By JOE REEDY, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida legislators are back on a path to passing a bill for enacting the state’s constitutional amendment expanding the use of medical marijuana.
Gov. Rick Scott added medical marijuana to the agenda for the special legislative session that began Wednesday after lawmakers reached a compromise on key elements. The House’s Health & Human Services Committee passed it on Wednesday night. The Senate’s Health Policy Committee will meet Thursday morning, with both chambers likely to review it later in the day.
“Both sides made significant concessions and were able to come together,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the House’s bill. “Neither one of us got everything we wanted, but we both got something we could live with.”
The amendment, approved by 71 percent of voters in November, expands legal use beyond the limited prescriptions for low-strength marijuana allowed under a 2014 law. It also expands the eligible ailments beyond the current list of cancer, epilepsy and chronic muscle spasms to include HIV and AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and similar conditions.
When the bill implementing the amendment fell apart late in the session, the Senate wanted to limit each treatment center to 15 locations with no sunset provisions and make medical marijuana subject to sales tax. The House wanted no caps and no sales tax.
Under the agreement, there will be a limit of 25 retail dispensaries per medical marijuana treatment center, which can increase by five for every 100,000 patients added to the registry. The cap would expire on April 1, 2020. The legislation also adds 10 more medical marijuana treatment centers, meaning there would be 17 statewide by October. Four additional centers would be added for every 100,000 patients.
According to the Department of Health, the state registry now has 16,614 patients. A recent state revenue impact study projects that by 2022 there will be 472,000 medical cannabis patients and $542 million in sales.
Sen. Rob Bradley, the Senate’s main sponsor of the bill, said marijuana would not be taxed because it is considered to be medicine.
Patients and caregivers say the proposed rules remain too restrictive. The bill allows patients to receive an order for three 70-day supplies during a doctor’s visit that they could then take to a medical marijuana treatment center, but it bans smoking. The smoking ban is likely to be challenged in the courts. Training for doctors would drop from eight hours to two but they would still have to stringently document patients’ conditions before prescribing marijuana.
“There’s that saying about having something done is better than perfect. People are counting on something getting done,” said John Morgan, who played a key role in getting the amendment on the ballot and passed.
Morgan has said he will sue the state for not allowing smoking, but Rodrigues said there aren’t any scientific studies to show that smoking is effective.
“If he wants to sue us, that it is his prerogative. I am confident it can be defended in front of a judge,” Rodrigues said.
For the past month, medical marijuana supporters have said it would be easier for the Legislature to establish the framework of rules instead of the Department of Health, which went through several rounds of litigation when trying to determine who would be licensed to produce and distribute pot.
The amendment requires new laws to be in place by July 3 and enacted by October. Rodrigues said he is optimistic the bill will pass, despite an ongoing feud over the state budget.
“If they were going to have an impact, I believe we would not have to an agreement in the first place,” Rodrigues said.
Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joereedy . Read more of his work at https://apnews.com/search/joe%20reedy .
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Will the Marijuana Industry Save the Struggling Town of Adelanto? BY ALEX HALPERIN
In the dusty, Joshua tree–speckled desert of southwestern San Bernardino County, the town of Adelanto almost blends into the landscape with its unlovely grid of colorless, low-slung buildings. The remote town was founded in 1915 by Earl Richardson, who is best known for inventing the toaster and an electric iron. Much like the nearby colony of Llano Del Rio — the failed Antelope Valley utopian commune that existed from 1914 to 1918 — Adelanto was intended to be one of Southern California’s prototypical planned communities. It was home to orchards and farms. But after the George Air Force Base — a large area employer since it opened in the 1940s — shuttered in 1992, the city never recovered.
Today, Adelanto’s population is around 33,000.
It is 50 percent Latino and 30 percent African-American, and roughly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Adelanto’s first prison opened in 1991, and since then it’s been known — to the extent that it’s known at all — as a prison city. The for-profit prison company GEO Group has opened facilities there, housing more than 3,000 inmates. Last year, Adelanto reportedly collected only $160,000 annually from these businesses.
On a desolate inbound road, a welcoming sign calls Adelanto “the city with unlimited possibilities.” Beneath the slogan are badges for Rotary International, the city’s Chamber of Commerce (founded in 1956), and the American Legion. There’s also a new logo on the sign, for the Adelanto Growers Association, a marijuana industry group striving to revive the city’s fortunes.
When Mayor Rich Kerr was elected in November 2014, he says Adelanto was “$2.6 million in the hole.” A year later, the city welcomed marijuana cultivation, and its economy is on the upswing. Kerr says the deficit is now half a million dollars. “By June we’ll be in the black,” and after that, he expects pot taxes to start delivering undreamed-of millions to city coffers.
“No one wanted to live in Adelanto — it was a drive-through town,” Freddy Sayegh, an entertainment and cannabis lawyer, says. Around January 2015, Sayegh, who is based in Altadena, started pitching the city to allow marijuana growing. Months of talks followed. Opponents included the elementary school district superintendent, but in November 2015 Adelanto became one of the few California cities to allow medical marijuana growing on an industrial scale. “We had a city to save,” City Councilman John “Bug” Woodard Jr. says.
Legal marijuana growing operations at High Desert Cultivations may bring big money to Adelanto.
In 2015, there were still relatively few cities where a business could acquire land and legally start a commercial marijuana farm. Desert Hot Springs, another depressed desert town, in 2014 became the first Southern California city to allow large pot farms. Recently, it’s seen large-scale operations move to town, tapping into the underground aquifers that give the town its name. Other desert cities are considering the marijuana option, too.
Adelanto is still a sleepy place, but it appears to be on the cusp of becoming a boomtown. In the previous 15 years, the town had added only two new Dollar Stores, according to Kerr, which earned the city $7,000 a year. But by allowing commercial marijuana growing, Adelanto ignited a land rush. Plots that had been worth $300,000 suddenly sold for $3 million, according to Sayegh, who represents several Adelanto growers.
Home values skyrocketed, and construction on more is underway. Yet the Adelanto green rush has barely begun. In a few weeks, one or two growers will harvest their first plants, but the city has already licensed more than 40 new facilities. Driving around town, every empty lot in the grow zone appears to have a “for sale” sign on it.
L.A.’s recent economic boom has not extended to San Bernardino County, where the poverty rate hovers around 20 percent, well above the national average; only 20 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared with about a third in L.A. It’s home to working-class populations that have been left behind. And marijuana is a rare opportunity to create thousands of well-paid jobs for workers without college degrees.
When California voters legalized recreational marijuana in November, they set the stage for an economic bonanza. Eight states have fully legalized pot, and 29 allow medical use, but as the world’s largest legal market, California is likely to define legal weed’s structure and culture globally, much as Silicon Valley and Hollywood do for their respective industries.
According to Arcview Market Research, last year in North America, legal weed sales reached $6.7 billion. By 2021, that figure is expected to triple, with California leading the growth. Paired with the destigmatization of cannabis use — a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal — California has the recipe for a major economic engine. Barring federal intervention by President Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the state’s future is green.
Supporters argue that legalization will shift control of the marijuana market from violent criminal cartels to law-abiding businesses that pay taxes and create jobs. There’s already evidence from Colorado and other states that legal weed has benefited state economies.
A struggling town such as Adelanto has an incentive to bet its future on marijuana. But for a nascent industry encumbered by pot’s legal baggage, what happens over the next few years in Adelanto, and other down-on-their-luck California cities counting on cannabis, will have broad implications for the industry’s future. The fate of Adelanto will help determine whether the green rush is another boom-and-bust California dream, or an industry that’s sustainable for decades.
City Councilman John “Bug” Woodard Jr. looks over a new 630-acre, $60 million construction project by Industrial Integrity Solutions for eventual lease to marijuana entrepreneurs.
Adelanto’s Starbucks is in the corner of a modest strip mall complex. On a recent morning, Mayor Kerr and Councilman Woodard, his political ally, held court on the patio outside, chatting with locals who passed by.
Kerr is a 22-year Marine veteran who has a business installing telecom systems for Motorola. His mayoral campaign was the first time he’d run for office. He swears constantly and smokes off-brand cigarettes. In January, he punctured a lung and broke some ribs and his collarbone in a dirt biking accident. He’s 60 years old.
Woodard is in real estate and printing, the latter of which helped when he self-financed his $700 City Council campaign. With his longish hair and biker mustache, he resembles singer David Crosby. Woodard says they are both “very conservative Republicans.” They receive small stipends for their government roles.
Kerr and Woodard won election in 2014, shaking up the local order. Woodard ran opposing a new prison, though he told the Victorville Daily Press, “I’m not totally against it. But what I imagine is people build prisons here without doing anything extra for our community. What a disgrace.”
Woodard moved to Adelanto from Pismo Beach in 1998 after betting a friend that he could find an affordable house in California. His first home in Adelanto cost $28,500. He now owns four houses there, and says all of them have increased in value since the city welcomed pot growers.
Together, Kerr and Woodard beat back opposition to growers from the sheriff’s office and other interests Woodard says are “paid by the government.” They argue that marijuana cultivation was the only choice Adelanto had and, unlike the city’s prisons, the marijuana companies would contribute a fair share. “This city was almost gone,” Woodard says. “We’re business people, let’s get this city fixed.”
Adelanto does not seem to have much, but Kerr and Woodard try to work with what resources they have. The city’s real asset is what Kerr calls “53 square miles of dirt,” just a two-hour drive from L.A.
Space is all the growers need. One company is building a series of warehouse-sized buildings expected to total 630,000 square feet. Woodard believes it’s the largest indoor grow under construction in California.
In a few months, Kerr and Woodard expect to have more money to spend than Adelanto has seen in many years, and they’re exhilarated. They ticked off what’s in store: new housing, new shops and a new concrete plant to support construction, which could create 500 jobs.
We have written extensively about the uses and benefits of the wonderful hemp plant here in the past on ISMOKE, but did you know about Hempcrete?
Hempcrete is similar to concrete but made from the cannabis plant mixed with limestone, making a durable substance that can be an alternative to traditional concrete – it’s consistency is different to concrete when wet, but it drys into a stable material capable of holding up houses.
So could this be the building material of the future?
Hemp Concrete has a high degree of thermal insulation, and it is also fire resistant. Walls made from this material are actually breathable which regulates humidity within the structure, and it’s insulative properties regulate temperature. Some companies have suggested that under the right circumstances the use of this material could even eliminate the need for a heating and cooling system entirely, or at least vastly reduce the energy output.
Another great thing about Hemp concrete is that it scrubs carbon out of the atmosphere over decades as it cures from within the building. It has been suggested that Hempcrete can absorb between 130kg and 165 kg of Carbon Dioxide per cubic meter.
The reason it can absorb C02 from the atmosphere is that it is a plant-based product, and mixing the hemp with lime to make the hemp concrete allows for the carbon reabsorption after it is processed.
Properties of Hempcrete:
- Environmentally friendly – as the hemp grows it takes Carbon Dioxide from the air. One crop takes three months
- Extremely wind-proof
- Excellent insulation
- Lighter and fluffier than concrete + non-hazardous to work with on a building site
- Low thermal-conductivity
- Resistant to pests
Here is Kevin McCloud (Grand Design) talking about Hempcrete as part of a 2011 Documentary:-
“I cannot find one (material) to match hemp… I can’t find one that has such a low embodied energy, that locks carbon in, that has such a low environmental impact and that can be grown locally and harvested with minimum inputs in just a matter of a few months”
The Cannabis plant is one of – if not the most – versatile plants on the planet, and uses like this show you just how important it is to mankind.
Have you built using Hempcrete? Tweet us @ISMOKEMAG
Vote Yes On Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative ‘For Humanitarian Reasons’
Florida voters are going to see a medical marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for the second election cycle in a row. The 2016 version is different than the 2014 version in a handful of ways. The 2014 initiative lost by just 2 percent. An improved initiative, lessons learned from the 2014 campaign, and a higher voter turnout due to a Presidential election will hopefully overcome that 2 percent. Florida residents want medical marijuana, and not the version previously passed by the Florida Legislature that doesn’t really help anyone. The Editorial Board at the Miami-Herald agrees. Per an excerpt from a recently published article by the media outlet:
But this is about sick people. Passage of the amendment means patients will go to a doctor, who can recommend they receive a medical marijuana card. The card will be issued by the Florida Department of Health, giving a patient the right to buy medical marijuana at dispensaries expected to spring up across the state.
Today, 23 states already permit medical cannabis use, and three more are poised to advance similar laws this year. Florida should join the group, primarily for the sake of an ailing population that wants it available.Floridians have sent a signal they want medical marijuana. For humanitarian reasons, voters should approve the measure this time around.
This Newspaper Is Looking for a Marijuana Critic – Legit CannabisJobs
Seeking budding writers in Oregon
The employment outlook is looking up for cannabis aficionados.
The Oregonian, the main newspaper in Portland, is looking for a critic to review marijuana strains and other weed-related products. The job listing for the freelance position demands an “experienced cannabis consumer” with deep knowledge of the strains of marijuana available in the state. The role will also include writing about the state’s “robust cannabis culture and marketplace.”
Recreational marijuana use was legalized in Oregon July 1, so jobs related to pot are sure to increase in the coming months. But the cannabis writer at the Oregonian won’t be the first person to hold such a role at a major American newspaper. The Denver Post appointed a pot editor at the end of 2013 just before Colorado legalized marijuana in the state.
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize marijuana. But the historic day passed with little public acknowledgement in a state with a savvy marijuana culture that has seen varying degrees of legal acceptance of the drug for 40 years.
Supporters said the day was a milestone, comparing it to the end of Prohibition. But unlike in Colorado and Washington state, there were no street parties and public smoking displays in Alaska’s biggest cities.
Dolly Fleck-Phelps, a Kenai resident with an ancillary marijuana business, said she thought people would look back on the day as a turning point for Alaska. “Absolutely this is history in the making,” Fleck-Phelps said. “This is the opening of the door. Now it’s time for the real work to begin.”
Legalization marked the end of a 43-year political battle for Bill Parker, 70.
The Anchorage man, who was listed as a sponsor of the initiative, first banded together with a group of young Democrats elected to the state House of Representatives to introduce a legalization bill in 1972. “Gee, there weren’t enough votes to worry about,” the retired deputy commissioner of corrections said.
Parker’s hopes for legal weed dwindled as he saw Alaska become more Republican and more conservative over the years. He said perhaps the marijuana vote marks the end of that pendulum swing.
Guy with massive brain injury is biking across Florida to raise awareness for medical pot
What do you get when you cross a normal, everyday dude with 12 screws and six metal plates?
No, this isn’t some cheesy joke with a punch line playing on the word “screws,” it’s a real story about a man and his pot. The not-so-funny answer is a metal skull.
Ken Locke cheated death in late 2001 after a tree fell on his head and caved in his skull. The 12 screws and 6 plates rebuilt his broken head. But the news wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Locke was left with frequent grand mal seizures. According to the Panama City News Herald Locke suffered more than 60 of the debilitating and frightening seizures.
Locke was on a cocktail of prescription drugs he said caused him to lose more than 50 pounds. So he ditched the pharmacy in his bathroom and took up smoking pot in 2006. That same year he trekked across country on his bike to raise awareness for the benefits of medical cannabis. This year, now that a medical marijuana ballot initiative failed in Florida, he’s doing it again. On January 3, Locke started a statewide bike tour with his wife and 12-year old son that will culminate on January 10 in Tallahassee.
The pro-pot bike tour will end with a Libertarian rally in the state’s capital.
Locke’s bike tour comes at an important time for proponents of medical marijuana in Florida. Last year, the state legislature passed a medical marijuana law that would allow the dissemination of a non-high inducing strain of marijuana. That strain would be low in Tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that causes users to get high, but high in Cannabidiol. That’s the part of pot thought to reduce seizures.
Since Locke started using medical marijuana, he says he hasn’t had any more seizures – more than he can say for the arsenal of pharmaceuticals he was taking.
Read more at http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/173808
Connecticut Dispensaries Could See Rise in Patients
Connecticut dispensary owners may have access to a larger market soon, as a physicians board has recommended adding four diseases to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis cards.
The Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians wants to allow patients with sickle cell anemia, recurring pain after back surgery, severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to have access to MMJ. The group, however, rejected a proposal to add Tourette’s syndrome, according to the Hartford Courant.
The board’s recommendations will now be sent to Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris. If he approves any of the conditions, he will write regulations that would then undergo another hearing before being sent to a Connecticut General Assembly committee.
Adding new conditions could expand the market for cannabis businesses by hundreds of patients. Roughly 3,400 patients have signed up for the program so far, according to the latest data from the state. The first dispensaries opened last fall.
Job Growth in the Cannabis Industry by leafhead
Cannabis boom in 2014: 2014 was a banner year for medical marijuana legislation and 2015 looks to be another year filled with legalization, decriminalization and the expansion of the medical marijuana business. In the state of Colorado $573 Million was spent on medical marijuana with $60 Million collected in taxes whereas in Washington $64 Million was spent on medical marijuana with $15 Million collected in taxes. Is there any wonder why the job economy has also raised in those states? $8 Million was given to marijuana and cannabis research, Alaska and Oregon passed legislation as well as Washington D.C.
Job Growth for Medical Marijuana Workers10,000+ new jobs were created last year with only half of the country having legalized or passing medical marijuana legislation. Considering that 3 new states passed legislation and 6 more states are in play in the coming year the potential for job growth has become exponential. With a total of 4 states out of the 23 legalized states having specific amendments to include recreational smoking and use of cannabis the markets for jobs and career growth has grown as well. The projections made about the industry include nearly $10 Billion in revenue for marijuana-legal states within the next three years and if more states are added to that list the growth in the economy could be even more substantial.
Investment Trading in the Coming Year With the release of the breaking story about Founders Fund investing in Privateer Holdings Inc. opens up a new era in the legitimacy of cannabis entrepreneurship. Larger more privatized firms will take the cue from Founders Fund to begin investing within other businesses in the cannabis industry. Ancillary services are growing every day in the industry and with the existing infrastructure for pot only being developed within the last couple years the time for job growth through investment capital has finally come. The states that stand to make the greatest benefit through medical marijuana jobs are those that didn’t have an infrastructure for manufacturing and growing of cannabis. States such as Alaska and Oregon’s amendments included recreational provisions thus making the demand for medical marijuana greater. Through legalization the economy expands to create new businesses, more jobs and careers, and more tax revenue as a result of sales.
Former US Senator Mike Gravel has agreed to become the chief executive of a Nevada company that develops and markets cannabis products to states that have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana.
Gravel knows what he is doing too. This man represented Alaska from 1969 to 1981, and will head KUSH, a subsidiary of Cannabis Sativa Inc, where he previously sat on the board of directors for nine months. He’s quoted saying:
“We need to decriminalize drugs and treat them as a health problem,” Gravel, 84, told Reuters. “You should go see a doctor on the subject, not a sheriff, a police officer or a warden.”
Former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is the chief executive of Cannabis Sativa. Gravel’s appointment comes after both Alaska and Oregon voters chose in November to join Colorado and Washington State as the only US states to legalize regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana sales to adults age 21 and over.
The District of Columbia passed a more stringent weed legalization measure in November, yet the law faces obstacles in Congress, as RT has reported, which is great news!
If you really think that marijuana will still be illegal in ten years I feel sorry for you. WAKE UP! Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, have laws permitting medical marijuana usage at the recommendation of a doctor.
As more and more states are now considering efforts to legalize marijuana, the federal government, as of now, still considers pot to be an illegal, Schedule 1 drug on par with the likes of heroin. However, we all know how ridiculous that is and we can no longer stand for the childish and hypocritical lies that exist in our government.
In a recent poll conducted by the Third Way think-tank, 67 percent of voters said they want Congress to pass a law that carves out a “safe haven” for states that legalize recreational pot use. If this law was made, it would mean that “legal” states would be protected from federal legislation.
Gravel, who now lives in California, said KUSH will look to form partnerships with other companies to manufacture and sell its cannabis products! Gravel was a Democratic senator who aggressively opposed the Vietnam War. In 1971, he controversially entered contents of the Pentagon Papers into the public record during a time when there was still an injunction against revealing the leaked documents in the press. In 2008, he ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. This guys a legend.
We can no longer walk around pointing the finger of blame at our government for keeping marijuana against the law. We have to realize the truth of the matter which is; cannabis is only illegal because WE let them tell us that it is. If we, collectively, rise up and peacefully fight back against the tyranny of prohibition, we can over turn these ridiculous laws and take back control of our minds. The choice is ours and ours alone, we just have to decide to make it happen!
If you enjoyed this article make sure you share it so people start to realize where we are headed on this planet. Also, don’t feel weird about getting a discussion happening in the comments section below, communication and the spreading of ideas is what this movement needs most right now. In addition, UniqueBongShop.com is having a 10% off everything sale for a limited time, so if you are in the market for a new bong, browse around and find one that you like! Thank you very, very much for reading!
D.C. Bans Pot Testing of Job Applicants
Potential employers won’t be able to test applicants for marijuana in D.C. until after they’ve made a conditional job offer under a bill approved by the D.C. Council.
The bill was approved unanimously Tuesday. It was sponsored by Council member Vincent Orange, who said district residents shouldn’t have to worry about lost job opportunities just because they’ve smoked pot, especially now that the city has voted to legalize marijuana possession.
The bill would allow employers to test for pot after they offer someone a job as well as during employment. Because it’s a local law, it doesn’t apply to the federal government or to federal contractors.
The city’s initiative legalizing pot possession is under congressional review and has yet to take effect.
46 States to Go, Help Us Legalize Marijuana!
Source : norml.org
With our recent spate of victories at the state level, currently 17 states and the District of Columbia (and several major cities) have stopped treating marijuana smokers like criminals; 23 states and the District of Columbia offer legal medical marijuana; and four states have fully legalized marijuana with state-licensed dispensaries. We have reached a tipping point in the decades-long drive to legalize marijuana, and with your continued support, there is no turning back! – norml.org
It seems every day now we are getting closer and closer to full legization of cannabis for the people of the united states!
Here a good video to enjoy 🙂
It’s been nearly a year since Colorado made recreational marijuana legal, and since then, pot has become a billion-dollar business in the state. And some growers have made it a mission to make it legitimate and mainstream.
“Change the face,” says pot entrepreneur Brooke Gehring. “But really, not to be the stereotype of what they think is stoner culture, but to realize they are true business people that are operating these companies.”
Gehring, smartly dressed in a business suit carrying an iPad and briefcase, runs two businesses, Patient’s Choice of Colorado and Live Green Cannabis, and they are about as transparent as they come.
Her marijuana is grown in a converted furniture warehouse in an industrial district in Denver. Tucked in with a Safeway distribution center and landscaping company, the growers here permeate the air. The smell of fresh marijuana is everywhere.
And you know you’ve gotten to Gehring’s grow house when you see a police station across the street.
“Where most people may have said, ‘No, we don’t want to grow marijuana around the police,’ for us it’s another security measure,” she says.
Gehring spent $3 million just to retrofit her warehouse.
There are about 5,000 plants in here — part of about 50,000 companywide. Gehring expects to reach $10 million in sales this year. So you can see why security is such a big deal. It should also be no surprise that this is a tightly regulated business.
“These are our RFID tags, and this essentially goes onto the plant once it goes into our tracking system. This is how the state monitors us to know our plant counts,” Gehring says.
Even the shake that falls on the floor gets scooped up, weighed and reported.
This is how Gehring wants it — she knows that tough regulations are the only way this industry will continue and even thrive. It’s one of the reasons why she has a key seat on a state advisory panel that’s helping write the regulations.
“We have a state that supports us, and we have a government that is willing to work with the industry, work with law enforcement, work with the Department of Public Health and Environment and try to come up with a system to which they can collect taxes and revenues, and we can operate, create jobs and also make profits as a business,” she says.
But the federal government could come in any day and shut all of this down if it wanted to. And given that, Gehring has a lot of reservations about how fast this industry has grown.
“I guess as an industry, I worry that people will overproduce, and the people that overproduce and don’t have an outlet to be able to sell it, they might consider the option of selling it outside of the regulated market,” she says.
Think about it: Every Coloradan is allowed to buy up to an ounce per transaction — tourists a little less — but there isn’t really a limit. People also can grow their own plants. It’s not hard to imagine how quickly a lot of product could move into the wrong hands.
Gehring isn’t the only one worrying about this.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that we are becoming a major exporter of marijuana,” says Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers. “You go to some of these warehouse districts and there’s maybe four or five grow operations, and I think some people are counting on the fact that nobody’s going to notice that this particular one isn’t licensed, no one’s going to particularly notice that a lot of marijuana’s going out the back door.”
Suthers says his office and the DEA recently seized from a warehouse district an undisclosed amount of pot that was bound for out-of-state markets. There’s no telling how far the black market takes legally grown marijuana from Colorado, or who’s doing the taking. But as NPR reported on Monday, a DEA official confirmed that the Mexican cartels are buying Colorado pot and bringing it into Mexico for sale there. It’s triple the potency of marijuana grown outdoors in Mexico.
“All this activity of course is undermining the regulatory system in Colorado, where we’re supposed to be collecting taxes,” Suthers says.
Even Gehring knows this could be her undoing, and it’s one of the reasons she originally opposed Colorado’s recreational pot ballot measure two years ago. She thought it was premature and worried that the controls just weren’t there yet. Gehring says she could be producing more under the licenses that she currently holds, but she wants to make sure all of the internal controls are in place so everything is accounted for.
“I view the black market as our biggest competition and could be the biggest, I would say, roadblock to really having the federal government on board with legalization,” she says.
But being here, you get the sense that entrepreneurs like her are more excited than they are nervous. They see themselves as being on the frontier, like the early wildcatters in the oil business, staking their claim early, helping write the rules, taking on all this risk.
“We do have the entrepreneurial spirit, we do see the opportunity of being true pioneers in what we’re doing,” she says.
And Gehring is used to balancing opportunity and some risk: Before she got into the pot business in 2009 she was a commercial banker.
Weed Entrepreneurs In Oregon And Alaska Celebrate Legalization – More Cannabis Jobs!
On Tuesday, marijuana prohibition suffered another defeat.
Voters in Washington, D.C., Oregon and Alaska followed Colorado and Washington in voting to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The historic votes signal victories for pro-legalization advocates hoping to bring legal cannabis to even more states in 2016.
Cannabis entrepreneurs in Oregon and Alaska, which are slated to open retail pot shops in coming years, say they are thrilled. (D.C.’s measure did not legalize the sale of marijuana.)
“I’m very excited. I’ve been medicating with marijuana since I was 21 years old,” said Mario Mamone, who owns the medical marijuana dispensaryMaritime Cafe in Clackamas County, Oregon, and who suffers from back spasms dating to the late 1960s when he was a soldier in Vietnam.
“I’ve always been afraid I’d be arrested and thrown in jail. But this lifts the stigma,” he said.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses for the marijuana industry that’s developing in the Pacific Northwest. Cannabis entrepreneurs say the way legal weed is being rolled out by state governments can be problematic. Their concerns add to the growing pains experienced by advocates and regulators in trying to figure out the best way to safely regulate the fledgling industry.
For example, Oregon’s historic vote on Tuesday won’t do much to get Mamone’s dispensary back in business. Maritime Cafe, which is located a few miles from downtown Portland and began providing Oregon residents with medical weed in 2011, was forced to close earlier this year when Clackamas County enacted a moratorium on cannabis sales.
“It’s put us through some hardship,” said Mamone. “We signed a lease on a new, bigger space next door [to our current location] before the moratorium, because we had no idea it was coming.”
Mamone said he’s been paying his $3,100-a-month rent plus all his bills every month, but the business “hasn’t had any revenue since May.”
He’s been talking to county officials to try to lift the moratorium as soon as possible — before the scheduled April 2015 end date — but his business may have to remain shuttered until then.
Meanwhile in Portland, just a few miles away, medical weed is already being sold freely by dozens of medical dispensaries. Under the new law, those dispensaries will be eligible for a license to sell retail pot.
But not all of them are interested in doing that. Sally Bishop, the owner of Green Goddess Remedies, a shop that sells marijuana buds, edibles and THC concentrates, isn’t sure she wants to branch out into the retail market, even though it could be lucrative for her and her family.
That’s because she fears the retail weed industry will lead to lower-quality pot.
“Retail changes the vibe. It becomes mass consumption. It turns into, like, Budweiser beer,” said Bishop, a 49-year-old mother of two. “Whereas, here on the medical marijuana side of things, we have more of a microbrew mentality. Our growers take a lot of pride in what they do.”
Oregon’s new law will allow anyone 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of weed in a public place or 8 ounces at home. But there won’t be recreational pot shops in Oregon for another couple of years. The state first must figure out how the system will be regulated and begin the process of issuing licenses to eligible entrepreneurs.
Unlike Washington, Oregon already had a fairly robust medical marijuana system in place when it legalized recreational weed. The state decriminalized pot back in the ’70s and legalized it for medical use in 1998. Still, for years, medical patients had to grow their own weed (or have a caregiver grow it for them). Actual medical dispensaries weren’t fully authorized to do business until this year.
Since Oregon already has a medical pot system in place — and because taxes in Oregon will be lower than they currently are in Washington — retail pot in Oregon is projected to be substantially cheaper than in neighboring Washington. In Oregon, it’s predicted to be about $145 per ounce, while in Washington it gets sold for about $20 a gram, which works out to be over $500 per ounce.
In Alaska, things are different. Although the state legalized medical marijuana the same year Oregon did — 1998 — it never set up a dispensary system, forcing people to make arrangements to grow their own weed or obtain it on the black market.
As a result, Alaska may face some of the same difficulties that Washington has had in trying to create a dispensary system from scratch.
But pot entrepreneurs in the Last Frontier are still excited. “This is great for Alaska and great for America,” said Michael Smith, who owns The Healing Center Medical Clinic in Anchorage, which doesn’t sell medical marijuana but instead helps people obtain state-issued cards that let them grow their own.
Smith, 49, says he will definitely be applying for a state license to sell retail weed, but he won’t be doing it in Anchorage, where he said he’s heard talk of a possible moratorium on pot sales.
“You never know what politicians might do, what kind of pressure they could get from their constituencies,” he said. “I mean, the vote here in Alaska was only 52 to 48 [percent], so it was a very close call. There’s still a large demographic that could push against this.”
Alaska’s initiative doesn’t allow local governments to criminalize marijuana, but it does allow them to ban the commercial industry.
So Smith bought a space in rural Alaska — in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, to be precise — where he plans to grow and sell recreational weed if he wins a license from the state. He said he’s less afraid of a moratorium happening there.
“It’s a little more liberal there than in Anchorage,” he said. “They have a history up there of growing some well-known strains [of cannabis]. I mean, they’ve been growing Matanuska Thunderfuck since the ’70s. So I think people up there are really going to come out to take advantage of the end of prohibition. And I wish everyone well, I really do.”
POT WAS THE BIGGEST WINNER OF THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Voters in Oregon and the District of Columbia legalized the use of recreational pot, elating marijuana activists who hope to extend their winning streak across the country.
Oregon will join the company of Colorado and Washington state, where voters approved the recreational use of marijuana two years ago. The District of Columbia is on the same path unless Congress, which has review power, blocks the move.
Another marijuana-legalization measure in Alaska was maintaining a steady lead in early returns.
Other volatile issues on state ballots on Tuesday include gambling and abortion. Voters in Washington state, faced with two competing measures on gun sales, approved an expansion of background checks. And several states including Arkansas and South Dakota approved minimum wage increases.
The District of Columbia’s marijuana measure would make it legal to possess up to two ounces of pot and up to three mature marijuana plants for personal use, but it does not provide for the legal sale of marijuana, leaving that matter up to the D.C. Council. That’s different from the measures in Oregon and Alaska, which would follow the example of Colorado and Washington state in setting up systems for regulating and taxing retail sales of marijuana.
The Drug Policy Alliance, one of the leaders of the legalization campaign, said Tuesday’s results would bolster its efforts to push through a ballot measure in California in 2016.
“The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the alliance’s executive director.
Oregon’s measure calls for pot legalization by July 1, and requires the state Liquor Control Commission to adopt regulations by Jan. 1, 2016. The state’s sheriffs were among the law’s chief opponents, contending that legalization would give children access to marijuana and could lead to more people driving under the influence.
The campaign in D.C. included a debate about race – the measure’s supporters said blacks in the city had been disproportionately targeted for marijuana arrests.
“The criminal justice system is getting bogged down by marijuana use, and a lot of the people who use marijuana aren’t criminals,” said Gary Fulwood, a support staffer for the city’s fire and EMS department who voted for the initiative. “I don’t see it being any worse than alcohol.”
In Florida, a measure that would have allowed marijuana use for medical reasons fell short of the 60 percent approval to pass; near-complete returns showed it getting about 57 percent of the vote. Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana.
DAVID CRARY, Associated Press
NIGEL DUARA, Associated Press