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   Oct 01

Legal Recreational Pot Sales Begin in Oregon

USA Today, Sarah Roth, October 1, 2015

Sales of recreational marijuana began after midnight Thursday in Oregon as some dispensaries opened their doors early moments after it became legal for those 21 and older to purchase pot.

More than 200 of the state’s 345 medical cannabis dispensaries have registered to sell recreational pot.

While anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can buy recreational weed, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients who are under 21 can still purchase cannabis as long as they have a valid program card.

Consumers are only allowed to buy flowers, seeds and clone plants until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission — which will be regulating legal marijuana sometime next year — irons out its rules.

At Portland’s Shango Premium Cannabis, co-founder Shane McKee said the first sale to an excited customer came about a minute after midnight, with many others waiting.

“It looks like there is about 60-70 in line out front,” he said in a telephone interview shortly after midnight. “They all seem extremely eager.”

That first buyer, Davia Fleming of Portland, said the sales launch was important.

“I was really excited about that,” said Fleming, who uses the drug for medicinal purposes. “It’s the end of a prohibition.”

A shop can sell up to a quarter of an ounce (about seven grams) of cannabis buds or pre-rolled joints at a time. Consumers could technically buy four times that in a day to get to the legal limit you can have in public, which is an ounce.

Customers also can purchase four starter plants or an unlimited number of seeds to grow pot at home.

Tinctures, hash, dabs, edibles, topicals or any other processed cannabis products are prohibited. Medical marijuana patients, on the other hand, will still be able to purchase the concentrated items in stores.

Store owners say they’re hopeful they can avoid the shortages and price spikes that followed the start of legal sales last year in Washington and Colorado, the only other states where the drug can now be sold for recreational use. Alaska could begin retail sales next year.

Recreational cannabis purchases are tax free until Jan. 4, when it will be taxed by 25%.

Brothers Cannabis Club also opened its doors at midnight. However, others are abiding by the limited hours set by the Portland City Council on Wednesday. The council voted to limit operating hours for dispensaries to between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. But the city can’t enforce those hours until shops have a license from the city, which won’t be available until December. Until then, they can operate anytime, day or night.

Some stores were trying to lure customers with giveaways and food.

Green Oasis in Sellwood is hosting a block party, featuring the Garcia Birthday Band. Cannacea will have free samples, giveaways and a live band. Leafly, an online review site for pot shops, will have food carts at Bridge City’s two locations, as well as AmeriCannaRX and Natural Rxemedies.

The Oregon Health Authority is requiring participating retail shops to record details of the marijuana sale (type of product, how much, birth date of customer, and date of sale) in order to avoid selling more than the legal limit to the same person in one day. Recreational users can have up to an ounce in public and eight ounces of usable weed in their homes.

Oregon has a robust supply system for marijuana that has supported medical marijuana users and the black market. Companies have invested in massive warehouses in Portland to grow the drug indoors, and southern Oregon has some of the nation’s best conditions for outdoor cultivation of marijuana.

Growers don’t face strict regulations yet, so the supply can more easily flow into retail stores than it did in Washington and Colorado.

Original article posted at USA Today

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   Oct 01

The Stoner’s Guide to Autumn

High Times, Stony Bear, September 29th, 2015

Autumn is a great season for stoners. Aside from harvesting your gorgeous plants, the cooler weather brings a whole new world of activities and things to enjoy. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Halloween

Halloween isn’t just for kids. Candy and costumes are enjoyable for all ages, particularly stoners—something about the unlimited miniature sized candies and creative potential can activate even the most lethargic stoner’s imagination.

2. “Steve Jobs,” the Film 

Steve Jobs is one of the most famous stoners, and as one of the original Apple founders, his legacy still touches us today. “Steve Jobs,” the new film about him from Aaron Sorkin and Michael Fassbender, joins a number of recent films on the pioneer, visionary and sometimes tyrant.

3. Pumpkin Carving

Carving pumpkins is a great seasonal tradition, and it gives you a chance to creatively display your love of the green. It’s also the perfect way to bring a group together, so grab a friend and match some blunts. Plus: Use the seeds to create a quick and healthy snack for the hungry night ahead.

4. Legalization

Full marijuana legalization is still a bit away, although with Kanye announcing his bid for president, it may be sooner than we think! Nonetheless, Ohio is voting on legalizing recreational pot in November, which could potentially make it the fifth state to open its doors to all adult stoners. Time to book those plane tickets!

5. Candy Corn

By far one of the best things about fall is candy corn, which is also the perfect stoner stack. A handful is never enough, except when you get those candy corn pumpkins—with those, a little goes a very long way. We fully believe in candy corn purity, though, so only the original white, orange and yellow variety need apply.

6. Beautiful Sunset Views

Catching the light as it comes through the trees is a magical experience, especially when elevated with a blunt in hand. Who needs YouTube when you have the perfect stoner experience outside? So head outside and enjoy it, because another great thing about fall is…

7. The Weather

By far one of the best parts of being a stoner in the fall is the weather. As the leaves turn brown and the temperatures begin to drop, smoking a joint on the front porch becomes a relaxing moment, rather than a sweat-filled, sweltering occasion. Enjoy those sunset views, mild temperatures and crunchy leaves; they won’t last long!

8. Thanksgiving (So. Much. Food.)

Thanksgiving is a great time to see extended family – though some of us may need a bowl or two to get through the festivities. Thankfully (see what I did there?), the copious and excessive amount of food that pervades Thanksgiving should have you covered when the extreme munchies set in.

9. No Shave November

Winter is coming, and our faces need protection from the elements, especially if you’re taking advantage of the cool weather for your smoke breaks. But beards are something that both men and women can get behind. A beard (or a man with one) is a great fall accessory that can help bring together a chic “stoner look.”

Original article posted at High Times

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   Oct 01

South Dakota Tribe To Open Nation’s First Marijuana Resort

Associated Press, September 30th, 2015

The Santee Sioux tribe has already proven its business acumen, running a successful casino, a 120-room hotel and a 240-head buffalo ranch on the plains of South Dakota.

But those enterprises have not been immune to competition and the lingering effects of the Great Recession, so the small tribe of 400 is undertaking a new venture — opening the nation’s first marijuana resort on its reservation. The experiment could offer a new money-making model for tribes nationwide seeking economic opportunities beyond casinos.

Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow their own pot and sell it in a smoking lounge that includes a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service, and eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue.

“We want it to be an adult playground,” tribal President Anthony Reider said. “There’s nowhere else in American that has something like this.”

The project, according to the tribe, could generate up to $2 million a month in profit, and work is already underway on the growing facility. The first joints are expected to go on sale Dec. 31 at a New Year’s Eve party.

The legalization of marijuana on the Santee Sioux land came in June, months after the Justice Department outlined a new policy that allows Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states.

Many tribes are hesitant to jump into the pot business. And not everyone in Flandreau, about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls, believes in the project. But the profit potential has attracted the interest of many other tribes, just as the debut of slot machines and table games almost 27 years ago.

“The vast majority of tribes have little to no economic opportunity,” said Blake Trueblood, business development director at the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. For those tribes, “this is something that you might look at and say, ‘We’ve got to do something.'”

Flandreau’s indoor marijuana farm is set against a backdrop of soybean fields. If not for a security booth outside, the building could pass as an industrial warehouse.

Inside, men are working to grow more than 30 different strains of the finicky plant, including those with names like “Gorilla Glue,” ”Shot Glass” and “Big Blue Cheese.”

Pot is prone to mildew and mold, picky about temperature and pH level and intolerant to tap water. So the Santee Sioux have hired Denver-based consulting firm Monarch America to teach them the basics.

Tribal leaders from across the country and South Dakota legislators will tour the Flandreau facility in mid-October.

“This is not a fly-by-night operation,” said Jonathan Hunt, Monarch’s vice president and chief grower. Tribal leaders “want to show the state how clean, how efficient, how proficient, safe and secure this is as an operation. We are not looking to do anything shady.”

Elsewhere, crews have begun transforming a bowling alley into the resort.

A marijuana resort open to the public has never been tried in the U.S. Even in states such as Colorado and Washington, where pot is fully legal, consumption in public places is generally forbidden, although pro-pot activists are seeking to loosen those restrictions. Colorado tolerates a handful of private marijuana clubs.

Unlike the vast reservations in western South Dakota, where poverty is widespread, the little-known Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation is on 5,000 acres of gently rolling land along the Big Sioux River. Trailer homes are scarce and houses have well-trimmed lawns.

The Santee Sioux hope to use pot in the same way that many tribes rely on casinos — to make money for community services and to provide a monthly income to tribal members. The existing enterprises support family homes, a senior living community, a clinic and a community center offering afterschool programs.

Reider hopes marijuana profits can fund more housing, an addiction treatment center and an overhaul of the clinic. Some members want a 24/7 day care center for casino workers.

The prosperity that marijuana could bring to Indian Country comes with huge caveats. The drug remains illegal under federal law, and only Congress can change its status. The administration that moves into the White House in 2017 could overturn the Justice Department’s decision that made marijuana cultivation possible on tribal lands.

Meanwhile, tribes must follow strict security measures or risk the entire operation.

The marijuana cannot leave the reservation, and every plant in Flandreau’s growing facility will have a bar code. After being harvested and processed, it will be sold in sealed 1-gram packages for $12.50 to $15 — about the same price as the illegal market in Sioux Falls, according to law enforcement. Consumers will be allowed to buy only 1 gram — enough for two to four joints — at a time.

Want another gram? The bar-coded package of the first gram must be returned at the counter.

Since the Santee Sioux announced their plans, the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine signed a letter of intent with Monarch to build a cultivation facility for industrial hemp. The Suquamish Tribe and Washington state officials signed a 10-year agreement that will govern the production, processing and sale of pot on the tribe’s land.

In the long run, Reider is certain that the benefits will outweigh the risks of tribal marijuana enterprises.

The tribe, he said, must “look at these opportunities because in order to preserve the past we do have to advance in the present.”

Original article posted at Huffington Post

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   Oct 01

Senator Gillibrand Asks for Cannabis Industry Support in Passing the CARERS Act

Cannabis Now, September 25th, 2015

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood before a legion of cannabis industry leaders earlier this week in Manhattan and delivered a keynote speech aimed at driving home the need for them to rise up if they ever expect the United States to reform the laws currently hindering the progress of medical marijuana.

During an event for the National Cannabis Industry Association, Gillibrand explained that a bill she is sponsoring would effectively put an end to the trials and tribulations that the medical marijuana industry has experienced for decades.

She said the CARERS Act, which was submitted to Congress in March but has yet to garner enough Republican support to be awarded a hearing, could be the necessary first step towards bringing down the barriers that prevents the nation from fully benefiting from medicinal cannabis.

While 23 states and the District of Columbia have allowed access to cannabis for medicinal purposes, Gillibrand believes federal law has prevented these programs from operating, as they should.

“There’s a conflict between state and federal statute that confuses doctors, patients and providers alike,” she said. “People aren’t sure what’s legal, what’s not and the gray area that resulted is hindering health care and the industry’s development.”

One of the biggest problems with medical marijuana in the United States is that the federal government still considers the substance a Schedule I dangerous drug. And since the higher ups have all but refused to unleash the herb from the confines of these restrictions, it has made it next to impossible for the cannabis industry to operate without the constant looking over the shoulder for surprise attack by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The CARERS Act would remedy this problem, a message that Gillibrand attempted to embed in the minds of the businesspeople and activists in the crowd.

“We have a lot of work to be done to pass this law, and I will need every person’s help in this room,” she said. “We have to raise our voices and tell our elected leaders and ask they support this bill.”

Earlier this year, the announcement of the CARERS Act suggested the bill was being hand delivered to Congress, having already found support with many. However, this legislation has since failed to catch a break with the Republicans in order to move it closer to a hearing.

What do you think? Should legislators move the CARERS Act forward?

Original article posted at Cannabis Now

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   Sep 28

Welcome to the Weed Election, Where Colorado is the Star

Denver Post, John Frank, September 20th, 2015

The 2016 campaign is spawning a new axiom in presidential politics: You can’t spell POTUS without pot.

For the first time, marijuana is becoming a significant policy issue for Republican and Democratic candidates — thanks in part to softening public attitudes toward the drug and Colorado’s prominent place on the political map.

“(Marijuana) is a topic that 2016 presidential candidates will not be able to avoid or dismiss with a pithy talking point,” said John Hudak, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank whose research has focused on the legalization push. “It is one that candidates will have to think about and engage.”

In the Republican primary, the candidates are making marijuana an issue on their own. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would enforce federal laws to crack down on pot use in states such as Colorado. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul became the first major candidate to attend a fundraiser with the weed industry in his recent Denver visit.

But pot politics hit prime time with an extended exchange in last week’s GOP debate on CNN, which drew an audience of 23 million.

The focus on the topic is likely to intensify as the campaign trail leads to Colorado for the next GOP debate, in October.

“It’s a national debate that’s occurring, and Colorado has led the way,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican who opposed legalization.

On the GOP side, he said, “I don’t think you can talk about the states’ rights issue without talking about the biggest states’ rights issue of modern time.”

The Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library served as an appropriate backdrop to mark marijuana’s evolution. Three decades ago, Reagan championed the “war on drugs” and first lady Nancy Reagan popularized the “Just Say No” campaign.

The taboo remained when then-candidate Bill Clinton admitted in 1992 that he tried marijuana with the qualifier, “But I didn’t inhale.”

But the public’s mood is shifting. In 2013, Gallup found a 58 percent majority of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, for the first time. And this year, the well-regarded polling firm reported that 44 percent of Americans acknowledged they tried weed, the highest ever.

“In years past, marijuana was being brought up as sort of a gotcha question,” Hudak said in an interview. The most recent debate “was really the first time in a presidential debate that marijuana was brought up as a public policy.”

For Republicans, the issue remains a challenge, perplexing a number of candidates who have taken contradictory positions on the issue at different times.

Josh Penry, a Colorado adviser to Republican candidate Marco Rubio, said it’s an important issue that is here to stay.

“It becomes a proxy to argue, ‘Are you consistent or are you not consistent on these issues?’ ” he said. “I think it will continue to percolate in the national election, in part because of the importance of Colorado.”

In the debate, a few candidates engaged on the issue; others remained on the sidelines. The question, which the moderator said originated on social media, forced former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to confess marijuana use in high school and served as a litmus test for the other candidates.

Paul cast it as a measure of conservatism, saying he supports a state’s right to legalize weed and suggested the enforcement pledged by Christie is federal overreach.

“I personally think this is a crime where the only victim is the individual,” Paul said of marijuana use. “And I think America has to take a different attitude.”

Bush opposed a 2014 ballot measure in Florida to legalize medical marijuana, but he agreed it’s a state issue.

“What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision,” he said.

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, voiced concern about marijuana legalization. She invoked the story of her daughter’s death after addiction to alcohol and prescription pills.

“We must invest more in the treatment of drugs,” she said. “I agree with Sen. Paul. I agree with states’ rights. But we are misleading people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer — it’s not.”

The comparison is a misnomer to the cannabis industry, but Gina Carbone, a co-founder of Smart Colorado, a group that wants greater protections for children, said it was an important moment.

“I think everyone needed to hear that kind of thing because that is exactly what we in Colorado are facing,” she said.

On the Democratic side, the legalization issue is a measure of liberalism, but so far the candidates are staking out middle ground.

The Marijuana Policy Project recently issued a report card on the stances of the candidates and is watching the election closely as it seeks to educate and influence both parties, said Mason Tvert, the group’s communications director.

A day after the debate, Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley visited Denver to meet with pot industry supporters and learn more about Colorado’s system.

“We should have this conversation and be informed by the true facts and the experience the people of Colorado are having on the ground here,” he said of marijuana legalization.

O’Malley and rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders support decriminalization moves and medical marijuana. But Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is more cautious. All say they are watching Colorado for guidance.

Eric Sondermann, a Denver-based political analyst, said this attention is “both good news and bad news.”

“On the plus side, Colorado continues to be at the epicenter of the political world,” he said. “On the more problematic side, many leaders — starting with the governor and the economic development community — continue to be worried about pot being so increasingly central to the Colorado brand.”

Original article posted at Denver Post



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   Sep 24

Gas and Grass: Is Buying Weed at Gas Stations the Next Big Thing?

High Times, Maureen Meehan, September 21st, 2015

A new business concept in the marijuana industry is about to get underway in Colorado. Soon, people will be able to gas up then light up, all in one handy location.

Denver based Native Roots, will begin opening Gas & Grass stations next month in Colorado Springs—combining the traditional gas station with a pot dispensary, creating the ultimate in convenience stores.

“It’s really just kind of pairing the convenience in one specific stop,” company spokesperson Tia Mattson said. She explained the dispensary will have its own separate entrance and follow all the same rules and restrictions that apply in Colorado. The gas station will be open to the public and sell normal gas station products.

Mattson envisions a process similar to grocery stores and warehouse retailers who have their own gas stations.

“It’s just one more thing for us to pair up the shopping and convenience of gas with a stop for somebody who is a patient, to knock off both errands at one time,” Mattson told KOAA-TV.

This trend, yet another indication of how legal pot is becoming part of the broader Colorado economy, seems to be sitting well with the locals.

“You can buy cigarettes, you can buy beer, so why not?” one woman buying gas at a Denver station, told KOAA-TV.

Original article posted at High Times

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   Sep 24

Denver Gives Red Light to Inspectors Consulting for Marijuana Industry

Denver Post, Jon Murray, September 23, 2015

Denver city inspectors for marijuana licensing asked the Board of Ethics for its blessing to work as paid consultants to the cannabis industry elsewhere.

In a resounding “No” this week, the board balked. Its advisory opinion cites concerns about potential conflicts of interest and bad appearances, saying such work would violate the city’s Code of Ethics.

When the board discussed the inspectors’ request for an ethics opinion last week — before issuing its formal guidance Tuesday — chairman Brian Spano spoke more plainly.

“I just think it’s too close a call to be a paid consultant in the industry you’re regulating for the city,” Spano said. That would be true, he added, even if potential clients aimed to open businesses outside Denver or even Colorado.

The inspectors’ request reflects some remaining uncertainty as Denver and Colorado traverse the new landscape of legal recreational marijuana.


Denver has drawn praise for its efforts to regulate retail marijuana. Both government officials and entrepreneurs in other states that have followed suit more recently have been looking to learn from the city’s experience.

Jered P. Garcia, the chief business license inspector for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, said in his Sept. 9 request for the ethics opinion that his staff members “have been approached on several occasions to do consulting for the marijuana industry.”

But they had not yet done so while they waited for a green light.

The state has hammered out stronger rules for its Marijuana Enforcement Division employees, who sometimes have gone on to work in the fast-growing industry. Legislation passed earlier this year soon will bar any work or consulting for the marijuana industry until six months after an employee has left his or her state job.

Denver has a more general — and narrower — rule in its Code of Ethics. It requires a six-month cooling-off period for all employees when they would be taking advantage in a new job of matters over which they took direct official action while working for the city.

The board decided that for the inspectors, the ethics code also would bar moonlighting as a consultant.

“The Board of Ethics believes that the proposed engagement of employees of the Department of Excise & Licenses to serve as paid outside consultants to the marijuana industry, which it is charged with authority to regulate, creates a conflict of interest and an appearance of impropriety,” the advisory opinion states.

It continues: “While we recognize that the request proposes that department employees would only consult with businesses or individuals that do not currently conduct marijuana-related operations within the City and County of Denver, it is highly unlikely that this distinction could be maintained or enforced in the future.”

Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy has invited local government officials from across the country to Denver in early November to learn about the city’s approach during a symposium that’s billed as the first of its kind.

Such events — as well as seminars for businesses — are a more appropriate way than paid consulting for the city and the licensing department to educate interested parties, the ethics opinion says.

Original Article Posted at Denver Post

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