For the first time, monthly pot sales have declined in Colorado. For the month of May, state sales of recreational marijuana came in at $21 million, a million less than the figure for April. Officials believe the interest in the April 20th “4/20 holiday” boosted sales for that month, marking the first time in history any government has recognized the economic impact of marijuana culture. May accounted for $5.7 million in taxes and fees from recreational pot, contributing to the overall $34.9 million collected since legal sales began in January. Yesterday, state regulators pegged the annual demand for marijuana at 130 metric tons a year at an average price of $220 per ounce.
Retail marijuana stores in Washington State are still facing shortages of marijuana. “No matter how you cut it, there’s just not enough product to go around to all the stores opening,” said Chad Champagne, owner of 420 Carpenter in Lacey. “If I could get 1,000 pounds I would get it.” Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham opened with the most product in stock Tuesday — more than 20 pounds from three separate processors — and even it is in jeopardy of running out, said manager Sigrid Williams. Top Shelf had about 7 to 8 pounds left Wednesday afternoon, said employees. The marijuana deficit should come as no surprise to pot retailers, said Greg Stewart, CEO of Nine Point Growth Industries, one of the state’s licensed growers. Stewart said he’s fielded up to 10 calls a day from retailers looking for product, and he’s had to turn them down, leading to an inevitable conclusion: “Everybody kind of knows that we’re going to run out,” he said.
The marijuana movement is pushing back against politicians who obstruct legalization. While marijuana lobbyists once were content to play nice in their media messaging, the new ads reflect a confrontational style aimed at exposing records and getting elected leaders to board the pot legalization bandwagon _ or at least get out of the way. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is already under pressure to side with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who reversed course last week by saying states should be allowed to legalize without federal interference. When Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz voted against a bill to defund DEA raids on medical marijuana, Americans for Safe Access ran a series of 30-second television ads in South Florida, calling her “out of touch.” In Washington state, ASA ran two ads, one praising Congressman Doc Hastings for backing the bill and another criticizing Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers for opposing it. Earlier this year, the pro-legalization group Marijuana Policy Project ran ads against two Democratic governors, Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Andrew Cuomo of New York, urging them to back medical marijuana bills.
A Washington state man who was the first person in Spokane to buy legal recreational marijuana this week, and then said he was fired over the resulting media coverage, got his job back Thursday and the company in question called the whole affair a misunderstanding. Michael Boyer, 30, said he was ordered to take a drug test Tuesday by his part-time employer, temp agency TrueBlue Labor Ready, after he was seen on news reports being the first customer in the city to buy legal weed under the new law. “We were not aware that he had taken the day off. He was scheduled to work, we saw him on TV that he was under the influence, and that caused us to start a process of screening,” TrueBlue Vice President of Communications Stacey Burke told NBC News. “When we realized that he was not on assignment, we reinstated him. … Pot is legal, and we know that.” Boyer said he doesn’t harbor any ill will toward the company. It was widely — and falsely — reported by other news outlets that he had also been fired from a second job, Kodiak Security Services, but that dealt with regulations getting a guard card and had nothing to do with legal pot sales, he said.
An ordinance approved by the Berkeley City Council says that at least 2 percent of all pot carried by medical marijuana dispensaries must be provided “at no cost” to “very low-income” individuals and families. The council defines “very low income” as individuals making $32,000 a year or less, or families of four collectively earning $46,000. And unlike the clichéd image of “government cheese,” the ordinance further stipulates that the free marijuana “shall be the same quality on average as Medical Cannabis that is dispensed to other members.” According to WeedMaps, one gram of medical marijuana sells for an average of $15, while an ounce of high-grade pot can cost upwards of $400. Berkley residents who want to qualify for the free pot must also submit a federal income tax return “or other reliable method approved by the City Manager,” in order to prove that they meet the minimal income requirements.