With the unqualified success of the first week of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, competition is heating up for the marijuana retail licensing in Washington State. Over 2,000 applications for marijuana retail licenses were processed by the state for just 334 licenses that will be allotted through a lottery. About 500 of those have been rejected by the state for reasons including their proposed pot shop locations are closer than 1000 feet to a school or youth facility. In Seattle alone there are 408 applications for just 21 retail locations allowed, leading some compliant locations to attract the attention of multiple entrepreneurs. This, in turn, has led to complaints by some that applicants with more money were gaming the system by filing multiple applications for the same location through straw purchasers. The Washington State Liquor Control Board, in charge of implementing marijuana legalization, assures the public that only applicants with a valid location and commitment from the landlord to operate there will be considered for the lottery.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has bestowed a $400,000 grant to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for an anti-toking and driving campaign and to train more drug recognition experts in the state police force. Emily Wilfong, a spokesperson for CDOT said, “(Federal officials) do realize this is a traffic safety issue and needs to be addressed.” The program begins in March and includes posters on the harms of toking and driving to be distributed at Colorado pot shops and advertising campaigns on television. State police officials say Colorado has 185 officers trained as drug recognition experts and hope the grant will pay for the training of 35 more. CDOT data show that of just under 25,000 DUI cases prosecuted in Colorado in 2012, just over 1,000 of them showed marijuana use as a factor, a figure confirmed by state probation department showing just over 1,000 marijuana users in their evaluations of just over 23,500 DUI convictions. Colorado law considers detection of more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood to be an inference of guilt regarding DUI, a standard not proven to accurately show impairment.
The Democrat challenging popular Republican incumbent Senator Susan Collins from Maine isn’t being shy about her support for marijuana legalization. Shenna Bellows is the former director of the ACLU of Maine and spoke with the progressive think tank, Think Progress, about her uphill battle to win election to the Senate. “Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that [marijuana legalization] forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.” Bellows also said, “[S]upporting marijuana legalization is being smart on crime because there are real crimes that do harm to our communities, crimes against persons, that we absolutely need to address.” Bellows also pointed to the racism in marijuana prohibition, observing, “Even in Maine, one of the whitest states in the country, people of color are twice as likely to be stopped and arrested … for marijuana offenses than white people.”
A State Senator in Pennsylvania is calling out the governor for his refusal to consider legalization of Alepsia. The drug, a CBD-rich extract from the “Charlotte’s Web” variety of marijuana, has proven beneficial to children suffering from rare forms of epilepsy that other medicines don’t touch. It is so low in THC, the psychoactive molecule in marijuana, that hemp milk on a grocery store shelf has more THC than Alepsia. Gov. Tom Corbett, through a spokesperson, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News his administration might consider support for medical marijuana if the Food & Drug Administration deemed it legitimate medicine through clinical trials. State Senator Daylin Leach, a co-sponsor of legislation legalizing medical use of CBD, blasted the circular logic of the governor, saying, “What we have now is a catch-22… there’s no clinical trials because it’s a Schedule 1 drug, and it’s a Schedule 1 drug because there’s no clinical trials showing that it has medical value.”
European and Australian media are reporting on the phenomenon of medical refugees from states where marijuana is illegal who are flocking to Colorado to access the high-CBD oil known as Alepsia. The Realm of Caring, the non-profit group formed by the Stanley Brothers who are growing the Charlotte’s Web strain, told the UK Telegraph that around 100 families have emigrated to Colorado with another 171 families on the waiting list and they cannot currently meet demand. State health officials have announced they want to spend $7 million on studies to determine the efficacy and long-term safety of high cannabidiol oil on epileptic children.