“It’s not worth it,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told dozens of fellow state attorneys general at a conference in the nation’s capital, referring to $76 million in taxes and fees collected from pot sales last year. The recently inaugurated Republican rebuked legalization advocates’ long-standing argument that regulating sales will eliminate the black market for marijuana and associated criminal activity. “Don’t buy that argument,” she told her peers. “The criminals are still selling on the black market. … We have plenty of cartel activity in Colorado [and] plenty of illegal action that has not decreased at all.” Mason Tvert, the Colorado-based communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, says Coffman’s remarks about black market sales are counter-intuitive. “If hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales are taking place in licensed businesses, where would they be taking place if they were illegal?”
Smoking, growing and possessing marijuana became legal in Alaska today, thanks to a voter initiative aimed at clearing away 40 years of conflicting laws and court rulings. Initiative backers promised Native leaders that communities could still have local control under certain conditions. But the initiative did not provide clear opt-out language for tribal councils and other smaller communities, forcing each one to figure out how to proceed Tuesday. November’s initiative also bans smoking in public, but didn’t define what that means, and lawmakers left the question to the alcohol regulatory board, which planned to meet early Tuesday to discuss an emergency response. Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. He even warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park. Former television reporter Charlo Greene, now CEO of the Alaska Cannabis Club, is having a grand opening today in downtown Anchorage.
Also in Alaska, Gov. Bill Walker introduced a bill Monday that would create a Marijuana Control Board in charge of regulating the industry in the state and giving the board the power to enforce its laws. Senate Bill 60 would create a new board housed under the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The director and staff of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would also serve the 5-member Marijuana Control Board so that the new board could “benefit from the considerable experience and expertise” of the ABC Board, Walker said in his transmittal letters to the Legislature. A five-member volunteer board would be comprised of one member from the public safety sector; one from the public health sector; one from a rural area; one or two from the marijuana industry; and one or two from the general public. The board members would be appointed by the governor and serve staggered three-year terms.
Lawmakers are considering a measure to legalize marijuana in Maryland. The Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015 will be discussed at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. The measure is sponsored by Baltimore Del. Curt Anderson (D) who is hoping the third time is a charm. Delegate Anderson tried twice before and both measures failed. This year’s proposal, like the others, would allow adults (21 years or older) to legally possess one ounce of marijuana even grow up to 6 plants at home. The bill would tax and regulate marijuana just like alcohol. It would require the State Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers and retailers. The proposed legislation would also create an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses. Proponents say the measure could be a long shot but they’re hoping lawmakers will be swayed by a recent poll showing 53 percent of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana use in Ohio. Political action committee ResponsibleOhio is pitching a legal medical and recreational marijuana industry with pot supplied from 10 specific growing sites, which have been promised to wealthy campaign backers. Taxes collected from sales at every level of the supply chain would provide revenue for local governments. DeWine’s rejection is somewhat of a moot point — ResponsibleOhio announced last week it would be submitting a new amendment and summary. The revised language allows adults over age 21 to grow up to four flowering marijuana plants for personal use, as long as they apply for a license. If approved, the group must then collect more than 305,591 signatures of Ohio registered voters by July 1 to put the issue on the November ballot.