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Petro: Colombia’s Next President and Cannabis

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Gustavo Petro is Colombia’s next president, following his electoral win on June 19. The election of its first leftist president, together with its first Afro-Colombian vice-president, is no doubt a momentous event for Latin America’s third-most populous country. What will a Petro presidency mean for cannabis?

According to Petro’s platform, a “focus on prohibitionism … imposed upon Colombia … war against coca, poppy, and cannabis.” In his view,

This war has failed and the country needs to move towards a new paradigm that brings together the global and Latin American will towards a concerted international agenda based on human rights and the construction of peace, the economic transformation of the producing environments without criminalizing the growers, the protection of nature, regulation, the judicial subjugation of criminal organizations and the approach of consumption as a public health issue.

As presented in the platform, cannabis and coca are an “important productive sector.” Petro calls for the development of cannabis agribusiness, with a view to its development as a regulated industry. In fact, the president-elect sees cannabis as having a special place in his efforts to spur development in the Colombian countryside, promising that the cannabis value chain will receive a “special impulse” under his government. In this regard,

The production and derivatives of cannabis will have a legal framework that privileges permits and commercial technical support for producer families, ensuring that small owners and producer cooperatives participate in the market and that safe distribution for the consumer is guaranteed in marketing. consumer and an important collection of taxes for the State. In turn, spaces will be opened in international trade with a variety of derived products – medicinal, food and textiles.

The incoming Petro administration can build on the progress Colombia has made with regard to cannabis in recent years. Medical cannabis was legalized in 2016. Earlier this year, Colombia issued regulations on the import and export of cannabis products. This means that there already is a framework in place for the international trade in cannabis that Petro envisions. Efforts in the not-so-distant past to legalize adult-use cannabis ran aground in the Colombian legislature, but Petro’s Pacto Histórico is a much more present force in Congress following legislative elections in March of this year.

As the Spanish proverb goes, del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho. Only time will tell what Petro’s priorities will be once in office, and cannabis reform may ultimately take a backseat. Or it may not, with the new government taking steps to make Petro’s vision of regulated, decriminalized cannabis a reality. One thing is clear though. A majority of the Colombian electorate has indicated that it wants to try a new path. The setting appears ripe for bold moves that could firm up Colombia’s role as the leader of the Latin American cannabis industry.



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How Did Maine Solve the Biggest Riddle Between the Legal Cannabis Market and Illicit Market?

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Majority of Mainers Obtaining Cannabis Legally

 

According to the state report, the growth and development of the legal cannabis market in Maine has supplanted a larger percentage of illegal ones. As it stands, the state Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP), through a survey conducted, concluded that most Mainers buy their cannabis from legitimate dispensaries.

 

The survey revealed that about 64% of cannabis consumers in the past month have purchased cannabis products from legitimate stores. On the other hand, 36% were confirmed to buy cannabis products from illicit sources.

 

The survey also indicated that 6% of respondents who use marijuana every month bought exclusively from state-approved dispensaries. Meanwhile, respondents who bought exclusively from illicit sources were about 1%.

 

The agency, via the survey, also discovered that the state has an excess supply of medical cannabis just one year after sales of recreational cannabis kicked off in Mainers. Comparatively, for every $6 supply of medical cannabis, there’s approximately $1 demand to $2 supply of recreational cannabis to about $1 in demand.

 

The excess supply experienced in the medical marijuana market is even though 33% of consumers who bought cannabis products at medical caregivers or dispensaries and 54% of consumers who bought cannabis from home-based caregivers do not have a medical cannabis card.

 

 

In-Depth Survey Analysis

According to the findings made by the OCP, taking into account when the very first recreational cannabis store opened in Maine, the state’s illegal cannabis market has shrunk greatly compared to other states. This implies that Maine is more effective at restricting the illegal market at a considerable rate compared to other recreational cannabis legalized states.

 

The report also featured how market dynamics, health outcomes, and cannabis consumption differed by geographical location and other distinct variables. The study also discovered that the existence of a recreational cannabis store in a user’s ZIP code may assist them to find cannabis at a discounted price from the legal market.

 

According to the respondents who bought cannabis from legal cannabis stores, they did not experience any negative health demeanor like DUI or cannabis use disorder. Meanwhile, these kinds of behaviors are reported to be exhibited by users who purchase cannabis for illicit markets.

 

This OCP’s survey is the first of its kind, enlisting about 2,000 respondents across 262 ZIP codes within the state. The survey was carried out in collaboration with Advocates for Human Potential Inc., spearheaded by Michael Sofis, consumption behavior and cannabis-demand researcher.

 

According to Erik Gundersen, the Director of OCP, the agency is pleased to publish the report which highlights the achievements and success of Maine’s recreational cannabis market. He added that the conclusions in the report suggest practices and policies that preserve and promote public health safety. An initiative that will allow legal cannabis businesses to compete.

 

So far, there are about 90 active recreational cannabis shops across 34 cities within the states. In 2022, retailers achieved a feat of $82 million in recreational cannabis sales compared to the $4.3 million figure of 2020. So far this year, records have shown that recreational cannabis sales in Maine have reached about $51 million, already surpassing the state past last year’s achievement.

 

According to Sofis, the findings and conclusions of the report indicated that the establishment of the cannabis recreational market in Maine should be deemed a success. Especially in the area of cannabis policy, and public health safety.

 

The survey also shed some light on cannabis users’ THC consciousness. The survey revealed that among consumers who have used cannabis in the past month, 28% do not have a clue about the product’s THC content they bought. Another 9%affirmed that the product they consumed had a THC content of more than 50%. Meanwhile, 11% said between 25-35%, 4% affirmed 35-50%, another 4% claimed less than 10% and 8% claimed between 10-15% THC. 

 

As regards the preferred cannabis products among Mainers, flower ranks first with 82% of the respondents claiming to have purchased it in the last month. Edibles followed next at 58%, then concentrated at 41%. Other preferred products include Lozenges (7%), tinctures (17%), sprays, balms, creams and topical (21%) others (11%)

 

Cannabis reforms in Maine

The end of 2016 saw Maine become the first state along the East Coast of the United States to legalize adult use of marijuana. After what seemed like an unending drama from the exGovernor Paul LePage who rejected several legislative attempts to establish the legalization proposal approved by the voter — including some bureaucratic delays — recreational cannabis was eventually legalized and ready for business in 2020.

 

Since recreational cannabis legalization, the state has gone on to break various sales records as consumers continue to adjust to the legitimate cannabis marketplace.

 

Apart from the recreational cannabis market established in Maine, the state is also developing its medical cannabis market. Maine initially legalized medical cannabis in 1999 via a referendum. In 2009, voters set up a medical cannabis program and a legitimate distribution channel which kicked off in 2010. Subsequently, the first medical cannabis dispensary was launched in 2011.

 

Since it was founded, Maine’s medical cam bid programs have developed from being just a small industry with 600 caregivers and 8 dispensaries to about 3,000 caregivers and 13 dispensaries. Maine’s medical marijuana market has grown greatly. As a matter of fact, medical cannabis was said to be Maine’s most lucrative product of 2020.

 

 

Industry overview

Legal cannabis dispensaries are scattered across Maine offering citizens safe cannabis products compared to the illegal market. Presently, recreational cannabis sales carry an excise tax rate of 10% and a standard sales tax of 5.5% in Maine. However, sales of medical cannabis are not taxed.

 

On the other hand, legal cannabis farmers pay an excise tax rate of $335 per one pound of flowers, $1.50 per one pound of cannabis seedlings, $0.35 per one pound of cannabis seeds, and $94 per one pound of cannabis trim.

 

 

Conclusion

Expectations are high for Maine’s legal cannabis market as records have shown that recreational cannabis sales in the state have reached about $51 million, already surpassing the state’s previous year’s achievement. With more Mainers expected to turn to state-legalized dispensaries to get their cannabis products, many expect the present figure to double before the end of the year. 

 

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Cannabis Council? – 15 Cannabis Attorneys Helping Weed Businesses Get Going

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Despite cannabis legalization going around the country, cannabis lovers are still at risk of being indicted by federal and state cannabis laws for multiple cannabis offenses. For example, consuming cannabis in a federal space is enough grounds to be prosecuted for using recreational cannabis in a form with only medical cannabis legislation.

 

As you can see, there are many cannabis-related offenses a person could directly or indirectly partake of. This article aims to bring you up to speed on the top 15 influential cannabis attorneys you need to have on speed dial. The truth is, you can never predict when you’ll need it, at least not with the way rules and regulations are constantly being modified. Europe has a new list of cannabis attorneys to check out as legalization continues across the pond.

 

Note: The following names are not arranged in any order.

Law Firm: Sacks Weston Diamond LLC, Pennsylvania

Alma mater: Dickinson School of Law

Field: Personal litigation and Medical cannabis law

Sacks is a renowned lobbyist and speaker at the continuing legal education (CLE). The Pennsylvania-based medical marijuana and hemp lawyer won the 2018 committee of the year award through his service as co-chair of the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar’s medical cannabis and hemp law committees.

Law Firm: Chernis Law Group PC, California

Alma mater: Fordham University Law School

Field: Regulatory law, civil litigation, criminal defense, and corporate law

 

Chernins is a successful defense attorney, evidenced by his numerous case dismissals and charge reductions. He has also demonstrated many clients’ compliance using the SB420 collective defense statute. Chernin’s most famous case victories include the dismissal of Los Angeles district attorney charges against the Berkeley manufacturer in 2016, as well as the non-filing and return of cannabis goods seized in a Riverside manufacturing lab raid in 2014.

Law Firm: Duane Morris LLP, Pennsylvania

Alma mater: Temple University Beasley School of Law

Field: Complex, commercial litigation

 

Goldberg is respected for his defense role in the Woodstock Ventures LC et al. V. Woodstock Roots, a trademark infringement case to determine the legal owner of the name “Woodstock.” Goldberg’s other notable achievements include being recognized as a Riding Star in Pennsylvania’s Business litigation space in 2011 and 2008.

Firm: Hoban Law Group, Colorado

Alma mater: University of Wyoming College of Law

Field: Corporate law, Commercial Litigation, Industrial hemp, and FDA compliance

Law Firm: Greenspoon Marder LLP, California

Alma mater: California Western School of Law

Field: Criminal and Civil litigation, Appeals, and Administrative law

With “Attorney of the Year ” awards from the Nevada County Cannabis cup and NORML’s John Mark Flowers Scholar, Burke has more than proven her worth to medical cannabis defense.

Law Firm: Hiller PC, New York

Alma mater: New York Law School

Field: Commercial litigation, Land-Use, and Zoning laws

 

Known as New York Metro Rising Star for 2015 and 2016, Rudick is part of an intensive effort to prove that the Federal Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional and should be amended. This disciplined woman also offers pro bono legal services to a few cannabis-related NGOS, including Drug Policy Alliance and compassionate care New York.

Firm: Horst Legal Counsel, California

Alma mater: University of San Francisco School of Law

Field: Real estates Partnership, Insurance, Commercial Litigation

Law Firm: Law Offices of Michael E. Cindrich APC, California

Alma mater: University of San Diego School of Law

Field: Civil and Criminal defense

 

Cindrich, a lifetime member of the national NORML committee, is a regional speaker for San Diego’s Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), a group of active and retired law enforcement personnel who support cannabis reforms.

Law Firm: Greenspoon Marder LLP, Florida

Alma mater:  Nova Southeastern University Shepherd Broad College of Law

Field: Litigation, Business Law, Regulatory and Compliance

 

Hinder is a co-founder and managing partner for s nonprofit agency that advocates for safe cannabis regulation. He also speaks frequently at industry events, including The Annual Cannabis Law and Business Conference & Expo.

Law Firm: Clark Neubert LLP, California

Alma mater: the University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Field: Business litigation, Business Law, licensing, and regulatory compliance.

Firm: Cultiva Law PLLC, Washington

Alma mater: Willamette University College of Law

Field: Litigation, Business Law

Super lawyer Pelley has long been an advocate for cannabis reforms. He helped build the foundation for legal defense in medical cannabis laws. He is also a frequent speaker at cannabis conferences and legal education expos.

Firm: Greenspoon Marder LLP, Colorado

Alma mater: Quinnipiac University School of Law

Field: business and civil litigation, 280E tax issues

Gillette is a board member of Colorado NORML after serving as executive director. She is also an active founding member of Women Grow and a director on the board of the National Cannabis Bar Association m

Firm: Omar Figueroa, California

Alma matter: Stanford Law School

Field: Compliance, Criminal defense, Administrative law, and Intellectual property.

 

Figueroa is a lifetime founding member of the National Cannabis Bar Association. He also belongs to NORML’s distinguished counsel circle and the NORML legal committee. He is the first author to compile and publish California’s cannabis laws in the book Cannabis Codes of California.

Firm: Manzuri Law, California

Alma mater: University of California Hastings College of the Law

Field: Criminal defense, Compliance and Licensing, Business Law, and Corporate transactions.

 

Manzuri is the author of the comprehensive guide to California cannabis laws on Legal Weed. Her years of service as a general counsel to the trade association for Cultivators alliance had a huge impact on the approval of Los Angeles’ Proposition M. Manzuri has worked on several federal cases, including the USA v. Ed Rosenthal, USA v. Steele Smith.

Firm: Kight On Cannabis, North Carolina

Alma mater: University of South Carolina School of Law

Field: General litigation

Kight has an active cannabis law blog, Kight on Cannabis, and In 2015, Kight released his book, Cannabis Business Law: What you need to know. Some of his notable blog contents have been cited by other publications and by the Cannabis Law Journal and Report.

The legal cannabis industry is burgeoning. There are dozens of attorneys vested in the cannabis sector. Regardless of your budget, be assured that you’d find at least one affordable yet effective litigating lawyer to get you out of your hitch.

 

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CANNABIS LAWYERS IN EUROPE

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It’s Local, It’s Legal, and It’s Extortion

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Massachusetts cannabis companies have paid $50M-plus in community fees since 2018

 

Cannabis businesses based in Massachusetts towns and cities have paid more than $53 million in “impact” fees since recreational cannabis sales kicked off in the state. This is the conclusion reached by a survey carried out by Northeastern University researchers on 88 communities.

 

The survey was published by the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association as lawmakers debate on a final bill that would compel these towns and cities to justify their actions. An action many critics call a government shakedown.

 

One of the sponsors of the legislation, state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz affirmed that the report further proves how unequal and arbitrary the local process of approval had become. She added that she’s looking forward to a time when the cannabis marketplace meets our expectations, aspirations, and values.

 

Presently, Massachusetts state law enables communities to charge a 3% tax on cannabis sales. Communities also get to charge impact fees to a max of 3% of a firm’s yearly revenue given the fee is ‘reasonably related’ facility imposed cost. However, given the absence of state supervision, a lot of these communities charge cannabis business to the maximum percentage without quoting specific impacts.

 

Meanwhile, local officials have argued that the fees were arranged in good faith. They said the fees have gone a long way in curbing the cost of setting up cannabis regulations, managing heightened traffic, and reviewing license applications.

 

Nonetheless, the Northeastern report has brought forward new questions relating to the practice, which entrepreneurs and advocates have long criticized as a form of bribery. They believe the funds are being channeled to unrelated state projects while locking our small cannabis businesses that can’t afford to pay the fees.

 

Out of the 88 communities that claimed to have changed the impact fees as inclusive of the agreements made with the cannabis business, only 47 communities provided a public record of fees collected. This means that the $53.3 million is way less than the actual amount collected by these towns and cities.

 

The Exception: Brookline

Fall River, a city whose ex-mayor is currently serving a 6-year jail time in federal prison for receiving bribes from applicants for cannabis licenses earned $5.33 million in impact fees, more than any other city that took the survey. Although Fall River did not disclose how the money was spent.

 

Brookline, the home of NETA, one of the most successful dispensaries in the country, is the second city on the list has and received $4.9 million in fees. The total fee amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars cannabis businesses have remitted to enforcement officials working compulsory town security details at cannabis dispensaries.

 

The city’s director of administrative services, Devon Fields, admitted that the inception of cannabis stores has led to considerable administrative costs and headaches in the neighborhood. Fields claimed the neighborhood has been impacted by various disorderly conducts including neighborhood trashing, parking, traffic, and various endowment issues. She believes the impact fees are justified and it would be a shame if the cash inflow is halted.

 

Different from other cities, Brookline diverted the funds into a separate account overseen by a community board that publishes a comprehensive account of all expenditures when due. Fields believe the town has judiciously managed the funds which have been used to kick start initiatives for racial justice and employ counselors for substance abuse cases. He also noted that the funds have helped Brooklyn push local cannabis retailers to also prioritize diversity in hiring.

 

Brookline has maintained a transparent process that everyone can see. Fields added that more oversight would be appreciated but the city does not want to be in a situation similar to Fall River. Brookline was quick to accept that legalization of legal cannabis was bound to happen, which gave the city the edge, time, and resources to make everything work.

 

Current Stance of The Massachusetts Municipal Association

As a representative of the local government, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is lobbying against the planned ban on impact fees. The association argued that the impact fees are fair and are a practical incentive for towns and cities to host cannabis facilities.

 

The executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Geoff Beckwith, affirmed in a statement that the cannabis industry is publishing another report that cares for the financial interest of its members. He believes this is an attempt to discredit agreements between host communities that had been fairly negotiated in the interest of the public.

 

Geoff believes that towns and cities should retain the power to make decisions on behalf of taxpayers and residents as regards agreements with the marijuana industry.

 

In the course of the survey only 42 cities made available their spending records to the researchers as proof of revenue disbursement. Among these cities, half claimed that the money is diverted to their general funds which are then spent on various budget items and local initiatives. This is regardless of if they were connected to the effects of growing facilities and cannabis stores. 

 

For instance, Wareham used a larger percentage of its $1.7 million impact fees to fund the latest police headquarters, while Maynard used a percentage of its $137,000 impacts fee for the construction of four park benches. Other communities claim the fees were used to fund various things like police cruisers, fire equipment, rides are programs, storm drains, and so on. 

 

However, according to Jeffrey Moyer, a professor of public policy at Northeastern University, while few of these claims are true, most of these cities are not transparent about their spending habits. The resident of the cannabis business association, David O’Brien, affirmed that many of these cities are using these impact fees mud funds with little transparency and zero accountability.

 

Just a few towns like Lee and Northampton have stopped receiving impact fees claiming cannabis businesses have been good to their neighborhood and exact several measurable costs. Meanwhile, other cities have doubled down. For instance, Haverhill is challenging a lawsuit issued by a local cannabis store disputing the impact fees.

 

 

Conclusion

As it stands, cannabis businesses are willing to cover the real impact costs they may inflict on communities. However, what’s objectionable is the compulsion to pay a flat rate fee that isn’t compelled on non-cannabis businesses with identical impacts. While there’s certainly the need for local control in towns and cities, the impact fee seems too ambiguous for comfort. It is basically legalized bribery.

 

READ MORE ON SHADY LICENSING IN CANNABIS…

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