Ending Marijuana Prohibition Would Save Lives and Taxpayer Money



A father-daughter duo of public policy researchers from the University of Georgia have published a follow-up to their 2016 research that found in states with a medical marijuana program, prescriptions for medications like painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications dropped sharply.

That means that among adults 65 and older who are enrolled in Medicare, many are choosing to self-medicate with cannabis rather than taking medications prescribed by a doctor. It’s a significant shift in approaches to healthcare, and is especially relevant given the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Numerous studies have found that opiate abuse and overdose rates fell in states with medical marijuana laws.

The Bradfords’ new study applies the same analysis as the Medicare study, but this time they looked at Medicaid prescriptions. Medicaid covers low-income people of all ages. The results were similar to the Medicare research: in states with a medical marijuana program, prescriptions for certain drugs fell significantly.

Anti-nausea prescriptions fell by 17 percent, anti-depressants fell 13 percent, and anti-seizure and psychosis drugs fell 12 percent. Prescriptions for painkillers, including opiates, fell by 11 percent.

“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the Bradfords concluded.

They also concluded that a nationwide medical marijuana program would save taxpayers about $1.1 billion on Medicaid prescriptions annually. However, while Medicaid and Medicare see cost savings, medical marijuana must be purchased outside of the insurance system, essentially shifting the burden of cost to low-income and senior patients.

Last summer the DEA affirmed marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug–categorizing cannabis as an addictive drug with no medical benefits. The Bradfords warned that, “This decision was made despite the substantial and growing evidence that the requirements for Schedule I status involving ‘no currently accepted medical uses’ are no longer met by marijuana.”

Mountain High Suckers Partners with Comedian Josh Blue



Hello Mountain High Suckers followers and happy 4/20!

Today we’re extremely excited to share the launch of our brand new collaboration with our friend, Colorado comedian Josh Blue: Josh Blue’s Dream – our  favorite blueberry and watermelon flavored suckers made with Blue Dream strain cannabis extract, Josh’s favorite strain.

Josh, who has cerebral palsy, has been using cannabis to help treat his symptoms for years and has recently joined the cannabis community as an advocate for change.

“We’ve been treating it like it was legal for years anyway, so it didn’t make too much of a difference when they legalized it. It’s really great though, you don’t need a medical card or anything like that. There’s dispensaries everywhere and it’s bringing in a shitload of tax revenue. I think a lot more states will start legalizing it,” he says. Check out more about Josh Blue, his connection to cannabis, and his thoughts on the Denver comedy scene in this recent interview in Rare magazine.

Mountain High Suckers is proud to partner with Josh to help bring awareness to the positive effects of cannabis – drop by your favorite dispensary and ask for Josh Blue’s Dream suckers by name!

 

National 420 Cannabis Week Events 2017



 

Welcome to another 420 week! Pot enthusiasts across the country have a ton of events to choose from this year. Celebrate April 20th and legal weed and check out all the best cannabis festivities happening around the country this week:

Colorado:

If you’re new to cannabis and/or planning a trip to the Mile-High State, you may want to check out Good to Know Colorado for local pot laws and helpful toker tips.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO
Performers include Method Man & Redman, Flatbush ZOMBiES with Curren$y, $uicideBoy$, Futuristic, RDGLDGRN, Afroman, and ProbCause. Doors open at 4:00 p.m.

General admission tickets $45.00 online, $50.00 at the door

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Civic Center Park, Denver, CO

Denver’s annual 420 Rally is totally free to the public this year, so event organizers are expecting a larger than usual turnout.The average annual turnout for the high holy holiday is around 50,000 attendees. Grammy award-winning rapper 2 Chainz will start at 2pm and lead the crowd to the 4:20 countdown.

420 Rally 10am-8pm
FREE concert starring 2 Chainz 2pm-6pm

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO
Doors open: 6:30 p.m./Show: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $64.95 online, $70 Door

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Denver, CO
Must be 21 or older

A multi-venue event featuring music, art, and comedy. The musical lineup includes Cut Chemist, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Blockhead, Magic Beans, Live Animals, Rusko, Dumpstaphunk, J Phlip of “Dirtybird Records,” and more.

Comedians slated to appear include Brent Gill, Pussy Bros, Timmi Lasley, Alex Falcone, and Billy Wayne Davis.

Glass artists, VJs, and live painters will be at venues across Denver.

One pass gets you into all venues, there will also be a two story marketplace in City Hall, comedy in the Living Room and many speakers and meet and greet opportunities.

Buy a ticket before April 20 for $42; Day of tickets are $50.
VIP/All Access Ticket: $75 (Backstage pass to all venues, schwag bag, Artist Meet and Greets): Only 200 available.

There’s more! See a full list of Colorado 420 events.

California
 

Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
National Orange Show Center, San Bernardino, CA

The three-day schedule of performers includes: Trishes, OKIM, A$AP Ferg, Method Man & Redman, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Nas, Vic Mensa, The Game, Chief Ceef, Lit, and Wu-Tang Clan.

Seminars available include Cannabis Tinctures 101, Veterans: National Access, Future of Concentrates, Jobs in Cannabusiness, Legal Weed: How to Grow at Home, Professional Athletes in cannabis, and more.

Awards will be handed out on Sunday, April 23 @ 3:15pm.

Tickets: GA 1-Day Pass $55; GA 3-Day Pass $150; VIP 1-Day Pass $100; VIP 3-Day Pass $275; Super VIP Pass $420

Alaska

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Cannabis Classic is Alaska’s largest cannabis conference, competition, and trade show. The event isn’t actually until May, but their cannabis competitions are consumer-judged, so be sure to check out a list of voting locations while you’re stocking up for 420.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6pm
420 W. 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK
Door prizes, industry vendors, clothing, edibles, food, live music, and some of the best buds Alaska has to offer.

Potluck Events is a private cannabis club, so you’ll need to become a member to attend the event.
With a current membership, tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door.

Oregon

Saturday, April 22 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
Riverhouse on the Deschutes, 2850 Rippling River Court, Bend, OR

Check out hemp and cannabis products, accessories and tools, grow and harvest equipment and more in our amazing expo hall. Then, take in some great sessions on growing, medicinal benefits, Prop 91, and more.

Weekend Admission: $15

Massachusetts

Saturday, April 22 – Sunday, April 23
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Featuring 175+ local and national exhibitors, 100+ industry expert speakers, programming tracks on careers, investment, medical marijuana education and live demos, this is THE must-attend event for New Englanders, and anyone who wants to be a part of the fastest growing industry in the world!

See ticket and registration information here.

Washington, DC

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Festival Grounds are situated along the Anacostia River in Lot 6/7 of RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

National Cannabis Festival brings together activists, business owners and enthusiasts to celebrate the spirit of the movement while enjoying a full day of music, education sessions, wellness, art, activism, and culture.

Performers include Talib Kweli, The Pharcyde, Backyard Band, Kenyatta Hill (of Culture), Empresarios, Pinky Killacorn, and more.

Tickets: $35 General Admission, VIP Annual Membership $255 per ticket.

Marijuana Could Benefit Native Tribes in Nevada



Last week, tribal leaders in Nevada testified in support of a bill that would bring the medical and recreational cannabis industry to tribal lands.

Senate Bill 375, introduced by Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), would allow the state to work with individual tribes whose tribal councils have approved medical and/or recreational cannabis.

“The tribes would oversee what is happening on their reservation, but when they participate in the system they would have to follow the state rules,” Segerblom said of the bill.

Opening marijuana dispensaries and production facilities could be a big deal for the tribes, bringing revenue and new opportunities to their communities. Most of the tribal leaders at last Thursday’s meeting said that marijuana could help mitigate high unemployment and poverty rates.

Tildon Smart, former chairman of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone tribe, said that about 98 percent of her community of 1,100 are unemployed.

“We lack a tribal court system, we lack a police department, we lack health services – this may help create those services,” said David Decker, Chairman of the Elko Band Council for the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone. “Just to pay for dispatch, this is very expensive. This could help us pay for all those economic securities that we currently can’t provide.”

If the bill passes, Nevada wouldn’t be the first state to reach a compact with tribes. In 2015, the Suquamish and Squaxin Island tribes signed 10-year compacts with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Unfortunately, Washington seems to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to cannabis on American Indian reservations. Similar compacts between tribes and states have fallen flat, especially because tribes still have to contend with the federal government–many tribes rely on federal funds to keep their communities afloat.

“They are sticking their necks out on this one, but at some point you have to say, ‘We can’t sit around and twiddle our thumbs,'” Segerblom said. “I think the tribes – because they’re sovereign nations – they will have a better leg to stand on.”

Alaska Debates Allowing On-Site Cannabis Use



The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to revive a proposal that would allow cannabis consumption at licensed pot shops.

Following voter approval of recreational marijuana in 2015, the board began work on regulations that would allow retailers to create consumption spaces, similar to a cafe or bar. However, when the board last discussed the proposal in February, they decided to shelve it–citing uncertainty over the future of marijuana given the anti-weed stance of the current Justice Department.

This month, the board appears to have had another change of heart. They decided to begin the process again, inviting board members to submit new on-site consumption regulations.

Of the three proposals submitted, only one met the deadline–and instead of outlining new regulations, the proposal suggested putting a hold on the whole idea.

Loren Jones, who holds the board’s public health seat, said that he’s opposed to being the first state to allow on-site consumption, instead suggesting a two-year moratorium on the proposal. “I don’t think we need to rush into that,” he said.

Jay Butler, the state’s chief medical officer, is also opposed to on-site use, citing second-hand smoke and driver impairment. Butler told The Associated Press, “Even though marijuana is not the same as tobacco smoke, there’s a lot that we don’t know about it. Clinically, we see signs of it being a respiratory irritant in people who smoke frequently.”

Marijuana business owners were hoping the new regulations would be in place before the summer tourist season, but that appears increasingly unlikely. The board meets again in April and should the proposal move forward, it will go out for at least 30 days of public comment.

Marijuana Grown on Federal Research Farm Full of Mold and Lead



Remember that scene in Half Baked when Thurgood, played by Dave Chappelle, discovers that the government lab he works at has a serious stash of marijuana?

Well, it turns out that cannabis used in government research isn’t all that great. Unlike commercial marijuana, the government product is stringy, light in color, and full of stems. If you’re used to the cannabis sold at dispensaries, chances are you wouldn’t even recognize the government product as weed.

Jake Browne, a marijuana critic for the Cannabist, called government cannabis unusable. “In two decades of smoking weed, I’ve never seen anything that looks like that,” Browne said. “People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on.”

Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher studying medical marijuana for treating PTSD, told PBS NewsHour, “It doesn’t resemble cannabis. It doesn’t smell like cannabis.”

That’s a problem for researchers studying the effects and medical efficacy of cannabis. Since the marijuana researchers are using is so unlike commercially-available cannabis, it’s difficult to reach conclusions that are applicable to real-world use.

Since the late 1960s, all marijuana used in clinical research is required to come from a single government-run marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi.

Researchers have complained that government-grown marijuana isn’t subject to any federal testing standards and discrepancies in potency have created problems in some cannabis studies. Some samples even contained mold and lead.

University of Denver Expands Cannabis Curriculum



The University of Denver is expanding its marijuana course offerings with a new “Business of Marijuana” class. A first for the Daniels College of Business, the class will focus on the expanding marijuana industry, including issues related to dispensaries, cultivation operations, and ancillary cannabis businesses.

Paul Seaborn, assistant professor of management at DU and instructor of the course, said in a statement, “There’s a lot of really interesting writing and analysis being done in the media and also by academics. We will really be tapping into all of those sources to try to get a clear picture of what’s similar and what’s different in this industry compared to other industries. Whether it’s alcohol or tobacco, even automotive or biotech. Lots of comparing and contrasting to see what makes it unique and what are the common issues these industries have experienced in these early stages.

I think part of the learning for our students will be for our students to understand all of the different types companies that participate in the industry,” Seaborn said. “The dispensaries are the most obvious. Behind the scenes we’ve got companies manufacturing products of various types, you’ve got companies that are growing and cultivating the products and providing them into the retail side. Then, there are all kinds of support businesses around whether its security, advertising and marketing, legal services or financial services.”

DU already offers classes in cannabis journalism and marijuana law. The cannabis business course will serve as a management elective credit for undergraduate students and a general business elective credit for graduate students. Classes resume for Spring Quarter on March 27.

There are at least nine universities across the country with cannabis-related courses on offer. Private companies like THC University offer another route to cannabis training and education with online certification programs.

CBD is Starting a Medical Revolution



Once THC’s lesser known cousin, CBD is getting serious attention these days because of its potential use in treating a wide-range of medical conditions. So what is CBD and what are some of its therapeutic uses? Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

So what exactly is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s one of the 60+ compounds found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD produces little to no psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD can actually lessen, or balance out, the psychoactivity of THC. Hemp has also been used for extraction to remove CBD without the THC.

One of the reasons cannabis is so effective in treating illness has to do with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is present in both humans and animals, and scientists estimate that it evolved in our primitive ancestors over 600 million years ago. The system plays a big role in our immune systems, healing, and maintaining homeostasis. Receptors are found throughout the body–in our brain, organs, connective tissues, and glands.  In the brain, cannabinoids “control  emotional behavior, mood, stress, and fear.”

The ECS even allows communication between different cell types. In an article for NORML, Dr. Dustin Dulak explains that the  “endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind.”

What are the therapeutic benefits of CBD and which conditions does it help treat?

According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following therapeutic effects:

  • Reduces nausea and vomiting
  • Suppresses seizure activity
  • Combats psychosis disorders
  • Combats inflammatory disorders
  • Combats neurodegenerative disorders
  • Combats anxiety and depression disorders

Cannabis is being used to treat a number of conditions, including Dravat’s Syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, epilepsy. Research has even shown that CBD may help slow down tumor growth and prevent cancer from spreading.

CBD and THC work best together

Often described as the “power couple” of cannabis compounds, used together CBD and THC actually enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Researchers have found that together, THC and CBD enhance anti-inflammatory properties, anti-tumoral effects, and neuropathic pain. Though in high doses, CBD alone can bring some of these benefits too.

Despite having no lethal dose or known serious medical side effects, both cannabis and CBD are still illegal under U.S. federal law, though in some small cases, low potency medicinal CBD has been ignored by law enforcement.

Smoke-Free Las Vegas Cannabis Cup Celebrates Nevada’s End of Marijuana Prohibition



Las Vegas’ second-ever High Times Cannabis Cup wasn’t the toke-friendly festival that many hoped it would be–organizers were forced to make the Cup a cannabis-free event after a federal prosecutor sent a letter warning that anyone caught distributing or consuming marijuana would be subject to prosecution.

The Cannabis Cup, produced by cannabis-centric magazine the High Times, describes the event as the world’s leading marijuana trade show, “celebrating the world of ganja through competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts and product showcases.” Recreational cannabis was legalized in Nevada as of January 1 this year, and the Cup was slated as an unofficial celebration of the new law.

However, that didn’t stop thousands of pot enthusiasts from attending the event at the Moapa Indian Reservation–the first Cannabis Cup held on U.S. tribal lands. 15,000 people were expected to attend the two-day festival, which featured musical acts Ludacris, B-Real, Chief Keef, and J Boog. A rally stage was a gathering point for speakers and activists; there were cannabis-themed panels on topics like legal and veterans issues and grow advice from experts. The festival included 300 vendors from 15 countries.

Daniel Bogden, the U.S. Attorney who sent the letter, went so far as to underline several sentences, emphasizing that,
“Marijuana remains illegal under federal law…[and] federal investigation and prosecution may still be appropriate.

…nothing in the Guidance Memorandum or the Cole Memorandum alters the authority or jurisdiction of the United States to enforce federal law in Indian Country or elsewhere.”

In response to Bogden’s letter, the High Times cautioned vendors and attendees prior to the event:

“Vendors, guests, performers and attendees are advised to comply with all local, state, and federal laws regarding the use and distribution of cannabis and cannabis related products. In order for the cannabis industry to continue to earn legitimacy and social acceptance, we understand that rules and laws need to be abided,” the letter stated. “High Times will continue to stand up for our civil liberties and advocate for our inalienable rights to cultivate and consume cannabis. We urge you to join us.”

The festival was scheduled to take place March 4-5, but in another turn of bad luck, day two of the event was canceled due to high wind. Gusts reportedly reached above 60 mph.

Read the entire letter from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden here.

New Celebrities Launch Cannabis Brands, Help Normalize Industry



California is expected to become the largest recreational marijuana market in the country, so it’s not surprising that a number of celebrities are jumping on the marijuana bandwagon and creating their own cannabis brands.

Industry experts say that by investing in cannabis celebrities like Willie Nelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Wiz Khalifa, and billionaire Richard Branson are helping promote broader social acceptance of marijuana. Heck, even Martha Stewart is pro-marijuana–she’s teamed up with rapper and marijuana icon Snoop Dogg to create Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. And, yes, Snoop Dogg does have his own weed line.

Cheryl Shuman, the founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said that celebrities are “helping to legitimize marijuana. Marijuana is fast becoming cool and glamorous.”

Two of the late reggae singer Bob Marley’s children are taking advantage of the marijuana boom, each helming separate marijuana businesses. Marley’s oldest daughter, Cedella Marley, launched Marley Natural in 2014. Damian, Marley’s youngest son, opened Stony Hill, a dispensary in Colorado, and recently purchased a 77,00-square-foot prison in Coalinga, in California’s Central Valley, with the intention of turning it into a marijuana grow farm.

Singer Melissa Etheridge has somehow managed to bridge the alcohol vs. cannabis divide, producing a line of cannabis-infused wine. Some big names in the beer and spirits industry are alarmed at the growth of the marijuana, worrying that the growing industry could cut into their profits as more people choose to consume marijuana rather than alcohol.

Regulators in the state hope to start issuing the first recreational licenses to growers and dispensaries by early 2018. Californians approved recreational cannabis sales in last year’s election. Businesses with existing medical marijuana licenses are likely to be among the first to receive recreational permits.

The financial services firm, Cowen and Co., estimates that the recreational marijuana market could grow from $6 billion to $50 billion in the next decade.

Trump White House Indicates Possible Federal Crackdown on Marijuana



On Thursday, White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that the Trump administration won’t be taking the same lax attitude towards marijuana as the Obama administration.

At the press conference, Spicer said, “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement.” He said that while federal law prohibits raids of medical marijuana operations, “that’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.”

The marijuana industry has been unsure of what to expect from the new administration. During the presidential campaign, President Trump took wavering stances on cannabis, at times supporting states’ rights and acknowledging the benefits of medical cannabis use, while at others expressing skepticism and disapproval towards recreational marijuana. However, other members of the Trump cabinet have been vocal opponents of marijuana, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Pence.

The announcement is at odds with growing public support for marijuana legalization. A new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found 71 percent of Americans would oppose a federal crackdown on legal marijuana, and 93 percent are in favor of medical marijuana, according to the survey of 1,323 voters nationwide.

“The president has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states,” U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, said in a statement about Spicer’s comments. “Now either the president is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn. Either way, these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is approved in forty-four states. Cannabis has become a multibillion dollar industry that creates jobs, supports state economies, and raises taxes for things like improving infrastructure and education.

Pro-Marijuana Lawmakers Launch Cannabis Caucus



Thanks to a group of bipartisan lawmakers, cannabis is heading to Congress.

At a press conference on Thursday, Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The coalition is focused on easing tensions between federal and state drug laws and supporting the growing cannabis industry.

“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, many in the cannabis industry worry that the appointment of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General signals a change in how federal drug laws are enforced.

However, during his campaign, President Trump supported states rights regarding marijuana laws, so it remains uncertain what the new administration’s stance towards marijuana will take.

Alaska voted to legalize it — pretty large margin — and I believe in states’ rights and the federal government should stay out of it, period,” Young said.

Polis said that part of the reason the coalition was formed was because, “We don’t want to be a place where we rely on the goodwill of which side of the bed any attorney general wakes up on at any given day. That’s why we are pursuing statutory changes.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is approved in forty-four states.

Other issues the caucus members hope to tackle are federal research into cannabis, allowing medical access to military veterans, and changing tax laws to allow marijuana businesses to write-off their business expenses.

New Mexico Bill May Give Military Veterans Access to Medical Marijuana



The Senate Judiciary Committee in New Mexico approved a bill that would make all military veterans eligible for a medical marijuana card. The Committee voted 7-3 along party lines to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

The changes to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program would automatically allow veterans to enroll without being diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor, said that changes to the program were necessary for veterans who suffer from PTSD. After the hearing, he said that a PTSD diagnoses can be stigmatizing and he hopes that access to medical marijuana will help reduce suicide rates in the state.

Republican Senator and former Navy Rear Admiral William Payne called the provision offensive because it paints all military veterans as presumptive marijuana patients.

Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, said that he found the provision offensive, as it assumes that all veterans have PTSD.

The bill would make additional changes to the medical cannabis program, including allowing patients to possess up to 5 ounces of marijuana during a 30-day period. Currently, patients are allowed to possess 8 ounces during a 90-day period.

As the number of medical marijuana patients grows, cannabis producers will gradually be able to up their plant count. Growers are currently allowed to have up to 450 plants.

Another important provision in the bill is the addition of substance abuse disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions. Valerie Gremillion, a neuroscience researcher, told the committee that marijuana is a good way to fight addiction to opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol. “It’s much less harmful than so many of the other drugs.”

Collaboration: Mountain High Suckers + Groundswell Denver



Mountain High Suckers is pleased to announce a collaboration with our friends at Groundswell Cannabis!

We’ve infused 4 of our classic Mountain High Suckers flavors with Groundswell’s exclusive strain Logic Diesel – their DJ Logic special, a euphoric and exciting yet relaxing sativa strain, to create Logic Pops.

You can get this exclusive Logic Diesel sucker in:

  • Lemon/Lime
  • Mixed Berry
  • Pineapple Coconut
  • and Watermelon

These suckers are for sale now (recreational only) in 10mg THC doses.

Swing by Groundswell at 3121 E. Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 or visit www.groundswelldenver.com and pick some Logic Pops up today!

Illinois State Treasurer Urges Trump to Let Banks Work with the Cannabis Industry



The uneasy relationship between cannabis and the banking industry could improve if Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has anything to do with it.

Frerichs issued a press release Monday, urging the Trump administration to give clear guidance to financial institutions regarding medical marijuana. In his letter, he urged President Trump to reassure banks that they will not face penalties or prosecution for doing business with state-licensed marijuana growers and dispensaries.

“Medical marijuana is not right for everyone. However, its positive results for those with debilitating conditions, including Veterans and children threatened by seizures, are undeniable,” Frerichs said. “Updating our banking laws to embrace commonsense change will allow Illinois to properly manage this reasonable program, guarantee uninterrupted access to medical users, and protect financial institutions that serve the industry.”

The nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general has marijuana advocates unsure if he’ll reverse President Obama’s directive not to enforce federal marijuana laws. Federal law prohibits banks from processing money from the legal marijuana industry, making day-to-day transactions difficult. Most dispensaries work on a cash-only basis, and business owners have difficulty opening checking accounts and securing loans. The current system also makes it difficult for states to audit sales, verify taxes are collected, and encourages a gray market and criminal activity.

Lack of access to banking has been a thorn in the side of the legal marijuana industry since its inception. Even ancillary cannabis businesses have difficulty accessing banking services to send or receive payment. Frerichs press release notes that “most refuse to provide banking services to those in the medical marijuana industry while smaller community banks do so with great trepidation. The lack of full engagement hobbles the industry despite the availability of marijuana in 27 states.” Currently, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law.

Denver: First U.S. City to Allow Public Cannabis Use



Denver is one step closer to setting guidelines for public marijuana use in clubs and businesses located in Denver. The initiative, passed by voters in November, allows adults 21 and older to consume cannabis at marijuana clubs and places like yoga studios, art galleries, and coffee shops.

Regulators met with business owners, cannabis activists and detractors, and law enforcement authorities on Wednesday to hammer out details about what’s ahead for social cannabis use. Aside from the 21-and-up age restriction and a ban on smoking indoors, the initiative didn’t set rules for how these businesses operate.

So, what can you expect social cannabis use in Denver to look like? Here’s what we know so far:

  • Licenses for social cannabis use will cost $2,000 per year. Applications are available on January 20, but it’s worth noting that the city has no deadline for issuing the licenses. Supporters hope to see the first application approvals by this summer.
     
  • Forget about bringing your marijuana to restaurants or any business that serves booze–the state Liquor Control Board has already decided that businesses with a liquor license will not be allowed to apply for a social cannabis use license.
     
  • Social use clubs or venues will be strictly bring-your-own weed. Marijuana businesses, including dispensaries, will not be allowed to apply to the program.
     
  • Denver hasn’t set any zoning rules yet, but businesses interested in applying for a permit from the City of Denver must also have approval from their local neighborhood association or business group.
     
  • Tourists may have to depend on locals to direct them to pot bars, as advertising will likely be limited.
     
  • The initiative is a pilot program meant to last four years, until the end of 2020. At that point, City Council has the option of making changes, making it permanent, or allowing it to expire.

Will Jeff Sessions Crack Down on Legal Marijuana?



In his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) answered questions about his stance on marijuana and the enforcement of federal laws.

Sessions, President-elect Trump’s choice for U.S. attorney general, has been a staunch opponent of legal cannabis, making many in the cannabis industry nervous. In April 2016, Sessions criticized the Obama administration during a Senate drug hearing. He said, “I think one of [Obama’s] great failures, it’s obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana. It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started ‘Just Say No.'”

The Obama administration has taken a largely hands-off approach to marijuana, leaving it up to states to set and enforce their own policies.

During the hearing, Sessions refused to take a definitive stance on cannabis, leaving the cannabis industry unsure of how he’ll approach marijuana policy. In a nutshell, he said that if Americans don’t want him to enforce federal drug laws, then the laws themselves need to be changed.

“It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our jobs and enforce laws effectively as we’re able,” Sessions said during his hearing. “The U.S. Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state — and the distribution — an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”

Under current federal law, cannabis is still considered to have no medicinal value and has been classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and LSD.

During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) questioned Sessions on how he would approach medical marijuana. “Would you use our federal resources to investigate and prosecute sick people who are using marijuana in accordance with their state laws, even though it might violate federal laws?”

“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, Senator Leahy,” Sessions replied. “I think some of [the Obama-era guidelines] are truly valuable in evaluating cases,” he added. “Using good judgment about how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine. I know it won’t be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way.”

While it’s still unclear what the future holds for marijuana in the U.S., there’s some comfort in that, even if Sessions decided to enforce existing law, it would still take enormous federal resources. 28 states have legalized medical marijuana, along with eight states that have passed recreational cannabis laws.

Pro-Cannabis Supporters to Give Free Marijuana on Inauguration Day



In response to Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general by President-elect Trump, a group of marijuana advocates are lighting up in protest at the upcoming inauguration.

Sessions has been a long-time prohibitionist and marijuana detractor, and should he receive the nomination, many pot supporters are worried.

Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, said that if Sessions decides to pursue enforcing federal drug laws in states with legal weed, “in one fell swoop, the federal government could damage state economies, and discourage entrepreneurship—placing some of our innovators behind bars, all while eroding states’ rights.”

That’s why DCMJ, a marijuana advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., plans to give away thousands of free joints on January 20. DCMJ was integral in getting Initiative 71 passed in 2014, making it legal in Washington, D.C. to possess two ounces or less or marijuana, to grow it, and to give it away, but, because of congressional interference, it’s not legal to sell cannabis.

The advocacy group will start handing out 4,200 joints at 8 a.m. on the west side of Dupont Circle. Participants will then walk to the National Mall and toke at 4 minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s inauguration speech.

“We are going to tell them that if they smoke on federal property, they are risking arrest. But, that’s a form of civil disobedience,” said Adam Eidinger, the founder of DCMJ. “I think it’s a good protest. If someone wants to do it, they are risking arrest, but it’s a protest and you know what, the National Mall is a place for protest.”

Eidinger says that the protest isn’t anti-Trump or looking to disrupt the inauguration. “The main message is it’s time to legalize cannabis at the federal level.”

2016: The Year in Weed



2016 was a bummer for a lot of people, but 2016 marked a turning point in cannabis prohibition.

Here are a few of the biggest cannabis news stories of the year:

One Election to Rule them All

In the early months of 2016, the presidential race had a slew of candidates -all with very different stances on marijuana. While the outcome of the election and its impact on the marijuana industry are still unclear, states overwhelmingly said ‘yes’ to cannabis.

As a result of November’s election, medical cannabis is legal in more than half of U.S. states. Medical marijuana measures were approved in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota. In Montana, existing medical cannabis rules were expanded by removing the three-patient limit for providers.

Five states had ballot initiatives for recreational marijuana–California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona–with four states approving the initiatives and Arizona as the only holdout.

More than 20% of the U.S. population will now live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal. Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states.

Americans Love Weed

A host of polls and studies released in 2016 show the positive impact of cannabis legalization as well as just how much Americans’ views of marijuana have changed in the last few years.

In 2013, only 7 percent of adults said they were marijuana smokers. Gallup’s July poll reported that 13 percent currently use marijuana, equating to more than 33 million cannabis users in the U.S. About half of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 (50%) and between 50 and 64 (48%) report having tried it. 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization.

Marijuana has been a boon in states with medical and/or recreational marijuana laws:

The DEA’s War on Pot

In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II.

The DEA’s report stated that there is “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and that there’s “high potential” for marijuana abuse that can lead to “severe psychological or physical dependence.”

However, there’s a growing amount of anecdotal and scientific evidence that marijuana has the potential treat symptoms of a variety of medical conditions, including epilepsy and seizures, and to serve as an “adjunct to or substitute for opiates in the treatment of chronic pain.” Cannabis is also being used to treat heroin and opioid addiction.

Despite evidence to the contrary, in December, the DEA classified CBD, the cannabinoid that’s shown the most medicinal value and is non-psychoactive, as a Schedule I drug, right up there with heroin.

Cannabis Sales Boomtown

In the first ten months of 2016, medical and recreational cannabis sales in Colorado amounted to $1 billion. Yes, that’s ‘billion’ with a ‘B.’ The state was jut shy of that amount in 2015.

Medical and recreational cannabis can be a boon to a state’s economy, creating millions of dollars in tax revenues.

Florida, one of the states that approved a medical marijuana initiative, is poised to become the second largest medical marijuana market in the country, behind California.

Nationwide, some experts estimate that the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. industry could reach nearly $22 billion in total annual sales by 2020.

Recreational Marijuana Won’t Tax Nevada’s Budget



Nevada state regulators are confident that launching the recreational marijuana market won’t strain the state budget, in large part because they plan to use funds from the state’s medical marijuana program to offset startup costs.

Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that up front costs include licensing and inspections of the new dispensaries.

Question 2, which legalized recreational marijuana sales in Nevada, was approved by voters in November. The ballot measure takes effect on January 1, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The first retail shops are expected to open in 2018.

In fiscal year 2016, taxes from Nevada’s medical marijuana program raised $761,000, and $190,000 went to the health agency for administration of the program. The other $571,000 when to the public schools.

Segerblom said that to ensure a smooth rollout of recreational pot sales, he will propose to start such sales ahead of time using the medical marijuana dispensaries now in operation. This would give the Tax Department the time it needs to ensure the ballot measure is implemented without problems.

“The department is already working to develop temporary regulations,” said Deonne Contine, executive director of the Tax Department. “We intend to hold a public workshop very early in 2017 and then have our temporary regulations adopted so we can begin issuing licenses.”

In contrast, Massachusetts, which also approved recreation marijuana in November, is considering using the state’s rainy day fund to the tune of $30 million to implement the program by 2018, according to the Boston Globe. The money would be repaid from tax revenues generated by recreational cannabis sales.

First Recreational Cannabis Shops Open in Anchorage This Month



Anchorage, Alaska’s most populous city, will finally see its first retail marijuana shops open for business on December 17.

The state’s first dispensary opened October 29 in Valdez, nearly two years after Alaskans voted to legalize recreational cannabis sales. Dispensaries have been popping up around Alaska, but unlike other cities, Anchorage requires marijuana business applications to be certified by the state.

So far, only a few of dispensaries have passed final inspections and received the go-ahead from the state. One of the biggest hurdles for dispensary owners has been meeting building compliance codes. Under Alaska’s so-called “Title 21” rules, properties going through a change of use must be physically improved to meet modern standards.

“We have to come up to compliance, and it’s costing a lot of money to make sure that we have enough parking, snow removal, gates around our dumpsters and those kinds of things,” Jane Stinson, co-owner of Enlighten Alaska, told the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Erika McConnell, marijuana coordinator with the Municipality of Anchorage, isn’t blind to the difficulties facing business owners looking to open marijuana shops.

“I certainly have compassion for people who are pouring their life savings into opening their business,” McConnell said. “We are trying our best to keep the process moving and resolve any issues without putting up road blocks.”

“They can’t get finances from banks, can’t get investments from out of state, from larger companies, (so) they presumably don’t have very much capital available to them,” McConnell said. “So they have to look for these properties that are older, or vacant or less well-kept-up.”

A handful of retail pot shops are opening throughout the month, with more expected next year.

President Obama Talks Marijuana



In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone, President Obama spoke about decriminalizing marijuana and treating cannabis as a public-health issue rather than a criminal one.

“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse. And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it. Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

Throughout his presidency, Obama has taken a hands-off approach to pot. In 2013, his administration announced that they wouldn’t sue to stop recreational marijuana in Colorado after voters passed Amendment 64. Soon after, the Justice Department followed suit. However, advocates in state’s that have some form of legal cannabis are nervous about what the Trump incoming administration means for the cannabis industry.

“If you survey the American people, including Trump voters, they’re…in favor, in large numbers, of decriminalizing marijuana,” Obama said.

It’s unclear what stance Trump will take on marijuana, but many advocates are concerned about the president-elect’s choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Sessions is a long-time opponent of cannabis, perhaps best known for his statements that, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

Even if this new administration plans to shut down marijuana, it may be difficult to put the pot genie back in the bottle. After this year’s election, more than that half of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana and seven states plus the District of Columbia have approved recreational marijuana.

“It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a twenty-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage,” said Obama.

Denver First U.S. City to Allow Social Pot Use



During last week’s election, Denver voters approved an initiative that will allow private businesses to permit social cannabis use by adults. The initiative passed with the support of 53.4% of the city’s voters.

Implementation of the measure will solve a longstanding problem in Denver: where to consume legally purchased cannabis.

Although Colorado legalized recreational use in 2012, Amendment 64 does not allow for public use of marijuana. This puts tourists to the city in a bind–outside of the few pot-friendly hotels, there’s not really any legal place to consume marijuana.

Denver will be the first city in the U.S. to implement a social use measure, and businesses could start receiving permits by the end of January.

Business owners will be able to create indoor or outdoor marijuana consumption areas, provided they meet certain requirements. Businesses interested in applying for a permit from the City of Denver must also have approval from their local neighborhood association or business group.

Kayvan Khalatbari, one of the lead proponents of Initiative 300, said in a statement Tuesday, “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings.”

A wide range of businesses are set to profit from the measure–like yoga studios, art galleries, coffee shops, or concert venues–and could change the social cannabis landscape in Denver.

However, there are a few things that won’t change: cannabis consumption is still 21-and up, and any indoor cannabis use must adhere to the Colorado Clean Air Act, meaning vape only. Smoking in designated areas outdoors is allowed, provided it’s not visible to the public.

Businesses will not be allowed to sell cannabis on site. Social cannabis consumption is strictly bring-your-own weed. Marijuana businesses, including dispensaries, will not be allowed to apply to the program because of state license restrictions.

The initiative is a pilot program meant to last four years, until the end of 2020. At that point, City Council has the option of making changes, making it permanent, or allowing it to expire.

The State of Marijuana: 2016



We made it! The election is finally over–and the big winner is definitely cannabis.

 

Recreational marijuana initiatives were on the ballot in five states, with Arizona as the only holdout.

Here are the state-by-state results:

  • Arizona: Proposition 205, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older, failed, with 52% against.
    Medical marijuana was legalized in Arizona in 1996.
  • California: Voters approved Proposition 64, and the state is poised to become the country’s largest cannabis market. The measure had 4,952,476 votes for, or 56 percent, to 3,920,303 votes against, or 44 percent. Proposition 64 legalizes recreational cannabis use for people 21 and older. Marijuana will be subject to 15% sales tax.
    In 1996, California was the first state to make medical marijuana legal.
  • Maine: Results of a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in Maine is still too close to call. “Yes” votes to Question 1 are in the lead, but votes are still being counted.
  • Massachusetts: Question 4 passed in Massachusetts with 54% in favor. Medical marijuana became legal in Massachusetts in 2012.
    The passage of Question 4 allows people 21 and older could use, possess or grow cannabis. They can have under 10 ounces in their home and under 1 ounce in public and be allowed to grow six plants.
  • Nevada: Question No. 2 passed with 52% in favor. The initiative is similar to laws adopted in Washington and Colorado, which tax and regulate cannabis like alcohol. Legalization in the Silver State permits anyone 21 or over to purchase recreational cannabis.

As of Tuesday’s election, medical cannabis is legal in more than half of U.S. states (28 states and Washington D.C.).

  • Florida: Medical marijuana was one of the most contested issues on the Florida ballot, but in the end 71% of voters approved Amendment 2. Florida is the second largest medical marijuana market in the country, behind California.
    A vote in 2014 barely defeated a similar medical marijuana amendment. The measure received about 57% of the vote; 60% support is required to pass a ballot measure in Florida.
  • Arkansas: With the passage of Issue No. 6, Arkansas is the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize medical marijuana. The initiative passed with 53% in favor.
  • North Dakota: 64% of voters approved Statutory Measure No. 5, legalizing the use of medical marijuana to treat defined debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, glaucoma, and epilepsy.
  • Montana: Ballot Initiative 182 passed on Tuesday, loosening restrictions on medical marijuana as well as adding post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of eligible conditions.

While the results of the presidential election may leave some questions up in the air as to the state of legal marijuana federally, this was a huge state-by-state advancement for cannabis!

Cannabis is Quickly Becoming Colorado’s Largest Industry



A new study released by the Marijuana Policy Group shows that Colorado marijuana sales contributed $2.39 billion to the state’s economy in 2015–more taxable revenue than Colorado’s arts and sports venues combined ($777.3 million). To put those numbers in perspective, Colorado produced 112.0 metric tons of flower and 132 metric tons of flower-equivalent marijuana (concentrates, edibles).

Total 2015 numbers for the Colorado cannabis industry were $996 million in marijuana sales and $121 million in new taxes. The cannabis industry is the fastest-growing business sector in the state and has created 8,005 direct and ancillary full-time jobs in 2015.

According to the report, “each dollar spent on retail marijuana generates $2.40 in state output. This compares favorably with general retail trade, which yields $1.88 per dollar. The more traditional (and sometimes subsidized) mining sector generates $1.79 per dollar. General manufacturing generates $1.94 per dollar, and casinos generate just $1.73 per dollar of spending.

Other industries have lower output yields because their inputs are sourced from outside of the state, or because the profits are remitted to corporate owners that exist primarily outside of the state as well.”

However, the green rush won’t last forever. With more states legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, Colorado marijuana sales will reach a saturation point. The MPG report states:

“Legal marijuana demand is projected to grow by 11.3 percent per year through 2020. This growth is driven by a demand shift away from the black market and by cannabis-specific visitor demand. By 2020, the regulated market in Colorado will become saturated. Total sales value will peak near $1.52 billion dollars, and state demand will be 215.7 metric tons of flower equivalents by 2020.”