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Is Colorado a source for illegal marijuana exports?

Cannabis legalization also renews concerns about increased use by youth


Drug-related disciplinary actions at schools have increased since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — An early March drug bust by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is just one of the indications that Colorado is becoming a source state for marijuana distribution and illegal sales in other states. It’s also a warning that easy accessibility to marijuana may have other consequences, including more use by teens, according to Summit County Sheriff John Minor.

The week-long drug interdiction operation at all four local Post Offices yielded more than 13.5 pounds of marijuana and marijuana edibles, along with other illegal substances, resulted in numerous arrests and serious charges. The operation was aimed at reducing the number suspected narcotic parcels or narcotic proceeds being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.

Some of the marijuana edibles were “professionally packaged” and may have come from legal marijuana dispensaries, but there’s no indication that any local dispensaries were involved in illegal activities, said sheriff’s office spokesperson Tracy LeClair.

“It certainly appears that Colorado is now a source state,” Minor said, explaining that law enforcement agencies in other states are reporting illegal sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products from Colorado, in most cases purchased at Colorado dispensaries. Continue reading

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Will Congress act on marijuana legalization?

Proposed legislation would empower states, create tax framework


Colorado’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry still operates in a gray area between state and federal laws.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Saying that the power to unravel the marijuana mess lies with Congress, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) this week introduced measures that would de-federalize marijuana policy and create a framework for the federal taxation of cannabis.

To provide context for the legislation, the lawmakers released a report that outlines the history of what they called the failed war on marijuana and explains that more than 100 million Americans live in jurisdictions where governments and voters have decided that some aspect of marijuana should be legally permitted. Continue reading

Study: No proof that medical marijuana increases teen use

Researchers say legalized medical marijuana does not lead to increased pot smoking among teens.

‘We are confident that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase when a state legalizes medical marijuana’

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It may be counterintuitive, but an extensive study by researchers at three universities concludes there’s no link between the legalization of medical marijuana to increased use of the drug among high school students.

Statistics do show that teen marijuana use has been rising since 2005, but the study suggests that increase is due to other factors, not the recent growth of the medical marijuana industry.

“There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use,” said Daniel I. Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver. Continue reading

Study: Legal medical marijuana cuts traffic deaths

A new study by Colorado-based researchers suggests a link between the legalization of medical marijuana and a drop in traffic deaths.

Beer consumption also down in states that have legalized medical cannabis use

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new study out of the University of Colorado Denver suggests traffic deaths have dropped 9 percent and beer sales have declined by 5 percent in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.

The in-depth analysis of 13 states that legalized medical marijuana between 1990 and 2009 also indicates that marijuana consumption among minors did not increase as a result of the legalization of medical marijuana. Alcohol consumption by 20- to 29-year-olds went down in the states that legalized medical cannabis, resulting in fewer deaths on the road. The study is online here.

“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University. Continue reading

States, feds spar over medical marijuana

The clash between states and the federal government over medical marijuana may be intensifying.

U.S. Department of Justice memo appears to target commercial medical marijuana growers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Congressman Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, is sparring with the U.S. Department of Justice over the language of a June 29 memo from the federal agency that seems to target large-scale medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.

The memo is intended to clarify the federal government’s role in enforcing the prohibition on illegal drug use. The widespread legalization of medical cannabis has resulted in some confusion in a classic case of states’ rights versus federal law. Federal  officials are obligated to enforce the controlled substances act, even as more and more states legalize medical use of marijuana.

In a related story, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that drug-related school expulsions have soared in the Poudre School District as medical marijuana use becomes more widespread. Continue reading

Colorado: Congress aims at medical marijuana reform

Proposed federal legislation could end some of the battles over Colorado's medical marijuana policies.

Proposed laws would address fiscal and legal issues

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Congress may try to untangle some of the fiscal and legal issues associated with the burgeoning medical marijuana industry in Colorado and other states in a bipartisan way, with three new laws introduced May 25 by Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA), Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).

Two of the laws address financial inequities, while the third, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, would shield individuals and entities from federal prosecution when acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. Continue reading

Breckenridge enacts medical marijuana moratorium

New state medical marijuana law prompts local moratoriums, including Breckenridge.

Town won’t issue any new licenses for dispensaries and grow operations for nine months

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Breckenridge this joined the medical marijuana bandwagon that’s been rolling through Colorado by enacting a nine-month moratorium on issuing licenses for new dispensary and grow operations in town. The moratorium is effective immediately and does not affect existing medical marijuana operations.

According to a press release from the town, some council members are concerned about the number of dispensaries in town. The town was also facing a possible flood of applications prior to a July 1 deadline established by a new state medical marijuana law. The moratorium will enable the town to update its regulations based on the new state law. Continue reading

Summit Voice week in review

Even as oil spread across vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico, Summit Voice reported on efforts to tighten up regulations for oil and gas drilling in Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY NASA.

New medical marijuana regs, lift ticket taxes and global warming made the news last week

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a busy news week, we reported how a lender guideline letter from Fannie Mae might affect a local loan program aimed at financing energy efficiency improvements: Lender guidelines may hamper energy upgrade loans.

In our ongoing coverage of global warming, we took a look at three major new studies released by federal science agencies, re-affirming the basic scientific conclusions, calling for action to reduce greenhouse gases and suggesting adaptation strategies for the coming changes, including sea level rise: Three major climate change studies released.

Our other major global warming story was about a recent set of Congressional hearings held to discuss politically motivated attacks on climate scientists: Climate science as political ‘contact sport.’

We also took a look at how a new state law governing medical marijuana could trigger a scramble to develop new local regulations, as well as a rush for licenses before a one-year moratorium starts July 1: New regs to affect Summit County’s cannabis caregivers.

In a related story, the Breckenridge Town Council will consider a special marijuana tax at an upcoming retreat. The council will discuss a possible lift ticket tax at the same May 25 session: Breckenridge town council eyes lift ticket, cannabis taxes.

The latest waterblog featured poetry, information about Lake Powell and links to stories about a ‘right-to-float’ bill that sank in the State Legislature: The waterblog: Haikus, Lake Powell and the right to float.

Two stories covered oil and gas drilling here in Colorado. Even as all eyes are transfixed by the scope of the disastrous Gulf oil spill, federal agencies said they will tighten rules for onshore drilling: More review, fewer loopholes for onshore drilling. And those changes won’t come soon enough for a North Park ranching family that has been dealing with ineffective enforcement and monitoring of existing rules: Oil woes at North Park’s Hell Creek Ranch.

Marking International Biodiversity Day, we reported on the worldwide Bioblitz, held to raise awareness about the global biodiversity crisis. In Colorado, 75 species are listed as threatened or endangered, and across the U.S. there are 330 species in line for the designation under the Endangered Species Act: BioBlitz!

Our weekly travel feature was a guest piece from mountaineer and canyon explorer Stan Wagon, who took us on a trek to some secret arches near Grand Junction: Sunday travel: Arch hunting in Colorado.

Read the rest of the recent headlines here …

New regs to affect Summit County’s cannabis caregivers

A new state law regulating medical marijuana will affect local caregivers, patients and growers.

Local towns could see a flood of new applications ahead of year-long moratorium, which starts July 1

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local towns could see a flood of applicants for three new types of medical marijuana licenses before a year-long statewide moratorium on new facilities takes effect July 1, said Sean McAllister, a Breckenridge attorney who also serves on Gov. Bill Ritter’s drug policy task force.

The moratorium is part of a state law passed by the legislature but not yet signed by Gov. Bill Ritter. A local caregiver, who asked not to be identified, said via e-mail he doesn’t think Gov. Ritter will sign the bill, based on public opinion. See the results of a web survey on the topic here.

Meanwhile, McAllister is also involved with a group of attorneys preparing a legal challenge to Colorado House Bill 1284. Medical marijuana advocates say several provisions the new state law, which includes the moratorium, should be overturned because they unduly restricts access to cannabis a — constitutionally protected medicine. Continue reading

Summit County to revisit medical marijuana regs

County planners and attorneys will take another look at regulations governing the location and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries on county land.

New state law allows local bans and establishes a state licensing framework

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By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — County planners and attorneys will take another look at a proposed set of regulations governing the establishment and operation of medical marijuana grow operations and dispensaries after the State Legislature passed House Bill 1284 in the last week of the legislative session.

The new state law imposes a one-year moratorium on new medical marijuana centers but allows existing facilities to operate for a year before becoming licensed. It also sets up a state regulatory framework for licensing to be administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue and the Department of Health.

The health department is also charged with developing new rules that will outline sanctions against doctors who violate the licensing and documentation requirements. The state law also gives local jurisdictions the ability to ban medical marijuana facilities, limits the number of patients for primary caregivers and specifies where patients or primary caregivers may not use or possess medical marijuana.

County rules proposed last October would strictly limit the locations of medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations on unincorporated land in Summit County to commercial districts and a few other locations, specifically to areas near the 7-11 north of Breckenridge, in the Wildernest commercial zone and in the Heeney area, as discussed by the county commissioners late last year. Continue reading


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