Phoenix New Times: “The fight for a medical-marijuana dispensary on unincorporated Maricopa County land won a key victory on Wednesday with the Board of Supervisors lifting its ban on the shops. But the five Supervisors — one Democrat and four Republicans — and the county attorney continue to see the case as their ticket to overturning the state’s voter-approved medical-pot law.”
Arizona Republic: “The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a zoning ordinance allowing medical-marijuana dispensaries in Maricopa County’s unincorporated areas, winding down more than two years of resistance in the face of an adverse Superior Court order. Maricopa County previously had a zoning classification that blocked medical-marijuana dispensaries within the county’s jurisdiction. The county stood firm on that policy despite voter approval of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, which put the state’s medical-marijuana program into effect in many Valley cities.”
Breitbart: “Marijuana and hashish-infused edibles are back in vogue. The culinary phenomenon was portrayed with great humor in the 1968 cult film starring Peter Sellers, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. Now psychedelic edibles are on sale legally in Colorado, and they are causing some consternation for state regulators.“
The Weekly Standard: “The head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is now openly criticizing Barack Obama for his recent comments over the question of marijuana legalization, according to multiple reports. The Boston Herald reports it has sources who heard DEA chief Michele Leonhart “slam” Obama at last week’s National Sheriffs’ Association winter meeting in Washington.”
Politico: “The Obama administration will soon announce regulations to make it easier for banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday. ‘You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system,’ Holder said during an appearance at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. ‘There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash—substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective’.”
Washington Times: “President Obama’s latest claims about marijuana are contradicted by research and official positions of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House. And Mr. Obama’s words have anti-drug leaders worried about negative repercussions among youth. Mr. Obama claimed to The New Yorker magazine that marijuana is no worse than cigarettes or alcohol and he promoted state efforts by Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. The National Drug Control Policy’s official stance, posted on the whitehouse.gov website, says the opposite of Mr. Obama on all counts.”
See also “Patrick Kennedy to President Obama: Pot has Changed” which says:
“Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy says President Barack Obama is wrong about the dangers of marijuana, saying that the drug today is not like what the president smoked in his youth. The former eight-term Rhode Island Democrat said Obama’s statement in an interview this weekend that pot is not worse than alcohol was based on anecdotal evidence, not science.”
NBC News: “Please don’t let your dog drink the bong water. Calls reporting pet poisonings by marijuana have increased by about 30 percent since 2009, from 213 calls that year to 320 in 2013, according to the Animal Poison Control Center, a division of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those calls probably represent only a fraction of poisonings related to cannabis.”
ABC News: “Colorado residents may wind up with ‘pot bellies’ if they keep filling up on marijuana edibles at this pace. Ever since recreational marijuana sales began in the state on Jan. 1, many shop owners said they have been unable to keep pot-infused candies, cookies and sodas in stock.”
Phoenix New Times: “The Arizona Department of Health Services again denied adding PTSD, depression, and migraines to the list of medical conditions that qualify people for a medical-marijuana card. DHS Director Will Humble wrote on his blog that he “didn’t approve the petitions because of the lack of published data regarding the risks and benefits of using Cannabis to treat or provide relief for the petitioned conditions.”
The text below is from the Arizona Department of Health Services Director’s blog on January 17, 2014:
“We published our mid-year update of the medical marijuana annual report this week. It contains different data than our standard annual report in that we’re reporting aggregate dispensary transaction data. In the report you’ll see that there were about 422,000 transactions made at dispensaries in ‘13 among the 40,000 patients (about 10 transactions/patient/year). Dispensaries sold 2,700 Kg of marijuana in ’13 for an estimated gross revenue stream of about $33M. Transaction data is broken down by age group as well. Fridays are the busiest day of the week at dispensaries.
In other news, we completed our review of the latest petitions to add debilitating medical conditions to the official list this week. As you recall, the AZ Medical Marijuana Act charges us to periodically accept petitions to add new medical conditions to the list that qualifies folks for a card. Last summer we accepted petitions from the public to add new medical conditions for PTSD, depression and migraines. We also received a lot of informal comments regarding adding PTSD; depression & migraines and heard in person testimony from dozens of folks at our public hearing in October.
We also contracted with the U of A College of Public Health to do an evidence review of published scientific studies. You can see the UA’s analyses for depression; migraine headaches and PTSD on our petition website. Our ADHS Medical Advisory Committee reviewed and analyzed the data, as in past submission periods, and provided me with recommendations earlier this week.
Our literature review found limited scientific evidence to support permanently adding the petitioned conditions to the statutory list of qualifying debilitating conditions identified in the Act. I didn’t approve the petitions because of the lack of published data regarding the risks and benefits of using Cannabis to treat or provide relief for the petitioned conditions. We’ll be accepting petitions again January 27 – 31, 2014.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services will accept Dispensary Registration Certificate applications beginning on May 18, 2015 and ending on June 1, 2015.
Arizona Republic: “Medical marijuana patients and caregivers bought about 3 tons of cannabis last year, spending about $33 million to purchase the drug, according to a new state report released Thursday. . . . On average, patients made 10 transactions during the entire year, ranging from a minimum of one transaction to a maximum of 314 transactions. Five dispensaries accounted for 40 percent of the total marijuana sold.”
Read the Arizona Department of Health Services 2013 Annual Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) End of Year Report.
New York Times: “Legal marijuana . . . businesses are conducted almost entirely in cash because it is exceedingly difficult for them to open and maintain bank accounts, and thus accept credit cards. The . . . drug remains illegal under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act, enacted in 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous category, which also includes heroin, LSD and ecstasy. As a result, banks, including state-chartered ones, are reluctant to provide traditional services to marijuana businesses. They fear that federal regulators and law enforcement authorities might punish them, with measures like large fines, for violating prohibitions on money-laundering, among other federal laws and regulations. “Banking is the most urgent issue facing the legal cannabis industry today,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association in Washington, D.C.”
USA Today: “The legal sales have spurred heavy demand, and some smaller stores have reported either rationing sales or running out entirely. Prices have changed accordingly: . . . the retail price of pot leaped from about $2,500 a pound to $6,000 a pound within days of Jan. 1. State and local taxes add up to about 20%-25% of the purchase price, depending on location, and vendors are allowed to charge whatever the market will bear. Customers from across the country have flocked to the Denver area, where most of the stores are located. Some smaller communities have banned sales, while others are developing their permitting processes.”
US News: “A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday found 55 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, compared to 44 percent who do not. Support was highest in the West – where voter-driven initiatives often become law – and in the Northeast. An October poll released by Gallup put nationwide support for legalization at 58 percent.”
Fox News: “As the smoke settles from the first week of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, experts are warning that sanctioned pot dealers could become targets for the very folks they put out of business. Taking over a trade once ruled by drug cartels and turning it into an all-cash business could make pot shops prime targets for extortion, black-market competition and robbery. One veteran border narcotics agent told FoxNews.com Colorado’s legal pot industry will find it hard to keep the criminals from horning in on a lucrative business they once controlled.”
Tucson Weekly: “Safer Arizona is aiming to put an initiative in front of the voters to bring Colorado-style legalization to our state. I don’t know if you heard about it or not, but there’s a state near here where any adult can now buy weed legally. Colorado. . . . Tucsonan Bob Clark wants to create that here via Safer Arizona, a drive to put a legalization voter initiative on the November ballot. His proposal would allow sales to any adult, eliminate the statute that allows DUI for cannabis metabolites and allow any adult to grow 12 plants.
CBS Denver: “The first week of legal pot sales in Colorado is over, and now some Colorado pot shops are already running out of product. In the past week, long lines of customers swamped the Colorado dispensaries that have been granted retail marijuana licenses and bought nearly $5 million worth of pot.”
Wall St. Journal: “Buying marijuana for recreational use now is legal in Colorado—and paying for it with plastic is getting easier. The official rules of Visa Inc.and MasterCard Inc. prohibit the use of their debit and credit cards for marijuana purchases, but some Colorado merchants are allowing customers to use them anyway. That is because the card giants, owners of the processing networks that handle electronic payments, have quietly decided not to enforce their rules, according to people familiar with their strategies.
CNN: “In a major turnaround from past decades, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to a new poll. The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicated that the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged. Fifty-five percent of those questioned nationally said marijuana should be made legal, with 44% disagreeing.”
Time: “A few days into the experiment, the new world of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado appears to be a big success—so much so that pot shops are finding it impossible to keep up with demand. According to the Denver Post, at least 37 stores in Colorado were licensed to sell recreational pot to anyone 21 or over as of New Year’s Day. The Associated Press and others reported long lines outside Denver pot shops, with some eager customers forced to wait three to five hours before getting a chance to go inside, step up to the counter, and make a purchase.”
New York Times: “Joining a growing group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York plans this week to announce an executive action that would allow limited use of the drug by those with serious illnesses, state officials say. The shift by Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who had long resisted legalizing medical marijuana, comes as other states are taking increasingly liberal positions on it — most notably Colorado, where thousands have flocked to buy the drug for recreational use since it became legal on Jan. 1.”
Arizona Republic: “Supporters of an effort to legalize marijuana in Arizona this year see their chances fading, an organizer told The Arizona Republic last week, even as thousands of Colorado residents lined up to buy pot from the nation’s first recreational-marijuana shops. Many Arizona marijuana advocates hope to replicate Colorado’s model of regulated pot for recreational use, but it likely won’t happen in 2014 as organizers had hoped. The real effort, some say, will come in 2016, when an influential group is expected to substantially fund an initiative.”