Amid close midterm elections around the country, “there was one clear winner: ending our failed prohibition of marijuana and instead legalizing, regulating and taxing adult use,” Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said at a news conference with three House colleagues. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California said he expects voters in his state would approve an initiative. “My message to my fellow Republicans is wake up and see where the American people are, but also see what the fundamental principles are in this debate,” Rohrabacher said, citing individual liberty, limited government and doctors’ freedom to make the best decisions for their patients. Blumenauer, Rohrabacher and two other colleagues – Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District but cannot vote on the House floor – said they have bipartisan support for two small measures that would allow legal pot companies to open bank accounts and to deduct business expenses from their taxes. They also hope to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana.
Sales of marijuana for recreational and medical use fell in September for the first time since Colorado legalized it in January, according to tax data released this week. Colorado brought in $7.2 million in taxes and fees from recreational and medical marijuana sales in September. That’s down from $7.7 million in August. Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, attributed the drop in September to the lull in tourism that typically occurs between the summer and winter months in Colorado. Tourists are some of the biggest consumers of Colorado’s cannabis. A study by Colorado’s revenue department found that out-of-state visitors account for 44% of total marijuana sales in big cities and as much as 90% in mountain resorts. Toni Fox, owner of Denver dispensary 3D Cannabis Center, said “Once the ski resorts open, sales will pick back up again.”
Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday he plans to pardon his son’s felony marijuana conviction, arguing he deserves the same second chance as hundreds of other nonviolent offenders. Beebe is leaving office in January due to term limits, and is being succeeded by Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson. The governor’s spokesman, Matt DeCample, said Beebe has issued more than 700 pardons since taking office in 2007. “A significant number of those have been young first time drug offenders because he believes that if you make a mistake especially with nonviolent crime and you straighten your life out, you deserve a second chance,” DeCample said. “There’s no reason why he wouldn’t hold his son to that same standard.” The state Parole Board had recommended a pardon for Kyle Beebe in October. He was sentenced to three years supervised probation, $1,150 in fines and court costs and had his driver’s license suspended for six months. Beebe was the state’s attorney general when his son was convicted.
A Washington state farmer is selling off a ton of marijuana — literally 2,000 pounds worth — to the highest bidder in one of the first large-scale legal pot auctions in modern American history. On Saturday, Randy Williams of Fireweed Farm in Prosser, Wash., will offer for sale the marijuana he’s been growing all summer. At retail prices, Williams’ crop could be worth $6 million. Many of the plants are a dozen-feet tall, grown in the wine region just north of the Columbia River Valley in south-central Washington. Washington’s law separates growers, processors and retailers, while store owners in Colorado often grow most of their own marijuana, which means there’s no need to auction it off. Washington retailers have been eagerly awaiting the outdoor harvest, which has the potential to drive down prices by significantly increasing supply.
Public hearings are underway across Vermont on the issue of legalizing marijuana. Earlier this year, the legislature ordered a study on the topic after the state decriminalized pot for adults found with an ounce or less in 2013. Bennington Chief of Police Paul Doucette is strongly against it as he’s already having so many drug issues in the state. “We can’t control alcohol,” he said. “We can’t control tobacco products. We don’t want people under the age of 21 consuming alcohol. It’s happening. We don’t want people under 18 using tobacco. It’s happening.” Scott Stahler, owner of Green Mountain Hydroponic, is for legalization. “Vermont is pretty progressive and open minded,” he said. “I think Vermont in general would be open to it. I think a lot of the people are for it.” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is also watching regulation and taxation of marijuana in other states. The report from the hearings will be due in January.