Apr 092014

420RADIO News for 2014-04-09 (Wednesday)

Sales taxes from recreational marijuana sales in Colorado rose slightly in February.  But given the increase in outlets, some legislators fear marijuana tax revenue won’t live up to predictions.  Total sales tax from recreational pot rose $30,000 in February, from $1.40 million to $1.43 million; however, the number of outlets for recreational pot increased by 40%, from 59 to 83.  There are expected to be double the number, about 190 pot shops, included in the March tax data due out in May.  Medical marijuana revenues rose about $600,000 in February, though much of that increase came from fees, not sales.  Still, continued growth of medical revenues and stagnation of recreational revenues suggests to some that over-taxation of recreational marijuana is keeping the black market flourishing and draining sales away from legal stores.

In addition to legalizing marijuana nationwide, the South American country of Uruguay is going to give it to prisoners and make it a part of the national public health service.  Uruguay’s drug czar Julio Calzada announced that prisoners with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for physical or mental health treatment will be allowed to use it in prison.  Also, social development minister Daniel Olesker stated that medical marijuana will become a part of the country’s public health system along with acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.  Regulations are expected to be finalized by, no kidding, April 20th, but the country’s legal marijuana market roll out won’t happen until the end of the year.

The Washington DC City Council has unanimously approved opening up its medical marijuana program, California style.  Currently, DC’s medical marijuana law, like the laws in all other medical marijuana states except California, determines which patients may qualify for medical marijuana use by statute – in other words, a qualifying condition list.  If a patient has cancer, for instance, a doctor may recommend cannabis, but if the patient has, say, social anxiety disorder, no matter how much the doctor thinks cannabis may help, the law prevents that recommendation.  But in California, and perhaps soon in DC if Congress doesn’t veto this change, it is solely up to the doctor to decide whether a patient qualifies for medical marijuana

We have a trio of polls to report on concerning marijuana.  First, Huffington Post and YouGov teamed up to poll Americans on their feelings regarding the responsible use of cannabis by adults.  When asked “Is it possible to be a responsible adult and occasionally smoke marijuana?” 59% of Americans agreed.  There was no gender, age, political, racial, income, or regional demographic that disagreed, though retirees (45%) and blacks (49%) were pluralities, not majorities, and Republicans were nearly evenly split at 46% to 43%.  But when the follow-up question was asked, “Do you think it makes it harder or easier to be a responsible adult if a person occasionally smokes marijuana?” majorities of age 65+ (53%) and Republicans (57%) chose “harder”, while pluralities and majorities of every other demographic said it made no difference.  Finally, when asked “Do you think most people who occasionally smoke marijuana are responsible adults, or not?” only Republicans (52%) were a majority saying we aren’t, while surprisingly, young adults 18-29 (44%) were a larger plurality than retirees aged 65+ (43%) who thought we’re not responsible adults.  All other groups formed pluralities or majorities that found us responsible, except Hispanics, who were split 44% toward irresponsible, 43% toward responsible.

Our second poll comes from Louisiana State University, which has noted a rise in support for marijuana reform in the Bayou State.  44% of Louisianans support legalization of marijuana, up from 42% the year before.  Medical marijuana attracts the support of almost four out of five (79%) residents.  There is, again, that gender gap, with men 49% in support and women 11 points back at 38%.  Support for legalization is greatest under age 35, among European-Americans, and Democrats.  Almost two-thirds of Louisianans (65%) believe marijuana legalization is inevitable, but that is 73% of men vs. 59% of women.

Our last poll comes from Monmouth University / Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, which finds residents split on marijuana legalization, 48% for, 47% against.  The gender gap is strong in New Jersey with 56% of men in favor but only 39% of women – a full 17 point gap.  Having children made little difference in legalization support, but smoking pot sure did, with two-thirds of tokers supporting legalization and 59% of non-tokers against it.  When the question is tailored to include pot shops selling to adults, a plurality of residents (45%) opposed the idea.  Earmarking pot tax revenues for transportation didn’t make any difference to 64% of voters, while 24% said that would help them support legalization.  A bare majority of 52% believed marijuana use is a serious problem in this country.  But almost three-out-of-five in New Jersey believe alcohol (59%) and tobacco (58%) are more dangerous than marijuana and only one-in-five think alcohol (18%) and tobacco (21%) are safer than marijuana.