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Marijuana Stocks

Marijuana Industry, How You Doin’?

 

Nearly Nine Months into the First Year of Recreational Legalization, How has the Face of the Industry Evolved?

Within the last several months, the marijuana revolution has hit a fever pitch.  After a “trial” period where states watched the results of Colorado’s efforts to become the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the results have concluded that tax benefits from that move made a considerable impact.

Colorado Leads the Charge

The state collected nearly $20Million in its first fiscal quarter alone (medical & recreational sales) and month over month, the numbers support strong growth as well. Since January, revenues increased 110% from $3,519,756 to $7,407,450 in July (the state’s most recent revenue posting).

During the first six months of legalized recreational marijuana, only owners of medical marijuana businesses could apply to open recreational marijuana stores. Pot shops were only allowed to sell marijuana that they grew themselves, similar to the state’s medical MJ program but that’s all about to change; Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry is about to get a lot larger.

July marked the first time any adult Colorado resident could apply for a retail marijuana business license. Newly licensed marijuana businesses can begin opening in October, and at that time the recreational marijuana industry will be allowed to specialize in one aspect of the business if they choose.  Retail stores will no longer be required to grow the marijuana they sell and can elect to purchase marijuana from independent growers.

According to a recent Huff Post article, Toni Fox, owner of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver thinks that wholesale and retail prices will come down at most stores and there will still be an excessive amount of harvested cannabis available and unneeded.

Washington State still Trying to Get Its Footing

The second state to open for legal recreational sale, Washington, has faced some obstacles during its infancy within the new industry. A report released by Moody’s, the credit agency, finds that the exorbitant amount of taxes in conjunction with other options like medical marijuana and even the “black market” are to blame for WA’s early stutter step.  “The tax structure in Washington State is likely to be a major deterrent for consumers who do not see the value in obtaining the product from a storefront as opposed to a medical dispensary,” writes Moody’s Analyst Andrea Unsworth, the report’s author.

Washington has implemented a three-tier excise tax (of 25 percent) at the production, wholesale and retail levels. The excise tax is in addition to the consumers’ state and local sales taxes, and to the state business and occupation tax all businesses in Washington pay. In all, Moody’s estimates an effective tax rate of 44 percent at the retail level. Why would anyone elect to pay a higher tax when getting approval for medical marijuana is reportedly relatively easy?

Currently, Washington State exempts medical marijuana from the additional excise taxes so it is only subject to the 9.6 percent sales tax.  By comparison, Colorado, the only other state where the sale of recreational marijuana is legal, has a 15 percent excise tax only on the wholesale level and a 12.9 percent tax on retail sales.

Washington’s forecasters last revisited their estimate in June and anticipated $51.2 million in revenues from fees and taxes for the 2015 to 2017 budget and more than two times more for the following two years.

New Markets for Medical: New York, Florida, Illinois

On June 20, 2014, the New York state legislature approved a bill that would allow patients to use marijuana for limited medical therapeutic purposes by means of “non-smokeables”.  This includes oils, waxes, edibles, and even vaporizers for alternatives to packing a pipe or rolling up the plant in paper.

The bill also sets forth a very specific certification process by which a practitioner certifies that the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or “palliative benefit” from the use of marijuana. Only patients aged 21 or over who suffer from one of the ailments specified in the bill—cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, or Huntington’s disease—will be eligible to use the drug as part of their treatment.

Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law on July 7 but the bill will not take effect until 18 months after its signing.  Supporters and medical providers are turning their attention to the state’s efforts to implement the program and whether any additional diseases will become eligible for treatment. The potential for market share is massive in New York as the bill has specified that the state will only award five contracts to grow marijuana.  Each of the five growers will be able to operate up to four dispensaries, meaning there will be only 20 dispensaries across the state.

Florida has initially taken a much more prudent approach in consideration of the movement. Governor Rick Scott signed a law on June 16 allowing for the limited use of a special strain of marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web” to treat those suffering from epilepsy, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This strain named for a Colorado girl whose epileptic seizures have shown some response to the drug, is not for smoking, and is specially cultivated to be very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Similar to New York, five dispensary licenses will be awareded to “professionals who have operated plant nurseries for at least 30 consecutive years and are producing at least 400,000 plants”. The regulations for the five centers are similar to dispensary rules in other medical marijuana states where the state will conduct background checks on owners and employees, and dispensaries must meet heavy security requirements and strict licensing guidelines; an operator must also post a $5 million bond before opening.

In a recent press release, Florida could hold a lottery to decide which companies receive the five licenses to cultivate cannabis and sell cannabidiol extract, with the winners forced to pay a $150,000 fee for the permit (on top of the $5m bond).

Furthermore, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, only 41 nurseries meet the criteria.  According to the draft rules, if more than one nursery in one of the five geographic regions applies for a license, the state would hold a lottery for the regional license.

Under a law signed by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois children and adults with epilepsy will be allowed to use marijuana to ease their symptoms.  The move to add epilepsy and other seizure disorders to the list of conditions legal to treat with marijuana or its extracts comes as numerous states have made medical use of the drug legal; most notably, New York.

Though the pool for the IL marijuana market is small (the total market is expected to be 10,000 to 30,000 patients, according to Dan Linn, executive director for the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) this is yet one more step in the right direction for the loosening of laws surrounding marijuana.  More and more states have continued to pursue options similar to NY and IL so even given the smaller user population, the numbers (Sourced from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the State of Illinois) are fairly significant especially when considering this marketplace has yet to be truly tapped.

Dispensary supplies will come from licensed growing operations. One cultivation center will be in each Illinois State Police District and all growing operation staff and dispensary staff must be licensed by the state. Grow center applicants need at least $500,000 in cash, and must pay a $25,000 non-refundable application fee. Dispensary applicants need $400,000 in cash and must pay a $5,000 non-refundable application fee.   As far as the taxes go, they are a bit different from Washington states’; Cultivators will pay a 7%  “privilege tax” on sales to dispensaries and patients/caregivers will pay a 1 percent sales tax.

Industry Trends & Potrepreneurs

From food trucks to coffee shops Potrepreneurs are positioning to cash in on this new cash crop. For instance food company, MagicalButter is taking its “Samich” truck to US cities where marijuana is now legal, and its journey began in April in Denver; “Samich”, the company says, stands for “Savory Accessible Marijuana Infused Culinary Happiness.” MagicalButter pledges that each product will be packed with between 30 and 100 milligrams of THC; this constitutes a healthy daily dose, according to Medical Jane, the marijuana enthusiast site.  The truck’s signature “Samich” sandwich consists of nut butter, jelly, and banana and they also produce truffle popcorn made with ganja.

As if a mobile MJ food truck wasn’t enough, there’s a budding business turning toward one of the world’s most heavily consumed beverages; coffee.  Marijuana customers in Washington state will soon be able the purchase marijuana-infused coffee called “Legal” that promises to give customers a caffeinated high if all goes to plan.  Product developer Adam Stites told the MyNorthwest.com, “The coffee drinks give you an uplifting head high. We call it the wake and bake drink.  We want the experience to be more similar to that if you had a nice IPA or glass of wine. We don’t want to pack so much THC into every one of our drinks that it’s unpleasant, especially for people that are just getting into marijuana.”

The cold coffee will be sold in glass jars that each contains approximately 20 milligrams of THC and will come in plain and cream and sugar flavors. The interview also cites that “Legal” will also feature three juice-based sparkling sodas: Rainier Cherry, Lemon Ginger and Pomegranate. Each is made with fresh juices and a different strain of cannabis for differing effects.

Finally on the list of unique businesses coming out of Washington is something that almost every American has used one in his or her life: delivery!  That’s right, according to the Daily Mail, University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakharia have launched a phone app to deliver cannabis to recreational and medical-marijuana users.

“We’re delivering green to make green!”

Their app, Canary, is a smartphone application that will allow verified members in Seattle and Denver to order different strains of cannabis from dispensaries and producers the company has partnered with. The amount a customer can order (in ounces or grams) depends on the state law, according to the app’s website.

Canary abides by all recreational and medicinal cannabis laws on a state-by-state basis. When a member first signs up, the app requires proof that a potential member is able to enjoy cannabis legally in his or her state – they take a picture of their ID or medicinal marijuana card during signup and send it through the app for verification. Once verified, users are good to order.

The company charges an extra 10 to 25 percent on top of the cost of the pot, and gives a cut to the courier.  “Because the exchange of money (the point of sale) happens at the brick-and-mortar dispensary, Canary complies with the current I-502 rules and regulations [in Washington],” Tullis, a sophomore studying design, explained to Geekwire.  And if you’re wondering what to do when you get the munchies when the food truck and coffee shops are closed, Canary also has a catalog, which includes popular food and drink items to satisfy the hungriest of appetites.

Who’s Next?

Based on my findings, there are some states that may be next to pull down the barriers of legalized recreational marijuana, but I doubt it’s the states you’re thinking at this point. For example, a historically Liberal state involved in this industry, California (a hotbed for the medicinal marijuana movement early on) has all but been shut down from passing a bill for legalizing recreational sale to the public.  LA Weekly reports that California’s “California Cannabis Hemp Initiative”  (CCHI) didn’t even qualify for the ballot after lacking the appropriate number of qualified signatures, yielding only about 300,000 out of the 550,000 signatures needed, to push it to an actual vote.  There may be a slim chance after CCHI re-filed paperwork to try and meet an April 18th deadline in order to qualify for a November 2014 vote, but if they can’t get the signatures, this law is looking at a 2016 re-visit (and a new presidential election year).

So if this long-time, pot friendly state is falling by the wayside for legalizing recreational sale, who’s really in the running to join the likes of Colorado and Washington State?  In my opinion, there are a few major contenders.  First, I feel that Alaska may be the forerunner in this heat for the next state to legalize recreational marijuana. August 19th marks the day of reckoning for the state at which point Alaska voters will weigh in on recreational marijuana being taxed like alcohol.

Unlike California, Alaska was able to collect the proper amount of signatures (at least 30,169) in order to get the legislation pushed onto a ballot.  Should this be approved, Alaska would become the 3rd state to legalize recreational marijuana; enabling the state to cash in on the advantage of its tax benefits as well.

Currently proposed in Alaska’s “Act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana,” are several key points.  First, the bill enacted would impose a $50 per ounce (or proportionate) excise tax on the sale or transfer of marijuana from a cultivation facility to a retail store or marijuana product manufacturing facility. It would also allow Alaskan citizens who are 21 or older to “possess, use, show, buy, or transport marijuana accessories” in addition to allowing the operation of retail stores.

Beyond Alaska, there are a few other “long money” bets for votes on the subject.  Included in these are several “decrim” (decriminalized) states like Maine, who recently legalized the possession of up to 2.5oz for adult citizens 21+ in Portland. Then there’s New Hampshire, who just had a bill to legalize and tax marijuana like alcohol pushed to the House, which if approved, will get a shot at the Senate; and, of course California (assuming the April 18th deadline is not met). Up for vote in November will be Washington, D.C., Oregon, and Florida.

In addition to these states that are on “simmer”, preparing to boil, many supporters in other states are working hard to get more laws passed that will beef up medical marijuana programs, decriminalize personal possession, and/or start the process for putting new legislation on the table in hopes of legalization for recreational sale and use.  One thing’s for sure: the Marijuana Industry boom is happening right in front of our eyes and by this time next year, there could be a whole new face to the economy  as well as the Cannabis marketplace.

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Washington legal marijuana prices could drop if harvest rises

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington State, high prices are still sending people to the streets to buy black market marijuana.

Mary Van de Graaf, who owns Mill Creek Suite A, which is one of two licensed retailers in Union Gap says the legalization and licensing of the plant hasn’t actually done much to combat street sales. Street dealers don’t test their product, pay income taxes and verify age of customers.

“I have customers come in and say they would like to buy from me, but it’s just so much cheaper on the black market,” Van de Graaf said.

Retailers in the Yakima Valley pay wholesale prices anywhere from $8-$15 per gram, which is about the same as the street value of the untaxed, illegal version which goes for $10-$20 per gram depending on the quality.

Retailers then have to charge between $25 and $40 to make sure all of their expenses are covered. State excise tax is 25 percent on all retail sales; there is federal income tax (with no deductions allowed federally) and operating costs, including monthly bills for startup loans. After all that is paid, most retailers are left with less than a 5 percent gain to pay those monthly bills, operating costs and wages to employees.

Her clients so far have been limited to older, more affluent visitors. Many would-be buyers enter their stores, sniff a few buds and say they like the idea of buying legally but flat out admit they intend to stick with their illegal sources until prices come down.

Things are improving and will hopefully continue to improve. Storeowners are able to keep their doors open for now and that’s an improvement.

Van de Graaf opened her shop on July 23, just a couple weeks after the state’s first wave of stores opened, but had to close seven days later because of a lack of product led to empty shelves.

Doors opened again on August 9th and sales have been steady since then.

She is also spending only 30 minutes on the phone each day instead of hours, talking to suppliers.

Before this fall, a majority of the marijuana available for retail sales in the state had come from primarily indoor growers. Indoor growers typically have higher electric bills than their colleagues in the Eastern part of the state growing with sunlight.

Retailers like Van de Graaf are predicting and hoping that the boost in supply from the sun-grown harvests will finally let them cut their prices in half this fall.

Tim Thompson, owner of Altitude in Prosser thinks lowering prices might finally start luring customers away from the black market.

“I think at $15 (per gram) we would,” Thompson said.

Owner of Station 420 in Union Gap, Adam Markus also thinks prices will drop by half but doesn’t think they will stay that way for long.

In the past week, Markus has traveled to Spokane twice and once to Seattle to meet with growers trying to get enough product to keep his shelves full.

There was a day and a half last week last week with no marijuana in small packages.

“There wasn’t any available,” he said.

Markus predicts prices will drop for a few months while the outdoor-grown supply is available

2014 statistics aren’t available yet but Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s regional office in Seattle said there’s an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in backyards.

On Monday, authorities seized 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah. The same day, police also arrested two men they accuse of stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.

As of Tuesday, there were 235 state licensed marijuana producers, though not all have started growing. Klickitat County had 12, Kittitas County five, Benton County six and Grant County two.

Yakima County had one, Orgrow in Moxee.

All marijuana businesses are banned in the unincorporated areas of Yakima County, and the city of Moxee only allows producers and processors, no retail stores. A majority of growers would prefer to grow outside of city limits where what is cheaper and there is more space.

Pot growing crews must be on the lookout for pests and mold and must manage canopy density and regulate water. Most growers in Kittitas haul water in by truck because of the Department of Ecology’s moratorium on new wells.

“It’s a challenge,” said Cliff Hughes, owner of Hydro Light near Cle Elum.

At least two of the Kittitas County growers aren’t completely outdoors.

Slowly licensed producers are growing enough pot that retail store owners hope to eventually lower prices enough to slow down the black market, one of the major justifications for Initiative 502, passed by state voters nearly two years ago.

“We’ll slow it down, yeah,” said Mary Van de Graaf, owner of Mill Creek Suite A, one of two licensed retailers in Union Gap.

Original Source: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Bigger-harvest-could-lower-Wash-legal-marijuana-prices-277911661.html

What a View!

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia already have passed laws allowing medical marijuana in some form, beginning with California in 1996. In the coming months, Florida may become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The coming election represents a major catalyst for the marijuana stock market. With three states, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, voting on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, companies that operate in those states are poised to generate increased revenue.

In Colorado, sales from recreational marijuana surpassed medical sales for the first time in July 2014. The sale of recreational marijuana has show significant growth since January and doubled in only seven months.

marijuana-market-overview

Washington State has seen the total revenue generated from recreational marijuana double month over month. During July, Washington State generated $3.2 million in revenue. During August they generated $7 million. We expect to see these numbers increase due to the state not even operating at maximum capacity due to government regulations.

STATES PENDING LEGALIZATION MARKET POTENTIAL

OREGON- voting on legalizing marijuana for recreational use

  • 6 Million people over the age of 25
  • 270,000 people said they consumed marijuana within the last month

FLORIDA voting on legalizing medical marijuana

  • 5 million people over the age of 25
  • 635,000 people said they consumed marijuana within the last month

ALASKA voting on legalizing marijuana for recreational use

  • 465,000 people over the age of 25
  • 50,000 people said they consumed marijuana within the last month

WASHINGTON DC voting on legalizing marijuana for recreational use

  • 440,000 people over the age of 25
  • 31,000 people said they consumed marijuana within the last month

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Are You Keeping with The Times?

New marijuana users are trying the drug for the first time and as more states like New York see the health benefits of a smokeless delivery method versus a traditional smoking method, businesses and corporations are beginning to perfect methods that do not involve directly inhaling a smoldering plant. For starters, the market for marijuana edibles is exploding, particularly in those states that have legalized cannabis for medical/recreational use.  In Colorado for example, Cannabis purchases by out-of-state visitors account for an estimated 44% of all retail sales in the Denver area and about 90% in mountain resorts, according to a recent market study commissioned by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Colorado’s largest maker of infused products, Dixie Elixirs, recently moved to a new industrial building in Montbello with four times as much space as its former facility in Stapleton. Another major firm, Medically Correct, is moving from a 1,200sqft kitchen in the Platte Valley to a nearby building with 8,000 square feet. This also includes production facilities for its “Incredibles-branded” chocolate bars as well as space, to grow its own marijuana.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” said Medically Correct co-owner Bob Eschino. “Now we think we’ve already outgrown this (new space) before we’ve even started. There are other products we want to do but can’t come out with because we can’t even keep up with demand for chocolate.”

As edibles allow marijuana users to “ease into the drug”, the vaporizer and e-liquids space has just started to emerge for smokers to achieve a “cleaner high” and a more healthy alternative compared to that of rolling a joint. There are a lot more options available with customization, different e-liquids, and products that can heat both dry herb, liquid, and wax.  Just as e-cigarettes have dramatically changed the business of tobacco smoking, e-cig technology and vaping are bringing excellerated change to cannabis markets.

Steve DeAngelo, a marijuana entrepreneur and activist who founded the Harborside Health Center medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, told USA Today that “The arrival of compact, portable, microprocessor-controlled vaporizers and advances in extracting active ingredients from cannabis plants have caused a shift in consumer demand.”

Some dispensaries such as his and many in Colorado, where recreational pot is legal, now do roughly 50% of their business in raw marijuana leaf or flowers, and the rest in edibles and concentrates, some prepackaged in cartridges for use in vape pens.

“The percentage of raw (pot) flowers we sell has been dropping steadily,” DeAngelo said. “The percent of extracts and concentrates … has been rising steadily.”

The arrival of marijuana vaporizing goes hand in hand with the recent development of highly concentrated forms of marijuana extractions in liquid both viscous and waxy forms. Those concentrates are easily consumed through vaporization and are used to fuel many of the vape pens on the market.

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Study: Couples who smoke marijuana are less likely to engage in domestic violence.

A new study by researchers at the University of Buffalo finds a significantly lower incidence of domestic violence among married couples who smoke pot. “Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV [intimate partner violence] perpetration,” the study concludes.

These findings were robust even after controlling for things like demographic variables, behavioral problems, and alcohol use. The authors studied data from 634 couples over nine years of marriage, starting in 1996. Couples were administered regular questionnaires on a variety of issues, including recent drug and alcohol use and instances of physical aggression toward their spouses.

Previous research on the relationship between marijuana use and domestic violence has largely been based on cross-sectional data (that is, data from one point in time), and those findings have been mixed: some studies found links between marijuana use and/or abuse and domestic violence, while others did not. The Buffalo study is one of the few to use data collected over the course of decades to examine the question, putting it on solid methodological ground compared to previous work.

The authors caution that while these findings are predictive–meaning couples who smoke are less likely to commit domestic violence–they don’t necessarily draw a causal line between the two behaviors. Among the connections they hypothesize, “marijuana may increase positive affect, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of conflict and aggression.” Translation: stoned people are happy, and happy people don’t fight.

Another possible mechanism: “chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.”

Since some of the data used in the study is now nearly two decades old, the authors would like to see if these findings would hold true among current newlyweds, particularly in light of “the trend toward marijuana decriminalization in the United States and potentially more positive attitudes toward its use.”

The authors said that more research also needs to be done on other dimensions of marijuana use, including abuse, dependence, and withdrawal, all behavioral states that may have different effects on how spouses interact with each other.

Nonetheless the paper is a solid contribution to the marijuana literature, and we’ll need a lot more like it as the country seems to move toward overall legalization. In fact, the DEA significantly bumped up the federal government’s marijuana production quota this year, in order to provide the raw material for more research on marijuana use.

We’re also learning a lot from Colorado’s legalization experiment, and a Brookings Institution paper out this week (Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot) finds that the state is “devoting resources to tracking its experiment in an unusually meticulous way, with lessons that extend well beyond drug policy.”

Perhaps most significantly, the Buffalo study was funded partially by a grant from the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Marijuana reformers have strongly criticized NIDA’s institutional biases against marijuana legalization in the past, including restrictions the agency has placed on the availability of marijuana for research purposes. But the fact that NIDA is funding studies like this one suggests that it, like much of the country, is beginning to change its tune.

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Legalize It!

So far 2014 has been a landmark year for recreational marijuana legalization. After the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington, licensed shops opened in this year in Colorado on January 1st and Washington on July 8th. Colorado’s recreational pot business was built off of a well run and well regulated medical marijuana system. Legalization of recreational use at the beginning of this year meant many businesses merely had to change their signs and tax brackets. On the other hand, Washington’s medical marijuana was built entirely from scratch, with the state’s LCB (Liquor Control Board) placed in charge of regulation.

With these recent developments many politicians in other states are looking to see how Washington and Colorado fare with their experiment into recreational use legalization. Despite recent cuts at the federal level to DEA marijuana enforcement and prosecution, marijuana still remains a Schedule I drug and still illegal under federal law. Polarization and gridlock in the House and Senate remain strong indicators that legalization of any kind at the federal level is highly unlikely. Despite positive changes in public approval for cannabis legalization, political stagnation and inaction at the federal level means a state-by-state strategy is the only viable option for increased legalization. Looming over this state-by-state strategy is the upcoming 2016 Presidential election. If President Obama is replaced with a President who chooses to enforce marijuana as a Schedule I drug, jurisdictional and constitutional chaos will be the result.

The politics of legalization are murky and muddled at best. Without further federal level assurances, big banks will continue to not accept deposits from pot shops for fear of violating federal money-laundering laws. Investors already contending with uncertain market conditions are also weary to delve into uncertain political ones. All of these factors take away from the legitimacy and all encompassing legality that this potentially lucrative cannabis investment sector needs.

Moving forward, the price of politics may remain costly to investors who see the promise in the cannabis industry. But, as they say, “the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.” Majorities shift and public opinion may be able to sway political compromise. Alongside this, with referendums for recreational use on the floor in three different states and potential implications for 2015 and 2016 only time will tell how the political landscape will alter the recreational one.

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Good Find from ABC News

The entrepreneurs of the young U.S. marijuana industry are taking another step into the mainstream, becoming political donors who use some of their profits to support cannabis-friendly candidates and ballot questions that could bring legal pot to more states.

The political activity includes swanky fundraisers at Four Seasons hotels and art auctions at law firms. And members of Congress who once politely returned the industry’s contribution checks are now keeping them.

“We’re developing an industry here from the ground up. If we don’t contribute politically and get out there with the candidates, we can’t help shape what happens,” said Patrick McManamon, head of Cleveland-based Cannasure Insurance Services, which offers insurance to marijuana growers and dispensaries.

Medical marijuana businesses have been giving to candidates since the late 1990s. With the arrival of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington, the industry and its political influence are expanding rapidly.

Pot is now legal for medical or recreational purposes in 23 states and Washington, D.C. More marijuana measures will be on the November ballot in Oregon, Florida, Alaska and the nation’s capital, so many contributions are being funneled into those campaigns and the candidates who support them.

Compared with the donations of other industries or advocacy groups, the political spending by marijuana businesses is modest. But, said Tripp Keber, head of Denver-based Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, which makes pot-infused soda, food and lotion, “the word is out that the marijuana industry has money to give.”

Keber attended a summer fundraiser for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed legalization in 2012 but has promised to regulate the industry according to voters’ wishes.

“It was interesting to see how he’s starting to evolve. I said, ‘I’m telling you, I can get 100 people in the room who would be happy to max out,'” or give the state’s maximum legal donation of $1,100, Keber said.

A few weeks later, in August, Keber threw a fundraiser at the Four Seasons in Denver with a goal of raising $16,000 for Hickenlooper. The event netted $40,000.

In Washington state, the industry’s contributions are channeled into reforms that include reducing the tax rate on pot and kicking some marijuana revenue back to cities and counties to encourage more communities to allow dispensaries, said dispensary owner John Davis, who also serves as director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.

Not long ago, most marijuana entrepreneurs were “trying to scrape a few dollars together” to get started, Keber said. “Now this industry is becoming profitable, and we’re taking that profit and investing it politically. There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t make a political donation.”

The Oregon ballot measure has raised about $2.3 million. A medical-marijuana question in Florida has attracted nearly $6 million. And the Alaska campaign has brought in about $850,000. A recreational pot measure in Washington, D.C., attracted few donations, perhaps because it appears almost certain to pass.

Colorado’s congressional delegation alone has received some $20,000 this year from the marijuana industry, according to federal campaign-finance data. The true figure is probably much higher because many donors do not mention the drug in campaign-finance disclosures.

The largest federal spender on marijuana advocacy is the Marijuana Policy Project, which plans to donate $150,000 to federal candidates this year, up from $110,000 in 2013. The Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have also given directly to federal candidates, and tax-exempt industry groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association can spend an unlimited amount of untracked money.

Politicians who used to reject checks from pro-marijuana donors “aren’t doing that anymore,” said Ethan Nadelmann, head of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.

Still, the same candidates who cash the checks aren’t always keen to talk about it. About a dozen recipients of marijuana money declined interview requests or did not return calls from The Associated Press.

A Colorado state lawmaker who accepts marijuana-industry donations conceded thinking twice before taking them.

“I always worry about what people’s perceptions will be,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat who is the only sitting Colorado legislator who supported legalization. “But it came down to, I’m on record for where I stood before I ever took a penny from this industry.”

Todd Mitchem, a Denver marijuana industry consultant, recalled a fundraiser earlier this year thrown by a maker of cannabis vaporizer cartridges for a state legislator. When the company posted photos from the event on its Facebook page, the lawmaker asked that the images be taken down.

“They just didn’t want to be seen. They were still taking the money,” said Mitchem, who declined to name the lawmaker.

The only member of Congress who responded to the AP was Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, a longtime ally of the marijuana industry who has proposed federal legalization.

“As long as this industry Is following our state marijuana laws,” Polis said in a statement, “their contributions are the same as those from any other legal donors.”

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Associated Press writers Nigel Duara in Portland, Oregon; Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Ben Nuckols in Washington, D.C.; Gene Johnson in Seattle and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

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Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt .

source: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/marijuana-industry-makes-political-donations-25836884?singlePage=true

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Insys Therapeutics, Inc. (INSY: NASDAQ) announced that the FDA granted them orphan drug designation for their treatment of glioma. A glioma is a type of tumor that arises from the glial cells of the brain or, less commonly, the spine. Glioma accounts for approximately 30% of all brain and central nervous system tumors and 80% of all malignant brain tumors.

INSY was previously granted this designation for their treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and two rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
Orphan drug designation is granted to drugs that treat rare diseases that affect less than 200,000 patients in the U.S. The designation provides the drug developer with a seven-year period of U.S. marketing exclusivity, as well as certain financial incentives that can help support its development.

INSY has 7+ years of research and development experience in the pharmaceutical cannabinoid space. They manufacture pharmaceutical CBD and pharmaceutical dronabinol (THC) at their FDA-inspected and DEA approved facility in Round Rock, Texas. INSY submitted a Drug Master File (DMF #28255) for its CBD active pharmaceutical ingredient. The company believes that they are the only U.S.-based company with the capacity to produce pharmaceutical cannabinoids in scalable quantities.

INSY is up over 50% since early August and think they have a legs left to its run due to their extensive pipeline of drugs, as well as them trading on the NASDAQ exchange. The stock has been on a nice run recently and positive results from FDA testing should help push the stock to the low to mid 40s.

0 2515

Yo Momma is on That Kush!

ABC Nightline News reported: When Jane West and her friends get together, the laughter rolls, trays of food and stories are passed around. But instead of splitting bottles of wine, these women like to unwind with artisanal marijuana.

In fact, these mothers with young children are regular marijuana users who are “unapologetic about getting high.” Moreover, some, including West, have made it their mission to make the use of marijuana as socially acceptable as having a glass of wine or a cocktail.

“If other people were willing to talk about it, instead of saying, ‘Oh, my God, I was so drunk last night,’ then more people would be talking about it just as openly,” West said.

– See more at: http://blog.mpp.org/video/moms-who-use-marijuana/09252014/#sthash.bqHpqNvp.dpuf

0 1041

Reno Gazette-Journal Delivering the Goods on This One!

SAN FRANCISCO – A national marijuana advocacy group took steps Wednesday to begin raising money for a campaign to legalize recreational pot use in California in 2016, a move with potential to add a dose of extra excitement to the presidential election year.

The Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork with the California secretary of state’s office registering a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot, the group said.

The measure would be similar to those passed in 2012 by voters in Colorado and Washington, the first U.S. states to legalize commercial sales of marijuana to all adults over 21.

California, long the national leader in illegal marijuana production and home to a thriving, largely unregulated medical marijuana industry, is one of the 21 other states that currently allow marijuana use only for medical reasons. The drug remains illegal under federal law.

“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities. It’s been ineffective, wasteful and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach,” Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”

The Washington, D.C.-based group also has established campaign committees to back legalization measures in Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016.

Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will weigh in on marijuana legalization in November.

In 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational pot. The measure, just like the medical marijuana law the state approved in 1996, was the first of its kind. But along with opposition from law enforcement and elected officials, Proposition 19 faced unexpected resistance from medical marijuana users and outlaw growers in the state’s so-called Emerald Triangle who worried legalization would lead to plummeting marijuana prices.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert predicted no such divisions would surface this time around.

Citing his group’s experience in Colorado and the advantage of aiming for a presidential election year when voter turnout is higher, Tvert said legalization supporters would use the next two years to build a broad-based coalition and craft ballot language that addresses concerns of particular constituencies.

“Obviously, it’s a whole different landscape in California, where it will cost probably as much or more to just get on the ballot as it did to run a winning campaign after getting on the ballot in Colorado,” he said.

League of California Cities lobbyist Tim Cromartie, whose group opposed the state’s 2010 pot legalization initiative and until this year fought legislative efforts to give the state greater oversight of medical marijuana, said Wednesday that it was too soon to say what kind of opposition, if any, would greet a 2016 campaign.

Lynne Lyman, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said her group expects to play a major role in the legalization effort and already has started raising money. Lyman said the goal is to have an initiative written by next summer. She estimated that a pro-legalization campaign would cost $8 million to $12 million.

Even though California would be following in the steps of other states if a 2016 initiative passes, legalizing recreational marijuana use there would have far-reaching implications, Lyman said.

“When an issue is taken up in California, it becomes a national issue,” she said. “What we really hope is that with a state this large taking that step, the federal government will be forced to address the ongoing issue of marijuana prohibition.”

source: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/27/marijuana-legalization-effort-begins-california/16352483/

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