Tag Archives: Marijuana

Colorado Marijuana law is a blueprint for other states

 

In Colorado, January 1, 2014 was a much anticipated date.  It was the first day that marijuana became available for sale for recreational use.  Long lines formed in the snowy weather outside 24 of the state’s 37 licensed shops, which opened at 8am.  People from all over the country have been watching to see how they can expect a marijuana legalization campaign unroll in their own states, or perhaps nationwide.

Though smoking marijuana in public remains illegal in Colorado – much as drinking alcohol in public is illegal – only two citations were issued during the day.  Eating pot-laced baked goods, such as truffles, cookies and brownies, in public is much harder to track.  The fact remains, though, that there have been no complaints about ill behavior, even in the initial fervor and novelty of marijuana’s statewide legalization.  The rollout has virtually unanimously been considered smooth and hardly noticeable to non users.

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The most noticeable quirk of the program has been the distribution of pot licenses.  Almost all the licensed shops are in Denver, but no shops at all were licensed in Boulder, Colorado’s third largest city and famously socially progressive college town.  Part of this is due to the fact that Boulder County has been slow in putting its local marijuana regulations in place, but in part this has been due to decisions at the state level.  Boulder’s first shops will open in late January at the earliest.  Many Boulderites traveled to Denver to take part in the festivities.

As Washington State and the country of Uruguay complete their regulatory frameworks and prepare to open their first licensed marijuana shops, all eyes are on Colorado.  Many of Colorado’s regulations were intended to satisfy Department of Justice requirements.  These include stricter limits on the amount of pot out-of-staters are allowed to purchase, stipulations the pot must be used within the state, limits on hours retailers can be open, and, of course a minimum age of 21 for any pot purchasers.

Though the fears of legalized marijuana’s detractors have not been realized, neither have all the hopes of its supporters.  Competition with medicinal marijuana has not pushed the price of medicinal marijuana down, and contrary to many people’s expectations, the number of pot users has risen dramatically since the substance was legalized.  It has increased demand for the drug as opposed to simply filling demand, meaning that black markets will continue to exist. Shop owners state that they will be sold out soon.

Colorado’s marijuana legalization has in many ways served as a testing ground for the whole country, and indeed the world.

Groups like the Tenth Amendment Center praised Colorado’s historic event. After the first day of legal pot sales – which brought in over $1 million in sales – the Tenth Amendment Center wrote, “Yesterday, the people of Colorado nullified Washington DC and its unconstitutional federal laws banning marijuana – in a big, big way.”

The nullification movement has become a popular one. Many states nullified federal laws such as, NDAA, federal gun laws, and drug laws as in Colorado’s case. South Carolina lawmakers are holding an Obamacare nullification rally at the state capital on Jan 14th to gain support for the South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act (H3101). If passed, lawmakers would use an anti-commandeering mechanism that would kill Obamacare in the state.

Like the Colorado law, it essentially nullifies federal law.  Judge Napolitano argues that states have the Constitutional right to nullify federal laws that are unconstitutional.  “A state’s noncompliance makes federal enforcement nearly impossible,” says Napolitano.

According to the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly, Colorado projects $578.1 million a year in combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales to yield $67 million in tax revenue. That’s a lot of money for cash strapped states.

Right now, all eyes are on Colorado, and other states are taking notes.

 

Follow Joshua Cook on Facebook and on Twitter: @RealJoshuaCook

Jail Staff Allows Diabetic Woman to Die Without Insulin; Boyfriend Saw Her Die

In November, 37 year old Sarah Tibbetts was arrested along with her boyfriend for allegedly being in possession of someone else’s credit card, as well as having small bags with traces amounts of marijuana.Sarah Tibbetts

During her arrest, Tibbetts made it clear she was an insulin-dependent diabetic.

Apparently insulin can be purchased over the counter at local pharmacies in Texas. According to official record, staff only attempted to provide insulin by allowing the jailed woman to phone her mother in California.

“I told the staff I’m in California, I can’t bring it up,” said Rebecca Tibbetts, mother of the deceased woman. “I said my daughter is insulin-dependent and would die without her insulin. If you can’t provide it, she needs to be sent to the hospital.”

According to reports, the day after the call was made to the inmate’s mother, the jailed woman was found unconscious on the floor of her cell. According to reports, the jailed boyfriend was in a cell nearby, and watched his girlfriend of six years collapse, saying “baby, baby.” She was soon dead. Reports state the woman’s cell was near the jail entrance and directly in front of the booking desk. After that (no report on how long after) a guard pulled the woman into the hall and pumped her chest. CPR was given according to records. The woman was rushed to the hospital and died half an hour later, according to police reports.

A employee of the jail speaking on condition of anonymity stated the staff knew the woman needed insulin before she died.

The Irving jail staff is under investigation. The mother of the deceased said a wrongful death suit is under consideration to provide assets to the deceased’s 12 year old son. Criminal charges are also under consideration.

Calif. County Passes Marijuana Ban; Lawmaker Says “You Don’t Have a Right to Marijuana”

Article submitted by guest contributor Ezra Van Auken.

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For California, a state that’s notorious for marijuana growth and popularity, you’d expect the legalization of use and cultivation to have already been well passed into law. But, for a county in the state, that direction is making a U-turn. Overall medicinal use in California is permitted by law, which allows patients a certain quantity at one time. The medicinal use also entails securing a physician’s notice, which is then handed in for review.

Californians, besides their medicinal achievements, have also been pressing the issue for full legalization. In 2011, the state voted on a marijuana initiative, which was supported with 47 percent of the vote, but fell to defeat. Even with a large faction of California moving toward legalization, one particular county is butting backwards: Fresno. Policymakers in Fresno decided on Tuesday to take a swing at medicinal use.

Medicinal patients took a big loss when policymakers unanimously voted to prohibit the cultivation of marijuana in Fresno County. Instead of a criminal offense, the grower would be civilly charged, treating marijuana cultivation as more of a zoning law infraction. Along with being charged, the violator would pay Fresno $1,000 per plant and an additional $100 fine per day, pending a designated date of removal.

Since Tuesday’s unanimous vote, policymakers will rehash the discussion and vote again for a final count on January 1st. If passed, the law would be made effective the following month. Although it wasn’t clear whether or not board members were looking to completely ban marijuana use in Fresno, one policymaker surely voiced his supportive vote for that move.

Board supervisor Anderas Borgeas told press he believes county law could stop marijuana use. He said, “You do not have a right to smoke marijuana or to have medically based access to marijuana.” Other supervisors also latched onto the idea. Debbie Poochigian said Fresno has a public safety issue in “all corners” of county lines. Another supervisor acknowledged the mistreatment of marijuana patients, but voted in favor.

Supervisor Judy Case said, “[She] [doesn’t] have any particular issue if somebody has a lot of pain and they want to use marijuana, but right now that whole system is impacting other people who are innocent, other people who own property that can’t even enjoy the property without the threat of somebody coming in with a gun and [she] [doesn’t] think that’s right,” while ironically ignoring the fact county officials would be doing the same.

When Borgeas’s office was contacted for question, the office was asked how he was entitled to enforcing what someone can and can’t do, as long as the individual is not impeding on another person or their property. The office declined to comment and in response said, “fair enough.”

The marijuana debate in Fresno County has appeared to take a turn, at least against Californian opinion and desire, which is shocking to many in the nation.

“Smoking Pot Makes Me A Better Mother”

Jacqueline Patterson of Kansas City, Missouri, suffers from a severe stutter and  debilitating pain due to cerebral palsy. The only thing that relieves her symptoms? Smoking marijuana.

Unfortunately for Patterson, if she smokes she could lose custody of her four children — it is not legal to smoke medical marijuana where she lives.

In a video about medical marijuana, she said, “I was born with cerebral palsy and a severe stutter – which has got to be one of the most stigmatising disabilities invented by God. It’s very humiliating. My right side of my body is much noticeably weaker than my left and my right arm is always painfully tense. I went through my entire childhood in pain because I couldn’t move my muscles.”

Patterson claims that smoking marijuana makes her a better mother, since it is the only way she can relieve her crippling symptoms.

She said, ” I smoke to be the mother my children deserve – they are really cool kids. Being a good mother to my children is the most important thing in the world to me. But if I were to get busted buying or smoking marijuana there is a possibility I could lose my children.”

Patterson normally struggles to speak — it takes her several seconds to formulate various sounds in each word. After she has three hits of marijuana, however, she is able to speak perfectly. She claims it takes three hits at least to make her speech normal.

Currently, the mother is doing her part to change the laws in her state. She wrote a letter to the Kansas City Star that said, “I was born with cerebral palsy and discovered early on that cannabis mitigated the most painful physical and emotional manifestations of my disorder. I later learned that cannabis can help stutterers speak more clearly and that decades ago, doctors discovered the herb’s ability to alleviate muscle spasms, from which I also suffer.”

Medical marijuana currently helps thousands of sick people in states where it is legal. Moreover, there is abundant evidence that the drug is far less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.

According to NORMAL, a group working to reform marijuana laws, “Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.”

When will marijuana laws reflect reality?

 

Follow Kristin on Facebook and Twitter.

Rocky Mountain High: Colorado Issues World’s First Recreational Marijuana License

Once the “richest square mile on earth,” Central City, Colorado is now largely a gambling town with casinos, an Opera House, and other gambling town amenities.  People from all over the state go to enjoy a Vegas-style weekend in a closer and much more picturesque location.  Now, though, it has another claim to fame.  It’s the location of the world’s first recreational pot license.

Though it’s the first to get it, Annie’s is far from the only dispensary seeking a recreational license.  The same company which owns the shop operates eight other dispensaries across the state, and hopes each one will be licensed.  In total, 136 applications for recreational licenses were accepted by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division in October, with decisions for each of those applicants guaranteed by the year’s end.

All approved stores will be able to start selling recreational marijuana on January 1, 2014, but Annie’s will always be the first, something they’re eager to promote.  With a cover photo highlighting their honor on Facebook, the store has already drawn likes from multiple continents.  It’s strategically placed to reap the benefits of its title, too, in a town whose revenue is already mostly from tourists.

A comment from  Facebook.com says, Annie’s Central City Dispensary: “We are currently open for Medical patients. On Jan. 1, 2014 we will be open for retail with a valid ID showing you are 21 years of age or older! Out-of-staters can purchase 1/4 OZ per visit, Colorado residents can purchase 1oz per visit. In addition to edibles and extracts. Happy shopping!”

Preview photos of the store show black walls with deli cases filled with different marijuana strains.  It’s no longer a matter of what’s available, legalization has turned marijuana into a legitimate business, with product competition to reflect this change.  Colorado is already known for its craft breweries, with most towns having a brewery and some winning international awards.

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Now the state is in the position to earn a similar reputation in the marijuana industry.  Some fear that this will lead to “pot tourists,” but an equal number look forward to the tourist revenue from such an idea.  In reality, it’s likely that states like Washington and Colorado are only the forerunners of legalized marijuana, and that other states will follow.

California is already preparing another attempt to legalize recreational marijuana.  Lansing, MI and Portland, ME legalized the substance in the last election.  The Huffington Post predicts that Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island and Vermont will all legalize it in the near future.  This interesting combination of red and blue states illustrates the unique nature of marijuana legalization as an issue.

Benswann.com’s Michael Lotfi notes in his recent article that the Feds are raiding homes even though the “parties involved claim they were properly licensed, followed all state regulations and were not doing anything which would have prompted the feds to step in.” So why are they raiding these legal business?

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook asked Erin Phillips, CEO of  Strainwise and owner of the retail store Annie’s Central City Dispensary if they were concerned with the recent events in CO where the FEDs are raiding legal marijuana retailers. Phillips emailed Cook stating, “at this time, Strainwise is not speculating on the possible reasons for the raids.  We prefer to wait until all of the facts come out.”

Rob Corry, a Denver attorney and marijuana activist, told the Denver Post:  “The DOJ needs to explain in a logical fashion why they are picking and choosing, going after only some of these entities when every one of them selling marijuana is running afoul of the federal law.”

According to Mason Tvert via Reason.com, “The Justice Department said it would respect states’ rights to regulate marijuana, and that it would not go after businesses as long as they are complying with state laws,” he said. “We hope they are sticking to their word and not interfering with any state-regulated, law-abiding businesses.”

 

 

Feds Raid Colorado Pot Industry After Promising Not To Intervene

Denver, Colorado (Photo by: (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)
Denver, Colorado (Photo by: Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Months ago I wrote about the Obama administration’s seeming change of heart when it came to the federal ban on marijuana. According to the Justice Department as long as the drug was kept away from children, the black market and federal property then all was fine. Echos of applause were heard for this seemingly historical moment. However, the feds seem to be contradicting themselves leaving many confused.

In Denver, recreational shops were scheduled to open in only a few short weeks. However, according to The Denver Post, federal agents raided the homes of two individuals and more than a dozen facilities selling the drug.

All parties involved claim they were properly licensed, followed all state regulations and were not doing anything which would have prompted the feds to step in.

Although the feds did lift restrictions, they still said they will aggressively enforce the law in the following situations:

  • Preventing distribution to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from marijuana sales from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  •  Preventing diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to other states;
  •  Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  • Preventing marijuana possession on federal property.

According to The Denver Post, federal officials would not reveal which of the above exceptions those involved violated.

One individual’s lawyer told The Denver Post, “They took $1 million worth of plants from his facility,” said Wollrab, who represents Laszlo Bagi, owner of Swiss Medical in Boulder. “They didn’t leave any instructions, saying don’t replant. There was no court order of cease and desist. No explanation.”

According to a Justice Department representative in Denver, no arrests were actually made in the raids. The raids were conducted by, the Internal Revenue Service criminal investigations unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Denver Police Department and state and local law enforcement.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this event is that the local police were involved. State law allows citizens to grow, smoke and medicate with marijuana.

-Follow Michael Lotfi On Twitter: @MichaelLotfi & On Facebook

VIDEO: Officers Ignore Man As He Dies From Severe Allergic Attack In Jail Cell

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On July 3, 2012, 22-year-old Michael Saffioti turned himself in for a marijuana possession charge in Washington state.

He was reluctant to do so but his mother, Rose Saffioti, convinced him that it was the right thing to do and that he would be out of jail the next day.

Little did Rose know, her son would be dead less than 24 hours later.

Unsettling video footage shows Michael Saffioti dying from an allergic reaction in his jail cell, as jail guards repeatedly ignored his pleas for help.

The morning of his death, Saffioti was fed a breakfast of oatmeal and milk at the jail. The 22-year-old was very aware of his extreme dairy allergies and always took extra precautions. He was skeptical of the oatmeal breakfast served to him, but officers assured him that the food was safe to eat despite his allergies.

The officers were wrong.

Just minutes after eating the oatmeal, Saffioti began having a severe allergic attack, brought on by the dairy he had consumed. He then went to the guard’s desk and used his inhaler. As his attack worsened, Saffioti asked to see a nurse. Instead, he was sent to his jail cell where his repeated pleas for help were ignored.

About 30 minutes later Saffioti was found unconscious in his cell. He was subsequently brought to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Rose Saffioti is heartbroken and furious over Michael’s death. “He said, ‘Mom, I have a bad feeling that they are not going to take me seriously,'” Rose said. Now she realizes her son was right.

Now she is suing the county for $10 million.

The lawyer representing Rose Saffioti, Cheryl Snow, said, “Our theory is that they absolutely knew about Michael’s medical needs. We know that he asked questions and made inquiries and he was assured the oatmeal in the food was safe for eating.”

Snow had to file a complaint in order to view the footage of the incident, which officials initially claimed did not exist.

“The video shows that Michael made his needs apparent. His needs were ignored,” Snow said.

Adam Kokesh Pleads Guilty To Gun & Marijuana Charges, Faces Six Years In Prison

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Libertarian activist Adam Kokesh was arrested in July for uploading a video of himself loading a shotgun in D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

D.C. gun laws are some of the strictest in the U.S. As reported by ABC News, “The District has a litany of laws on the books that make it more difficult to obtain some firearms, impossible to obtain others, and illegal to carry any loaded gun in the city.” Just being in D.C. with a loaded firearm, even if it is legally registered, is a violation of the law. D.C. laws also ban gun owners from carrying firearms openly or concealed in public.

On July 9, not even a week after producing and uploading his video, Kokesh’s home was raided by a SWAT team. He spent over 120 days in jail with no bond, no bail, and no trial. 57 of those days were spent in solitary confinement.

On Wednesday, Kokesh pled guilty to to carrying a rifle or shotgun, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. He also pled guilty to possession of marijuana in Washington, DC. He will now be released from jail while he awaits his sentencing on January 17.

Just two weeks ago, Kokesh pled not guilty to the charges, claiming he was merely exercising his constitutional rights.  However, on October 23, Kokesh’s attorney Peter Cooper randomly quit his case. After the court appointed the activist a new attorney, he decided to plead guilty.

At this time, it is unknown why Cooper suddenly quit the case. Kokesh’s manager, Jeffrey Phillips, said, “Cooper is a buddy of Adam and represents him whenever he gets in D.C. trouble. There’s no reason for him to just leave other than [the feds] got to him. He was scared away by the government basically. The court appointed Adam a new lawyer who has no idea what he is getting himself into. They obviously do not want him to have a good lawyer, and we had a good lawyer.”

While Kokesh awaits his January sentencing, he is not allowed in the District of Columbia and must report to supervising authorities once per week. He is also not allowed to own any firearms.

Kokesh could spend over six years in prison, but his friends and family maintain that he is not a danger to society.

His girlfriend Carey Wedler said, “While everyone may not agree with Adam’s way of doing things, he is and has always been very peaceful. He has never been a dangerous person.”

We will keep you up-to-date on Kokesh’s situation as news breaks. See our piece from last week with exclusive interviews here.

Coming Soon To Washington: Hundreds Of Marijuana Shops

States around the country continue to pass laws legalizing recreational marijuana use — Washington state did so approximately one year ago.

Now 334 marijuana stores are coming to Washington, selling the drug for recreational use.

They will be allowed to do this through new rules proposed by the Washington Liquor Control Board. It is expected that the new guidelines will be in effect as early as November.

Liquor Control Board member Ruthann Kurose said, “This is just one juncture of many as we move through changes to tweak and improve the system.”

Once a state legalizes marijuana for recreational use, it then must create regulatory guidelines. According to the Seattle Times, each county in Washington will have at least one marijuana store, but more populated areas will have more. For instance, Seattle will have 21 stores.

There will also be regulatory guidelines dictating how marijuana can be grown. According to rules approved by the Washington Liquor Control Board, growing facilities cannot be larger than 30,000 square feet.

Of course, there are also provisions to prevent marijuana-growing monopolies. For instance, one group is not allowed to obtain more than three licenses.

Washington’s marijuana project director, Randy Simmons, pointed out that it can be difficult to draw up effective regulatory guidelines. On one hand, the rules aim to keep communities safe. On the other hand, however, if the laws are too restrictive it could encourage black markets.

What are your thoughts on marijuana legalization, and rules governing the plant? Let us know in the comments section below.

BREAKING: Did The Federal Government Just Legalize Marijuana?

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As states continue to nullify federal laws against marijuana and hemp, the federal government has been faced with an important question. It’s been more than 75 years, and marijuana and hemp  still remain illegal. Never mind the total lack of reasoning  behind the federal government’s ban. Is it time to end the law?

Less than 24 hours ago, it all came crashing down. According to the Associated Press, the justice department said that states can allow citizens to use the drug, license people to grow it and allow them to purchase it in stores. As long as the drug is kept away from the black market, children and federal property– It’s a go!

According to Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center:

The genie is out of the bottle and she won’t ever go back in. The feds have lost and they know it. No matter how Holder and the DEA couch their words in an attempt to maintain an illusion of control, state actions continue to effectively nullify these unconstitutional marijuana laws.

When asked if the federal government just essentially legalized marijuana Maharrey responded:

The announcement makes it clear the feds have no will to fight the states on weed. They can call it an “illegal drug” all they want, but if they can’t, or won’t, stop people from using marijuana, their “law” means nothing.

The recent surge in nullification has sent states fighting against the federal government on pot use. It would seem that the federal government just gave up. A major victory for the states- no doubt.