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Lessons from the Netherlands for Marijuana Legalization in the US

July 19th

AMSTERDAM — The US states of Colorado and Washington voted last year to legalize marijuana and are moving forward toward implementing legalization. Activists in several states are lining up to try to do the same next year, and an even bigger push will happen in 2016.

With public opinion polls now consistently showing support for pot legalization at or above 50%, it appears that nearly a century of marijuana prohibition in the US is coming to an end.

Exactly how it comes to an end and what will replace it are increasingly important questions as we move from dreaming of legalization to actually making it happen. The Netherlands, which for decades now has allowed open marijuana consumption and sales at its famous coffee shops, provides some salutary lessons — if reformers, state officials, and politicians are willing to heed them.

To be clear, the Dutch have not legalized marijuana. The marijuana laws remain on the books, but are essentially overridden by the Dutch policy of “pragmatic tolerance,” at least as far as possession and regulated sales are concerned. Cultivation is a different matter, and that has proven the Achilles Heel of Dutch pot policy. Holland’s failure to allow for a system of legal supply for the coffee shops leaves shop owners to deal with illegal marijuana su. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado Releases Marijuana Growing, Sales Regulations

July 1st

DENVER, CO – Detailed rules for how recreational marijuana in Colorado should be grown and sold starting next year were released Monday.

The state department that will regulate marijuana released more than 60 pages of rules for how marijuana sales will be licensed and regulated. The Colorado Legislature set broad parameters earlier this year, but many nitty-gritty rules were left to the Department of Revenue.

Marijuana possession by adults has been legal since last December in Colorado, but retail sales don’t begin until January. The voter-approved marijuana legalization measure adopted last year required the department to release rules by July 1. The rules released Monday don’t apply to medical marijuana dispensaries.

The rules require labels to include potency, expiration dates and a disclaimer that marijuana isn’t legal outside Colorado and hasn’t been safety-tested.

Recreational marijuana will also come with the disclaimer that “there may be health risks associated with the consumption of this product.”

Marijuana labels won’t be allowed to make claims that the product brings any health benefit.

The rules also detail exact specifications for who can work in marijuana businesses and how the drug can be transported and stored.

The department’s rules indicate it plans to establish seed-to-sa. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado Governor Signs Law Regulating State Hemp Production

June 15th

DENVER, CO — Governor John Hickenlooper has signed legislation, Senate Bill 241, into law creating a new program within the Department of Agriculture to oversee the regulation of commercial hemp production.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Senate Bill 241 classifies cannabis possessing no more than three-tenths of one percent THC as an agricultural commodity and establishes a 9-member committee within the state Department of Agriculture to oversee the creation of regulations governing the licensed cultivation of hemp for commercial and research purposes. The Department must adopt regulations for the new program no later than March 1, 2014.

Unlike similar laws enacted in other states, SB 241 does not mandate farmers seeking state-issued hemp cultivation licenses to also seek federal approval. The federal Controlled Substances Act makes no legal distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp.

Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to e. . . . . READ MORE

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Judge Strikes Down Colorado Rule Restricting Marijuana Magazine Sales

June 12th

DENVER, CO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a provision of Colorado’s marijuana legalization law that would have required stores to sell cannabis-themed publications behind the counter, like pornography.

Magazine publishers and bookstores had filed a lawsuit against the state last week, arguing that the measure, passed by the Colorado legislature this spring, should be overturned before it takes effect on July 1.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch’s ruling came a day after the state attorney general’s office, which would have defended the measure in court, agreed with the plaintiffs that it was unconstitutional.

“The defendants have conceded the invalidity of the code provision cited in the complaints,” Matsch said in his order granting a permanent injunction.

Colorado voters approved the recreational use of marijuana by adults last fall and charged lawmakers with setting up regulations to sell and tax cannabis products.

Supporters of the behind-the-counter provision said it was aimed at reducing juveniles’ exposure to the material.

But publi. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado “Pot as Porn” Magazine Restriction Declared Unconstitutional

June 9th

DENVER, CO — The Colorado legislature’s plan to require marijuana related magazines to be treated as pornography and displayed behind the counter went up in smoke Thursday when Attorney General John Suthers said the provision was unconstitutional and would be ignored.

“No magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses is required to be sold only in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under twenty-one years of age are present, because such a requirement would violate the United States Constitution, the Colorado Constitution, and section 24-4-103(4)(a.5)(IV), C.R.S,” the Attorney General’s office said in a statement Thursday.

The unusual provision to treat pot magazines like pornography was a late amendment introduced by Republican Rep. Bob Gardner to Colorado’s bill to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults, making Colorado the first — and only — state to require stores that allow entry to shoppers under age 21 to place pot magazines behind the counter.

“We applaud the Attorney General’s decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“The idea that stores can prominently display ma. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado “Pot as Porn” Magazine Restriction Declared Unconstitutional

June 8th

DENVER, CO — The Colorado legislature’s plan to require marijuana related magazines to be treated as pornography and displayed behind the counter went up in smoke Thursday when Attorney General John Suthers said the provision was unconstitutional and would be ignored.

“No magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses is required to be sold only in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under twenty-one years of age are present, because such a requirement would violate the United States Constitution, the Colorado Constitution, and section 24-4-103(4)(a.5)(IV), C.R.S,” the Attorney General’s office said in a statement Thursday.

The unusual provision to treat pot magazines like pornography was a late amendment introduced by Republican Rep. Bob Gardner to Colorado’s bill to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults, making Colorado the first — and only — state to require stores that allow entry to shoppers under age 21 to place pot magazines behind the counter.

“We applaud the Attorney General’s decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“The idea that stores can prominently display ma. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado Law Enforcement Applauds Historic Marijuana Regulations

May 29th

DENVER – A group of law enforcement officials is celebrating today after Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper signed six bills establishing a regulatory framework for the state’s newly legalized marijuana market into law Tuesday.

LEAPThe bills are the result of months of work of a specially appointed task force that looked into the issue and made recommendations for how to implement the proposition legalizing marijuana voters overwhelmingly approved last November.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs, while not endorsing all measures called for in the bills, was optimistic about the future of legalized regulation in Colorado.

“Yesterday Colorado became the first place in history to implement full taxation and regulation of marijuana,” said former judge Leonard Frieling, a LEAP speaker. “Taxpayers win under this system. Courts win und. . . . . READ MORE

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The Highs (and Lows) of Colorado’s Recreational Marijuana Laws

May 29th

For the first year, only established medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to offer marijuana to adults.

For the few months, only established medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to offer marijuana to adults.

DENVER, CO — Colorado’s governor signed six marijuana regulatory bills into law Tuesday while the state awaits a federal response to recreational marijuana legalization.

The new laws seek to regulate legalized cannabis and keep it away from children, without being so strict that marijuana sales stay in the black market.

Some highlights from Colorado’s new cannabis laws:

YOU CAN COME BUY IT, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE IT HOME

Visitors to Colorado will have purchasing limits of a quarter-ounce of marijuana in a single transaction. The law doesn’t ban adults over 21 from possessing a full ounce, residents or not. But the purchasing limits w. . . . . READ MORE

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Governor Hickenlooper Signs Bills Regulating Marijuana for Adult Use

May 29th

marijuana money

DENVER— Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation Tuesday that continue the reform of marijuana laws in Colorado, set in motion last November by the voters of the state.

Once voters made it clear that marijuana prohibition must end, Hickenlooper established a task force of various stakeholder communities to provide guidance for the general assembly to enact legislation to implement Amendment 64.  The task force recommendations became the basis of the work of a select legislative committee that devised the bills signed today by the Governor.

“Despite not supporting Amendment 64, our Governor has shown true leadership by ensuring his office and the general assembly implemented the will of the voters,” said Art Way, senior drug policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.  “These implementing pieces of legislation signed by the governor are the beginning of statewide efforts to bring marijuana above ground in a mann. . . . . READ MORE

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Colorado Gov. to Sign Marijuana Tax and Regulation Bills Today

May 28th

Colorado Amendment 64 victory celebration, November 2012.

Colorado Amendment 64 victory celebration, November 2012.

DENVER, CO —  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign a series of bills Tuesday that will tax and regulate marijuana as approved by voters in Colorado.

The legislature was charged with creating the rules and regulations for the recreational cannabis industry when voters approved the marijuana legalization Amendment 64 last November, and finalized those regulations in early May.

The bills will establish, among other things, the regulations regarding how marijuana should be grown, packaged and sold.  The bills also include a law giving the voters the option of imposing a 25% tax on recreational cannabis, a bill to create new impaired driving limits, and a bill allowing marijuana businesses in Colorado to claim certain business deductions at the state tax level.

The marijuana regulation bills, READ MORE

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