Marijuana News in Colorado and World
Congress has given veterans the right to discuss medical marijuana use as a treatment option with Veterans Affairs doctors in states where medical marijuana is legalized.
The new legislation allows VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana and complete the required paperwork for state-legalized medical marijuana programs, but it doesn’t allow the VA to sell medical marijuana or cover costs for veterans, the Military Times reports.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer stated, “The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average. From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”
The VA is recommending that its doctors use evidence-based therapies that have been proven by scientific research to be effective with medical marijuana; for instance, treating PTSD, depression or chronic pain.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper heavily criticized legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado but now concedes that the industry is working. Although he opposed legalization back in 2012, it was his duty as Governor to give the people of Colorado what they wanted.
Hickenlooper is reported to have previously called the legalization of recreational marijuana as reckless, reports the LA Times. But he has changed his position and stated that if he could reverse his initial decision, he would.
Hickenlooper recently said, “It’s beginning to look like it might work,” in regards to marijuana legalization.
Mason Tvert of the nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project said, “The predictions of fire and brimstone have failed to materialize. Most Coloradoans, including the governor, recognize that the law is working.”
None of the concerns that Hickenlooper had prior to recreational legalization in Colorado have come to fruition. The state is thriving and expects to collect upwards of $100 million in tax dollars to state organizations in 2016, with 70 percent of those tax dollars going to public programs like education.
Marijuana Coordination for Colorado director, Andrew Freedman, said, “In the short run, there have been a lot fewer public safety and health issues than the governor feared in the beginning. In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization.”
Tvert added that, “The state’s image is actually rising. We were just ranked as the best place to live in America. The idea that businesses would not relocated here or conferences wouldn’t be held here was untrue. In fact, attendees at conferences are now offered pot tours as day trips.”
An independent think tank called The Tax Foundation recently conducted a study to assess how much tax revenue the federal government and states are losing from not legalizing marijuana. They estimated that roughly $28 billion in tax revenue is being missed out on. Approximately $7 billion of it would go to the federal government and the remainder to the states.
The potential tax revenue received by the government from legalized marijuana would primarily be from business and payroll taxes and some from excise taxes, according to The Washington Post. The idea would be to tax marijuana in a similar way to tobacco products.
The government can actually capitalize on production by taxing each pound of marijuana produced, which is similar to the per-pound tax on tobacco products. A 10 percent sales surtax could generate $5.3 billion with proper guidelines in place.
Some are concerned that marijuana legalization would create social difficulties. They expect abuse and use of the plant to increase. They expect addiction to take place. The fact of the matter is, regardless of its legal status, a vast amount of Americans are using marijuana daily. The costs of prohibition are to the tune of several billion dollars per year. Legalization would bring billions of dollars in tax revenues to organizations that need them for mental health, education, crime prevention and more.
In an effort to assist the increasing homeless population in Aurora, Colorado, the city has decided to allocate $1.5 million in recreational marijuana sales tax dollars to aid those in need.
City councilman, Bob Roth said, “We wanted to be able to show citizens that we are having a positive impact on the community and point to specific projects or initiatives to where that money is going to.”
It is reported that Colfax Community Network will receive $200,000 in relief which will help families living out of motels, the Huffington Post reports. Two other groups, Comitis Crisis Center and Aurora Mental Health, will be provided with vans for homeless outreach programs. Additional funding for non-profit organizations and community groups to assist other suffering programs.
Additional intentions for the tax dollars includes mobile showering stations, vouchers for personal needs and general community outreach services. It is also an intention of these programs to eventually provide permanent supportive-type housing and social services for those needing assistance.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 80 percent of Florida voters support medical marijuana legalization. Only 16 percent of Floridians are in opposition. A majority of those in support of medical marijuana are also in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in Florida.
Florida’s medical marijuana law will be implemented in July of 2016, but is very limited, allowing only for marijuana with high CBD and low THC content for Floridians with non-terminal illnesses. A new medical marijuana initiative with broader terms will be on the Florida ballot this November.
In every age category polled, at least 70 percent of voters voted in support of legalization, Sun Sentinel reports. Political affiliation appeared to not play a role in the poll results. Some voters fear a repeat of the 2014 vote that narrowly failed as Florida requires a minimum of 60 percent of votes to be in favor of an amendment for it to pass.
The poll was conducted between April 27th and May 8th. It also showed that those over 65 and Republicans were less favorable of legalizing recreational marijuana. Overall, 56 percent of those polled support recreational marijuana legalization.
NFL player Eugene Monroe has openly advocated for NFL players to be able to use medical marijuana in lieu of opioid painkillers for quite some time. And recently he donated $80,000 towards researching the effectiveness of medical marijuana for football players. The research will be conducted by University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.
Monroe said, “As a player, I’m not allowed to use cannabis, but I’ve been prescribed opioids for various injuries. The opioids work, but they’re very dangerous and highly addictive.”
Monroe has previously urged the NFL to remove marijuana from the prohibited substances list, reports Philly.com.
Researcher Marcel Bonn-Miller said, “We’re doing two studies to start. We’ll be examining both current and retired NFL players to understand the impact of cannabis or cannabinoid use on recovering from an injury.”
In response to opioid addiction in the NFL, Monroe said, “Opioids are ruining lives across the country, and as athletes we’re not immune to those perils. This is an issue that goes beyond any personal career implications. I understand why other players may be adverse to speaking out, but our health is worth it.”
Ohio could soon become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.
“I am absolutely convinced that there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana,” said a local Republican.
The bill would legalize marijuana use for patients with at least one qualifying medical condition. Smoking marijuana would not be permitted. Parents who are patients would not lose their children for possessing or using marijuana.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana will continue campaigning for their ballot initiative, which is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national non-profit. OMM’s initiative comprises of several more qualifying conditions than the House bill, and also allows patients to smoke and grow their own marijuana.
Colorado’s latest statistics show that dispensaries sold over $270 million of marijuana in the first three months of 2016. At that pace, sales will surpass $1 billion this year. Last year,sales totaled near $997 million.
The Colorado Department of Revenue found that more than $170 million of sales was from recreational marijuana and the remaining $100 million was from medical marijuana, reports Denver7 News.
March saw $90 million in marijuana sales, a slight decrease from February, which was Colorado’s fifth most profitable month for sales since the law was implemented in January 2014.
$3.5 million in taxes were collected from recreational sales in March. Tax revenue goes toward school construction projects. The state expects tax revenue to reach $40 million for 2016.
Orlando has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The ordinance will allow police officers to issue citations rather than make arrests.
The measure was approved by the Orlando City Council on a 4-3 vote and will take effect October 1, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando is following the lead of many Florida cities and counties that have been decriminalizing marijuana possession.
Commissioners Patty Sheehan supported the new measure. Sheehan said this is “the right thing to do, because it helps people get their lives back together. Drug charges stay with people forever.”
The new law calls for a $100 fine for first-time offenders and a $200 fine for a second offense. Subsequent offenses require a court appearance and a possible fine, up to $500.
Orlando also plans to create a diversion program which would allow those ticketed to opt for eight hours of community service or substance abuse education instead of a fine.
“By freeing up the criminal justice system, we are able to address our real public safety challenges in Orlando … and reinvest into public health programs,” said Korey Wheeler, a supporter of the new ordinance.
The city of Coalinga in Central California was founded on the discovery of a petroleum field. Now the deficit-ridden city is looking to strike it rich again, but this time with marijuana oil.
Coalinga might find a wealthy future in the marijuana industry by transforming its vacant state prison into a marijuana oil cultivation and manufacturing facility, reports The Fresno Bee.
Ocean Grown Extracts wants to use the 77,000-square-foot Claremont Custody Center for a marijuana operation that would generate over 100 full-timewith benefits, and if California legalizes recreational marijuana use this November, it could employ closer to 200 employees.
The lease and tax payments from renting the vacant prison would produce nearly $2 million per year for the dwindling city.
Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough stated, “People are hurting – the oil industry is losing jobs. We’re talking about 100 full-time jobs, and no dope in the streets.”
According to the city’s most recent audit in 2014, it is running a $3.3 million budget deficit. “One company could take us out of the red in three years,” said Keough.