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Guest Commentary: The use of cannabis in the United States should be decriminalized

Amid the long-overdue national conversation about achieving true social justice, one key element is being largely overlooked: The need to end decades of misguided drug policy that has disproportionately taken a toll on minority communities. An issue certain to arise in the presidential campaign is whether the use of cannabis should be decriminalized, or whether it should remain illegal under federal law. I believe the current federal prohibition must be repealed. First, the grim truth is that America’s war on drugs, coupled with decades of disinvestment, has contributed to a cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration and contributed to the societal injustice we are working to unravel. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.

June was Colorado’s biggest marijuana sales month ever. July was likely bigger.

June marks the first month in Colorado history that recreational marijuana shops sold more than $150 million worth of products as cannabis consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to set industry records. Recreational marijuana consumers spent $158,102,628 at Colorado shops in June, according to data from the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. It’s a 6% increase of the previous single-month recreational sales record of $149,186,615 that was set in May, state data shows. Last June, rec shops sold roughly $122.4 million in products. Before this year, monthly recreational sales had only eclipsed $140 million one time, in August 2019, state data shows. That month, dispensaries combined to sell $173,219,859 worth of products. Read the rest of this story on DenverP...

Colorado lawmakers let governor mass-pardon marijuana possession convictions

The governor would be able to mass-pardon marijuana convictions for possession of 2 ounces or less if he signs a bill that gives him that authority. It was the last amendment to the last bill considered Monday before Colorado’s General Assembly ended its work for the year. Lawmakers added the mass expungement option to House Bill 1424, which aims to open the marijuana industry to people of color and those who were previously convicted on drug charges that wouldn’t be crimes now. A spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis didn’t directly answer whether he would sign it but sounded supportive Tuesday afternoon. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.

Second Colorado dispensary will soon begin offering marijuana delivery

Boulder will soon be home to two dispensaries legally delivering medical marijuana. Helping Hands Cannabis on Pearl Street recently procured its license for delivery and expects to begin service to medical patients in mid-May, according to co-owner Johnny Kurish. Kurish decided to offer delivery as a way to safely reach patients during the pandemic. Helping Hands closed voluntarily before Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March “because we couldn’t see a responsible way to conduct business inside of our premises and still be cognizant of public health and our staff’s health,” Kurish said. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.

Cannabis 4/20 celebrations go virtual as industry adjusts to new reality

This Monday — and, really, all of April 2020 — was supposed to be big in the world of cannabis. Since 1971, when a group of Northern California teens started meeting at 4:20 p.m. each day to smoke weed and hunt for an elusive marijuana patch, the figure 420 has been tied to cannabis. And so the fourth month of 2020, and the date 4/20/20 in particular, was poised to give marijuana consumers extra cause to celebrate the industry’s unofficial holiday while offering legal cannabis companies a welcome marketing hook. But shelter-at-home orders tied to the coronavirus pandemic have pumped the brakes on most 4/20 celebrations. Even in weed-friendly San Francisco, Mayor London Breed is threatening to arrest anyone who shows up for the state’s largest annual cannabis gathering at “Hippie Hill” in G...

Denver risking tax dollars by “ineffectively” auditing marijuana businesses, city auditor alleges

Denver’s process for auditing marijuana businesses is inadequate and has potentially cost the city countless tax dollars allocated for public service programs, the city auditor alleged Thursday. In a scathing new report, Denver auditor and certified public accountant Timothy M. O’Brien evaluated the city’s methods, strategies and standards for auditing marijuana dispensaries, cultivations and manufacturing facilities, deeming them “ineffective” and “inefficient.” Officials also have failed to address several unlicensed marijuana delivery services active in the city, the report said. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.

Colorado dispensaries say coronavirus pandemic is making case for marijuana delivery

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts daily life and commerce in Colorado, many in the state’s marijuana industry believe it makes the case for allowing dispensaries to begin delivering to customers’ homes now. Legislators legalized cannabis delivery with the passage of House Bill 1234 in 2019. The law permits medical marijuana deliveries to start in 2020 followed by recreational cannabis deliveries in 2021, but left it to municipalities to individually decide if they will allow the services. So far just one dispensary in Colorado, The Dandelion in Boulder, has obtained a license to deliver products to patients. Shannon Gray, communications specialist for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, declined to comment on whether the timeline for recreational delivery is being reconsidered in light ...

Can marijuana dispensaries stay open during Colorado’s coronavirus crisis? It depends.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis deemed marijuana dispensaries “critical” retail businesses in an executive order Sunday urging employers to reduce their in-person workforces, meaning they would stay open if other industries were forced to shutter to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. The governor’s order, however, will change how dispensaries do business. In-person sales are limited to medical patients only; recreational customers must order in advance for curbside pickup. The order is in effect from 8 p.m. on Tuesday until April 11, unless extended by the governor. Some counties classified dispensaries among essential services allowed to remain open during the pandemic independent of the governor’s order. For example, in San Miguel County, which mandated residents shelter in place on March 18,...

Liquor stores, recreational dispensaries to close in Denver until mid-April

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday ordered residents to stay in their homes and announced that non-essential businesses such as liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries would close across the city starting Tuesday. The closure will take effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and continue through April 10. Restaurants and bars will still be able to sell alcohol, including wine, beer and cocktails, following an executive order from Gov. Jared Polis on Friday. Restaurants and bars offering food and drinks for takeout or delivery are considered essential businesses and will remain open for those services, Hancock clarified during his press conference on Monday. Even though liquor stores remain open alongside essential businesses in other states, in Denver, they will close. Read the rest of ...

First-in-Colorado medical marijuana delivery coming to Boulder this spring

Medical cannabis patients in Boulder will be among the first in Colorado to have marijuana brought to their homes when a local dispensary begins delivering this spring. The Dandelion medical shop, owned by chain Native Roots, recently obtained the state’s first license for medical marijuana deliveries, according to an announcement Thursday. Beginning in late March, patients can call the dispensary Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to place an order for delivery, and pay with cash upon delivery or with a debit card, said Shannon Fender, Native Roots’ director of public affairs. The shop hopes to offer online ordering in the future, she added. House Bill 1234, passed by the Colorado legislature in 2019, legalized medical marijuana deliveries at the state level, but left it to municipalities to ...

Colorado’s first licensed cannabis R&D firm to study marijuana’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease

A Denver-based company hopes to be the state’s first to study the effects of marijuana on Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to a newly available research and development license in the city. MedPharm Holdings plans to apply for a Denver marijuana R&D license to test delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids’ effects on Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans have the disease, a degenerative brain disorder that affects a person’s memory and thinking skills. While there are drugs that help ease symptoms, they do not change the course of the disease. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.

Colorado won’t stop employers from firing workers for using weed off the clock

Colorado legislators decided Wednesday not to advance a bill that aimed to protect employees from being fired for using marijuana in their personal time. The 10 members of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee voted unanimously against the bill, HB 20-1089, after nearly three hours of testimony from people on each side. Though the bill would have done nothing to prohibit employers from administering drug tests, many committee members cited the lack of an adequate test to determine whether an employee is intoxicated in the moment — much like a breathalyzer does for alcohol — as a reason to table it. Others thought the proposed change to the law was too broad. Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.