TIME Crime

Colorado Triathlon Canceled in the Wake of Multiple Shootings and Sniper Fears

Bicyclist Fatally Shot
Jason Pohl — AP Windsor Police investigate the area where a cyclist was fatally shot in Windsor, Colo.

Federal agents join investigation into possible serial shooter

A popular triathlon in northern Colorado has been canceled following a rash of shootings near the small town of Windsor, which has left one person dead and another injured.

John Jacoby, 48, was shot dead earlier this week while cycling along a stretch of road just outside of Windsor, reports ABC News. The incident occurred in close proximity to an earlier shooting late last month, when a 20-year-old woman survived being shot in the neck while driving along Interstate 25 outside of nearby Fort Collins.

Local officials are working in tandem with federal investigators, who are scrambling to see if the two events are connected. In the wake of the shootings, organizers of Pelican Fest Sprint Triathlon have canceled the race slated for this weekend because of security concerns.

“My decision was based on the overall safety of all the athletes, volunteers, traffic control personnel, spectators and vendors,” wrote Dennis Vanderheiden, the race’s director, in a post published online. “The proximity of the shooting death and the bike course gave me real concerns.”

TIME Drugs

Washington State Marijuana Shops Caught Selling to Minors

Girl holding marijuana in hand , close-up
Getty Images

Four of 22 stores tested for compliance were caught selling weed to underage shoppers in state-run stings

Washington’s retail marijuana businesses got calls from the state liquor control board before the sting operations began, warning them and reminding them about best practices when it comes to keeping weed out of kids’ hands. But when the board sent 18- to 20-year-old operatives into the first batch of stores this month to see if shops would sell them weed, four of them still failed the test. According to the board’s report released Wednesday, that amounted to 18% of 22 operations.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” says State Senator Ann Rivers, who has continued to work on reforming the state’s retail and medical marijuana industries. “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

By the end of June, the state plans to conduct sting operations at each of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington. “When the news is out,” the liquor control board’s Brian Smith says of these first numbers, “we’ll see a spike in compliance. That’s what happened on the alcohol side.” In the operations, the underage shoppers present their real IDs if asked but don’t offer an ID if they aren’t; if a store sells them marijuana, they complete the transaction and bring the contraband to officers waiting outside the shops.

Marijuana businesses in Washington that sell to minors face possible license suspensions and fines of up to $2,500. Businesses that fail three times in three years can lose their state-issued licenses, while the person who conducts the actual transaction faces a possible felony charge.

Reformers who wanted to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado—and who continue to pursue reform in other states—often argue that weed should be legal because it’s safer than alcohol. Regulations for alcohol, such as selling it only to adults ages 21 and older, have been used as scaffolding for nascent marijuana markets. Smith points out that similar sting operations conducted among liquor sellers in Washington always find slip-ups. Since 2012, monthly checks have found that an average of 85% of businesses, ranging from liquor shops to restaurants, don’t sell to minors.

In 2014, Colorado conducted similar stings among a sample of 20 retail marijuana shops in the state and found 100% compliance, but the vast majority of the state’s more than 250 shops were not tested. Since 2014, checks among liquor sellers in Colorado have found that an average of about 90% of businesses don’t sell alcohol to minors.

Smith chalks some failures up to “human error,” though drivers licenses for residents under age 21 are vertical rather than horizontal in the state. Many shops, he says, have someone stationed at the door and people working the register sometimes mistakenly assume that all shoppers’ IDs have been checked before they show up at the counter. “It’s early. This is a brand new industry that is finding it’s way,” Smith says. “There’s going to be some kinks initially.”

“Because this market is new, some business people don’t have all of their systems in place as much as we might like them to, so I’m going to cut them just the slightest bit of slack,” Rivers says. But she also emphasizes that “part of the expectation of the people of this state was that [a legal marijuana market] would be well taxed and very well regulated to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

While she’s neither thrilled nor deeply disappointed in these first results, Rivers says that attention shouldn’t just be focused on what happens in the stores: “The larger concern for me is people who are purchasing it legally because they’re the right age but then giving it to the underage people.”

A failure to follow the rules gives ammunition to those who did not want to legalize marijuana or who would like to see existing markets fold. But reform advocates point out that there is, at least, some oversight now occurring. “It’s always disappointing when there are isolated incidents of non-compliance, but it’s also a powerful example of how a legal, regulated market leads to more accountability and responsibility,” says Taylor West, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Because you can certainly bet no one’s checking IDs in the criminal market, and a regulatory process incentivizes legal businesses to play by the rules.”

TIME

Meet Colorado’s Pot Smokers

Danielle Levitt photographed more than 25 people smoking cannabis

For this week’s magazine cover story about marijuana’s effect on the developing brain, TIME sent New York-based photographer Danielle Levitt to Denver, Co., to photograph cannabis smokers in their early 20s.

Over the course of a weekend, Levitt met with more than 25 smokers, with whom she and her team had connected through a number of weed clubs, bars, as well as advocacy organizations in the Rocky Mountain state, after it became the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana use of up to an ounce for adults.

But why would someone want to be the face of a national issue that not only draws heated debates but is federally criminalized?

“[Marijuana] is something that has improved their perspective. It is a life-changer for them,” Levitt tells TIME. “Any opportunity to share that with the greater public is a fantastic opportunity.”

In addition to pot activists’ enthusiasm, it is Levitt’s ability to connect with her subjects that enabled her to capture their unique experiences.

“I’m very bad at geography, but I’m good at people,” says Levitt, now in her early 40s, as she manages to bridge the age gap between her and her subjects. “Luckily, the kids think I’m cool.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Levitt has shot for major publications as a celebrity and fashion photographer and recently opened a bar in Manhattan frequented by the city’s fashion clan. Her continuous interest and distinctive style in documenting America’s youth has taken her across the country to focus on promgoers, football stars and urban outcasts.

Giving dignity to her subjects is the key to her photographic approach. “I want them to always feel human, present, respected,” Levitt says.

When photographing marijuana smokers, she asked them “to go at their [own] pace, and to smoke what they feel comfortable smoking, however much that is,” which meant the photographer and her team often had to be in enclosed environments with poor air circulation for long periods of time. “I don’t judge and I don’t manipulate,” Levitt says. “I let them be their true selves, and I think that when people can be celebrated for [being themselves], they can feel a certain ease.”

Danielle Levitt is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. Her vibrant work on American youth as well as her fashion and celebrity portraits have appeared in various publications including The New York Times, Vanity Fair and GQ.

Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

MONEY credit cards

Can You Buy Marijuana With a Credit Card?

Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary in Denver, Colorado
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post via Getty Images Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary in Denver, Colorado

Despite legal uncertainties, some pot dispensaries accept plastic.

It’s been more than a year since legal recreational pot sales started in Colorado, and as much as dispensary owners enjoy the booming business, they’re sick of swimming in cash. Though the Department of Justice released regulations last year allowing banks to accept money from legal dispensaries, it’s still a federal crime — the announcement that the DOJ won’t pursue institutions that process legal pot money hasn’t been enough to make everyone comfortable.

It seems some Colorado business owners have run out of patience waiting for the banking industry to get on board with legal cannabis sales. According to a poll of 78 state-licensed dispensaries in the Denver area conducted by FOX31, 27 (or 47%) of them would be “willing to accept Visa or MasterCard as payment.”

Some of them may be working with financial institutions that have decided to accept money from legal cannabis sales, despite federal laws, but they’re probably trying to downplay or conceal the nature of the business, FOX31’s investigation suggests. Credit card transactions conducted at legal dispensaries produced receipts with company names like “AJS Holdings LLC” and “Indoor Garden Products.” Even though the federal government has said it will stand by and let legal dispensaries use the banking system and the credit card transactions it enables, that hasn’t erased the concerns over Drug Enforcement Agency audits for money laundering.

Given that credit card processing at marijuana dispensaries remains risky, it’s interesting that nearly half of the companies polled by FOX31 said they’d accept credit cards. (It was unclear from the story if the dispensaries polled actually have the ability to process such payments or if they’d merely like to.)

If it’s becoming more common for dispensaries to accept credit card payments, that’s both good and bad for consumers. The good thing is the ability to pay as you prefer and allow you to walk into a dispensary without a bunch of cash in your wallet. On the other hand, using a credit card may lead consumers to spend more than they can afford, potentially accumulating credit card debt. Then again, all consumer goods pose that threat — the important thing is to spend within your means, whether you’re buying indoor gardening products or “Indoor Gardening Products.” What you put on your credit card doesn’t matter to your financial and credit stability, but how much you charge and how you manage that balance does.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Colorado

TSA Officers Fired for Scheme to Grope Men at Denver Airport

Two Transportation Security Administration employees have been fired and two others reassigned after they allegedly set up a system to allow a male screener to pat down attractive men going through security at Denver International Airport, authorities said.

The employees were not identified, and there will be no criminal charges because no victims have come forward, according to a police report.

Denver Police got involved in March, after a tipster brought it to the attention of the TSA in November, which conducted an investigation and contacted police.

The male screener would give a signal to a female employee when a male passenger arrived that he thought was attractive …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME States

Colorado Says Baker Didn’t Discriminate in Refusing to Make Anti-Gay Cake

Bakery owner Marjorie Silva, who refused to write hateful words about gays on a cake for a customer, stands inside her own Azucar Bakery, in Denver, on Jan. 20, 2015.
Ivan Moreno—AP Bakery owner Marjorie Silva, who refused to write hateful words about gays on a cake for a customer, stands inside her own Azucar Bakery, in Denver, on Jan. 20, 2015.

Colorado Civil Rights Division said she was within legal rights to deny cake orders featuring "derogatory language and imagery"

A Colorado government agency has ruled that a baker who refused to make cakes featuring anti-gay messages did not discriminate against the man who requested them.

Last year, William Jack asked Denver’s Azucar Bakery for two bible-shaped cakes featuring images of groomsmen crossed out with a red “X” and phrases like “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18.2,” local ABC station NEWS7 Denver reports. The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, told Jack she would make the bible-shaped cakes and provide icing for him to add his own message, but she wouldn’t apply such “hateful and offensive” messages because her bakery “does not discriminate.”

Jack complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Division, accusing Silva of denying him goods or services based on his religion. But the agency recently ruled that Silva’s refusal to make the cakes was motivated by the “derogatory language and imagery,” and not because of religious discrimination. “In the same manner [she] would not accept [an order from] anyone wanting to make a discriminatory cake against Christians, [she] will not make one that discriminates against gays,” the ruling stated. Last year, the agency ruled that another bakery in the state could not refuse a gay couple’s request for a wedding cake.

Silva, who is Catholic and whose bakery in the past has made cakes for Christian holidays that featured religious imagery, said she was pleased to learn she was “not [only] morally right but also legally right.”

Jack told 7NEWS that he plans to appeal the decision. “I find it offensive that the Colorado Civil Rights Division considers the baker’s claims that Bible verses were discriminatory as the reason for denying my claim,” he said.

[ABC 7NEWS]

TIME public health

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria From Texan Cattle Yards Are Now Airborne, Study Finds

A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas
Tom Pennington—Getty Images A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas

Researchers say the bacteria are capable of "traveling for long distances"

A new study says the DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in American cattle yards has become airborne, creating a new pathway by which such bacteria can potentially spread to humans and hinder treatment of life-threatening infections.

Researchers gathered airborne particulate matter (PM) from around 10 commercial cattle yards within a 200 mile radius of Lubbock, Texas over a period of six-months. They found the air downwind of the yards contained antibiotics, bacteria and a “significantly greater” number of microbial communities containing antibiotic-resistant genes. That’s according to the study to be published in next month’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

“To our knowledge, this study is among the first to detect and quantify antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes…associated with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards,” said the authors, who are researchers in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University and at a testing lab in Lubbock.

Co-author Phil Smith told the Texas Tribune that the bacteria could be active for a long time and “could be traveling for long distances.”

His colleague, molecular biologist Greg Mayer, told the paper that some of the study’s findings “made me not want to breathe.”

Because antibodies are poorly absorbed by cows they are released into the environment through excretion. Once in the environment, bacteria will undergo natural selection and genes that have acquired natural immunities will survive.

The genes that have gone airborne are contained in dried fecal matter that has become dust and gets picked up by winds as they whip through the stockyards.

The Texas Tribune reported that representatives from the Texas cattle industry (estimated to control around 14 million beef cows) criticized the study, saying it portrayed the airborne bacteria as overly hazardous to human health.

But the mass of PM2.5 particles (the kind that can be inhaled into lungs) released into the atmosphere is eye opening, with the study estimating the total amount released by cattle yards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas exceeds 46,000 lbs.(21,000 kg) per day.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial DNA is already known to be transferable to humans if ingested via water or meat.


MONEY Student Loans

A New Proposal Could Get Your Employer to Pay Your Student Loans

Colorado State University
Danita Delimont—Alamy Colorado State University

Pending legislation in Colorado could secure student loan relief for workers with certain degrees.

A Colorado state representative proposed legislation that would give some employers tax credits for making student loan payments on behalf of some of their employees. The bill introduced by Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder) could give qualified workers each up to $10,000 a year in student loan payments from their employers. The employer gets a tax credit equal to 50% of the loan payments (so $5,000 on a $10,000 payment), up to $200,000 total per tax year.

Those qualified workers come from a limited pool of graduates. If you want your employer to make some of your loan payments under this proposed bill, you’d need to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field (STEM) from a Colorado college or university, graduated no earlier than Dec. 31, 2010, make less than $60,000 a year and have a STEM-related job. Of course, you’d need to work for an employer in Colorado, as well. The credit applies only to new hires who are retained for at least 12 months.

The bill is one of several workforce-development bills progressing through the state’s legislature, focusing on attracting and retaining educated, talented Colorado workers. One way to look at the employer tax credit is as a good deal for everyone involved.

“It’s good for employers because it gives them a competitive advantage for attracting new workers,” said Patrick Pratt, program manager of the Colorado Manufacturing Initiative at the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (CACI). “It’s good for employees because it helps alleviate their student loan burden, as well.”

And then there’s the state of Colorado, which gets to hold on to graduates whose skills are in high demand. One of CACI’s missions is to increase the number of skilled, educated workers in the state, and this proposal aligns with some of those goals.

The average monthly student loan payment in this program is estimated to be $224, totaling $2,688 a year, according to Pratt, which is well under the $10,000-per-employee limit. That means workers who qualify for this program may not have to make student loan payments out of their own pockets for as long as the program continues, if the bill becomes law. It still has a long way to go in the legislative process, but if it is approved as is, the program would run from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2019.

In a small survey sent from CACI to its manufacturing members, most respondents said they had a favorable opinion of the legislation. (Pratt sent the survey to 400 members, and about 30 responded.)

Only one person who had a negative opinion of the bill explained why: “This is a solution that exacerbates the problem,” Pratt quoted from the survey response. He said the comment went on to say that the problem was the high cost of education.

The average student loan debt of a 2013 graduate from a Colorado college is $24,520, the 16th lowest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Project on Student Debt. That’s below the national average ($28,400), but the Colorado default rate is 15.3%, higher than the 13.7% national average. Default can seriously damage borrowers’ credit for years, not to mention the hardship that comes with wage garnishment and debt collection, as a result of default. If you want to get an overview of how your student loans are affecting your credit, you can see your free credit report summary on Credit.com.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME politics

Here’s Why Colorado Lawmakers Are Wearing IUD Earrings

To support bipartisan state legislation to fund long-lasting contraception

When Colorado lawmakers wear earrings shaped like IUDs, it’s more of a political statement than an unusual fashion statement.

The uniquely shaped earrings signify bipartisan support for a bill in Colorado that would provide $5 million to fund IUDs and other long-acting, reversible contraceptives. Men are wearing them too– as pins clipped to their lapels, the Denver Post reports.

MORE: The Best Form of Birth Control is the One No One is Using

Republican state Rep. Don Coram co-sponsored the bill with Democratic Rep. KC Becker–he agreed to push for the IUD bill, even though he opposes abortion. Coram wears an IUD pin next to his American Flag pin on his lapel. “A redneck Republican wearing an IUD — it just doesn’t make sense does it?” he told the Post. He notes that every dollar put into the program could save almost $6 in Medicaid costs over a three-year period.

The IUD earrings, which sell for $20 on Etsy, are made by Ohio OB-GYN Virginia Smith who also makes jewelry.

[Denver Post]

MONEY Travel

Spring Ski Lift Pass Deals Offer the Best Value on Snow

150305_EM_Ski_1
John W Banagan/Getty Images

Ski resorts around the country—and in New England in particular—have rolled out new springtime deals that promise tons of skiing for a relative pittance.

Walk up to the ticket window this weekend at Killington, the East Coast’s largest ski resort, and a one-day adult lift pass will cost a cool $92. For a little more than double that, however, the 1,509-acre Vermont resort is selling a special spring season pass that provides unlimited skiing for two months, or perhaps even more. Killington is known to stay open until June, depending on conditions, and the pass, dubbed the “Nor’Beaster” and priced at $199, grants lift access from March 14 until whenever the season ends.

Killington isn’t the only mountain with springtime lift ticket deals featuring seemingly screwy pricing. Okemo, just south of Killington, offers a Spring Skiesta Card for $99, allowing unlimited lift tickets from March 20 through the end of the season. Further south still, the $119 Spring Loaded pass at Bromley provides four days of skiing any day now through December 18, 2015. Considering that the walkup price for lift tickets at Okemo and Bromley go as high as $92 and $71, it’s easy to see how these passes can pay off in as little as two days.

How could it make sense for mountains to offer multi-day passes at rates that seem phenomenally cheap compared with the regular walkup price? Especially given that it’s been an absolutely amazing winter for skiing in the Northeast, and it sure looks like the record snowfall is leading right into a terrific, long spring ski season?

One explanation is that resorts are trying to eke out every last dollar from customers during a time of year when—regardless of how much snow is still on the ground—attention shifts away from winter sports toward golf, baseball, or pretty much anything that doesn’t involve snow and cold.

On the one hand, these resorts are theoretically losing money from guests who would have paid full price for several days’ worth of lift tickets during the spring season. On the other, the mountains are potentially cashing in from guests who are nudged into the upsell of a pricier pass, which they might not even use for more than a single day. As for those skiers and riders who do get the most bang out of their spring passes, they’re likely eating, drinking, getting tune-ups, booking hotels, and otherwise spending money that the resort probably wouldn’t otherwise see had the deals not been so tempting. If they get you to come back one more weekend than you planned on, that’s a win for the resort.

At some point, resorts are also simply compelled to offer super cheap spring promotions because that’s what the competition is doing. The mountains that don’t enter the game will lose the battle to woo a pool of skiers that shrinks smaller and smaller as the season comes to a close.

While cheap, end-of-season passes have grown particularly popular in the Northeast, there are plenty of deals out West as well. Oregon’s Timberline, for instance, is selling a spring pass with unlimited skiing and riding now through May 25 for just $99. Steamboat in Colorado, meanwhile, offers a “Springalicious” pass good for any three days from April 5 to 12, as well as a Double Dip Pass valid for unlimited skiing from April 5 at Steamboat and Winter Park/Mary Jane, starting at $169.

Multi-day passes are hardly the only kinds of deals waved in front of skiers to keep them coming back to the mountains in springtime. A common marketing strategy to get customers to pay up for season passes early is to let them ski for free in the spring on a pass that’s valid for the following winter. There are also wacky one-day deals aimed at attracting skiers for one last spring hurrah, like Patriot’s Day at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, when a lift ticket purchased on April 20 not only costs just $17.76, it comes with a voucher good for a second day early next season.

Let’s also not forget that the vast majority of ski mountains now utilize dynamic pricing sites like Liftopia and GetSkiTickets.com to sell discounted tickets at whatever price the laws of supply and demand dictate. It goes without saying that prices at these discount sites are substantially cheaper in the spring than they are during peak winter weeks.

It also goes without saying that there’s rarely any reason to pay the full walkup price for lift tickets anywhere, no matter what time of year.

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