A senator from Mexico’s ruling party who will soon be a key member of the incoming president’s cabinet filed a bill to legalize marijuana production and sales on Tuesday.
The move comes less than one week after the Mexican Supreme Court struck down the country’s criminalization of cannabis use and possession as unconstitutional.
Under the proposed General Law for the Regulation and Control of Marijuana, introduced by Olga Sánchez Cordero, a senator who is expected to become interior secretary in the government of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it would be legal to use, possess, cultivate and sell of cannabis, subject to regulations.
The legislation would create a new Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis under the country’s Ministry of Health, which would issue licenses and permits for marijuana cultivation, harvesting, transportation, processing and sales.
Individuals would be allow to grow up to 20 mature cannabis plants for personal consumption on private property. They would be limited to producing 480 grams of marijuana per year, and would have to register plants with regulators.
People who require greater amounts of cannabis for medical use would be able to request permits.
Selling or giving marijuana products to people under the age of 18 would be prohibited.
Last month, Sánchez and other members of López Obrador’s incoming cabinet discussed legalizing cannabis with Canadian government officials on a trip to that country, which ended prohibition of cannabis on October 17.
López Obrador takes office as president on December 1.
Meanwhile, several U.S states are voting on marijuana ballot measures on Tuesday.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Key Mexican Senator Introduces Bill To Legalize Marijuana Sales
New data from the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, released last week, shows that arrests for marijuana-related infractions in the nation’s capital rose substantially again from 2016 to 2017. In particular, busts for distribution have skyrocketed, while huge racial disparities in arrests continue unabated.
A total of 926 people were arrested for cannabis crimes in Washington, D.C. in 2017, up 37 percent from 676 in 2016.
The numbers had fallen dramatically in 2014 and 2015 after the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment went into effect in July 2014 and Initiative 71 went into effect in February 2015. The Amendment, approved by the D.C. Council in July 2014, decriminalized possession of up to one ounce. The Initiative, approved by 65 percent of voters that November, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants and “gift” up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult.
But sales remain banned despite support from a majority of councilmembers and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). That’s because Congress continues to attach language to annual funding bills that prevents D.C. from spending its own money to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade.
Overall marijuana arrests in the District have steadily increased in the two years since the initial drops following decriminalization and limited legalization, and a Marijuana Moment analysis of the new data shows that the rise appears to be related to the lack of a legal supply chain for cannabis.
In 2015, only 323 people were arrested for marijuana possession, consumption or distribution. In 2016, that number doubled, and 2017 arrests are nearly triple what they were in 2015. While not anywhere close to pre-decriminalization 2012 or 2013 numbers, the trend is unmistakable.
Types of Arrests
Strikingly, the type of charges made for cannabis-related arrests has been inverted in the last six years.
Since possession of limited amounts of cannabis is now legal in the District, possession arrests are rare (only 35 total in 2016-17). In turn, public consumption rates rose markedly in 2015 and 2016, but fell slightly in 2017 as police began applying more serious distribution charges more frequently.
Percentage-wise, the growth in distribution arrests is startling. In 2012, distribution accounted for only 4 percent of arrests. In 2017, it was 43.5 percent. Even by raw numbers, distribution arrests have soared. This type of bust rose 83 percent from 2016 to 2017, and nearly five times as many people were arrested on this charge in 2017 than in 2013 (403 and 83, respectively).
(If someone is arrested on multiple marijuana charges, only the most serious charge is listed in the data.)
In recent months, dozens of arrests have been made at “pop up events” that have emerged in the city in response to the “gifting” language in the law. Typically, vendors will sell unrelated products such as juices or shirts, and “gift” cannabis to those customers for free. But since the overall transactions require remuneration in the form of the supposedly unrelated purchases, police have said they violate city law.
That form of commerce—and the resulting arrests—would almost certainly diminish significantly if people could legally buy cannabis directly from licensed stores.
Local legislators have proposed both regulated sales and social use over the last few years, but Congress has exerted its influence multiple times to prevent such measures from moving forward.
“Thanks to Congressional interference prohibiting the District from regulating marijuana, rather than collecting tax revenue and ensuring product safety, we are wasting resources and wreaking havoc on young people’s lives with continued arrests for marijuana use,” Kaitlyn Boecker, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment in response to these latest numbers. “It’s absurd that despite legalization in the District, MPD continues to make such arrests. As former MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said years ago, ‘All those arrests do is make people hate us.’”
Racial Disparity in Arrests
The out-of-whack percentage of African Americans arrested in the District of Columbia for marijuana violations has been the subject of scrutiny for years now. The U.S. Census Bureauputs the African American population of the District at 47 percent and white (non-Hispanic) at 37 percent. But as this set of data reveals, for every 10 people arrested for a marijuana violation, nine of them are black.
In 2016, the numbers seemed to be improving slightly, with the share of African American cannabis arrests down 3.5 percentage points, but in 2017, the numbers rose slightly to return to 91 percent of arrests. Non-Hispanic Whites represented only 4 percent of arrests. In real numbers, 794 people coded “black” by the arresting officer were arrested in 2017, while only 35 people coded “white” but not “Hispanic” were arrested.
(A note on the data: Race is not recorded for arrests of juveniles. D.C. police say, “Race and ethnicity data are based on officer observation, which may or may not be accurate.”)
“The war on drugs has always been a war on people, particularly on people of color,” said Boecker. “Initiative 71 was passed by voters in large part to eliminate racial disparities in marijuana arrests, but due to racial bias and uneven enforcement, four years later Black men continue to be overwhelmingly targeted for arrests. This is unacceptable and must stop. Marijuana arrests do not advance public health or safety, and violate the will of the voters.”
Age of Those Arrested
From 2012-2017, the age of those arrested for marijuana infractions has stayed relatively steady. The one exception is the percentage of arrests for those under 21, which in 2016 jumped 8 percentage points, to 23 percent of those arrested, the highest year in this data set. In 2017, the percentage fell to 19.8 percent, which is still higher than 2013-15 numbers.
The numbers of those 21-29 arrested, by far the age group with the most arrests each year, fell and rose in tandem with these fluctuations in the younger cohort (down 5 percent in 2016, then back up a couple of points in 2017).
Women and Weed
Arrests of women for marijuana-related incidents leveled off in 2017, after four years of annual decreases. In 2012, women made up 12.6 percent of arrests. By 2016, that number had fallen to 7.1 percent (52 arrests). In 2017, 64 women were arrested — only 7.3 percent of total arrests.
Federal and Local Policies Both to Blame, Activists Say
Overall the new police data shows that while legalization of low-level possession and home cultivation in D.C. has driven a significant decline in marijuana arrests overall, discriminatory enforcement continues and issues related to the lack of a legal supply chain persist.
“I’m alarmed that D.C. had nearly 1,000 marijuana arrests last year three years after citizens overwhelming voted to legalize adult use of cannabis,” Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, the group that successfully campaigned for 2014’s legalization measure, told Marijuana Moment.
In addition to the congressional regulatory blockade, he pointed to the city’s own ban on public cannabis consumption as being partially at fault for the recent uptick in marijuana arrests.
“As a result people in public housing that does not allow cannabis use choose to consume outside risking arrest rather than smoke in their homes and risk eviction,” Eidinger said. “This catch 22 situation for cannabis users, including people carrying a medical card from the D.C. government, is the policy leading to more arrests.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Congressional Ban On D.C. Marijuana Sales Drives Arrests, New Police Data Suggests
Among the four states to legalize recreational marijuana use and sales on Election Night 2016, a clear winner in the competition to cash in on tax revenue has emerged.
Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada approved cannabis legalization measures on the same night two Novembers ago.
Of these, Nevada was the first to record licensed and regulated retail sales in July 2017, a full six months before the first day of sales in California on January 1, 2018.
And since sales began, Nevada marijuana retailers have enjoyed a booming market—and with it, higher-than-expected tax revenue for the state, much of which is going directly to schools.
According to Nevada state marijuana regulators, taxable sales in the 12-month period from July 2017 to June 2018 are expected to exceed $500 million.
That’s 25 percent higher than official state revenue projections, which generally err on the side of caution.
And it absolutely destroys sales figures seen in Colorado and Washington during those two states’ first-in-the-nation early days of retail sales. In the first six months of 2014, Washington recorded $67 million, and Colorado $114 million.
The relative ease with which Nevada rolled out retail marijuana sales and their overwhelming success stands in stark contrast to the other states. In California, first-quarter sales fell well behind official state projections, in large part due to a highest-in-the-nation tax burden and cities and counties slow to adopt or outright to retail marijuana sales.
And in Massachusetts and Maine, a combination of local NIMBYism and government foot-dragging has meant that neither state has yet recorded a single sale.
“We are viewed by many others outside Nevada as essentially being the gold standard,” Nevada Taxation Department Director William Anderson told The Associated Press. “It’s an often-used term, but it’s appropriate here.”
At the same time, Nevada still has a long way to go before it catches Colorado’s current sales figures. In 2018, fueled by visitors from New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere, retail sales of marijuana in Colorado exceeded a staggering $1.5 billion, according to the Denver Post.
According to official first-quarter sales figures released by the state Department of Tax and Fee Administration, California raked in nearly $61 million.
That’s still on pace to miss Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) prediction of $175 million in tax revenue from the first six months of the year. At the same time, more cities and counties—which must license retail dispensaries for them to operate—that were slow to allow for retail sales, such as Los Angeles, have come online.
In Alaska, which voted to legalize recreational marijuana sales in 2014, revenue from state marijuana taxes increased almost tenfold from year to year, with sales expected to continue to increase this year.
According to official figures released Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Revenue collected more than $11 million in taxes during the fiscal year that ended June 30—compared to $1.7 million the year before.
“I don’t believe the market has saturated and we haven’t seen exactly what capacity the state is going to operate in as far as cultivation and retail stores and the other facilities,” Kelly Mazzei, a tax official with the Department of Revenue, told NBC affiliate KTUU.
Colorado continues to set records for the amount of cannabis that it sells through legal shops and dispensaries — and the volume of tax revenue that it collects as a result.
In February, more than $39 million worth of recreational cannabis was sold in the Centennial State. This beat the previous record, set in January of this year, by nearly $3 million. Growth has been steady; in January 2014, the first month of legal recreational use, about $14.7 million was generated from pot sales.
This increase is attributed to additional retail shops that have been appearing in cities like Aurora, located just east of Denver, which began selling recreational cannabis last October. Statistics haven’t been released regarding the demand at individual shops and dispensaries, so it’s impossible to say how much of the growth in sales is the result of recently opened retail outlets serving new customers and what portion is an increase in demand by existing users.
While sales of recreational cannabis continue to climb, medical consumption has actually decreased somewhat since the state’s recreational law went into effect.
Medical Sales Declining
During the era of recreational legality, medical pot sales peaked at $36 million in February 2014, more than a year ago. That record was nearly $7 more than was sold one year later in February 2015, when medical sales totalled $29.3 million.
The decrease in medical sales is attributed by some observers to the fact that eligible patients must register with the state. With consumption of any type illegal at the federal level — and individuals and dispensaries in states like California and Washington continuing to be busted by the feds — the risk of having one’s name in a government database is believed to be pushing the state’s pot patients to instead pursue recreational herb, which doesn’t require such registration.
This could obviously have a major impact on Colorado’s medical dispensaries, which, like any business, must generate enough revenue to remain profitable and keep their doors open.
Overall Upward Trend
These numbers all point toward a bright 2015 for Colorado in terms of tax dollars collected. Unless trends change dramatically, the state will sell more cannabis in 2015 than 2014. Which will, of course, benefit public schools and other services.
In January of this year, Colorado schools received $2.3 million from recreational sales, generating media headlines across the nation. In February, schools collected $2.1 million. At this rate, the state’s school system will likely receive an infusion of more than $25 million during the year from the sale of marijuana.
In 2014, Colorado sold more than $700 million worth of cannabis ($386 million for medical and $313 million for recreational). With 2015 projected to be an even bigger year for the state’s pot business, it’s no wonder that so many other states — even conservative ones like Arizona, Ohio, and Michigan — are seriously considering legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in an effort to decrease law enforcement expenses, generate much-needed tax revenue, and eliminate the criminal element that’s ingrained in the black market.
Today, the state of Washington will host a historical extravaganza in the world of marijuana sales that will make any cannabis enthusiast faint.
Randy Williams, of Fireweed Farm, will sell a literal ton of pot to the highest bidder at a large scale marijuana auction on Saturday. This two-thousand pound crop of outdoor grown marijuana will cost a small fortune, but unfortunately for the average bear, this can only legally be sold to state-certified processors and retailers. Consumers will not be able to bid on the literal-ton of marijuana.
Many outdoor marijuana farms use the same land north of the Columbia River Valley that is considered to be the wine region of Washington. Outdoor marijuana farms operate just like any other crop farm with the harvest being in the fall. Many of William’s plants are reported to be over twelve feet tall, with an estimated retail worth of $6 million.
Until October of this year, Colorado dispensaries were required to grow seventy-percent of their own product. They were only permitted to purchase up to thirty-percent from a wholesaler, so an auction like this may not have be best suited for Colorado. Perhaps next fall, auctions like this will be introduced in the state. Washington does not have a law like that for dispensaries, so many purchase from a state-licensed grower like Randy Williams.
Randy is pictured below (left) in front of some of his crop.
photo credit: Federacion de asociaciones cannabica, USA Today