Browsing: Legalize It

medical marijuanaScott Lentz

Four weeks from now, voters in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah will all be deciding measures that would lift legal restrictions on marijuana — but all in different ways. And Colorado, too, has another marijuana-related issue on the ballot.

A Michigan ballot proposal would set up a licensed retail system similar to Colorado’s, while North Dakota voters will decide whether to allow marijuana possession and distribution (but without a comprehensive business licensing system), as well as expunging certain marijuana-related crimes.

vaping weedJacqueline Collins

Denver may be a leader in regulating recreational cannabis sales, but it’s hard to say the same about recreational cannabis consumption. Despite allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in town for over a decade and retail pot shops for nearly five years, Denver’s attempts to address social pot use have fallen just a few degrees above flat.

To be fair to Denver, the rest of Colorado isn’t exactly diving in, either, and neither are most of the other states legalizing the plant. Denver was the country’s first city to approve a program for issuing consumption licenses to qualified businesses, and one pot lounge is up and running, with another approved business on the way — but the program has its limitations. Approved by voters in 2016, the social consumption initiative was tweaked during its lengthy implementation process, with disputed location qualifications and restricted revenue streams added, to the dismay of the initiative’s proponents.

Wanda JamesCourtesy of Wanda James

For legal cannabis to spread across the country, people need to speak up in more ways than with Facebook comments and on Gallup polls. Lucky for cannabis users, Wanda James can be loud enough for all of us. The pot entrepreneur and activist was the first black woman to open a dispensary in Colorado, and was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 2017 Cannabis Business Awards for her role in the commercial rise of the plant.

But even with all her success in pushing cannabis forward, James still has an ax to grind with state regulators and corporate interests. She’s frequently at government hearings speaking up for consumers’ rights, social consumption and fair pot policy, and is a regular presence at public demonstrations criticizing law enforcement or elected officials for anti-cannabis actions. Westword recently caught up with James to see what she’s been up to.

patrice-3002Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Like it or not, Denver is quickly becoming a city of transplants. Patrice Ingham wasn’t born very far away, originally hailing from Wyoming before eventually ending up in Denver — but she took pit stops in New York and Washington, D.C., along the way. Now the 27-year-old is switching careers as she finds her connection to the city, and she’s using cannabis to help the transition.

adam.lee.kids.facebook.croppedFacebook

In May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a damning preliminary report about the late-2017 death of forty-year-old Loveland Ski Area employee Adam Lee, who suffered crushing chest injuries while working on the Magic Carpet, a motorized beltway used to teach kids how to ski.

The document essentially characterizes Adam as an innocent victim. But his widow, Erika Lee, says Pinnacol, the company that administers workers’ compensation payments in Colorado, is trying to withhold half of the money she should be receiving to support her three kids because Adam’s autopsy revealed high levels of THC in his blood.

Jacqueline Collins

What a difference four years makes. In 2014, Oklahoma and Nebraska were suing Colorado in federal court for this state’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana, but now the Sooner State is starting to catch up to Colorado’s affinity for the plant — and in some cases, even surpass it.

On Tuesday, June 26, voters approved Question 788, making Oklahoma the thirtieth state in the country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. The measure passed with 57 percent approval, and is being lauded by MMJ advocates for its broad-reaching nature. Unlike the large majority of states with MMJ programs (including Colorado), Oklahoma would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for any condition they see fit.

420 gamesNick Maahs

Former NFL running back Reuben Droughns spent eight years avoiding tackles from some of the strongest, meanest men in sports. But on Saturday, June 25, hits were exactly what he was looking for. “We are here to win,” he said to his teammates before playing kickball at the 4/20 Games. “And after that, smoke a couple joints!”

The 4/20 Games at Infinity Park, an annual event to raise money and awareness for cannabis-infused healthy living, were in full swing by mid-morning on Saturday. The event’s second go-round in Denver aimed to combat the plant’s stigma by promoting an active and healthy cannabis lifestyle, partnering with Athletes for Care, or A4C — a nonprofit simultaneously raising awareness about health issues faced by professional athletes, de-stigmatizing cannabis use and helping retired jocks transition into new lives.

chase-6344-2Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Chase Livingston moved to Denver from Florida and was quick to notice the difference in cannabis laws. A professional sound engineer, Livingston uses cannabis for recreational purposes and an occasional extra push to fall asleep, but isn’t ignorant of its medical benefits.

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