TIME States

FBI Investigating Death of Man Found Hanging From a Tree in Mississippi

Authorities have not yet determined whether the death is a homicide or suicide

The FBI is helping local authorities investigate the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi.

Authorities discovered the body around 10 a.m. Thursday, according to Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas. The sheriff’s team and state officials were conducting a ground search for a man reported missing when they discovered the body. “We found him in the woods hanging from a tree,” Lucas tells TIME. “Whether it was a suicide or a homicide is yet to be determined.”

Jason Pack, an FBI agent, confirmed to TIME that local authorities had contacted the FBI and Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to assist with the ongoing investigation.

The Claiborne County sheriff told TIME they had not been able to positively identify the body, though authorities say the body was found about half a mile away from the missing man’s last known residence. The family last saw the missing man on March 2; a missing-persons report had been filed on March 8.

TIME Drugs

New Senate Bill Could Solve Medical Marijuana’s Tax Problems

Katy Steinmetz / TIME Bryan and Lanette Davies pose for a portrait at their "Christian-based" medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento in February 2014.

The bill aimed at healing the sick could save dispensary owners lots of money

When Bryan and Lanette Davies got an $875,000 bill from the Internal Revenue Service, they didn’t pay it. Instead, they took the IRS to court, arguing that a 1982 law meant to prevent drug traffickers from deducting business expenses should not apply to Canna Care, their small “Christian-based” medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento—or any other medical marijuana dispensary legal under state law.

The couple is in the midst of a years-long legal battle over these expenses, arguing that marijuana dispensaries should be treated like most other small businesses and be allowed to deduct payroll, rent and health benefits from their taxable income.

But a new bill introduced in the Senate could help bring their trial to a conclusion.

On March 10, three Senators introduced a historic bill called the CARERS Act that would end the federal ban on medical marijuana, clearing up the discrepancy between federal law that considers pot an illegal drug and the 23 state laws that sanction the use of medical weed. The bill explicitly does several things: It would reschedule marijuana as a drug with known medical uses to allow for research. It would allow banks to work with dispensaries—both medical and recreational—without fear of being prosecuted for money laundering. And it would create an exception in the Controlled Substances Act that essentially says it doesn’t apply to medical marijuana in states where that substance has been legalized. That last part may help solve legal pot’s tax problem.

An obscure bit of the tax code known as 280E states that businesses in violation of the Controlled Substances Act can’t take a tax deduction or receive any credits for any expenses connected with their trafficking of illegal drugs, which is what medical marijuana dispensaries are currently doing in the eyes of the federal government. (Due to a tax court ruling, the one deduction they can take is for the cost of goods sold). The costs can be crippling, and politicians have joined dispensary owners in saying that prohibiting cocaine dealers from writing off the boats they bought to ship the drug, as one lawyer put it, is not the same as businesses deducting quotidian operating costs while on the right side of the law in their state.

In 2010, a group of Congress members, including Colorado Rep. Jared Polis and former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, sent letters to the IRS asking the agency to interpret the tax code in a way that would allow medical marijuana businesses to be taxed on net income instead of gross income. This is what the IRS told those members of Congress in response:

Because neither section 280E nor the Controlled Substances Act makes exception for medically necessary marijuana, we lack the authority to publish the guidance that you request. The result you seek would require the Congress to amend either the Internal Revenue Code or the Controlled Substances Act.

Legal experts have said that the IRS’ hands are essentially tied. If this bill passes, University of Denver’s Sam Kamin says that may be enough for the IRS to loosen the rope and issue that guidance. “It definitely puts marijuana on much sounder footing and makes much clearer what the legal rights of marijuana businesses are,” he says.

Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, who worked with the Senators’ offices on the Hill to craft the bill, is more absolute in his interpretation: “It resolves the 280E issue.”

Both of them agree that the bill has the potential to affect other areas of life too, in states where medical marijuana is legal. It may prevent people from being fired for using marijuana as medicine. Parents may no longer lose custody of their kids for having medical marijuana in the house. Known medical-marijuana users could be allowed to legally own a firearm; if a drug user or addict currently possesses a firearm, that’s punishable by up to 10 years of jail time.

Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance—which also had a hand in crafting the bill—cautions that these are only potential interpretations of a potential law and that separate, explicit legislation should be passed if reform advocates want to definitively solve these issues. But he says the bill would enable lawyers to make stronger arguments to protect clients who use medical marijuana. “You would certainly have more solid ground to stand on,” he says.

Since being introduced, the bill has gained two cosponsors: Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and, as of Monday, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, it remains unclear whether it will be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Davieses, in an interview for a previous article on their legal battle, said that they not only see themselves as a legitimate business but as a force of positive change in society. Lanette Davis said she felt they were being unfairly punished. “It has to do with taking care of the sick and ill. Jesus Christ made a statement that all people should care for one another, and this is our way of taking that to our community,” Lanette said. “What we try very hard to provide is a way for people to get well.”

TIME cities

See How Bad Your Commute Is Compared to Other Cities

People board an uptown 5 train at Union Square on Jan. 28, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images People board an uptown 5 train at Union Square on Jan. 28, 2015 in New York City.

Let's all move to Louisville

Sorry, New Yorkers—you officially spend more time commuting to work than residents of any other U.S. city do, with an average of 6 hours and 18 minutes spent going back and forth per week.

That time spent also gives New York the designation of having the longest average work week in the country, according to a new economic brief from the city’s comptroller’s office. Now you know why the city never sleeps.

Technically, San Francisco residents work more hours than New Yorkers do on average, but because their commute times are shorter by roughly an hour and a half per week, their work weeks are ultimately shorter too.

Of the 30 major cities surveyed, Chicago had the second-longest weekly commute time (5 hours, 25 minutes) while the Louisville, Ky., area had the shortest, with residents only traveling for about three hours and 27 minutes.

See the complete report over at Capital New York.

Read next: These Cities Have The Worst Traffic in the World, Says a New Index

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Drugs

These Five States Could Legalize Marijuana in 2016

marijuana california
Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images A vendor weighs marijuana for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market in Los Angeles, July 4, 2014.

Nevada's vote is set and advocates believe they can get similar measures on the ballot in four other states

On Friday, Nevada lawmakers adjourned without voting on a petition submitted by residents to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. That means the initiative is going on the ballot in 2016, making Nevada the first state to officially be voting on pot legalization in the next election.

“Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement. “Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana.”

If voters approve the initiative, Nevada will become the fifth state—after Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska—to have a legal weed market. But chances are it won’t be the only state considering the option. Here are the four other states that marijuana law reformers are betting will have legalization votes on the ballot in 2016:

California: Groups like MPP and the Drug Policy Alliance are hard at work crafting the language for a ballot initiative in the Golden State. Issues like production limits and whether home-growing is allowed can divide voters and established medical marijuana businesses. For advocates, framing the initiative for success is particularly important given California’s influence as a regulatory laboratory.

“California was the first state to adopt a medical marijuana law and it inspired states around the country to adopt similar laws,” Tvert says. “It’s a state that carries a lot of weight nationwide. It’s a massive population center and it’s a very diverse state.” While California is packed with liberal politicians, the state also has conservative strongholds that have mobilized on ballot initiatives in the past. If an initiative passes there, advocates will trumpet it as evidence that legalization has wide bipartisan appeal.

Arizona: So far, legalization has taken root in Western liberal coastal states and libertarian mountain states. Conservative voters, which outnumber liberals in Arizona, are less likely to support recreational pot. But they are moving in that direction. A new poll from progressive firms SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group found that 61% of Americans support legalization nationwide, including 71% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans. In 2014, Gallup found that 51% of Americans support legalization, down from 58% the year before. “The federalism argument is starting to see traction,” says the Drug Policy Alliance’s Malik Burnett.

Young Republicans are driving the charge, with 6 in 10 of them siding with those who want to make weed legit. And young voters are more likely to turn out in a presidential election year like 2016. “That only bodes positive for the initiative,” Burnett says.

Maine: In 2012, Ron Paul won the majority of Republican delegates in Maine, a state next door to the one where Mitt Romney was governor. Which is to say: the libertarian vein runs deep. Voters in two Maine cities have also proved willing to legalize marijuana in largely symbolic votes in recent years. The state’s largest city, Portland, as well as South Portland, voted to make it legal for adults to possess a small amount of marijuana (though it remains illegal under state law and local law enforcement hasn’t changed their ways). The vote in Portland happened in 2013, making it the first city on the East Coast to pass such a measure.

The smaller city of Lewiston voted against a similar measure last year. But Tvert says that the most important result of the city-level campaigns is that people in the state are thinking about legalization and at least hearing the arguments from their side. “There’s been an ongoing public dialogue,” he says. “I’ve always believed that the more people learn about marijuana and the fact that it’s not as dangerous as they’ve been led to believe, the more likely they are to support treating it that way.”

Massachusetts: Voters in Massachusetts also have marijuana fresh in their minds. In 2012, residents voted to legalize medical marijuana, after decriminalizing the drug in 2008; both measures passed with over 60% of the vote. In 2014, more than a dozen districts in the state supported non-binding ballot measures indicating support for legalizing marijuana, and the state legislature has heard testimony on a legalization bill.

As a result, activists are concentrating their efforts in the Commonwealth. Organizations are preparing to spend money and mobilize signature-gatherers once they’ve settled on the ballot wording. It won’t be a cakewalk. Some state lawmakers have expressed skepticism that the people there are prepared to legalize recreational weed while their market for medical marijuana is still getting off the ground, despite the state’s liberal bent. “I’m not sure people in the state are ready for that and I’m certainly not sure I’m ready for that,” a Democratic lawmaker told the Boston Globe.

Legalization advocates, of course, are betting that they can convince a majority of people heading to the polls that the time is right. “In any state we’re up against 80 years of marijuana prohibition and efforts to demonize marijuana,” Tvert says. “Our goal remains the same and that’s to educate voters.”

Read next: Colorado Sold Nearly 5 Million Marijuana Edibles in 2014

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME States

Politician Apologizes for ‘Sexting’ with Woman at Center of Weiner Scandal

Exxxotica 2014 Convention - May 2-3, 2014
Larry Marano—Getty Images Sydney Leathers attends Exxxotica 2014 on May 2, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

State representative represents Indianapolis

An Indiana politician apologized for sending illicit text messages to the same woman who was at the center of the Anthony Weiner “sexting” scandal in 2013.

The gossip website TheDirty.com reported on Tuesday that Indiana state representative Justin Moed had responded to an ad posted by Sydney Leathers, the woman at the center of the sexting scandal that derailed Weiner’s campaign for New York City mayor.

“I am truly sorry I have hurt the ones I love most with my poor judgment,” Moed, a second-term Democrat representing downtown Indianapolis, said in a statement to The Indianapolis Star. “This is a private matter and I ask for it to be treated as such.”

TheDirty.com reported that Moed had attempted to hide his identity from Leathers, but his name was accidentally included in a leash and collar he ordered for her on Amazon.com.

[The Indianapolis Star]

TIME Congress

Senators Introduce Historic Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana

Different strains of pot are displayed for sale at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver on Dec. 27, 2013.
Brennan Linsley—AP Different strains of pot are displayed for sale at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver on Dec. 27, 2013.

A bipartisan group of three Senators will introduce a bill that could end the federal ban on medical marijuana

A bipartisan group of three Senators will introduce a historic bill Tuesday that could end the federal ban on medical marijuana, a substance that 23 states have now legalized.

The plan sponsored by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical-marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution,” according to a statement the three Senators released Monday. The measure would also reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug instead of a Schedule I, putting it on the same legal footing as narcotics rather than substances like heroin.

Reform advocates like Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project say the legislation “has legs.” His group, as well as the Drug Policy Alliance and Americans for Safe Access, helped shape the bill. Others are more skeptical. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has been following Congress’s movement on marijuana for the past 25 years. He says the bill may be “DOA” because some Republicans remain loath to touch such stuff.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the three Senators spoke alongside citizens with serious medical conditions who want to use medical marijuana but cannot access it or fear prosecution for violating federal law, even when they’re in a state that has legalized medical marijuana. Gillibrand dared her colleagues in the Senate to meet these people, like a young girl named Morgan who is debilitated by severe epilepsy, “and tell them they don’t deserve the medicine their doctors have prescribed.”

Even if Gillibrand’s colleagues don’t get on board, just the introduction of the bill remains significant. It’s a sign that some of the winds legalization advocates like St. Pierre have been fighting against for decades are now at their back. He calls the bill “historic,” noting that though the House has attempted marijuana reform for years, the Senate has largely been silent on the issue. Now they’re speaking out. Gillibrand insisted that making medical marijuana accessible is needed to “take care of America’s kids.”

At the conference Booker emphasized the need for veterans, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder, to be able to access the drug; prescriptions are currently not allowed at veterans’ hospitals, even in states where the substance is legalized. “These laws must change,” he said. “The government has overstepped.” The last guest he introduced was a man who grows marijuana that supplies medical marijuana dispensaries in D.C., and he spoke at length about the trials and dangers of being forced to operate entirely in cash because of federal banking restrictions.

“Marijuana prohibition is not going to end without a public conversation,” St. Pierre says. “This bill will be [introduced] and then these discussions will be happening.”

While only a slim majority of Americans favor the legalization of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana is a more decided issue. In conservative states like Kentucky, the approval ratings are still at 52%, while they climb as high as 81% in purple states like Iowa. In February, the leader of the Republican majority in West Virginia’s state senate introduced a bill to allow residents to grow and use medical marijuana if it’s recommended by a doctor. The measure was co-sponsored by the senate’s Democratic minority leader.

Paul, as St. Pierre says, is a “dyed-in-the-wool libertarian.” At the conference, he spoke the need for research to be done on the drug—something that becomes more feasible if it’s classified as a Schedule II substance—and he said that the government is “restricting people’s choices,” adding that what America needs is “more freedom for states and individuals.” His federalist tack shows how it’s possible for this to be a social issue on which Republicans can evolve and use as a carrot for younger voters. The Marijuana Policy Project’s Riffle says that ending the federal ban would get the government out of doctor-patient relationships and save taxpayer money on medical dispensary raids. “Talking about reducing the role of government interference in our personal lives and enhancing personal freedom and autonomy, reducing government spending — those are all conservative talking points,” he says.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, where it is a ritual for Republican presidential hopefuls to court the base, Republican Senator Ted Cruz endorsed a federalist approach to Colorado’s marijuana legalization, saying it was a “great embodiment” of states acting as “laboratories of democracy.”

“If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative,” he said. “I don’t agree with it, but that’s their rights.” Aaron Houston, a political strategist with Weedmaps who has been trying to get the Senate to take up marijuana reform for years, calls Cruz’s position “remarkable” and the bill “hugely significant.”

The Senators pushing this measure have precedents beyond state-level actions to cite. The spending bill that President Obama signed in December contained an amendment that prohibited the Department of Justice from using funds to go after state-level medical-marijuana programs. That new law gave many in the medical-marijuana world some peace of mind, as they continue to operate in a sphere where their actions are legal in their state and illegal in their country. Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, an outspoken proponent of marijuana reform, heralded it as “the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana.”

California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. The years in the interim, Riffle says, were like a “wait-and-see phase” where the sticky discrepancy between state and federal law was largely ignored. Regardless of whether the bill goes anywhere, he believes the introduction is a signal that the wait-and-see phase is over. “This is a legitimate, mainstream topic of debate,” Riffle says. “We’re ready to see Congress actually do something about it.”

TIME LGBT

States Battle Over Bathroom Access for Transgender People

Signs for men's and women's toilets
Getty Images

Legislatures across the country are fighting over issues related to gender identity and sexual orientation

Last year, after contentious public hearings and several votes, Atherton High School in Louisville, Ky., adopted a controversial policy allowing students to use sex-segregated school facilities like bathrooms based on their gender identity. That school council meeting was the first to draw any public speakers in five years, and the fight it kicked off didn’t stop that night. Upset parents complained and tried, unsuccessfully, to repeal the measure. Now Republican state lawmakers are picking up the baton, backing a bill that would require students in Kentucky to use the facilities that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to make marriage equality the law of the land, so-called “bathroom bills” that target transgender people have emerged as one of the most contentious remaining battlegrounds over LGBT rights. Kentucky’s bill has passed the Republican-controlled Senate and is set to be considered by the Democrat-controlled House, though the leadership is unlikely to take it up. In Florida, a House committee passed a bill on March 4 that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly enter a bathroom that didn’t match the sex on their driver’s license or passport. “There is a culture of fear around bathroom use,” says Teagan Widmer, a transgender woman who runs an app called Refuge Restrooms, which maps gender-neutral restrooms around the world. “It’s fear that drives the legislation.”

Proponents of the measures say they are about safety. State Rep. Frank Artiles, the sponsor of the Florida bill, has argued that the bill is necessary to prohibit voyeurism and rape. In the bill he sponsored, Kentucky State Sen. C.B. Embry wrote: “Parents have a reasonable expectation that schools will not allow minor children to be viewed in various states of undress by members of the opposite biological sex.” If Embry’s bill does manage to pass the House and become law, students would be able to sue their schools for $2,500 if they encountered a person of the opposite biological sex in the bathroom.

Opponents say these concerns unfounded and dismiss the bills as solutions in search of a problem. “It’s always a transgender person who is at far greater risk of being attacked in a bathroom,” Maryland State Sen. Richard Mandaleno told TIME in an interview for a previous story, when organizers in his state were pushing a similar bill in 2014. “There’s always this parade of outlandish consequences that are going to occur that never do.”

These bathroom bills come as advocates for LGBT rights are pushing non-discrimination bills in at least 10 states, including Florida. Many aim to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from being fired, denied housing or turned away from a business because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Florida bill, called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, is built around the argument that policies need to be as inclusive as possible for the state to attract top workers and businesses. A coalition backed by major corporate entities, including Marriott and Walt Disney World Resort, has formed to support the measure.

Currently 18 states have laws protecting people from discrimination based on either their sexual orientation or gender identity; three more states cover just sexual orientation. Ian Palmquist, a director at the Equality Federation, a national group that helps support state-level policy change, says Pennsylvania and North Dakota may pass non-discrimination bills this session. And he points to a non-discrimination measure recently introduced in Utah as evidence of a turning tide: it’s backed by a faith coalition that includes the Mormon church, a group that was instrumental in passing California’s now-defunct ban on gay marriage in 2008.

“There have been years of work that have led up to this,” Palmquist says of the bill announced March 4. “It’s a historic step to have a relatively conservative denomination like the Mormon church taking a stand and saying LGBT people should be treated fairly and equally.” The bill includes religious exemptions that would not hold churches or other religious organizations to the same bar as private businesses or individuals when it comes to employment and housing.

Supporters are also trying to further transgender rights in other arenas. A California bill would prohibit the state from doing business with companies that deny transgender workers benefits like healthcare coverage. A Rhode Island bill would prohibit conversion therapy that seeks to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of any resident under the age of 18. A measure in Illinois would secure a deceased transgender person’s right to have a funeral that respects their preferred “appearance, chosen name, and gender pronouns.”

And advocates like Widmer are doing what they can for transgender people outside the statehouse. She recalls sex-segregated bathrooms being traumatizing places when she began her transition from appearing male to appearing female. “In a woman’s restroom I might get called a man and yelled at, but while using a men’s restroom I might get called a faggot or a tranny and then beaten up,” she says. “It doesn’t seem like a controversial issue to me, it’s pretty simple. People need to pee.”

TIME States

Indiana Moves to Regulate E-Cig Liquids

Man demonstrates an e-cigarette at Vape store in Chicago in 2014.
Nam Y. Huh—AP Man demonstrates an e-cigarette at Vape store in Chicago in 2014.

States are moving on electronic cigarettes where the feds aren't

Indiana moved closer this week to regulating the liquids that are used in electronic cigarettes, a regulatory focus that goes beyond the measures states and municipalities have been enacting for months.

The bill advanced by a state Senate committee and already passed by the state House would establish requirements for manufacturing safety standards, a ban on the sale of e-cig liquid to minors, and child-proof safety caps, the Associated Press reports. The movement comes as local governments increasingly look to regulate a cigarette alternative that is growing in popularity in the absence of federal rules.

The bill in Indiana would not extend a smoking ban to so-called vaping, something health advocates and the state attorney general had sought. But electronic cigarette business owners told lawmaers that the regulations could force businesses to close.

MORE: The Future of Smoking

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a regulatory blueprint for regulation that would subject electronic cigarettes to the same regulations that apply to new tobacco products, and require disclosure of ingredients in the liquids used, among other things. But it could be many months, or even years, before these rules are enacted.

[AP]

TIME Law

Tamir Rice’s Family Says Cleveland’s Response to Lawsuit Is ‘Very Disrespectful’

The city's response blamed the boy's death partly on his failure to avoid injury

The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer in November, said Tuesday they felt disrespected by the city’s response to a lawsuit over his death.

The city’s response, filed on Friday, had blamed the boy’s death partly on his own actions, stating it had been caused “by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.”

“The city’s answer was very disrespectful to my son, Tamir,” Samaria Rice, the boy’s mother, said at a news conference alongside attorneys, according to Cleveland.com. “I have yet not received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son. And it hurts.”

The family’s attorney, Walter Madison, said the response as written places an adult-like responsibility on children. Cleveland officials have remained mostly silent about the lawsuit, aside from Mayor Frank Jackson, who on Monday apologized for the way the response’s phrasing made it seem like the boy was at fault over his own death.

Rice was killed Nov. 22 after officers responded to reports of someone in a park with a gun, shooting him less than two seconds after their arrival. The boy was later found to have been holding a pellet gun.

[Cleveland.com]

TIME Drugs

Colorado Sold Nearly 5 Million Marijuana Edibles in 2014

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

The state's marijuana overseers issued their first annual report

Colorado just got its first year-long batch of data on the state’s grand experiment with legal marijuana. In the first annual report on supply and demand, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division disclosed on Friday that 4.8 million edible marijuana products and nearly 150,000 lbs. of marijuana flowers were sold in 2014.

The numbers will give state officials a baseline for gauging the size of the market, particularly for edibles. In July, the state attempted to estimate how much marijuana would be sold in 2014 and said they really didn’t have a method of estimating edible demand. “The data reported into the system clearly illustrates a strong demand for edibles in general, but especially for retail marijuana edibles,” the authors conclude.

The totals take into account both medical and recreational sales. While more flowering marijuana—the kind one smokes—was sold in the medical market, far more edibles were sold in the recreational market.

Colorado issued licenses to 322 retail stores and 505 medical dispensaries in 2014, according to the report. Just 67 of the state’s 321 jurisdictions, or around 20%, opted to allow medical and retail sales, but those jurisdictions include many of the state’s most populous areas. In February, a poll from Quinnipiac University found that 58% of Colorado residents say they still support the law, while 38% oppose it.

The sales figures for edibles come as Colorado officials struggle with how to regulate the marijuana-laced treats, which can range from pastries to soda pop. Some advocacy groups and state lawmakers want to ban certain types of products—like gummy bears and rainbow belts—that may be especially appealing to children and are indistinguishable from regular candy once removed from the package. Several children showed up in Colorado emergency rooms last year after accidentally ingesting the substance.

But the more value edibles represent, the harder time those advocates are going to have in convincing the industry to shut down or revamp product lines. At one point last year, officials from Colorado’s public health department floated the idea of limiting edibles to tinctures and lozenges, eliminating everything else. But their announcement caused such uproar that officials issued a release clarifying that it was “just” a recommendation and did not represent the view of the governor’s office.

Proponents of the current system argue that cracking down on popular edibles will drive consumers to the underground market—where there is no one regulating THC content or mandating childproof packaging. Eliminating the black market, while bringing in revenue for the state, was one of the selling points when voters decided to legalize marijuana in the first place.

There may also be a legal hurdle. The amendment voters passed in 2012 defined marijuana as: “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis … and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant.” While industry players say that makes every kind of edible fair game, the Denver Post argued in an editorial that “there is no constitutional provision that says edible marijuana must be available as granola, soda pop, or candy bars that look like what children eat.”

Washington, which followed Colorado as the second state to open a recreational marijuana market, has set much stricter limits on the types of allowed edibles. Regulators setting up recreational markets in Oregon and Alaska say that avoiding the edible problems they’ve seen in Colorado will be a big focus of their work in coming months.

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