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The Colorado Board of Health voted 6-2 — amid shouts, hisses and boos from a packed house — not to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the medical conditions that can be treated under the state’s medical marijuana program.

The board voted Wednesday against the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer.

A dozen of the veterans who testified said cannabis has saved their lives. Many said drugs legally prescribed to them for PTSD at veterans clinics or by other doctors — antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids and others — nearly killed them or robbed them of quality of life.

“It is our brothers and sisters who are committing suicide every day. We know cannabis can help. We’re not going to go away,” said John Evans, director of Veterans 4 Freedoms.

“We’ve legalized it,” Evans said. “We’ll take the tax dollars from our tourists (for recreational marijuana) before we’ll help our vets.”

The president of the nine-member board, Tony Cappello, an epidemiologist, said he could not vote to approve pot’s use for PTSD because scientific evidence does not support it. Most board members agreed that mountains of anecdotal evidence aren’t enough. One board member was absent.

“I’m struggling with the science piece,” board member Dr. Christopher Stanley said.

The American and Colorado psychiatric associations do not support it, said board member Dr. Ray Estacio, an internist at Denver Health and associate professor in medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.

But board member Joan Sowinski, an environmental and occupational health consultant, said the testimony from veterans and other PTSD sufferers was so persuasive — as was recent research about symptoms reduction — that she could support it. Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, an Eagle County commissioner, was the only other yes vote.

“Blood is on your hands,” one audience member shouted after the board voted not to make Colorado the 10th state to allow medicinal marijuana use for PTSD.

The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Larry Wolk, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, recommended the state add the condition. He suggested a provision that would cause the issue to be re-examined in four years, after two state-funded studies produced results.

via Colorado board votes no on allowing medical marijuana for PTSD – The Denver Post.

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Should marijuana businesses pay tax on gross profits or net profits? It sounds like a silly question. Virtually every business in every country pays tax only on net profits, after expenses. But the topsy-turvy rules for marijuana seem to defy logic. And taxes are clearly a big topic these days under both federal and burgeoning state law.

Many observers and legislators suggested that legalizing marijuana would mean huge tax revenues. With legalized medical marijuana now giving way to more and more states legalizing recreational use, the cash hauls look ever more alluring. Washington state regulators say the state collected $65 million in first-year taxes from recreational marijuana sales in just 12 months on cannabis sales of over $260 million from June 2014 to June 2015. In Colorado, the governor’s office estimated that it would collect $100 million in taxes from the first year of recreational marijuana.

via Big Court Defeat For Marijuana Despite Record Tax Harvests – Forbes.

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CBA Happy Hour

Please join the

Cannabis Business Alliance

for happy hour!

We will be discussing the CBA and the policy
issues we are working on at the local and state level.



July 29, 2015
From 5pm to 7pm

1433 17th Street in Denver

(Bourbon Room)

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As the number of medical marijuana shops and dispensary-related crimes in Colorado Springs has fallen over the past five years, medical pot tax revenue in El Paso County has soared.

Data from the city of Colorado Springs, its police department and the Colorado Department of Revenue show interesting trends as the marijuana industry matures amid growing pains that have attracted national attention, including the cash-only nature of the business.

In June 2010, Colorado Springs had 303 unique addresses or locations associated with medical marijuana licenses. Medical marijuana stores and growers were the targets of burglaries or attempted burglaries 42 times that year.

- Will marijuana be allowed in Denver bars, clubs?

Now, the city has roughly half as many unique licensed locations and almost nonexistent burglaries.

As of June 26, Colorado Springs had 152 actively licensed locations dealing with medical marijuana. Twenty more are pending. Burglars have attempted or succeeded to steal from such businesses four times this year, as of mid-June.

“One of the reasons that has gone down significantly is because of the surveillance and safety precautions medical marijuana dispensaries have put in place, such as locks and bars on the windows,” said Lt. Catherine Buckley, Colorado Springs police spokeswoman. “We call it ‘target hardening.’”

But it’s also a sign that the industry is getting stronger, said a Colorado Springs economist. Tom Binnings, a senior partner at Summit Economics, LLC, said he predicted El Paso County’s tax revenue from medical marijuana would top $2 million this year based on tax revenue collected through April. That’s more than double what the local businesses brought in during fiscal year 2011-2012, when revenue was just less than $1 million.

Recreational marijuana isn’t sold inside Colorado Springs city limits, and revenue data reflects only medical marijuana taxes.

In new industries, it’s common for the market to be saturated at first with everyone wanting a piece of what potentially could be a great business venture, Binnings said. Everyone jumps in right away, and weaker players are weeded out gradually.

The “washout” was completed by 2012, Binnings said, when the number of Colorado Springs locations with marijuana licenses bottomed out at 127. Since then, the number of licenses and licensed locations has slowly but steadily increased. Tax revenue continues to climb.

Decreased crime is another indicator to Binnings that the industry is growing up.

“To me, that’s a pretty clear indication that the industry has gotten much more sophisticated, and the burglars know it,” he said. “They have learned to mitigate that risk and it’s not worthwhile.”

via Fewer crimes, more revenue as medical marijuana industry stabilizes in Colorado Springs.

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With so little scientific evidence that medical marijuana does what it is purported to do, it may be time to retire the medical model — at least in states like Colorado where marijuana can be legally purchased by any adult.

A recently released comprehensive review of dozens of clinical trials on medical marijuana found scant reliable evidence to support the drug’s use for all but a handful of maladies.

Medical marijuana proponents argue the results don’t tell the whole story because of federal barriers to legitimate research. That may be true. Both the state and feds should support and encourage more research so decisions around medical pot can be guided by high-quality evidence.

Nor do we discount the sincerity of the many personal testimonials regarding medical pot across a range of conditions.

Nonetheless, an editorial by Yale University physicians that accompanied the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association pointed out that states have generally approved medical marijuana use by relying on “low-quality scientific evidence, anecdotal reports, individual testimonials, legislative initiatives and public opinion.”

Imagine if other drugs were approved this way, said the editorial, observing that medical marijuana fails to meet the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for most conditions.

Critics have long suspected that medical claims were mostly a ruse to legalize weed. If that is not the case, then medical pot should be able to prove its efficacy through the same research methods as every other medicine.

This JAMA review of 79 trials involving nearly 6,500 patients concluded medical pot helped with specific pain syndromes and spasticity from multiple sclerosis. But there was poor evidence it is good for other conditions that make up most medical marijuana programs. And meanwhile, patients suffered side effects with disturbing frequency.

Colorado is spending money on its own research. And the Obama administration has lifted some barriers to federal studies. However, if research continues to find pot is useless for many of the maladies for which it is used, states will want to revisit the extent of their support for it.

Colorado’s Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in 2000, lists several “debilitating medical conditions” — such as glaucoma — for which there is still apparently little or no good evidence of a true benefit. And while it would be extremely difficult to change the measure, that doesn’t mean the possibility shouldn’t be discussed.

via Moment of truth for medical marijuana – The Denver Post.

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The state of Colorado was the first in the modern world to plow ahead into the unknown depths of legal, regulated recreational marijuana, and its experiment with retail pot has been considered so successful that many within the cannabis industry refer to what is known as “the Colorado model.”

But there are still a number of unresolved issues in the state — including a severe lacking of spaces where locals and tourists alike can actually legally consume the weed they’re buying.

With public consumption being one of the most contentious issues in Colorado pot, marijuana editor Ricardo Baca asked University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin – known for his expertise in cannabis law – about his opinion on the subject.

Does Colorado need to allow pot clubs or marijuana bars, so tourists and locals alike have a safe and legal place to consume?

“Some people can’t even smoke in their homes, right, so there may be no legal place for some people to smoke, and that’s just not what the voters voted for,” Kamin said while on The Cannabist Show. “What they voted for was to treat (marijuana) like alcohol, and alcohol means there’s places to do it.”

Hear more of Kamin’s thought process in the above video.

via Pot law expert: Colorado needs space for public consumption.

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Despite medical marijuana’s unquestionable worldwide momentum, it hasn’t yet been proven scientifically to remedy most of the conditions governments have authorized it to treat, according to an influential new analysis of existing research.

While pro-legalization advocates don’t disagree with the analysis’ findings, they point out that the barriers to legitimate research on cannabis’ medical efficacy have been so substantial in the U.S. that President Barack Obama’s administration this week slashed some of those bureaucratic hurdles in a historic action — and yet marijuana still remains more difficult to study than cocaine or heroin.

via Amid debate on medical marijuana research, Colorado taking charge.

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It’s been a little over a year since Colorado began allowing stores to sell marijuana for recreational use and the market continues to grow rapidly. But there are clouds (ahem) on the horizon.

Nicholas Colas and his team at Convergex, a global brokerage company based in New York, surveyed a number of marijuana stores in Colorado last week to get a better picture of the state of the nascent market.

What they found was that prices are declining faster than some had expected, while the number of people visiting the stores has increased.

via This Survey Says That Marijuana Prices Are Crashing in Colorado – Bloomberg Business.

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It took the Colorado Supreme Court a year to come up with the ruling, issued on Monday, that upheld the firing of a man who used medical marijuana legally under state law to help ease the pain he has suffered since a car accident left him paralyzed. A lot of that time had to be devoted to twisting the logic behind the decision.

There has been a lot of speculation about what the ruling means for Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, and other states that have permitted the use of marijuana for medical, and in a few cases, recreational, purposes.

But really it only makes one thing clear: the only solution to the pointless and profoundly damaging marijuana prohibition in this country is a federal solution. As long as the federal government continues not only to outlaw marijuana, but to classify it as one of the most dangerous narcotics, anti-prohibition efforts in states are subject to the sort of capricious ruling issued in Colorado.

In this case, Dish Network fired a worker, Brandon Coats, in 2010 after he underwent a random drug test that showed he was using marijuana. Mr. Coats said he used the drug away from his place of employment and during his own time, and claimed protection from a state law that prohibits firing workers for conducting “any lawful activity” outside the workplace.

Marijuana was legal for medical purposes in 2010 with the proper authorization, which Mr. Coats had. But the court said the law only applied to activities that were legal under both state and federal law.

There are signs that the ice is starting to crack a bit in Washington. In June, the conservative-dominated House of Representatives voted 242-186 to prevent the federal government from blocking states that want to permit medical use of marijuana.

But the country needs a real solution on this issue and that will only come when Congress repeals the federal marijuana laws, which have no real grounding in medicine or logic, and are racist in their application – destroying the lives of millions of African-Americans while having almost no impact on white Americans, who smoke pot with the same frequency.

States could then regulate, or ban, marijuana use as they chose, and localities could refuse to permit marijuana growing or sale within their borders, as some in Colorado now do.

This should not be a partisan issue. In fact, right-wing Republicans who claim to be modern-day Federalists should lead the demand for an end to marijuana prohibition.

via Colorado’s Unjust Marijuana Ruling –

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DENVER — Even in one of the country’s most marijuana-friendly states, smoking pot off the job and away from work can still get an employee fired.

That was the unanimous conclusion of the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday, in a closely watched workplace lawsuit involving a customer service worker who uses medical marijuana to help soothe the painful spasms he has suffered since a car accident left him paralyzed. The worker, Brandon Coats, was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test.

The court’s decision was a blow to marijuana advocates, who have consistently seen court rulings go against them, with judges in Colorado and elsewhere saying that companies have the right to create their own drug policies. The loss by Mr. Coats highlights the limits of marijuana legalization at a time when more states are approving medical or recreational uses of a drug that is still outlawed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government.

“The federal government has in many ways the last say,” said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver who studies legal issues swirling around marijuana’s growing place in society. “As long as that federal prohibition is in place, the states can only do so much.”

Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana, and Colorado is one of four that have legalized the drug’s recreational use for adults. But Colorado is now confronting a backlash from two neighboring states, sheriffs, rural property owners and a hotel company who argue in separate lawsuits that Colorado’s network of state-licensed marijuana retailers and dispensaries is illegal, bad for property values and public safety, and should be dismantled.

In another backlash, dozens of cities in Colorado and Washington State have banned marijuana dispensaries from their limits.

Despite those conflicts, the regulated marijuana industry has become a presence here. There are marijuana-themed yoga classes, cooking seminars and gallery events, and the state is taking in millions in tax dollars from marijuana sellers. Federal law enforcement officials have largely allowed states to proceed with their efforts to regulate medical and recreational marijuana.

But the federal prohibitions on the drug have made it difficult for dispensaries and regulated growers to get bank accounts or lines of credit, and have forced marijuana businesses to pay abnormally high tax bills. Marijuana advocates said the court’s ruling on Monday highlighted the legal gray areas where marijuana intersects with employment law and other matters, such as custody disputes and housing cases.

Lawyers for Mr. Coats argued that his medical marijuana use should have been covered by a Colorado law aimed largely at protecting smokers from being fired. It says that employers may not fire workers for “any lawful activity” outside the workplace.

Mr. Coats, who said that marijuana had worked “like a miracle,” had a medical marijuana card from the state, and said he smoked only at home, away from work, and that his use did not affect his job performance answering calls from cable-service customers.


Continue reading the main story


Continue reading the main story


Continue reading the main story

But though marijuana may be legally grown in basements here and sold in downtown Denver dispensaries, the state’s high court ruled that the clash in state and federal laws meant that Mr. Coats’s use was not “lawful.”

“Employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute,” Justice Allison H. Eid wrote in the court’s 6-to-0 decision.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling upheld two lower-court decisions. In a statement, Mr. Coats’s lawyer, Michael Evans, said that the decision was “devastating,” but that it at least clarified the boundaries of marijuana use for employees.

Lawyers said the ruling could have wide ripples in Colorado. Cathy Klein, a lawyer in the Denver area, represents a nurse who was fired after testing positive for marijuana. Ms. Klein said that the state nursing board has been trying to order her client into a drug treatment program, and that Monday’s decision would reinforce societal images of marijuana users as low-level criminals.

“The fact that it is a crime under federal law, that part of the decision is going to be persuasive,” she said.

via Workers Can Be Fired for Marijuana Use, Colorado Court Rules – The New York Times.

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