Feds visit Colorado to research marijuana regulation, black market, enforcement

Agents for DOJ, Office for National Drug Control Policy get first-hand look at state's regulatory regime; topic of immediate or future federal enforcement activities not broached

Colorado officials who oversee the state’s marijuana agencies are sharing details about a fact-finding visit earlier this week by federal law enforcement and drug policy administrators.

Related: Feds hold closed-doors meetings with Colorado officials known to have doubts about weed

Five representatives from the federal government met Tuesday morning in Denver with nearly two-dozen state officials for a 2-and-a-half-hour meeting about Colorado’s legal marijuana regime, said Mark Bolton, marijuana adviser to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The meeting preceded a similarly focused closed-door gathering on Wednesday between federal agents and government officials in Colorado Springs, according to KKTV 11 and the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Bolton told The Cannabist that Tuesday’s meeting resulted from Hickenlooper’s request to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April to visit Colorado to get a first-hand look at the state’s first-of-a-kind attempt to regulate and tax adult-use marijuana sales.

“Our purpose was to convey to them the strength of our regulatory system and our enforcement system and our policies and practices,” said Bolton, who was among the meeting’s attendees on Tuesday.

Those discussions spanned the comprehensive nature of the state system, efforts to cull gray and black market activity, and the establishment of youth prevention and adult education campaigns, Bolton said. The federal officials were especially interested in the state’s responses to unexpected issues as well as the public education campaigns, he added.

The federal officials did not broach the topic of any immediate or future federal enforcement activities against the industry, he said.

The federal agents present represented the deputy attorney general, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Domestic Policy Council and the State Department. Colorado officials included state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who had also invited Sessions to visit Colorado earlier this year, and representatives from agencies such as the Department of Revenue, Department of Public Health and Environment, Department of Public Safety, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Department of Regulatory Agencies, Bolton said.

Hickenlooper did not attend the meeting.

“I think (the federal officials) viewed this as an educational opportunity,” Bolton said.

Coffman, in a joint statement with Hickenlooper’s office, said they “were pleased” the federal government accepted their invitations to visit Colorado.

“The meeting focused on sharing Colorado’s experience creating and executing a robust and effective regulatory and enforcement system, and our continuing efforts to protect public health and public safety,” officials said in the statement. “Our conversation with the federal delegation was productive and we look forward to continued collaboration.”

Justice Department officials declined to comment.

The meetings came to light following a report Wednesday by KKTV 11 in Colorado Springs. Earlier in the day, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, the city’s police chief and local community members met in private with representatives from several federal agencies, according to the KKTV 11 report.

“A lot of it was around sensitive case investigations; that’s another reason why it couldn’t be public,” Suthers, the former state attorney general, told KKTV 11. “So without getting into that, I would tell you that probably most of the discussion centered around the huge black market that exists for marijuana in Colorado.”

Some industry members, however, balked at the closed-door nature of the meetings and the participation of individuals known to oppose legalization, including Suthers.

Jason Warf, executive director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, told The Gazette that he feared the meetings would give federal enforcement officers “the in to come after the industry.”

The Denver-based Marijuana Industry Group called for future meetings to be more representative of the state’s cannabis industry.

“In our earliest conversations following Sessions’ appointment, we expressed a desire for open, fact-based dialogue,” Kristi Kelly, MIG executive director, told The Cannabist via email. “If these conversations in Colorado Springs (and Denver) represent initial steps in that process, we hope this spurs productive discussion around cannabis issues.

“Marijuana Industry Group has worked in responsible partnership with state and local officials over the years on a number of issues, from improvements in our regulatory system, to tackling impaired driving, youth prevention and safe consumption. When appropriate, we hope industry, the patient community, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in discussions as well.”

It was not immediately clear how or whether the discussions would factor into a report due to Sessions next week from a Justice Department task force convened to review policies in the areas of violent crime, immigration and drug trafficking.

The meetings come amid a potentially watershed period for marijuana in America. As a growing number of states have adopted medical or adult-use cannabis laws, dialogue has increased as to how the nation should approach, enforce, regulate and research something that remains a Schedule I illegal substance.

A spokesman for the governor’s office in Washington state, which followed Colorado in implementing a recreational cannabis program, said no similar meetings have taken place with federal officials. The press secretary for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown did not indicate whether federal agents visited to discuss marijuana policy but referenced a May meeting between state officials and U.S. Attorney Billy Williams regarding black market concerns.

Cannabist digital producer Aleta Labak contributed to this report.

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Weed-free Colorado town delays decision on opening dispensaries

Most Longmont council members had already tentatively agreed that if the town does allow marijuana sales, it should allow no more than four such shops

With two members absent from Tuesday night’s study session, Longmont’s City Council postponed giving the city staff much in the way of even informal directives about policies they’d prefer to pursue to prepare for the possibility that marijuana sales establishments would be allowed to operate in the city.

Among the questions left to be considered are what specific commercial, industrial or mixed-use zoning districts could include marijuana sales shops, how far away any such businesses would have to be separated from nearby schools or residential neighborhoods, and what sales-tax rate the city might apply to marijuana products sold in those shops.

Since two council members were absent, the council members attending the study session agreed with Mayor Dennis Coombs’ suggestion that they delay giving the staff any informal direction until a full council can be present at a future meeting.

Councilmen Brian Bagley and Jeff Moore are on a visit to Ciudad Guzmán, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, one of Longmont’s sister cities, but they’re expected to be back for the council’s July 25 meeting.

Most council members had already tentatively agreed that if Longmont does allow marijuana sales, it should allow no more than four such shops to operate inside the city. But that four-shop limit has yet to get a formal council action.

A majority of council members had earlier also agreed that no pot shops should be allowed in any residentially zoned districts or in the downtown-area central business district.

Read the full story at TimesCall.com.

This story was first published on TimesCall.com

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What Do States Gain After Legalizing Marijuana?


What Do States Gain After Legalizing Marijuana?
By: Michael Jacobs, GotVape.com

Statewide, Pennsylvania has already approved medical marijuana for certain conditions. When it comes to statewide legalization, there are some definite pros to making marijuana legal recreationally.

  • Safety
    Weed bought off the street, even when a person knows their source personally, can be varied in its cannabinoid profile and cultivation environment. By regulating sales of marijuana, Pennsylvania can regain some oversight over the various properties of the strains available to be sold.
  • Less Money Going To Organized Crime
    It’s no secret that the drug cartels both inside the United States and internationally are making money on the sale of something that is illegal. By legalizing marijuana, the need to use illegal means to acquire it are no longer necessary, and thus you are taking money away from them. This money goes back into your own community instead.
  • Expanded Medicinal Use
    Marijuana has medicinal benefits and many states have recognized that by making the use of medical marijuana legal. Which conditions are covered by medical marijuana initiatives are widely varied. By legalizing recreationally, government paves the way for people who suffer conditions not covered by medical marijuana laws to get relief for their symptoms.
  • Revenue Boosts
    Making marijuana legal, and therefore taxable, can help to boost statewide revenues. In fact, states who have already legalized, such as Colorado, have seen such a boost that they were able to offer Colorado citizens refund checks.

Pennsylvania need only look to other states who have legalized to see the benefits that they, too, can reap. By October of 2016, Colorado had already topped $1 billion in marijuana sales for the year. Translating that to revenues for the state, Colorado brought in $150 million in taxes from recreational marijuana sales. $50 million of that is reinvested right back into the state’s school system.

The story in Washington was similar. Between legalizing recreational marijuana in 2014 and 2015, the state sold more than $1 billion in non-medical marijuana. This generated $250 million in excise tax revenues.

By legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, both states saw a decrease in arrests for the possession and cultivation of the drug, leading to fewer revenues spent housing and feeding inmates arrested for this crime. Since the criminal justice system sees more arrests for marijuana than all violent crimes combined, the legalization of marijuana can have a huge impact on state and local prison systems.

Legalizing marijuana can prevent Pennsylvania from using law enforcement resources in raids like the one that happened in April. With those resources free, they can be allocated to pursuing more worthwhile cases. Pennsylvania can see an increase in tax revenues that can be utilized statewide to improve schools, infrastructure, and provide more revenue for other worthy projects. Citizens and state officials alike could stand to benefit from the statewide legalization of marijuana.

Author

Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.

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How Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Affect The Cannabis Industry


How Donald Trump's presidency will affect the cannabis industry
 

The election is over, and the inauguration has occurred. Donald Trump is now officially our nation’s president. As he begins assigning people to his staff and major positions in his cabinet, one question is on the minds of those in the cannabis industry: how will Trump affect the industry, both medical and recreational?

What was Trump’s opinion during his campaign?

During his campaign, Trump made it clear that he was in support of medical cannabis on a federal level. However, his views of recreational Cannabis were less than favorable. In one interview, he did advocate for both medical marijuana and recreational on a state-by-state basis.

“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. … Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

Even this is a far cry from a 1990 quote from an interview with the Miami Herald: “We’re losing badly the War on Drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”

What do his supporters think?

With that said, what do Trump’s supporters think of medical or recreational cannabis? Well, that’s harder to say. Some polls put the support for recreational legalization at 60%. This means that some of Trump’s supporters must support legalization on some level.

In fact, in five states where support for Trump is high, the support for the legalization of cannabis was also overwhelming. In Florida, more than 4 million residents cast their vote for Trump. The same poll asked about the opinion of cannabis legalization and more than 6.5 million people supported the cause. Similar support for both Trump and cannabis legalization showed in commonly “red” states like Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota.

With four more states legalizing recreational marijuana in the past election, Trump has two avenues that he can decide to pursue. He can try and put an end to the $6.8 billion industry that is legalized marijuana. Alternatively, Trump can support the state’s rights to legislate their cannabis policy.

Advocates for legalization are mixed in their opinions on how this can go. Some see the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General as a sign that he is willing to wage war. Sessions, a senator from Alabama, has staunchly opposed the legalization of marijuana. So has Trump’s appointee to the Department of Homeland Security, retired General John Kelly. As shown above, Trump himself sings a different tune.

President Trump’s Other Concerns

Another encouraging sign is the fact that President Trump seems to be more concerned with other battles. His stances on immigration and repealing the Affordable Care Act appear to be taking priority. He has no mentions of marijuana on his Twitter feed while immigration has been mentioned more than one hundred times. There’s only so much money to tackle so many issues, and marijuana does not seem like such a high priority for President Trump.

Even if Trump did decide to begin dismantling the industries that legalized states have built, he is standing to earn the opposition of his pro-legalization supporters, but also libertarians and states-rights advocates.

 

Even if Trump takes a soft stance and allows individual states to choose whether or not they legalize the drug, marijuana is likely to remain a Schedule I class drug. Unfortunately, this makes research, even medical research, challenging. Scientists have difficulty getting their hands on Schedule I drugs for research purposes.

Another way the Trump administration can choose to go is to leave existing markets alone. By pressuring states that are not protected by the Rohrabacher amendment, the government could put the brakes on new states that want to legalize the medical or recreational use of cannabis. Another tactic would be to remain vague on their stance. This could cause states with legalization ballots on the horizon to stand down and wait for a definitive position to be taken.

What can marijuana industry expect from 2017? Regulations and policies.

However, there is a silver lining to the question about the Trump administration and the cannabis industry. That silver lining is the fact that Trump is a businessman and many in his administration are business men. The cannabis industry has provided up to 150,000 jobs nationwide, and Trump is a pro-job president. There is also the fact that President Trump likes to shock people with his moves. What could be more shocking than de-scheduling marijuana?

More than likely, the Trump presidency will have little to no effect on the industry. The status quo will remain the status quo. He seems to have other, more important battles that he wants to fight. There’s also the fact that he stands to lose support if he moves against the industry. That wouldn’t bode well for his reelection, and the goal of most presidents is to get reelected.


Updated commentary from the author: 

By now many have read the White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s announcement that the Federals have to step up the marijuana law enforcement for recreational use. The statement has created a big confusion regarding the recent legalization of recreation marijuana in 8 states and whether it’s going to create a controversy in states where recreational marijuana is absolutely legal.

There are 2 important things that were said during the speech:

  1. President Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” he said, also noting the previous action by Congress not to fund the Justice Department “going after those folks.”
  2. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it,”

The first statement is obvious, he distinguished the use of medical marijuana from the recreational saying that the law enforcement isn’t going to be about the medicinal use of the plant. So marijuana patients are safe from it.

The second statement is at odds with the current status of legalized marijuana.  If the Feds overthrow the state laws it will create a great opportunity for the rise of the marijuana black market. The only possible solution, in this case, would be making the marijuana industry regulatory. The government would only benefit from it.
In the long term, a big momentum of legalization is going to build on and the Federals are not on the right side.

 

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Cannavaping for Cancer, What Do We Know So Far?

A trend called “cannavaping” – the vaping of cannabis products, is being looked at as a possible treatment for cancer patients.

July 22, 2017

There are a lot of opinions out there relating to cannabis and cancer. More scientific research is needed, though most people will agree that cannabis helps with pain, nausea, and other side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Some even say that cannabis, particularly the compound cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major phytocannabinoids in the plant, might even shrink tumors and help prevent cancer from spreading.

Image result for image of Cannavaping

A trend called “cannavaping” – the vaping of cannabis products, is being looked at as a possible treatment for cancer patients. Researchers at the University of Lausanne whipped up their own cannabis-laden oils for use in e-cigarettes. They discovered that this may be a more reliable delivery method of the medicine than pills containing the extracts. Using e-pens and vaporizers, patients could get regularly timed microdoses throughout the day, providing them with better relief.

Related imageCBD, when used as a treatment or medicine, has been proven to help control and relieve pain. It is also a wonderful treatment for the nausea that can accompany many cancer treatments. Some research has even indicated that CBD may help to shrink tumors or to stop cancer tumors from spreading and invading other body systems.

This treatment actually has been backed up by scientific research. In 2009, a research team at Complutense University in Spain found that THC induced the death of brain cancer cells through autophagy. Similar effects were discovered during a study co-led by Complutense University and the University of Anglia in the UAE. Scientists there induced mice with human breast cancer cells and found that when treated with doses of THC, there was an anti-tumor response. However, researchers do not know which cannabinoid receptors are responsible for the response to THC.

While scientific tests in laboratory settings – test tubes and mice – have shown positive results for shrinking cancer tumors and stopping the spread of cancer, one must also consider that no human trials have been conducted. Because marijuana is still a schedule I drug in the United States, it is difficult to test it for medical uses. Also, it is unlikely that human trials will ever commence. This is because trials are usually run compared to a placebo. It would be unethical to give dangerously ill people – such as those with cancer – a placebo.

However, experts warn against self-medicating with cannabis or discontinuing traditional, doctor recommended therapies.

Why Vaporizing Helps Better than Smoking?

When it comes to vaporizing cannabis – there’s little doubt that vaporization is the healthier alternative to smoking. Smoking and vaporizing help to get the active cannabinoids CBD and THC into a patient’s bloodstream faster than edibles or pill forms of both the compounds. Vaporizing also allows for more of the active compound to be delivered to the patient – smoking carbonizes much of the active phytocannabinoids that are helpful in the treatment of cancer and cancer symptoms, along with the side effects of cancer treatments.

Can you Overdose on Marijuana?

Overdosing on marijuana is a concern among those considering it as a potential therapy for the side effects of cancer treatments and the symptoms of cancer itself as well as the symptoms of other illnesses. However, there have been no known deaths related to the overdose of marijuana ever reported.

Scientists measure a drug’s safety by something called the therapeutic index. This is simply the measure of a drug’s therapeutic dose against its lethal dose. Marijuana’s therapeutic index is approximately 40,000 to 1. In other words, you would have to take 40,000 times the therapeutic dose in order to overdose on marijuana so that it kills you.

However, this does not mean that you cannot take too much. Ingesting too much marijuana can lead to side effects like paranoia and agitation. While such side effects do tend to wear off within 24 hours, it is never a good idea to take too much of any drug.

While the doctor is still out, so to speak, on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and vaping marijuana, it has shown promise as a treatment not only for cancers, but for a large number of other diseases. From seizures to psychological illnesses like anxiety, depression, and even PTSD, cannabis is proving to be a very important drug to consider in the treatment – and the research – of treating and helping to prevent illness and disease.

 

healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.

About

David Emerson is a 23 year Multiple Myeloma survivor. He started PeopleBeatingCancer.org as a non-profit in 2004 to help cancer survivors and caregivers navigate the vast world of cancer issues by providing evidence-based information on the most pressing cancer issues. Since 2004, David has impacted over 600,000 people through this website. He is in the process of developing cancer-specific coaching program, and also does one-on-one coaching via phone or email. Thank you for visiting!

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