California’s AUMA Already Causing Property Boom

California's AUMA Already Causing Property Boom

California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act hasn’t been approved by voters yet.

As of today, it hasn’t even been officially approved to go on the November ballot, even though the Attorney General recommended that the coalition supporting the new law turn in their signatures over two weeks ago. The best we’ve heard from the AUMA is that the necessary paperwork will be turned in “soon.”

Nope, we aren’t making that up.

But while Golden State activists famously screwed up the 2008 attempt to legalize recreational marijuana, we remain cautiously optimistic that high-profile supporters like Napster founder Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will get the job done this time around. And plenty of investors are already betting big that the AUMA will pass.

“It’s interesting that while the article touched on the fact that much infrastructure will have to be built to handle large-scale grow facilities in Desert Hot Springs, and the town is repeatedly referred to as ‘dusty,’ there’s no mention of the historic drought currently causing chaos in the across California.”

Right now, the little city of Desert Hot Springs, California is currently experiencing a gold rush-style boom, as deep pockets from around the globe have descended on sleepy little community to grab up land already zoned for commercial marijuana production. As the Los Angeles Times reported today, some local landowners have been able to flip property they purchased just six months ago for more than five times what they paid for it.

For the community leaders of Desert Hot Springs, the potential tax revenue from Big Marijuana is obviously attractive. Marijuana, after all, is already a billion dollar industry in the state, and opening the door for recreational use will likely send the market into the stratosphere. That said, it’s interesting that while the article touched on the fact that much infrastructure will have to be built to handle large-scale facilities, and the town is repeatedly referred to as “dusty,” there’s no mention of the historic drought currently causing chaos in the across California.

What kind of regulatory approach the state will take, and how the drought will factor into it remains to be seen. We do know that at least one group, the Public Policy Institute of California, is pushing for a “restrictive” approach, but that’s non-binding proposal.

There are sure to be many interesting developments in the months before the AUMA—hopefully—becomes law. Stay tuned.

[ via Los Angeles Times ]

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MA Legalization Effort Faces ‘Natural’ Challenge

MA Legalization Effort Faces 'Natural

California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act has been getting tons of press coverage, as legalization in the Golden State—which is the eighth-largest economy in the world—would be a watershed moment for the movement.

But it’s not the only state where voters will decide about recreational marijuana this November. The people of Massachusetts will also vote on their own version of the act, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol ballot initiative.

“Like many prohibition arguments, it’s pretty compelling, until you spend five seconds considering it. Because it’s not like marijuana suddenly became more potent yesterday. There were plenty of powerful strains available when Massachusetts decided to decriminalize it almost a decade ago.”

Up until this point, the leading voices against legalization have been, somewhat tellingly, coming from the same camp currently seeking to relax restrictions of alcohol sales. Quite literally, the geniuses behind the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts think it’s better to stay out drinking until four in the morning than to smoke a bowl after work.

Unfortunately, that group includes a hat-trick of prominent politicians, like Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and recovering alcoholic—and Mayor of Boston— Marty Walsh. The trio recently penned an op-ed for the Boston Globe which rested on the tired, and demonstrably false, argument that allowing adults to use marijuana recreationally will somehow “harm the children.”

Today, thanks to the ever-vigilant scribes at the Cannabist we learned of another challenge facing the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol initiative. This one, which has been filed with the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, rests on the idea that today’s weed is just too powerful.

As lead attorney John Scheft said:

“These items bear no resemblance to the leafy substance that nostalgic adults think this law will legalize. Nature’s pot should only have a maximum of 2.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the ingredient that gets people high.”

Like many arguments on the prohibition side, it’s pretty compelling, until you spend five seconds considering it. Because it’s not like marijuana suddenly became more potent yesterday. There were plenty of powerful strains available when Massachusetts decided to decriminalize weed almost a decade ago.

And while it might come as a surprise to many on the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, humans don’t generally ingest alcohol the way nature intended. If we did, the citizens of Boston would be scavenging for fermenting fruit—like monkeys do—instead of downing shooters made of whipped cream-flavored vodka, slamming back Irish Car Bombs, or drinking green beer every March 17th.

Fortunately, backers of Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol don’t seem concerned by the filing, and expect to see voters turn Massachusetts green in November.

[ via the Cannabist ]

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DOJ Drops Attempt to Close Biggest CA Dispensary

DOJ Drops Attempt to Close Biggest CA Dispensary

Maybe it’s our chronic optimism speaking here, but Uncle Sam’s stance on marijuana seems to be softening.

Right now, the Drug Enforcement Agency is deciding whether or not to reclassify marijuana from its Schedule I drug status. Tellingly, the DEA also recently approved a Colorado study of medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating veterans with PTSD. Even the United States Senate—long a symbol of parasitic, gridlocked government—is considering a bill which would allow veterans to access medical marijuana.

“While the Harborside Health Center will no longer have to wage this particular battle, the fact it was still fighting the DOJ—two decades after the people of the Golden State approved a law legalizing medical marijuana—shows how fragile the truce between federal and state governments are regarding the issue of legal marijuana.”

And this week, advocates for legalization got some more good news from the feds, when the Department of Justice quietly dropped its long-running quest to close Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the largest of California’s medical dispensaries. As the SF Gate reports, the DOJ had no comment on the development in the four-year fight, but it’s difficult to see the move as anything but positive.

While the Harborside Health Center will no longer have to wage this particular battle, the fact that it was still fighting the DOJ—two decades after the people of the Golden State approved a law legalizing medical marijuana—shows how fragile the truce between federal and state governments is regarding the issue of legal marijuana.

That makes the looming presidential election a wild card in the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

Now, as physicist Nobel laureate Nils Bohr famously said, “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” So we can’t know exactly what would happen if any of the current contenders managed to reach the Oval Office. Senator Bernie Sanders is the most outspoken advocate for reform, as he’s called for removing the drug from the DEA schedule entirely. He’s a long shot to secure the Democratic nominate from Hillary Clinton, who has unsurprisingly  taken what CNN describes as a “wait and see approach.”

Whether Clinton will modify that stance to reel in Sanders supporters remains to be seen.

Predicting what Donald Trump will do, about anything, is the prognostication equivalent of trying to piss straight up and not get wet. But we find some comfort in his sprawling non-answer—which High Times detailed—to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who asked the question back in February, even as we remain terrified of a Trump presidency.

More news on the feds and marijuana when we have it. Make sure to vote people!

[ via SF Gate ]

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When Will AUMA Backers Submit Their Petition?

When Will AUMA Backers Submit Their Petition?
This morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that supporters of California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act have collected 600,000 signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

“Honestly? ‘Soon’ doesn’t sound like an answer from a razor-sharp political operative. It sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear from a lackadaisical weed dealer about when he’ll be home from his day job at GameStop.”

That’s almost twice the required amount needed to qualify, so it seems AUMA backers, including Napster founder Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are hedging their bets. Given the total failure we saw in 2010, where boneheaded backers thought putting recreational marijuana use on a mid-term election ballot was a solid decision, it’s a wise move.

But this is just one of many recent stories revolving around the fact that the measure is now “closer” to getting on the ballot. In fact, in an LA Weekly story we referenced last week, the California Attorney General recommended supporters turn in signatures by April 26th.

In case you happened to be super blazed right now, that was almost two weeks ago, and we still haven’t seen any report that the petition has been officially received by the state. Additionally, we haven’t even seen when the AUMA coalition even plans to submit it. Regarding that timing, the best we’ve heard from spokesman Jason Kinney—quoted in the LA Weekly story dated April 20th—was a non-specific “soon.”

Honestly? That doesn’t sound like an answer from a razor-sharp political operative. It sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear from a lackadaisical weed dealer about when he’ll be home from his day job at GameStop. Perhaps it’s time to remind the AUMA folks of the old adage “almost doesn’t count except in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

So while we wait for AUMA to actually make some real progress toward legalizing recreational marijuana in the Golden State, let’s cross our fingers and watch Jimmy Kimmel ask folks on Hollywood Boulevard if the have a medical marijuana card.

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Vermont Lawmakers Whiff on Pot Law

vermont

Last month, we covered Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s statement that legalizing marijuana is what “enlightened” states do. Even for a place as historically liberal the Green Mountain State—Bernie Sanders represents it in Congress—that was a fairly bold stance for a sitting governor to take. But his reasoning was sound. Here’s what he told Time

“We decriminalized an ounce or less, so you virtually get less of a criminal penalty for buying [small amounts of] pot than you do speeding on the highway. Although we wish you wouldn’t smoke pot, just like we wish you wouldn’t drink too much, we’re going to let you do it without getting in trouble with the law—but you still have to go buy it from a drug dealer?”

That said, by Shumlin’s own logic, the Vermont legislature isn’t very enlightened.

This week, representatives had the opportunity to make recreational marijuana legal for adults, but overwhelmingly shot the measure down. According to the Canabist, the vote was 128 against, 28 for. While two states—Colorado and Washington State—currently have legal marijuana measures on the books, both were the result of ballot initiative voted on by citizens, not proactive actions undertaken by politicians.

But while the measure’s defeat delays any wide-scale reform, it doesn’t mean the prospect of legalization is dead in the Vermont.  Far from it. Because as the Canabist reported:

“Some House members said they support legalization, but opposed the Senate language. They argued that the Senate-proposed system of licensing and taxing growers and retailers—and banning homegrown—was too commercial an approach for Vermont.”

The desire to not go too commercial with the approach is actually great news for small businesses, and could help prevent an onslaught of carpetbagging corporations from storming into the state and creating de-facto monopolies before the ink on the new laws is dry. Right now, that’s a real concern in California, so it’s encouraging to see governments looking to prevent that situation from arising—even if it takes a little longer to for Vermont citizens to toke freely.

[ via Canabist ]

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