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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.

smoking.marijuana.2012.brandon.marshall.largeBrandon Marshall

A new analysis finds that while marijuana legalization has led to higher rates of cannabis consumption in Colorado and other states with similar laws, there’s no evidence that it’s fueling abuse of more addictive drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

That’s the conclusion of a just-issued report from LiveStories, which specializes in the analysis of civic data. LiveStories founder Adnan Mahmud summarizes the results like so: “We haven’t found any strong correlation that suggests increased marijuana use leads to increases in other substance abuse.”

marijuana.teen.party.thinkstock.largeThinkstock file photo

The big news about teens and marijuana in Colorado is that there isn’t big news. Just-issued federal government statistics show that the rate of cannabis use among high school students in the state is slightly less than the national average and below the percentage of those who smoked pot before Colorado voters approved legal consumption for adults more than five years ago.

In the past, anti-weed groups that regularly call for the clock to be turned back in order to protect children have tried to spin positive or neutral numbers in a negative direction, and Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert, among the main proponents of Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational sales for those 21 and over, expects much the same this time around.

grinder-joint-rolling-joints-women-grow-collins-2.6.18Jacqueline Collins

An undercover study conducted by Denver Health found that a majority of Colorado dispensary employees — 69 percent — recommended that a pregnant woman use cannabis, Denver Health officials revealed today, May 9.

Researchers had two women conduct “mystery caller” phone conversations with employees at 400 dispensaries across the state, telling them that they were eight weeks pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. During the majority of those calls, the employees recommended the women use cannabis products.

img_8301Jacqueline Collins

To help remedy its well-publicized affordable-housing shortage, Mayor Michael Hancock wants to use a lifeline that mayors of most major cities don’t have: pot. On April 16, the city floated the idea of using $105 million in bonds from the Denver Housing Authority — a quasi-municipal corporation that provides housing for middle- and low-income families and individuals — to help cover a proposed $105 million surge in funding for affordable housing over the next five years.

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Hot on the heels of a groundbreaking lawsuit over Salmonella-tainted kratom that targeted a Colorado Springs store, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has announced the recall of assorted products made from the popular but controversial pain-relieving herb. But while the ostensible reason for the recall involves the fear of Salmonella contamination, the CDPHE acknowledges that no illnesses have been reported in connection with the lot numbers in question, and the Food and Drug Administration statement highlighted in the CDPHE announcement focuses on the dangers of kratom in general, suggesting the possibility that broader seizures of the product might be in the offing.

Colorado wound up in the center of the kratom story last October, when the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment prohibited its sale for human consumption. A few months later, the federal Centers for Disease Control and the FDA warned about a “multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections” that had sickened 28 people across twenty states nationwide.

marijuana fake newsWestword file photo

Last August, when veteran reporter Peter Marcus announced that he was leaving the ambitious ColoradoPolitics.com project he’d helped launch the previous year in favor of a communications-director position with the rapidly growing marijuana dispensary chain Terrapin Care Station, he stressed that he wasn’t leaving journalism behind, and that he planned to start a website that would mix original stories with posts intended to counter misinformation being spewed by pot enemies.

That site, TheNewsStation.com, is now live, and included among offerings that Marcus says “promote the positive business and economic impact of the cannabis industry” is a section in which he tears apart what he sees as marijuana “fake news.”

denver pot loungeThe Coffee Joint Facebook page

After years of gaining little ground in Colorado, social cannabis consumption is finally making progress. On the same day a bill was introduced in the Colorado Legislature that would allow dispensary tasting rooms, and less than a week after a members-only pot lounge successfully opened in RiNo, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses approved the Coffee Joint’s Cannabis Consumption Establishment license — making it the first establishment to ever hold a pot consumption license in Denver.

Ray Stern | Toke of the Town

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen announced with fanfare in August that he could squeeze $1.5 million in taxes from medical cannabis firms in 2017 by enforcing the law.

So far, the amount collected from dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and certification clinics has fallen short of estimate, and it’s still unclear just how much the county will take in. Phoenix New Times has the story.

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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