Colorado Moves to Tax Medical Marijuana

The Attorney General of Colorado said yesterday that his state can collect taxes on sales of medical marijuana.

"Medical marijuana is tangible property that is generally subject to state sales tax," Attorney General John Suthers said in an opinion, according to The Denver Post.

Suthers, a Republican, was responding to a query from the state's governor, Democrat Bill Ritter.

"This is another in a series of significant steps toward some sort of legalization of marijuana," said CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "Once local and state officials in Colorado and elsewhere realize how much income they can generate from this tax it will be harder for them or anyone else to argue that pot shouldn’t be legalized and regulated in some fashion."

In response to the opinion, the Post reports, the governor's office says it will direct businesses that offer medical marijuana to obtain retail licenses and begin paying sales taxes.

Ritter's spokesman said the move to regulate the industry comes amid "chaos" in medical marijuana distribution tied to a rise in dispensaries this year. (The state legalized medical marijuana in 2000.)

The move was welcomed by the director of a group that represents medical marijuana dispensaries and their clients and doctors who write prescriptions for the drug in Colorado.

"I think the community is willing to pay taxes if it will help prove the legitimacy of their efforts," Courtney Tanning of the Colorado Wellness Association told the Post. She said the medical marijuana industry "has been an underground, black-market community for so long that I think they're really willing to…pay dues to be taken seriously."

original source: CBS News


Rocky Mountain High

posted from Washington Post article:

DENVER Inside the green neon sign, which is shaped like a marijuana leaf, is a red cross. The cross serves the fiction that most transactions in the store — which is what it really is — involve medicine.

The Justice Department recently announced that federal laws against marijuana would not be enforced for possession of marijuana that conforms to states’ laws. In 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana. Since Justice’s decision, the average age of the 400 persons a day seeking “prescriptions” at Colorado’s multiplying medical marijuana dispensaries has fallen precipitously. Many new customers are college students.

Customers — this, not patients, is what most really are — tell doctors at the dispensaries that they suffer from insomnia, anxiety, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, “chronic pain,” whatever, and pay nominal fees for “prescriptions.” Most really just want to smoke pot.

So says Colorado’s attorney general, John Suthers, an honest and thoughtful man trying to save his state from institutionalizing such hypocrisy. His dilemma is becoming commonplace: Thirteen states have, and 15 more are considering, laws permitting medical use of marijuana.

Realizing they could not pass legalization of marijuana, some people who favor that campaigned to amend Colorado’s Constitution to legalize sales for medicinal purposes. Marijuana has medical uses — e.g., to control nausea caused by chemotherapy — but the helpful ingredients can be conveyed with other medicines. Medical marijuana was legalized but, Suthers says, no serious regime was then developed to regulate who could buy — or grow — it. (Caregivers? For how many patients? And in what quantities, and for what “medical uses”?)

Today, Colorado communities can use zoning to restrict dispensaries or can ban them because, even if federal policy regarding medical marijuana is passivity, selling marijuana remains against federal law. But Colorado’s probable future has unfolded in California, which in 1996 legalized sales of marijuana to persons with doctors’ “prescriptions.”

Fifty-six percent of Californians support legalization, and Roger Parloff reports that they essentially have this. He notes that many California “patients” arrive at dispensaries “on bicycles, roller skates or skateboards.” A Los Angeles city councilman estimates that there are about 600 dispensaries in the city. If so, they outnumber the Starbucks stores there.

The councilman wants to close dispensaries whose intent is profit rather than “compassionate” distribution of medicine. Good luck with that: Privacy considerations will shield doctors from investigations of their lucrative 15-minute transactions with “patients.”

Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries have hired lobbyists to seek taxation and regulation, for the same reason Nevada’s brothel industry wants to be taxed and regulated by the state: The Nevada Brothel Association regards taxation as legitimation and insurance against prohibition as the booming state’s frontier mentality recedes.

State governments, misunderstanding markets and ravenous for revenue, exaggerate the potential windfall from taxing legalized marijuana. California thinks it might reap $1.4 billion. But Rosalie Pacula, a Rand Corp. economist, estimates that prohibition raises marijuana production costs at least 400 percent, so legalization would cause prices to fall much more than the 50 percent assumed by the $1.4 billion estimate.

Furthermore, marijuana is a normal good in that demand for it varies with price. Legalization, by drastically lowering price, will increase marijuana’s public health costs, including mental and respiratory problems, and motor vehicle accidents.

States attempting to use high taxes to keep marijuana prices artificially high would leave a large market for much cheaper illegal — unregulated and untaxed — marijuana. So revenue (and law enforcement savings) would depend on the price falling close to the cost of production. In the 1990s, a mere $2 per pack difference between U.S. and Canadian cigarette prices created such a smuggling problem that Canada repealed a cigarette tax increase.

Suthers has multiple drug-related worries. Colorado ranks sixth in the nation in identity theft, two-thirds of which is driven by the state’s $1.4 billion annual methamphetamine addiction. He is loath to see complete legalization of marijuana at a moment when new methods of cultivation are producing plants in which the active ingredient, THC, is “seven, eight times as concentrated” as it used to be. Furthermore, he was pleasantly surprised when a survey of nonusing young people revealed that health concerns did not explain nonuse. The main explanation was the law: “We underestimate the number of people who care that something is illegal.”

But they will care less as law itself loses its dignity. By mocking the idea of lawful behavior, legalization of medical marijuana may be more socially destructive than full legalization.


How Harmful Is Marijuana Physically?

Almost completely NOT according to the most current research. In fact study after study has proven that marijuana poses little or no toxicity to the human body - especially if it's not smoked which still offers very little in the way of data to indicate a danger. Check out these excerpts from the highly popular Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts*.

MYTH: MARIJUANA'S HARMS HAVE BEEN PROVED SCIENTIFICALLY. In the 1960s and 1970s, many people believed that marijuana was harmless. Today we know that marijuana is much more dangerous than previously believed.

FACT: In 1972, after reviewing the scientific evidence, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse concluded that while marijuana was not entirely safe, its dangers had been grossly overstated. Since then, researchers have conducted thousands of studies of humans, animals, and cell cultures. None reveal any findings dramatically different from those described by the National Commission in 1972. In 1995, based on thirty years of scientific research editors of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that "the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health."

MYTH: MARIJUANA HAS NO MEDICINAL VALUE. Safer, more effective drugs are available. They include a synthetic version of THC, marijuana's primary active ingredient, which is marketed in the United States under the name Marinol.

FACT: Marijuana has been shown to be effective in reducing the nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy, stimulating appetite in AIDS patients, and reducing intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. There is also appreciable evidence that marijuana reduces muscle spasticity in patients with neurological disorders. A synthetic capsule is available by prescription, but it is not as effective as smoked marijuana for many patients. Pure THC may also produce more unpleasant psychoactive side effects than smoked marijuana. Many people use marijuana as a medicine today, despite its illegality. In doing so, they risk arrest and imprisonment.

MYTH: MARIJUANA IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE. Long term marijuana users experience physical dependence and withdrawal, and often need professional drug treatment to break their marijuana habits.

FACT: Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it only occasionally. A small minority of Americans - less than 1 percent - smoke marijuana on a daily basis. An even smaller minority develop a dependence on marijuana. Some people who smoke marijuana heavily and frequently stop without difficulty. Others seek help from drug treatment professionals. Marijuana does not cause physical dependence. If people experience withdrawal symptoms at all, they are remarkably mild.

MYTH: MARIJUANA IS A GATEWAY DRUG. Even if marijuana itself causes minimal harm, it is a dangerous substance because it leads to the use of "harder drugs" like heroin, LSD, and cocaine.

FACT: Marijuana does not cause people to use hard drugs. What the gateway theory presents as a causal explanation is a statistic association between common and uncommon drugs, an association that changes over time as different drugs increase and decrease in prevalence. Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States today. Therefore, people who have used less popular drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD, are likely to have also used marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a terminus rather than a gateway drug.

MYTH: MARIJUANA OFFENSES ARE NOT SEVERELY PUNISHED. Few marijuana law violators are arrested and hardly anyone goes to prison. This lenient treatment is responsible for marijuana continued availability and use.

FACT: Marijuana arrests in the United States doubled between 1991 and 1995. In 1995, more than one-half-million people were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-six percent of them were arrested for marijuana possession. Tens of thousands of people are now in prison or marijuana offenses. An even greater number are punished with probation, fines, and civil sanctions, including having their property seized, their driver's license revoked, and their employment terminated. Despite these civil and criminal sanctions, marijuana continues to be readily available and widely used.

MYTH: MARIJUANA POLICY IN THE NETHERLANDS IS A FAILURE. Dutch law, which allows marijuana to be bought, sold, and used openly, has resulted in increasing rates of marijuana use, particularly in youth.

FACT: The Netherlands' drug policy is the most nonpunitive in Europe. For more than twenty years, Dutch citizens over age eighteen have been permitted to buy and use cannabis (marijuana and hashish) in government-regulated coffee shops. This policy has not resulted in dramatically escalating cannabis use. For most age groups, rates of marijuana use in the Netherlands are similar to those in the United States. However, for young adolescents, rates of marijuana use are lower in the Netherlands than in the United States. The Dutch people overwhelmingly approve of current cannabis policy which seeks to normalize rather than dramatize cannabis use. The Dutch government occasionally revises existing policy, but it remains committed to decriminalization.

MYTH: MARIJUANA KILLS BRAIN CELLS. Used over time, marijuana permanently alters brain structure and function, causing memory loss, cognitive impairment, personality deterioration, and reduced productivity.

FACT: None of the medical tests currently used to detect brain damage in humans have found harm from marijuana, even from long term high-dose use. An early study reported brain damage in rhesus monkeys after six months exposure to high concentrations of marijuana smoke. In a recent, more carefully conducted study, researchers found no evidence of brain abnormality in monkeys that were forced to inhale the equivalent of four to five marijuana cigarettes every day for a year. The claim that marijuana kills brain cells is based on a speculative report dating back a quarter of a century that has never been supported by any scientific study.

MYTH: MARIJUANA CAUSES AN AMOTIVATIONAL SYNDROME. Marijuana makes users passive, apathetic, and uninterested in the future. Students who use marijuana become underachievers and workers who use marijuana become unproductive.

FACT: For twenty-five years, researchers have searched for a marijuana-induced amotivational syndrome and have failed to find it. People who are intoxicated constantly, regardless of the drug, are unlikely to be productive members of society. There is nothing about marijuana specifically that causes people to lose their drive and ambition. In laboratory studies, subjects given high doses of marijuana for several days or even several weeks exhibit no decrease in work motivation or productivity. Among working adults, marijuana users tend to earn higher wages than non-users. College students who use marijuana have the same grades as nonusers. Among high school students, heavy use is associated with school failure, but school failure usually comes first.

MYTH: MARIJUANA IMPAIRS MEMORY AND COGNITION. Under the influence of marijuana, people are unable to think rationally and intelligently. Chronic marijuana use causes permanent mental impairment.

FACT: Marijuana produces immediate, temporary changes in thoughts, perceptions, and information processing. The cognitive process most clearly affected by marijuana is short-term memory. In laboratory studies, subjects under the influence of marijuana have no trouble remembering things they learned previously. However, they display diminished capacity to learn and recall new information. This diminishment only lasts for the duration of the intoxication. There is no convincing evidence that heavy long-term marijuana use permanently impairs memory or other cognitive functions.

MYTH: MARIJUANA CAN CAUSE PERMANENT MENTAL ILLNESS. Among adolescents, even occasional marijuana use may cause psychological damage. During intoxication, marijuana users become irrational and often behave erratically.

FACT: There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked. Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people's behavior.

MYTH: MARIJUANA INTERFERES WITH MALE AND FEMALE SEX HORMONES. In both men and women, marijuana can cause infertility. Marijuana retards sexual development in adolescents. It produces feminine characteristics in males and masculine characteristics in females.

FACT: There is no evidence that marijuana causes infertility in men or women. In animal studies, high doses of THC diminish the production of some sex hormones and can impair reproduction. However, most studies of humans have found that marijuana has no impact of sex hormones. In those studies showing an impact, it is modest, temporary, and of no apparent consequence for reproduction. There is no scientific evidence that marijuana delays adolescent sexual development, has feminizing effect on males, or a masculinizing effect on females.

MYTH: MARIJUANA USE DURING PREGNANCY DAMAGES THE FETUS. Prenatal marijuana exposure causes birth defects in babies, and, as they grow older, developmental problems. The health and well being of the next generation is threatened by marijuana use by pregnant women.

FACT: Studies of newborns, infants, and children show no consistent physical, developmental, or cognitive deficits related to prenatal marijuana exposure. Marijuana had no reliable impact on birth size, length of gestation, neurological development, or the occurrence of physical abnormalities. The administration of hundreds of tests to older children has revealed only minor differences between offspring of marijuana users and nonusers, and some are positive rather than negative. Two unconfirmed case-control studies identified prenatal marijuana exposure as one of many factors statistically associated with childhood cancer. Given other available evidence, it is highly unlikely that marijuana causes cancer in children.

MYTH: MARIJUANA USE IMPAIRS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM. Marijuana users are at increased risk of infection, including HIV. AIDS patients are particularly vulnerable to marijuana's immunopathic effects because their immune systems are already suppressed.

FACT: There is no evidence that marijuana users are more susceptible to infections than nonusers. Nor is there evidence that marijuana lowers users' resistance to sexually transmitted diseases. Early studies which showed decreased immune function in cells taken from marijuana users have since been disproved. Animals given extremely large doses of THC and exposed to a virus have higher rates of infection. Such studies have little relevance to humans. Even among people with existing immune disorders, such as AIDS, marijuana use appears to be relatively safe. However, the recent finding of an association between tobacco smoking and lung infection in AIDS patients warrants further research into possible harm from marijuana smoking in immune suppressed persons.

MYTH: MARIJUANA IS MORE DAMAGING TO THE LUNGS THAN TOBACCO. Marijuana smokers are at a high risk of developing lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema.

FACT: Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to the lungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often than tobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, the risk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. There have been no reports of lung cancer related solely to marijuana. However, because researchers have found precancerous changes in cells taken from the lungs of heavy marijuana smokers, the possibility of lung cancer from marijuana cannot be ruled out. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lung's small airway. That indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana.

Excerpted from:
*Lynn Zimmer and John Morgan. Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence, (New York: The Lindesmith Center, 1997).


Mom Saves Her 10 Year Olds Life With MMJ Brownies

As seen on ABC's Good Morning America.

Given the many challenges involved in raising an autistic child, parents are willing to try a variety of potential remedies, many of which are controversial and unproven.
A mother discusses how marijuana saved her autistic son's life.

But one potential treatment that has gained attention recently is one that was controversial well before its first mention in connection with autism.

"At first I did some research, and I found a doctor who actually had a protocol for medical marijuana in children diagnosed with autism," Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., told "Good Morning America."

Hester-Perez made her decision to try giving her 10-year-old son, Joey Perez, medical marijuana after his weight had become dangerously low due to his unwillingness to eat. She said that at the time she began the approach, he weighed only 46 pounds.

"You could see the bones in his chest. He was going to die," she said.

"The marijuana balanced my son," said Hester-Perez, noting that she has never used marijuana herself. "My son had self-injurious behaviors. He was extremely aggressive, he would run out of our house... he was a danger to himself and others."

But just hours after she gave him one of the pot-infused brownies, she said she could see a change -- both in his appetite and demeanor.

see full article with video >>


Hidden Camera Investigation: Medical Marijuana

(source: Colorado Springs, CO)

We've heard a lot of talk lately about medical marijuana. You may be among the voters who made it legal in 2001. Right now, more than 14,000 people are already legal to use pot, and the state is receiving about 600 to 800 new requests everyday.

A trip into Roy's Cannabis on east Platte in Colorado Springs turned into a trip to Denver for our 11 News cameraman who went undercover to try and get a medical marijuana card.

With no doctor on staff at Roy's, the dispensary drove our cameraman along with three others to a medical marijuana clinic north of Denver. With the camera rolling on the van ride up the conversation quickly turned to pot.

"Yea, I've been growing for about 30 years," the driver of the van said.

The van's destination was Green Medicals in Northglen. Our hidden camera shows a waiting room packed full of patients, most claiming they have some sort of chronic pain.

Our cameraman, who really does suffer from back pain, is asked to fill out additional paperwork because he doesn't have any medical records. The form asks him about his medical history and his family's medical history.

He pays a total of $226, $90 of which goes to the state for processing, while the rest stays at the clinic. His wait to see the doctor ends up being about three hours.

"You have an injury?" Doctor Joseph Montante asks him.

"My back, shoulders, feels like ice picks are going into them," says our cameraman.

A few more questions and Doctor Montante does his exam. The actual physical exam only lasts about 20 seconds. The whole doctor consultation about three minutes.

"I can get you certified today no problem," Dr. Montante said.

We went back to Green Medicals to talk to Dr. Montante. He was very upfront and honest about the process and told us his exams are always quick.

"The average examination that I do is anywhere between three to five minutes start to finish,” he said. “Please remember I have been in practice for 30 years, more like 35, it isn't like I started yesterday, I know what I'm doing here," Dr. Montante said.

He says a large majority of patients who come to see him are suffering from chronic pain. That’s one of eight conditions listed in the law. For patients under 21 years old, Dr. Montante does require medical records, but says he doesn't need them for those over 21 to make a diagnosis.

"If someone says they are in pain and they are suffering, it's the role of the physician to first believe the patient and then to validate that with an appropriate medical examination," Montante said. "I think the large majority of people that come in here are legitimate. I think they are suffering and taking synthetic drugs needlessly," Montante said.

And he believes marijuana can help them. "If the state legalizes as it has, medical marijuana for pain relief. Why not make it available to people who have a valid complaint and who choose that option?" said Montante. "We’re in it to help people and that's why I went into medicine. I really believe that [a] doctors role is to relieve suffering and God gave us plants that can help do that."

Because this process is completely legal we wanted to see what local law enforcement thought. We showed the video of our cameraman's doctor visit to a sergeant who works undercover with the Metro Vice Narcotics Unit in Colorado Springs.

He says the law is being abused. "Because the definition of chronic pain, I'm definitely not a physician, but it's such a broad term. I can go to a doctor right now and walk out with a prescription for medical marijuana," the Sergeant said.

Amendment 20 passed in 2001 made medical marijuana legal in our state and it included very few restrictions that the dispensaries and doctors must follow.

"From what I have seen it appears that they are following the state guidelines for it." That's the problem with the law, with the way it's written, it is pretty much a blanket statement that a physician can look at you and sign off saying you need marijuana," said the Sergeant.

In two weeks at Green Medicals the owner says they wrote a total of 603 referrals.

"There's a ton of money being made in medical marijuana right now and the people that are doing it legally know the loop holes in the law so they are exploiting those loop holes," the Sergeant said. “As long as that chronic pain thing is in there it's going to be hard to control.”

We also showed our video to State Representative Kent Lambert.

"I think it's just gone far beyond. The intent of the law is over and marijuana is basically legal just through these loop holes for anyone who wants to get it," Lambert said.

He says several lawmakers are already proposing legislation to put tighter regulations in place. He even thinks they may take it back to the voters in order to get the law changed.

Meanwhile clinics like Green Medicals are getting busier everyday. And most who walk through the doors walk out with a referral just like our cameraman did to legally smoke pot.

Roy's Cannabis tells us they take their patients up to Green Medicals in Denver to get their licenses because it's the cheapest place around and they make several trips a week.

We’re told only about five doctors in the state are writing the majority of these medical marijuana referrals.

Under the current law. If you have a medical marijuana card you can possess up to two ounces of pot and grow up to six plants. If you are a "caregiver" for someone else you can legally have even more.

see source: Hidden Camera: Medical Marijuana

Super Soil Mix Recipe

Marijuana Growing Tips for Healthy, Potent CannabisCustom Organic Soil Blend

Consider using this as a starting point for creating your marijuana grow medium (soil);

50% Organic potting soil
20% Bat Guano - High Phosphate Fertilizer
10% Organic Seafood Fertilizer
10% Perlite - added to your potting soil
05% Sand (optional)
05% Organic Mix - roots, bark, etc.

Once you have arrived at your soil choice, be sure to use the same formula for all your seeds, seedlings, and final transplanting. This provides minimum stress and shock to the plants while providing everything they need for a healthy existence.

Good luck everyone!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Magic

Need a new treat for the holidays! Cannabis infused Peanut Butter cookies with some chocolate chips are an amazing dessert and they give you that oh so toasty feeling. The chocolate chips are definitely an a less caloric option but in our opinion they give it the magic. Take it from our staff these are sooo good!

To begin preheat your oven to 350

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened coco powder
6 oz or 12 tablespoons Cannabutter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

1. In bowl mix dry ingredients together - flour, baking soda, baking powder and the coco powder.

2. In a seperate bowl mix together the Cannabutter, peanut butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, beat in 1 egg at a time. Mix well. Stir in flour mixture and add the chocolate chips.

3. Drop spoon sized dough on to a greased cookie sheet and bake on the middle rack for 10 mins.

Let cool, serve and enjoy!


Cannabutter for Dummies

on the fly.. check out this quick easy solution to making your own cannabis infused goodies!

Prep time: 20min
Cook time: 12 - 24hours
post cook prep time: 45min
Items: Crock-pot
tupperware or microwave safe bowls
dish gloves
knee high pantyhose
Cannabis: for every oz ad 1 to 2 sticks of butter
Preheat crock pot on highest setting. Chop unsalted butter and place in crock pot. Bring to a boil and add marijuana. Mix well. Reduce heat; cover and simmer anywhere from twelve to twenty four hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool, but do not let harden. Have a friend hold panty hose. Scoop the leaves into the hosiery. Use rubber gloves to strain butter into tupperware, be carefull butter will be VERY HOT. Place in fridge and let cool. butter will turn green as it hardens. Enjoy!

1 stick = 113 grams


Taxation on Medical Marijuana