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The Colorado Springs Gazette, owned by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz, has earned a reputation as the most overtly anti-marijuana major newspaper in the state. And while the first entry in a new series presented beneath the banner “Is Colorado better off five years after legalizing marijuana?” is an improvement over an anti-pot screed from nearly three years ago that was partially penned by a prominent and devoted cannabis hater, it still focuses almost entirely on bad news.

Jacqueline Collins

New sales revenue data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that the state’s legal cannabis industry collected over $1.5 billion in 2017 and accounted for nearly $4.5 billion in sales since recreational stores first opened on January 1, 2014.

Overall dispensary sales rose in December for the first time since August 2017, according to DOR data, with revenue increasing over 7 percent from November ($119.56 million) to December ($128.27 million). Recreational sales in December accounted for around $96.34 million, while the medical side collected $31.92 million.

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Banking and general financial services have been a great white whale for the cannabis industry, as financial institutions continue to be wary of the plant’s illegal status with the feds. But a recent settlement between a Colorado credit union and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City may help reel in a solution.

In a letter sent to Fourth Corner Credit Union on February 2, the Federal Reserve Bank agreed to give the Denver-based credit union a master account, which is necessary for such bank-to-bank relations as cashing checks and transferring money. Fourth Corner had sued the Federal Reserve in 2015 over its refusal to issue the credit union an account and lost in district court, but that decision was overturned in June 2017 by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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A few years ago, a bill like HB 1011 would have seemed tantamount to Colorado flirting with greedy corporations hell-bent on squeezing out mom-and-pop cannabis shops while raking in mega-profits from the booming industry. But times have changed, says Representative Dan Pabon. He’s the primary House sponsor of HB 1011, which would ease restrictions on the cannabis industry’s growth potential by making the state more attractive to deep-pocketed domestic and international investors.

hemp seedShutterstock.com/Algirdas Gelazius

Colorado can now claim production of the first certified hemp seed in the United States after the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies officially validated one of its varieties. Fort Collins-based New West Genetics submitted its trademarked ELITE hemp genetics for AOSCA certification and received approval in 2017, according to an announcement from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

“The farmer can now have confidence that what he is buying is what he expects it to be, which is below 0.3 percent [THC] and true to type,” says Duane Sinning, assistant director of the division of plant industries at the CDA.

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Colorado cannabis sales saw a small but noticeable drop in November 2017, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. It was the third straight month of decreasing cannabis revenue.

Medical and recreational cannabis combined for $119,567,777 in sales in November, according to DOR data, a 6.3 percent drop month-over-month from October’s revenue and almost 12 percent less than September’s take However, November’s numbers still represented a rise of almost 9.5 percent from the same month in 2016.

Courtesy of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office

As we’ve reported, George Brauchler, 18th Judicial District DA and candidate for Colorado Attorney General, opposed Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in the state, and he doesn’t think its passage has done anything to eliminate violent crime associated with pot. As AG, however, Brauchler says he would defend the state’s cannabis laws against threats from the likes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions while at the same time using a new strategy to attack the proliferation of illegal grows across Colorado, many of them allegedly associated with foreign drug cartels.

William Breathes

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement about rescinding the Cole memo, an Obama-era Department of Justice document that provided some legal protections for businesses operating in states that allow and regulate cannabis sales, has shaken the marijuana industry in Colorado and beyond. But Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), isn’t surprised by this action. As we noted last July, Strekal believes an op-ed from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation enumerating eleven ways the administration of President Donald Trump can kill legal cannabis is being used by Sessions and company as a crackdown guideline, and junking Cole is fifth on the list

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United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo rescinding the Cole Memorandum and other federal pot protections dating back to 2009 on January 4. Colorado’s elected officials — from Governor John Hickenlooper to Mayor Michael Hancock to the entire congressional delegation — were quick to condemn the move and vow to fight any attempt to prosecute law-abiding businesses in this state. But in the meantime, how does the Sessions memo affect you?

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Retail cannabis industries across the country are reeling after United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo rescinding the Cole Memorandum, a 2013 policy that offered protection from federal prosecution for the cultivation, distribution and possession of pot in states where it is legal. In Colorado, the first state to authorize the legal sale of retail cannabis, the response has been quick…and, in many cases, furious

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