High Times Cannabis Cup Truely is the trade show for an industry.
by Kristen Wyatt (AP)
Colorado lawmakers approved the world’s first financial system for the marijuana industry Wednesday, a network of uninsured cooperatives designed to give pot businesses a way to access basic banking services.
The plan seeks to move the marijuana industry away from its cash-only roots. Banks routinely reject pot businesses for even basic services such as checking accounts because they fear running afoul of federal law, which considers marijuana and its proceeds illegal.
The result: Pot shop owners deal in large amounts of cash, which makes them targets for criminals. Or they try to find ways around the problem, like drenching their proceeds in air freshener to remove the stink of marijuana and try to fool traditional banks into accepting their money.
“This is our main problem: Financial services for marijuana businesses,” said Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial. “We are trying to improvise and come up with something in Colorado to give marijuana business some opportunity, so they do not have to store large amounts of cash.”
Colorado became the first state to allow recreational pot sales, which started Jan. 1. Washington state will follow suit, with retail sales expect to start in July.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in February that banks could serve the marijuana industry under certain conditions. With the industry emerging from the underground, states want to track marijuana sales and collect taxes. It’s a lot easier to do that when the businesses have bank accounts.
But most banks have shrugged at the Treasury guidelines, calling them too onerous to accept marijuana-related clients. The result is a marijuana industry that still relies largely on cash, a safety risk for operators and a concern for Colorado’s pot regulators.
“This is not something that we can wait for any further,” said another banking sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.
The bill approved Wednesday would allow marijuana businesses to pool money in cooperative s, but the co-ops would on take effect if the U.S. Federal Reserve agrees to allow them to do things like accept credit cards or checks.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the pot bank plan and is expected to sign it into law, though a spokesman said Wednesday the governor had yet to review the final language.
Lawmakers from both parties supported the banking co-ops as a way to properly audit marijuana shops and to make sure they’re paying all their taxes. Dispensary owners came to the Capitol this session to tell of their difficulties paying taxes and utilities in cash and the dangers of dealing in cash.
“It is very easy to see somebody get killed over this issue,” Marijuana Industry Group Director Michael Elliott testified last month.
The plan had bipartisan support, though some Republicans said that the effort won’t pass federal muster.
A few banks are accepting marijuana clients in light of the federal regulations.
Numerica Credit Union in eastern Washington state is accepting limited business from marijuana growers and processors, The Spokesman-Review reported Wednesday.
Colorado pot shop owners say a small number of credit unions will do business with them, too, though no banks or credit unions have said so publicly.
Countries that don’t ban marijuana don’t have banking systems unique to the drug.
There could be a Landslide of states to follow Colorado and Washington
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 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.
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