Weed news from around the globe

by DGO Staff

All hail the pothead state of Colorado, which just set a record for the amount of weed-related revenue in 2021.

The Colorado Department of Revenue announced in early January that the state had managed to rake in a new record for the total annual cannabis sales in 2021.

“New record alert! In 2021, Colorado collected over $423 million in revenue from marijuana sales (compared to the previous record of over $387 million in 2020). Colorado also surpassed $2B in tax and fee revenue and $12B in marijuana sales to date,” the agency posted to its social media pages.

And, according to a monthly press release for December 2021, tax and fee revenue reached $30,609,563 — with a total of $423,486,053 between January and December 2021.

That means Colorado has raked in about $2,018,933,005 in weed taxes and fees since February 2014.

Y’all really love your weed, huh

But that’s not all! The latest data also revealed that $158,462,549 in taxes and fees was collected in November—with a total of $2,060,952,959 between January and November 2021.

What that means is that from the time that legal cannabis sales began in January 2014 until now, the state has collected a total of $12,039,747,032 in weed taxes and fees. We’re rolling in that good-good dough.

These figures are based off of the state sales tax of 2.9%, cannabis retail sales tax of 15%, and retail cannabis excise tax of 15%.
What’s interesting, though, is that the sales data from October, November, and December of 2021 show that sales decreased, according to the report. And, both cannabis sales and prices dropped in tandem.

Per the report, the price of smokeable flower per pound dropped by 28% during the last three months of 2021 — or from $1,316 to $948, according to Denver Westword.

For comparison’s sake, the price per pound at the end of 2020 was $1,721 on average.

And, what’s even more interesting is that while Colorado has set new records, they’re nothing compared to what has happened in the legal states of Washington and California.

The state of Washington has collected $3 billion in taxes and fees since the legal market opened for business, and California has collected $3.1 billion in tax revenue. As such, Colorado’s newly achieved $2 billion pales in comparison.

Part of the cause for the discrepancy is the fact that Washington’s sales tax is as high as 46% in certain regions, and California’s sales tax is as high as 38% — so both states are raking in a huge amount of tax money based on the high tax rate alone. On the other hand, Colorado’s tax percent is the third-highest in the country — but it’s not nearly as high as those other two states.

And, according to Marijuana Policy Project Policy Director Karen O’Keefe, Colorado’s cannabis industry is more consistent. That leads to a steady flow of funds for the state.
“When you have that kind of funding, economists say you have what’s called a multiplier effect, where you not only have the initial investment in the stores, the jobs and the tax revenue, but then that money is in people’s pockets who spend it again,” O’Keefe told Westword. “So it’s as if each dollar is two or three dollars, which is the way economists usually look at it.”

O’Keefe also noted that this longterm investing has led to the creation of 40,000 jobs and over 1,000 Colorado businesses — both of which have had a massive positive impact on the state. “Some of the more recently taxed states are focusing on specifically investing a good chunk of the revenue in communities that have borne the brunt of marijuana prohibition and that have had disproportionate marijuana arrests,” O’Keefe said. “You’ll just continue to see more tax revenue, more people working in the cannabis industry, operating cannabis businesses.”

A billion-dollar biz in AZ
Well, friends. It looks like we have some competition in the cannabis space, as weed is now a billion-dollar business in Arizona.

According to figures released by Arizona’s Department of Revenue, the state’s medical and recreational cannabis sales combined to generate more than $1.23 billion in revenue last year.

“Rarely does an industry produce over $1.2 billion in revenue in its first year. This number shows that the legalization of cannabis is something Arizonans believe strongly in and the many benefits it contributes to the state’s economy,” said Samuel Richard, the Executive Director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA).

The Department of Revenue offered a breakdown of the sales data, which revealed that recreational adult-use pot in Arizona raked in about $528,001,278 in revenue, while medical cannabis generated $703,803,194 in 2021.

Per the data, the state of Arizona raked in $60,299,191 in adult-use sales in November 2021, making it the highest- grossing month for recreational pot. That was the only month in 2021 that saw recreational sales top $60 million in the state.

And, there’s more. According to the report, April was the top month for medical cannabis in Arizona, with $72,944,477 generated between medical and recreational sales.

But those are just the sales numbers. When it comes to weed taxes, the state raked in $196,447,570 on the combined sales for medical and recreational cannabis last year — not including December, as that month’s sales data is still incomplete.

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, “there is a transaction privilege tax (TPT) rate and an excise tax (16%) on the retail sales” of adult-use recreational cannabis in the state.

Weed was legalized in Arizona in 2020 when 60% of voters approved Proposition 207, a ballot initiative that legalized recreational pot use in the state. Arizona was one of four states in 2020 in which voters approved legalization measures at the ballot. The other states that legalized cannabis during election time that year were Montana, South Dakota, and New Jersey.

Given the state’s very recent recreational legalization, those numbers aren’t looking too shabby. Just one year into legalization, Arizona has raked in over a billion dollars in tax revenue for the state. Pretty cool to see, eh?

Is Mississippi on its way to legal medical weed?

Many of the southern states have been extremely anti-cannabis for as long as we can remember, and that’s as true of Mississippi as it is for Texas, Georgia, or Louisiana.

But that may be changing for Mississippi at some point in the near future. There has been a long, drawn-out battle surrounding a medical cannabis bill in Mississippi — but it reached a major breakthrough in early

January when members of the state House passed the legislation with overwhelming support.

The bill was passed by the state House with a vote of 104-14, according to the Associated Press. Members of the state Senate passed the bill the previous week with a vote of 46-5, “but the House made some changes,” and now senators will need to either accept those changes or bring the legislation to the negotiating table.

“This bill has been vetted probably more than any bill in my history for sure,” Republican state House Representative Lee Yancey told The Clarion Ledger. Yancey, the chair of the state House Drug Policy Committee, has worked closely with GOP state Senator Kevin Blackwell on the legislation.

Earlier this month, Blackwell filed a 445-page bill that was referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee for review.

According to the Clarion Ledger, Yancey “made three changes” to the bill, the most notable regarding the amount of cannabis a patient can procure. Blackwell’s bill permitted patients to purchase up to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, but Yancey’s version allows for only 3 ounces to be purchased at a time. A patient “can still purchase 3.5 grams of marijuana at a time, but only six times a week,” per the Ledger. Whether or not that will be enough to placate the governor, who has said that he would prefer the limit to be lowered to 2.7 grams, remains to be seen.

Per the ledger, Yancey considers the number “just a starting point, and he expects the legislature to increase the amount of marijuana a person can purchase each month in future years.”

“This is an effort to start small and grow rather than start big and reduce,” Yancey said.

The Mississippi House-passed bill also “puts the entirety of the program under the Mississippi State Department of Health,” according to the Clarion Ledger, whereas the Senate version tasked the Department of Agriculture and Commerce to oversee “the licensing, inspection and oversight of cannabis cultivation facilities, processing facilities, transportation and cannabis disposal entities in the state.”

Almost 70% of Mississippi voters voted to pass a proposal in 2020 to legalize medical cannabis for patients in the state suffering from a host of conditions, including cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

But while voters are in favor of medical legalization, the pathway to legal weed has been troubled. Last year, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the ballot initiative, citing a technicality that rendered it unconstitutional.

In the wake of that ruling, state lawmakers sought to replace the initiative with a new medical marijuana law, but that too has been plagued by delays.
With the regular session now underway, the bill returns to the Senate –– but whether or not this current iteration of the initiative survives the conservative lawmakers in this state is anyone’s guess.

Texas (or the cool part of it, anyway) may be going decrim

The capital city of Austin, Texas may soon be on its way to earmarking its spot as the most liberal city in the state. And by that we mean a green light has been given to a cannabis decriminalization initiative that is now set to appear in an upcoming ballot.

In mid-January,Austin City Council voted to allow a ballot initiative known as the “Austin Freedom Act of 2021” to be included as part of an upcoming special election. This Act would stop local law enforcement from convicting residents of low-level cannabis offenses, and would also prohibit “no knock” warrants by police — both of which would be big changes for this metro area.

The initiative was the brainchild of Ground Game Texas (GGT).

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of the on-the-ground organizers from Ground Game Texas and partner organizations, Austin residents will soon have the ability to make lasting change to our antiquated and racist criminal justice laws,” said Ground Game Texas Political Director Mike Siegel. “With successful campaigns like these, Ground Game Texas will continue to empower and excite communities around progressive change—and deliver for the marginalized communities that too often get left behind.”

The group collected 33,332 signatures, although state law only requires 20,000 verified signatures.

“It’s official! Austin will hold an election May 7, 2022 on the Austin Freedom Act. Voters will be able to pass a new city law that (1) ends enforcement of marijuana possession and (2) bans dangerous ‘no knock’ warrants. Thank you to everyone who got us this far—now let’s win!” the organization wrote on Twitter.

The Austin Police Department first announced the end of cannabis convictions back in 2020, stating that citations would only be given “unless there is an immediate threat to a person’s safety or doing so is part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony,” per KVUE.

What the Austin Freedom Act of 2021 does is it makes decriminalization official, stating that if passed by voters, Class A or Class B possession offenses would not be issued by law enforcement unless the situation involves a high priority “felony level narcotics case” or “investigation of a violent felony.”

If passed, the Act would also put an end to “no knock” warrants, which means that Austin police officers may not request, execute, or participate in the execution of any search warrant that does not require the officer to knock and announce their presence and wait at least 15 seconds prior to execution.”

A family affair

We all know and love filmmaker Kevin Smith, who brought us classic stoner films like “Clerks” and the Jay and Silent Bob movies we’ve come to know and love. And now Smith is bringing us a heartwarming story about two familial stoners who happen to run into each other while buying bud at a local dispensary. But wait, this one isn’t a film. It’s real life.

Smith, 51, ran into his daughter, actress Harley Quinn Smith, 22, during a random visit to iLyfted cannabis dispensary in Studio City, California, earlier this month.

Per the Irish Examiner, the filmmaker was pretty proud to run into his daughter at the same dispensary.
“When you’re at the weed store and you run into your kid,” Smith posted on his Instagram account. “Since

Harley Quinn Smith got her own house, there have been moments when I ran into the kid by chance out in public. And tonight, after I ran into my only begotten daughter at the weed store, I was like ‘Someone raised that kid right’.”

Harley Quinn replied to the post, saying, “It was a surprise but also not a surprise at all.”

Harley Quinn is currently working on a series with her father, but there aren’t many details available on the project.

“It’s such a cool gift to be able to work with somebody you’re related to,” Harley Quinn told E! News in June. “We have pretty similar minds, so it’s kind of like you’re shooting with another version of yourself. It’s so much fun and we’re working on another thing together now which has been, in my opinion, the most fun yet, and I can’t wait for us to be able to share with the world what that is.”

“We’ve been writing together which is so much fun because that’s make pretend, right? Like I used to make pretend with her when she was a kid,” Kevin said. “Now she’s an adult and you rarely get to do that. But in this way we can, because it’s the same thing, you sit around going, ‘What if they did this, what if this happened, what if this happened?’ So you get to play again, which is a rare gift for a parent now.”


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