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Colorado City, a town of less than 2,500 in southern Colorado, will soon be home to up to 50 million pounds of hemp, now that a massive-hemp processing facility is open for business.

Paragon Processing opened a 250,000-square-foot hemp-processing on facility Wednesday, August 29. Not only does the company say that the new facility is the largest of its kind in the country, but it could help bring 250 new jobs to Colorado before the end of the year, with a number of them located in Colorado City.

Well, that didn’t take long: Less than a week after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill that expanded marijuana business investment opportunities for publicly traded companies, venture capitalists and private equity firms, one of the state’s largest pot corporations announced plans to scoop up two commercial marijuana operations, including the largest legal outdoor cultivation in North America.

On June 5, Medicine Man Technologies announced that it had reached binding agreements with Los Sueños Farms, an outdoor marijuana farm on 36 acres outside Pueblo, as well as Mesa Organics Ltd, which owns a commercial cultivation, dispensary and extraction facility in Pueblo.

Colorado law enforcement officers, district attorneys and federal authorities collaborated on what they describe as the largest collective marijuana bust in the state’s history.

During a press conference on May 24, Jason Dunn, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, discussed the two-year investigation that included nearly 250 location searches in eight counties across the state and led to 42 arrests after raids over the last three days.

Scott Pack has been indicted by an Arapahoe County grand jury for what attorney Matthew Buck has called “the largest fraud case in the history of Colorado’s marijuana industry.” Buck, who filed a lawsuit in the matter earlier this year, says the grand jury’s findings tie Pack to what prosecutors describe as a massive operation that grew marijuana for distribution outside Colorado and previously led to the indictment of sixteen people, including Pack associate Rudy Saenz. Among those reportedly indicted along with Pack is Renee Rayton, a former officer for the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The stigma is shrinking and the money is growing.

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Private equity investment in weed is heating up. Canadian MED company Organigram raised $17.5M. Denver’s Baker Technologies, a software company which helps dispensaries win and retain customers, raised $1.6M. The industry’s average seed round is $1M according to investment firm Poseidon Asset Management.

Commodities investor Jim Rogers, who started Quantum Fund with George Soros, has invested in PharmaCielo, a Canadian company that won the first license to grow MED in Colombia.

CMH Brands, a company which processes Willie Nelson brand Willie’s Reserve, acquired Denver Relief’s grow and manufacturing facilities. The deal comes weeks after Denver Relief sold a store to Terrapin Station.

The Clinic’s new flagship store in Denver cost more than $1M. A JPMorgan analyst thinks Scotts Miracle-Gro’s push into the industry will benefit the stock. Bloomberg BusinessWeek interviewed Dixie CEO Tripp Keber.

Fast Company looks at what it’s like to work for social media app MassRoots.

San Jose, Calif., dispensary Medimarts promised a court fight against a ruling that it owes $767,000 in taxes and late fees.

787 drivers were involved in Colorado’s 546 driving fatalities last year. Of the drivers, 59, or 7.1% tested positive for cannabis but not other drugs. The total number of fatalities was down from 606 in 2005.

Researchers found that a Vermont Department of Health study was overly negative and did not account for the possibility of legalization alleviating the state’s opioid crisis. This year the state legislature failed to pass a REC bill that was widely expected to become law.

In the Des Moines Register, the founder of an addiction center writes that pot is still dangerous. “We see the faces of marijuana addicts first hand. And it’s not funny. We see people who struggle with simple tasks at school and work.  People incapable of perceiving or expressing emotion. People who suffer from higher incidence of mental health diagnoses, such as schizophrenia, paranoia and anxiety.”

Rick Kimpell/Commons.
Jefferson County, Colorado.

Jefferson County, Colorado has resisted marijuana businesses for years — and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Several months before Jeffco’s current moratorium is set to expire, the county’s Marijuana Task Force has issued a 134-page report arguing that cannabis sales should be permanently banned.

Sheriff Scott Israel has more important things to do than campaign against affordable healthcare for Floridians.

United for Care, a pro-medical marijuana lobby backed by attorney John Morgan, faces its biggest opponent: Florida’s cops. In June, members of the newly formed Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition assembled in Tallahassee to educate voters on the dangers of marijuana and discourage voters from passing Amendment 2, which will be on the ballot this November. Although the group has more than 100 partners, its biggest advocate is the Florida Sheriff’s Association.
However, support from that group is not unanimous — only 63 of Florida’s 67 sheriffs have jumped aboard the Reefer Madness train. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is one of the outliers who has resisted joining. His stance is notable not only because he runs the biggest police agency in Florida but because BSO is the largest sheriff’s department in the country. More at the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.

The Chinese government is saying that they have located the largest cannabis field in the country’s history using satellite imagery. How big? You don’t need to know that, apparently. China isn’t saying. Just take their word for it, apparently. It’s huge.
“In Jilin and Inner Mongolia, a marijuana field that is the largest on record since the establishment of the country [in 1949]was discovered,” according to the China News Service. The satellite also showed several previously-unknown border crossing paths and poppy fields.
Some contend that the release on the domestic use of satellite and high-level graphical software – not typical of China – is to hint at China’s military satellite technology abilities.

Thanks to a lot of hard workers hawking petitions in parking lots, not to mention the shifting pop cultural sands, it looks like Florida has a fighting chance for legalizing medical marijuana. Come November, we’ll find out. But as with any political movement, despite best intentions and hopes, it’s money that’s really powering the show. And the funding trail behind the legalization effort leads right back to South Florida.
Broward-Palm Beach New Times has the full story

A proposed New York medical marijuana bill saw huge support in a Assembly Committee on Health meeting on Wednesday, with dozens of supporters turning out to speak in favor of legalizing the plant for sick New Yorkers according to Long Island Newsday.
The Compassionate Care Act would legalize the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of pot for people with debilitating conditions including cancer, aids and multiple sclerosis. The state Health Department would monitor the program.

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