Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Marijuana 'incidents' on the rise at Manitou Springs High School

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

  • Screenshot

As first reported by KKTV-TV, officials at Manitou Springs High School say they've encountered 14 instances of students relating something about marijuana on school grounds. A message left in response to a call from the Indy from district superintendent Tim Miller confirms the numbers.

"I will say I have not seen the on-air report but you can link to a written report on their website as we speak," Miller says. "And I’d say the facts as it relates to the number of incidents in there is accurate."

The 14 marijuana encounters are a lot more than the previous seven-year average of around one per month, the TV station says. However, it doesn't necessarily mean a student was possessing pot on school grounds.

"Some incidents could be as simple as going to get high on school property, and it’s overheard by faculty," says Miller. "Some of them could take that form, but I don’t know. I guess we’d have to get with our attorney if we can go into details beyond what any of the others are for.

"I think most of them, and I’d have to double check with the high school folks, are probably with the usage thing, but again some of them are just talking about it."

The news comes a few months after the opening of recreational-marijuana store Maggie's Farm, whose fate will be determined by a November vote on allowing RMJ sales to continue in Manitou Springs. The store recently said it has contributed over $200,000 in tax revenue to the city.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Contentious new marijuana laws proposed by Colorado legislature

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

  • Shutterstock

Assuming Democratic state senator Irene Aguilar survives a challenge from Republican Dawne Murray in November, the Denver legislator is set to co-sponsor a bill this upcoming January session with Rep. Jonathan Singer that would mandate that medical-marijuana caregivers register with the state, among other new laws, in an attempt to limit how many plants are grown. The bill comes at the recommendation of a legislative committee.

"The bill requires all primary caregivers to register with the state health agency and the state medical marijuana (licensing authority)," reads the bill summary, viewable below. "Any primary caregiver who is not registered shall register within 10 days of being informed of the duty to register. If a person fails to register after such 10 days, the state health agency and licensing authority shall prohibit the person from ever registering and acting as a primary caregiver.

"The bill requires the licensing authority and the state health agency to share the minimum amount of information necessary to ensure that a medical marijuana patient has only one caregiver and is not using a primary caregiver and a medical marijuana center."

Caregiver registration has always been contentious, with opponents citing its enshrinement in Amendment 20. Talking to the Associated Press, the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council called the bill "a money grab," with director Jason Warf saying, "For them to even write this policy is very irresponsible."

In an emailed statement sent in response to questions from the Independent, Michael Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, says: 

"While we have seen caregivers provide critical help to patients in need, we have also seen black market operators abusing the caregiver program to illegally sell marijuana," Elliott wrote. "The state legislature will have a difficult balancing act with this bill. They will need to address major abuses of the caregiver model, while ensuring that bona fide caregivers are able to provide their patients with their needed medication."

The bill would also mandate the state "adopt rules establishing guidelines for physicians making medical marijuana recommendations for patients who suffer from severe pain," essentially tightening MMJ access in an attempt to drive any recreational users towards the higher taxes in the recreational market. Currently, there are 17,422 registered patients in El Paso County, with 93 percent statewide stating they use marijuana for severe pain.

Sen. Aguilar was reticent to say more, emailing, "After the November elections Representative Singer and I will be available to discuss this issue in more detail."


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

This is the remix: Afroman and a new 'Because I Got High'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 3:20 PM


The original "Because I Got High" functions as a sort of schadenfreudic look at an imaginary list of cascading ills caused by Afroman's consumption of chronic. The latest, however, as Piff Doodley would say, is the remix. With votes on cannabis looming in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., Afroman is back with a tale of empowerment.

"'Because I Got High' put me on the map — it’s what got me a record deal, a Grammy nomination and made me a household name," Afroman said to Rolling Stone. "Getting high and rapping about it got me to where I am today and I'll be forever grateful for that. With the current political battle with states trying to legalize weed, I thought it was a good time to educate, or set the record straight, about marijuana’s benefits, which is why I wanted to remake the song."

Anchoring the song in time and place, and NORML receive the call-out treatment, while Afroman raps verses like "They built a school or two / Because I got high / Now the state can fund drug treatment / And I know why / Why man? / Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high."

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Maggie's Farm does $2 million in marijuana sales in Manitou Springs

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Manitou Springs City Councilor Kevin "Sarge" Mac Donald speaks to the media on July 31 after becoming the first Maggie's Farm customer. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Manitou Springs City Councilor Kevin "Sarge" Mac Donald speaks to the media on July 31 after becoming the first Maggie's Farm customer.

As first reported by the Pikes Peak Bulletin, a publication co-owned by Indy publisher John Weiss, the recreational-marijuana store Maggie's Farm says it will pay the town of Manitou Springs $223,122 for the period between July 31, when the store opened, and Oct. 7. With a 10.4 percent combined sales-tax rate, rough calculations suggest sales of around $2.15 million from the one store.

“Recreational marijuana is a big game changer,” the paper quotes Manitou administrator Jason Wells as saying. “Without that revenue stream, we will see a drop-off in our reserves relative to this year. With that revenue stream, that might not be the case.”

The town would not confirm or deny the numbers when contacted by the Indy, at first citing privacy laws and then deferring to finance director Rebecca Davis, who's out of town until Monday. Through a spokesman, Maggie's Farm owner Bill Conkling said the whole amount had been collected, with part of it already having been paid to the city.

"Conkling cautioned that the tax dollar amount doesn’t mean the city can count on receiving that amount on a regular basis," writes the Bulletin. "In fact, it may be months, perhaps years, before the tax collections level out, he said."

Should the initial rate of sales hold up, which is generally unlikely as the novelty wears off, Manitou would be looking at additional revenue of around $1.3 million, a significant amount in a budget with projected expenses of $11.9 million.

A second RMJ store is allowed for in city code, though the current occupant, Reserve 1, still hasn't expanded into recreational sales. The town will vote in November on the issue of continuing to allow stores to operate.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Peyton Manning on pot and pizza

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM

  • Shutterstock
When Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning bought 21 Colorado Papa John's Pizza franchises in 2012, it was rumored that he did it because of the new laws created by Amendment 64, which was passed by voters a few days before the announcement.

Well, whether that was true or not, a comment made to Sports Illustrated's Peter King in a new interview offers a little insight into how that's worked out for Manning:
I’ve gotten to know some of the folks here in Colorado. There’s some different laws out here in Colorado. Pizza business is pretty good out here, believe it or not, due to some recent law changes. 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

City Council kills recreational-marijuana vote

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 11:59 AM


It's frustrating to watch some on Colorado Springs City Council attempt to govern. Councilor Val Snider berates Council President Keith King; Keith King dumps a load of paperwork the public has never seen on Council; and the rest of Council, at any given time, mostly acts confused about whatever its supposed to do next. (The strained patience, and sometimes not-so-patience, of city staff is a wonder to behold.)

But it's past frustrating, and straight on to terrifying, that from that tangled mess must emerge legally binding decisions that affect the lives of people far less confused than City Council. And it is thus with recreational marijuana, an issue which a majority of Council voted Tuesday, 6 to 3, to deny voters the chance to decide for themselves. Councilwomen Jan Martin, Jill Gaebler and Helen Collins were your only supporters.

Beforehand, Councilor Don Knight was confused about which version of the ordinance Gaebler was pushing, while King seemed baffled at what city staff was telling him about needing more time for marijuana revenue projections. (Watch for yourself — click "12.I" on the index.)

But then, to his credit, King was the only one to actually state in that meeting why he opposed sending the question to the voters, which was because the ordinance was not made dependent on the passage of an adjoining tax question:

"OK, well, let me say what concerns me: I did a lot of research on this issue last night, and again in working very hard with, called [Colorado Municipal League] and did a lot of issues to try and see whether or not these questions can be coupled or not," he said. "What part of my discussion was going to be — I think they can be coupled and I think we have evidence that we found through CML, and talking to Kevin Balmer, that these issues could be coupled and they could be coupled together. ... And, so, I plainly said that I would support this if it was taxed like alcohol, if it was kept a safe distance; I have no guarantee that it’s going to go forward, so I will not be supporting this."

So, there you go: Merv Bennett, Joel Miller, Andy Pico, Knight and Snider said nothing, and then voted you down. Nice try, you 54.7 percent of Colorado Springs voters who supported Amendment 64.

Meanwhile, as we reported this week in CannaBiz, Palmer Lake is far less petrified by its electorate and will see two related questions in November.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Colorado's MMJ laws could sunset, state wants feedback

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:03 PM


Take this weekend to do what you've always wanted to do: Critique the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code. These are the series of rules and regulations legally guiding MMJ and they're scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2015 unless the legislature reenacts them.

So, before that likelihood, Colorado wants to know what you think about them:
Before the code’s repeal, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies must determine whether:

1) the code serves the public interest;
2) the code should be continued; and
3) there are changes that need to be made to the code.
You can email all comments to the state here. There are also separate surveys for patients and caregivers, which close at 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Debaters threw down on FOX21's 'The Great Pot Debate'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

From left: Mark Slaugh, Brian Vicente, Ken Finn and Kari Kilroy. - SCREENSHOT
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  • From left: Mark Slaugh, Brian Vicente, Ken Finn and Kari Kilroy.

Last night, FOX21 News televised The Great Pot Debate, a 90-minute conversation between supporters and opponents of recreational marijuana. Arguing for pot were iComply owner Mark Slaugh and Denver attorney (and Amendment 64 co-author) Brian Vicente. Arguing for not were physician Ken Finn and Kari Kilroy, the president of the El Paso County Board of Health and administrator for the People Against Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs Facebook page, which backs the November ballot question that could end RMJ sales in the town.

Arguments ran the traditional gamut, with Slaugh and Vicente listing the economic, health and societal gains from legalized pot, and Kilroy and Finn listing the health and societal losses from legalized pot. (You know the drill: "But at what cost?" "... unintended consequences ..." "... failed War on Drugs ...") Conflicting statistics were cited, a hand-picked audience was periodically polled via applause, and a jolly time was had by all.

Your local elected officials even got into the game. District Attorney Dan May asked what seemed to be a real question — "Are there legitimate reasons why some children should have [cannabis] for medical reasons?" — and City Councilor Jill Gaebler asked if it didn't make sense to opt back in to allowing recreational stores in Colorado Springs and control the output, since Manitou's store is so close anyway.

Ultimately, the real winner in my book was moderator Mark Hyman, a vice president at the FOX21-owning Sinclair Broadcast Group and true man of the people. He successfully pushed panelists and directed questioners all while maintaining that impeccable TV look and tone we've all come to know and love.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Manitou RMJ opening goes exactly how you'd expect

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Local restaurants might get more business – especially if they deliver. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Local restaurants might get more business – especially if they deliver.
Right now, anyone over 21 can go to Manitou and buy weed from a clean, well-lit store.

Five years ago, that would have been astonishing. In six weeks, it will be a non-event – another familiar storefront along Manitou Avenue.

But yesterday was opening day for Maggie's Farm in Manitou, as shown in this video by our online-content coordinator Craig Lemley. People lined up early in the morning, before the store's 4:20 p.m. opening had been widely announced. The Race Car Museum Outlet loaned Maggie's its parking lot for the day – event security reported the adjacent gas station had a few stray cars ticketed earlier.

By request from the owner, Manitou Springs City Councilor Kevin "Sarge" Mac Donald was the first customer.

While he spoke with the staff and perused the well-lit glass case of bud jars, the line of customers waited patiently outside. Local Domino's employee Rachel Rushing came by with a show of goodwill — coupons for a free side with the purchase of a pizza. Rushing says she noticed the line and, during a lull in business, asked her manager if she could drop by. She also says she might talk to the manager at Maggie's about putting a few Domino's coupons by their checkout counter.

"I think businesses can help [each other]," she said.

The pot store will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. 

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marijuana: Senators pressure White House, federal tide is turning

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 3:16 PM

From left, Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet. - COURTESY SENATE.GOV
  • Courtesy
  • From left, Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

Colorado began recreational-marijuana sales in January; Washington did earlier this month; and Alaska and Oregon are set to vote on the matter in a couple months. It seems like a good time to get a firm word from the White House on how its administration will proceed with marijuana.

The head of Obama's Drug Enforcement Agency, a holdover from the W. Bush administration, openly criticizes his approach; the Office of National Drug Control Policy is actually required by law to oppose legalizing banned substances; and various U.S. attorneys have been more hostile than others toward the plant. And then there's this mess with federal water going to cannabis grows.

So it's no surprise that the four senators from Colorado and Washington — Sens. Michael Bennet, Mark Udall, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, respectively — yesterday sent President Obama a pointed letter.

"We believe the federal government should support Colorado and Washington state's effort to establish a successful regulatory framework in a way that achieves greater certainty for local officials, citizens, and business owners as they tackle this complicated and important task," it reads. "At times, however, certain federal agencies have taken different approaches that seem to be at odds with one another and may undermine our states' ability to regulate the industry adequately."

This comes on the heels of a vote from the U.S. House of Representatives in favor of allowing banks to work with medical-marijuana centers; Sens. Rand Paul and Cory Booker introducing an amendment that supports MMJ programs; and a Pennsylvania representative writing a bill that would legalize the Colorado strain Charlotte's Web.

You might look at the New York Times' recent editorial in favor of outright legalization as proof that the effort has gone mainstream. Of course, it doesn't take much courage to follow where the majority of the country is headed, but it's a nice sign. Naturally, the White House, limited by law as it is, rejected the call.

Still, this pressure from four senators — pressure that's sure to grow as quickly as the movement spreads — is another interesting sign in the federal realm.

"To ensure such consistency and uniformity, we believe it is appropriate for the White House to assume a central and coordinating role for this government-wide approach," reads the letter. "We therefore believe it is incumbent upon the Administration to work with all federal departments and agencies setting forth a clear, consistent and uniform interpretation and application of the [Controlled Substances Act] and other federal laws that could affect the industry. Such guidance should reflect the same deference to our state laws as does the Cole memorandum."

Colorado and Washington Federal Letter

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Friday, July 25, 2014

PuffPuffPost: Cannabis conversations

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM


Themed chatrooms are nothing new, but the word from Gawker is that this one comes with a little more cannabis and little less penis. (This will make perfect sense to anybody who's ever been on Chatroulette.)

PuffPuffChat is a friendly place where you take the reddit terminology of putting your "high" in brackets — you and I both know you only got to [10] once and are still trying to get back — and then find a stranger to shoot the shit with, either over text or video.

Here's a bit of Gawker's take:
California is right: talking face-to-face is high-pressure, and it requires a lot of attention. The beauty of being high on the internet is that every time your mind wants to change directions, you've got a railroad switch readily available, and with PuffPuffChat set to text and tucked away somewhere in your browser, it's just one of many distractions available to you on your journey. Feel like warm vocal harmonies and fuzzy VHS recordings? Just follow the track marked "Fleetwood Mac performance videos" and send your chat buddy some vintage Second Hand News. Want to learn a thing or two about Swedish Americans while you're at it? The Wikipedia page for this vibrant and exciting demographic group is only a tab away. Did you know James Franco has a little Swede in him?
My first conversation entailed me talking to myself, so I bailed, but my second, shown above, brought me to a similarly [0] person, a videographer in New York City, apparently. Fun little time.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Colorado forms board to spend marijuana research money

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 9:46 AM


As we reported back in November, the state of Colorado is set to pump millions of dollars into marijuana research into the next five years through a grant program that would fund studies between one- and three-years long.

The recently signed Senate Bill 155 says this research is needed because, "Research on the therapeutic effects of marijuana and its component parts could benefit thousands of Coloradans who suffer from additional debilitating medical conditions that do not respond to conventional treatments and are not currently permissible medical conditions for medical marijuana use." One example of this might be looking at cannabis' effect on post-traumatic stress disorder, which the Colorado Board of Health has repeatedly declined to add to the list of ailments considered treatable with MMJ.

Anyway, this $9 million in research money needs to be spent with intent, so the state has created a 14-member Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council, "from numerous respected organizations and parts of the community who have expertise as specified in statute regarding the scientific substance and methods of research and/or familiarity with the uses of medical marijuana."

The group is set to meet for the first time in Denver on Friday, Aug. 29, from 8 a.m. until noon.

Of course, because this is marijuana, there's in-fighting. One of the group members is Teri Robnett, a board member with Colorado NORML who recently received its Most Valuable Advocate Award. But Robnett's not somebody Kathleen Chippi, another northern advocate currently who's no stranger to litigation, thinks should be involved.

"I ONLY HATE PEOPLE WHO ATTACK (or support the attack of) patients/caregivers/doctors/activists/voters intent," Chippi writes on Facebook. "I'm still trying to figure out why you and NORML, MPP, DPA, NCIA, ASA SSDP, LEAP and the lobbyists/'industry' HATE it when a handful of us are fighting for a fair playing filed for all and REAL LEGALIZATION for EVERYONE."

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Colorado marijuana is going great

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 4:57 PM


Today, the New York City-based Drug Policy Alliance issued a six-month status report on how Colorado's marijuana experiment is working out. The above image hits all the high points, but here's a little more:
• Crime rates are down in Denver, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data. There has been a
10.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013 and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.

• According to the state’s department of revenue, the first four months of legal marijuana sales have resulted in $10.8 million in taxes.

• Amendment 64 removed criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related offenses. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the state could save an estimated $12-40 million over the span of a year by reducing criminal penalties.

• Gov. Hickenlooper signed a bill that will provide $10 million for research into the medical efficacy of marijuana.

• Gov. Hickenlooper compared Colorado’s economy since legalization to that of other states by noting, “While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.”
On a separate note, the Colorado Department of Revenue recently tested dispensaries in Denver and Pueblo by seeing if they would sell pot to a minor. With 100-percent compliance, not one did.

“The Division prides itself on ensuring public safety," says Lewis Koski, director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division, in a release. "We are pleased with the results and will continue to monitor the businesses to ensure that the compliance efforts are maintained."

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Feds to revisit marijuana's classification as a Schedule I substance

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 5:12 PM


Though it's hard to say that it will ultimately lead to anything — as the process has happened before, most recently in 2006, and pretty much everybody within the administration who's not President Obama currently makes angry noises about the plant — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed on Monday that it will, at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration, reassess cannabis' status as a Schedule I substance (meaning it has no known medicinal value).

According to the Huffington Post, the FDA will consider these eight factors:
1. Its actual or relative potential for abuse
2. Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known
3. The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance
4. Its history and current pattern of abuse
5. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
6. What, if any, risk there is to the public health
7. Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
8. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter
And even if it's moved to a lower schedule, it doesn't mean weed will start falling from the sky. After all, meth — NOT EVEN ONCE — is considered a Schedule II substance. Plus, as Vox notes, "Anything the agency comes up with will need to go through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and DEA before it gets final approval."

Still, it's always a little nice to see the federal government looking flexible, even if it's always led to naught in the past. Maybe it will help that research-grant applications are spiking. From HuffPo:
To date, NIDA has conducted about 30 studies on the potential benefits of marijuana. Since 2003, it has approved more than 500 grants for marijuana-related studies, with a marked upswing in recent years, according to McClatchy. In 2003, 22 grants totaling $6 million were approved for cannabis research, McClatchy reported. In 2012, that number had risen to 69 approved grants totaling more than $30 million.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pueblo County OKs cannabis social-clubs

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 5:07 PM

  • File photo

The Pueblo Chieftain today reports that the three-person board of Pueblo County commissioners voted 2 to 0 to allow cannabis social-clubs, like Studio A64, which the city of Colorado Springs recently failed to shut down, to open and operate in unincorporated areas of the county.

Rules state that any members must smoke outside, due to Colorado laws regarding indoor smoking, and must do so out of public view. Out-of-state visitors will be able to obtain a guest pass, somewhat alleviating the statewide problem that comes from the ability to buy pot, but not smoke it anywhere.
Tommy Eubanks spoke in favor of the ordinance. He said he was from Texas and that his wife suffers from multiple sclerosis.

“We’re spending about $10,000 to $15,000 in this county but there’s nowhere for us to experiment to see what works for us,” he said.
The county was advised by the Denver law firm Vicente Sederberg, which co-wrote Amendment 64 and has long been a voice in favor of legalization.

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