When Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled last week that consuming marijuana was constitutionally legal, it left the world shocked and somewhat confused.
In a 4-1 vote announced Wednesday in Mexico City, the five-justice panel declared the personal recreational use of marijuana legal under the right of “free development of personality.” In the same paragraph, however, the Court cautioned that its groundbreaking decision applied only to the four anonymous plaintiffs who filed the case. It did not, in the Court’s words, “imply a general legalization.” In Mexico, cannabis is now legal–but only for four as yet unnamed Mexican citizens.
If America’s first marijuana legalization experiment is any indication, the end of prohibition can start smoothly. Since retail sales of recreational marijuana began in Colorado, revenues from marijuana sales have continued trending up. At the same time, crime in Denver, home of most recreational marijuana shops in the state, has dropped nearly across the board. Colorado and Denver’s experiment with legalization is, in other words, going well. The state is seeing its coffers filled with some extra revenue, as expected. And crime, despite warnings from law enforcement officials, isn’t rising.
Robert Klein. From his HBO special, Unfair and Unbalanced. (HBO, June 2010)
“I just think marijuana’s going to revolutionize things in Alaska as much as oil ever did. The prospect for jobs and new business start-ups is phenomenal. All Alaskans should be excited about it,” said Bill Fikes, a disabled veteran and owner of the website Alaska Hemp who is looking to start a cannabis grow operation should the initiative succeed.
With some “creative financing” — money from investors with relatively deep pockets — Fikes said he is already in negotiations with business partners about starting up a major grow operation and dispensary. He said they have a property owner lined up who is interested in housing the necessary infrastructure, and several growers who have specific strains they’d like to grow. He wants to start a dispensary in Wasilla, and maybe Anchorage too.
Fikes is starting to do this work now, way in front of the vote on the ballot measure, to “try and at least get a little head start on the carpetbaggers,” he said, referring to people and businesses he believes will come to Alaska to cash in on the new market. Big business that has already made millions in Colorado and Washington will not be far behind once the initiative passes, Fikes said. “I think they’re going to see Alaska as a major expansion marketplace.”
Read the entire article at: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140304/alaska-entrepreneurs-look-ahead-marijuana-legalization-vote
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Friday gave banks a road map for conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers, so these new businesses can stash away savings, make payroll and pay taxes like any other enterprise. It’s not clear banks will get on board.
Guidance issued by the Justice and Treasury departments is the latest step by the federal government toward enabling a legalized marijuana industry to operate in states that approve it. The intent is to make banks feel more comfortable working with marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated.
Others have a keen interest, too, in a regulated financial pipeline for an industry that is just emerging from the underground. Marijuana businesses that can’t use banks may have too much cash they can’t safely put away, leaving them vulnerable to criminals. And governments that allow marijuana sales want a channel to receive taxes.
But a leading financial services trade group immediately expressed misgivings and others, too, said the guidelines don’t go far enough in protecting banks.
“After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one,” said Don Childears, president and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association. “This isn’t close to that. At best, this amounts to ‘serve these customers at your own risk’ and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red.”
Washington and Colorado in 2012 became the first states to approve recreational use of marijuana. A group is hoping to make Alaska the third state in the nation to do so.
ANCHORAGE – A national marijuana legalization group is targeting Alaska. The Marijuana Policy Project Group was instrumental in backing the Colorado’s ballot measure that passed in November. The group says, with over 1,200 medical marijuana users registered with the state, support for weed has been greater in Alaska than anywhere else.
Back in 2004, 44 percent of Alaska voters supported a legalization ballot measure. The MPP hopes to help local supporters put the issue back before Alaskan voters by 2014 with a ballot initiative calling for the state to regulate and tax weed in the same manner as alcohol.