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Marijuana tax money targeted for Colorado’s full-day kindergarten rollout

Colorado lawmakers have hit on a funding source to help struggling school districts cover up to $25 million in startup costs as they expand full-day kindergarten this fall: marijuana taxes.

The money is expected to aid districts in rural areas, as well as others short on cash. It would help buy new desks and furniture, fixtures for bathrooms and classrooms, and other equipment schools need as they expand their full-day kindergarten offerings.

To assist with those one-time expenses, lawmakers hit on tapping the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund, which already draws from marijuana tax money to issue local grants for school construction projects. The proposal is part of a bipartisan bill that also would deliver a $125 million boost in direct school construction assistance across the state in the next two years.

The state recently has put $40 million a year from retail marijuana excise taxes into the BEST fund, fulfilling a requirement of Colorado’s 2012 vote to legalize the sale and possession of recreational marijuana. The fund also includes revenue from other sources, including the lottery and state land leases and royalties.

Read the full story on The Denver Post website.

CDOT seeks public input on new marijuana-impaired driving campaign

The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched an online survey in hopes of gathering public input on creative concepts and messaging for a new marijuana-impaired driving campaign.

The survey, part of CDOT’s ongoing “Cannabis Conversation” initiative, will help to create a new awareness campaign that better resonates with cannabis users in Colorado.

“We want as many people as possible to weigh in on these concepts,” said Sam Cole, safety communications manager with CDOT. “Our goal is to capture feedback that spans a wide range of views, lifestyles and demographics to get a well-rounded perspective of how these messages are connecting with different audiences.”

Members of the public can take the survey at http://bit.ly/CDOTCannabisConvoSurvey, or view the creative concept animatics at http://bit.ly/CDOTCreativeConcepts.

For more information on the campaign, visit ColoradoCannabisConvo.com.

US corporations embracing 420 as pot legalization grows

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Potheads have for decades celebrated their love of marijuana on April 20, but the once counter-culture celebration that was all about getting stoned now is so mainstream Corporate America is starting to embrace it.

No, Hallmark doesn’t yet have a card to mark “420.” But many other businesses inside and outside the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry are using April 20, or 4/20, to roll out marketing and social media messaging aimed at connecting with consumers driving the booming market.

On Saturday, Lyft is offering a $4.20 credit on a single ride in Colorado and in select cities in the U.S. and Canada. Carl’s Jr. is using a Denver restaurant to market a hamburger infused with CBD, a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis that many believe is beneficial to their health.

On 420 last year, Totino’s, a maker of frozen pizza snacks, tweeted an image of a microwave and an oven with the message: “To be blunt, pizza rolls are better when baked.”

“I think brands that associate themselves with cannabis kind of get that contact high. In other words, they’re just considered to be cooler by association,” said Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University. “As pot becomes more legal, more discussed, more interesting to people, more widely used, then 420 becomes more mainstream as well.”

Marijuana normalization has snowballed since 2012, when Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational use. Eight more followed, including California, Oregon and Michigan. Medical marijuana is legal in two-thirds of the states, with conservative-leaning Utah and Oklahoma among recent additions.

Meantime, the CBD market has exploded. CBD oil can be found in candies, coffee and other food, drinks and dietary supplements, along with perfume, lotions, creams and soap. Proponents say CBD helps with pain, anxiety and inflammation, though limited scientific research supports those claims.

U.S. retail sales of cannabis products jumped to $10.5 billion last year, a threefold increase from 2017, according to data from Arcview Group, a cannabis investment and market research firm. The figures do not include retail sales of hemp-derived CBD products.

Ben & Jerry’s was one of the earliest big brands to foster a connection with the marijuana culture through marketing. The Vermont-based ice cream company features Cherry Garcia and Phish Food, honoring late Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia and the band Phish. Both bands are favorites of the marijuana-smoking crowd.

To mark 420 in recent years, Ben & Jerry’s debuted taco and burrito inspired ice cream sandwiches. This year the company partnered with a San Francisco Bay Area cannabis retailer to give customers who place delivery orders on Friday and Saturday a free pint of Half Baked, a combination of cookie dough and fudge brownie.

“We have a lot of fun, never being overt, but really playing into the moment of 420,” said Jay Curley, the company’s global head of integrated marketing.

Last year, Ben & Jerry’s also turned more serious, asking consumers to call on lawmakers to expunge prior marijuana convictions and press for pardons or amnesty for anyone arrested for smoking pot. This year the company is using the holiday to call for criminal justice reform.

“We’re actually using this as an opportunity not to tell a stoner joke like we have in the past, but to raise what we see as a much more serious issue around justice,” Curley said.

Those in the marijuana marketplace also are ramping up advertising around 420. Much of the marketing about cannabis or related products takes the form of online ads, emails, text messages and social media. Shops typically offer discounts. Some host parties with food and entertainment. The larger 420 events can draw thousands of people.

Verano Holdings, whose businesses include cannabis shops, sponsors street festivals in Chicago and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where attendees can learn about marijuana products, listen to music and grab a bite. The company expects this Saturday’s festival in Chicago, going on its third year, will draw more than 4,000 people. Last year, it drew 1,500, said Tim Tennant, Verano’s chief marketing officer.

In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Hippie Hill will again be the site of a 420 celebration. Last year, more than 15,000 attended the event, which has transformed from a small informal gathering into a full-blown festival of corporate sponsors and commercial booths selling smoking devices, T-shirts and food.

Roger Volodarsky, whose Los Angeles-based Puffco makes portable vaporizers, has celebrated 420 since he was a teenager. Back then, he said, “420 was the day that you splurged on yourself and got high in interesting ways. It was the day that you made a gravity bong and coughed your brains out.”

Volodarksy likes that some Main Street brands are getting into the industry and the holiday.

“What’s important to me about these ad campaigns is they’re speaking to people who aren’t users and they’re normalizing the space to people who aren’t users,” he said.

Even as popularity grows, some companies will stay away from 420 as a marketing tool, said Allen Adamson, co-founder of Metaforce, a marketing consulting company.

“If you’re talking about a big brand that needs to appeal to everybody and is very risk-averse, then probably not,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see large financial institutions doing it.”

Carl’s Jr to introduce CBD burger exclusively at one Denver location on 4/20

The putting-CBD-in-everything craze will reach a new level on Saturday when fast-food chain Carl’s Jr releases a specialty cheeseburger at one of its Denver locations topped with CBD-infused sauce.

CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant.

Carl’s Jr’s “Rocky Mountain High CheeseBurger Delight” will be sold Saturday exclusively at the burger joint’s location at 4050 Colorado Blvd.

Retailing for $4.20, the burger will have two beef patties topped with pepper jack cheese, Carl’s Jr’s “Crisscut” waffle fries, pickled jalapenos and a signature “Santa Fe Sauce” infused with 5 milligrams of CBD. Customers must be 18 or older to buy it and are limited two burgers. Sales start at 6 a.m. and will continue until supplies run out or the store closes.

Read the full story from The Denver Post.

Legal immigrants having U.S. citizenship denied because of marijuana jobs

DENVER (AP) — Colorado officials are warning legal immigrants that working in the state’s marijuana industry could jeopardize their legal status, after two people said they were denied U.S. citizenship because of their jobs.

Although 10 states broadly allow its use and sale, federal law still bans marijuana and immigration authorities say they are bound to follow that prohibition when reviewing citizenship applications.

Attorneys representing the two legal immigrants from Colorado, and Denver officials, accused the Trump administration of quietly targeting immigrants seeking to work in the expanding field. Immigration advocates said Thursday they have seen others denied citizenship based on past or ongoing work in cannabis-related jobs, but it is not clear how many cases exist.

Oswaldo Barrientos, one of those denied citizenship, said he began working in the industry in 2014. He was inspired by the research he had done into medical products after his mother was diagnosed with skin cancer.

Barrientos, 30, said he was brought to the U.S. from El Salvador as an infant and was granted a green card when he was 13.

He said he didn’t anticipate any problems with his citizenship application. He is fluent in English and said he has no criminal history, pays taxes and graduated high school. But during an interview in November, the immigration official focused on Barrientos’ job with a state-licensed company that grows marijuana, he said.

Weeks later, he received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denying him because of his job, his lawyers said.

“I was shocked, appalled, sad,” Barrientos said. “It was a mixture of emotions. I had no idea I was going to be in this situation.”

Barrientos’ attorneys Aaron Elinoff and Bryce Downer, who specialize in immigration law in Colorado, said they also represent a woman whose citizenship application was denied because of a previous job at a marijuana dispensary. She asked not to be named publicly because of a new job in the medical field, they said.

“Frankly, these are the people we want to be citizens,” Elinoff said. “And the U.S. government is telling them no. We don’t know how many people have been denied on the same issue.”

Kathy Brady, a senior staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said legal immigrants have reported similar denials in Colorado and Washington state, where marijuana also is legal. Brady said she doesn’t know how many people have been denied citizenship for their work in the marijuana industry.

She advises people without U.S. citizenship to find work elsewhere unless federal law changes.

“Even if you have had a green card for 20 years, you had better not work in any aspect of this industry and you better not use marijuana,” Brady said.

Deborah Cannon, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency does not comment on individual cases. She defended denials based on involvement with marijuana, saying the agency must follow federal law that prevents its use or sale.

“Despite state law that may allow medical marijuana use, the Supreme Court has held that Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause empowers it to prohibit drug distribution and possession, even if the prohibited activities are not also illegal under state law,” she said. “When adjudicating applicants for citizenship, the agency is required to apply federal law.”

The use and sale of marijuana for adults is broadly permitted in 10 states. More than 30 states allow a variety of marijuana-based products for medical purposes.

Advocates have warned immigrants of the peril that using state-permitted marijuana could do to their legal status for years and are expanding that message to include employment by marijuana businesses.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center began working with California’s employment agency to answer workers’ questions this year. On Wednesday, the Denver agency that regulates marijuana businesses told companies to warn new employees that their work could block citizenship applications.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock met with Barrientos and others this week before calling on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to issue formal guidance on the issue.

“Denver understands the need for federal laws and regulations regarding citizenship and immigration, but we are seeing the heartbreaking effects that those federal laws and regulations are having on our residents,” Hancock wrote to Barr.

Barrientos said he plans to appeal the denial of his application. His attorneys are also considering his options in federal court.

In the meantime, he is following their advice not to leave the country and risk being barred from re-entering. He plans to keep his job and calls the government’s denial of his application “downright wrong.”

“I’m trying to help people,” he said. “We want to work hard to live the American dream. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

___

Kathleen Foody is a member of AP’s marijuana beat team. Follow her at twitter.com/katiefoody. Find complete AP marijuana coverage here: apnews.com/tag/Marijuana.

Colorado authorizes medical marijuana use for autism

DENVER — Colorado has added autism spectrum disorders to the list of disabling medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

Gov. Jared Polis signed a bipartisan bill into law Tuesday.

Autism spectrum disorders include autism, Asperger syndrome and other developmental disorders whose symptoms range from mild to severe.

Colorado law also allows medical marijuana use for cancer, glaucoma, HIV, PTSD, seizures and severe pain.

The law makes it easier for minors with disabling conditions to be added to Colorado’s medical marijuana registry. It also encourages state research into medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating ovarian cancer, dementia and other medical conditions.

Then-Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a similar bill last year, citing a need for more research.

Breckenridge woman creates a post-workout nutrition bar high in CBD and turmeric

A young woman from Breckenridge has channeled her recovery from a serious knee injury into a series of post-workout, anti-inflammatory nutrition bars called “CARLbars.”

Created by Carly Davis, CARLbar is a nutrition bar without any added sugars or sweeteners. They’re gluten free and contain no genetically modified organisms, soy, nuts or dairy. At 1.79 ounces, each bar is high in fiber and protein and comes with 15 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD, but there’s no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gives users the high.

“They’re definitely unique,” Davis said of CARLbar. “It’s been interesting seeing the feedback. Some people absolutely hate them, but some people absolutely love them. Because there’s no added sugar, it’s a specific population that appreciates the nutrition bars for what they are.”

Additionally, Davis’ CARLbars contain turmeric, a flowering plant from the ginger family that’s known for its alleged anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric has been used in cooking and for medicinal properties for generations.

Notably, turmeric contains compounds called “curcuminoids,” and the most important of those is curcumin, the primary active ingredient in turmeric. Davis boasts that CARLbar uses “whole spectrum turmeric,” which essentially means the bars contain the whole root.

Many people who take turmeric will mix it with black pepper, for example, to aid absorption into the body, but Davis said that’s unnecessary with CARLbars, as whole spectrum turmeric already contains substances that do this.

Naturally, Davis is hoping to capitalize on “a huge rave” across the country, in which more and more people are being increasingly conscientious about the foods they eat. Davis herself is no nutritionist, nor does she claim to be, but the 27-year-old woman loves nutrition and believes that diet plays an important role in how the body performs.

CARLbars might not have ever come into existence had Davis not seriously hurt her knee “jumping off a cliff” while skiing with friends at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area about four years ago, blowing out her ACL and tearing her meniscus.

“I like literally tried everything — all kinds of different procedures — everything, and I was wondering if I could help (my knee heal) through my diet,” she recalled.

That’s ultimately what led Davis to start researching different types of diets, she said. She quickly gravitated toward foods with anti-inflammatory properties and, as a result, ended up making “a ton of green smoothies.”

But Davis also soon realized there wasn’t anything out there that made for a quick, on-the-go option and followed the diet she wanted for herself.

“That’s where we get the CARLbar,” Davis said. “It’s been quite the journey through it all, but they’re just like the coolest nutrition bar on the market. They’re super good for you. There’s spinach in them, and sweet potato, and the hemp-derived CBD aids in that anti-inflammatory purpose of the whole thing, but it can also help with anxiety, sleep and mood.”

Davis began making CARLbars by dehydrating fruit and vegetables, and mixing them with turmeric powder, before trying to press the ingredients into bars, she said.

“They tasted terrible,” Davis admitted of her early attempts. “So I found these food scientists (at Small Batch Consulting) in Denver, who helped me with the recipe, and they found the manufacturer.”

CARLbars are being made and packaged by a company in Georgia. Davis started selling them in October, both in bar form and in bags containing 14 bite-sized morsels with 70 milligrams of CBD per bag.

She’s recently got the website BodyAidBars.com up and running, and her products are being carried at select locations in Summit and Eagle counties, including Cool River Coffee House, The Crown Coffee Bar and Lounge, Mom’s Baking Co., Breckenridge Mountain Massage, Mountain River Naturopathic, Hovey and Harrison, and Village Bagel.

The apothecary manager at Mountain River Naturopathic in Frisco, Della Elich, said that CARLbar is the only nutrition bar the store carries because so many other chocolate and energy bars are high in sugar, other additives and just weren’t helping the store’s customers.

“We tend to sell more internal, high potency CBD extracts, and it’s been nice to have a quick, therapeutic snack option for people coming in,” Elich said of CARLbar, adding that Summit County tourists looking for something high in CBDs have also been buying them up.

Davis said sales have been “pretty good” since the launch, and she’s now trying to get word out about CARLbar by targeting social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram with @eatcarlbars. Online, a three-bar variety pack costs $21 and a box of a dozen goes for $63.

After the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress removed hemp from being a schedule I controlled substance, Davis said she can ship her bars out of state.

Davis sees athletes as her biggest potential pool of customers because “turmeric and CBD are awesome for post-exercise support and muscle recovery.” However, she also thinks anyone looking to get some solid nutrients could benefit from her products because, as Davis put it, CARLbars are “the best nutrition bar on the market.”

Smoking strong pot every day raises risk of psychosis, study finds

LONDON (AP) — Smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times, according to the biggest-ever study to examine the impact of pot on psychotic disorder rates.

The research adds to previous studies that have found links between marijuana and mental health problems, but still does not definitively pinpoint marijuana as the cause.

Psychotic disorders — in which people lose touch with reality — are typically triggered by factors including genetics and the environment. But experts say the new study’s findings have implications for jurisdictions legalizing marijuana, warning they should consider the potential impact on their mental health services.

“If we think there’s something particular about (high-potency) cannabis, then making that harder to get a hold of, could be a useful harm-reduction measure,” said Suzanne Gage, of the University of Liverpool, who was not connected to the new study.

Researchers at King’s College London and elsewhere analyzed data from a dozen sites across Europe and Brazil from 2010 to 2015. About 900 people who were diagnosed with a first episode of the disorder at a mental health clinic, including those with delusions and hallucinations, were compared with more than 1,200 healthy patients. After surveying the patients about their use of cannabis and other drugs, researchers found daily marijuana use was more common among patients with a first episode of psychosis compared with the healthy, control group.

The scientists estimated that people who smoked marijuana on a daily basis were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared with people who never used the drug. For those who used high-potency marijuana daily, the risk jumped to nearly five times. The paper was published online Tuesday by the journal Lancet. It was paid for by funders including Britain’s Medical Research Council, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

“If you decide to use high-potency marijuana, you should bear in mind: Psychosis is a potential risk,” said Dr. Marta Di Forti, of King’s College London and the study’s lead author. She said it was unknown how frequently people could smoke lower-potency marijuana without raising their likelihood of psychosis, but that less than weekly use appeared to pose no risk.

Di Forti and colleagues estimated that in Amsterdam, about half of new psychosis cases were associated with smoking high-potency pot.

Gage noted that it was possible that people with a family history of psychosis or other risk factors might be more susceptible to developing problems like psychosis or schizophrenia if they used cannabis.

“That could be the thing that tips the scale for some people,” she said. “Cannabis for them could be an extra risk factor, but it definitely doesn’t have to be involved. If you use cannabis, it doesn’t mean you are definitely going to develop psychosis.”

Testing positive for marijuana won’t get you fired at more than half of Colorado companies, survey says

A recent survey has found more Colorado employers are relaxing their marijuana testing policies and fewer of them are firing workers who test positive for weed compared to a few years ago.

Only 48 percent of Colorado companies with “well-defined” drug testing policies will fire a worker for a first-time positive test for pot, according to data collected by the Employers Council in November. That’s down from 53 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, 5 percent of companies surveyed have dropped marijuana from their pre-employment drug screening program in the last two years and 2 percent have stopped screening for it altogether.

The council — a Denver nonprofit organization formerly known as the Mountain States Employers Council — has polled Colorado employers on their drug testing policies with a special emphasis on marijuana every other year since 2014. That’s the year recreational pot sales became legalin Colorado after voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012.

“A lot of companies began testing for the first time (in 2014), but it seems like it has calmed down a lot since then because the sky has not actually fallen,” Curtis Graves, an attorney with the Employers Council, said of this year’s survey findings. “Pre-employment drug testing seems to be down across the board but particularly for marijuana.”

Read the full story on The Denver Post website, click here.

Cannabis advocates wary as Colorado considers e-cigarette limits

DENVER (AP) — Cannabis advocates are watching closely as Colorado lawmakers consider limits on where e-cigarettes can be used in an effort to combat rising teen use of nicotine-containing vaping devices.

A bipartisan bill getting its first hearing Wednesday would add electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which restricts tobacco use at the workplace and in many public spaces. E-cigarettes heat a nicotine solution into a vapor that’s inhaled.

Medical marijuana advocates are concerned expanding the law would unintentionally impact patients who are vaping prescription cannabis — for example, in apartments where potential vaping bans could be adopted.

Other states, including Vermont, have slapped taxes on e-cigarettes to deter teens from vaping. U.S. health officials consider the growth in youth using e-cigarettes an epidemic, and a recent Colorado government study suggests 27 percent of minors regularly use the devices.

The Colorado bill would ban the use of electronic smoking devices in many public spaces and workplaces. It would eliminate designated hotel smoking rooms and smoking areas at retirement homes, public housing and assisted living facilities. It also would ban outdoor smoking within 25 feet (7.5 meters) of entryways, as opposed to the current 15 feet (4.5 meters).

The thinking, according to bill sponsors: Making it more difficult for adults to vape will induce youth to cut their own consumption. Research suggests youth nicotine vaping can lead to lifelong tobacco use.

“We want to stop e-cigs and vaping as a narrative experience for teens,” said Democratic Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet. “They see it out there: If it happens inside the restaurant, if it happens inside the airport, the subliminal message to teens is that vaping must be safe.”

Youth tobacco use has risen even though federal law bans the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to those under 18.

U.S. health officials consider the growth in young people using e-cigarettes an epidemic, and a recent Colorado government study suggests 27 percent of minors regularly use the devices.

Some marijuana activists want cannabis exempted from the list of vaping substances that are included in any new restrictions. They argue it would discriminate against medical marijuana users who are treating chronic pain, PTSD and other conditions.

The bill, as drafted, currently affects “nicotine or any other substance intended for human consumption.”

“They’re telling cannabis patients who vape that they can pound sand,” said Cindy Sovine, a lobbyist for several marijuana groups. “This bill would update language that could make it tougher for medical marijuana patients to comply with the law.”

Public pot consumption already is banned.

Sovine said she hopes the bill will be amended to exempt marijuana vaping. Michael Jenet said lawmakers are studying those concerns. They are carving out exemptions for cigar bars and casinos, among other enterprises, in the bill.

“We are not changing the law under which landlords can decide which or whether there are apartments in which they allow smoking,” Michaelson Jenet said.