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Editorial: Pot Boobies

Maybe it’s time we talk like adults about marijuana. 

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I can’t take any more pot puns or lame attempts at a Tommy Chong reference.

All this talk about recreational marijuana seems to go in three directions—Cheech and Chong references, how municipalities are going to turn into Walter White (the fictional math teacher turned meth drug lord), or like a Nixon-era narc in a bad after school special.

It’s boring to me because we aren’t talking about the issue as adults. We have reverted into seven-year-olds–allowed to stay up past bedtime watching TV–giggling when the screen flashes a bare breast, “hehe, boobies!”

“What good does it do when children hear the “adults” talk about pot like it’s a cartoon activity? If we don’t talk about it seriously, they will never take it seriously.”

Yet, how we talk about marijuana is how we always engage in civil discourse. Every single serious issue we talk about is nothing more than children giggling over the kid who smelt it. Then, the same children shouting “ewwww” upon learning who dealt it. This is what the adult version of a high-stakes game of cooties feels like. Except the sensible adults just stop playing and go home.

From guns to healthcare, to the environment to immigration—the childish way we talk about these serious topics is boring. I’ve had “adult” conversations where someone gets called stupid and the checkers board gets kicked over.

You want to know who are the adults about this?

A few weeks ago, I went to listen one of my favorite live singers. While chatting before the music kicked off, someone started to pass [insert bad pun] around and turned to me and said, “You want some?”

First, before we go any further, this wasn’t a 1920s style reefer and opium soiree.

It just happened and I said, “Nah, I’m good.” The entire interchange was about as boring as applying for a bank loan.

The disservice we do by talking about pot like we are prepubescent children is to reduce the legalization of marijuana to nonsensical talking points and Cheetos references.

That’s why I’m bored when my competitors talk about this issue like they discovered their dad’s Playboy. From the implementation allowing the safe purchase of marijuana, to public safety, to an entire economy that will be generated because of it— all serious subjects. And yet we dumb down this new economy into headlines like the “Rocky Mountain High State.”

So let’s talk about this like adults.

What about the children?  I’m not going to use the argument they are getting high already so that makes underage pot smoking acceptable.

Underage marijuana use and underage drinking should be taken seriously as new science is showing ‘use’ can hamper brain development. I understand some of the tax will go to prevention and that’s a good start. The answer here, no one wants to admit, is good parenting mixed with a solid public education system in a community that takes underage prevention seriously. That’s not an easy answer, but it’s the right one.

What good does it do when children hear the “adults” talk about pot like it’s a cartoon activity? If we don’t talk about it seriously, they will never take it seriously.

The most serious issue for me is the new economy that will be generated by recreational marijuana. It’s staggering. For perspective, in 2012 real estate accounted for $17 billion of Colorado’s total economy. As of February 2014, just this year alone, the marijuana industry looks to generate $1 billion of the state’s economy. In two to three years, marijuana has the potential to be a major economic driver in the state.

Still think we should talk about pot like it’s a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction?

The drug Colorado voters have unleashed on Colorado is the tax base. With it, comes serious questions for counties and municipalities because even here, in just two months, Pueblo County alone, has generated $1 million in sales.

Do you allow for recreational marijuana and create the equivalent of a retail tax ATM? Or does the community not allow it and watch the tax dollars go to another community? Here’s the debate that intrigues me—the internal struggle that communities will have over their identity and their tax base.

“The region isn’t suffering because of pot. The region is suffering regardless of it. ”

What if this money is used for good and sales tax offsets budget deficits? Is that a bad thing because it was generated from a “sin” tax? This comes at the cost of having to embrace the industry and being uncomfortable with the shops, the people, the tourists and even the money.

Here’s where the adults show up to balance the true identity of a town against the allure of easy revenue.

If tomorrow Boulder became the pot capital of Colorado, would you think any different of the town? It would still have “Colorado’s University.” It would house rich liberals alongside rich conservatives. Boulder would still be home to a dizzying array of cultural options and outdoor activities. Boulder would still be Boulder just with pot.

So why isn’t Pueblo just Pueblo with pot?

This is why the juvenileness bores me. I’m not scared about recreational marijuana, I’m scared that whatever you think of it—even if you hate marijuana do you hate tax revenue more? We are desperate for that tax revenue. The region isn’t suffering because of pot. The region is suffering regardless of it. 

To the officials who unleashed this drug (tax again) on us all, and to those who will. Do something with it. Use the money and do something good with it. Don’t talk about it. Do it and show us you can do it.

If we can’t turn this free money into something good, then yes, we are no better than pot boobies. And that’s when we should laugh—at ourselves.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

US & World

Here’s how the Canadian legalization of marijuana is so much different from the United States

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Mail-order weed? You betcha!

With marijuana legalization across Canada on the horizon, the industry is shaping up to look different from the way it does in nine U.S. states that have legalized adult recreational use of the drug. Age limits, government involvement in distribution and sales, and access to banking are some big discrepancies.

And yes, Canadians will be able to order cannabis online and have it delivered through the mail — something that’s illegal in the United States.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that marijuana will be legal nationwide on Oct. 17. In the meantime, Canada’s provinces and cities are working out issues concerning how cannabis will be regulated.

Here’s what to expect:

GOVERNMENT-RUN STORES

It’s up to the provinces and territories to determine how to handle distribution, and they’re taking a variety of approaches.

Ontario plans to open up to 150 stores run by its Liquor Control Board — a model of public ownership that is unusual in the U.S. The tiny Washington state town of North Bonneville has one city-owned pot shop.

British Columbia is planning for a mix of public and privately owned stores, while Newfoundland and Saskatchewan will have only private pot shops. In some remote areas where stand-alone marijuana stores might not be economically feasible, including in the Northwest Territories, cannabis could be sold at existing liquor stores.

Just like U.S. states with legal pot, the provinces also differ on home-growing, with many allowing up to four plants and others, including Quebec, barring it.

And rather than a minimum age of 21, as U.S. states have set, Canada’s federal minimum age to use marijuana will be 18, with most provinces adding an additional year.

The varying approaches make the provinces something of a laboratory for determining the best ways to legalize, said Matt Gray, founder and chief executive of Herb, a Toronto-based news and social media platform for the pot industry.

“It’s this amazing case study for countries globally to see the amazing benefits that legalizing cannabis can have on things like the economy, eradicating the black market and getting cannabis out of the hands of minors,” he said.

PRICING AND TAXES

Whether run by the government or private entities, the stores will obtain their marijuana from federally licensed growers. Officials also will set a minimum price.

Canada’s finance ministers have pegged it at about $10 per gram, but the Yukon minister in charge of marijuana says the government hopes to displace more of the illegal market by setting the base at $8.

The government wants to tax legal marijuana at either $1 per gram or one-tenth of a product’s price, whichever is greater, plus federal and provincial sales taxes. It’s likely to be less than the taxes imposed in the states.

Washington state’s tax rate is 37 percent, plus state and local sales taxes. In California, licensed pot businesses are blaming total tax rates that can approach 50 percent for driving people back into the black market.

The Canadian government agreed to give provinces and territories 75 percent of the tax revenue.

BANKING

Canada’s cannabis businesses have a massive advantage over their American counterparts: access to banks.

Because the drug is still illegal under U.S. law, major banks have been loath to do business with the industry, even in legal marijuana states.

U.S. Treasury Department data show a slow increase in the number of banks and credit unions maintaining accounts for marijuana businesses, with 411 reporting such accounts last spring.

But many of those institutions don’t provide full-service banking, making it tough for businesses to get loans.

“The major Canadian banks were slow to warm to this,” said Chris Barry, a Seattle-based marijuana business attorney who handles industry transactions in both countries for the law firm Dorsey and Whitney.

He said smaller independent banks, investment banks and brokerage firms got the work started.

“That has pretty much dissolved as a problem,” Barry said. “The majors are coming around to participate in the market.”

THE PRODUCTS

Some consumers are disappointed that store shelves will only stock dried flower, oils and seeds when sales begin — no edibles. The government has said it needs about another year to develop regulations for edibles.

There’s also a labeling issue: Health Canada has dictated large warning labels on otherwise plain packages, with strict restrictions on font sizes, styles and colors. The idea is to discourage misuse and to avoid appealing to youths, but it also leaves very little room for company logos or branding.

“It looks like each bag is housing radioactive waste,” said Chris Clay, owner of Warmland Cannabis Centre, a medical marijuana dispensary on Vancouver Island. “It’s a tiny logo with this huge warning label. It doesn’t leave much room for craft growers that want to differentiate themselves.”

And that, Clay said, is one of many things that will make it difficult for mom-and-pop growers to thrive. Giant cannabis companies have been entering deals to supply marijuana to the provinces.

While micro-producers are allowed, Clay is worried that by the time rules are released, “all the contracts are going to be scooped up.”

POT BY POST

While getting marijuana by mail may be a novel concept in the U.S., it’s nothing new in Canada. Its postal service has been shipping medical marijuana to authorized patients since 2013.

“Many of our processes are in place today for medicinal cannabis and will continue for any regulated product sent through Canada Post from licensed distributors,” Canada Post said in a written statement.

The agency requires proof of age upon delivery and won’t leave the package in your mailbox or on your doorstep if you’re not home.

___

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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Push to legalize marijuana upends governor’s race in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca on Thursday called for the expansion of New Mexico’s medical marijuana program and for legalization of recreational use, saying the poverty-stricken state is missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenues and jobs that could be spurred by the industry.

Apodaca released his plan solidifying his position as a supporter of legalization as the race for governor heats up.

Apodaca pointed to New Mexico’s history as the first state to allow for research and experimentation with marijuana as a therapeutic drug. It was his father, then-Gov. Jerry Apodaca, who signed that legislation in 1978.

The research program stalled and it wasn’t until 2008 that New Mexico rolled out its medical cannabis program.

“Why are we shooting for being the last to legalize cannabis for adult use?” Apodaca said.

The push for legalization comes as New Mexico’s medical marijuana program has grown exponentially in just the last two years. Producers licensed under the program reported record sales of more than $86 million in 2017 and the number of patients enrolled now tops 50,000.

“We know the medical benefits of it. And we also know the opportunities of legalization for adult use,” Apodaca said, suggesting expansion of the long-standing medical marijuana program along with legalization could result in an estimated $200 million of additional tax revenues for the state.

The state’s largest producer, Ultra Health, announced that it has acquired farmland in southern New Mexico and has plans for what the industry says could be the largest cultivation facility in North America.

The property spans nearly one-third of a square mile (81 hectares) in Otero County. It will include 20 acres (8 hectares) of indoor cultivation, 80 acres (32 hectares) of outdoor cannabis fields and another 100 acres (40 hectares) of outdoor hemp fields.

Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriguez said the company is preparing for a future in which New Mexico stands to benefit from expanded medical use and possibly recreational use.

Apodaca’s plan calls for lifting the current limits on the number of plants producers can grow and reducing costly licensing fees.

Other Democratic candidates have been more cautious.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would work with state lawmakers to ensure there are adequate health, safety and enforcement measures in place. She called for a “thorough analysis” of recreational pot programs in other states as part of that effort.

Lujan Grisham was in charge of the state Health Department when the medical marijuana program began. Aside from the legalization debate, she said supporting producers to create the latest medicines and methods to help patients would help create jobs and expand the industry.

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes, another Democratic candidate, has sponsored unsuccessful legislation to decriminalize possession of small quantities of pot but has said the state is lacking infrastructure and isn’t ready yet to legalize.

Cervantes recently lauded efforts at the local level by the state’s largest city — Albuquerque — to decriminalize possession of small amounts. He said he would do the same as governor and that it would mark a first step.

Republican congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce expressed reservations about legalization at a forum earlier this month. He said it might create a stumbling block for people trying to climb out of poverty and addiction to other drugs.

“I just don’t see how it fits that we’re going to deal with addiction and yet we’re going to tell people, ‘This one is OK.’ I’ve watched it for a lifetime. I just am very nervous with recreational marijuana,” he said.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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Dem in New Mexico Governor’s race wants to legalize weed

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca is calling for the expansion of New Mexico’s medical marijuana program and for legalization of recreational use.

Apodaca released his plan Thursday, saying New Mexico is losing out on jobs and tax revenues that could be generated by the industry.

New Mexico’s medical program has grown exponentially and now has more than 50,000 patients. Record sales were also reported in 2017.

At a recent forum, Republican Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve
Pearce expressed reservations about legalization.

Among the other Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she would support a measure that includes adequate health and enforcement measures to prevent underage use and workplace problems.

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes has sponsored unsuccessful legislation to decriminalize possession of small quantities of pot but has said the state isn’t ready yet to legalize.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
Continue Reading

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

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