Saturday, May 19, 2012
Cypress Hill played an amazing set on a side stage at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio. Rock on the Range has been billed this year as the largest Rock Festival in America, with 44 bands and 3 stages. A Rap band, Cypress Hill stood out as true professionals at the exclusively “hard rock” concert. Midway through the set, front man B-Real lit up a joint and smoked the entire thing on stage. We definitely support his efforts to promote legalization! As the only non-Rock band at the festival, Cypress Hill’s performance was certainly a breath of fresh air amidst all the hard rock angst.
Colorado’s main medical-marijuana lobby is pushing Denver’s City Council to ban outdoor advertising, such as billboards and sign-flippers, for such businesses across the city in an effort to further legitimize the industry.
“We see this as a necessary step to clean up the industry,” said Michael Elliott of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association representing more than 50 businesses. “The justification for a complete ban of outdoor advertising (for medical marijuana) is to prevent the encouragement of nonqualifying patients to use” the product.
The council is considering a bill to outlaw outdoor advertising for medical-marijuana centers 1,000 feet from schools, day-care centers, parks and recreation centers. But council members may look at a citywide ban instead.
“I was trying to look at doing something that was reasonable and something that I knew could withstand a court challenge and was focused on the kids,” said Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, who is sponsoring the legislation.
Ortega asked the medical-marijuana groups to come together on a citywide ordinance.
“Are you willing to support this and move forward?” she asked the groups gathered at a council committee meeting Wednesday. “If you all could get on the same page, I would be more than willing to work with you on a citywide ban.”
Ortega has crafted the ordinance from the federal tobacco-advertising laws. The ordinance’s purpose, she said, would be to reduce use and possession by minors.
Norton Arbelaez, a board member of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, said medical-marijuana advertising is not protected free speech under the First Amendment because the product is illegal under federal law.
“In order to qualify for the protection of free speech, you have to say something legal,” he said. “This is a substance that is against federal law. Because its status is illegal; it doesn’t qualify for First Amendment protections under federal law.”
Denver Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said he was surprised that Arbelaez is basing his argument on the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Arbelaez reviewed laws in other states and cities. Vermont and Montana, for example, prohibit any medical-marijuana advertising. In San Francisco, advertising requires a disclaimer, saying medical marijuana can be used only for medical purposes. Boulder prohibits advertising that promotes medical marijuana for recreational use.
Arbelaez said 89,646 patients, about 1.75 percent of Colorado’s population, are on the registry to obtain medical marijuana. Nearly 14,000 of those patients live in Denver. He said since cannabis is legal for such a small percentage of people, it doesn’t make sense to advertise to the general population.
He showed a photo of a sign-spinner spotted Wednesday morning at West 44th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard, saying that kind of advertising hurts the legitimacy of the business.
Shawn Coleman, director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, said he is in favor of banning the advertising around schools but not citywide. He said such a ban would be a slippery slope that could endanger the entire industry.
“People might say if you can’t advertise your business, you shouldn’t have them at all,” he said.
One dispensary owner said outdoor advertising is necessary because competition is so tough these days.
“Every day, it is difficult to get people in my doors when there are as many dispensaries as Starbucks in this city,” said Toni Fox, owner of 3-D Denver’s Discreet Dispensary at Interstate 70 and Brighton Boulevard.
Last summer, she employed a sign-spinner for about a month but decided it wasn’t worth the cost. She now places signs near the street.
“Are they going to ban sign spinning for all the other businesses that do it?” she asked. “I come into work every day, and I see sign-spinners for computer repair, cellphone shops.”
Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Senate defeats driving-while-high bill; key backer was absent
POSTED: 05/16/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
UPDATED: 05/16/2012 02:42:34 AM MDTBy John Ingold
The Denver Post
A bill making it easier for prosecutors in Colorado to convict people of driving high on marijuana died in the state Senate special session Tuesday because one key supporter was absent.
After the Senate voted down the bill on an informal vote, an effort to revive it failed on a 17-17 split. The missing vote was that of Sen. Nancy Spence, a Centennial Republican who was the deciding vote on a nearly identical bill in the legislature’s regular session.
Reached by phone, Spence said she was in San Diego, where she had plans to celebrate her grandson’s birthday that were made well before the special session was called. Spence said she was prepared to fly back to Denver on short notice to vote for the bill but that she didn’t know the bill would be brought before the full Senate on Tuesday.
“I’m really sad about it,” Spence said. “I feel terrible for (bill sponsor) Steve King, who worked so hard to get that bill passed.”
The result was surprising for a bill that, again, appeared headed for passage before being tripped up late. Earlier in the day, the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee passed the bill 4-1. That came after the bill received its final approval in the House Tuesday morning.
That meant the bill needed to pass only two votes — one Tuesday and one today — by the full Senate to head to the governor’s desk. Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he supports the bill.
The bill, HB12S-1005, would make it a crime to drive with more than a certain amount of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — in your blood. A nearly identical proposal appeared headed for passage during this year’s regular legislative session. But it became entangled last week in the end-of-session fight over civil unions and died on the calendar.
Spence said she received a text message this morning from Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, asking her how soon she could return to Colorado. Spence said she asked how soon she was needed but that she didn’t know the Senate would be taking up the bill today until she turned on her laptop to watch the Senate session remotely.
“I assumed it wouldn’t be brought up until tomorrow morning,” Spence said.
“I’m just so, so sorry and so disappointed,” she added.
Cadman said he wasn’t sure Spence’s presence would have made a difference, saying that several lawmakers were keeping quiet about their vote and might have switched against the bill had Spence been there.
“That’s how close and, I think, complicated this issue became,” Cadman, who voted for the bill, said.
Reviewing the vote shows lawmakers voted today exactly as they had during the regular session.
Senate President Brandon Shaffer, a Longmont Democrat who also supported the bill, said lawmakers didn’t play games with the bill schedule. Because every day in a special session costs the state more than $23,000, Shaffer said legislative leadership wanted to keep the session to three days. That meant the bill had to be heard today in order to pass.
“We weren’t trying to pull a fast one,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer said Spence didn’t ask for permission to miss the vote. She was listed as absent for the vote, contrary to the usual courtesy of listing lawmakers who have to miss votes as excused.
“I was very disappointed with the outcome of today’s vote,” Shaffer said.
At the earlier committee hearing, medical-marijuana activists argue that the proposed limit — 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood — is too low and would result in near-certain convictions for sober drivers.
The bill’s opponents argued that medical-marijuana patients have no way of determining what 5 nanograms means. How much can they consume? How long do they have to wait afterward?
“There needs to be a way to know whether a medical patient has the 5 nanograms in their system so they can know whether they can get behind the wheel,” said Debbie Olander, a representative from the United Food and Commercial Workers union. “With alcohol you can.”
Supporters of the bill counter that the vast majority of people would be impaired at 5 nanograms and would need to wait only about two to three hours after using to fall below the limit. They argue that, even though some people could be sober at 5 nanograms, it is important to send a strong message.
“The law works best when there are clear, effective, enforceable standards,” Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said, testifying in support of the bill.
The regular-session version of the bill passed the full Senate by a single vote.
5 arrested for dumping garbage bag of pot in Civic Center and passing it out, police say
The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20181528/5-arrested-dumping-garbage-bag-pot-civic-center#ixzz1pmiqRrDZ
Denver Police officers arrested five people in Civic Center this afternoon, after a garbage bag full of marijuana was allegedly dumped out, re-bagged and passed out to park patrons.
Around 12:30 p.m., officers were called to the park, near where Occupy Denver typically holds demonstrations and marches, after they received reports of the marijuana, said Sonny Jackson, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department.
The bag was dumped on a blue tarp in the northeast corner of the park, police said. About 30 people were in the park when the marijuana a was being distributed.
“Why they were doing this we don’t know,” Jackson said. “This is a public park and we cannot have people openly distributing marijuana.”
It did not appear that anyone was paying for the marijuana.
Officers on bikes, motorcycles and on foot responded to the scene.
Several people in the park recorded the incident on cell phones and video cameras as officers loaded the bag into a car.
As officers cleared the park, one woman called the cops “pigs” and “terrorists.”
It is unknown if any of the people taken into custody have been arrested at the park before. Their names have not been released.
All targeted Colorado marijuana dispensaries near schools shut down, Feds say
Posted: 02/28/2012 01:00:00 AM MST
February 29, 2012 3:47 AM GMT Updated: 02/28/2012 08:47:41 PM MST By John Ingold
The Denver Postdenverpost.com
Indispensary employee Brian Balliett reaches into the near-empty shelves of the Indispensary”s Bijou Street medical marijuana dispensary Sunday evening, February 26, 2012. The dispensary closed its doors Sunday amid a federal threat of criminal prosecution or seizure. (GAZETTE | Mark Reis)Related
Medical Marijuana – Clouded in Controversy
Medical-marijuana shops near schools face cutoff today: Close or move
Medical pot shops shuttered in Fort Collins, some inventory can be transferred to other sellers
Indictment charges 16 in Weld County, Breckenridge pot bust
Colorado lawmaker to resubmit stoned-driving bill
State senator plans to reintroduce bill to stop driving while stoned
Colorado investigates possible medical-marijuana fraud
Colorado regulators shut marijuana dispensary as Earth’s Medicine owners face federal charges Federal prosecutors today announced that all of the Colorado medical-marijuana dispensaries targeted for operating near schools have halted marijuana sales as demanded.
Prosecutors sent the letters to certain dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools last month, warning them to close or face criminal or civil punishment. It was the most aggressive action yet by federal authorities against businesses that are legal under state law but illegal under federal law.
Letters went to 23 dispensaries and to their landlords. Owners of 22 dispensaries have since decided to shutter those targeted locations — either moving or closing for good. A letter to one dispensary was rescinded after it was determined that the school building nearby was not currently being used to educate children, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in an announcement.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents checked every dispensary for compliance with the letters. According to the announcement, agents entered five stores after being unable to tell whether the stores were closed. They determined those businesses had stopped selling marijuana.
“The closure of the targeted dispensaries today,” new Colorado DEA Special Agent in Charge Barbra M. Roach said in a statement, “will make those affected schools more secure for our children and teachers throughout the State of Colorado.”
Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh has said he wants to remove dispensaries from around schools because he is worried about increased youth use of marijuana and the impact the businesses have on kids’ attitudes toward the drug. Federal law contains enhanced penalties for people who sell drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.
“These stores were closed without incident,” Walsh said in a statement. “This effort is about protecting children from illegal drugs, and maintaining drug free zones around our schools in compliance with federal law.”
Prosecutors intend to send letters to more dispensaries that are within 1,000 feet of a school “soon,” according to today’s announcement.
John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or email@example.com
Read more: All targeted Colorado marijuana dispensaries near schools shut down, Feds say – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_20064569#ixzz1oupP8ZXS
Colorado pot-legalization initiative needs more signatures
Posted: 02/03/2012 07:34:43 AM MST
Updated: 02/03/2012 02:15:16 PM MST By John Ingold
The Denver Post
A proposed initiative to legalize limited possession of marijuana in Colorado needs more signatures to qualify for the ballot.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced today that the campaign collected only 83,696 valid signatures. It needs 86,105 to qualify.
The campaign will now have 15 days to collect the remaining 2,409 valid signatures. Mason Tvert, one of the initiative’s proponents, said in a statement today that the announcement was unexpected but “just a very small bump in the road.”
“We are confident we will complete this process successfully and qualify the initiative for the ballot,” Tvert said.
Last month, the campaign turned in more than 160,000 signatures in boxes of petitions. But, after reviewing a sample of those signatures, the Secretary of State’s office could not conclusively project whether there were enough valid signatures on the petitions for the initiative to qualify.
That meant the Secretary of State’s office needed to go line-by-line through the petitions, verifying each signature. Today was the deadline to complete that task.
The initiative, a proposed constitutional amendment, would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older. It would also allow people to grow a small number of marijuana plants in their homes.
The measure would also allow for people to open marijuana retail shops, but it would give communities the ability to ban those businesses. Lastly, it would legalize the growing of industrial hemp.
All such activities would remain illegal under federal law.
The initiative — for now known as Proposed Initiative No. 30 and dubbed by the campaign The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 — is one of three separate proposed measures for the 2012 ballot that would legalize marijuana in Colorado.
Another, from Cannabis University of Colorado head Michelle LaMay, would prohibit judges from imposing penalties on anyone for marijuana possession of any amount. Supporters call the initiative The Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act. The campaign behind it has announced it will begin collecting signatures this month.
Meanwhile, a third initiative was filed Thursday. That measure, which supporters call Legalize 2012, would create in Colorado’s constitution a fundamental right to use and possess any amount of marijuana for people over 18. It would allow for retail sales of marijuana “without restrictions that are onerous or burdensome.” It would require the state attorney general to file lawsuits to prevent the federal government from enforcing federal marijuana laws in Colorado. And it would create a state-funded commission that could help Colorado citizens facing federal marijuana prosecution with their defense.
That initiative has not yet had its first administrative hearing.
Read more: Colorado pot-legalization initiative needs more signatures – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19885405#ixzz1liVKPtHX