cannabis program.

“There have been many, many bills proposed, but it’s never had a hearing. So this is a major step forward to end prohibition,” NORML Tallahassee’s Melissa Villar told reporters. “There have been many, many bills proposed, but it’s never had a hearing. So this is a major step forward to end prohibition.”

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Iowa

A wide-ranging medical cannabis bill breezed through the Iowa Senate on Monday on a vote of 45-5. That got folks wondering if Iowa’s might become the 30th next state to legalize medical marijuana. But despite the near-unanimous vote, that doesn’t look likely. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives simply isn’t there yet. Many lawmakers view the Senate legislation as too flexible and overbroad in terms of qualifying conditions.

Maryland

“The rollout so far is going well.”

Patrick Jameson, executive director, Medical Cannabis Commission

Patient registration for Maryland’s medical marijuana program has begun. Roughly 1,200 patients signed up the first week, during which anyone whose last name begins with letters A-L was permitted to apply. The number of registered physicians spiked as well, and currently sits at 250. Those numbers should double quickly as registration opens the entire state on April 24.

“We are having some good numbers that are coming in,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. “The rollout so far is going well.”

But as the program ramps up, Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus has issued an ultimatum to Maryland’s General Assembly: Either address the lack of diversity in Maryland’s cannabis industry or say goodbye to the support of the caucus’s 51 members.

“How can the Democratic Party pass anything in the legislature without us? How can they be successful in the next election without us?” asked Del. Cheryl Glenn, who chairs the caucus. “They won’t, unless they resolve this.”

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New Hampshire

Bipartisan legislation to grant access to medical marijuana to patients with PTSD (House Bill 160) and chronic pain (HB 157) cleared important hurdles in Concord. Both bills sailed through the state’s powerful Senate Heath Committee. The PTSD bill advanced unanimously, 5-0, while the chronic pain bill legislation passed by a vote of 4-1. Both bills are sponsored primarily by Republican legislators.

Meanwhile, a measure to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis is gaining support in Concord. Even GOP Gov. Chris Sununu is on board.

Nebraska

Nebraska lawmakers should approve a measure allowing and regulating medical marijuana before voters bypass them, senators who support the bill said Wednesday. Legislators debated the bill for two hours without voting, the AP reports, and are unlikely to return to the issue this year unless supporters prove they have the 33 votes necessary to end a filibuster. Senators who oppose the measure should work on making it better because they may be running out of time to regulate medical cannabis, said Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln. Voters are now circulating two petitions for cannabis-related initiatives that could appear on the 2018 ballot. One would amend the state’s constitution to give residents the right to use, buy and sell cannabis and prohibit any laws restricting it, while the other would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of the drug.

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North Dakota

A bill legalizing medical marijuana in North Dakota is on Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk. North Dakota voters overwhelmingly passed a medical cannabis referendum last November, but according to the governor, additional legislation was required.

“Without additional legislation, this would have been extremely problematic,” said Burgum, a Republican. “We’re committed to moving as quickly as we can.”

For now, North Dakota’s medical cannabis legislation does not include a home-grow component, and patients are required to take extra steps to obtain smokable cannabis.

Some advocates are giving legislators a regulators a year to get the show on the road. “If that doesn’t happen, there is going to be hell to be paid,” said Rilie Ray Morgan, who led the state’s recent referendum battle. “If it’s not available in a year, we will take people to court then. No ifs ands or buts about that.”

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“If this program isn’t running smoothy and properly by then, we’ll start another petition process to address the (onerous) licensing fees the legislature added,” Ray told Leafly. He estimates it could take a prospective business as much as $2 million in initial investment just to get its doors open. “The costs of production and selling to patients will be so far out of line, that’s my fear, that patients will be priced out of the program.”

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo isn’t ready to legalize cannabis. Not quite yet anyway. She’d rather study it first.

Tennessee

Last fall, Democratic leaders in Nashville and Memphis voted to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. It was a widely regarded huge step forward for Tennessee’s two largest cities. That progress, however, was summarily undone by Republican lawmakers at the state level. Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last week signed a bill to strike down the reforms, putting an end to Nashville’s and Memphis’s seven-month experiment.

Texas

A very limited cannabis decriminalization measure passed through the Dallas City Council last week. The law, which makes cannabis possession in Texas’s third-largest city a civil offense punishable by a citation, goes into effect Oct. 1—unless, of course, lawmakers follow Tennessee’s lead and undo the local policy.

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Vermont

Ending prohibition in Vermont has been on and off the table numerous times this year. This time last week, things looked very bleak indeed. Then suddenly Twitter’s abuzz with chatter there may be a Senate legalization vote this Friday in Montpelier. Good news. The bill would then advance to the House where it would (almost certainly) languish to death. Again.

Meanwhile, one by one, Vermont’s neighbors are ending prohibition. First Massachusetts, then Maine. What’s next? Quebec? Oh wait…

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West Virginia

West Virginia on Wednesday became the 29th US state to legalize medical cannabis. Give a listen to Gov. Jim Justice’s speech on the matter.

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International News

Canada

The long-awaited legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use throughout Canada landed in Parliament last week, sparking mixed reactions among legalization advocates. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has directed Liberal MP Bill Blair, who’s also Toronto’s former police chief, to shepherd the reform to fruition.

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Best ETA for legal cannabis in Canada? Mid-2018. Hopefully in time for Canada Day.


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.

Colorado Backs Off Plans for Cannabis Clubs

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers have backed off plans to regulate marijuana clubs, saying the state would invite a federal crackdown by approving Amsterdam-style cannabis clubs.

The state House voted Thursday to amend a bill that would have set rules for how the private clubs could work.

It was a dramatic reversal. Bring-your-own-cannabis clubs had bipartisan support in the Legislature, and the measure had already cleared the GOP Senate.

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But lawmakers bowed to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who repeatedly warned lawmakers that he would veto a club measure if it allowed indoor smoking. The governor also warned that clubs, and a separate proposal to allow cannabis delivery, might invite intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The House amendment effectively removes club regulations, and the remaining bits of the bill are relatively minor.

“Given the uncertainty in Washington, this is not the time to be trying to carve off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post last month.

Sponsors of the club bill said that they had little choice but to back off, leaving Colorado with its current spotty club landscape.

Colorado already has about 30 private cannabis clubs, according to legislative analysts, but they operate under a patchwork of local regulations and are sometimes raided by law enforcement.

Clubs in Colorado frequently operate in a similar manner to clubs in states where cannabis isn’t legal, with small groups meeting up to smoke in a secret location members sometimes call “Dave’s House,” a reference to an old Cheech and Chong skit.

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The House amendment passed Thursday effectively removes club regulations, and the remaining bits of the bill are relatively minor. The bill could face yet more changes before a final vote. Lawmakers who bemoaned the club bill’s demise cited U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has hinted that states violating federal drug law won’t be tolerated.

“We have legalized marijuana. Where do we want people to use it if not at home? On the street?”

State Sen. Tim Neville, (R-Littleton)

“I’d like to see (a club bill) that goes much further, and that does a lot more, but in a year with Jeff Sessions, a small first step is better than no step at all,” Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer said.

Not everyone agreed with the change, saying Colorado is wimping out by backing off.

“It only makes sense to allow people to have a place to where they can (smoke marijuana) where it’s controlled and confined,” said Republican Sen. Tim Neville, who sponsored a separate club bill that failed because it would have allowed clubs to sell the marijuana people would smoke, similar to a bar selling alcohol.

“We have legalized marijuana. Where do we want people to use it if not at home? On the street?”

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The Colorado bill would have made it the first state to regulate clubs statewide

Alaska regulators decided earlier this month to delay action on a measure to allow on-site consumption at marijuana dispensaries, or “tasting rooms.”

Ballot measures approved by voters last year in California, Maine and the city of Denver would allow either on-site cannabis consumption or so-called “social use” clubs, but regulations for how those clubs would work haven’t been settled.


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.

State of the Leaf: Colorado Bans Co-ops, May Shelter Cannabis From Feds

US News

Colorado

Given the state’s early embrace of legalization, it makes sense that Colorado would eventually export its industry know-how to the rest of the nation. By offering financing and “mini-MBA” mentoring to cannabis startups, a Boulder firm called Canopy advertises the chance for ganjapreneurs learn from Colorado’s triumphs and miscues.

Meanwhile, a bill to prohibit cannabis co-ops in the state is on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk, awaiting his likely signature. This sucks. Co-ops are designed so small-scale cannabis growers can share operating costs for things like utilities and fertilizer. Regulators, however, worry co-ops make it too easy to divert legally grown cannabis to illegal or out-of-state markets.

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Colorado’s Republican-controlled House also passed a bill to allow cannabis growers and retailers to reclassify adult-use products as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown. The bill is seen as the boldest bid yet by a legal-cannabis state to avoid federal intervention. It now heads to the Democrat-led House.

Florida

US Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have introduced a congressional bill, House Resolution 2020, which would reschedule cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act, moving the plant from Schedule I to Schedule III.

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While Soto and Gaetz occupy opposite wings of the political spectrum, they share one telling trait: youth. Gaetz is 34 and Soto just turned 40, suggesting the shift toward reform is more generational than political.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee are “bungling” the state’s medical cannabis program, critics say. Newspaper editorial boards have decried the Legislature’s inability to enact the will of 71% of Florida voters who legalized medical cannabis last November.

How bad is it?

“It’s been a train wreck so far,” writes the Miami News Times.

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Illinois 

The pro-legalization advocacy group Coalition for a Safer Illinios organization made its debut amid a flurry of editorial board praise for legalization.

The new coalition brings together clergy, unions, civil rights organizations, and law enforcement in support of cannabis legalization bills sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, both the Senate bill, SB 316, and House bill, HB 2353, will get their first hearing in Chicago next week.

Indiana

Lawmakers advanced a pair of bills to legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a medicine of last resort for individuals with seizure disorders.

The Senate advanced its bill on a 35–13, while the House vote was unanimous in support of the reform. But don’t let the blowout score fool you; the bill is narrow, covering only patients with intractable seizure disorders.

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“I don’t like it and I think it’s a mess,” state Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said during the Senate debate, adding, “I am going to vote yes anyway because it’s the only mess around.”

Polls suggest 3 in 4 Hoosiers support medical marijuana legalization.

If the bill succeeds, all but two US states will have legalized some form of medical cannabis.

“Only Idaho and Kansas will lack either a CBD- or a medical cannabis law,” MPP’s Maggie Ellinger-Locke told Leafly, “but these [Indiana] bills are incredibly limited. And it will be interesting to see how they are reconciled in conference committee.”

Maine

Selling cannabis remains a crime in Maine despite a successful legalization referendum last November. But as Maine regulators work to get the state’s adult cannabis program up and running, a legal and economic gray area is emerging. Gifting cannabis is permitted in the state, creating a kind of commercial loophole that incentivizes entrepreneurs to creatively push the current legal boundaries to meet demand.

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Maryland

As the clock wound down on this year’s legislative session, Maryland lawmakers failed to add additional grow licenses to the state’s medical cannabis program.

“The House had sought to increase the licenses by five, to boost minority-owned businesses after a disparity study,” the Associated Press reported. “The Senate had pushed for seven more licenses, to help settle lawsuits filed by two companies that were bumped out of the top 15 chosen by a state commission to be finalists.”

Members of the Black Legislative Caucus of Maryland are calling for a special session after the bill, designed to create diversity ownership in the state’s developing medical marijuana industry, failed to pass in the session’s closing minutes.

Despite the missed deadline, Maryland is making progress on other fronts. Now four years after the law passed, Maryland patients and caregivers can finally register for medical marijuana ID cards.

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“We have taken the next step in making Maryland’s long-awaited medical cannabis program a reality” Candace Junkin, longtime advocate from southern Maryland, told Leafly. “Dispensaries are expected to open this summer, so it’s important to get a doctor’s recommendation and register with the state now.”

Missouri

In a thrilling result out of the nation’s heartland, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly chose to relax cannabis penalties in Missouri’s largest city. Small amounts of cannabis will now fetch a $25 fine. No jail time. Roughly 75% of voters chose reform, an absolute blowout.

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NORML Executive Director Erik X. Altieri told Leafly that Tuesday’s astonishing win came “thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens actively engaging in the democratic process and pushing to change an unjust law.”

“Kansas City will no longer arrest otherwise law abiding citizens for the simple possession of marijuana,” he added, “and in the process the city will free up law enforcement resources to better focus on combatting violent crime.”

Nevada

Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, is home to nearly 80% of Nevada’s 2.7 million residents. With the county now back on track to allow dispensaries to open by July 1, pretty soon you can add adult-use cannabis to your Las Vegas adventure—sort of. Smoking at casinos (or anywhere with gambling) will initially be prohibited.

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Vermont

Top Senate lawmakers in Vermont say passing a marijuana legalization bill is becoming exceedingly unlikely, the Associated Press reports. The Vermont House is still debating its version of a legalization bill, which would legalize personal cannabis use, possession, and cultivation. Just over three weeks remain in the legislative session, and Senate lawmakers expected the bill to get to them weeks ago.

Senate leaders also say the House bill would continue to allow for a black market, and they favor a law that would tax and regulate sales of the plant. A 2016 Senate measure that proposed a legal marijuana market died in the House last year.

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Cannabis Legalization in Vermont is Dead

Vermont’s constitution disallows referendums, thwarting another avenue to legalize marijuana as other states have done.

Virginia

Virginia will soon begin studying the merits of cannabis decriminalization. Ten years ago, this would have been a big deal, especially down south. But in 2017, merely setting up a study feels a bit limp.

“One step at a time. We’ll chalk this one up for a win,” Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted after the news broke.

Maybe he’s right. A baby step forward is still progress. And this latest push in Richmond is a bipartisan one.

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According to many on the front lines of reform efforts, the small step was essential for the process to advance.

“The Virginia State Crime Commission Decriminalization Study is an important procedural step in Virginia politics,” VA NORML’s Daniel Rouleau told Leafly.  “The study can be used to provide political cover for lawmakers unwilling to personally endorse marijuana reform, and provide pro-reform politicians the facts needed to persuade unconvinced colleagues of the need for decriminalization.

“Support for marijuana-related criminal justice reform is building in the General Assembly,” Rouleau continued, “but official findings from this study will likely push the legislature to adopt decriminalization. This policy change would not only help adult who personally use marijuana, but Virginia patients seeking effective medical marijuana treatments.”

West Virginia

A bill to legalize medical cannabis is sitting on Democratic Gov. Jim Justice’s desk, and he’s widely expected to sign it.

While the bill boasts a generous list of qualifying conditions, it does not include a home-grow provision. Nor are smokable flowers permitted. Likewise, West Virginia will have no reciprocal arrangement with other medical marijuana states.

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International News

Canada

Legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Canada is set to land this week, giving shape to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to legalize the plant nationally. In an expedited schedule, Canada’s Liberal government has vowed to legalize cannabis “on or before July 1, 2018.”

Ireland  

Ireland wants to generate revenue without raising taxes, and some think legal cannabis could help. It’s promising news in a nation still clawing its way back from a devastating economic recession.

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Some, of course are still resistant to change—including one especially outspoken politician, Kate O’Connell from the ruling Fine Gael party. O’Connell, a pharmacist by trade, calls efforts to reform Ireland’s marijuana laws a “madness … verging on the immoral.”

Uruguay

The South American country of Uruguay made news when it legalized cannabis in December 2013—the first country ever to fully legalize the plant. After a drawn-out regulatory process, sales are finally set to begin in July. But not for tourists. This program is for Uruguayan citizens only—for now, at least.


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.

Colorado Set to Prohibit Cannabis Co-op Growing Operations

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

The bill supported by the office Gov. John Hickenlooper passed 35-0 but it was unclear when he would sign it.

There are no state estimates on how many collective recreational marijuana growing operations exist in Colorado, though they are popular among users who share the cost of electricity, water and fertilizer to grow their cannabis.

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Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it has a nagging black-market problem. Law enforcement and state lawmakers attribute the black-market problem in part to weak restrictions on who can grow pot.

The Colorado state constitution authorizes people over 21 to grow their own cannabis, or to assist someone else in growing cannabis. That language allows groups to designate a single “farmer” to care for their marijuana plants, allowing them to avoid marijuana taxes that approach 30 percent, depending on the jurisdiction.

But police groups and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, have called on lawmakers to curb the practice of assisting other recreational cannabis users.

The bill had already passed the House.

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The governor plans to sign another bill this week in the state’s cannabis crackdown. It limits the number of marijuana plants that can be grown in a home to 12 plants, which would force medical cannabis consumers authorized to grow more than 12 plants to grow it in agricultural or commercial locations or to buy it from dispensaries that tax marijuana.

Hickenlooper plans to sign that bill this week, his office said.

The bill passed Monday also provides $6 million a year in cannabis tax revenues to give law enforcement agencies more money to investigate illegal cannabis growing operations.


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.

Colorado Will Allow Medical Cannabis Use While Awaiting Trial

DENVER (AP) — People awaiting trial won’t be prohibited from using medical cannabis. That’s according to a new law signed Thursday.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a measure forbidding a court from saying that criminal defendants who are medicinal marijuana patients must abstain from pot as a condition of bond.

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Colorado has already decided that cannabis use shouldn’t be off-limits for people on probation.

A fiscal analysis prepared for lawmakers says the bond measure won’t cost any money. That’s because cannabis abstention isn’t usually a condition of bond in this state.

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Supporters call the bond change a policy statement. The protection for marijuana use applies only to people with certain medical conditions, not recreational cannabis consumers.

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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.

Govs Urge Sessions to Keep Cannabis Legal

Earlier today the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, urging them to uphold the Obama-era policies that have allowed the legal and regulated use of cannabis to proceed in their states.

The governors urged Sessions and Mnuchin to continue following the Cole Memo—the August 2013 Justice Department memorandum that allowed adult-use legalization in Colorado and Washington—and the Treasury Department’s FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) guidance that allowed financial institutions to work with state-legal companies.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.21.18 PM4 Govs: Keep the Cole Memo.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” they wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states. Likewise, without the FinCEN guidance, financial institutions will be less willing to provide services to marijuana-related businesses. This would force industry participants to be even more cash reliant, posing safety risks both to the public and to state regulators conducting enforcement activity.”

“Twenty-eight states, representing more than 60 percent of Americans, have authorized some form of marijuana-related conduct. As we face the reality of these legalizations, we stand eager to work with our federal partners to address implementation and enforcement concerns cooperatively. The Cole Memorandum and the associated FinCEN guidance are critical to the success of any collaboration.”

The letter was signed by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. All four requested that Sessions and Mnuchin “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

‘Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences.’

AK, CO, OR, WA Governors

The letter is the first formal indication that the leaders of all four states with adult-use cannabis legalization want the Trump administration to allow the regulated industry to continue without federal interference.

The National Cannabis Industry Association welcomed approach. “There is no denying that regulated cannabis businesses are preferable to underground markets dominated by gangs and cartels,” said National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith. “The regulated markets are creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and taking marijuana sales off the streets. The Trump Administration should be working with the states to ensure the regulated markets are functioning properly and safely, not working against the states to shut them down.”

Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, the leading trade association for Colorado’s licensed businesses, added: “A tightly constructed regulatory system has proven effective in identifying, controlling, and reducing the threats of criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels. Colorado’s cannabis program is heavily regulated, heavily taxed, and heavily enforced by state and local governments.  Further, the existence of a legal market diminishes the impact of illegal cartels by allowing consumers to transition into taxed and regulated purchases.”


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.

Cities Swap SWAT-Style Dispensary Raids for Softer Approach

In early March, police officers raided an establishment in Springfield, MA, that had been charging customers $20 for admission and then giving them “free” cannabis samples. But unlike raids that have taken place at many dispensaries around the country, the police didn’t bust down the door. They didn’t draw their guns—or order patrons and proprietors to lie face-down on the floor. Rather than weapons, the cops whipped out cease and desist letters for the operator and building owner.

And then they left without filing any charges.

Though SWAT-style raids on cannabis operations do occur—and have for decades—observers have noted a recent shift in raid tactics: Increasingly, the authorities who turn up are more likely to be armed with clipboards than submachine guns. Businesses are more likely to be hit with misdemeanors, or violations of local zoning or business codes, than felony offenses, say some attorneys who defend cannabis entrepreneurs. And where DEA agents were once frequent participants in raids, state or local authorities now frequently take action with no involvement from the feds.

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“They’re issuing citations, not storming in with guns,” said Santa Monica criminal defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond. “It seems to be more professional.” While he’s quick to note that every jurisdiction takes its own approach, he’s has noticed a shift within his home state. “There’s been no federal enforcement for quite some time in California.”

Ben Bradley, operations director at the California Cannabis Industry Association, concurred. Over the past four or so years, he said, raids have tapered off considerably. Those that do occur are increasingly undertaken by local authorities working without the federal government.

“In the past, we’d see the DEA working with local police to conduct raids on dispensaries, manufacturers, and cultivators,” Bradley said. “Now we’ll see raids where there aren’t even criminal charges filed.”

SWAT-style raids on cannabis operations have increasingly come under the microscope. And for good reason: A New York Times investigation found that, since 2010, 20 raids around the country have resulted in deaths. Many others lead to pricey settlements against law enforcement agencies for inappropriate use of force.

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The nation’s patchwork of cannabis laws, and the range of attitudes among law enforcement leaders in different districts, makes it hard to say with certainty what’s driving the apparent trend. But with the legacy of botched raids and lower stakes for law enforcement—Why kick down doors for what’s generally a nonviolent misdemeanor?—it seems authorities have little to gain and much to lose from heavy handed raids.

“As regulations have developed, we’ve seen raids drop off significantly.”

Ben Bradley, operations director, California Cannabis Industry Association

Though a client of hers was recently raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, San Diego defense attorney Jessica McElfresh said law enforcement more frequently takes a different tack these days. Cannabis entrepreneurs often face criminal charges only after first being sued in civil court and receiving repeated warnings. “That’s necessary in the eyes of many if we’re going to have a regulated market,” she said.

While the shift from body-armored raids to bureaucratic ones is relatively recent, it’s safe to say it’s not Donald Trump’s doing. After all, the president still has thousands of positions to fill, and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has been a vocal critic of cannabis. Nevertheless, neither on the campaign trail nor in the first months in office did Trump make prosecuting cannabis a priority. Recent statements suggest that could change any minute, but for the time being, the federal enforcement landscape looks much as it did during the last few years of Barack Obama’s time in the White House, when the Cole memo largely left enforcement to states.

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That hands-off approach has been facilitated by the ever-growing number of state regulations governing medical and adult-use cannabis markets, Bradley said. In California, that means things like Proposition 64, California’s legalization measure passed by voters in November. Now that the largest pot market on the planet is designing a regulatory framework, Bradley explained, there’s less for a Cole memo-abiding federal government to take issue with.

“As regulations have developed, we’ve seen raids drop off significantly,” he says.

A decrease in raids might reflect another change in tactics from law enforcement, says Robert Raich, who teaches cannabis law at Oaksterdam University and has argued medical cannabis cases before the US Supreme Court. Rather than descend upon a dispensary with guns and flak jackets, authorities in some jurisdictions have taken to threatening landlords with criminal prosecution or asset seizure.

“Sadly, that’s an effective action. For the price of a postage stamp, they can get a percentage of landlords to evict their dispensary tenants,” Raich said.

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Budget cuts made to the DEA in 2015 have also played a role the agency’s approach, said some attorneys interviewed for this article. As has the steep rise in cannabis delivery services. Brick-and-mortar dispensaries have reconfigured as delivery businesses by the hundreds in recent years, giving law enforcement fewer locations to raid.

“As much as the DEA hates medical cannabis, they simply don’t have the resources or the will to shut down all cannabis businesses,” Raich said. “Instead, they’re focused on the most obvious ones, retailers with physical locations.”

If there is a bit of a detente, Heather L. Burke believes it won’t last. An attorney specializing in cannabis law in Nevada County, just outside the Emerald Triangle, says when it comes to federal enforcement under the new administration, “I expect raids could go back up.” And as for local authorities, some in Northern California have pledged to target growers in coming months, Burke said. “I don’t imagine a reduction next year from local authorities.”


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.