Colorado’s Nov. 6 general election is just 15 days away!

The state’s choice of governor will likely have a huge impact on state cannabis policy

Vote counting officially begins today, October 22, for the upcoming general election, which takes place on November 6. Many voters received ballots over the last several days by mail. The race for governor includes noted cannabis policy champion Congressman Jared Polis, whom MPP rates with an A+ grade.

Current Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited and must step down, and between the major party candidates, Jared Polis (D) has the clear advantage when it comes for support for good cannabis policy. He is the only candidate who supported the legalization initiative in 2012 and has been a strong advocate for improving federal law as Congressman for U.S. House District 2. Among other achievements in Congress, he started the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

By contrast, current State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) offers only limited support at best for cannabis policy reform. He voiced support for stricter regulations for medical marijuana during a recent public forum and referred to Polis’ stance as a “radical extreme plan.” MPP gives him a C.

The positions of two other candidates, Bill Hammons of the Unity Party of Colorado and Scott Helker of the Libertarian party, are unclear. Neither candidate has a prior voting record on cannabis legislation, nor public statements on cannabis policy.

For more information on Colorado’s Election Day, be sure to visit the state’s elections website here. And most of all, be sure to vote this general election in Colorado!

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Legislature Approves On-Site Consumption Lounges

House Bill 1258 passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and is now heading to the governor’s desk. If signed, the bill would allow approved retail cannabis stores to open a tasting room where on-site cannabis consumption is allowed.

This is yet another big step forward in a state that has long been a leader in cannabis policy. If the bill becomes law, customers could purchase concentrates for vaping on site, along with edible marijuana products. Visitors to the shops would not be allowed to bring their own cannabis products, consume whole-plant cannabis, or smoke on site.

Although Colorado voters ended cannabis prohibition in 2012, restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed have been a burden, particularly for visitors to the state and people living in public housing. While purchases are allowed, there are few options for those who are unable to consume at a private residence. HB 1258 offers a solution by establishing regulated locations where adults can gather and consume without fear of breaking local or state law.

Many responsible marijuana consumers in Colorado believe they should be able to meet in a social setting, no different than those who enjoy a beer with friends at a public place.

If you are a Colorado resident, please ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB 1258 without delay.

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Medical Marijuana

Colorado Governor Signs PTSD Bill

Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program.

The Cannabist reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.

The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.

Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.

After the Board of Health’s most recent denial of the proposed addition of PTSD, proponents filed suit against the state. That case is pending in Colorado Appeals Court.

Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.

Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Prohibition

Colorado GOP Senate Leader Downplays Federal Interference Fears

[caption id="attachment_10341" align="alignright" width="180"] Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg[/caption]

In response to statements made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said that he does not think the federal government will crack down the legal marijuana market in states where it is legal for adult consumption.

Denver Post reports:

“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.

“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”

MPP will continue to monitor the Dept. of Justice for more info on their intended policy going forward.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Sees More Than $1 Billion in Marijuana Sales in 2016

picstateflag_1Legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made more than a billion dollars in sales during the first 10 months of 2016, exceeding sales numbers from last year.

The Cannabist reports:

Recreational and medical cannabis shops in America’s first 420-legal state have sold nearly $1.1 billion of marijuana and related products in 2016, according to the new October data from the state’s Department of Revenue.

When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, Cannabist calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year — spurring a leading industry attorney to tell us at the time, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”

That same lawyer, Vicente Sederberg partner Christian Sederberg, celebrated the billion-dollar news on Monday by also pointing to the Colorado cannabis industry’s increasing economic impact and skyrocketing tax revenues for the state as well as numerous cities and counties throughout Colorado.

“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”

In addition to creating economic benefits, including state and local tax revenue and thousands of jobs, this legal market is on pace to continue stripping billions of dollars a year from the criminal market.

 

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Research

Study Shows No Increase in Colorado Teen Use After Legalization

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado teens have NOT increased since the state made marijuana legal for adults, according to results of a statewide survey released Monday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens also continue to be lower than the national average.HKCSB1

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization,” according to a CDPHE press release.

The biannual Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) found that 21.2% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the past 30 days in 2015, down slightly from 22% in 2011, the year before Amendment 64 was approved and enacted, and 24.8% in 2009, the year hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout the state. The HKCS also found that the rate of lifetime use among Colorado high school students dropped from 42.6% in 2009 to 38% in 2015. The decreases do not represent statistically significant changes, and the state agencies that support the survey have reported, “The trend for current and lifetime marijuana use has remained stable since 2005.”
Nationwide, 21.7% of high school students used marijuana in the past 30 days and 38.6% had used it during their life, according to results of the 2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released earlier this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The executive summary for the 2015 HKCS notes, “Colorado does not significantly differ from the national average in lifetime or current marijuana use.”

The HKCS also found a slight drop in the percentage of Colorado high school students who reported using marijuana at school (from 6% in 2011 to 4.4% in 2015), and a very slight increase in the percentage of students who believe it is wrong for someone their age to use marijuana (from 60% in 2011 to 60.6% in 2015).

The HKCS is “the state’s only comprehensive survey on the health, well-being and resiliency of young people in Colorado,” according to the CDPHE.

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Research||Tax and Regulate

Brookings Institute Report Shows Colorado Successfully Regulating Marijuana

Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.

[caption id="attachment_7931" align="alignright" width="300"]hudak brookings John Hudak[/caption]

The report, authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies, determined that "the state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy. In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

More and more evidence is showing that states can, and should, regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. As an increasing number of Americans decide that they are sick of arresting adults for using marijuana responsibly, the lessons from the states that have regulated marijuana successfully will become even more important.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Marijuana Initiative Passes 100,000 Signatures!

The Coalition to End Marijuana Prohibition, the MPP-backed issue committee paying for the signature drive in Colorado for the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, has hit a major milestone.

As of today, the campaign has 100,000 signatures in hand! This puts us more than two-thirds of the way toward our goal of collecting 145,000 raw signatures by January 6, with 86,105 valid signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2012 ballot.

There are some amazing volunteers helping out on the ground, but we simply cannot finish the drive without also paying people to circulate petitions. The cold weather that's descending on Colorado has forced us to increase the amount we're paying per signature by $0.50. Would you please help us cover the additional $22,500 that we need to finish the signature drive by donating $10, $50, or even $1,000 today?

According to the latest poll, 51% of Coloradans support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, with only 38% of voters opposed. While these are encouraging numbers, the campaign is far from over. This is one of the primary reasons we need to finish the signature drive as soon as possible — so the campaign can begin to focus on educating the residents of Colorado about the benefits of passing this initiative.

If you live in Colorado and would like to help the campaign, there are a variety of ways to do so. Visit this page to find out what you can do, including becoming a paid signature gatherer.

Together, we will end marijuana prohibition.

 

 

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