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.”

Debunking Prohibitionists’ Cannabis Dosed Halloween Candy Fears

Anti-marijuana group Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings are playing on parents’ fears by spreading the message that pot-infused candy will be handed out to children on Halloween.

“Officials came together today to warn that Florida children who go door to door for candy on Halloween may one day be at risk of receiving edible marijuana products if Amendment 2 comes to pass,” the group said on Monday. “This scary scenario isn’t the plot of an upcoming horror movie. According to medical and law enforcement officials, it’s a very real scenario playing out in states like California, Washington and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized.”

Except that the horror scenario that Sheriff Demings and Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot claims is ravaging states where marijuana is legalized just isn’t true. There were zero cases cannabis edibles being handed to kids in Colorado or Washington on Halloween in 2014 or 2015. In fact, there have been no reported cases nationally, making the claim more akin to urban legends involving a razor blade hidden in an apple or piece of candy.

Of course, there have been cases around the country of children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles, although the majority of exposure and ingestion cases are from pharmaceuticals and household products. For example, for every 1,000 emergency room visits for ingestion at Children’s Hospital Colorado from 2014 through 2015, only 6.4 were related to marijuana.

George Sam Wang, M.D., of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, examined the effect of the legalization of recreational marijuana on unintentional pediatric exposures. Data from the study concluded:

  • Colorado saw an average 34 percent increase in regional poison center cases per year compared with a 19 percent increase in the rest of the United States.
  • Sources of marijuana were a parent, grandparent, neighbor, friend, babysitter or other family member.
  • Most pediatric marijuana exposures involved infused edible products; many exposures happened because marijuana products weren’t in child-resistant containers, there was poor child supervision or product storage issues.

Along with Washington, Colorado has served as a testing-ground state for cannabis, defining and revising rules and regulations for a commodity that had never been sold legally before. In an effort to reduce the number children accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles, Colorado did a major regulation overhaul.

Colorado has revised regulations on edible marijuana products to make them look less appealing to kids and less like their non-intoxicating counterparts. As of October 1, edibles in Colorado must come with a diamond-shaped THC stamp, on both the child-resistant packaging and the edible itself. Cannabis-infused gummy bears and other marijuana edibles shaped like animals, fruits or humans are also banned.

Rather than playing on baseless fears, officials and special-interest groups would better serve their communities by working with the cannabis industry on solutions that safely and fairly regulate marijuana.

Medical Marijuana Debate Heats up in Florida

A proposed amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida has become a central issue in the state this election. With voting only nineteen days away, voters have little time left to consider the issue.

In a heated Tuesday night debate, undecided voters had the opportunity to listen to the pros and cons of Amendment 2. Prominent marijuana advocate John Morgan, who also chairs United for Care, and anti-legalization critic and policy director for No on 2, Dr. Jessica Spencer, went head-to-head.

Much of the debate centered around whether the amendment would be a danger to communities and kids or help people with debilitating medical conditions.

“They’re not going to have gummy bears hanging on a rack next to a school with marijuana in it. It’s preposterous,” said Morgan. He believes that anti-marijuana advocates are using scare tactics rather than fact to strengthen their position.

“The zoning out for the dispensaries will be determined by the cities. What the edibles can be packaged in will be determined by the state,” Morgan added.

“This is de facto legalization of marijuana, simply by the way they wrote it,” Spencer retorted. “If you didn’t want them near schools, and you wanted to protect our communities, you should’ve written it in there. That language actually allows for any of the symptomology associated with those conditions to qualify someone for marijuana.”

Spencer maintains that there are no proven medical benefits to cannabis use. “There’s no conclusive evidence that marijuana as an entire plant works as medicine.”

If Amendment 2 passes in Florida, it will allow patients access to medical marijuana for certain medical conditions as determined by a qualified physician. The Florida Department of Health would regulate dispensaries and issue ID cards to patients and caregivers. The list of illnesses eligible for treatment with cannabis would include glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Amendment 2 requires 60 percent of voters’ support to pass. It failed with 57 percent in 2014.

The Majority of Americans Support Cannabis Legalization

A new survey released by the Pew Research Center indicates that the number of Americans who support marijuana legalization are higher than ever. 57% approve legalization, while only 37% think cannabis should be outlawed. To put the huge shift in opinion in perspective, ten years ago approval was at just 32%, with 60% of adults opposed to cannabis legalization.

The survey found some interesting correlations between people who support cannabis legalization and factors like age, race, education level and political affiliation.

Political affiliation showed the biggest divide in approval, with more Democrats on board with cannabis than Republicans. Pew reports, “By more than two-to-one, Democrats favor legalizing marijuana over having it be illegal (66% vs. 30%). Most Republicans (55%) oppose marijuana legalization, while 41% favor it.”

Within the Republican party, support can be narrowed down even further. “By a wide margin (63% to 35%), moderate and liberal Republicans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. By contrast, 62% of conservative Republicans oppose legalizing marijuana use, while just 33% favor it.”

Among Democrats the difference in approval was less drastic. 78% of liberal-leaning Democrats favor legalization while moderate and conservative Democrats approval is at 55%.

Among generations, Millennials (ages 18-35) are the most likely to support cannabis legalization at 71%, but the approval rating among Gen X (ages 36-51) and Baby Boomers (ages 52-70) is gaining traction. 57% of Gen X supports legalization and approval among Boomers is up from 17% in 1990 to 56% in 2016.

Support for marijuana legalization is equal among blacks and whites at 59%. 49% of Hispanics do not approve of marijuana use, while 46% favor legalization.

The Pew Research Center gathered responses from 1,201 adults between August 23-September 2.

Florida Vote Could Create the Country’s Second Largest Medical Marijuana Market

On November 8th, Floridians will once again vote on a proposed medical marijuana amendment. Amendment 2 would broaden medical marijuana access and expand the number of debilitating conditions eligible for treatment.

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.

Florida has existing legislation that allows compassionate use of cannabis. Cancer, seizures, and people living with epilepsy have access to CDB-only products. Terminally ill patients who have less than one year to live are eligible to use cannabis with THC. However, access to cannabis requires a patient to have a relationship with a prescribing physician for 90-days, especially difficult for patients with a short time left to live.

If Amendment 2 passes, the list of illnesses eligible for treatment with marijuana would include glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

United for Care, supporters of Amendment 2, received a $1 million donation last week from New Approach, an organization that’s donated big money to other supporters of medical marijuana initiatives.

Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of United for Care, said, “We are obviously very pleased to receive such a generous donation. It’s going to be put to good use very quickly, making sure that our message is on television across the state and that Floridians understand this is about putting medical decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients and out of the hands of politicians.”

“According to a September survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute in Saint Leo, Florida, 68.8% of likely voters supported Amendment 2, as the medical cannabis measure is known, up from 65.1% in June.”

If Amendment 2 passes, Florida could become the second largest medical marijuana market in the country, behind California.

Boom Time: Four Cannabis Companies Among Elite Inc. 500 List

Inc. magazine has named four cannabis companies in its annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country. The rankings include companies in mainstream industries and are a subset of the Inc. 5000 list.

  • Of the fastest-growing cannabis businesses, Leafly came out on top at number 76. One of the big names in online cannabis information, Leafly provides listings and reviews of strains and dispensaries, as well as knowledge-based cannabis resources. A Seattle-based company, Leafly has had a 3-year growth of 3,861% and a 2015 revenue of $8.5 million.
  • Apeks Supercritical designs, engineers, and manufactures botanical oil extraction systems utilizing subcritical and supercritical CO2. They’re ranked number 236, with a 3-year growth rate of 1,662% and a 2015 revenue of $12.1 million.
  • MJBizDaily ranked number 302. A Denver-based publication for medical and recreational marijuana business news and market research, and cannabis-related events. MJBizDaily saw a 3-year growth of 1,288% and a 2015 revenue of $7 million.
  • Last but not least at number 313 is Tucson-based GrowersHouse.com. The company is a hydroponics supply and indoor gardening center with a physical as well as online store. In the past 3 years, GrowersHouse has seen an increase of growth at 1,233%. 2015 revenue was 17.3 million.

The inclusion of cannabis companies on the list is an indication that the industry is becoming more mainstream. Cassandra Farrington, co-founder and CEO of MJBizDaily, said,”While being recognized by the Inc. 500 is an honor in and of itself, this means so much more for the marijuana industry in the larger landscape. It is yet another marker to the rest of the world that this is a serious, professional business.”

Cannabis Buyer’s Remorse? Not in Colorado

Four years after voters approved Amendment 64, do Coloradans regret legalizing cannabis? Not according to a new poll that shows the majority of voters in the state, 51 percent, would oppose repealing the amendment if it were to appear on the ballot.

When asked about Amendment 64’s impact on Colorado, 47 percent said legal cannabis has been good for the state while 39 percent said it’s been bad, 9 percent said it’s had no real impact and 6 percent weren’t sure.

Marijuana’s impact on the state’s economy reported higher levels of approval: 61 percent said the impact has been positive — and 19 percent said it’s been negative, 14 percent said there has been no impact and 6 percent weren’t sure.

The poll was commissioned by the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project and conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Since legalization, Colorado has seen a drop in violent crime, increased tax revenue going to schools, new jobs, and a booming economy.

Despite how Coloradoans feel about legal cannabis, anti-marijuana groups and politicians who want to maintain prohibition see marijuana as some kind of doomsday catalyst. In March 2015, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana “blood money.”

In an interview last year, presidential candidate, Donald Trump, said, “I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about it. They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado, some big problems.”

Mason Tvert, the Marijuana Policy Project spokesman and co-director of Colorado’s Yes on Amendment 64 campaign, is used to anti-cannabis rhetoric. “There are a lot of folks trying to make it seem like the sky is falling in Colorado or that voters regret their decision, but this is yet another poll showing that they still support it,”Tvert told the Cannabist.

“It’s easy for opponents of legalization to put words into the mouths of Colorado voters,” Tvert said, “but these results actually let voters speak for themselves, and voters by and large would not want to go back to prohibition.”

Denver Social Cannabis Initiative to Appear on November Ballot

A ballot initiative could 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.

The initiative, named the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, would allow businesses to create indoor or outdoor marijuana consumption areas, provided they meet certain requirements. As the name of the initiative suggests, businesses interested in applying for a permit from the City of Denver must also have approval from their local neighborhood association.

The initiative already appears to have popular support. 4,726 valid signatures are required to make the Denver ballot; the social cannabis consumption initiative received 10,800 signatures. So far, at least 50 businesses have pledged support.

If voters approve the initiative in November, a wide range of businesses–like yoga studios, art galleries, coffee shops, or concert venues–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.

Click here to see the ballot measure in full.

Colorado Marijuana DUI Laws Under Question

In Colorado, the number of people arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis is up by 25% so far this year. However, growing evidence shows that many of these arrests are based on sobriety benchmarks that just aren’t valid when it comes to cannabis.

Marijuana laws got off the ground in Colorado largely because of a campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol. However, modeling existing DUI legislation in place for alcohol resulted in DUI arrests that may not have been warranted.

For one thing, testing blood or breath hasn’t been effective when measuring cannabis-related impairment.

Tom Marcotte, who runs The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, says, “Unlike alcohol, which has a generally linear relationship between the amount of alcohol you consume, your breath alcohol content and driving performance, the THC route of metabolism is very different.”

Jay Tiftickjian, a Denver DUI defense attorney, says that even the U.S. Department of Transportation has acknowledged that measuring THC in the body is not a reliable indicator of intoxication. High levels of THC can be present in the body for up to twelve hours, especially among heavy users. Testing positive for any THC in blood or breath tests isn’t an indicator of impairment; it can only indicate THC presence in the body.

“And innocent people are and will continue to be convicted, based on that,” says Tiftickjian, “That’s unconstitutional.”

AAA released a study this spring that says current THC blood limits have no scientific basis and urged states to hold off on setting marijuana impairment limits until more reliable testing could be developed.

Colorado State Patrol (CSP) is testing technology using saliva to determine the amount of marijuana in the system. The program uses volunteers–those under suspicion of driving under the influence–to pilot test the technology. The CSP program began testing five different saliva-based technologies in March.

CSP will gather data for two years before making its recommendations.


Employees in States with Medical Marijuana Take Fewer Sick Days

A recent study published in the journal Health Economics, found that in states with medical marijuana laws, workplace absenteeism has decreased. The research found that, “respondents were 8% less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws” were passed.

Darin F. Ullman, an economist, decided to research before-and-after sick-day data from 24 states that had medical marijuana laws. Ullman drew on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS).

According to the Washington Post, “the CPS numbers also suggest that states with fewer restrictions on the use of medical marijuana, such as on the number of conditions it could be recommended for, had more of a decrease in sick-day use than states with stricter regulations.” On average, employers in these states saw a 13% reduction in in employees calling in sick to work. Those in the 30 to 39 age group called in sick 15% less.

Ullman said that one possible reason for the decrease in sick days is that, “Individuals experience relief from disabling symptoms, absence from work could decline.”

Moreover, other studies have shown that in states with medical marijuana, alcohol consumption has decreased–overindulging is a major factor in employee absenteeism.

Ullman concludes, “The results of this paper therefore suggest that [medical marijuana laws] would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues.”

The study is a departure from the typical stereotype that marijuana users are apathetic and unmotivated. The Post reports that the current thinking of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace is that cannabis is bad for the workplace. From the Institutes website, “The impact of employee marijuana use is seen in the workplace in lower productivity, increased workplace accidents and injuries, increased absenteeism, and lower morale,” the institute writes. “This can and does seriously impact the bottom line.”

Court Rules that Cops Can’t Search Motorists Based on State Residency

On Tuesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that law enforcement officers cannot stop and search vehicles belonging to motorists with out-of-state license plates that have legalized marijuana.

The ruling comes after a civil lawsuit filed by Peter Vasquez against two Kansas Highway Patrol officers. Vasquez, who was driving alone on I-70 at night, was pulled over by officers in December 2011 on the basis of his license plates and Colorado being a known “drug source.”

By a 2-1 vote, the court ruled that the officers had violated Vasquez’s Fourth Amendment rights by stopping and searching his car, adding that the officers’ reasoning would justify the search of citizens from more than half the states in the country.

“It is time to abandon the pretense that state citizenship is a permissible basis upon which to justify the detention and search of out-of-state motorists, and time to stop the practice of detention of motorists for nothing more than an out-of-state license plate,” Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote.

“Absent a demonstrated extraordinary circumstance, the continued use of state residency as a justification for the fact of or continuation of a stop is impermissible,” he added.

The 10th Circuit decision applies in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

This isn’t the first time that a neighboring state has taken umbrage at Colorado’s marijuana laws. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court denied a lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado. The suit cited the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), saying that marijuana can’t be regulated at the state level. Additionally, the two states claimed that marijuana purchased in Colorado and brought over state lines was a burden on law enforcement and their criminal justice systems, as well as a danger to the health and safety of children.

By a 6-2 majority, the Supreme Court declined to hear the suit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado. Two conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said they would have heard the case.

DEA Rejects Petition to Reclassify Marijuana

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has denied a petition that would have reclassified cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The petition was filed by two former state governors, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New Mexico nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm.

Cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug, classified as a substance that has no medical use and a high likelihood of abuse and dependence. Other Schedule I drugs include LSD, heroin, and mescaline. Possessing any one of these drugs is considered a criminal act under federal law.

Schedule II drugs–deemed to have medicinal value–include highly addictive methamphetamine and opioids like morphine and oxycodone. Opioid addiction kills 80 Americans every day, yet the FDA and DEA maintain that marijuana is less medically useful and more addictive.

In an interview with NPR, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg said that, “This decision isn’t based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine,” he said, “and it’s not.”

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 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.

Tom Angell, chairman of the lobbying group, Marijuana Majority, released a statement following the DEA’s announcement. “President Obama always said he would let science — and not ideology — dictate policy, but in this case his administration is upholding a failed drug war approach instead of looking at real, existing evidence that marijuana has medical value,” he wrote.

Although state and federal law grow increasingly apart, most everyday Americans have reached consensus on the issue. 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, and it is currently legal for medical and recreational use in four states; 20 states have medical marijuana programs, with more expected after November’s elections.

Help Fight MS with Mountain High Suckers

Mountain High Suckers is thrilled to be a sponsor of the 7th Annual Clinic Charity Classic Golf Tournament

Since 2009, the annual event has raised approximately $300,000 for the Colorado-Wyoming chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Proceeds are used to benefit MS patients and to fund research dedicated to finding a cure for the disease.

“Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body,” according to the National MS Society. While MS is not necessarily fatal, it decreases life expectancy by an average of seven years because of complications from the disease.

Ryan Cook, the Clinic’s general manager, said, “Cannabis has been show to have a profound effect on MS patients including muscle spasms, speech and eyesight. Some of our wheelchair-bound patients have said that they can walk unaided when they take cannabis. That is extremely encouraging and we want to make sure that we are doing all that we can to help our patients and friends. Whether that be product advancements or fundraising efforts to support research.”

The tournament has grown so much that this year includes a move to a larger course, the Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton.

Golf slots are booked, but there are still spectator tickets available for $50.

Come see us on the green August 26, 2016 at Arrowhead Golf Club or visit our booth and help end MS!

Americans are Smoking More Weed Than Ever

A new Gallup poll shows that one in eight Americans smoke marijuana–a number that’s doubled in the last three years.

In 2013, only 7 percent of adults said they were marijuana smokers. Gallup’s July poll this year 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.

The poll reports that a major contributing factor in the increase of marijuana use is due to more states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana programs exist in half of U.S. states, with four more voting on the issue this November.

There appears to be a regional difference in attitudes and willingness to try marijuana. “Gallup finds residents in the West — home of all four states that have legalized recreational marijuana use — are significantly more likely to say they smoke marijuana than those in other parts of the country.” The percentage of people who have experimented with marijuana is slightly below the national average in the East, Midwest and South.

Conversely, income and education levels did not have a strong correlation with an individuals likelihood of having tried marijuana, although households that make less than $30,000 are slightly more likely to report using cannabis, at 14%.

Other factors that influence marijuana use are age and religiosity. Almost one in five adults (19%) under the age of 30 report currently using it — at least double the rate seen among each older age group. Only 2% of weekly churchgoers and 7% of less frequent attenders say they use marijuana, but this rises to 14% of those who seldom or never attend a religious service.

At the federal level, marijuana is still illegal, and a 2014 report from the FBI shows that there are more than 1,700 marijuana arrests per day.

7 Healing Benefits of Cannabis

There’s a mountain of anecdotal evidence about the healing benefits of marijuana. As acceptance of the drug increases nationwide, new research will only enhance our knowledge of cannabis and its use in treating various conditions and diseases.

In no particular order, here are 7 healing benefits of cannabis:

1. Dravet’s Syndrome
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who made news nationwide after reversing his stance on medical marijuana and issuing a public apology, changed his opinion after meeting Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old girl with Dravet’s Syndrome. In his documentary, “Weed,” Dr. Gupta chronicled Charlotte’s struggle with a severe form epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Charlotte “started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.” The high-CBD strain, Charlotte’s Web, is named after her and is used to treat other children with Dravet’s Syndrome.

2. Anxiety
For some people, especially those who have never smoked marijuana before, large doses of THC can actually heighten anxiety and paranoia. But for a large majority of those who suffer from daily anxiety, the THC and CBD found in cannabis actually reduces symptoms. A group of researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala–a region of the brain that is responsible for regulating anxiety and our fight, flight, or freeze response. “The discovery may help explain why marijuana users say they take the drug mainly to reduce anxiety,” said Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D., the paper’s senior author and professor of Psychiatry and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Those prone to panic attacks or anxiety after consuming a high-THC sativa should stick with more relaxing indica and high-CBD strains.

PTSD isn’t an approved medical condition in every state with a medical marijuana program, but in states like New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason for people to get a medical marijuana card. THC and other cannabinoids help control the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain. This is particularly important for veterans–an estimated 11% to 20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) have been diagnosed with PTSD in a given year. Many veterans and medical professionals “believe that smoking pot is a better treatment for PTSD than the slew of opiates, benzos, and antidepressants that the VA uses to medicate the disorder.”

4. Protects the brain from concussions and other trauma
Football players in the NFL sustain repeated concussions throughout their career, often resulting in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE causes brain degeneration that is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and progressive dementia.

The NFL prohibits players from using marijuana, but some players are asking them to reconsider their position, citing the benefits cannabis has on chronic pain and in healing the brain after a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. In an open letter to the NFL, Harvard Professor Lester Grinspoon wrote, “Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data.”

5. Stops cancer from spreading
In 2007, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading. CBD works by turning off a gene called Id-1. Id-1 copies itself at a rate faster than non-cancerous cells in the body, allowing the cancer to metastasize. Additional research done by the American Association for Cancer Research has found that marijuana works to slow down tumor growth in the brain, breast, and lungs.

6. Improves the symptoms of lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Lupus is a chronic disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive and starts attacking the body, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs. Marijuana helps alleviate symptoms of lupus, calming the immune system and reducing nausea and inflammation.

7. Reduces pain and nausea from chemo, and stimulates appetite
One of the most well-known uses of cannabis is to help treat the side effects of chemotherapy. Cancer patients suffer from pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. According to the American Cancer Society, people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine. In fact, the only FDA approved use of cannabinoid drugs that contain THC to treat the side-effects and symptoms of chemotherapy and AIDS.

Small Colorado Town Reports False Positive of THC in Water Supply

Hugo, a small town located on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, made headlines last week after county officials released a warning not to drink, cook, or bathe with local local tap water because of suspected THC contamination.

Almost immediately, scientists and cannabis experts were skeptical of the news, pointing out that cannabinoids, including THC, are highly insoluble in water. “It would take more product than any of us could afford to contaminate a city water supply to the extent that people would suffer any effects,” Dr. John Fox, Lincoln County’s health officer, said in a statement Thursday.

Although marijuana is legal in Colorado, Hugo and the rest of Lincoln County have banned commercial growing, production, and retail, making THC contamination even more unlikely.

In an interview with the Denver Post, Peter Perrone, who owns Wheat Ridge cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical, said, “There is zero possibility that there’s anything like THC in the Hugo water. You know how oil and water separate? It’s the same with cannabinoids. They’re lipophilic, which means they’re fat-loving. They would never be soluble in water. In order for people to solubilize these cannabinoids in their drinks it takes a lot of work. It takes so many steps to get a fat-soluble thing like a cannabinoid into something like a drink.”

Initial reports indicated that one of the town’s wells showed “signs of tampering” and that multiple field tests were positive for THC. The water advisory was canceled Saturday after further testing by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation revealed no traces of THC in the town’s water supply. “We are happy to report that the water advisory is canceled immediately,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Please resume any and all water activities.”

Medical Marijuana Saves Medicare Millions of Dollars

A new study has found that states with a medical marijuana program have reduced costs to Medicare Part D, as well as reduced prescription drug use. The study, published in Health Affairs, looked at drugs like antidepressants, muscle relaxants, opioids, and sedatives for which marijuana is used as an alternative treatment.

Researchers examined Medicare Part D spending from 2010 to 2013 and found that medical marijuana saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013–if medical cannabis was legal nationwide, it would save the program about $470 million per year. 25 states and the District of Columbia currently have medical marijuana laws, a number that’s expected to increase in November elections.

As well as saving taxpayer money, the study found that the annual number of daily doses prescribed by doctors for conditions like anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, and sleep disorders, was also greatly reduced. Medical marijuana use reduced the number of painkiller prescriptions, including opioids, by about 1,800 daily doses filled each year per doctor. Unlike opioids, marijuana doesn’t carry the same risk of addiction and/or overdose.

Critics say that while medical cannabis may be saving Medicare money, patients still have to pay for the drug out-of-pocket. As cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug–considered to have a high potential for abuse without medical benefits–insurance companies don’t cover the cost. Veterans with PTSD and other conditions risk having their benefits revoked by the VA if they choose to use medical marijuana as an alternative treatment.

In an interview with NPR, one of the authors of the study, W. David Bradford, said that should “marijuana become a regular part of patient care nationally, the cost curve would bend because marijuana is cheaper than other drugs.”

At Mountain High Suckers, our goal has always been to give patients safe access to our medical marijuana products!