Category: Blog

Marijuana Legalization Finally Crippling Mexican Drug Cartels, Says Study

Border Patrol Marijuana

Pro-marijuana laws have led to significant decreases in violent crime in several U.S. states bordering Mexico, says a new study that was published in The Economic Journal. The study indicates that the rates of violent crime by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) – including robberies, murders and aggravated assaults – have fallen by 12.5% in counties close to the border following the implementation of medical marijuana laws (MMLs).

Study author Professor Evelina Gavrilova said, “MMLs allow people to grow and cultivate marijuana plants legally within the US. This means that people don’t need to buy illegal marijuana anymore so drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have far fewer customers,” according to the Independent UK.

The study says that, “Their namesake activity – the smuggling of illicit drugs – is known to be paired with extreme levels of violence, which DTOs use to contest the revenues in the drug market.”

Robberies have decreased by 19% in U.S. border states with legal medical marijuana programs, murders decreased by 10% and assaults reduced by 9%. The biggest decrease is for drug-law murders which decreased by 41%.

The marijuana market is the largest drug market in the U.S. It’s always been a “lucrative cash crop” for DTOs, according to the study. Most illegal drugs in the U.S. come through Mexico. Every year, roughly $6 billion goes back into Mexico to the DTOs.

Professor Gavrilova said, “It’s very likely that they are not going to simply give up on this market. There are reports that some DTOs are starting to grow their own opium, which could be used to produce heroin that is smuggled into the US. They could also enter the legal marijuana trade themselves by setting up farms in a border state.”

Photo: Al Jazeera

2018 Coachella Music Festival Bans Marijuana Despite California Legalization

Coachella Cannabis

The Coachella music festival in California has banned the use of marijuana on its grounds despite California legalizing recreational marijuana on January 1st.

Coachella’s website states, “Sorry bro. Marijuana and marijuana products aren’t allowed inside [the festival]. Even in 2018 and beyond. If that changes, we’ll update this answer,” according to Billboard.

As of the January 1, anyone 21 or older in California can legally possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. Currently, only a few dispensaries sell recreational marijuana, but expansion is coming.

Coachella Music Festival is from April 13 -20, 2018.

Photo: fb .com/coachella

Study: Federal Marijuana Legalization Would Generate 1 Million Jobs

Weed Jobs

According to a new study, nationwide marijuana legalization could create over 1 million new jobs within the next 10 years. Information from New Frontier Data’s study indicates that the federal government would generate at least $131.8 billion in federal tax revenue in the first 8 years of national legalization. And, with federal legalization, at least 782,000 jobs could be created immediately.  New Frontier Data also forecasts that the marijuana industry could employ as many as 1.1 million people by 2025, including growers and retailers.

Colorado’s legal recreational marijuana industry created 18,000 full-time jobs and generated $2.4 billion in economic stimulation just one year after they legalized it, according to Newsweek. New Frontier Data’s study suggests that this trend could be sustained on national levels.

Giadha Aguirre De Carcer of New Frontier Data said, “If cannabis businesses were legalized tomorrow and taxed as normal businesses with a standard 35 percent tax rate, cannabis businesses would infuse the U.S. economy with an additional $12.6 billion this year.”

Marijuana Policy Group says that increased demand would stimulate economic growth from the legal industry. The marijuana industry, for instance, supports other industries such as lighting, commercial real estate, agricultural supplies and various tech companies.

Photo: The Cannabist

Vermont Is About to Become First State to Legalize Marijuana via Legislature

Vermont Marijuana

Vermont is poised to become the first state to legalize adult possession and cultivation of marijuana legislatively.

A bill that would make marijuana legal for adults in Vermont received final approval on Wednesday from the Vermont Senate and will soon make its way to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott. He vetoed a similar bill in 2017, but, in December, Gov. Scott indicated that he intends to sign H. 511 into law, the MPP reports.

H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July.

“This is a big step forward for Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Vermonters should be proud that their state is becoming the first to do this legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative.”

Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, according to a statewide survey of 755 registered voters conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 39% are opposed. Nationwide support is similarly strong. An October 2017 Gallup poll found 64% of Americans support making marijuana legal.

Vermont is poised to become the ninth state to make marijuana legal for adults and the first to do so through its legislature. Eight other states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, all through ballot initiatives. In Washington, D.C., voters approved a ballot initiative making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older. Vermont and 22 other states do not have a ballot initiative process. Those states’ marijuana laws can only be modified by legislatures.

“This will be an important milestone for the legalization movement. When Gov. Scott signs this legislation, Vermont will become the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition through legislative action,” said Matthew Schweich, interim executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “MPP is proud to have helped lead the Vermont effort, just as we led the legalization ballot initiative campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts in 2016. In the past two years, we’ve seen incredible progress on marijuana policy across New England. Now that yet another state has rejected marijuana prohibition, there is even more pressure for Congress to take action to prevent any federal interference from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It’s time for the federal government to respect the authority of states to determine their own marijuana policies.”

The Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island legislatures are expected to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults this year as well, and the New Hampshire House approved a similar measure on Tuesday. In Michigan, signatures have been submitted for a November 2018 ballot measure to regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults.

Photo: MPP

Australia Becomes 4th Country to Legalize Medical Marijuana Exportation

Australia Cannabis

Australia legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and just decided to legalize the exportation of medical marijuana products, making it the fourth country in the world to do so.

Niv Dagan of Peak Asset Management estimates that Australia’s medical marijuana market could quadruple to $1 billion by 2020, according to CNBC.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said, “We’d like to be potentially the world’s number one supplier.”

Share prices of Australian marijuana companies drastically rose with the news.

Canada and Germany could be big markets for Australia’s marijuana producers, according to Peter Crock of Cann Group. Shares in Cann Group soared 35% upon news of Australia legalizing medical marijuana exports.

Grand View Research reported in 2017 that the global medical marijuana market could reach $55 billion by 2025.

Hunt said, “Our goal is to ensure that Australian producers have every opportunity to be the number one producers of the highest-grade medical cannabis in the world.”

The new medical marijuana policy is expected to go into effect in February 2018.

Nations choosing to import or export medical marijuana have to report every trade made with the UN International Narcotics Control Board.

Jan 19th Deadline Will Determine Fate of All State Medical Marijuana Programs

Congress Marijuana Protections

The current federal spending bill remains in effect while Congress works on a compromise, but the deadline of January 19 is looming over medical marijuana patients, employees and business owners in states across the country because it is still undecided if the new bill will re-include the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that currently prevents the federal government and Department of Justice from spending federal money to interfere with state-legalized medical marijuana programs.

The Senate version of the new spending bill includes continuing protections for state-legal medical marijuana industries and patients, according to Politico. But the House version does not include these protections.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will need to come together and decide whether to include the medical marijuana protections in the final version of the 2018 spending bill. If the provision is not upheld, it’s an open door for Jeff Sessions to instruct the DOJ to start cracking down on all state-legal medical marijuana businesses and patients.

Photo: Fox News


The Future of Cannabis Research Is a Cargo Van in Colorado

CU Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder has a new marijuana research lab, and it’s not your traditional facility. You don’t walk into a large, fancy building; instead, you slide open the door on a retrofitted cargo van.

The CannaVan was built to help the university conduct research on the effects of marijuana use on humans, according to WIRED. To get real results, researchers need to be able to use what’s available in real markets, and the van is the best solution to easily getting around and conducting experiments.

Cinnamon Bidwell, a neurobiologist heading the CannaVan research team, said, “The idea is: If we can’t bring real-world cannabis into the lab, let’s bring the lab to the people.”

The CannaVan program will work by meeting with potential participants and assigning them a specific marijuana product to use. Once assignments are in place, participants are responsible for purchasing their assigned products. The CannaVan then delivers participants back to their homes where baseline blood draws are taken and then the marijuana products are ingested. Mental and physical state evaluations also take place. After using the products, participants return to the CannaVan for another blood draw, an interview, and memory and motor control evaluations.

The current task of the CannaVan is to look into potential risks of using high-potency concentrates. They’re also looking into marijuana as a viable treatment option for those with chronic pain and anxiety.

“Basically, we’re looking at whether people can have pain relief without walking around feeling stoned all the time,” said Bidwell. “As Colorado citizens, we can purchase and use these products. But as researchers, we can’t legally bring them into our lab and directly test their effects, or directly analyze them. We’ve worked very closely with CU Boulder administration, our legal team, research compliance officers – the list goes on – to see everything is above board.”

This research will be the first time that CU Boulder is able to use its CannaVan to conduct observational investigations regarding therapeutic benefit and behavioral aspects of medical marijuana use.

Photo: Patrick Campbell/CU

DOJ Publishes Official Memo About New Marijuana Enforcement

Drug War DOJ
The U.S. Department of Justice published an official memo on January 4th about their impending crackdown of state-legalized marijuana markets. The memo reads:

The Department of Justice today issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy announcing a return to the rule of law and the rescission of previous guidance documents. Since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, Congress has generally prohibited the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

In the memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directs all U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities. This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also wrote a memo to all U.S. attorneys on January 4th.

Jeff Sessions Just Launched a Crackdown on Legal Marijuana States

Sessions Marijuana Crackdown

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending Cole Memo protections allowing states to determine their own path when it comes to marijuana. Sessions is putting the fate of the industry in the hands of federal prosecutors. They’ll now decide how to enforce federal marijuana laws.

The appalling news comes just a few days after California began recreational marijuana sales, NBC New York reports. President Trump hasn’t been very forthcoming with his actual stance on marijuana, but this is clearly Jeff Sessions’ personal agenda picking a fight. He still says that marijuana increases crime and has compared it to heroin and other dangerous drugs.

The legal marijuana industry has quickly become a multibillion dollar industry. In some markets, it’s helping fund schools, law enforcement programs and other community education programs. California’s legal recreational market could bring in as much as $1 billion in tax revenue annually.

U.S. attorneys will have the power to determine which federal resources will be used to enforce federal marijuana law. They’ll base their decisions regarding enforcement on what priority it holds in their districts.

Kevin Sabet of the anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) said, “There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it’s also the beginning of the story and not the end. This is a victory. It’s going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.

Sabet is among those staunchly opposed to marijuana legalization. He had a meeting with Sessions in December along with several other anti-marijuana parties.

Congress remains divided but support has grown for legalization and marijuana law reform across all party lines. Sessions commissioned a task force to study marijuana policy. The task force chose to encourage the Department of Justice to continue reviewing the hands-off approach taken by the Obama administration.

The Obama administration sought to reduce overcrowding in federal prisons. Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions wants prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for drug offenders.

What does this mean for the states that have legalized recreational marijuana? Turmoil, chaos, devastating financial losses for business owners and thousands of jobs lost – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There is still hope for state-legalized medical marijuana industries though. If the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is upheld in the federal spending bill, the industry should be safe. If the amendment is left out, the medical marijuana industry will also be at risk, leaving millions without access to medicine.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is safe until at least January 19 when Congress is expected to make a decision on the federal budget spending bill.


2018 Is High Times for Many Californians and Tourists

Tourism Marijuana

Recreational sales of marijuana became legal January 1 in California. The dispensary 420 Central in Santa Ana opened its doors at 7 a.m. on January 1, and Robert Taft Jr., the founder of 420 Central, said, “We were bombarded!”

Within two hours of opening, over 100 customers made their first legal purchases, Los Angeles Times reports.  As customers left the shop, Taft said to them, “Enjoy your new freedom!”

Hundreds of potential recreational marijuana retailers throughout California, such as in Los Angeles and San Francisco, are still awaiting temporary license approval to sell marijuana. But up in Berkeley, dispensaries were ready. Berkeley Patients Group opened at 6 a.m. and had a line extended around the block.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Senator Nancy Skinner were present to cut the green ribbon to mark the first sale in Berkeley. Some of Berkeley Patients Group’s customers came up from the Central Valley area and the Sierra foothills to make their first legal purchases.

Sean Luse, COO of Berkeley Patients Group said, “I’d say the crowd size is about three or four times what we would typically see. Now that it’s mainstream and open to anyone 21-plus, you have a different dynamic. People are coming in groups or as families – it feels festive today.”

Some waited as long as 40 minutes at Mankind Cooperative in San Diego where commemorative shirts were handed out saying “A giant leap for mankind” and depicting men on the moon.

Cathy Bliss of Mankind Cooperative said, “We’re insane down here. And it’s still going on, girlfriend.”

Customers of all ages came into shops to make purchases. Many, including Lucas Starr, were skeptical about marijuana before trying it themselves. Even medical marijuana users are happy to see the stigma surrounding marijuana begin to fade away.

Judy Malgeri, a 65-year-old medical marijuana patient said, “It’s about time. Arrested for a joint? That’s so sad. It’s a fruit of the Earth.”

One customer hadn’t used marijuana or anything associated in quite some time. He indicated that he remembered enjoying edibles. As he approached his budtender, he said, “It’s been a while.” He was laughing as he said it, but the budtender reminded him that he’s always welcome in the shop. The man kept his sunglasses on and as a reporter approached him as he left, he said, “Oh my God! No, I’m not here.”

While not everyone making a legal purchase is completely comfortable, time will change that. It’s something new and the reality of being able to make a legal marijuana purchase hasn’t set in yet.

Taft said, “Weed the people should be proud. Red and blue turns to green when we come together. We can change any law we want.”