An amendment attached to a federal finance bill that would have provided the legal marijuana industry with banking protections was stifled on Thursday, June 21, by a U.S. Senate committee. The measure, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, would have shielded financial institutions and banks that open accounts for state-legal pot businesses from federal prosecution.
Mayor Michael Hancock wasn’t a fan of legal marijuana before Colorado voters approved it in 2012, but he’s since become a public defender of the plant — or at least, the actions taken by the City of Denver to comply with Amendment 64. On Sunday, June 10, Hancock’s office announced that he’s spearheading a coalition of mayors from around the country in an effort to push Congress to protect states with legal pot.
Although he originally opposed legalization efforts, Hancock was the mayor of the first major city to legalize marijuana, and since the first recreational sales on January 1, 2014, Denver has become into one of the nation’s capitals of legal weed, with over 200 dispensaries and 1,100 licensed pot businesses now operating in the city, according to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. Now, he and mayors of at least eight other cities are asking Congress to listen to them about their experiences so that legalization “can be done smoothly, safely and effectively.”
A bill that passed the Colorado General Assembly that would’ve allowed marijuana dispensaries to open their own tasting rooms was vetoed by Governor John Hickenlooper today, June 4. HB 1258 received plenty of attention as it made its way through the state legislature and wasn’t without its detractors, but it had enough support to pass its third House and Senate readings — 39-24 and 22-12, respectively.
“Since Colorado approved Amendment 64 in 2012, this Administration implemented a robust regulatory system to carry out the intent of this voter-initiated measure,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. “Amendment 64 is clear: marijuana consumption may not be conducted ‘openly’ or ‘publicly’ on ‘in a manner that endangers others.’ We find that HB 18-1258 directly conflicts with this constitutional requirement.”
Members of Congress joined legal cannabis-industry representatives in front of the United States Capitol today, May 23, calling for an end to federal pot prohibition. Among the lawmakers appearing in solidarity with the National Cannabis Industry Association were Colorado representatives Diana DeGette and Jared Polis.
“There are 34,000 Coloradans who are licensed to work in this industry, so you can imagine how dismayed everyone in Colorado was when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was going to rescind the Cole Memo,” DeGette told the gathering. “I can say, I have never seen our delegation work so quickly to fix something in a bipartisan way.”
Most people thought the fight was over when Colorado voters legalized commercial cannabis in 2012, but that victory led to a series of smaller battles over such issues as social consumption, home-grow limitations and industry expansion. Proposals continue to pop up on both the local and state level that could advance or limit your rights as a cannabis consumer, patient, grower or business owner. Want to make sure things go in the right direction? Here’s how to become a cannabis advocate:
Autism spectrum disorder could be added to Colorado’s list of conditions treatable with medical marijuana if Governor John Hickenlooper approves a bill that passed the General Assembly on May 4. HB 1263, introduced by state Representative Edie Hooton, went through the legislature with relative ease after it was introduced in March, but not without changes.
As originally drafted by Hooton, the bill was designed to add acute pain to the state’s list of medical marijuana conditions in hopes of combating opioid addiction. Before its introduction, however, she was approached by mothers and advocates of children suffering from ASD. Persuaded by their stories and studies taking place in Israel and Chile on marijuana benefits for ASD, Hooton added the condition to her bill…and it soon proved the most winning component.
Dispensaries may get to apply for cannabis tasting-room licenses as early as August if Governor John Hickenlooper signs a bill that just cleared the Colorado General Assembly. Approved by the the House on Thursday, May 3, HB 1258 would allow qualified pot shops to obtain accessory establishment licenses for product consumption.
In a story of strange political bedfellows, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is working with the office of Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner on an upcoming bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering with the marijuana system here and in other states that have legalized.
As noted by NORML political director Justin Strekal, Gardner has confirmed that he’s teaming up with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, “to craft legislation that would reduce the tension between federal prohibition and states that have moved forward with legalizing marijuana for medicinal or adult use. And we’re working with a number of offices to make sure the language is going to be right and palatable to a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate.”
The state’s hemp industry, which produces the majority of cannabidiol (CBD) products in Colorado, are worried about the consequences of a bill the General Assembly has approved that opens the door for CBD medicine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Colorado lawmakers wanted to be ahead of the curve with HB 1187, introduced by State Representative Janet Buckner, to allow a pharmaceutical drug made from CBD that is expected to receive FDA approval within the next couple of months to be sold in Colorado. That drug, Epidiolex, is made by an American subsidiary of British GW Pharmaceuticals for treating epilepsy.
Colorado marijuana consumers hoping to enjoy the same convenience that pizza fans and Amazon addicts currently do were dealt a significant blow on Wednesday, April 18, when a Colorado Senate committee rejected a bill that would have allowed dispensaries to deliver.