Tag: Colorado

Cannabis Legalization Boosts Property Values, Study Says

Cannabis legalization in Colorado has brought the state nearly $2 billion in cannabis sales, several hundred million dollars in tax revenue, and general scholarship funds for college-bound students. It has also apparently increase property values in the city of Denver—at least in the areas near the city’s retail cannabis shops.

Homes near retail cannabis stores in Colorado gained 8.4% more value than homes further away from the stores.

That’s the word from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which earlier today released the results of a study done by Dr. Moussa Diop, an assistant professor of real estate & urban land economics, along with James Conklin of the University of Georgia and Herman Li of California State University. The researchers found that legal cannabis has not impacted housing or property prices negatively, and in fact increased values near retail stores.

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According to the study, single family residences within 0.1 miles of retail cannabis establishments saw an 8.4% increase in value, compared to residences located just a little further away—between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles—from a store.

The relationship between cannabis legalization and housing prices is important to note, said Diop, particularly when looking at the effects of legalizing adult-use cannabis.

“The presence of retail marijuana establishments clearly had a short-term positive impact on nearby properties in Denver,” Diop said. “This suggests that in addition to the sales and business taxes generated from the retail marijuana industry, municipalities may experience an increase in property taxes. It’s an important piece of the puzzle as more and more voters and policy-makers look for evidence about the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana, as the issue is taken up by state legislatures across the country.”

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The study flies in the face of often-raised fears about cannabis stores lowering nearby property values. Just last week, the Sacramento Bee ran a story about California homeowners worried about the negative impact of cannabis on home prices. That story focused on the effect of cannabis growing, though, not selling.

The study did not seek to identify the reasons that property near cannabis retailers gained value faster than comparative samples. The authors did speculate about some potential explanations, though, including a surge in housing demand caused by cannabis-related employment growth.

In Leafly’s latest Cannabis Jobs Count, we found that legalization now supports 26,891 full-time jobs in Colorado, up from 23,407 one year ago.

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A study published last year by Realtor.com found similar price pressure in Colorado:

“Since the first shops opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014, the median home sale price in the state has shot up from $248,000 in the first half of 2014 to $298,000 in the first half of 2016, according to the realtor.com analysis.”

Realtor.com noted that the price increases were partly due to the state’s population surge. From 2014 to 2015, Colorado was the second fastest-growing state in the nation. “There’s no direct evidence tying the legalization of the drug to the population boom,” wrote Realtor.com, “but real estate agents say more of their clients are relocating to the state because of it.”

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Not all cannabis businesses are equal, though. Realtor.com noted that homes near recreational shops were priced comparable to homes away from those stores, but appreciated in value 4.8% faster than the comps far from retail stores.  Homes near cannabis grow operations, by contrast, are priced 8.4% lower than comparable homes but appreciate in value 3.8% faster than homes far from grow sites.

Source: Realtor.com

Diop and the rest of the research team also mentioned the possibility of lower crime rates and additional amenities locating near those cannabis businesses. The researchers used residential property information from the City of Denver’s Open Data Catalog and a list of retail licenses granted by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

You can find the full report on the University of Wisconsin website here.


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.

Taking Drugged Driving Seriously: What Does the Science Say?

I’ve been reporting on cannabis full-time for more than 15 years, so I like to think I’ve heard it all—pro and con—when it comes to the legalization debate. In all that time spent weighing facts and debunking disinformation, only one con argument has ever given me serious pause: What if a large number of newbie pot smokers suddenly get behind the wheel and all start riding dirty at once? 

There are many other supposed cannabis dangers that would warrant being taken seriously, if a small bit of independent investigation didn’t reveal them to be overblown or baseless.

For instance, science shows definitively that cannabis is not a gateway to harder drugs, is not addictive relative to other drugs (including caffeine), does not cause cancer or harm the lungs, and does not lead to an increase in violent crime.

Not that cannabis is completely harmless, of course. But if smoking herb turned you into a scatterbrained, violent heroin addict with lung cancer, that would be a serious concern. As hard data makes plain, however, it’s just not what happens.

Is “stoned driving” any different?

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Hot Button Issue

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions actively looking for excuses to crack down on legal cannabis, prohibition defenders are touting drugged driving as a reason to shut down the legal states.

Recently, the Denver Post published a major investigation of cannabis and driving. The story relied largely on data coming out of Colorado and Washington in the five years since those two states became the first to legalize the adult use of cannabis.

The series began with this headline: Traffic Fatalities Linked to Marijuana Are Up Sharply in Colorado. Is Legalization To Blame?

Well, Is Legalization To Blame?

Apparently nobody’s sure, because a smaller line directly below the headline stated: “Authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot.”

Authorities say the crash data can’t be definitively linked to legalized cannabis.

In my experience, the authorities have never been shy about blaming a myriad of social ills on cannabis. So why the hesitance this time? And what, exactly, does the Denver Post mean when they describe traffic fatalities “linked to” marijuana? That’s an awfully vague term.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Task Force—a federally funded law enforcement organization dedicated to suppressing illegal drugs—stated 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.”

Which means that if a drug test shows you smoked half a joint last week and drank a bottle of vodka twenty minutes ago, your car crash goes down in the books as “marijuana related.”

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Deal With Facts, Not Fear

Before we fully delve into the confusing science of stoned driving, let’s start by stating the obvious. Operating a motored vehicle while dangerously impaired on any substance—whether legal or illegal—is rightfully a criminal act.

Compared to sober drivers, THC-impaired drivers have a 5% greater risk of crashing. Alcohol-impaired drivers under the legal limit (.08) have a 225% greater risk.

So when the Post asked if “legalization” was to blame for traffic fatalities, that was a skewed way of framing the question. Nobody would argue that alcohol legalization is responsible for a drunk driving accident. We rightly blame the drunk driver, both in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Clearly, cannabis use can lead to driver impairment, which increases accident risk—but how much cannabis? And how much risk? That depends on a lot of factors.

While it’s literally impossible to fatally overdose on infused chocolates (unless you’re allergic to chocolate), you could fall asleep or space out at the wheel after eating them and cause a fatal accident. That’s a danger that imperils not just the driver, but anyone else in the car or on the road.

When Colorado legalized adult-use cannabis in 2012, it also included a per-se limit for drivers. State law specifies that “drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their whole blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI)… and no matter the level of THC, law enforcement officers base arrests on observed impairment.”

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Look at the Full Data Set

Putting aside for a moment the notorious difficulty of measuring cannabis impairment through blood tests or officer observation, the Post’s analysis raised serious questions about cannabis use and drugged driving.

One of the key findings in the Post report was this startling statistic:

  • From 2013 to 2016, the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana use jumped 145 percent — from 47 to 115.

That doesn’t sound good. But it’s a wholly misleading statistic. “Testing positive for marijuana” only means that cannabis metabolites remain in the driver’s blood, even though the driver may be completely sober. The body expunges alcohol within hours, but those non-impairing cannabis metabolites remain for days and even weeks. The test will register as metabolite-positive if the driver consumed cannabis anytime up to three weeks ago.

If Colorado officials conducted a similar test to find drivers who consumed alcohol within the past three weeks—if such a test existed—it would find 55% to 75% of the state adult population (the percentage range of people who consume alcohol at least once a month) register as alcohol-positive. But they’re no more “drunk” than a metabolite-positive driver is “stoned.”

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In fact, the Post data is doubly misleading, because the statistics on cannabis metabolites actually predate 2013. Annual reports by the state’s Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving published data on metabolite-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes during 2011 and 2012. Those numbers reveal 2013 not as a normal, pre-legalization baseline, but rather as a bit of an outlier–an unusually low year for metabolite-positive drivers in crashes.

What the full data set reveals is that the percentage of Colorado drivers who are involved in fatal crashes, and have consumed cannabis sometime in the past three weeks, pretty much mirrors the percentage of adults who consume cannabis in the population at large. Which is to say, around 12% to 13%. It was a little under 14% prior to legalization, it was a little over 14% after legalization. In between it fluctuated between 8% and 12%.

Colorado: Drivers in Fatal Crashes (click to enlarge)

Consider the Odds

While the Post report included pushback quotes from two representatives of prominent cannabis industry trade groups, they didn’t talk to anybody like Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML. He’s a longtime expert on these matters, with the peer-reviewed papers to prove it.

Armentano argues—I believe convincingly—that “increased prevalence of THC detection in drivers tells us little about accident risk,” as it could simply be evidence of increased use among the general public, increased testing by law enforcement, or both.

For Armentano, there’s only one metric that really matters: Odds ratios.

“To determine what role, if any, a drug plays in motor vehicle accident culpability we need to looks at odds ratios, which estimate the probability of an event occurring (e.g., motor vehicle crash) over the probability that such an event does not occur,” he says. “Odds ratios greater than 1 indicate a positive relationship, with stronger relationships reflected by higher numbers.”

And guess what? Drivers who test positive for active THC—not merely inactive metabolites—do increase their risk of crashing. But that increased risk is small compared to alcohol—or compared to opioids, texting, phone use, or even the distracting company of two other passengers in the car. When Colorado saw an upsurge in traffic fatalities last year, this was the headline in the Denver PostCDOT Director Blames Surge in Colorado Roadway Fatalities on an ‘Epidemic of Distracted Driving.’ 

The largest domestic case-control study to assess drugs and accident risk—published in a 2015 research note by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency—found that the odds ratios for THC-positive drivers and crashes, when adjusted for drivers’ age and gender, came out to 1.05. That means THC-positive drivers have a 5% greater crash risk than drivers with no drugs or alcohol in their system.

Context and Relative Risk

It’s worth taking a closer look at that 2015 NHTSA study, because federal officials put a lot of stock in it as “the first large-scale [case control crash risk] study in the United States to include drugs other than alcohol.” Data was collected from more than 3,000 crash-involved drivers and 6,000 control drivers (not involved in crashes) over a 20-month period in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The data was fresh and solid: Research teams responded to crashes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Drivers were considered THC-positive if they tested for active THC, not for non-impairing metabolites still in their blood days or weeks after consumption.

While THC-positive drivers were 5% more likely to be involved in a crash, the researchers found that drivers who’d taken an opioid painkiller had a 14% greater risk of crashing. Here’s a chart from that NHTSA study comparing THC (marijuana) with opioids (narcotic analgesics) and other drugs:

Source: “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk,” Compton and Berning, NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Feb. 2015

Those levels of increased risk were tiny, however, compared to the risk involved with alcohol. Drivers within the legal range of blood alcohol level as registered by a breathalyzer (BrAC) were found to be 20% to 222% more likely to be involved in a crash. At .08 BrAC, the legal limit, the risk increased to 293%. At 0.15 BrAC, drivers were more than 12 times (+1118%) more likely to be involved in a crash than a sober person. Here’s a chart from that same study, calculating the increased risk of crashing at rising blood alcohol levels:

Source: “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk,” Compton and Berning, NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Feb. 2015

By comparison, a driver who has taken penicillin is 25% more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers carrying two or more passengers are 120% more likely to crash. Drivers using mobile phones to talk or text are 310% more likely to crash.

A separate NHSTA study (“Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance”) further conceded it’s “difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects … Drivers with high concentrations showed substantial [impairment], but also no impairment, or even some improvement.” In other words, cannabis affects different drivers in different ways, depending on a number of factors.

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Favoring One Set of Data Over Another

Strangely, the Denver Post’s analysis relies heavily on data compiled by the NHSTA, yet they never mention these striking findings from the very same federal agency.

My own theory on that wide range of responses (from “substantial impairment” to “some improvement”): Cannabis affects inexperienced users very differently than seasoned consumers. A 2010 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology concluded that “heavy cannabis users develop tolerance to the impairing effects of THC on neurocognitive task performance.” And a 2012 study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology confirmed finding “minimal impairment in driving-related psychomotor tasks in chronic daily cannabis users.”

So while the correlation between blood alcohol concentration and impairment is relatively consistent for most people, it may be impossible to establish a THC test that can truly gauge impairment the way a breathalyzer can for booze. Though not for a lack of trying, which creates the danger of severely punishing drivers simply for being cannabis consumers, not for driving while impaired.

A New Form of Prohibition

Because if it becomes essentially illegal to drive to work the morning after smoking a joint, then it becomes essentially illegal to smoke a joint—at least for the vast majority of us who are far more addicted to our cars than we ever could be to cannabis.

Speaking of automobile addiction: What’s with those car-junkies over at AAA (a.k.a. “Triple A”) lobbying against legalization and pushing “grossly distorted” data . According to a Leafly report, “the organization’s newly embraced anti-legalization stance is a hard turn from AAA’s previous position—which is to say, no position at all.”

Maybe it’s time for all AAA members who care about this issue to contact them and demand they start telling the truth.

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The (Positive) Substitution Effect

For instance, what about the idea—hidden in all the data we’ve examined so far—that increased cannabis use could actually be making our roads safer by serving as a substitute for more dangerous behavior.

Increased cannabis use could be making our roads safer by decreasing alcohol intake.

Meaning that while cannabis use in and of itself does increase crash risk, in a zero sum game where someone’s either drinking beer, popping pills or smoking weed, then cannabis is most certainly the safest of those risk factors. A dynamic that, writ large, can have a sizable positive effect.

For example, one 2011 study found that widespread use of legally accessible medical marijuana actually produces a major improvement in public safety because of a correlated reduction in drinking and driving, and an overall reduction in opioid use.

“Specifically, we find that traffic fatalities fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana,” concluded University of Colorado Professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University Assistant Professor D. Mark Anderson.

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No, You Don’t Drive Better Stoned

So, to sum up—no, you definitely don’t drive better stoned, especially in high doses. And double-especially if you’re not used to being stoned, or to driving, or to both. Infrequent users of cannabis incur a higher risk of crashing based on the increased motor impairment that comes along with having less experience with THC and its effects.

Most experts recommend waiting at least three hours after your last inhale of cannabis before driving, and waiting far longer if you’ve eaten edibles, since they can sometimes take two hours before the onset of effects, which can then last six hours or longer. Also, please be aware that mixing alcohol and cannabis is more dangerous than using either alone. And don’t ever smoke in a moving vehicle, as it’s irresponsible and also the easiest way to get busted.

Oh, and if you happen to be a passenger in a car heading out for a long road trip, then I highly recommend getting really, really blazed before getting into the car, and then bumping some killer driving music once you hit the highway.


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 County’s Marijuana Tax Program Will Provide $420,000 in College Scholarships This Fall

More than 200 graduating high school students in Colorado’s Pueblo County will head off to college in a few weeks thanks to legal marijuana. The 210 students will receive scholarships worth $2,000 each for a total of $420,000 — a very appropriate aggregate figure, given that the scholarships are being funded by excise taxes on state-legal marijuana grown in the county.

Happy local officials described the pot-fueled Pueblo County Scholarship Fund as “the country’s first cannabis-funded college scholarship.” It was created after voters in the sun-filled county, which is building a reputation as a center of the outdoor and greenhouse-grown pot trade,approved an excise tax on commercial cannabis cultivation in 2015.

Colorado pot taxes have already provided funding for the state’s public school system and homeless population, and the Pueblo County scholarships are demonstrating once again the economic and fiscal benefits accruing to states that have legalized marijuana.

And for Pueblo County high school students, there’s more to come. The pot cultivation excise tax was 2% last year, but will increase by 1% annually until it tops out at 5%. With rising commercial cultivation and a rising tax rate, the scholarship fund appears set to expand, allowing even more students in the county, where nearly 20% live below the poverty line and where more than 40% of residents are Hispanic, to take advantage of educational opportunities.

But they’ll have to stay near home. The scholarships only pay for tuition and fees at Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo. That latter school is also benefiting from marijuana in other ways: Thanks to $900,000 from the state’s marijuana tax fund and $270,000 in county pot excise taxes to be used for “community enhancement,” CSU-Pueblo last year opened the Institute of Cannabis Research to study topics such as the impact of legalization on local economies, industrial hemp cultivation, and the efficacy of cannabidiol.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace gave the credit to weed. He told the Cannabist in June the county’s abundant sunshine was its greatest natural resource, and taxes on sun-grown weed made both the institute and the scholarships possible.

“There are vast opportunities in cannabis — from growing to research — and we want to make sure all Coloradans benefit, not just a select few,” he said. “For years, our community has discussed creating local scholarships that could provide opportunity and help break cycles of poverty. The Pueblo County Scholarship Fund will change lives, families and benefit generations to come.”

Smoking weed may not help your academic career, but the taxes on growing it are helping some Colorado kids have an academic career. That’s one economic impact of legalization you don’t need an institute to figure out for you.


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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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 Sales Funnel $9.2M Into School Health Programs

Colorado schools will receive $9.2 million in funds to pay for school health programs, including those designed to prevent underage cannabis use. It’s a windfall that will effectively ease the state’s shortage of school nurses.

Each of Colorado’s 630 school nurses is responsible for up to 6,000 students, the Denver Post reports. Federal guidelines recommend that one school nurse serve no more than 750 students. The so-called School Health Professional Grant will bolster the number of health care professionals in schools around the state, including school nurses and counselors.

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The $9.2 million grant is being distributed among 42 school districts and charter schools by the Colorado Department of Education. A department spokesman told the Post that money is being directed to districts and schools that are near legal cannabis shops and that have created evidence-based programs to discourage underage consumption.

The grant comes as prohibitionists seek to downplay the tax benefits from legal cannabis. In July, for example, Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, published an opinion piece on CNBC that claimed cannabis revenue was insignificant because “marijuana taxes have failed to shore up state budget shortfalls.”

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“Even viewed solely in the context of Colorado’s educational needs, pot revenue is not newsworthy. The Colorado Department of Education indicates their schools require about $18 billion in capital construction funds alone. Marijuana taxes do not even make a dent in this gap,” Sabet wrote.

In addition to funding additional school nurses and counselors, Colorado cannabis revenue has also paid for hundreds of college scholarships in Pueblo County—one for each graduating senior who chooses to attend a college in the county.

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As Leafly reported in July, Colorado has already brought in more than $500 million in tax dollars from the cannabis industry so far. Of that, $117.9 was used to fund school construction, while an additional $5.7 million was put into a separate public school fund.

Outside education, more than $16 million has been spent on substance-abuse prevention and treatment, with another $10.4 million being used to fund mental and behavioral health services.


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.

How to Get a “Social Marijuana Use” License in Denver

On November 8, 2016, Denver voters passed Initiative 300, which directed city officials to create a four-year pilot study for what would be the United States’ first social marijuana consumption program. Such a program would allow Denver businesses and event planners to apply for licenses to allow public consumption of cannabis at everything from yoga studios to coffee shops to street fairs.

Since then, city officials have worked to bring the pilot study into existence while citizens have fretted over specifics. “Will the newly adopted regulations for the first-in-the-nation ‘social use’ program provide measured protection for patrons and neighbors of businesses that take part, as city officials say?” asked the Denver Post on June 30. “Or are the rules for consumption areas so restrictive that few businesses and event organizers will want to bother?”

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This week Denver officially opened the application process for “Designated Consumption Area” licenses. To answer the Post’s question about whether the rules will protect communities or repel applicants, it appears to be a little from column A and a fair amount from column B.

For those interested in applying for a Designated Consumption Area (DCA) license, here’s your non-exhaustive to-do list.

Complete Your Application

This may seem like a no-brainer until you realize that a “complete application” includes:

  • A criminal-history records check conducted by the FBI for the applicant AND anyone who owns 5% or more of the entity being proposed to host the DCA
  • A red-lined floor plan showing the location of the designated consumption area within the business
  • Proof that the DCA complies with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act
  • A valid zone-use permit and recent certificate of occupancy for the host venue
  • “Evidence of community support”—specifically, a letter of support (or at least non-opposition) from an eligible neighborhood association, which is defined as “a registered neighborhood organization as defined in the Revised Municipal Code that has been in existence for more than two years”
  • A “responsible operations plan” including a detailed explanation of how employees will monitor and prevent over-intoxication, DUI, underage access, and illegal distribution of cannabis
  • A documented employee-training program addressing all components of the aforementioned responsible operations plan
  • A “community engagement plan” as defined in the Denver Revised Municipal Code
  • An “odor control plan” as provided in the Denver Revised Municipal Code

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Honor the Proximity Restrictions

“No Permit shall be issued within 1,000 feet of any school, child-care establishment, any alcohol or drug treatment facility, or any city-owned recreation center or city-owned outdoor pools,” read the rules, so confirm and document your proximity distances along with your application. Also off-limits for DCA licenses: Any location with a liquor license, and any licensed marijuana establishment. (Which means bars and dispensaries must stay out of the social-smoking game for now.)

Narrow Your Social Dabbing Dreams

The guidelines specifically forbid the use of propane torches at any Designated Consumption Areas, so if you’re going to allow dabbing, it will have to be done with an e-nail.

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Have Money

Every application must be accompanied by a $1,000 application fee.

Good luck, Denver applicants! We’re rooting for you!


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 to Sessions: Cannabis Industry Working, Can Do Better

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s legal marijuana industry is working — and can work better with federal collaboration, the state’s governor and Republican attorney general told U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a letter Thursday.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman urged Sessions to collaborate with recreational cannabis states on law enforcement and on providing the industry access to the federal banking system.

“We stand ready to work with our federal partners to fortify what we have built.”

The cannabis industry relies on cash because the federal government considers the drug illegal.

They told Sessions, who has floated the idea of a crackdown on marijuana legalization, that Colorado’s first-in-the-nation recreational industry is robust. The state has taken steps to crack down on black market sales, diversion to other states, and youth use, they said.

“Colorado’s system has become a model for other states and nations,” Hickenlooper and Coffman wrote. Voter-approved sales began in 2014.

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Sessions recently sent letters to the governors of Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington — the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana — detailing his concerns with how effective state regulatory efforts are. All have defended their efforts.

Hickenlooper and Coffman addressed several of Sessions’ concerns:

—Diversion: They noted that Colorado has sophisticated seed-to-sale tracking, has capped individual plant cultivation, banned cannabis growing cooperatives and provided $6 million this year for local police actions targeting the black market.

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—Minors: They insisted that several surveys suggest marijuana consumption by youth has not increased since legalization — and that one federal report, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggests it has declined. Colorado has spent more than $22 million on education, they said.

—Motor vehicle fatalities: Hickenlooper and Coffman reported the number of drivers considered by the state’s highway patrol to be cannabis-impaired dropped by 21 percent over the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.

“We stand ready to work with our federal partners to fortify what we have built,” they wrote.


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.

Elevation Gain: Leafly’s Guide to the 6 Best High Hikes in Colorado

As the first state to pass recreational cannabis and home to both the breathtaking Rocky Mountains and an incredible number of national parks, Colorado has always been known for its quality bud and spectacular scenery. It’s the perfect place to be for any cannabis enthusiast who happens to love the great outdoors.

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With varied landscapes and plenty of pre-rolls, edibles, and flower-filling local dispensaries, you’ll want to pack up your gear and get ready to explore everything this nature-loving Centennial State has to offer.

Rustler Gulch – Gunnison National Forest

Nothing conveys enchantment like verdant fields blooming in rainbow. And if you’re ready to view a stunning explosion of color, look no further than Rustler Gulch close to Crested Butte. This enchanting trail is quite unlike any other as it opens to valleys flushed with 120 species of vibrant wildflowers. Walk amongst Lupine, Aspen Sunflowers, and Paintbrush as you pass babbling creeks and a sparkling waterfall reminiscent of Grimm-like fairytales.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,850 ft.

Product Pairing:  A breezy, uplifting hybrid to bolster the charming spirit of Rustler Gulch. Get your hands on Jillybean by Maggie’s Farm for its euphoric tick and mind-opening effects.

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Mount Audubon Trail – Roosevelt National Forest

Grab a jacket and your sturdiest boots when you hit Mount Audubon Trail in Roosevelt National Forest. With sweeping views of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks, the challenging climb to the top is definitely worth it on this adventurous trail. Travel above trees and milky clouds to spark one up at 13,225 feet.

Difficulty: Moderate/hard

Distance: 8.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,667 ft.

Product Pairing: A potent concentrate for your favorite vape pen. Pick the classic Colorado hybrid Colorado Chem for a burst of creative energy as you pass lush forests and give into the elevation of this mammoth mountain.

Conundrum Hot Springs Trail – White River National Forest

Though the hot springs are the main event, the hike through Conundrum Hot Springs Trail to get to them is just as magnetic. Flanked with wide valleys, blooming wildflowers, forests of aspens, and limitless greenery, this trail is a must visit. Soak in the scenery as you soothe your tired muscles in naturally heated pools reaching almost 100 degrees. Clothing is optional, so feel free to bear it all (or don’t be surprised when others do).

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 12 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,457 ft.

Product Pairing: A relaxing topical to soften sore muscles after a calming dip. Reach for Apothecanna’s Extra Strength Relieving Crème for one incredibly tranquil hiking trip.

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Seven Falls – Colorado Springs

Don’t go chasing waterfalls—well, not unless you plan on visiting the captivating Seven Falls in Colorado Springs. This breathtaking trail takes you up 224 man-made steps, where you’ll witness all 181 feet of glorious waterfall beneath you. Choose to go back down (bear in mind it will get crowded) or make a day of it and continue your adventure to the trails above. Bonus: Plan a trip when the sun goes down and you’ll be able to see the falls lit up against the darkening night sky.

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 224 steps

Product Pairing: A small edible to snack on as you pause and take in the view at every platform. Edipure’s sour Watermelon Tarts are the perfect companion to witness one of Colorado’s natural treasures.

Royal Arch Trail – Chautauqua Park

The ever-popular yet always enigmatic Royal Arch Trail leads you through the serene Bluebell Canyon before you get up close and personal with views of the 20-foot Royal Arch. This natural wonder formed about 45 million years ago, and with so much beauty and intrigue packed into one hike, it’d be tough to pass up for both tourists and Colorado natives alike.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,237 ft.

Product Pairing: A pre-loaded cartridge so you can consume with discretion. Reach for O.penVape’s energizing sativa Craft Reserves Cartridge to help you take in the colossal history surrounding the Royal Arch Trail.   

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Lake Haiyaha Trail – Rocky Mountain National Park

If you enjoy a crisp, refreshing dip in a lake after a long hike, check out the Lake Haiyaha Trail nestled in Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll get to pass both stunning Nymph and Dream Lakes before hitting the main event: Lake Haiyaha. Play along the shore and amongst the lake’s unique boulders before jumping into its cool waters. Tip: Lake Haiyaha is a popular trail, so get there early before the crowds.

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Distance: 3.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 885 ft.

Product Pairing: A revitalizing hybrid housed in a convenient pre-roll. Spark up the buzzy Chemmy Jones by Willie’s Reserves and take your time viewing all the gorgeous lakes and natural beauty the Lake Haiyaha Trail contains.


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 to Start Licensing First Cannabis Clubs, but Few May Apply

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s largest city is on the brink of licensing some of the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs.

But Denver’s elaborate hurdles for potential cannabis-friendly coffee shops and gathering places may mean the city gets few takers for the new licenses.

Denver voters approved bring-your-own-pot clubs in a ballot measure last year after city officials’ dragged their feet on calls to give legal consumers a place to use the drug. The city plans to start accepting applications by the end of the month.

“There are plenty of places where you can consume alcohol. Let’s give people a place to go to consume marijuana,” said Jordan Person, head of Denver NORML, which advocates for cannabis-friendly public policy.

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But Denver’s would-be “social use” clubs have faced one delay after another.

First, the state liquor board prohibited cannabis use at any place with a liquor license, making bars and many restaurants off-limits. And retail shops can’t allow consumption on the premises.

That left gathering places like coffee shops, art galleries and yoga studios. Furthermore, would-be clubs must stay twice as far as liquor stores from schools and anywhere children congregate, including playgrounds and sports fields.

“We can’t be in places where it makes sense,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, a Denver marijuana consultant who helped run last year’s club campaign.

City officials say the rules are as flexible as possible given stiff resistance from some community groups and marijuana skeptics. The voter-approved club measure also says the club licenses are a pilot program and neighborhood groups must agree to allow a club before it could open.

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“There were no surprises in the rules,” said Dan Rowland, spokesman for the Denver department that regulates marijuana businesses. “They reflect all the comments we got from the community.”

One hopeful applicant says the regulations are stringent but still a step forward for the industry.

“A lot of us are hoping this will … open the doors for a new kind of business,” said Connor Lux, who runs a co-work space for the cannabis industry and plans to apply for a social use license to hold public, cannabis-friendly events at his business just north of downtown Denver. Applying for a license costs $1,000; the licenses itself is $1,000 a year.

Lux envisions open-to-the-public networking events at his space.

“I don’t think anyone’s planning a giant smoke-out, everybody-coming-to-get-high kind of thing,” he said.

Khalatbari has sued Colorado’s liquor regulators over the ban on cannabis and alcohol in the same location, a lawsuit that hasn’t yet been heard, and says he is considering a lawsuit against the city for what he believes are onerous club rules.

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Khalatbari noted Denver has much looser distance requirements for places selling alcohol, even allowing bicycle bars to cruise past schools and churches. The mobile bars with drivers ferry groups of pedaling drinkers from one tavern to the next.

“You can ride these stupid moronic bike bars down the street, getting hammered in public. But we’re not giving people a safer choice, even though voters have said over and over again they want to go that way,” Khalatbari said.

Colorado’s marijuana law neither allows nor denies cannabis clubs, leaving the state with a patchwork of local club rules. Some cities tolerate them; in others, clubs operate underground, with members arranging meetups using social media.

State lawmakers earlier this year decided against a plan to regulate marijuana clubs statewide. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper warned that passing the measure could invite a federal crackdown.

The situation is similar in other legal-cannabis states.

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Alaska’s 2014 marijuana measure allowed for on-site consumption at potential “tasting rooms,” though regulators in that state have yet to allow any to open.

And measures approved last year in California and Massachusetts allowed for cannabis clubs, but both states are still working out rules.

Person, the marijuana activist, said she’s hopeful that Denver’s limited rules will prove a step forward in a national move toward marijuana acceptance.

“People still aren’t sure how this is going to work or what’s going to be allowed. But this is progress,” she said.


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.

Fort Collins Eyes Eliminating Voter Approval for Cannabis Changes

The Fort Collins City Council is scheduled on Tuesday to consider placing a measure on November’s ballot asking voters to give up their right to weigh in on changes to the city’s cannabis regulations.

Under a current Fort Collins city ordinance, voter approval is required to adopt changes to local cannabis regulations. Officials and industry members say that extra step has made it difficult for the city to keep up with the state’s changing cannabis regulations.

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The addition of the proposed cannabis measure to the Nov. 7, ballot would mark the first time in five years that cannabis was on the ballot for Fort Collins voters.

A city memo indicates members of Fort Collins’ cannabis industry support the proposed change, the Coloradoan reports. Colorado continues to update its marijuana regulations and Fort Collins is unable to adapt to those changes without a vote, the memo says, adding that the measure would only those changes that reflect changes in state law.

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“Original drafters of the citizen-initiated ordinance support updating the Code in order to stay current with applicable state laws, rules and regulations, and wanted to ensure that the referred ballot would not allow Code changes beyond the scope of staying current with state law. The proposed amendment to be put to the voters addresses both the needs of the City while protecting the original intent of the citizen-initiated ordinance,” the industry memo says.

Fort Collins is currently the only jurisdiction in Colorado that operates under voter-approved cannabis licensing rules, according to the Colorado Municipal League.


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.

Cannabis States Try to Curb Smuggling, Fend off Administration

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Well before Oregon legalized marijuana, its verdant, wet forests made it an ideal place for growing the drug, which often ended up being funneled out of the state for big money. Now, officials suspect cannabis grown legally in Oregon and other states is also being smuggled out, and the trafficking is putting America’s multibillion-dollar marijuana industry at risk.

In response, pot-legal states are trying to clamp down on “diversion” even as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions presses for enforcement of federal laws against marijuana.

Tracking legal cannabis from the fields and greenhouses where it’s grown to the shops where it’s sold under names like Blueberry Kush and Chernobyl is their so far main protective measure.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown recently signed into law a requirement that state regulators track from seed to store all marijuana grown for sale in Oregon’s legal market. So far, only recreational marijuana has been comprehensively tracked. Tina Kotek, speaker of the Oregon House, said lawmakers wanted to ensure “we’re protecting the new industry that we’re supporting here.”

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“There was a real recognition that things could be changing in D.C.,” she said.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board says it’s replacing its current tracking Nov. 1 with a “highly secure, reliable, scalable and flexible system.”

California voters approved using a tracking system run by Lakeland, Florida-based Franwell for its recreational cannabis market. Sales become legal Jan. 1.

Franwell also tracks marijuana, using bar-code and radio frequency identification labels on packaging and plants, in Colorado, Oregon, Maryland, Alaska and Michigan.

“The tracking system is the most important tool a state has,” said Michael Crabtree, who runs Denver-based Nationwide Compliance Specialists Inc., which helps tax collectors track elusive, cash-heavy industries like the marijuana business.

But the systems aren’t fool-proof. They rely on the users’ honesty, he said.

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“We have seen numerous examples of people ‘forgetting’ to tag plants,” Crabtree said. Colorado’s tracking also doesn’t apply to home-grown plants and many noncommercial marijuana caregivers.

In California, implementing a “fully operational, legal market” could take years, said state Sen. Mike McGuire, who represents the “Emerald Triangle” region that’s estimated to produce 60 percent of America’s marijuana. But he’s confident tracking will help.

“In the first 24 months, we’re going to have a good idea who is in the regulated market and who is in black market,” McGuire said.

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession, in 1973. It legalized medical marijuana in 1998, and recreational use in 2014.

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Before that, Anthony Taylor hid his large cannabis crop from aerial surveillance under a forest canopy east of Portland, and tended it when there was barely enough light to see.

“In those days, marijuana was REALLY illegal,” said Taylor, now a licensed marijuana processor and lobbyist. “If you got caught growing the amounts we were growing, you were going to go to prison for a number of years.”

Taylor believes it’s easier to grow illegally now because authorities lack the resources to sniff out every operation. And growers who sell outside the state can earn thousands of dollars per pound, he said.

Still, it’s hard to say if cannabis smuggling has gotten worse in Oregon, or how much of the marijuana leaving the state filters out from the legal side.

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Chris Gibson, executive director of the federally funded Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, said the distinction matters less than the fact that marijuana continues to leave Oregon on planes, trains and automobiles, and through the mail.

“None is supposed to leave, so it’s an issue,” Gibson told The Associated Press. “That should be a primary concern to state leadership.”

“Marijuana has left Oregon for decades. What’s different is that now we have better mechanisms to try to control it.”

US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

On a recent morning, Billy Williams, the U.S. attorney in Oregon, sat at his desk in his office overlooking downtown Portland, a draft Oregon State Police report in front of him. Oregon produces between 132 tons (120 metric tons) and 900 tons (816 metric tons) more marijuana than what Oregonians can conceivably consume, the report said, using statistics from the legal industry and estimates of illicit grows. It identified Oregon as an “epicenter of cannabis production” and quoted an academic as saying three to five times the amount of cannabis that’s consumed in Oregon leaves the state.

Sessions himself cited the report in a July 24 letter to Oregon’s governor. In it, Sessions asked Brown to explain how Oregon would address the report’s “serious findings.”

Pete Gendron, a licensed marijuana grower who advised state regulators on compliance and enforcement, said the reports’ numbers are guesswork, and furthermore are outdated because they don’t take into account the marijuana now being sold in Oregon’s legal recreational market.

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A U.S. Justice Department task force recently said the Cole Memorandum , which restricts federal marijuana law enforcement in states where marijuana is legal, should be reevaluated to see if it should be changed.

The governors of Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska — where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal — wrote to Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in April, warning altering the memorandum “would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

But less than a month later, Sessions wrote to congressional leaders criticizing the federal government’s hands-off approach to medical marijuana, and citing a Colorado case in which a medical marijuana licensee shipped cannabis out of state.

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In his letter, Sessions opposed an amendment by Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer and California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical marijuana. Congress is weighing renewing the amendment for the next fiscal year.

In a phone interview from Washington, Blumenauer said the attorney general is “out of step” with most members of Congress, who have become more supportive “of ending the failed prohibition on marijuana.”

“Marijuana has left Oregon for decades,” Blumenauer said. “What’s different is that now we have better mechanisms to try to control it.”

Taylor believes cannabis smuggling will continue because of the profit incentive, which will end only if the drug is legalized across America. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill in Congress on Aug. 1 to do just that.


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.