Looking for cannabis friendly ways to get into the holiday spirit?
Check out these Colorado cannabis events that will ensure your Christmas is merry and lit.
High for the Holidays at The Oriental Theater
Dec. 20, 8-11 pm
The Oriental Theater
4335 W. 44th Ave., Denver
Still need a last-minute gift for your favorite toker (or yourself)? Check out this cannabis-themed holiday market with local vendors, smoking accessories and stoner apparel. Unwind with performances by pot comedians Rick Bryan and Derrik Rush, music, and burlesque shows. You can even take a photo with CannaClaus (only if you’ve been nice).
The event is 21+ and tickets are $14.20 each, or $4.20 with a valid marijuana industry badge.
While there’s no consumption allowed in the venue, a smoke bus will be outside from 7-9:30 pm.
Creatively Cannabis: Tokes and Brush Strokes
Dec. 22, 3-5:30 pm
The Coffee Joint
1130 Yuma Ct., Denver
Get in touch with your creative side at this cannabis consumption and painting event. The BYOB cannabis event will be held at The Coffee Joint, Denver’s only public cannabis consumption venue. Past painting experience isn’t required, so grab some flower and get your Picasso on.
Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 the day of the event. Painting supplies and a 16″x20″ canvas are included.
Christmas at the Coffee Joint
The Coffee Joint
1130 Yuma Ct., Denver
Really get into the high holiday spirit with classic Christmas movies at The Coffee Joint on Christmas Eve, and a daylong Doctor Who marathon on Christmas Day.
Entry into the 21+ venue is $5 or free if you make a purchase at the dispensary next door.
Roaring ’20s New Year’s Celebration
Dec. 31, 8 pm-1 am
Speakeasy Vape and Cannabis Club
2508 E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs
Say goodbye to one decade ring in the new one with a Roaring ’20s themed New Year’s Eve party at Speakeasy Vape Lounge and Cannabis Club. Come dressed in your best flapper gear, enjoy some medicated chocolate fondue, and get down to music by DJ K-Mac.
Admission is $20, or two tickets for $30.
2020 4/20 Party
Jan. 4, 4 pm
808 E. 78th Ave., Denver
Who says the party has to stop after New Year’s Day? Celebrate 2020 with Studio 420, an indoor smoking lounge in north Denver. The event is 21+ and members-only (you can become a member by calling 303-781-4642). Entry is $4.20.
The House Education & Labor Committee approved a bill that would repeal a law that prevents students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) sponsored the Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act with over 30 co-sponsors.
In 1998, Congress amended the Higher Education Act by adding the Aid Elimination Penalty (AEP), cutting off students with drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid.
As a result of the change, a question about past drug convictions was added to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students looking for help paying for college must fill out a FAFSA to be eligible for loans, grants, and work-study programs. After the drug offense question was added to the form, more than 41,000 students were denied financial aid each year, not including students who didn’t bother applying because of marijuana or other drug offenses.
“The best possible intervention for a young person struggling in their relationship with drugs is a quality education,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), said in an interview with Forbes. “Evidence demonstrates that denying them access only harms the students and their communities.
In 2006, Congress amended the AEP to only cut off financial to students convicted of drug offenses while receiving aid. Students convicted for possession are denied aid for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and permanently for the third offense. Students convicted for selling are denied aid for two years for the first offense, and indefinitely if there is another offense.
The change to the AEP rules reduced the number of rejected applications to about 1,000 per year, though the question about past drug convictions is still on the FAFSA application.
If the Financial Aid Fairness for Students bill is approved by Congress, it would remove the question about past drug convictions from the FAFSA entirely.
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “This policy unfairly targets poor and minority students and costs society more in terms of crime and lost economic productivity.”
Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project, says punishing students for drug offenses is discriminatory and furthers inequality. “If a student is convicted of a drug offense and her family can afford to pay for college, she will be unaffected by the legislation, while those who are already in danger of being forced to society’s margins will be further disempowered,” he said.
Aldworth says that denying financial aid to students convicted with marijuana or other low-level drug offenses is part of a larger problem. “Young people of color are disproportionately impacted by these policies just as people of color are disproportionately targeted for enforcement of drug laws in general,” Aldworth said. “This is one part of a massive system of systemic discrimination against communities, with collateral consequences that reach far beyond a single person’s education.”
The lack of sustainable packaging in the cannabis industry is becoming more of a concern as access to legal cannabis expands across the country. Marijuana-packaging regulations force cannabis manufacturers to be not only purveyors of weed but purveyors of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials.
In an effort to attract customer attention, many cannabis brands have gone beyond child-resistant packaging requirements and embraced the “unboxing” experience, creating complex packages that generate even more waste. Plus, there are all of those pre-rolls in plastic tubes, 1/8ths in plastic pop-top containers, vapes in multi-layer, mixed-material boxes, and, yes, individual sucker packaging — most of which ends up in the trash.
All of that cannabis packaging adds up. Roughly 36 million tons of packaging waste goes to landfills every year. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of throwing out your bodyweight in packaging every 30-40 days.
What is Sustainability?
The UN World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Basically, if humans want to have water, materials, and natural resources into the future, we need to address how we produce and consume what we have now.
The idea of sustainable packaging is to reduce the waste. This can involve increasing the life cycle of the packaging, creating more functional packaging, using materials that are more recyclable, and investing in future technologies that are eco-friendlier.
Impact of Packaging on the Environment
Since 1950, the production of plastic has skyrocketed, creating 8.3 billion metric tons of waste, most of which ends up in landfills or the ocean. That plastic pre-roll tube you picked up at the dispensary? It’ll take more than 450 years to degrade. Plastic that makes it into the ocean never fully biodegrades, breaking down into microplastics that fish and other marine life mistake for food. A recent study found that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
You Asked, We Listened
Mountain High Suckers doesn’t want to be part of the packaging problem. We value feedback from our customers, and you’ve told us that sustainable packaging is important to you. Trust us, we’ve seen it too. Trash cans overflowing with single-use paper and plastic wrappers and containers aren’t an uncommon sight at cannabis events and social consumption lounges.
While reduce, reuse, recycle is important, we know it’s about more than what happens to a container after it’s used–it’s about using more environmentally sustainable packaging in the first place. That’s why Mountain High Suckers has partnered with Calyx Containers.
- Calyx Containers use plastic treated with organic additives that speed up the biodegradation rate of the containers after they’re exposed to a landfill’s microbial ecosystem.
- Calyx Containers use less material and take up less space than traditional cannabis packaging, plus all of their containers are fully recyclable.
- Calyx plastic begins to break down as soon as it enters biologically active landfills, as opposed to going through a decomposition cycle that would normally take significantly longer.
Our starting point will be with new packaging our lozenges and sweet pieces products. Look for them with a new style on shelves soon! We’re also currently looking into options to improve the recyclability of our single serving sucker packaging too.
Moving toward sustainability is definitely a huge task and it requires everyone moving toward a more balanced environment. We aim to encourage our partners and competitors to make the choice to switch to more recyclable materials. Live free, be well!
Alaskan capital says yes to on-site marijuana edible consumption, outdoor cannabis smoking areas
A city ordinance passed by the Juneau Assembly will allow customers to consume cannabis edibles inside licensed dispensaries as well as smoke in designated outdoor areas. The ordinance was approved 6-2, and an amendment that would have allowed only vaping in outdoor smoking areas failed.
Local cannabis business owner John Nemeth approved of the Assembly’s decision.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” Nemeth said. “It’s something we never thought we’d see here in Juneau and it’s giving people a safe place to consume.”
Medical marijuana could hit shelves in Louisiana next week
It’s been four years since Louisiana lawmakers legalized medical marijuana, and next week patients could finally have access to therapeutic cannabis.
“If there are no problems, no contamination, and we don’t expect any, then hopefully by the end of the week or early next week, there will be products moving to the market. That’s kind of the timetable,” said Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain.
Only cannabis grown at Louisiana State University and Southern University is authorized for use in the state’s medical-marijuana program, and nine pharmacies will dispense cannabis in liquid form. Patients can use liquid cannabis applied as drops under the tongue, or into an inhaler. Louisiana also plans to allow patients access to cannabis oils, pills, and topical applications.
Oklahoma dispensary owners sue Facebook
Seven medical marijuana dispensaries have filed a suit against Facebook for putting them in “Facebook jail” for posting about their businesses. The owners say that Facebook has “a pattern of targeting the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry” and that the social media giant is censoring their business pages.
“Facebook jail” is when a page or profile is temporarily disabled for allegedly violating standards.
The petition claims that “Facebook has an arbitrary, subjective, discriminatory and archaic policy and their policy does not apply to all. It is just random. Or at least it appears to be random. There is no way for an individual or a business to contact anyone within Facebook to get assistance. They hide behind their keyboards and mete out whatever punishment they feel if they find that you have committed an infraction to their subjective community standards.”
The marijuana business owners are seeking a court order preventing Facebook from censoring their bushiness pages, as well as more than $75,000 for the “economic harm” caused by the censorship.
Governor Jared Polis, a vocal cannabis advocate who campaigned on supporting the marijuana industry, has made big changes to cannabis regulations in Colorado since he was sworn in back in January.
In May, Polis signed several cannabis bills into law: autism spectrum disorder was added to the state’s list of qualifying MMJ conditions, cannabis delivery to private residences was given the green light, and tokers will finally have a place for social consumption in hospitality establishments.
Polis also signed a bill that will allow doctors to prescribe cannabis instead of opioids for acute medical conditions, as well as allowing more medical professionals to prescribe medical marijuana. So, for instance, if you have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentists could recommend medical cannabis instead of addictive opioid pain medication.
“Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a safer pain management tool that will be useful for both our doctors and patients,” said Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has been resistant to adding new medical conditions to the MMJ program, but the new law circumvents the CDPHE board. The board met on July 17 for an emergency rulemaking session ahead of the law’s implementation. One of the rules up for debate was whether short-term medical marijuana cards should be valid for 30 or 60 days.
According to Westword, at least one board member thought sixty days for a short-term MMJ card was too long, especially in cases where an opioid would only be prescribed for seven days. Anna Weaver-Hayes, who testified at the meeting on behalf of the Colorado Psychiatric Society and Children’s Hospital Colorado, also recommended a shorter prescription window of thirty days.
Cannabis Clinicians Colorado director Martha Montemayor argued for a sixty-day short-term MMJ prescription, explaining that patients on the Western Slope often have to apply for their cards by mail and that “By the time they get their approval back in the mail, more than half of their recommendation could be done already,” she said. “We can’t forget those people.”
The board unanimously voted to approve a sixty-day minimum for short-term MMJ cards. Final rules will be decided by the board in September.
California is launching a new campaign to combat black market cannabis and support the legal marijuana industry.
The campaign, dubbed “Get #weedwise,” is meant to encourage cannabis consumers to buy their marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
“This public education campaign is the first to focus on educating consumers about the differences between cannabis purchased from licensed retailers and that from illegal businesses,” said Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Consumer safety is a big part of the campaign since unlicensed cannabis doesn’t undergo the same safety and quality control process as licensed cannabis retailers. Illegal cannabis is often tainted by heavy metals, mold, pesticides, and even human waste. Unlicensed grows regularly use banned or restricted pesticides, and it’s led to increased pollution and toxic waste.
U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar, who has been a lawyer on multiple marijuana-related environmental damage cases, said many of these illegal grows “are like superfund sites.”
Some of the cannabis plants seized in raids were so toxic that law enforcement officers were sent to the hospital after just touching the plants.
“We believe that this campaign will directly impact consumer safety by clarifying that only cannabis purchased from licensed retailers has met the state’s safety standards, while sending a clear message to unlicensed businesses that they need to get licensed or shut down,” said Ajax.
The black market is a huge problem in California that’s undermining the regulated cannabis market and costing the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. According to New Frontier Data, as much as 80% of the cannabis sold in the state comes from the black market. The company estimated that California’s black market marijuana is worth $3.7 billion, more than four times the size of the legal cannabis market.
“We are going to start having a more aggressive enforcement stance to come after the illegal market,” said Ajax.
The two-year campaign will include $113 million in state funds to enforce state marijuana laws, crack down on illegal cannabis operations, and encourage unlicensed businesses to enter the regulated market. California will spend an initial $1.7 million on a series of ads on social media and billboards to encourage cannabis consumers to check if a shop is licensed at CApotcheck.com.
Since recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in 2014, the state has collected $1.02 billion in tax revenue, according to the latest numbers released by the Colorado Department of Revenue. Adult-use cannabis sales in the last five years have exceeded $6.56 billion. Legal cannabis has created jobs for 41,076 people who work in the industry, and there are currently 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses in the state.
“Today’s report continues to show that Colorado’s cannabis industry is thriving, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition. We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation and development for this growing economic sector,” said Governor Jared Polis (D) in a press release. “This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction.”
Colorado and Washington state were the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2012 (with the first recreational dispensaries opening in 2014), but since then 11 other states have fully legalized cannabis as well. That means increased competition from states with larger populations and fewer regulations. Cannabis sales in Colorado have begun to level out, in part due to a decline in medical marijuana sales. In 2018, recreational marijuana sales were up 11%, but medical cannabis sales were down 20%.
Governor Polis told CNBC being the first state to sell recreational cannabis has been an advantage for Colorado, something that he hopes to leverage in the coming years.
“We are always going to be relatively small potatoes on the actual sales. … We are just not going to be as big as states like California or New Jersey. … We want to make sure that 10 years from now, point-of-sales systems, chemistry, genetics — all those pieces — are housed here in Colorado with successful companies that power a multibillion national industry.”
California police carried out multiple raids on illegal marijuana grows Wednesday in an ongoing effort to tamp down on black market cannabis. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department served 80 search warrants in Anza Valley and made several arrests. They seized an estimated 140,800 plants valued at $189 million, along with 3,00 pounds of processed marijuana, 17 rifles, and 10 handguns.
“There are legitimate concerns in Northern California particularly as it relates to illegal cannabis grows. They are getting worse, not better,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.
California has a comprehensive regulatory framework for legal marijuana, and cannabis growers are required to go through a step-by-step licensing process, including background checks. However, according to New Frontier Data, as much as 80% of the cannabis sold in the state comes from the black market. The company estimated that California’s black market marijuana is worth $3.7 billion, more than four times the size of the legal cannabis market.
A report from the state Cannabis Advisory Committee found that “Lack of enforcement is creating a thriving environment for the unregulated ‘underground market.”
The problem isn’t just limited to marijuana grows. The state Bureau of Cannabis control has sent 2,842 cease-and-desist letters to cannabis shops operating without state licenses.
“It’s difficult to say how many of those letters resulted in action,” Bureau spokesman Alex Traverso said. “Businesses could shut down and relocate.”
In June, local law enforcement raided five properties in Sonoma County that were producing medical marijuana oil. The owner of the company was using “illegal and hazardous production methods” in addition to breaking a number of city ordinances.
Cannabis is easy to get in the state: 1 in 5 Californians have purchased marijuana from illegal sources in the last three months, and 84% of those people said that they were highly likely to purchase cannabis from the same illicit source again.
In order for a regulated cannabis market to thrive and for consumers to get safe, high-quality cannabis, enforcement of marijuana regulations, and convincing non legal operations to go through the licensing process is essential.
“We believe that this governor is committed to addressing our concerns, and he has a Legislature that is showing their willingness to author bills that will strengthen the regulated market while minimizing the illicit market,” said Josh Drayton, a spokesman for the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Colorado bomb cyclone causes a spike in cannabis sales
In Colorado, preparing for a blizzard isn’t complete without hitting up a marijuana dispensary. Ahead of the bomb cyclone that hit the state in March, cannabis sales in both medical and adult-use retailers spiked. Medical marijuana dispensaries saw an increase in sales of 27% on March 11, and 25% on March 12. Sale of flower on those days increased by 14% and edible sales increased by 10% above average.
Total cannabis sales saw a 22% increase overall on March 11 and a 4% increase in the average transaction amount, from &62.23 to $64.95. On March 12, sales were up 25% higher, with the average transaction amount slightly increasing from $64.04 to $64.51. Altogether, statewide sales on March 11-12 increased by 21%.
Nebraska legislature nixes medical marijuana bill
Hopes for medical marijuana in Nebraska were dashed after a bill failed to garner enough support from state legislators. Sen Anna Wishart (D) sponsored the medical cannabis bill and agreed to all of the amendments proposed by opponents of the legislation, including prohibiting patients from smoking cannabis or home-growing marijuana plants. Another proposed amendment would have prohibited cannabis edibles, and Wishart said she would have supported that too. Despite those compromises, state senators rejected the bill.
“Honestly, this was my colleagues’ chance to do something, and I was giving them the decision on whether they wanted to take action or not,” Wishart said.
Opponents of the bill argued that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to pressure to legalize recreational cannabis use. They also argued that cannabis remains federally illegal and lacks approval from the FDA.
While the bill was up for debate, Wishart pointed out that cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and supporters of the bill referred to marijuana’s effectiveness in treating conditions like epilepsy.
“Why not just deal with a practical reality, where instead of doing it in the dark, they can go through a highly regulated medical system. Go through a doctor and make the right choice if cannabis is right for them,” Wishart said.
Industrial Hemp, CBD Coming to Texas
Texas lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp production and hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3% of THC. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tracy King (D) and the Senate voted unanimously in favor of it. Next, the bill will head to the House for any amendments and a vote.
King’s bill would task the Texas Department of Agriculture to enact regulations in accordance with the Farm Bill that Congress passed last year, including a licensing and inspection process.
Some senators were concerned that legalizing hemp would be a slippery slope to marijuana use.
“Can this stuff be smoked?” asked state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D).
“No, sir,” said Sen. Charles Perry (R). “I guess you could theoretically smoke it; you’d get no effect from it, and the bill specifically prohibits manufacturing for the purpose of smoking.”
“Nowadays people can smoke anything,” Hinojosa said.
Cannabis, not Opioids
A bill that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in place of opioids is one step closer to becoming law in Colorado. In its third hearing, Senate Bill 13 passed the House on Tuesday. The Senate passed the bill in February.
Many of the conditions covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana program are chronic, meaning that they can last months or years, but for acute conditions, physicians often prescribe opioids. SB 13 would give physicians an alternative to highly addictive opioids, allowing them to prescribe medical marijuana for acute pain and other temporary medical conditions.
Rep. Kim Ransom (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “[The opioid epidemic] affects all ages, all income levels, all areas of the state. We were trying to give doctors an additional option.”
The bill is heading back to the Senate for approval of changes made by the House. After that, the bill heads to Governor Jared Polis to be signed into law.
Cannabis consumption in “hospitality” establishments
While a social-use bill failed to get enough votes in Denver City Council, there’s still hope that Colorado will soon have more places to toke. House Bill 1230 would allow legal cannabis hospitality spaces in which marijuana could be sold and consumed. This would allow the creation of a new kind of space – likely next to or within a dispensary (or legal licensed cannabis business) to have a specific space dedicated to public consumption. The bill would make an exception to the Colorado Clean Air Act, which prohibits indoor smoking.
“The intent, really, is to solve a problem that we’ve had since Amendment 64 passed,” Rep. Jonathan Singer (D) said during a hearing for the bill. “Don’t consume it in the dispensary, don’t consume it in a street or in a park, don’t consume it in a hotel or a restaurant — and, by the way, if you’re a tourist, make sure you dispose of it before you leave the state.
The state licensing authority would be responsible for hammering out the final rules for cannabis “hospitality” establishments.
The bill passed the House on April 18 and is now headed to the Senate.
Finally, another new bill is ready for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who hasn’t 100% committed but likely will sign, that would allow licensed cannabis businesses to deliver to local residents. House Bill 1234 passed the Colorado Senate after being approved by the House on April 18.
The bill creates a new licensed to allow for dispensaries and transporters to make legal drops to residents directly to their homes. If signed legal deliveries would begin as soon as 2020 for medical patients and in 2021 for recreational buyers.