What’s going on (in the world of cannabis)?

by Amanda Push

When it comes to cannabis, there’s always something new popping up in the news. And, it’s not just Colorado- based news, either. There’s plenty of national weed news, whether it’s another state that voted to legalize recreational marijuana or brand spankin’ new research that has been released about the wonders of cannabis.

Here at DGO, weed and weed news just so happen to be our favorite things, so we like to stay on top of what’s burning across the country. If you’re curious about the cannabis scene nationwide, here are a few of the latest headlines about what’s new — or what you can expect soon — in the world of cannabis.

Oklahoma cannabis activists finish up ballot proposals Turns out OK truly is an okay state. Or, it’s getting there, anyway. No offense to Oklahomans or whatever. It’s just that Colorado is better.

Anyway, here’s what’s happening in Oklahoma. So, medical cannabis has been legal in this state since 2018, but it turns out that wasn’t enough for residents. In fact, there has had a pretty significant push in terms of legalization of recreational weed over the last few years, and the folks who are advocating for recreational marijuana use in Oklahoma have now finished up their ballot proposals for next year’s vote on
whether to allow for recreational marijuana use.

They’re also trying, in conjunction, to overhaul the state’s medical marijuana policies, which are currently pretty restrictive. As of right now, only patients and their designated caregivers who are registered with OMMA can legally possess medical cannabis. OK patients and caregivers are only permitted to possess up to:

– 3 ounces of cannabis on them and 8 ounces at home

– 1 ounce of cannabis concentrates

– 72 ounces of edible products

There is also the option to grow cannabis at home for medical patients, which is cool. But, those who elect to cultivate their own cannabis are limited to six mature plants and six seedlings, and plants must not be visible from the street. Must be worried about burning the image of a harmless plant into children’s retinas or something.

Who knows. Won’t somebody think of the ficus?

Possession of recreational cannabis, on the other hand, and the use of recreational cannabis, is considered a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. If you’re caught in possession of cannabis and you don’t have a valid registry license but can show proof of an approved medical condition, you might just face a fine. Pretty restrictive either way, right?

Right. Not as bad as some of the other states in the vicinity (we’re side-eying you, Texas), but it’s still not ideal.

Well, Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) are aiming to change that recreational ban because, well, it’s a little dumb. The group is currently petitioning for those who are 21 and older to have the right to purchase marijuana for their own recreational use.

Under the group’s proposal, ORCA also seeks to replace the state’s current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority with the Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission, which would “assume all administrative, regulatory and appropriate adjudicative authority over cannabis, hemp and marijuana plants, the products derived therefrom, and the related services as established in the provisions set forth in this Article.”

We’re crossing our fingers for our sort-of neighbors to the sort-of south to get what they’re asking for. Life is better with a little weed in it. And it’s a LOT better with a lot of weed in it. But you can’t have either unless you have a legal cannabis market for both recreational and medical purposes. Otherwise, you’re risking criminal charges over a few grams of bud, and ain’t nobody got time for that. 60,000 cannabis convictions dismissed in Los Angeles County

All hail California? Well, yes… when it comes to rolling back cannabis convictions, anyway.

Los Angeles County, the county that encompasses at least part of the L.A. metro area, is on a gotdang roll when it comes to dismissing past cannabis convictions, and we are here. for. it.

Back in 2020, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey dismissed 66,000 cannabis convictions. And, we’re stoked to see that the current county DA is following suit. Let’s keep that momentum going! (And pass a little over this way, would ya?)

In late September, the new Los Angeles County District Attorney, George Gasc n, announced his decisions to expunge about 60,000 former marijuana- related convictions. Sixty-freaking- thousand convictions just wiped clean. How awesome is that?

“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” Gasc n said. “It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws.”
And, it’s about time it happened, too. Back in September 2018, California passed AB1793, a law that mandates counties in the state clear convictions for buying or possessing marijuana, which makes sense considering that voters legalized marijuana in the state way back in 2016.

But as of early 2021, only 3% of people eligible for record clearances under the law had actually received them. What that means is that a lot of freaking people who should not be penalized for marijuana “crimes” that occurred when prohibition was in effect are still dealing with the unfair repercussions. So, it’s nice to see that L.A. County is making moves to change that.

Here’s to hoping the rest of the state follows suit.

Annual Denver cannabis report published

Denver recently released its annual cannabis report and, to the surprise of no one, Denverites really, really like weed!

The report, titled “The Denver Collaborative Approach,” notes, in part, the city’s massive contributions to not only the cannabis industry as a whole, but to the state’s overall well-being, too.
Here are a few of the highlights from the report:

– In January 2014, there were 731 medical cannabis business licenses and 270 recreational licenses in Denver.

– As of January 2021, there were 441 medicinal licenses and 476 recreational licenses issued.

– According to the report, recreational marijuana sales shot up 18%, while medical marijuana sales jumped up by 31%, between 2019 and 2020.

– Denver is the largest city in Colorado, and when it comes to weed sales, it shows. The city of Denver alone made up 32.6% of the state’s recreational cannabis sales. Y’all Denverites reallllllllly love your ganja.

– The city of Denver has, in 2021 alone, granted $24.6 million in cannabis revenue to “affordable housing and homelessness services, youth violence prevention, STAR program pilot implementation, leases, and other one-time equipment costs.” Other cities (ahem, Durango, Telluride, Aspen, and so on and so forth)
could really take a lesson from the Front Range.

But, while the report reinforces the city’s love for weed, the data is really not that surprising. There are basically pot shops on every block in Denver, and if there wasn’t a demand, well … you know the deal.
There wouldn’t be your friendly neighborhood weed shop around to supply it.

Voters to choose whether to increase cannabis taxes in CO

Who loves taxes? If you raised your hand, please leave the room. While we all like what taxes pay for — schools, roads, social services programs, and the like — the truth is that ain’t NOBODY itching to pay more money for them.

And, if you want to avoid a new tax hike, you best get to votin’, folks. Come November, Coloradoans are going to have to decide whether to raise taxes on cannabis products, which seems a little silly considering the obscene amount of taxes we already happily shell out to buy our legal weed. Can’t we raise the taxes on tourism or something instead?

Here’s what you need to know about Initiative 25. This initiative is a proposal to increase taxes on recreational cannabis by 3%. That money will go toward “out-of-school learning opportunities” for children starting in 2022.

While that’s a noble cause, Colorado already levies a 15% sales tax — which was hiked up from 10% in 2017 — on retail cannabis sales to customers. And, that’s not all the tax hike would do. While the initial hike would be 3%, it would increase in 2024, when the tax would hike up to 5%.

According to a fiscal analysis of the proposal, it could bring in another $137.6 million a year in taxes. That’s a good thing — don’t get us wrong — but it’s also important to note that some retail customers aren’t able or don’t have access to medical cannabis in their cities, and increasing an already-high tax to even higher rates could price out people who need cannabis as medicine.

And, it’s important to point out that the 15% tax from the state of Colorado does not include any local taxes, either. Counties are free to tax weed sales on the local level, too.

Should this go into effect, it could mean that by 2024, cannabis users would be spending well over 20% in taxes whenever they purchase marijuana. Seems a little steep, no?

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