Denver City Council Monday night passed a historic bill that sets the rules and regulations for the retail marijuana industry in the state’s largest city. Most other big municipalities around Colorado have taken a time-out from setting their own regulations with many opting out to see how Denver’s system will work. Denver also was the first to take on medical marijuana regulations.
“The whole world is watching, not just the country,” said Councilman Charlie Brown, who led the council committee on the issue. “There will be some changes. It is a work in progress. We did what we could, but this is a huge unknown.”
Brown said he wants to hold another meeting with Denver’s police chief, the manager of parks and recreation and some municipal judges to talk about how to enforce the laws against public marijuana consumption.
Several council members were upset after a free. . . . . READ MORE
In four months, adults in Colorado will be able to walk into a store, plunk down cash and leave with a drug that used to land people in prison. No one, though, is sure what the future holds. Will the new industry damage the state’s reputation, grow the drug culture, spread marijuana into neighboring states, intoxicate young people and spur more crime? Or will it bring an unrecognizable change, produce needed tax revenue, drive a stake in marijuana’s black market and extinguish unnecessary prosecutions?
“It’s like being sucked into a black hole. What is going to be on the other side? No one knows,” said Ry Prichard, part-owner of a hash oil company, TC Labs.
During the first week of January, when the first stores are expected to open in Denver, the world’s media will probably descend on Colorado to document the occasion.
Lines that form in the state for everything from new doughnut shops to ski sales are expected to wrap around businesses as customers queue up for the first buds.
Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher disagrees with Mayor Michael Hancock’s recreational marijuana tax target, arguing the city should seek a starting tax rate of 3.5 percent instead of the mayor’s suggested 5 percent tax rate.
Gallagher warned Denver City Council members in a letter sent to Councilman Charlie Brown Monday, that the city’s 5 percent tax rate plan risks sending users back to the “dark shadows of the black market.”
“He wants the city to be very careful about not putting too much of a tax on it, because you (could) then defeat the purpose of what Amendment 64 was meant to do, which is not buying on the black market,” said Denis Berckefeldt, spokesman for the auditor.
The city expects it will have to spend about $9.4 million on education, enforcement and regulation of the pot industry, for which the tax would compensate.
The council will determine a starting tax rate and ceiling at its meeting Monday. The city will then pose those rates to voters in November. If approved, the council can raise the recreational marijuana tax rate to the determined ca. . . . . READ MORE
It’s not every day that a former Microsoft executive holds a press conference to announce his new venture into the exciting and profitable world of drug dealing. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this month when Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, announced that he wants to create the equivalent of Starbucks in the newly legalized pot industry in Washington state.
All this is happening at the same time that the Washington State Liquor Control Board is looking to finalize rules on the new, legal marijuana industry. And one of the major debates right now among board members is how much they ought to prevent or encourage the kind of market consolidation in which a few firms dominate the whole industry.
As Chris Marr of the Liquor Control Board argued, “How do you prevent a Microsoft millionaire from getting this idea and deciding that — playing by the rules — they’re going to dominate the market?” And if that is the concern, what can economics inform us about how this new market should be set up?
To provide some background, voters in Washington state passed Initiative 502 . . . . . READ MORE
“It’s really easy to get,” said Cara Wanek, 25, who says she uses it to calm her anxiety, boost her appetite and help her sleep. “And it’s delicious.” That’s exactly what Illinois is trying to avoid. While Colorado is not quite the Wild West of medical marijuana, it offers a window into the opportunities and consequences that arise when a state allows the legal sale of a long-banned drug.
The state’s therapeutic cannabis industry launched in earnest in late 2009, triggering a “green rush” that boosted the state’s economy. Big Marijuana added thousands of new jobs, revitalized aging industrial warehouses and shuttered storefronts, and generated millions of tax dollars for the federal, state and local governments.
At the same time, state officials acknowledge they were unprepared to license, inspect and regulate medical marijuana businesses, leaving millions of fees and taxes uncollected and a significant swath of the industry unchec. . . . . READ MORE