Greed and Weed: Dispensary Owner Weighs In on Legal Pot’s Mold Problem

In a random assessment conducted by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment in September, Denver dispensaries failed health inspections for mold and yeast. Westword studied reports for tests conducted at 25 dispensaries over a two-day period, and at twenty of them, some form of cannabis tested over the state’s limit for total mold and yeast. That’s an 80 percent failure rate. Many of the failing products came from outside growers whose marijuana had already passed state tests.

The results of the assessment and what they might mean for city and state pot programs are still under review by the DDPHE, which won’t publish its report on the study for some time. But the department acknowledges that concerns over contaminated cannabis inspired the test. In 2019 alone, Colorado has seen a handful of commercial pot recalls over mold concerns. Rumors of shady practices to pass mold testing abound, and industry insiders also gripe about the state’s testing process for mold, as well as the lack of context that most testing labs provide for mold and yeast specificity.

Opinions about what is or isn’t moldy cannabis, much less the safety of consuming it, vary widely. Most growers want to provide safe weed, but also have a lot of money on the line if their buds get flagged.

To dive deeper into what commercial cannabis growers are facing, we caught up with Chuck Blackton, founder and owner of Verde Natural Wellness, a dispensary and cultivation company with two stores in Colorado — and zero reported mold or pesticide issues.

Westword: Why is mold becoming an issue for commercial cannabis now? Is this something that’s been going on for a while?

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Chuck Blackton: A lot of it comes down to how these people set up their grow rooms. At the end of the day, you’re playing God in these grow rooms. You hit a certain dew point, you get a swing of temperature and all that sort of fluctuation, and that mold and powdery mildew starts to happen. I think a lot of it is due to how people are setting up their rooms, with exhaust placement and temperature control. I don’t think a lot of people want to put the money in to make sure it’s perfect, and then they have to deal with these issues.

There are also certain strains that can handle it better than others. Some strains and genetics really are more susceptible to these things, and not everyone considers that when they’re setting up these huge grows. People who are buying genetics from others can fall to it. Powdery mildew is a systemic problem. Let’s say I have it on my plants but we clean it up and then plan on [cloning it] — that still doesn’t mean that PM is all the way out of there. It could come back in future crops. When I first moved to Colorado, a lot of people didn’t even know what PM was. After all these growers came here from other climates, it started happening a lot more.

Out here, we’ve had so many genetics spread around that aren’t necessarily clean. Some people have gone back to popping seeds, to know they have a clean start. Others are using tissue culture, because you’re almost guaranteed clean genetics. It’s an evolving way to clean up some of that undesirable stuff, but it’s pretty expensive. Even with all of that, it still doesn’t mean that you can’t have environmental problems. You can have the best growing room out there, but maybe one night the electricity goes off, or the temperature fluctuates.

For us, we don’t get the yield certain people do. We want a good yield, but we don’t concentrate on it. When you grow these exotic strains, they don’t yield the way a normal producer would. I think a lot of the more corporate minds are the people concentrated on the bottom line; they concentrate on yield.

What are some precautions or techniques you use to avoid mold entering the grow?

For everyone, no matter the size of the operation, it’s been one of the hardest things, because it’s agriculture at the end of the day, and things are going to happen. And there are only so many products we’re allowed to use right now, because of regulations. I think a lot of these laboratories that test cannabis — not just in Colorado, but other states, too — they need to pay attention to the curve, because we can only use products that are certified by the state, and there’s not enough. Still, when you think of what we smoked back in the day, who knows what was in there. In that regard, thank God for the testing!

If you let powdery mildew go, it spreads rampant. If you catch it early, you can take care of it. But once the resin starts to develop the mildew, you can’t spray it. You’re limited in what you can do once you can catch it, if it’s caught too late.

For us, the way we do our growing rooms, we have a lot of smaller rooms. We don’t have rooms with hundreds of lights and tons of plants. Because that’s something I’ve always said: The bigger the room, the more you need to keep an eye on things. When you have smaller rooms, you can give more love to the plants. When you have these large rooms, the risk is too big.

Chuck Blackton's Verde dispensaries are located in Denver and Boulder.

Chuck Blackton’s Verde dispensaries are located in Denver and Boulder.

Courtesy of Chuck Blackton

How have the cannabis and agricultural industries evolved to take on these contamination issues?

The more we’re moving on, the more nutrient companies are evolving. They know we can’t use a lot of this other stuff [for other plants]. Sometimes, you reach a point where a problem with a plant gets so bad that you just can’t do anything more about it. It all depends on how early you catch everything.

It’s also maintaining your [growing] environments, and having a good team that checks on them. Sometimes you can have the best team and best environment, and things still happen. Even in small, independent grow rooms, people still have these problems.

For us, we’ve had different problems with bugs, and a lot of it had to do with grows that were set up near us and had problems, which then spread to us. So we have sterile clothes in the grow room now. We spray our shoes down. It’s a tough thing to manage, no doubt about it. But this is all gardening, and you need to give these plants as much love as you can.

Are the issues more avoidable in outdoor or greenhouse grows?

Indoors, you’re always going to be more in control. Outdoors, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. In northern California and Humboldt areas, you’ll have a lot more cloudy days than others. Indoors, you’d definitely have the most control with lighting and temperature. In a greenhouse, you’ll have more control than outdoors, because you’re still inside with supplemental lighting.

How does a grower more concerned with quality of cannabis than yield stay afloat as more big money comes into Colorado’s cannabis industry?

You’ll either be caught up in the commercial game or become a microbrewery — that’s how I look at it. For a lot of people, it’s never been about the money. It’s always been about providing the best, and we’ll keep at it. Is it difficult to compete against this big money? Of course it is, but at the end of the day, people can still buy a Bud Light or craft beer.

How we grow it, the love we put into the plants — the culture of true smokers understand what true quality is. But then you also have a lot of uneducated users who are just looking for a good deal. I feel like we’re able to keep up with the madness, but we’re not trying to over-expand and take over the world. We want to do things at the right pace.

What I have a problem with is potency testing. I’ll smoke something that supposedly tests at 33 percent THC, and then I’ll smoke something else that tests at 12 percent, and the two don’t compare. The 12 percent stuff can be much better. To me, that’s a marketing ploy. When we wholesale weed, some people only want strains that test above 20 percent THC. My test is putting it in my Sheldon Black bong and lighting up.

Most of these people trying to take over this industry with deep pockets don’t even smoke. I’ll talk with someone for an hour about the cannabis business and ask if they want to light a joint after we’re done. They almost always say that they don’t smoke! A lot of old-school people have been kicked out of this industry because they can’t afford the money it costs anymore. Some of the best growers of our generation can’t afford to get into this, or they have felonies for growing. It’s that kind of stuff that still makes you sad.

Even myself, I’ve gotten burned out sometimes. But I’m needed here. There’s still a lot of people who have the love for quality buds and that original excitement.

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6 Ways How Legal Marijuana Has Affected Nevada

To say that there has been a lot of controversies as regards the legalization of marijuana in many states within the US is an understatement. 

That is not to say that the debate is no longer in play, especially for a sate like Nevada with so many dispensaries in las vegas.

As if the city that is already famed for it’s extravagant casinos and luxurious hotels that are styled with a theme of class and unapologetic splendour, doesn’t have enough on her plate to deal with.

But what are all these rouses really about? There is no straight answer to that, but we do know is that hard facts are leaning to more advantages for the government and the people of Nevada. And here are the reasons why……!

Lesser Consumption of Cannabis by Kids and Adolescents

The use of psychoactive drugs has been a tradition that has been practised since the earliest recorded history, both for medicinal and recreational purposes and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

But when it comes to kids and teenagers using any type of psychoactive substance, it can be a danger, as their brains are not fully developed and as a result, might suffer detrimental impacts arising from consistent use.

That is where the legalization of cannabis plays a huge role. How? Well just let’s take a look at the facts from just one county in Nevada—Washoe county.

In the years 2015 and 2016, about 514 students were outrightly suspended or expelled from school (mind you, these were high-school kids). 

Coming further up to 2016 through 2017 (when marijuana was legalized in Nevada), 397 students within the same county were also either suspended or kicked out of school for the illegal possession of cannabis.

From those statistics above we can see a decline in the number of students that had issues because of cannabis.

Sales Prospects

Going by the financial estimate of sales as regards the retail cannabis market in Nevada in the year 2017, in which over one hundred million dollars was estimated to be made, in sales alone.

But surprisingly, the actual data of sales attained in the year 2017 in the state of Nevada was in the range of two to two hundred and fifty million dollars.  

So judging by the actual sales figure in 2017, it was estimated that sales are going to reach a record high of one billion dollars by 2025.

We all know the benefit of that much sales and what it is going to do for the state’s Gross Domestic Product earnings and her economy.

Tourist Attraction

Like we said earlier, Nevada already has a lot of side attractions (such as the las vegas strip, museums, easy marriages,—-just to name a few—-) which makes her a huge tourist attraction.

But with all these already existing tourist attractions in place, and with the introduction of cannabis as a legal drug and with so many marijuana dispensaries, the number of people trooping in there on a daily basis has tripled, thereby creating not only employment for citizens on Nevada but also a substantial income for them.

Tax Revenue

It is only natural that the government should tax the cannabis industry like every other industry. But perhaps the most shocking thing about the cannabis industry in Nevada is that it exceeded the expected tax margin by 40% within the first year it was legalized.

The tax return within the first year was seventy million dollars. And then In the early months of 2018, the tax returns exceed the whole revenue generated for tax in the year 2017. That is just an indication of the untapped potential embedded in the production, distribution, and sales of marijuana.

Community Support

With the amount of income generated within the cannabis industry and judging by how lucrative it has been. It has not only made investors and the state rich but also has put both government and large corporations involved in the marijuana business in a generous disposition.

Nye county allocated roughly about two million dollars from the cannabis industry revenue to handicapped communities.

While Clark County (which is where Las Vegas is situated), on the other hand, voted in favour of allocating one million, eight hundred thousand dollars towards combatting homelessness and treating those with critical medical conditions.

As if that is not enough, Clark county also went ahead to make arrangements for seventy-six new beds at the Shannon West Homeless Youth Centre in Southern Nevada, alongside another sixty new beds as part of a program called rapid rehousing—which is meant for persons with very critical health challenges that have just been discharged from the hospital.

Lastly – Protection of Job Applicant

It is a known fact that many organizations and companies do carry out some form of medical tests (either via blood, urine, hair, saliva) in order to ascertain the presence of any narcotics as part of their employment process.

But with the legalization of cannabis, accompanying laws have also been passed against denying any job applicant based on the fact that some traces of marijuana were found in their system.

Prior to the legalization of cannabis, workers were rejected solely for the fact that traces of marijuana were found in their system. But the reserve is the case now, not only are people more eligible to work but also there are some laws protecting an individual in the workplace with exceptions to firefighters and people operating moving vehicles or machines, or people in a role that might constitute a risk to other people’s safety.

Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Raising Legal Smoking Age to 21 Works

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parts of the United States that raised the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 have seen significant reductions in cigarette smoking among young adults.

Compared to other regions, those with tobacco-21 laws had a 39% decline in regular smoking among 18- to 20-year-olds who had previously experimented with cigarettes, a new study found.

In that age group, the reduction was even larger (50%) among those whose close friends smoked at age 16, according to the study published recently in the journal Addiction.

“This research indicates that a ‘social multiplier’ effect may amplify the impact of tobacco-21 laws,” said lead author Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn.

“As peer smoking is a critical predictor of youth smoking, this study suggests that tobacco-21 laws may help reduce smoking among those most susceptible to tobacco use,” she said in a Society for the Study of Addiction news release. “This result supports raising the age of sale to 21 as a means to reduce young adult smoking and improve public health.”

As of June, 16 states and more than 400 localities had adopted tobacco-21 laws.

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SOURCE:Addiction, news release, July 25, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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House Votes to Protect All Legal Marijuana States

The United States House of Representatives has pushed for more marijuana reform in 2019 than in any prior year, and just approved a bipartisan measure that protects all state pot programs from federal interference.

On June 20, House members voted in favor of prohibiting the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent any American state, territory and Washington, D.C., from approving and implementing laws authorizing marijuana use, distribution, possession and cultivation; they did so through an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

The amendment — named the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment after sponsoring representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Tom McClintock (R-California) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.) — passed 267-165.

“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken,” Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says in a statement. “Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed.”

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Unlike the earlier Rohrabacher-Farr and Leahy amendments, which have successfully protected states with medical marijuana programs since 2014, this new amendment would extend protection to states with recreational marijuana, such as Colorado — the first time an arm of Congress has ever approved such language. The day before, on June 19, House members voted in favor of a similar amendment protecting the marijuana laws of Native American tribes.

“The historic nature of this vote cannot be overstated. For the first time, a chamber of Congress has declared that the federal government should defer to state cannabis laws,” Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine says in a statement. “The bipartisan nature of this vote is a strong signal that there would be majority support in the House for the STATES Act, which could be considered a more permanent version of this amendment. We hope the full House will be given the opportunity to vote on the STATES Act in coming months so that we can move closer to the end of federal cannabis prohibition.”

The STATES Act is a separate bill that would leave marijuana regulation up to the states, similar to the way they regulate alcohol. Originally introduced in the Senate last year by Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner and Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, the bill has received more support in both chambers of Congress this year, but its chances of passing are still slim.

House committees have also been slowly approving a bill from Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter that would legalize banking and financial services for marijuana businesses in 2019. That could actually make it out of the House this year, but the Senate, led by noted marijuana-reform blocker Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, isn’t as favorable.

However, the latest round of attempted reform could have a better chance, since it is an amendment attached to a much larger piece of legislation. According to Marijuana Moment’s Tom Angel, it will likely move to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has been open to protecting state-legal medical marijuana programs in the past — but recreational marijuana is a different question.

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Medical Marijuana Will Be a Legal Alternative to Opioids in Colorado

Medical marijuana will soon be a legal alternative to opioid prescriptions in Colorado, in the latest of several wins for cannabis advocates in 2019.

Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 13 into law on Thursday, May 23. It will give Colorado doctors the power to recommend medical marijuana for any condition for which opioids are currently prescribed as soon as August 2, when the law goes into effect.

“Colorado loses a community member to drug overdose roughly every nine hours, with opioids contributing to over half those deaths. Those deaths are preventable,” Polis said during the bill signing. “In light of these statistics, it is incumbent on our lawmakers to provide physicians with opportunities to discuss alternatives to opioids and to provide patients with choices even if additional research regarding medical marijuana is necessary.”

Polis was citing a report from the Colorado Health Institute that studied over 1,000 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2017. The study emphasized the concentration of deaths in southern Colorado, with the combined rates in Pueblo and Las Animas counties more than doubling the state average. However, populated counties such as Denver and El Paso also had rates higher than the state average.

A study done by several universities showed that counties with medical marijuana dispensaries had 6 to 8 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths and 10 percent fewer heroin overdose deaths than counties without them from 2009 to 2015.

Introduced as an aid to helping end the opioid crisis in Colorado, the bipartisan bill had a relatively smooth ride through the state legislature.

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Once it’s law, doctors would decide whether to prescribe opioids or recommend medical marijuana or a mixture of both to patients. While some addiction specialists who opposed the bill worried about the potential of enabling dual drug use, drug-reform advocates argued that the measure was a needed step in lowering opioid dependency. Unlike the other ten conditions on Colorado’s list of approved conditions for MMJ, these will not get one-year recommendations, with patients instead receiving short-term medical marijuana cards for weeks or months before visiting their doctors again.

Amanda Bent, former manager of policy for the recently closed Colorado chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance, helped craft both the 2018 and 2019 opioid bills. An advocate of drug-policy reform, Bent says that giving patients the opportunity to find the right treatment through open conversations with their doctors can help them find the healthiest way to manage pain.

“This bill is kind of at the intersection of marijuana policy reform and opioid harm reduction work. We wanted to be realistic and pragmatic, and move away from primitive criminal approaches that just send people to the shadows, and sometimes cause more problems than drug use itself,” she explains. “We know from research that folks who use opioids tend to use less when supplementing their therapy with medical marijuana, so this is a way for them to avoid it altogether, or decide if some kind of complementary use is appropriate after talking with their treatment team.”

During the 2018 session, language that would’ve added acute pain to the state’s list of medical marijuana conditions was stricken from the bill, and although a proposal to add autism spectrum disorder made it all the way through, the entire bill was vetoed by then-governor John Hickenlooper. This session, autism was added to qualifying conditions through a separate bill, which Polis signed in April.

State Representative Edie Hooton helped lead the legislative effort to add both the autism and opioid conditions to the approved MMJ list in 2018 and 2019; last year she saw three measures vetoed by Hickenlooper.

“Our former governor is cannabis-averse in any of its recreational or medical [applications]. I don’t think he ever spent real time informing himself, and I think he was prejudiced against it. He never communicated with any of the bill sponsors about his intentions last year, and he waited until the last day to veto,” she says. “I really appreciate the fact that Governor Polis is very well educated on cannabis, but he’s also in constant communication with legislators about where he is with their bills.”

On May 23, Polis also signed a bill into law that allows children under the age of eighteen to have more than one primary medical marijuana caregiver, allowing each of their parents or guardians to serve in such a role. Previously, a child MMJ patient could only have one designated caregiver, which parents said created logistical hardships.

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Bill Would Raise U.S. Legal Age to Buy Tobacco to 21

May 21, 2019 — A bill to raise the minimum age for buying any type of tobacco product, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21 was introduced Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The proposed bipartisan legislation comes at a time when soaring underage use of e-cigarettes has health experts alarmed, the Associated Press reported.

McConnell’s home state of Kentucky was long one of leading tobacco producers in the country, but he said passage of the bill is “one of my highest priorities.”

“Kentucky farmers don’t want their children to get hooked on tobacco products while they’re in middle school or high school any more than any parents anywhere want that to happen,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, the AP reported.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., another state that’s been a major tobacco producer.

Fourteen states have enacted laws raising the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21, according to the anti-smoking Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Similar action has been taken by 470 municipalities, the AP reported.

A recent federal government survey found that 1 in 5 U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes the previous month. Most e-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine, which can harm young people’s brain development and may increase their risk of smoking cigarettes later in life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Youth vaping is a public health crisis,” McConnell said Monday. “It’s our responsibility as parents and public servants to do everything we can to keep these harmful products out of high schools and out of youth culture.”

The American Cancer Society’s advocacy organization, the Cancer Action Network, said the bill is a “welcome indication that Congress is taking the alarming crisis of increased youth tobacco use seriously and is committed to taking action,” the AP reported.

But it warned against including amendments that could override stronger restrictions by states and municipalities, exempt some young people or exclude certain products.

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Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Bun B and Denver’s Mayor Talk About the Highs and Lows of Legal Pot

If you asked Mayor Michael Hancock how he felt about being dubbed the “Mile High Mayor” by the cannabis industry back in 2012, he probably would have said he didn’t enjoy the title. But a lot can change in seven years.

“I don’t think [legalization] has impacted Denver negatively at all,” he told the audience inside a RiNo art gallery on April 15. “Now I think it’s a good thing. We’re helping set the pace.”

An opponent of Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational pot in 2012, Hancock has eased up on his objections since the sky has continued to hold up over Denver. The mayor even went so far as to talk about the city’s cannabis successes with Bun B, a Houston hip-hop legend who isn’t shy about his love for the plant. Appearing as part of a series of discussions hosted by Mezz Brands, a cannabis concentrate company responsible for Hancock’s new nickname, Hancock and Bun B talked about everything from Denver’s first days of dispensary sales to current struggles with social consumption.

Hancock didn’t stop at admitting his changing position; he also attributed some of Colorado’s tourism and population growth to legalization, even if the state’s new residents and visitors aren’t cannabis consumers. “They saw Denver as a city that was vibrant, progressive and energetic,” he said. “I believe there was tourism boosting because of it.”

The rapper wanted to go deeper than just asking about tax dollars and the early days, though. Both a frequent traveler and cannabis user, Bun B asked where tourists like him could consume cannabis if smoking or vaporizing pot is banned at their hotels.

“I guess the biggest question I face, as an artist, is where am I going to consume?” he told the mayor. “Nobody wants to come a city where weed is legal and leave with a weed case.”

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Public cannabis consumption is banned in Colorado. And despite having instituted a licensing program for social consumption establishments back in August 2017, the City of Denver has only approved two applications. Part of the problem, according to would-be potrepreneurs, is a location restriction banning any licensee from being within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, drug treatment centers and city-owned parks, pools and recreation centers, which essentially rules out any desirable spots. Denver City Council is currently considering a proposal that would cut that buffer to 500 feet for everything besides schools, which would stay at 1,000 feet, but Hancock said he opposes that measure.

“We thought that based off the current restrictions, we had enough places,” he said. “We’re still waiting for the city council’s sausage-making process.” But the audience didn’t wait to pressure him for more answers about his position on social consumption during a public Q&A period.

“The question here is how far are we going to have these restrictions?” Hancock elaborated, noting that he’d be more amiable to a 750-foot buffer from the described locations. “That was one of the guiding issues from the community when we implemented this.”

The mayor and Bun B went on to talk about challenges in creating policy around the cannabis industry and its consumers, and how important a collaborative approach is between city departments and cannabis stakeholders. That approach has been more visible as election season nears, with the Hancock administration recently urging Congress to address federal banking laws related to cannabis, and sending a letter to the U.S. Attorney General asking him to change an immigration policy that automatically denies the citizenship applications of cannabis-industry employees.

“It’s good to see a city like this, in this country right now,” Bun B told the mayor, before asking him one final hard-hitting question: “Will you smoke a joint with me?”

The mayor politely declined — but if he ever changes his mind, we’ll have one rolled for him.

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Legal Weed Plan Unveiled, Pot Stocks Rally

If you are holding any marijuana stocks in your investment portfolio, you are probably a happy camper.  A bill led by New Jersey legislators and Governor Phil Murphy talked about a plan to make adult-use marijuana legal in the state.  There were also proposed taxes and what they called an “Expedited expungement process” for anyone who had a lower tier marijuana conviction.  When this news came out, a large number of the pot stocks surged.

Pot Stocks Rally on New Jersey Bill

New Jersey is the “Garden State,” so it makes sense in that moniker alone that they would legalize marijuana.  It’s still illegal federally in the USA, but we already have ten states and the District of Columbia allowing it for recreational purposes, with others not too far behind.

Some of the major cannabis companies traded enjoyed solid gains today.  Even lowly penny stocks that I’d like to see rally, like Growblox, went up 2.78%.

Also talked about in the bill was that municipalities housing cultivators or manufacturers could enjoy revenue from a 2% tax on the products residing in their jurisdiction.

Of course, this has to be signed into law before any of this happens.

Should it happen, the market would be under the governing body composed of a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which is a team of five people hand chosen by the governor.  Applications for licensing would be handled by them, as well as regulatory promotions.

A tax of $ 42 an ounce would be charged to cannabis growers, and any municipality that has a retailer would get revenue from a 3 percent tax on anything sold there.  That’s a solid way to make a ton of money, just ask the City of Las Vegas, which unleashed this cannabis super store just last fall after having many smaller venues since launching recreational weed in July of 2017.

Even Canadian growers enjoyed big gains thanks to this announcement.

Highlights of Stock Gains:

  • Cronos Group :  up 4.5%
  • Canopy Growth:  up 3.7% (I wrote about their partnership with Martha Stewart this AM.)
  • Acreage Holdings:  up 2.7%

If you are invested in pot stocks, today was a good day to enjoy some gains.  Here’s to many more days of gains, and a lot more states following the Garden State’s lead.

Legal Weed Plan Unveiled, Pot Stocks Rally

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Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Cory Gardner’s Shot at Protecting States With Legal Marijuana Falls Short

Senator Cory Gardner’s shot at protecting states with legal marijuana programs was blocked on December 18, when his states’-rights amendment was sent into the rafters by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.

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The next day, Gardner gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, just hours before he and his colleagues voted on the First Step Act:

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But being from Colorado, it is hard to think about federal criminal justice reform without thinking about the biggest problem the federal criminal law creates for Colorado: the refusal to respect the will of Coloradans when it comes to marijuana. Every day, Coloradans of good faith follow Colorado law to a T, yet they are still criminals in the eyes of the federal government. Cancer patients using medical marijuana to control their pain and veterans who are using marijuana to alleviate the PTSD they suffer because they served their country – federal law says they are criminals. The People do not think that. So the federal law should change.

This disconnect doesn’t just affect the industry’s patrons, or even just its growers and retailers for that matter. It also makes criminals of those outside the industry. Plumbers, electricians, bankers, landlords and real estate service providers, employment and advertising agencies, insurance companies, HR services, and all of the everyday businesses that interact with the marijuana industry (like they do any other part of our economy) are affected by the federal law, too. That’s because when they take money from a marijuana business federal law considers them money launderers – putting them at risk for both criminal liability and civil asset forfeiture.

The disconnect forces Colorado’s $ 1.5 billion market into the pseudo-shadows, where business is in hard-to-track cash, inviting dangerous robberies and hindering law enforcement efforts to ensure that legal marijuana sales benefits legitimate businesses rather than illicit cartels. It also means that researchers can’t test marijuana for medical efficacy or to help better understand impairment because those researchers fear losing federal funding.

But Gardner’s attempt had been blocked even before he made that speech, when vocal legalization opponent and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley killed the amendment. A fellow Republican, Grassley said he “respected” Gardner, but said that states’ rights in regard to marijuana should be addressed in its own legislation.

“If there is an attempt to legalize [marijuana] across the country, we should have that debate and let Congress decide the issue instead of creating a back door to legalization,” he said on the Senate floor.

Without Gardner’s amendment, the First Step Act easily passed, 87-12. Later that day, Gardner sent out a tweet with a video recording of his speech and a vow that hat he “will not give up this fight.”

Because of the plant’s federally illegal status, legal marijuana remains largely a cash-only business, with major financial institutions scared off from providing services for fear of federal racketeering charges. Gardner had hoped that attaching his policy reform to a larger bill would make approval more likely than pushing the same legislation through the States Act, a bipartisan bill he introduced with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in June.

Attaching the States Act to another bill is still an option, and with Grassley announcing that he intends to step down as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to take a different leadership position, Gardner’s chances could improve; Utah Senator Lindsey Graham is taking over as committee chair.

Although he’s come out against recreational legalization in the past, Graham has recently shown more willingness to listen to medical marijuana policy reform and other rational marijuana-related measures — certainly much more than Grassley.

Gardner released a statement shortly after he tweeted, expressing support for the overall success of the First Step Act and vowing to continue pushing for the act he and Warren introduced.

“Although I thought my amendment that would have ensured each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders should have been included in this criminal justice reform package, I still supported the final measure because it will have a real impact on how we help people reenter society after they have served their sentence,” he says. “The Senate proved Tuesday night that we can accomplish big goals if we work together on behalf of the American people, and I hope we can continue this bipartisan spirit of cooperation. I will continue to push for my bipartisan States Act to receive a vote in the Senate, but I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish on Tuesday.”

Toke of the Town

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