Illegal-marijuana raids in Pueblo West net 340 plants in five homes, five suspects arrested

Illegal-marijuana grows at several homes in Pueblo West were raided Wednesday, resulting in five arrests and seizure of an estimated $1.2 million of marijuana.

Detectives seized 340 plants, an estimated 70 pounds of dried product, thousands of dollars in cash and thousands of dollars in growing equipment, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The suspects arrested are part of a Cuban syndicate with ties to Florida, according to the sheriff’s office.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Illegal marijuana grows at several homes in Pueblo West were raided Wednesday, resulting in five arrests and seizure of an estimated $1.2 million of marijuana.
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Albuquerque’s CBD market blooms

Copyright (C) 2018 Albuquerque Journal

The balm is green and possesses a vaguely herbal odor. When massaged on the hand, there’s a slight cooling effect – or perhaps it’s just this reporter’s imagination.

“When people come into the store and complain about plantar fasciitis, I tell them to rub this on their feet,” said Cassie Eaton, manager of Nature’s Secret CBD and Oils.

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a cannabis-derived substance that can be found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike the compound THC, which is also found in both plants (though in very small quantities in hemp), CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t create a “high” or affect brain function. Still, many who sell CBD-laced products claim it can be used to help alleviate anxiety as well as pain, inflammation and a host of other conditions.

At Nature’s Secret, products run from $5 (a CBD lollipop) to $300 (a solution infused with thousands of milligrams of CBD). Because Nature’s Secret isn’t a licensed cannabis dispensary and sells items with either no or only trace amounts of THC, customers can make purchases without a medical marijuana card. The store opened in January, and Eaton says customer demand has boomed in recent months: what was once being purchased by the business in a pack of 20 now must be ordered in a pack of 40 to stay in stock, and there’s a waitlist for several items.

The Journal identified 12 stores in Albuquerque that sell CBD products to the public at large that are not licensed dispensaries. Many products can also be purchased online from a variety of retailers. While estimates on the size of New Mexico’s CBD market are hard to come by, Vincent Galbiati, executive director of the newly-formed New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, says the CBD market within the state and elsewhere is “positioned for phenomenal growth.” That’s in line with a report from market research firm Brightfield Group, which projects that the hemp-derived CBD industry in the U.S. will grow to $1 billion by 2020.

And it’s not just cannabis advocates who are intrigued by the substance’s potential: Coca-Cola recently confirmed it is “closely watching” the expanding market for CBD-infused beverages.

“It’s only for its public perception that (CBD) hasn’t become more mainstream, and we’re starting to see that turn happen,” said Galbiati.

But is the promise of CBD — medically, legally and economically — borne out by the facts?

‘Not a panacea’

A World Health Organization report published this year described cannabidiol as a substance that is “generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile.” The report states that clinical trials have shown CBD is an effective treatment for some forms of epilepsy, and there’s a variety of early-stage research exploring the substance’s anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, neuroprotective and other properties. However, “this research is considerably less advanced than for the treatment of epilepsy,” according to the report.

“There are numerous CBD products . . . that are being manufactured and distributed without regulatory oversight and often with unverified contents,” the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence wrote in the report. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued two major series of warning letters to manufacturers for fraudulent medical claims . . . and fraudulent production claims.”

It’s that lack of oversight that concerns Rachael Speegle, a registered nurse and the chief operating officer at the Verdes Foundation, one of the state’s 35 licensed non-profit medical marijuana producers. Vendors who sell CBD products over-the-counter to the public don’t fall under the New Mexico Department of Health’s jurisdiction unless they are licensed through the medical marijuana program, so they aren’t subject to the same product testing and dosing requirements mandated by the state.

“CBD at a tanning salon isn’t being sold under the same requirements as the cannabis industry here, and that concerns me as a nurse because I don’t know what people are taking,” said Speegle.

And while CBD is more accessible to the public than medical marijuana, it is not a replacement for it, according to Speegle. She said she’s seen individuals respond well to CBD when they are seeking help with inflammation, damage to the peripheral nerves and certain autoimmune issues, among other conditions. But patients seeking relief from severe chronic pain or other acute conditions that would qualify them for the state’s medical marijuana program are often better candidates for products that also contain THC, according to Speegle.

Speegle has other concerns as well: topical applications have a limited effect because skin only has so many relevant receptors, and individuals taking massive quantities of CBD will eventually produce fewer natural cannabinoids, she said. Finally, it’s possible that person could test positive on a drug test for THC if the product contains trace amounts of the substance. She said she encourages her patients to consult with their medical providers, and to research their CBD products and vendors carefully, particularly if they are, like many New Mexicans, struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s not a panacea . . . We have to make sure we don’t exploit the power of suggestion and the placebo effect,” she said. “If someone is spending $50 on a product today, what are they not spending that on $50 on tomorrow?”

A ‘game changer’

In June, the federal government issued a decision Galbiati described as “the biggest game changer in the industry”: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution used to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. It is the first prescription drug made from marijuana ever approved by the agency, though the FDA has previously given approval to drugs that contain synthetic versions of THC.

Marijuana advocates believe the decision makes an intergovernmental showdown over the legality of cannabis products increasingly likely, a showdown they believe could be decided in their favor. Though nine states have legalized recreational use of marijuana and another 31 states have medical marijuana programs, CBD and other cannabis products – with the exception of Epidiolex – remain illegal under federal law.

“When this gets resolved, it’s going to mean a lot of good things for job creation, economic development and patient care in New Mexico and the rest of the country,” said Galbiati.

The legal issues are complicated within New Mexico as well. A few weeks before the approval of Epidiolex, the state’s Department of Health sent a letter to New Mexico’s licensed producers and dispensaries warning against selling CBD products made from plants grown outside of the state. The department argued those sales were a violation of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, the 2013 law that created the state’s medical marijuana program. Under that legislation, any licensed producer who “obtains or transports cannabis outside New Mexico” is in violation of federal law and could be prosecuted by the state.

In a letter to the Health Department, the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce contended that interpreting the law in that manner would lead to a severe shortage of CBD, as the limited number of plants they are permitted by the state “makes it impossible . . . to be self-reliant in producing sufficient quantities of CBD.” Others complained that the warning unfairly targeted licensed entities, because it was not sent to retailers outside the department’s jurisdiction.

A Health Department spokesman told the Journal that the agency’s position on the issue remains unchanged.

Back at Nature’s Secret, Eaton described the New Mexico cannabis community as “a family, not a competition.” With a standard business license, the store continues to serve a diverse clientele, which she said includes military personnel, the parent of a young child with a seizure disorder, and people looking to calm their pets during a long car ride. Eaton said the store is rigorous about the quality of their inventory, is careful to not describe possible effects in terms of “cures”, and refers customers to licensed dispensaries as appropriate.

“We’re here to educate people, to help them learn more about their health,” she said. “Retail is not the most important thing we do.”

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Rio Rancho man gets 44 years in cannabis facility robbery

A judge on Monday sentenced A 33-year-old Rio Rancho man to 44 years in prison for his role in the armed robbery of a Santa Fe medical cannabis growing facility in 2013. That comes on top of the 24 years to which he was sentenced in August for robbing three Santa Fe motels at gunpoint in 2015.

Convicted felons are usually contrite when they address the judge at their sentencing hearing, apologizing and asking for mercy.

Not Reyes B. Barela.

After listening to one of the owners of the New Mexico Top Organics cannabis facility testify Monday about the emotional and financial toll the robberies had on his life, Barela continued to deny he committed the crimes he was convicted of, and criticized the judge’s handling of the case.

“I do feel bad for what they’ve had to go through,” Barela said. “I can’t begin to understand how it affected or altered their lives. If I could offer an apology I would, but I can not take responsibility for something I didn’t do.”

From there Barela attacked District Judge T. Glenn Ellington’s handling of the case, saying the judge had allowed jurors to hear testimony that should have been kept out — including a confession Barela’s attorneys argued had been coerced — and had turned a blind eye to inconsistent statements by a sheriff’s detective, asserting that the judge was biased because the deputy works in the courthouse.

“How is this justice?” Barela demanded. “How is this fair? My life was taken away the day you gave me 24 years. Thank god for an appeal. … There is a guy downstairs that killed somebody and just got 10 years. I can’t even be placed the scene of the crime and I’ve gotten my life taken away from me? I feel sorry for the day your judgment comes because I believe in God and like it says in the Book of Matthew ‘you too will be judged’ and the way you’ve chosen to judge others is the way you too will be judged, 10 times over. So I’ll pray for you, sir.”

Barela was charged with 12 felony counts related to the 2013 armed robbery in which authorities said he and two or three other men entered the medical cannabis facility through a back door, tied up the two men who owned the business and held them at gunpoint while stealing $30,000 worth of marijuana and then fleeing in an SUV belonging to one of the business owners.

Prosecutors held three trials before getting a guilty verdict in the case, which was complicated by the fact that the victims couldn’t positively identify each person involved in the holdup — the victims said the thieves had their faces covered — and there was no physical evidence tying Barela to the scene.

Leopoldo Maez, one of the other men implicated in the heist, had been offered a plea deal that called for him to serve about four years in prison if he agreed to testify against Barela, according to statements by prosecutors and the judge in court Monday.

But Maez ultimately backed out of the deal, refused to testify and was sentenced to 97 years with 53 years suspended for a total of 44 years for his role in the armed robbery and other crimes.

Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist said he couldn’t comment Monday on what cases may or may not have been brought against the other co-defendants.

Barela’s first trial ended in a mistrial after a state witness accidentally volunteered information about Barela’s prior bad acts, which had already been ruled inadmissible by the judge.

The second trial ended with a hung jury.

But, before pronouncing the sentence, Ellington reminded Barela on Monday that the third jury convicted Barela on all 12 counts against him, including two counts of first-degree kidnapping, each punishable by 18 years in prison.

Barela’s sentence was enhanced by the fact that he used a gun and had prior felony convictions.

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Bust uncovers 1,500 pounds of marijuana, worth estimated $4.5 million, in Montrose County

A massive marijuana grow with about 1,500 pounds of plants worth an estimated $4.5 million was busted on the Western slope over the weekend.

A Montrose County Sheriff’s deputy on Friday serving a warrant for overdue property taxes in the 69300 block of Orion Trail, east of Montrose, saw marijuana growing outdoors northeast of the residence, according to a news release.

To reach the front door of the rural residence the deputy walked past several hundred hanging, curing marijuana plants. The deputy contacted Chung Ho at the residence, who claimed he was not part of the marijuana grow. After posting papers on the property taxes the deputy cited Ho for the marijuana. The deputy then drove to an adjacent property and saw people get out of a running vehicle, with out-of-state plates, and run into a residence there. The vehicle was filled with stuffed trash bags.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


A massive marijuana grow with about 1,500 pounds of plants worth and estimated $4.5 million was busted on the Western slope over the weekend.
The post Bust uncovers 1,500 pounds of marijuana, worth estimated $4.5 million, in Montrose County appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Pot at a pub? Colorado agencies tell Denver they’re not budging on indoor marijuana smoking

Want to vape weed at a bar? It’s not happening anytime soon, according to a new letter from five different Colorado state agencies to the Denver City Council.

A city task force has been working for months on suggestions to make it easier for people to use cannabis at businesses. The task force had asked open-ended questions in a report about whether the state should reconsider some of its laws.

The letter from the state, sent earlier this week, shot down the idea of allowing indoor smoking or the use of marijuana at liquor establishments — two possibilities that the city task force had asked about — and it left open another big question.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Want to vape weed at a bar? It’s not happening anytime soon, according to a new letter from five different Colorado state agencies to the Denver City Council.
The post Pot at a pub? Colorado agencies tell Denver they’re not budging on indoor marijuana smoking appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

No on Amendment X: Keep hemp legal and constitutional

Sure sounds like routine fine-tuning; Amendment X would “change the industrial hemp definition from constitutional to statutory.”

Problem is, we have a constitution because we don’t trust politicians to pass statutes protecting our rights. How about this, for example? Let’s transform the right to freedom of speech from “constitutional to statutory,” so we let the politicians decide what speech is legal, and what isn’t. So if your team is in charge, you can shut up your enemies. Until the other team is in charge, then you’re silenced. If you read a newspaper, it’s doubtful you’d buy that bill of goods. Constitutional rights are protected from the politics of the day, and Amendment 64 is locked into the Colorado Constitution to protect and legalize industrial hemp.

Amendment X misleads voters into giving people less power, and politicians more power, by gutting Colorado’s Constitutional protection and legalization of “industrial hemp,” currently secure as 0.3 percent THC (marijuana’s active ingredient).

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Sure sounds like routine fine-tuning; Amendment X would "change the industrial hemp definition from constitutional to statutory."
The post No on Amendment X: Keep hemp legal and constitutional appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Risk of stoned driver crashes grows as legal marijuana spreads across U.S., according to study

As the push to legalize marijuana gains momentum, so is evidence that more permissive policies on the drug are putting motorists at risk.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found, in a study to be released on Thursday, that traffic accidents are rising in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. That followed stark warnings from the National Transportation Safety Board, which on Tuesday issued several recommendations to combat drug-impaired driving.

“The last thing in the world that we want is to introduce another legal substance where we may be adding to that toll and to the carnage on our highways,” said David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute. “With marijuana impairment, we’re just now starting to understand what we don’t know.”

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


As the push to legalize marijuana gains momentum, so is evidence that more permissive policies on the drug are putting motorists at risk.
The post Risk of stoned driver crashes grows as legal marijuana spreads across U.S., according to study appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Colorado cracks a billion in annual marijuana sales in record time, generating $200M in tax revenue

Marijuana sales in Colorado have exceeded $1 billion as of August of this year, with tax revenue from those sales coming in at $200 million, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue and its Marijuana Enforcement Division.

It’s the earliest point in any of the four years Colorado has had legal recreational marijuana that combined medical and rec sales have cracked the billion-dollar mark.

Total combined sales through August 2017 were $996,357,153. The total so far for ’18 is $1,022,245,511, setting the state on a trajectory to break last year’s record of more than $1.5 billion in medical and rec sales.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Marijuana sales in Colorado have exceeded $1 billion as of August of this year, with tax revenue from those sales coming in at $200 million, according to a report.
The post Colorado cracks a billion in annual marijuana sales in record time, generating $200M in tax revenue appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Canadian legalization creates opportunities for Colorado marijuana businesses

Nationwide recreational marijuana legalization makes Canada a fertile landscape for ganjaprenuers. While some Colorado companies are already cashing in on opportunities north of the border, the effect on the local cannabis landscape is expected to be mostly invisible to consumers, industry advocates say.

People began lining up in the wee hours of Newfoundland time Wednesday morning to make the first legal recreational marijuana purchases in Canadian history. It was a party atmosphere in many places, save for Ontario. That province, home to more than 13 million people and the country’s largest city, Toronto, is still ironing out rules and shops aren’t expected to open for months yet.

“I’m so disappointed,” Colorado cannabis entrepreneur and industry advocate Dan Anglin said Wednesday afternoon from outside his hotel in Toronto. “I was it expecting it to be like Jan. 1, 2014, (the day recreational sales became legal in Colorado) but it is nothing like that here.”

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Nationwide recreational marijuana legalization makes Canada a fertile landscape for ganjaprenuers. While some Colorado companies are already cashing in on opportunities north of the border, the effect on the local cannabis landscape is expected to be mostly invisible to consumers, industry advocates say.
The post Canadian legalization creates opportunities for Colorado marijuana businesses appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Two people arrested in Pueblo County after fire at mobile home, investigators suspect hash oil blaze

Two people were arrested Tuesday afternoon in Pueblo County after firefighters and police responded to a fire, which allegedly was sparked by butane hash oil production.

The fire broke out in the back of a mobile home in the 100 block of 32 3/4 Lane in the St. Charles Mesa area, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies, who escorted residents out of the home to safety, found butane gas canisters and what appeared to be marijuana concentrate in the residence, according to a news release.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Two people were arrested Tuesday afternoon in Pueblo County after firefighters and police responded to a fire, which allegedly was sparked by butane hash oil production.
The post Two people arrested in Pueblo County after fire at mobile home, investigators suspect hash oil blaze appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

Which States Have Legal Weed and Where Could it Be Legal After the 2018 Midterms?

Canada became the second and largest country in the world to bolster a national marijuana marketplace after legalizing cannabis possession and use from Wednesday.

Canada’s framework for launching legal marijuana sales, including taxing, monitoring and regulating the drug’s distribution and sale, could serve as a reference for the United States if the government were to declassify and decriminalize the drug.

While 30 states around the country have already adopted some form of legal marijuana use, whether recreational or medicinal, the leafy plant remains illegal at the federal level. The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for scheduling and classifying narcotics, says that marijuana is as dangerous and addictive as heroin and ecstasy.

But the upcoming midterm elections could cause some major changes in America’s marijuana policy.

While it may not be as strong of a national campaign issue as immigration or health care, marijuana policy has made it onto the ballot in a handful of states where voters will be able to decide for themselves whether the drug should be legalized. Initiatives in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah will offer voters the opportunity to expand legal weed.

The high-inducing plant may also have some influence in the battle for the House of Representatives and the Senate this November.

While the Republican Party has radically adjusted its point of view on the drug, becoming more ambivalent to legalization efforts over the past five years, establishment GOP members continue to take a hardline stance. But the overwhelming public support in favor of ending marijuana prohibition, with about six-in-10 Americans supporting legalization, could spell even more trouble for the GOP this election cycle.

Democrats, on the other hand, have been much more supportive of marijuana legalization over the years but have not made cannabis reform a top priority heading into Election Day. But in states where marijuana issues are on the ballot, there could be a potential surge in liberal voters that may help boost Democrats flip Republican-held seats in the House and Senate. Marijuana could also help moderate Democrats in red states keep their congressional seat, like Senators Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

Here’s where weed is already legal in the United States and where it could be legal after the 2018 midterm elections this November.

Legal Weed:

Nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use, including:

Alaska: Adults age 21 and up can legally smoke marijuana for recreational use.

California: The first state to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1996, California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal for adults to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana. Though some cities in the state, including Fresno and Bakersfield, have moved to ban recreational sales.

Colorado: The state fully legalized the drug in 2012.

Maine: A ballot initiative in 2016 gave Mainers the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Lawmakers also reached an agreement on legalization, and marijuana dispensaries are expected to open by 2019.

Massachusetts: Recreational sale of marijuana began in July 2018.

Nevada: Residents and tourists can legally buy marijuana for recreational use.

Oregon: Marijuana has been legal for recreational use in Oregon since 2015.

Vermont: Lawmakers in Vermont voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in January 2018.

Washington: The state allows residents to recreationally buy and carry marijuana, but they must have a medicinal need for the drug in order to be eligible for a grower’s license.

Washington D.C.: Those in the nation’s capital have been able to enjoy marijuana recreationally since 2015.

legal marijuana dispensary Sales associate, Crystal Guess packages up a patient’s cannabis inside a Good Meds medical cannabis center in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2013. States with legal marijuana laws could increase after the 2018 midterm elections. Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Twenty-two states have legalized marijuana in some form for medicinal use, including:

Arizona

Arkansas

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Hawaii

Illinois

Louisiana

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

West Virginia

2018 Midterm Elections: Marijuana Reform Ballot Measures

Michigan: Voters on November 6 will decide on Proposal 1, which would allow Michigan residents over the age of 21 to possess and grow a certain amount of cannabis for personal use. Polling done earlier this month indicated that the law has a good chance of being approved by voters, with 62 percent of registered voters saying they intend to support the measure.

Missouri: Voters will have the opportunity to decide on ballot questions focused specifically on medicinal marijuana access. There are three separate ballot proposals for voters to weigh in, which include different taxes on the drug for veterans services, biomedical research, drug treatment, education and law enforcement. Currently, all three proposals are polling over 60 percent.

North Dakota: While North Dakota already legalized marijuana for medicinal use in 2016, voters will now have the chance to support full legalization for recreational adult use. If the measure is enacted, not only would adults be able to legally buy and use the drug but also most prior cannabis convictions would be expunged. The limited amount of polling in North Dakota make the likelihood of the measure passing difficult to predict. But those who oppose the initiative are fighting hard to block it and have raised more campaign cash than marijuana supporters.

Utah: Right now, marijuana in any form is outlawed in Utah. But in November voters will be deciding on Proposition 2, which would regulate the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis products for qualifying patients. Smoking marijuana would still be illegal even if the measure is passed, meaning that qualifying patients would need to consume edibles or use vaporizers in order to ingest the drug. The measure seemed sure to pass, but a pollreleased on Tuesday shows that support for the initiative was at 51 percent.

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Canada now world’s largest legal marijuana marketplace

TORONTO — Ian Power was among the first to buy legal recreational marijuana in Canada but he has no plans to smoke it. He plans to frame it.

Canada became the largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace as sales began early Wednesday in Newfoundland. Power was first in line at a store in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall. I’m not even going to smoke it. I’m just going to save it forever,” Power said.

Read the rest of this story on DenverPost.com.


Ian Power was among the first to buy legal recreational marijuana in Canada but he has no plans to smoke it.
The post Canada now world’s largest legal marijuana marketplace appeared first on The Cannabist. […]

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled. Dismiss