Just in time to be considered a belated birthday gift, LeGarrette Blount, who turned 28 last week, dodged a potential 30 day sentence in a Pittsburgh court Wednesday.
In August, Blount and teammate at the time, Le’Veon Bell, were pulled over while en route to the airport. During the traffic stop, officers found just over one-half-ounce of cannabis, and both players were arrested for marijuana possession.
Blount went before the judge yesterday, and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service. All hours must be completed by February 4, 2015, and if he abides, his misdemeanor marijuana charge will be wiped from his record. Certain forms of medical marijuana have been legalized in Pennsylvania, but recreational marijuana use is still very illegal. The amount of marijuana Blount was found with could have resulted in a misdemeanor charge with 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Now the NFL will decide if Blount will receive any disciplinary action from the league. The NFL marijuana policy strings were loosened just a little in the revised edition of the Policy and Program on Substances for Abuse, but Blount still may be fined or suspended for a game. According to league policy, he may now, also, be drug tested up to 10 times per month, without warning.
photo credit: uproxx
One of the largest obstacles facing the legitimization of the cannabis industry in Colorado, today, is the issue of banking. Since marijuana is still federally illegal, and classified as a scheduled I drug in the United States, banks will not do business with even legally operating marijuana dispensaries. Dispensaries have encountered issues with all banking aspects from employee payroll and revenue deposits to ATM and credit card access and more.
By next month, this problem may find a solution in the Fourth Corner Credit Union, an institution that will offer marijuana dispensaries bank access, allowing the ability to make cash deposits as well as electronic transfers. In other words, marijuana dispensaries operating within Colorado regulations may finally be permitted to operate in the same manner as any other legitimate business.
On November 19, Fourth Corner Credit Union was granted a charter in Colorado. The bank will need to secure a master account number from the Federal Reserve before it can move forward. It is, reportedly, likely that the credit union will receive the needed number, giving it access to electronic banking, because the Federal Reserve is required to issue accounts to organizations that have received charters from the state. Once a master account number is received, the final steps before opening doors will be to secure insurance and a space in which to operate.
So far this year, when both recreational and medical totals are combined, over $60 million in marijuana sales, taxes, licenses and fees have been collected in the state of Colorado. Most of that money has been represented in cash, and dispensaries desperately need a safe and reliable institution in which to deposit that cash. Having a reliable bank will also allow for electronic money to be collected more when debit and credit cards are able to process marijuana dispensary purchases.
photo credit: Huffington Post
Eight United States Postal Service workers from a facility in Bethpage, NY are in custody today for intercepting and stealing mailed packages of marijuana.
Over 129 pounds of cannabis was recovered from this operation, but that was just a portion of what was intercepted from over 260 marijuana packages that have been processed at the Long Island Priority Mail sorting plant since May of this year.
Federal investigators were first clued in to this operation because of three large, empty packages that were left in the backyard of an abandoned house. Those empty boxes were tracked back to the Bethpage facility where packages of this size are processed and sorted in a alarm-protected part of the plant. When law enforcement investigated further, it was uncovered that the alarm had been disabled for months.
Luckily for investigators, the facility was equipped with security cameras, and all footage was readily available. The security videos clearly displayed the eight facility employees removing the packages from the plant after working hours.
The intercepted packages were reportedly originating mostly from California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon, and obviously the senders did not report their illegal marijuana packages stolen.
photo credit: Aljazeera
As legalized marijuana continues to pick up steam in the United States, Mexico and it’s drug cartels are beginning to feel the effects. Larger quantities of marijuana are now being produced domestically, which is dropping the demand for Mexican weed.
Nabor is a 24-year-old pot grower in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. In a recent interview with NPR, he told them, “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90.” Now Nabor is only bringing in $30 to $40 per kilo, half or even a third of what he could have raked in before. Nabor says that if the United States continues the trend of legalization, it will put him out of business.
Nabor has been growing weed since the ripe age of 14. He talked with NPR about the dangers of growing the still-illegal plant, saying “If the army comes, you have to run or they’ll grab you.” And the risk is just barely outweighing the rewards already. Nabor says that when the $40 per kilo price drops to $20 per kilo, they will no longer be able to make money.
In a November 2012 study, the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness predicted up to a 30 percent decline in Mexican weed prices due to US decriminalization.
High times editor Daniel Vinkovetsky told NPR, “American pot smokers prefer American domestically grown marijuana to Mexican grown marijuana.” The higher quality, soaring potency, and legal access all factor in to why we’re buying American grown. The cheap Mexican weed is not cured or trimmed like American weed, is of much lower quality, and is usually compressed in order to smuggle it across the boarder.
Lawrence Payne, spokesman for the DEA says that it doesn’t stop there. Payne is reporting that now the demand has shifted, and some Mexican residents are purchasing legal weed from Colorado and smuggling it back south. The hope for Mexicans and Americans alike is to put an end to cartel violence. Whether US decriminalization can do that or not is still an open question.
The first ever cannabis symposium in Aspen, CO wrapped up Sunday after a weekend of cannabis culture, lifestyle, business and community at the Sky Hotel. Industry enthusiasts and professionals came together with law and science at the Cannabis Grand Cru to discuss the importance of foundation in this newly budding industry.
The intimate setting inspired a sense of unity, encouraging a laid-back vibe of positivity and hope throughout the entire event where the speakers and panelists were approachable, and just as excited as the attendees. This is a group of not-so-average looking, free thinking, educated and experienced enthusiasts and professionals of all ages who are playing key roles in the establishment of a new, more impressive cannabis culture that steers clear of the stoner stereotype, without trying to glamorize the industry.
The whole event was bigger than just legalization. It was about education and ideas for policy reform with an unintentional focus on what is best for the industry in terms of sustainability and the big picture. The cannabis industry is still in stages of infancy, and this like-minded group realizes they are building it from the ground floor.
Listed below are four things that I learned from attending the inaugural Cannabis Grand Cru.
1. Everyone wants to eliminate the stoner stereotype.
The stoner stereotype, exemplified by Sean Penn’s character Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High has been associated with cannabis use for decades, but that just is not a realistic picture of cannabis users today. Not every person who uses the plant can be identified by looks, profession, race, or gender, and it is important that the world erase that negative perception from memory in order to move forward. Plenty of professional, extremely successful people use cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Many of the United States report greater than sixty percent of the population having used cannabis at least once, while the lowest reported was still forty percent of the population. There is so much more to this cannabis culture that is finally able to come out because it is no longer being forced underground. In the future, there will be no stereotypical cannabis user because this culture sees no barriers.
2. Soon enough, scientists will be able to design and breed your ideal cannabis plant.
Have you ever wished you could combine qualities from one plant with qualities of another to make your ideal cannabis strain? That may be a reality in the future because evolutionary biologist and cannabis genetics expert, Dr. Daniela Vergara, has teamed up with evolutional biologist, Dr. Nolan Kane to study the genetic make-up of the cannabis plant at Colorado University, Boulder. The genetic DNA of more commonly grown cash-crops like corn, rice and wheat are already charted, but this information has not been properly developed for cannabis. The work of these two evolutionary biologists will identify which chromosome is responsible for which displayed plant traits from the height, shape, and color of the plant and flowers all the way to which chromosome is responsible for creating feelings of euphoria, body tingling, dry-mouth, etc. in users. This will revolutionize cannabis breeding, and create the opportunity to isolate the desired chromosomes from the ones less desired by consumers in all realms medicinal, recreational, and industrial. This will especially be a huge breakthrough in the world of medicinal uses because plants will be able to be tailored to treat each specific medical condition.
3. Cannabis-culture language and branding will play a defining role in the cannabis-culture shift.
This sizable sample of cannabis industry enthusiasts and professionals are equally aware, perhaps even unintentionally, of the importance of appropriately representing the emergence of a culture being reborn. A noticeable shift in language was observed in the presentations, panels and seiminars of the weekend, as well as in attendee conversation. For example, people used words like ‘medicate’ and ‘consumption,’ rather than the widely known term ‘getting high’ when referring to using all forms of cannabis. It is important to convey the real spirit of the plant to move forward, rather than continue using terms coined during the Reefer-Madness era. This is demonstrated in emerging words like cannatrade and canna-consumers, as well as the conscious effort being made to use the plant’s real name, Cannabis, in place of derogatory slang like pot and weed.
A focus on shifting cannabis branding down a more mature path was also apparent throughout the symposium as discussions and brainstorming sessions were lead on ways to shift street culture from the negative stoner-stereotype to the all-encompassing, boundary-less possibilities of the future. For example, cannabis product and accessory packaging and marketing is being steered more towards professional and even boutique, and further away from the days of plastic baggies. My only hope is that the good-word being spoken by these brave men and women who have only the best of interests at heart are heard before the likes of Big Pharma flank them with a hostile takeover.
4. Cannabis unites people from all walks of life.
The ages of people united by the first Cannabis Grand Cru spanned decades, and all generations were well-represented. There were people from all ages dressed in all possible attire, from sharp and classy in business suites all the way to comfortable and practical in ski pants and hoodies. Both retired and active law-enforcement was represented through the nearly seventy-year-old, retired Pitkin County Sheriff friend of Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Braudis, and the wise Joe DiSalvo, current Pitkin County Sheriff. Professional athletes were also personified in world champion mountain biker and panelist, Miles Rockwell, who has a felony record for cannabis cultivation, and also in attendance was Adam Lavender, the professional mountain biker who suffered a paralyzing spinal chord injury during a downhill race. Pro-cannabis advocates like John Hunt of Grimey Gatsby and Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project also graced the conference with their well-spoken, educated articulation of thought in participation with dispensary owners from Denver’s Wellspring Collective and Aspen’s own Silverpeak Apothecary. Younger representatives emerged to personify the new frontier of advocacy in the MassRoots and Cannabis Commodities Exchange teams.
Those named above do not even begin to scratch the surface on the impressive roster of symposium participants, but it does demonstrate how the cannabis culture knows no boundaries. Cannabis is one of the only common pleasures shared among people of all ages, race, religion, gender, profession and background, and may be even be a symbol of hope for a future of unity and coexistence in the world.