A state appeals court has overturned the marijuana conviction of a Colorado woman who was sentenced and convicted for marijuana possession just days after voters approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state almost three years ago — retroactively applying the law to her case.
Citing a decision in a previous case, the appeals court ruled that convicted criminal defendants should receive “benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal,” the opinion, issued last week, reads.
4,726 valid signatures of registered city voters are needed to qualify for the November 2015 ballot. The city clerk has 25 days to certify the petition.
Under the proposed measure, businesses that have a license to sell alcohol for onsite consumption would be able to decide whether to allow cannabis consumption on the premises. Businesses that choose to allow only cannabis consumption (without licensed alcohol consumption) would be subject to regulation by the city, including restrictions on location and hours of operation. All commercial establishments that allow adults to use marijuana would be required to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which means (1) only non-smokable forms of marijuana would be allowed indoors, and (2) smoking marijuana would only be allowed in existing designated smoking areas that are not viewable to the public.
A strong majority (56%) of likely 2015 voters in Denver support the proposed initiative, according to a survey conducted in June by Public Policy Polling. Just 40% are opposed. The full results are available here.
A portion of the taxes collected from adult retail marijuana sales in Colorado is earmarked for schools under the law, and the amount collected so far this year is already more than was collected in all of 2014.
In the first five months of 2015, the state’s pot-funded excise tax that collects money earmarked for school construction capital brought in more money than it did in all of 2014. While that specific school tax’s 2015 take may not reach the $40 million number used to lure voters toward the state’s pot-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012, its recent growth is exciting to lawmakers and industry alike.
“It sounds very encouraging,” said state senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition.”
The money from the excise tax has grown to $3.5 million in May from $2.5 million in March. This year, the excise tax has brought in $13.6 million through May; the same tax drew in just $13.3 million in all of 2014. The jump is partly because there are more marijuana stores and partly because shops benefitted from a one-time tax-exempt transfer.
Hopefully, other states with cash-strapped education systems are taking notice.
Earlier today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the Senate that would banks to do business with the marijuana industry in states where it is legal for medical purposes or adult use.
Introduced by the Senate delegations from Oregon and Colorado, two of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.
Though four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That makes it difficult for businesses operating in those legalized states to access financial services through the banking industry. Instead, those companies have to run all-cash operations that the senators say invite crime.
The entire legal landscape that legal marijuana currently faces is “insane,” said GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in an interview.
Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) are introducing an amendment to a Department of Justice spending bill intended to prevent the federal government from enforcing federal marijuana laws against individuals and companies who are operating in compliance with the state laws regulating marijuana.
This amendment will not only protect critically ill medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution but, unlike previous versions, will also apply to adult use of marijuana in states where it is legal, like Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon.
After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.
And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.
“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.[“]
Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.
“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.
“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”
Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.
According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.
The following guest post, contributed by MedMen, is part of a guest series providing insights into the legal marijuana industry.
The marijuana policy reform movement is coalescing around the idea of regulating marijuana like alcohol. While most supporters of ending marijuana prohibition appear to stand behind this idea, others have expressed concerns about the prospect of a tightly regulated marijuana market. While some of them are valid — high barriers to entry, for example — there are three reasons why regulating marijuana like alcohol is the best path forward: safety, security, and consistent quality.
More than 13 months after recreational pot sales first started in Colorado, residents of the state still support marijuana legalization by a definitive margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.
When asked, “Do you still support or oppose this law?” 58 percent of respondents said they support the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 while 38 percent said they oppose it. Men support legalization (63 percent) more than women (53 percent). And among the 18-34 age demographic, of course, there was more support of legal pot (82 percent) than among voters 55 and older (50 percent against).
The new numbers show a certain kind of progress for legal marijuana in Colorado. In the 2012 election, Amendment 64 passed 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, and a December 2014 poll by The Denver Post found that more than 90 percent of the respondents who voted in the 2012 election said they would vote the same way today.
Yesterday, a Holiday Inn hotel operator in Colorado and a national anti-marijuana organization filed a federal lawsuit intended to shut down all of Colorado’s legal marijuana retail stores and cultivation facilities.
The people spearheading this effort were warriors in the Reagan administration’s Justice Department during the “Just Say No” era, and now they’re trying to turn back the clock 30 years in Colorado. At their press conference, the attorney who filed the lawsuit said they want everyone in Colorado who grows or sells marijuana for adult use to go to prison (yes, they actually said “prison”).
These guys aren’t messing around, and neither are we. Help us send businesses the message that they will face consequences if they join the fight to maintain marijuana prohibition.
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"Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use."
"There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana."
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?"