Tags Posts tagged with "colorado"

colorado

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A new approach is under review to protect Colorado’s marijuana industry from a potential federal restriction. The state would forfeit millions of dollars in tax collections by doing so. A proposal in the Legislature would permit marijuana farmers and retailers to reclassify their recreational marijuana as medical marijuana if the change in law happens. This would be the most audacious move by an American marijuana state to avoid intervention in its cannabis market.

The proposal would permit approximately 500 licensed recreational marijuana growers to reclassify their crop. The reclassification would cost the state more than $100 million a year because the tax on medical marijuana is substantially lower in comparison to recreational marijuana.

The proposal says licensed farmers could become medical licensees “based on a business need due to a change in local, state or federal law, or enforcement policy.” The change wouldn’t take recreational marijuana off the books, but it wouldn’t entirely safeguard it either. What it could do is help farmers protect their inventory in case federal authorities start seizing recreational marijuana. The provision is getting a lot of attention in the marijuana industry following recent comments from members of President Donald Trump’s administration. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said there’s a “big difference” between recreational and medical marijuana.

Sponsors of the proposal call it a possible exit strategy for the new marijuana industry. It is hard to say how many businesses would be affected, or if medical marijuana would flood the market, because some businesses hold licenses to both sell and grow marijuana in Colorado. The state had about 827,000 marijuana plants growing in the retail system in June, the latest available data. More than half were for the recreational market.

Senator Tim Neville, a suburban Denver Republican who sponsored the bill stated, “If there is a change in federal law, then I think all of our businesses want to stay in business somehow. They’ve made major investments.”

If federal authorities start seizing recreational marijuana, Colorado’s recreational marijuana entrepreneurs “need to be able to convert that product into the medical side so they can sell it,” Neville stated. His proposal recently passed a committee in the Republican Senate four to one.
However, it is unclear whether the bill could pass the full Colorado Senate or the Democratic House. Skeptics of the proposal doubt the classification change would do much more than cost Colorado tax money. Senator Lois Court, a Denver Democrat who voted against the bill stated, “It’s a big deal for our taxation system because this money has been coming in and has been set aside for this, that and the other.”

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Colorado is advancing with the country’s first effort to allow cannabis clubs. However, the proposal that recently passed a Republican state Senate committee doesn’t go as far as some cannabis advocates hoped. The measure would permit on-site cannabis consumption at private clubs in willing jurisdictions. And those clubs may permit indoor marijuana smoking, in spite of health concerns about indoor smoking.

However, the proposal is far from allowing a statewide network of cannabis clubs. For one, it would permit any jurisdiction to ban them, same as they can currently prohibit retail marijuana sales. Also, the measure does not allow cannabis clubs to serve food or alcohol. Since the cannabis-legalization proposal passed in 2012, cannabis advocates have complained that tourists and people who don’t want to use marijuana in front of their children need places to consume pot. Ashley Weber of Colorado NORML, a marijuana-legalization advocacy group stated, “We’re legal and we need a place for people to go. We need social clubs.” Smoking pot is banned on sidewalks, in parks, and most Colorado hotels and car-rental companies.

Colorado law presently neither restricts nor allows pot clubs. The result is a patchwork of local statutes regarding cannabis clubs. Advocates of the proposal called it more of a first step toward establishing the nation’s first Amsterdam-like clubs. Though bars couldn’t allow pot consumption, yoga studios, art galleries, coffee shops, or other public event spaces could apply for licenses. Shawn Coleman, a lobbyist for a Boulder County marijuana company said, “I don’t have time for perfect when we have an opportunity to move forward.”

The city of Denver is working on its own rules for bring-your-own cannabis clubs. Denver’s proposal does not permit indoor pot smoking, but the drug could be smoked on outdoor patios in some cases. The statewide measure now awaits a vote by the full Senate. Even if Colorado’s cannabis club proposal clears the Senate and then the House, the proposal still faces an uncertain path to becoming law. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper opposed Denver’s cannabis-club measure last fall, and he has told reporters more recently that he’s not sure if a statewide pot-club law would invite federal intervention in Colorado’s cannabis experiment.

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Officials in Denver are working on regulations to open a one-year pilot of bring-your-own weed clubs, while state legislators are expected to consider measures to allow either marijuana “tasting rooms” run by cannabis dispensaries, or smoke-friendly clubs comparable to cigar bars. Colorado representatives from both parties have come around to the idea of Amsterdam-style marijuana clubs for a simple reason: People are tired of seeing weed smokers out in public. State Senator Chris Holbert, a suburban Denver Republican who opposes cannabis legalization stated, “It’s a problem we’ve got to address.” Holbert said he’s even had panhandlers ask him for pot near the state Capitol. Holbert stated, “I mean, look at me. If I’m getting hassled, everyone’s getting hassled.” Democrats here agree that tourists need an out-of-sight place to use marijuana.

State Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver stated, “No voter in Colorado voted to allow the use of marijuana on their sidewalk, in their parks, in their public view. But that’s essentially what we’ve done by not allowing private club space for marijuana uses.” So both parties agree that Colorado needs to allow for places that let patrons smoke marijuana. However, that is where agreement breaks down. A Republican-sponsored measure to allow pot clubs to be regulated like cigar bars was put on hold for a revision. That is because sponsors are trying to address issues that marijuana clubs should not allow medical cannabis use, along with other legal wrinkles. Rachel O’Bryan, who opposes marijuana clubs and ran an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a Denver social-use measure last fall stated, “Telling people to socially use their medicine? That’s like we’re legalizing pill parties.” There is also intense conflict over whether establishing marijuana clubs would invite a federal crackdown. Democratic state Representative Jonathan Singer said, “Jeff Sessions is the big question mark right now. I think we need to send a message to him that Colorado’s doing it right.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposes the legalization of marijuana but is undecided on signing a bill to allow clubs, said he is not sure how the administration would respond to clubs. Hickenlooper stated, “I don’t know whether we’d be inviting federal intervention, but certainly that’s one argument I’ve heard used persuasively.” The governor did indicate he would veto a proposal that allowed indoor smoking, not just smoking on enclosed private patios. The Denver clubs would have to follow clean-air regulations banning burned cannabis inside; the statewide measure would allow indoor smoking with “proper ventilation.” Hickenlooper said, “We spent a long time letting everyone know that smoking is bad for you. Just cause that smoke makes you happy, and dumb, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.”

The cannabis industry seems frustrated by Colorado’s halting attempts to figure out how to allow pot clubs. Because current marijuana law is vague, Colorado currently has a patchwork of underground clubs, many of them raided when they try to pay taxes or file permits. Chris Jetter, a licensed marijuana grower who owned a west Denver pot club that was raided twice, stated, “The situation right now is a disaster.” Jetter said authorities took more than six pounds of cannabis, along with tens of thousands in cash, then charged him with illegally distributing marijuana. Jetter stated, “Two or more people can get together and consume alcohol almost anywhere, and there’s no problem with that. But we’re not treating marijuana like alcohol. What’s going to happen with the feds? If they start kicking in doors, I don’t know, but we need to figure something out.”

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Denver has begun working on the country’s first law allowing use in public places like coffee shops and cannabis clubs. However, the details about what those marijuana clubs would look like are still unclear. Here are some answers to questions about the cannabis clubs headed to Denver:

When will the pot clubs open?
Applications are available Friday, but the city has no deadline for issuing the licenses, which will cost $2,000 a year. A workgroup made up of police, restaurants, state health authorities, and cannabis activists is meeting to recommend arrangements for the city licensing authority. City regulators will make the final decision.

How will the clubs work?
A measure approved by voters last year says that clubs could not allow anyone under 21, can not sell the cannabis, and can not allow it to be smoked inside. Authorities point out that the establishments won’t have control over what, or how much, people are consuming.

Where can I locate a pot club?
Denver has no zoning regulations yet. Regulators are deliberating whether it is better to place the marijuana shops together in a common area, giving police an easier time patrolling the clubs, or whether it’s better to require clubs to be dispersed. The pot clubs will be limited in terms advertisement.

Can I Consume Alcohol While Smoking Pot?
No. Cannabis supporters anticipated a system where it could be consumed alongside alcohol at participating bars. However, the Colorado Liquor Control Board blocked any pot bars. After the Denver vote, the state liquor authorities approved a statute saying that establishments with a liquor license could not allow consumption of cannabis.

Don’t pot clubs already exist in Colorado?
They do. Colorado’s 2012 law legalizing recreational pot actually didn’t ban clubs, leaving the state with a patchwork system of local regulations regarding public marijuana use. A few towns tolerate private “members-only” clubs, however, Denver bans them. The new Denver ordinance is the first to permit public cannabis use.

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The Farm, a pot shop in Boulder, Colorado is staffed with cannabis advocates, known as “bud-tenders.” The shop is booming, to the benefit of all Boulder’s residents. The city’s sales tax on recreational marijuana is almost 23% and high demand for warehouse space from cannabis farmers points to a boom. Colorado is expected to have collected almost $135 million from marijuana taxes last year. Following its example, recreational marijuana will be legal in seven states and Washington, DC. Another 24 states allow cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, any pot shop is, in effect, a US attorney-general’s impulse away from closure. Senator Jeff Sessions, whom Trump has nominated to be attorney-general, has a different view. He said, “We need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” He also stated, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Trump has taken conflicting positions on the issue. When Trump was campaigning, he said whether marijuana should be legal was a matter for individual states to decide. But he also called Colorado’s cannabis regime “a real problem.” Vice-president-elect Mike Pence has presided over one of America’s toughest anti-cannabis administrations.

Marijuana advocates are worried. Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana a coordination said, “There’s very good reason to be concerned. This could become an enforcement priority.” A spokesman for The Farm, Adam Dickey, agreed. “It’s a little scary, we are very concerned, though we’re not in full-on panic mode yet,” Dickey stated. It’s difficult to envision Senator Sessions carrying out the clampdown he wants. Almost 60% of Americans say they are in favor of legalizing pot. That represents a swelling consensus in favor of legalization. There is no reason to expect that increasingly casual attitude to go into reverse. Legalizing marijuana looks largely successful.

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Hemp

In a milestone that signifies growth for its hemp market; Colorado becomes the first state in the nation to make certified seeds for industrial hemp. As per federal law, a pot plant must contain 0.3 percent or less Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), to be classified as hemp. THC is the determining factor that classifies a pot plant as hemp or marijuana. Textiles, paper, plastics, solar panels and biofuel can be made from hemp. Hemp seeds can be utilized to process a wide variety of food products such as: bread and milk. It can also be used as livestock feed.

Marijuana derived CBD is only legal in states which have legalized medical marijuana; however, hemp derived CBD is legal in all 50 states. According to CBD advocates, CBD oil is safe for children and has been praised as a treatment for a variety of diseases and disorders. As per Duane Sinning, assistant director for plant industry at the Colorado Department of Agriculture; approximately 30 states allow some type of hemp production, but none of them have certified seed. Certification signifies the seed was tested in all growing conditions possible statewide and the plants met the 0.3 percent or less THC maximum.

Approximately 260 growers in Colorado are cultivating hemp in 400 locations per Sinning. During the first year there was 200 acres planted with another 250,000 square feet of indoor hemp growing. In 2016 there is currently 6,000 acres planted as well as 1.3 million square feet of indoor cultivation. As per Sinning, it is important to have certified seed because if you buy uncertified seed you do not know until after it grows, whether or not it will pass that crucial 0.3 percent test. If you exceed 0.3 percent; it is no longer considered hemp, under federal law it is marijuana.

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Marijuana legalization first started in Colorado and Washington, and has since gained immense momentum in the efforts to legalize marijuana across the U.S. With new states being added to the roster of recreationally legal marijuana states, such as California, a massive billion-dollar industry is in the process of becoming a reality. With the invention of new products that help safely deliver controlled doses of marijuana to patients, such as more regulated edibles and products, the ideas behind these products are getting more valuable.

The main question is: How do people protect their intellectual property?

Since marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance according to the government, there is a gray area here as to how the ideas and creations can be protected under intellectual property law. Gregg Steiner, spokesperson for Cabinet Garden, said “If the federal government has patents related to cannabis, I don’t see why others can’t also do the same.”

The Real Money: Supply the Equipment, Not the Marijuana

The real money in the marijuana industry could be in selling the machinery and equipment used to process and cultivate marijuana, instead of growing weed itself. This method of entering the marijuana industry allows innovators to have the least legal exposure to the cannabis industry, since they are not actively selling marijuana.

This is how other smoking devices are legal; water bongs can be sold with the disclaimer that it is meant for tobacco use only, when in reality they get used more often for smoking marijuana. Dylan Osborn, founder of GreenBox Grown, says “The safest opportunity is in technology for the cannabis industry.”

Saving Your Strain

One of the most contradicting things about marijuana related intellectual property is the difference in awarding trademarks and patents. The USTPO has granted patents on certain marijuana strains in California, while also denying requests for marijuana-related trademarks.

“The sooner you begin protecting your intellectual property the better, and the same holds true for the cannabis industry,” says Bob Morgan, a policy attorney at Much Shelist. “While trademarks continue to be denied for cannabis-related marks, patents for cannabis products hold promise. In fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently approved a patent for specific cannabis strains for growers in California.”

This is a matter of urgency as new innovations in the marijuana industry are being released daily; innovators want to make sure their ideas as being protected before they are misappropriated in other cannabis markets

It All Started with Hemp

While the news has mainly been focused on efforts to legalize marijuana, the efforts to gain more protection for cannabis intellectual property have also been in debate for some time. As research efforts continue in the hemp industry, the need for more certain intellectual property law as been going on for a while.

“In the United States, the door is open for hemp research,” says Frank Robison, Esq., senior associate at Vicente Sederberg LLC. “While there is debate about scope of permissible activities, the hemp industry should protect its technology.”

Many different research programs are being carried out by partners such as universities. With this, many patents are being issued with regards to claiming a number of aspects of cannabis. On the bright side, the US does remain the safest country in regards to protecting intellectual property for marijuana related issues.

“Getting patents issued for certain categories of technologies is challenging, particularly without data,” Robison says. “Obtaining cannabis research data is more difficult in the United States than countries with more liberal policies. But in the United States, hemp presents an opportunity for innovation, generating data and a clear basis to patent technology.”

Even with the concerns of obtaining cannabis related patents, companies still continue to move forward with innovating. This is extremely visible in the medical marijuana industry where companies continue to strive to develop safer ways to administer the medicine.

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DENVER — Patrons now have a choice between a glass of wine with dinner or some weed.Denver has become the first state in the nation to allow bar owners (who get the approval of their neighbors), offer their customers the option of smoking weed with their dinner. The downside is that they will have to smoke outside.

Proposition 300 in Denver was approved by voters the same day that California along with two other states legalized weed for recreational use and five other states approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. These changes signify an increasing tolerance for pot by the society.

The Denver cannabis consultant and campaign manager for the pot-in-bars measure; Emmett Reistroffer, said “It’s the sensible thing to do.” He adds “This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis.”

This ordinance in Denver is effective immediately although it has a lot of conditions.

Owners interested in participating would have to get their neighbors to agree before they can apply for a license to allow pot use on their premises. Then the customers would have to supply their own pot in order to be in compliance with state laws which do not allow the sale of marijuana and food/ drink at the same establishment.

Customers could consume edible marijuana inside, but not smoke it. The outside smoking is permissible by law, but has restrictions. The law permits establishments such as yoga or art galleries to have weed-smoking sections and also allow them to hold events in which they could serve weed with food and drink. A Denver proponent of the consumption law and spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project; Mason Tvert, stated that tourist would now have a place where they can use marijuana in private and in turn reduce the possibilities of them smoking weed in public places such as sidewalks or parks.

“We are setting up a system that is still more restrictive than what we see with alcohol consumption,” Tvert said.

It could take a while before Denver sees any Amsterdam-style coffee shops considering there is no way to know how many establishments desire to apply for the permits nor how long it would take for them to get their neighbors to agree and receive permits. The ordinance is over in 2020, unless city officials renew the licenses or voters decide to make the measure permanent.

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Almost all small-business owners dream of the day when they can expand nationally. This has proved to be a unique challenge for those in the marijuana industry because the products they create are illegal under federal law, and the checkerboard of states that permit marijuana sales have complex and constantly changing regulations. Dixie Brands, a company in Denver that creates drinks and other products using marijuana, is aiming to navigate those hurdles and become one of the first companies in the industry to build a national presence.

California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved adult-use marijuana. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voted to legalize or expand medical marijuana use. GreenWave Advisors, a financial research and advisory firm based in New York, estimates that marijuana product sales in the United States will be $6.5 billion in 2016 and about $30 billion in 2021 if products derived from marijuana are legalized in all 50 states in some capacity.

The company makes Dixie Elixirs, bottled beverages infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. All are sold at licensed recreational pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries. Because of federal laws on controlled substances, one challenge to expansion is that products cannot cross state lines, so a pot brownie baked in Oregon, for example, cannot be sold in neighboring Washington, even though the product is legal in both places.

Some states require marijuana businesses to be owned by in-state residents, further impeding multistate expansion. When Colorado recently required all marijuana food products to be stamped with a THC symbol, Dixie Brands had to create all new molds for its chocolates and discontinue their Dixie Roll product, which is similar to Tootsie Rolls, because it could not be stamped efficiently. Because of federal laws, marijuana companies cannot open bank accounts, cannot use credit cards and cannot deduct business expenses from their federal taxes. Many companies in the marijuana industry had been started by product aficionados with little business experience.

When recreational marijuana joined medical marijuana as a legal market in Colorado in 2014, they were poised to expand Dixie Brands by adding to their line of products. Two years ago, in their first move outside of the state, the pair found a licensing partner to produce Dixie products in California.

“Our partner wanted to manufacture other companies’ products as well as ours, and we wanted more focus on absolute quality and consistency,” Mr. Smith stated.

“To have total legal, financial and operational control, we decided we would need to control the manufacturing and distribution facilities in any state we expanded to.” To make this happen, Mr. Smith had to find a way to work within regulations that require owners of marijuana businesses to be residents of the state.

A local partner would grow and process the marijuana, but only for Dixie Brands, and only under the company’s strict instructions. Consistent product quality is critical, Mr. Smith said.

“Coca-Cola in Denver and Seattle taste exactly the same, and we want Dixie Elixirs and our other products to have that reputation.” Each new manufacturing site will cost about $2 million, according to Mr. Smith.

The state-based partner will own the marijuana itself and employ the personnel who work with the marijuana in any form: plants, concentrates, finished products and the like.

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According to the latest ‘Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado’ report from the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG); in 2015 Colorado generated a revenue of $2.39 billion from its direct and indirect Cannabis market and created 18,000 jobs. Fifty nine percent of sales revenue was a result of the adult-use/recreational industry, whereas the remaining 49 percent was a result of the medical market.

Of these jobs, a little over 12,000 were a direct result of the marijuana market whereas approximately 5,400 were a result of companies opening (consultant groups, construction companies, security services) in order to support the thriving weed industry. Marijuana sales went up from $699 million in 2014 to $996 million in 2015; sales numbers greater than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries such as Grenada, The Gambia and Samoa.

Tax revenue for marijuana passed casino and gaming tax revenues by 14 percent. Marijuana tax revenue is about three times the size of alcohol tax revenue. The report states the hike in sales is due to a “supply shift away from the black market suppliers towards licensed suppliers,” as opposed to an increase in demand. According to an MPG spokesperson; the researcher came to this conclusion based on a reduction in police complaints about black market marijuana.

According to MPG the dramatic growth of the cannabis industry will evently letup. The research group predicts the market will be saturated by 2020 and market growth to level off between 2 percent and 3 percent. These facts speak volumes as to what nationwide legalization could signify in terms of jobs and tax revenues. Election day will reveal whether or not American’s are ready for this Made-in-America product.

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