Monday, February 16, 2015

No easy answer to cash and cannabis

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 5:30 PM

  • Doug Shutter/SHUTTERSTOCK
Back in December, Casey Wooten of the IRS' Office of Professional Responsibility noted in a press release that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) asked the IRS to waive fees for marijuana businesses paying withholdings in cash. On Monday, Feb. 16, the IRS responded with what amounts to a big, greasy middle finger. 

Here's the back story: Allgreens, a medical dispensary in Denver, lost its bank account in 2012. The IRS has since been fining them for paying their withholdings in cash. Last year, Allgreens filed a petition to get the fines waived.

Here's what the IRS told them: If a company “cannot secure a bank account due to current banking laws, (it) is not considered reasonable cause to abate the penalty,” according to a Denver Post article. That said, the IRS has previously provided Allgreens an alternative — essentially, find someone else to take the money and pay on Allgreens' behalf. Allgreens' attorney advised them against said alternative, calling it "a potentially unlawful activity" and "the very definition of money laundering," according to the Post.

Cannabicare owner Julie Sveinsson didn't know about the decision when the Independent called for her thoughts. She hires a payroll company to take care of her payroll taxes.

"All of my taxes are already taken out of my employees' paychecks," she says. "Everything gets pulled out."

When asked for the name of her payroll company, she refused, saying, "Oh, hell no ... They could lose their banking if they have too many marijuana stores."
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Friday, January 9, 2015

What to expect for marijuana in 2015

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2015 at 2:09 PM

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On Monday, we recapped the world of American cannabis in 2014. Now, we look ahead to the coming months, via John Hudak at the Brookings Institution, the Washington D.C. think tank.
1) Oregon, Alaska Plan & Prepare for Legal Marijuana: How well each of these state legislatures and alcohol regulatory bodies work together will determine the success or failure of marijuana policy in these states. As it borders Washington, Oregon’s commercial and regulatory choices will be particularly crucial in understanding to what extent states may strive for market advantages vis-à-vis bordering states.

2) Identifying the Next States to Legalize: 2015 will show which states are serious about ballot initiatives in 2016. It’s widely expected that California will advance an initiative and Florida might take another swing at approving medical marijuana, after falling just short of approval in 2014.

3) Cannabis Policy & State Legislative Action: In some states, the battleground for enacting items like the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana is not the ballot box, but the state legislature.

4) Cannabis & the Courts: Multiple high-profile lawsuits surrounding marijuana policy may play out in 2015. For instance, Coats v. Dish Network [a Colorado lawsuit] may settle the issue of employer-sponsored marijuana testing and a Supreme Court case involving Nebraska and Oklahoma’s suing of Colorado over legalizing marijuana will indicate the willingness of federal courts to engage in this policy area.

5) Answers to Questions About D.C.’s Marijuana Policy: Clarity about the future of marijuana policy in Washington, D.C. will almost surely be left to the federal courts, particularly if there is congressional inaction on Initiative 71.

6) Colorado & Washington (& Uruguay) Continue Legalization: In Colorado, edibles, product testing, and homegrows will be on the agenda. The policy challenge Washington faces is that legal weed could be too costly to lure consumers from the black market. On the international front, Uruguay works hard to ready a bureaucracy and a consumer base for the experiment.

7) Data, Data, Data: One key takeaway for policy advocates, both supporters and opponents, will be to patiently wait to draw conclusions as the data are currently incomplete and imperfect. 2015 will offer steady flows of data from Colorado and Washington, and eventually other states.

8) Presidential Candidates & Cannabis: Marijuana policy will definitely be part of the 2016 conversation in a way that it has not in previous presidential campaigns. And the issue will be particularly interesting to watch as it does not fall neatly along party lines.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hashing out the details

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 10:41 AM


This whole legal marijuana thing was always going to have a few speed bumps. Most of them could have been foreseen when Amendment 64 was voted into law, like dealing with marijuana money or standardizing edibles and concentrates.

But who saw explosions and house fires coming?

As we reported on July 30 in the story Hash oil explosions on the rise, making hash oil at home using butane can cause fires and explosions. In a recent interview, Attorney General John Suthers said there were around 26 explosions statewide in 2014. No surprise — butane is lighter fluid, and it will burn as cold as -72 degrees Fahrenheit. It's a cloud of trouble just waiting for a spark to set things off.

And Suthers is having none of it. His office put out a press release on Dec. 30 stating hash oil extractions are banned under amendment 64.

The press release quotes Suthers as saying "The Blue Book made it clear that Amendment 64 allowed for the responsible and safe use of marijuana, so to decriminalize dangerous and unreasonable behavior in which people are getting hurt and houses are blowing up, defies the intent of the voters.”

Suthers' statement is part of an eight-page legal brief he filed as part of the trial against Eugene Christenson of Mesa County. Prosecutors claim he caused an explosion by making hash oil. Christenson's defense says hash oil, like any other concentrate, is protected by Amendment 64. Suthers notes Amendment 64's definition of marijuana allows concentrates but bans oil by name. 

At least now it's on record you can't risk blowing up your house without a license.

The full press release and the full legal brief are below the jump.

Continue reading »

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Monday, January 5, 2015

2014: The year in (and of) cannabis

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 1:04 PM


To recap one of the more expansive years in the history of American marijuana, the Washington, D.C.-based National Cannabis Industry Association put together a Top 6 list of developments in 2014.

“There’s no superlative that could adequately describe the impact that 2014 has had on the cannabis industry,” says NCIA executive director Aaron Smith in a press release. “The success of adult-use legalization in Colorado and Washington, the overwhelming public opinion in favor of medical marijuana, and the steady march of policy change at both the state and federal levels have created an entirely new world."
1. Legal adult-use sales begin in Colorado.

2014 kicked off with a bang with the historic opening of legal sales in Colorado. Under a tremendous media spotlight, the rollout was a remarkably smooth success. More than $573M in legal marijuana sales and $60M in state tax and fee revenue later*, the Colorado industry is proving that a legal, regulated market not only works, but works well. Crime is down. Tourism is up. Funds are rolling into Colorado schools and long overdue medical marijuana research. And perhaps just as importantly, when concerns do arise, a regulated market provides an opportunity to address those concerns.

*Revenue figures cover January through October, as November and December sales data are not yet available.

2. Federal officials release banking guidelines for serving the legal cannabis industry.

In February, officials with the Departments of Justice and Treasury released memos intended to provide guidance for financial institutions interested in providing banking for legal cannabis industry businesses. While the ultimate outcome of the memos was muted, and most cannabis businesses are still denied basic banking services, the memos nonetheless served as potent message that federal authorities recognized the banking crisis in the industry and were seeking solutions.

3. Congress passes the first-ever pro-marijuana provisions at the federal level.

In May, the Republican-majority House of Representatives easily passed two appropriations amendments designed to protect state-sanctioned marijuana businesses. One of those — the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibiting the use of Department of Justice funds to interfere with legal medical marijuana programs — became law when it was included in the “cromnibus” budget that was approved by both the House and the Senate in December. Another, which would have forbidden the use of Department of Treasury funds to prosecute banks serving state-sanctioned cannabis businesses, passed by 39 votes in the House but was dropped during budget negotiations. NCIA lobbying efforts, together with the work of allied organizations, helped make these historic votes possible.

4. NCIA holds its first national Cannabis Business Summit, drawing 1,200 attendees to Denver.

In June, NCIA hosted the inaugural national Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. More than 1,200 cannabis industry professionals spent two days discussing innovation, responsibility, and the challenges and opportunities in building an industry to be proud of. The Cannabis Business Summit returns to Denver in 2015, with attendance expected to double.

5. Legal adult-use sales begin in Washington state and quickly outpace revenue projections.

July saw the opening of legal adult-use sales in Washington state, and legal cannabis businesses are already bringing in more tax revenue than the state projected. Significant differences between the policy designs in Colorado and Washington made the two states’ rollouts proceed at different paces, but ultimately Washington’s experience is again confirming that legal adult-use markets are safe, viable, and effective ways to approach marijuana policy.

6. Midterm voters legalize adult-use marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C.

Despite a midterm election with extremely low turnout and a huge wave of conservative victories, voters approved adult-use legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., and notched very strong support for medical marijuana in Florida, falling just short of the 60% threshold needed for passage. Given the political dynamics of the 2014 election, it’s clear that support for marijuana policy reform crosses political and ideological lines and that voters of all stripes are increasingly calling for a smarter, safer alternative to marijuana prohibition. It’s a trend that will likely grow even stronger in the 2016 electorate.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Colorado marijuana: The taxman cometh

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 3:23 PM

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The money side of the marijuana business continues to be a mess. Though Colorado may have a marijuana-friendly bank as soon as next year, there's a bigger question looming on the horizon: How are these businesses going to file their taxes?

Like any other business, Uncle Sam is going to want his due, and that brings up a few concerns. But never fear, the Internal Revenue Service is working on it. Casey Wooten of the IRS' Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) responded to a few frequently asked questions in a press release from Wednesday, December 3rd.

Here's the short version:

• The IRS and OPR are still hashing out the details (no pun intended). They'll put out an advisory guide soon.
• There is court precedent for taxing a marijuana business. You can deduct cost of goods sold. You can't deduct expenses for the marijuana part of your business. But you can deduct expenses for parts of your business not directly related to the marijuana.
• The IRS may or may not penalize marijuana businesses for paying withholding returns in cash. You can thank Colorado legislators for asking that question.
• Tax preparers will probably be able to help you file. The OPR just has to say so, and they probably will.

Here's the full release, via the IRS Newswire:
IRS Guidance Coming for Practitioners Preparing Returns for Marijuana Retailers
BNA Daily Tax Report by Casey Wooten

November 20, 2014

Tax preparers whose clients include marijuana retailers will get some guidance in early 2015 on how to perform due diligence and stay on the right side of the law, an official from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility said.

It's important for the OPR to make a statement on ethical practices for preparers in the growing number of states where marijuana is legal, OPR Director Karen Hawkins said Nov. 19 at a public meeting of the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council.

“I'm going to stay away from the controlled substances issue and focus on what the tax courts have said, so cost of goods sold is in play, but anything else that's in play is going to depend on whether it's part of the trade or business of cultivating or sale, or whether it's a subsidiary trade or business that just happens to have a connection,”Hawkins told Bloomberg BNA.

Tax Compliance Headache.

In recent years, states such as Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana use, while California, Washington, D.C., and others have either decriminalized it or decided to allow it for medical use. Marijuana sales are still illegal under federal law, however.

Because of federal anti-money laundering rules, banks are reluctant to service marijuana retailers, who in turn must operate their businesses mostly in cash. This can create a headache from a tax compliance perspective, making it difficult for businesses to use government services such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

In July, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, asking him to stop the agency from penalizing marijuana businesses from paying their employees' withholding taxes in cash (135 DTR G-3, 7/15/14).

Legal Trouble.

Much like banks, practitioners are concerned that preparing returns for marijuana growers could lead to legal trouble, Janeen Ryan, a member of the advisory council, said.

“We were approached by people that are professionals and 230 legacy preparers and they said ‘we are concerned to even do their returns,”'said Ryan, who helped write the annual advisory report section on marijuana retailers.

The IRS can't change Tax Code Section 280E, which prevents deductions or credits for expenses if a business is involved in the trafficking of controlled substances; that change requires congressional action.

Until then, marijuana retailers are only able to deduct for the cost of goods sold, Ryan said.

But the agency can issue a clarification that preparers' practices won't be affected.

In their report, members of the advisory panel suggested that the IRS publish guidance clarifying that a tax professional won't be considered unethical, targeted for audit or considered in violation of Circular 230 rules solely for preparing a return for a marijuana business.

Court Action.

Hawkins said there are court cases defining what kind of deductions marijuana retailers can take that will help her shape the guidance on this issue.

She referred to a 2007 case, Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems Inc. v. Commissioner, in which the U.S. Tax Court ruled that Section 280E didn't prevent a California organization providing medial marijuana from deducting expenses related to a separate part of the businesses (94 DTR K-1, 5/16/07).

“Within those parameters what we would essentially be saying to the preparers in those states is that you've got some hard conversations to have with your clients about what goes on to the tax return, but as long as you are adhering to what the tax law says about treatment, you're going to be within the confines of what Circular 230 expects of your due diligence,” Hawkins said.

To view a complete list of all articles relating to OPR visit OPR Press at

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Colorado is both killing and supplying Mexico's marijuana industry

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 3:45 PM

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In a new report from National Public Radio, not only does it seem that the legal weed found in states like Colorado is hurting the business of Mexican cartels, but that the tide has reversed and Colorado marijuana is now being imported into Mexico.

First, reporter John Burnett talks to 24-year-old Sinaloense grower Nabór: "Two or three years ago, a kilogram of marijuana was worth $60 to $90. But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground." (One kilogram is equivalent to roughly 2.2 pounds.)

It's a threat the Sinaloa Cartel is surely aware of, according to a January story from FOX News.

"Cartels, especially the Juarez and Sinaloa, who have a strong presence in Colorado, could not have been happy with the estimated $1 million in sales Jan. 1, the first day of legalized retail sales. In 2012 the Mexican Competitiveness Institute issued a report saying that Mexico’s cartels would lose as much as $1.425 billion if Colorado legalized marijuana. The organization also predicted that drug trafficking revenues would fall 20 to 30 percent, and the Sinaloa cartel, which would be the most affected, would lose up to 50 percent."

Nabór grows the strain Chronic on behalf of another, who pays him $150 a month and provides all the materials needed for the plant. In return, the grower, who also collects firewood and raises cactus, cultivates the plant and avoids the military when it comes calling.

"The day we get $20 a kilo," Nabór says, "it will get to the point that we just won't plant marijuana anymore."

So, bizarrely, we're left with the reverse situation.
DEA spokesman Lawrence Payne tells NPR that Sinaloa operatives in the United States are reportedly buying high-potency American marijuana in Colorado and smuggling it back into Mexico for sale to high-paying customers.

"It makes sense," Payne says. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"

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Friday, November 21, 2014

First cannabis bank in the country likely to open in Colorado

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 11:51 AM

The Fourth Corner Credit Union is set to become the first bank in the country specifically for those in the marijuana industry, the Denver Post reported yesterday. The company is aiming to open in Colorado by Jan. 1, though at least one significant obstacle remains.

"The next hurdles will be obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration, the federal regulator of credit unions, and getting a master account from the Federal Reserve System," David Migoya wrote. "Although the NCUA insurance is not guaranteed — sale and consumption of marijuana remain illegal under federal law — Fourth Corner can operate until NCUA makes its decision."

The Post says federal regulators will mostly be looking at the credit union's business plan, fidelity bond, insurance and ability to comply with anti-money-laundering laws.

Any legally operating marijuana enterprise in Colorado can do business with Fourth Corner, as well as the cannabis-centric nonprofits that have sprung up in recent years. A location has been chosen but not divulged, pending the real-estate deal.

Board members include several from Colorado Springs, including Paige Figi and Heather Jackson, both associated with the Stanley brothers' Realm of Caring nonprofit. ROC grows Charlotte's Web, a high-CBD, anti-epileptic strain that the Stanleys are pushing across the country. It's named after Figi's daughter. 

"This is the end of the line from the state's side," the paper quoted Andrew Freedman, Gov. John Hickenlooper's director of marijuana coordination, as saying. "We've done all we can do."
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

El Paso County will likely ban marijuana social clubs

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 3:56 PM

  • File photo
Today, the El Paso County Planning Commission voted 7 to 2 in favor of a measure that would essentially ban marijuana social clubs in unincorporated areas of the county.

The full Board of County Commissioners will consider the ordinance at its next meeting and, considering previous votes on the subject, is likely to vote for the ban.

The ordinance defines "Club, Marijuana" as "any organization of persons, however otherwise defined or described, formed or operated with a primary or secondary purpose of using or consuming marijuana at a common location and characterized by membership qualifications, dues or regular meetings."

There are currently no clubs in the county, that we're aware of, but similar businesses would be those like downtown's Studio A64 — which the city of Colorado Springs unsuccessfully sought to shut down earlier this year — or Speak Easy Vape Lounge (pictured).

Clubs are a gray area, taking advantage of the fact that users can partake of the drug in a private area. Some accept "donations" in lieu of payment for marijuana dispensed on-site, while others mandate you bring it yourself.

Here's the full executive summary:

"A request by El Paso County Development Services Department to amend the El Paso County Land Development Code (2013) to identify that a Marijuana Club is a prohibited land use in all zoning districts. The proposed amendments include adding a definition "Club, Marijuana," listing in Use Table 5-1 Principal uses and Table 5-2 Accessory Uses, Section 5.3.1 Temporary Use Permits, and adding a footnote to the tables that a Marijuana Club is a prohibited use."

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Marijuana to stay in Manitou Springs, expands across the U.S.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Maggie's Farm on July 31, 2014, the day it first opened to recreational-marijuana sales. - BRYCE CRAWFORD
  • Bryce Crawford
  • Maggie's Farm on July 31, 2014, the day it first opened to recreational-marijuana sales.

The Manitou Springs marijuana question has been answered at last, with 1,801 people, thus far, voting in favor of stores like Maggie's Farm. 968 people voted against, giving the plant a 65 to 35 percent edge. The anti-pot effort was championed by Tim Haas, who owns the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, and people like resident Kari Kilroy.

"Unfortunately for me, it seems I chose to live in a community where marijuana is valued over common sense, science, health, education, the future of our children, etc. etc.," Kilroy wrote on Facebook this morning. "The only thing to do now is learn to live with it....or perhaps figure out something else."

Other detractors spoke up, with Jerry Wyatt posting to the People Against Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs page: "I guess when you get stuck with a tattooed pot head and a bunch of money grubbers on counsel the end result is obvious," Wyatt wrote. "Maybe we will get to see the Fed's raid the self-medicater and smile afterall." 

For its part, the Keep Manitou Open campaign posted a comment addressing the fear that the issue would permanently divide the small town: "Now that the election is over, we look forward to coming back together and moving forward as a community. At the end of the day, we have shared values in Manitou Springs that everyone can agree on; inclusivity, an openness for a diversity of lifestyles, and a respect for our neighbors!"


• Voters in Palmer Lake again shot down recreational-marijuana sales, and passed a ballot question that would keep the town from considering the question again until 2017. Medical marijuana is still available.

Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. joined Colorado and Washington as legalizers of marijuana, with D.C. taking the interesting tack of prohibiting retail stores but allowing possession and "gifting" of weed. A heavily Republican Congress still has to sign-off on the law, however.

• South Portland, Maine also made marijuana legal for adults, signifying further attempts to make the plant legal statewide in 2016, says the Marijuana Policy Project.

• Medical marijuana failed in Florida. "Nearly 58% of voters approved Amendment 2, which would have allowed seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it," says the MPP. "The measure failed because 60% approval was required for adoption."

Anti-marijuana supporters echoed a common refrain in celebration, according to WTVJ in Miami. "We are confident that the voters of Florida have made the right decision," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. "The people of Florida were too smart to buy into the weak language and huge loopholes into this amendment, which would have created de facto legalization of marijuana and given our children legal access."

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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

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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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