TIME Marijuana

Colorado Approves Credit Union for Pot Stores

The credit union could open in January even as it waits to be granted insurance by federal regulators

America’s rapidly-expanding marijuana industry faces a major quandary: large, national banks are afraid to do business with cannabis businesses for fear of running afoul of strict federal regulations.

That could change with the creation of the first financial institution dedicated solely to serving the cannabis industry. This week, the Colorado Division of Financial Services issued a charter to The Fourth Corner Credit Union, which could be doing business and serving the local cannabis community as soon as January, a spokeswoman for the state’s regulatory agencies confirmed.

The dearth of reliable banking opportunities has turned the marijuana “green rush” into a mostly all-cash affair as business owners are unable to store their pot proceeds in a checking account. Fortune wrote about how banking restrictions have helped give rise to a number of ancillary businesses serving the cannabis industry by offering cash management and security services.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called the charter issued to Fourth Corner, the first credit-union charter granted by the state in almost a decade, “the end of the line” for the industry’s banking problem, The Denver Post reported.

Of course, Fourth Corner still must seek insurance from federal regulators at the National Credit Union Administration while the U.S. Federal Reserve will also have to offer its blessing. The credit union plans to serve any legal marijuana businesses in Colorado, as well as any members of non-profits that support legalized marijuana.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 18

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The worst ceasefire: Russia and Ukraine are both preparing for war as their uneasy peace slips away.

By Jamie Dettmer in the Daily Beast

2. With the rise of legal cannabis, the small-holders running the industry may soon be run off by the “Marlboro of Marijuana”

By Schumpeter in the Economist

3. From taking India to Mars on the cheap to pulling potable water from thin air: Meet the top global innovators of 2014.

By the writers and editors of Foreign Policy

4. Some charter schools promote aggressive policies of strict discipline, and that strategy may be backfiring.

By Sarah Carr in the Hechinger Report

5. As local police forces become intelligence agencies, we need sensible policies to balance privacy and public safety.

By Jim Newton in the Los Angeles Times

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Marijuana

Official Bob Marley Marijuana Is Coming

Bob Marley & The Wailers in concert in the 1970s
Tracksimages.com—Alamy

It was just a matter of time.

Bob Marley, the late reggae superstar whose name is virtually synonymous with pot, will soon have his own marijuana label.

Marley’s family has joined with Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm focused on marijuana products, to develop Marley Natural brand weed. Marley Natural will offer “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains,” the very same pot Marley himself is said to have enjoyed. The company will also sell creams, lotions, and Marley-branded accessories.

“My dad would be so happy to see people understanding the healing power of the herb,” said Cedella Marley, the musician’s daughter, in a statement announcing the launch. “He viewed the herb as something spiritual that could awaken our well-being, deepen our reflection, connect us to nature and liberate our creativity.”

Marley Natural website
Marley Natural’s branding. Marley Naturals Website

Cedella also said an official Marley marijuana brand would be an “authentic way to honor his legacy by adding his voice to the conversation about cannabis and helping end the social harms caused by prohibition.”

Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, told the Guardian that Marley is probably the celebrity most associated with marijuana. Pot products named after the reggae star, including strains of cannabis, are already being sold without the family’s approval. The executive believes the Marley Brand has the potential to the be the Starbucks of weed and reel in a sizable percentage of what is now a $1.53 billion domestic market for legal pot. AdWeek speculates that if legalization trends continue, that market could grow to $10.2 billion by 2019, and Greenwave Advisors, a marijuana-focused analysis firm, estimates lecit American marijuana sales could total as much as $35 billion by 2020.

But Marley Natural isn’t the only brand trying to become the “next Starbucks” of pot. AdWeek‘s Robert Clara notes a variety of brands are working to claim that same moniker, with companies like DixieElixirs, “the 800-lb. gorilla of the space,” producing slickly branded edible products that “would not look out of place on the shelves of Whole Foods.”

Dixie Elixir is Colorado’s leading marijuana-infused edible product and drink maker.
Dixie Elixir’s edibles are packaged to look at home at an upscale supermarket. Andrew Hetherington—Redux

If it seems surprising that more celebrities haven’t leapt into the pot branding space, it’s because there are still plenty of hurdles to launching a marijuana business. While an increasing number of states have legalized marijuana for some sector of the populace—Kennedy noted that 70% of Americans now live in a state where cannabis in some form is legal—regulation still severely limits opportunities for business.

“You have 20 states with some form of legalization, a number of them very restrictive, and a small customer base. So there’s not a national opportunity,” Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told AdWeek.

Another issue is that marijuana cannot be transported across state lines, making centralized distribution out of the question. Clara writes that DixieElixirs has resorted to licensing the brand to local growers in various states, a strategy Marley Natural could potentially replicate.

TIME States

Colorado Still Can’t Figure Out Final Rules for Edible Marijuana

Pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder Colo. on Sept. 26, 2014.
Pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder Colo. on Sept. 26, 2014. Brennan Linsley—AP

A state group adjourned without agreeing on solutions for keeping THC-laced food away from kids

A working group convened to help Colorado regulate edible marijuana products failed to come up with consensus recommendations at its final meeting Monday, punting the issue to the state legislature.

Officials have long been worried that edible products, which can take the form of sweets like lollipops and treats like brownies, will lead children to experiment with marijuana or accidentally ingest it. In May, the largest children’s hospital in Colorado reported that nine children had been brought in after accidentally eating such products, double the amount the institution had seen in the previous year. Despite fears that Halloween would see a spike of such incidents, the hospital didn’t report any cases of accidental ingestion.

The working group was formed to develop ideas for keeping edibles safe and out of children’s hands. The ideas ranged from making all marijuana edibles a certain color to banning most forms of edibles, limiting production to only lozenges and tinctures. A variety of suggestions will be presented to the state legislature when it reconvenes in January.

Makers of edible products don’t want to see their section of the market shrunk and point out that every “preparation of the plant” was given the green light when state voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012.

Washington, which opened its recreational market after Colorado, instituted emergency rules about edibles in June that require state approval of every edible product, including its packaging and labeling. Colorado’s working group rejected a proposal from the state health department to create a similar review commission.

TIME States

Arkansas Governor to Pardon Son for 2003 Crime

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks to reporters at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 5, 2014.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks to reporters at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 5, 2014. Danny Johnston—AP

The prodigal son returns, and he is sorry, Mr. Governor

This is a tale of a son asking a father for forgiveness — in a very public, very formal way.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) plans to pardon his own son for a drug crime committed more than decade ago, after he received a letter pleading to “Mr. Governor” for “a second chance at life,” reports KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“At the time of my arrest I was living in a fantasy world, not reality,” wrote Kyle Beebe, 34, in his application seeking a pardon for his 2003 arrest for possession of marijuana. He received three years supervised probation, plus fines, for the felony conviction.

“I was young and dumb,” he continued in his letter. “I am asking for a second chance to be the man that I know that I can be.”

The Arkansas Parole Board recommended the Gov.’s son for pardon on Oct. 20. These notices are then posted for 30 days, during which time the Governor decides whether to accept or deny the requests.

Gov. Beebe, who says he has granted some 700 pardons since taking office in 2006, tells KATV that he “would have done it [granted the pardon] a long time ago” had his son just asked for one.

“But he took his sweet time about asking,” Gov. Beebe says. “He was embarrassed. He’s still embarrassed, and frankly, I was embarrassed and his mother was embarrassed.”

A spokesperson for the Arkansas parole board tells KATV that Kyle Beebe received no special treatment and that it recommended nine other people with similar drug crime records in the latest batch of pardon applications.

[KATV]

TIME Research

Repeated Pot Use Linked to Lower IQ

File picture shows marijuana plants at a indoor cultivation in Montevideo
Marijuana plants are seen at a indoor cultivation. Andres Stapff—Reuters

The average marijuana user's IQ was five points lower than that of a non-user

Repeated marijuana use is correlated with lower IQ scores and less volume in the region of the brain that helps make decisions, according to a new study.

The study found that the average marijuana user’s IQ was about five points lower than that of a non-user. The earlier the study participants began consuming the drug, the worse the condition of the brain. The study, which compared almost 50 marijuana users to a control group, suggests that at first brains affected by marijuana compensate for the deficit in decision-making brain volume by increasing connectivity, a key brain function. But marijuana-affected brains can’t keep up in the long term.

“The results suggest increases in connectivity, both structural and functional that may be compensating for gray matter losses,” said study co-author Sina Aslan, a faculty member at The University of Texas at Dallas. “Eventually, however, the structural connectivity or ‘wiring’ of the brain starts degrading with prolonged marijuana use.”

While previous studies have showed that marijuana causes harm to the brains of animals, researchers said they couldn’t be sure whether marijuana use was the cause of the negative changes in the brain. Nonetheless, the study joins a growing body of evidence that marijuana harms the brains of young people.

 

TIME health

Legalize Pot? You Must Be High

Midterm Elections Held Across The U.S.
A sign promoting the DC Cannabis Campaign's initiative to legalize marijuana is displayed on a corner in the Adams Morgan neighborhood on November 4, 2014 in NW Washington D.C. Allison Shelley—Getty Images

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

The case for making marijuana, alcohol and tobacco illegal

America just took three steps toward nationally legal marijuana: Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. Should we be lighting up a celebratory doobie? I don’t think so.

Children

The nation is wringing its hands about its student achievement. In the latest international comparison, as I cited in a recent TIME article, the U.S. finished below average among the 34 OECD nations, despite being No. 1 in the world in per-student spending. Yet we’re legalizing pot, which may cause far greater damage than once thought:

  • A 2014 Harvard/Northwestern study found “Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation.”
  • A 2013 study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that “Regular marijuana use during adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair cognition and increase the risk for psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia.” The follow-up 2014 study found that using marijuana as a teen reduces gray matter in the parts of the brain associated with motivational, emotional and affective processing.
  • A 2014 National Institute on Drug Abuse report summarized a large, long-term Duke University study: “People who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.”

And the risks are not just to mental health but to physical:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that marijuana causes heart attacks and diseases in the arteries, even among the young.
  • A 2014 study found that marijuana use during pregnancy can impede development of the baby’s brain.
  • A 2013 review of scientific literature by Canada’s public health agency reported that “a number of in vitro studies have provided strong evidence that smoke from burning cannabis is carcinogenic.”
  • All that on top of a mountain of scary data reported not by some conservative group, but by the Obama Administration.

Pot advocates try to dismiss all that by pointing out that marijuana is being legalized only for adults. But as with alcohol, wider availability filters down to kids. And with pot legal for adults, the black market will likely redirect its efforts to teens, where, as cited, the damage of marijuana use is greater and more irreversible.

There’s already evidence of that. Dr. Christian Thurstone, Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society president and youth addiction researcher at the University of Colorado-Denver, reported that his clinic has been “inundated with young people reporting for marijuana-addiction treatment. Every day, we see the acute effects of the policy of legalization. And our kids are paying a great price.”

At Work

Then there’s our workforce. Despite the moderate unemployment rate, people are having an ever harder time finding a decent job, as I pointed out in a previous TIME article. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate, the percentage of adults 16 to 64 that are employed or actively looking for work, is 62.8%, within 0.1% of the lowest point since early 1978. And those who are working are, on average, making less. An analysis of government data on income and poverty released in September found that “After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999.”

Legalize pot and you have a workforce that is worth not more, but less—more likely to suffer from the poor memory, reduced motivation and emotional problems cited above. Kevin Sabet, former Obama White House drug policy advisor, wrote on CNN.com about a long list of problems that have occurred since legalization in Colorado, including “Employers…reporting more workplace incidents involving marijuana use.” Pot advocates claim that legalization will create jobs. It will cost jobs.

Those are statistics. Their impact is made more real with human stories. For example, I attended a party at which one attendee had worked on the assembly line in the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan. He said that workers would routinely be high on marijuana and pull such pranks as deliberately dropping a bolt into a car’s axle so that, when driven, the car would rattle. Why would they do that? Because the high workers thought it would be amusing to see if they could frustrate the Quality Assurance Team, which would hear a rattle in the car and it would take them hours to figure out what caused it. Pot did.

The human costs

Apart from the toll on businesses and consumers, pot imposes enormous human costs beyond measurable disease.

As a career counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area—epicenter of “medical” marijuana use–I’ve had many clients who need to find a job but are unmotivated and have poor memory. When I ask if they smoke or have smoked a lot of pot, their answer is usually yes.

Not only are such people likely to be un- or underemployed, their families must live with the consequences of poor motivation, memory and psychological functioning, which also often translates to being more difficult to live with: unwilling to keep their home clean, poor parenting, etc.

Legal pot doesn’t yield tax dollars. It costs tax dollars.

When unable to counter the above arguments against legalization, pot activists often shift to arguing that legalization will increase tax revenues. But the aforementioned Obama Administration report states that the additional revenue would be far outweighed by the increased health care costs. For example, that report summarizes a Centers for Disease Control-funded study: “The cost to society of alcohol alone is estimated to be more than 15 times the revenue gained by their taxation.”

What sorts of costs? Apart from the increase in the cost of treating physical and mental illness cited above, there’s the increase in vehicle accidents. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for a non-alcoholic mind-altering drug, mainly marijuana. And this study found almost twice as many drivers in fatal car accidents tested positive versus a control group. And since legalization in Washington, data adapted from the Washington State Patrol and Washington State Toxicologist summarized by Project Sam, “a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens,” found that in 2013, the percentage of vehicle accidents in which the driver tested positive for marijuana rose 40%. Contrast that with the two years before legalization: From 2011-2012, there was only a 0.7% increase, and from 2010-2011 also a 0.7% increase.

But what about medicinal use?

To the extent that marijuana is a medicinal drug of choice, it can be treated like any other prescription medicine. If a physician wants to prescribe it, the prescription can be filled at a pharmacy. No need to make it available over-the-counter for recreational use. After all, just because morphine has medical uses doesn’t mean it should be bought like any other retail item.

Make pot, alcohol and tobacco illegal.

Freedom is not an absolute good. It is a good that should, on a case-by-case basis, be weighed against the liabilities. For example, nearly everyone accepts these restrictions of freedom because of the benefits: We force people to pay more for cars by requiring that vehicles have anti-pollution devices, seat belts and airbags. We force the public to pay more for meat by requiring safety standards. We force people to not take a newly developed medication until it undergoes extensive testing for safety and efficacy.

When weighing the benefits and liabilities of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco, it seems clear that an out-and-out ban, while politically infeasible, is what government would enact if it truly cared about its residents. Like millions of Americans, I enjoy having a drink or even sometimes three. I have smoked pot. But I would gladly give them up for the societal benefit: less disease and fewer car accidents, more fully functioning people, a more employable work force and, in turn, better products and services, plus the richer lives people would lead.

Yes, prohibition would still leave a black market, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. When alcohol was made illegal during Prohibition, alcohol use dropped by 30% to 40%. (Here is the original study.) Decreasing marijuana and alcohol use 30% to 40% would yield greater benefit than almost any policy we could enact. Yet we’re hurtling in the opposite direction. We’re on our way to soon being able to get high legally anywhere in the U.S. Excuse me, I need a drink.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Law

Slim Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

marijuana plant
Alessandro Bianchi—REUTERS

Support is down from last year's Gallup poll

Though the majority of Americans still support the legalization of marijuana, the percentage of the population in support has dropped significantly since last year. The poll comes just days after voters in Oregon and Alaska decided to legalize recreational marijuana in the state and voters in D.C. passed a measure that makes it legal for residents over 21 years of age to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia have now all legalized recreational use of pot.

Fifty-one percent of Americans support the legalization of pot, according to a new Gallup poll that was conducted from Oct. 12 to 15. That number is down from 2013, when 58% said they were in favor, but similar to the numbers from 2011 and 2012 when 50% of the population supported legalizing marijuana.

While 73% of liberals and 58% of moderates supported legalization, only 31% of conservatives did.

Gallup suggests that the drop in enthusiasm for legalization of marijuana may come from recent news items about the risk that marijuana-infused edibles pose to children. They also say that momentum had built behind legalization around the time of last year’s poll as Colorado prepared to put its new laws into effect, but no such momentum has built this year.

 

TIME 2014 Election

Ballot Measure Backers Spend Big, Win Big

Supporters celebrate the passage of Measure 91, legalizing marijuana in Oregon on Nov. 4, 2014 in Portland, Oregon.
Supporters celebrate the passage of Measure 91, legalizing marijuana in Oregon on Nov. 4, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. Michael Lloyd—The Oregonian/Landov

Issues ranging from abortion to gambling to medical marijuana go before voters

Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day.

In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of unofficial election results and preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.

But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything.

“The relationship is more complicated than just ‘spending more [means] having greater success.’ There are a lot of other factors in terms of the electoral environment,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor and expert on such initiatives. “Ballot measures generally are easier to defeat than to pass.”

More than $196 million was spent in 2014 on TV ads touting and trashing this year’s crop of 158 statewide ballot measures; another $19.7 million was spent on local measures. TV ads are well known as an effective way to get a message to voters, and this year, many corporations and national advocacy groups lined up to have their say on the airwaves about the initiatives.

Groups backed by doctors and health insurers spent nearly $60 million to air TV ads to oppose Propositions 45 and 46 in California, putting them at the top of the TV spending pile. They got their way, as voters rejected the two measures, which would have required drug testing for doctors and special approval for insurers to raise rates.

The health care industry outspent Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group, and trial lawyers, who backed the measures, by 7-1 on the airwaves.

Examples where big ad spending paid off for groups working to pass or block initiatives at the polls were plentiful. Some of the winning groups appeared not to face any opposition on the airwaves at all: Of the 21 groups that won both ad and ballot wars, 13 faced no ads aired on the other side of the issue.

In Massachusetts, voters chose not to ban gambling after a casino-backed group ran about $5.7 million worth of ads claiming gaming was good for the economy. No ads ran in support of the ban.

And in Democratic California, Gov. Jerry Brown led a group of supporters who together put nearly $21 million worth of ads on TV to support Propositions 1 and 2, which encompass a series of provisions to shore up California’s water supply and create a state rainy day fund. The measures faced no opposition on the airwaves, and passed handily.

Ballot measures can have broad, bipartisan support to begin with, especially if a legislature puts them on the ballot, said Smith.

Supporters of legalized marijuana won in Oregon and Alaska. Groups spent $2 million supporting the Oregon measure on the airwaves, and just $60,000 in Alaska. Voters also approved a measure legalizing the possession of the drug in the District of Columbia, despite no pro-pot ad spending.

But in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana failed, barely. It needed 60 percent approval to pass and only got 58 percent. The Drug Free Florida Committee, armed with millions from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, spent $5 million on TV ads against the measure, compared with just $1.9 million spent on the airwaves by supporters.

The “No on 2” campaign was more sharply focused in its attacks on the medical marijuana measure, raising a host of claims that raised doubt in Floridians’ minds,” Smith said.

Among some other high-profile ballot battles:

  • Planned Parenthood-backed organizations won on abortion-related issues in North Dakota and Colorado and lost in Tennessee, which passed a measure that declares that the Tennessee Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion, reversing an earlier court ruling.
  • Measures that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods failed in Colorado and Oregon in the face of opposition from groups backed by big food companies such as Pepsi and Monsanto.
  • In Maui County, Hawaii, a ban on the growth of genetically modified plants passed, despite a Monsanto-backed group buying TV ads worth about $2.7 million — or about $30.42 per registered voter — to oppose it.
  • Coloradans voted against an expansion in gambling despite $7.8 million in ads arguing that it would put millions into the state’s schools. The ads were backed by an out-of-state casino company, Twin River Casino. A Colorado casino group spent about $6.7 million on TV airtime opposing it.
  • Washington voters approved a measure to require background checks for all gun purchases, a measure backed by Microsoft elites and Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety Fund.”
  • A San Francisco initiative to tax sugary drinks became the most expensive local measure in the nation in terms of TV ads when a soda-industry-backed group spent $3 million on ads. The soda lovers claimed victory, as the measure fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

 

TIME Drugs

One Family’s Illegal Journey to Get Medical Marijuana for Their Child

A look inside the quasi-legal, science free world of medical marijuana for children, from TIME's Red Border Films

When you’re driving across the country with a stash of marijuana in your trunk, you follow the speed limit. You signal when changing lanes. You might even pick a route that skips Colorado, because ever since recreational pot was legalized there, police just over state lines have been on the lookout for anyone ferrying the drug from the area.

But the Colorado-free route from California, where you bought your marijuana, to the Northeast, where you live, presents a curveball. Cruising along I-40 in Arizona, you encounter a border patrol checkpoint. “Good evening, officer,” you say. A German shepherd approaches your vehicle and somehow doesn’t detect the marijuana that’s under a pile of ice in a cooler. As you’re sent on your way, adrenaline pulses through your body. Tears pool in your eyes.

You are, after all, committing at least several state and federal crimes, but when you get home a few days later, it’s business as usual.

Read the full TIME article by Kate Pickert here

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