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The cannabis legalization debate almost always comes back to numbers: This survey shows one thing, toxicology results show another and car crash data present something else entirely.
Here’s some data that legalization proponents will likely seize upon.
A new federal survey found that “adolescent marijuana use in Colorado has fallen to its lowest rate in nearly a decade,” the Washington Post reported.
This, of course, comes five years after Colorado voters legalized recreational use of the drug and three years after the first taxed-and-regulated recreational marijuana dispensaries opened in the state.
Keep in mind, marijuana in Colorado is legal only for adults 21 and over. Still, the anti-legalization crowd was concerned that kids would more easily get their hands on the drug.
It seemed at first as if they were right. Last year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health found Colorado ranked No. 1 in the country in adolescent cannabis use.
This year, though, Colorado dropped to No. 7, behind Maine (No. 2) and — you guessed it — Vermont at No. 6.
“Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLC, one of the drafters of Colorado's marijuana ballot measure, said in a statement to the Post. “There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs.”
Will Vermont legislators look at this data? Again, there are plenty of numbers out there and both sides bend them to their will. But it’s certainly worth adding to the legalization debate. [Washington Post, Christopher Ingram]
Here are some other stories we’ve been following this week:
December 10: Hey, it’s a CBD/hemp holiday market — right in our own backyard! The folks over at Heady Vermont hosted 20 vendors who sold wares full of cannabidiol during the event last Sunday at Burlington City Hall. [MyNBC 5, Renee Wunderlich]
December 10: Our neighbors to the north may be having second thoughts about this whole cannabis legalization thing. Conservative Canadian senators are holding up two bills that are key to the whole process, meaning the country could miss its deadline of Canada Day (that’s July 1 to us Yankees).
The delay could push legalization to the end of 2018, presenting all sorts of problems, per the Globe and Mail.
The costs of missing that deadline would be severe. Provincial governments are negotiating contracts with suppliers, who are ramping up production. Governments and private companies are signing leases for storefronts. Police forces are acquiring new equipment, and training officers to identify pot-impaired drivers.[The Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson]
December 11: Weed prom! VICE sent a reporter to the Ganja Goddess Gala in West Oakland, Calif. Read her account and check out the photos:
The party felt more like a carnival full of weed filled booths and experiences than a prom, and veered more along the lines of a Burning Man crowd than I expected.
[VICE, Lina Abascal]
December 11: The good folks over at Heady Vermont caught up with Bob Escher, a Dorset architect who “made hemp history by building the first permitted Hempcrete structure in Colorado’s capital.”
What the hell is hempcrete? It’s “made from the material in the core of the stalk, called the hurd,” Escher told the site. “After it’s been processed, it basically looks like shredded wood chips, but when you mix it with a lime binder and water it becomes Hempcrete.”
The resulting goo is used as insulation. Intriguing!
[Heady Vermont, Eli Harrington]
December 12: Could Hartford, Conn., legalize marijuana? Its city council unanimously approved a resolution that “directs the city to conduct an economic impact study for a potential cannabis industry in Hartford and hold public forums on the issue,” the Hartford Courant reported.
Legalization has been a harder sell on the state level. Connecticut has no ballot question process, meaning the state legislature would have to make it happen (just like in Vermont!). Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, does not support legalization, though the state does have a medical marijuana program in place.
What about residents? A recent Sacred Heart University public opinion poll “found 71 percent of state residents supported legalizing and taxing marijuana for adults,” according to the Courant. Keep in mind that Hartford isn’t too far from the state border with Massachusetts, which already has legal weed and is preparing to open taxed-and-regulated dispensaries in 2018.
“The legislature should heed this growing chorus for change and make regulating marijuana for adults a priority in 2018,” Sam Tracy, director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, told the Courant.
[Hartford Courant, Russell Blair]
December 12: From January to October of this year, Colorado marijuana retailers made a combined $1.26 billion in marijuana sales. Yes, that’s billion with a freakin’ B. The amount is up from $683.5 million in 2014, the first year of legalized sales.
Here’s another number that will blow your mind: From January to November of 2017, the state raked in $226 million in taxes, license and fee revenue. What could your state do with that kind of cash?
[The Cannabist, Alicia Wallace]
December 13: California does cannabis bigger than any other state in the nation, so it should come as no surprise that the Golden State is home to the country’s largest cannabis county fair. Every December, after the cannabis harvest, growers descend from the northern California hills for the Emerald Cup at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This year proved interesting, the paper reports, because the state is preparing for legalized recreational cannabis sales.
[Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian]
December 14: Authorities in Denver arrested 12 people and raided a chain of dispensaries called Sweet Leaf as part of an investigation into illegal cannabis sales, the Cannabist reports:
The criminal activities alleged included sales of cannabis in violation of the 1-ounce-per-person, per-day limits established under Colorado marijuana law, Denver police officials said in a statement.
[The Cannabist, Alicia Wallace]
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