Vermont Governor “Comfortable” Legalizing Marijuana In Early 2018

A case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday could have huge implications for the ability of states to legalize marijuana.

The case, Christie v. NCAA, centers on whether the Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine prevents the federal government from forcing states to keep prohibitions of certain federally- proscribed activities on their own lawbooks.

It began when New Jersey voters approved a 2011 ballot measure to legalize sports gambling. The following year, state lawmakers enacted legislation to regulate and license sports wagering at casinos and racetracks.

But the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and four professional sports leagues sued, alleging that the state law violated a federal statute, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). That law, enacted by Congress in 1992, prohibits states and local governments from licensing or otherwise authorizing betting on amateur or professional team sports. (It exempted prior state gambling schemes, namely the one that exists in Nevada.)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled for the sports leagues in 2013, interpreting PASPA to bar states from affirmatively licensing or permitting sports betting but not necessarily from merely repealing their own state prohibitions on gambling.

The Supreme Court rejected New Jersey’s request to hear the case on appeal, so the state enacted a new law that deleted its own prohibitions on certain gambling activities without enacting a new authorization or licensing scheme to regulate betting.

The leagues filed suit again, against the narrower revised law. Once more, the Third Circuit agreed, ruling in 2016 that PASPA prevents states from repealing their own sports gambling prohibitions in addition to blocking them from affirmatively licensing the activity.

The court essentially ruled that the Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine only prohibits the federal government from compelling states to adopt and enforce new policies and “does not command states to take any affirmative actions.” In this way, the court reasoned, it’s constitutional for the federal government to block states from amending policies they had previously adopted.

New Jersey appealed the case again, and this time the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. Oral arguments are scheduled for Monday morning and, although the statute in question concerns gambling, the outcome of the case could potentially throw up a huge roadblock to future state marijuana legalization efforts.

If the high court agrees with the Third Circuit, “the federal government may be able to regulate other areas like recreational marijuana…by freezing existing state laws in place, instead of through direct federal regulation,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

Sam Kamin, who serves as the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, filed an amicus brief in the case along with other law professors, arguing that the Supreme Court should rule in favor of New Jersey. He told Marijuana Moment that the Third Circuit’s ruling is “shockingly wrong.”

“If the federal government can make the states pass laws, or keep laws that its citizens hate on the books, the core promise of anti-commandeering is a lie,” he said. “The point is that the citizens should be able to express their views through their state governments and should be able to remove those elected officials who are not working on their behalf. When the federal government meddles in this process, it muddies the waters and stifles the will of the voters.”

That said, if the Supreme Court rules for the sports leagues in favor of the federal gambling law’s broad reach, it wouldn’t automatically invalidate state marijuana laws. Rather, Congress would then be empowered to pass a new law, broader than the current Controlled Substances Act (CSA), that requires states to keep cannabis prohibitions on the books.

Under the CSA as currently written, Congress specifically says it doesn’t intend to “occupy the field” when it comes to drug policies, “including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of any State law on the same subject matter which would otherwise be within the authority of the State…” Instead, the CSA only seeks to preempt state laws that are so inconsistent with its provisions that the two cannot stand together.

Legalization supporters will likely take comfort that in the current political climate — in which a growing number of states are ending prohibition and polls continue to show growing bipartisan voter support for reform — it would be difficult for congressional marijuana opponents to form a majority of lawmakers in support of a new affirmative prohibition to punish states that dare to enact popular cannabis laws.

(That’s of course separate from the issue of congressional leadership blocking measures to reform current federal marijuana laws, an issue which has become more prominent as the House Rules Committee, for example, has repeatedly prevented cannabis amendments from being considered on the floor over the course of the past year.)

It is more than a little ironic that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), an ardent and vocal legalization opponent, is bringing a case in defense of states’ rights to enact their own laws which could have implications for cannabis policy.

During the course of his failed presidential campaign last year, Christie consistently pledged that if elected he would enforce federal marijuana prohibition even in states that have opted to legalize the drugs.

But in New Jersey’s petition asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, the state makes a point to raise concern about the case’s potential to block state marijuana reforms.

“If Congress can freeze in place existing state laws by prohibiting contrary state-law ‘authorizations,’ then the federal government can effectively force States to enact federal policies and thus will have greatly aggrandized its own power while foisting accountability for those policies entirely onto the States. Future efforts by States to legalize private conduct currently prohibited by state law—anything from recreational use of marijuana, to carrying concealed firearms, to working on Sundays—can be thwarted not just by a direct federally enforced prohibition of that conduct, but now also by a federal ban on state legislation that ‘authorizes’ such conduct. This is not a minor intrusion on state sovereignty. It is a sea change to our system of federalism. This Court should grant the petition to protect the Constitution’s carefully calibrated federal-state design and restore the balance between state and federal power that the Third Circuit’s decision has so thoroughly upended.”

“If the Third Circuit’s construction of ‘authoriz[ation] by law’ in PASPA as forbidding an undefined array of repeals is upheld, it is not difficult to imagine other examples in which Congress could dictate policy outcomes in States without ever having to legislate directly. Rather than enact gun control measures of its own, for example, Congress could prohibit States from relaxing existing restrictions on the purchase of firearms by particular persons. Or, no longer willing to expend the resources to police limitations on the usage of marijuana, Congress could repeal its own prohibitions on the use and sale of marijuana and instead prohibit States from repealing their own restrictions by enacting a PASPA-like law that prohibits States from authorizing the sale or use of marijuana ‘by law.’ Because few States would accept the choice of having totally unregulated gun possession or marijuana usage, Congress could achieve its policy objectives of stopping the spread of firearms or marijuana use even as it sets up the federal government’s own exit from those fields of regulation.”

The Trump administration, in a brief from its acting solicitor general filed in May, urged the Supreme Court not to take up the case.

A decision is expected sometime before next summer.

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Nevada gambling leaders grapple with pot’s future in casinos

Updated 7:32 pm, Saturday, December 2, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A committee exploring the effects of recreational marijuana on Nevada’s gambling industry is wrestling with how the state’s casinos might deal with the pot business while not running afoul of federal law.

Lured by a potential economic impact in the tens of millions of dollars, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Gaming Policy Committee is trying to figure out how casinos can host conventions and trade shows on marijuana.

The 12-member committee ended its meeting Wednesday without a formal decision on the matter, but Sandoval said he hopes to have committee recommendations for possible regulations by February.

The Nevada Gaming Commission has discouraged licensees in the past from becoming involved with the marijuana business, fearing legal backlash. Committee members have also voiced opposition to the idea of allowing marijuana use at resorts.

However, events like MJBizCon, a conference on various aspects of the marijuana growing industry, have drawn the attention of the gambling industry because of their strong turnout.

Cassandra Farrington, who started the conference, told the committee that the event brought about 18,000 people to the Las Vegas Convention Center last month and it’s only expected to grow. She noted that marijuana products are not allowed on the show floor, and people who violate that ruled are expelled.

Trade shows like Farrington’s conference can generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, said Deonne Contine, the director of the Nevada Department of Taxation. Contine told the committee that a show with about 15,000 people can produce a $28.2 million economic impact on the city.

Attorney Brian Barnes said any marijuana business in gambling facilities could be considered racketeering or money laundering under federal regulations.

“Marijuana business is illegal under virtually every aspect of federal law,” Barnes said.

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This week in odd news: Intruder caught after putting toilet seat down | National


A man suspected of breaking into a northern Michigan home made one mistake: He put the toilet seat was down.

Michigan man suspects an intruder: Toilet seat was down

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A man suspected of breaking into a northern Michigan home left a big clue: The toilet seat was down.

Police say a Traverse City man who lives alone figured something wasn’t right last Saturday. Why? He told investigators that he typically keeps the seat up.

Police Chief Jeff O’Brien says a 26-year-old man was found passed out in the man’s garage. O’Brien tells the Traverse City Record-Eagle that the intruder appeared to be intoxicated and had taken prescription drugs from the home.

The man and the resident don’t know each other. Charges will be pursued.

Police stop car with massive Christmas tree on top

SUDBURY, Mass. (AP) — Police in a Massachusetts town are showing residents how not to transport their holiday trees.

Sudbury police posted a picture Friday of a vehicle with a large tree on top of it. Almost the entire car appears to be hidden.

Police say an officer stopped the vehicle on Route 20 in the town, located about 25 miles (40 km) west of Boston.

Police on Facebook reminded people to transport holiday trees “responsibly.”

It’s unclear if the driver was cited. The department did not immediately respond to a request for additional details on Monday.

Beagle breakout: Pup caught on video scaling shelter cage

WINDSOR, Va. (AP) — A video of a beagle at a Virginia animal shelter scaling her cage in an escape attempt has generated calls of interest from across the country.

Emily Glickman, a caretaker at the shelter in Windsor, said by phone Thursday that its new owner plans to take her home Friday.

The adopter claimed the dog, named Buttermilk, long before the video went viral.

The Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter posted a Facebook video of the escape attempt Tuesday, generating more than 70,000 views. It shows Buttermilk gingerly climbing a 4-foot cage’s wall before perching atop it.

The shelter often rescues hunting dogs, particularly after the season. Glickman said Buttermilk was rescued three weeks ago.

The shelter’s animals are often named after food brought in by volunteers. In Buttermilk’s case, it was pancakes.

Brewery makes algae beer to spotlight threat to Lake Erie

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A brewery in Ohio is making a batch of green-colored beer called “Algae Blooms” to draw attention to the toxic algae that’s been fouling Lake Erie.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company says water is the main ingredient in its beers and access to clean water is essential.

The Toledo brewery uses the city’s tap water sourced from Lake Erie. Algae outbreaks over the past summers have become an ongoing threat to drinking water.

Maumee Bay brewery manager Craig Kerr says its new beer looks like algae-contaminated water but doesn’t taste like it. He says the brewery used powdered green tea and kiwi to give the beer its color.

The Ohio Environmental Council is helping to promote the algae-inspired beer to illustrate the importance of investing in safe water.

Oh, deer: Startled doe scrambles through Mississippi school

ENTERPRISE, Miss. (AP) — A deer darted through two hallways of a Mississippi school, startling students as they were arriving for the day.

People jumped out of the way and no one was injured.

Enterprise Middle School is in a rural, wooded area about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Jackson. Principal Marlon Brannan says it’s unusual to see deer on campus, but this doe was grazing on a playground Wednesday morning.

He says the doe bloodied its nose by jumping and hitting a window three times; it then ran through an open door.

Brannan says “that deer was moving full-throttle” as it scrambled down two tile hallways, going about 200 feet (61 meters) before sliding out another open door. It ran between two vehicles in the carpool line and escaped to the woods.

Las Vegas pot dispensaries offer Black Friday deals

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Big-box stores weren’t the only ones offering discounts to shoppers in Las Vegas this Black Friday. Marijuana dispensaries rolled out deals, too.

More than 40 dispensaries in the Sin City area planned to offer discounts on marijuana flower products, edibles such as chocolates, and concentrates, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday. This was the first Black Friday since legal sales of recreation marijuana began in Nevada.

“It’s a great stocking-stuffer, and now you can treat it like alcohol in that regard,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who helped legalize recreational pot in the state. “As long as no kids can get to it. It’s for adults only.”


Nevada Marijuana-Black Friday

FILE – In this July 1, 2017 file photo, a person buys marijuana at the Essence cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun reports more than 40 dispensaries in the Las Vegas area will offer Black Friday discounts on marijuana flower products, edibles such as chocolates, and concentrates. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Some dispensaries will offer an eighth of an ounce of select flower products for $35, down from $53. One dispensary will gift shoppers a 10-pack of fruit chew edibles with any purchase, while another one will have a buy-one-get-one-free special on edibles.

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in the state July 1. Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. People can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Las Vegas Strip, hotels and casinos.

“Cannabis use has been misunderstood and vilified in our country for over 80 years, so this day will feel both surreal and celebratory,” said Andrew Jolley, owner of dispensaries and president of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “We’re very excited about the first holiday season of adult-use in Nevada.”

Oregon couple finds burglar asleep on bedroom floor

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a couple awoke to find a burglar asleep on their bedroom floor.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says the couple escorted the man out Wednesday morning before realizing that wallets, cell phones and a tablet computer were missing. Deputies, aided by the Find My iPhone app, found a 64-year-old suspect hiding under the porch of a nearby home.

Ervin Solomon has been charged with burglary, theft and felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

In addition to the items taken from the couple, the sheriff’s office says Solomon had jewelry and other items. Deputies are trying to find the owners of that property.

Stolen Ferrari trashed; man arrested after seeking gas money


Trashed Ferrari

This undated photo provided by the Santa Ana Police shows Israel Perez Rangel. Rangel, charged with stealing a $300,000 Ferrari, was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif., Nov. 1, 2017, after reportedly asking for gas money. 

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man suspected of stealing a $300,000 Ferrari was arrested after asking for gas money, authorities said.

Santa Ana police arrested Israel Perez Rangel on Nov. 1. He pleaded not guilty to car theft.

Authorities say the 458 Spider was brought into a Costa Mesa service center and stolen in October after a worker left the key on a passenger seat.

Security video showed a man in a Ferrari jacket walking onto the lot and taking it.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said officers subsequently responded to a report of a Ferrari driving erratically and stopped at an intersection, and to another call that the driver was asking for gas money.

The exotic car was spotted at a gas station, where the driver ran off and was found and arrested behind bushes near a Holiday Inn, police said.

The Los Angeles Times says the car was trashed, with emblems torn from the body, cracked fins and a destroyed gearbox.

The Times said insurers paid the owner, and she used the money to buy a 2018 Lamborghini Huracan.

Firefighters help rescue dog from tunnel dug by tortoise

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — A dog wouldn’t come out after chasing a cat into a tunnel dug by a giant tortoise in the back yard of a home in a Phoenix suburb, so homeowner Toby Passmore called for help.

Chandler firefighters responded Wednesday with people and shovels and, with the help of a city backhoe, began unearthing the 6-foot-deep tunnel dug by Passmore’s tortoise.

That allowed Passmore to squirm head-first into the hole and see that his Scottish Schnauzer “was willfully inside the hole” where it had cornered the cat.

With his ankles held by firefighters, Passmore was able to pull the dog out. It emerged dirty but unharmed.

The rescuers left the hole open to allow the cat to leave when it felt safe.

Video leads to arrest in case of stolen mounted zebra head

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska woman came home to find out a thief had broken in and stolen clothing, jewelry, prescription drugs and the mounted head of a zebra she had on a wall.

Stacy Scott got good news Monday, however. A cab driver who helped a suspect drive off with the stolen goods, found the zebra head in his trunk and returned it.

Scott tells Anchorage television station KTVA that she received the zebra head from a friend when she worked at a downtown boutique. She named the head “George.”

A security camera Friday recorded a woman carrying items, including George, out of Scott’s home and into a waiting cab.

Police arrested a 38-old woman at an Anchorage motel where the cab driver had taken her. The suspect is charged with felony burglary and theft.

Hand grenade found in donation to California Goodwill store

PLACENTIA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say someone left a hand grenade inside a box of donations that was dropped off by a woman at a Goodwill store in Southern California.

The Los Angeles Times reports an unidentified woman dropped off the box Wednesday at the store in the city of Placentia near Los Angeles.

The Placentia Police Department says store workers discovered the grenade as they sifted through donations.

Officers evacuated neighboring businesses and a bomb squad was sent to safely retrieve the grenade.

Alleged car burglar calls 911 when truck owner confronts him

MAYER, Ariz. (AP) — A man accused of burglarizing a disabled pickup truck in north-central Arizona later called 911 to report being threatened by the vehicle’s owner.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials say 25-year-old Robert Jones of Glendale was booked into the Camp Verde jail on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage.

The Daily Courier reports Jones allegedly broke out the window of the truck and took items out of the vehicle.

Sheriff’s deputies contact the owner, who says his truck was left on the side of Highway 69 because it had a flat tire.

When the man returned with a spare tire, he saw the broken window and confronted Jones.

Authorities say Jones denied involvement in the theft although the victim saw his duffel bag and tire iron in the suspect’s car.

German women’s clinic’s incense therapy triggers fire alarm

BERLIN (AP) — A reported fire in a Hamburg basement turned out to be a false alarm after firefighters determined that the smell of burning came from an alternative therapy being used at a neighboring gynecological clinic.

The fire department said Thursday they received a call at lunchtime Wednesday about a strong burning smell from the basement of a clothing store in the northern German city’s St. Pauli district.

When the crew of 16 firefighters arrived they also smelled the odor, but could not find a source in the basement.

Upon further investigation they determined the smell came from an incense therapy for pregnant women in the neighboring gynecological clinic.

Authorities didn’t seem irked by the false alarm, saying “Who knows, maybe one or two of the kids will later join the fire department.”

Vermont city thanks French city for misspelled jerseys

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s capital city said merci via Skype on Thursday to a French city it’s named after for some misspelled soccer jerseys that were sent its way.

Montpellier, France, ordered jerseys for its professional soccer team and fans but the jerseys came in misspelled, with just one L instead of two. The city in southern France decided to send the jerseys to Montpelier, Vermont, which is spelled with one L, not two.

Montpelier Mayor John Hollar thanked Montpellier Mayor Philippe Saurel by Skype from the city’s high school gym, where students wore the donated jerseys for the event.

“If you could just send me a few jerseys every couple of weeks I could be the most popular mayor ever in Montpelier,” Hollar said.

The jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the athletic department and other charities. Noel Riby-Williams, a Montpelier High School senior and soccer player, said she hopes to raise money for a church in Ghana, where she was born.

“It’s just great that out of a little kindness another little kindness happens. And if everybody in the world just spread kindness the world would be such a better place,” she told WCAX-TV.

Builders race to save football’s Eagles from Billy Penn jinx

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Superstitious construction workers have placed a small statue of Philadelphia’s founder atop the city’s newest skyscraper in an effort to save the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles from a fabled jinx. reports the William Penn figurine was affixed to the Comcast tower’s highest beam Monday after builders decided waiting for a topping-off ceremony was too risky.

Believers in the Curse of Billy Penn say it doomed the city’s sports teams for decades after the city’s first skyscraper broke tradition and rose higher than the William Penn statue topping City Hall.

In 2007, the situation was rectified with a statuette placed atop a taller skyscraper. The next year, the Phillies won the World Series.

When construction of the new 1,121-foot-tall tower broke the height record, workers were eager to restore Penn to his rightful perch.

Anonymous driver sends police $1,000 30 years after crash

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A person who apparently sped off after hitting a parked car in a Minneapolis suburb more than 30 years ago anonymously sent $1,000 to local police this month and asked them to pass it on to the car’s owner, if possible.

The sender also sent a letter to the South St. Paul police department asking for forgiveness, The Pioneer Press reported .

“I was quite shocked,” police Chief Bill Messerich said. “It’s not something you see every day.”

The note says the anonymous driver hit a parked car one evening in 1985 or 1986. The sender expressed remorse and requested police try to track down the vehicle’s owner. The note says the money could be donated to a police charity if the victim isn’t located.

“I am sorry for any inconvenience that I have caused and I ask for your forgiveness,” the letter says.

Police records don’t go that far back so the money was put into the department’s general account, Messerich said. It will be used to buy new equipment or technology.

“I guess this was just weighing on this person’s conscience for over 30 years and they came to a certain point in their life where they wanted to try to make things right if they could,” Messerich said.

City Administrator Steve Kind has been in city government for 35 years. He said he hasn’t seen a similar donation.

“It’s a pleasant surprise,” he said. “It’s nice to be the recipient, so there’s that part of it. But it’s also good to see there’s redemption after all those years.”

Boy crashes luxury SUV; says he was on a ‘test drive’

SLIDELL, La. (AP) — Louisiana authorities say a 14-year-old boy who led police on a car chase told them he had taken the vehicle on a “test drive” because he was considering buying it.

Slidell police spokesman Daniel Seuzeneau told news outlets that police tried to stop the luxury SUV late Tuesday afternoon for driving with no headlights. The boy fled, crashed, then continued to flee on foot. Police caught up to him.

Seuzeneau says police discovered the vehicle belonged to the father of one of the boy’s friends. The vehicle was for sale, but the owner told police the teenager didn’t have permission to drive it.

The boy was charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle and other crimes. The Associated Press does not generally identify juveniles charged with crimes.

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Ricardo Baca is the Weedsmith

Ricardo Baca has been chronicling the industry since founding The Cannabist in 2013. Now he’s reinventing himself with the Grasslands content agency.

It’s a dream come true for a journalist to be at ground zero when a massive quasi-legal underground movement evolves into an emergent billion-dollar industry in, arguably, the largest national market on Earth. That’s an epic event rarer than a perfect storm—and, at the fertile, churning epicenter, Ricardo Baca was appointed editor-in-chief of The Denver Post’s groundbreaking blog, The Cannabist. The blog debuted in 2013, and America’s first legal recreational market was getting ready to hit on New Year’s Day 2014.

With a crew of straight-laced reporters and cannabis-culture content creators, Baca posted news stories that helped define the wild, untamed space. They brought old-school journalistic credibility, even as journalism was experiencing its own transition in turbulent post-digital times. The 2015 documentary Rolling Papers followed Baca and staff as they documented the revolution. Topics covered (and discovered) by The Cannabist brought issues to light with legal and legislative developments, regulations for testing and accurate labeling, the efficacy of CBD treatment for young patients, parenting and pot, and every other aspect of all things marijuana.

Now, after leaving his position at The Cannabist, Baca has arrived in the Grasslands—the content agency he founded this year—which offers a new-media approach to cannabis marketing and branding. That includes “social media, publicity, marketing, thought leadership, and anything involving the written word,” Baca said. Clients include Whoopi & Maya, Bloom Farms, Hoban Law Group, and the Organic Cannabis Association, among others.

“I’ve said this before, and I truly believe it: Microdosing is the future of cannabis.”

In the field, he’s become a recognized thought leader, sourced by and discoursed with by heavyweights like The New York Times, Poynter, The View, The Colbert Report, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, Esquire, Fast Company, Al Jazeera, BBC, Mashable, International Business Times, and Canadian Broadcasting Company, to name a few. He’s also working on a book with Harborside Health Center’s legendary founder Steve DeAngelo and writing a regular column for The Daily Beast, in addition to other freelancing.

Not bad for a hometown reporter from Denver. From where he stands today, the horizon is unlimited, so we picked Baca’s brain about what may be coming for cannabis.

mg: What influential events or trends may be coming in 2018?

Ricardo Baca: I’m going to be hopeful here and say 2018 will be the year we begin to figure out social cannabis consumption. Personally, I find it embarrassing that Colorado and other states are still botching this aspect of legalization. Most states have figured out growing at home and commercial cultivation. Most recreational localities have a reasonable infrastructure of dispensaries and shops. But what do state regulators think happens to these cannabis products after a customer makes a purchase?

Cannabis consumers deserve spaces to consume, and yet private homes are generally the only places that are fully legal in these states, early adopters Colorado and Washington included. That this is still our reality more than five years after voters in both states said “yes” to legalization speaks to the ridiculousness of this situation, especially since the prohibitionist federal government admits cannabis causes zero deaths in America each year, while alcohol, a recreationally available substance served in most bars, clubs, and restaurants, kills nearly 40,000 Americans annually.

I’m guessing this most recent batch of legal states will be the first to figure social use out. If it’s not Nevada, it will be California. And once other states see cannabis lounges or dispensary-adjacent tasting rooms aren’t the end of the world, they’ll fall in line.

Ricardo Barca
Photo By Mike Rosati

I’ve said this before, and I truly believe it: Microdosing is the future of cannabis. Most states are saying a single dose of edible marijuana contains 10mg of activated THC, but I think that’s too much for an adult-use market. I love that we’re finally starting to see large cannabis brands manufacturing edibles that are 2.5mg or even 5mg apiece. Not only does that serve new consumers more responsibly, but it also allows those of us with higher tolerances to more accurately target our ideal dose.

When do you think federal cannabis prohibition will end?

If we look back to the 2016 election as a tipping point, many predicted Election Day was going to change everything for cannabis—most importantly, its federal legality. Between the wins in California and on the East Coast, pundits wondered if that was enough to change how cannabis is scheduled and treated. But here we are more than a year later, and nothing has changed at the federal level.

I believe we’ll see movement on marijuana’s legal standing by 2025. If state governments move at a turtle’s pace, the federal government more closely resembles a snail—especially on an issue that involves them acknowledging how wrong they’ve been for so long.

California’s recreational rollout is happening in January. What are some takeaways from Colorado’s experience?

One of the biggest looming issues in California involves the small growers. They’ve been cultivating plants on these farms for decades with little regulation, but that’s about to change in a big way. Some are doing their best to comply with strict state regs and others are ignoring them, hoping to operate under the radar. But the state’s marijuana czar, Lori Ajax, is about to implement a system that will make order out of the existing chaos—and likely shut down a lot of noncompliant farms in the process.

The implementation of mandatory cannabis testing will also be a shock for the California industry. Even though growers and retailers in Colorado and Oregon saw testing in the regs, the implementation of testing for potency, contaminants, residual solvents, and pesticides revealed glaring issues in these supply chains and crippled entire market segments. Just look at what happened to the Oregon concentrates market after strict limits became the law of the land, and imagine what will happen in a state like California, which has ten times the population.

You left a prestigious position as America’s first weed editor at The Cannabist. What made you want to get into marketing, and how do you hope to influence the message for cannabis?

When I resigned from The Cannabist in December 2016, I was psyched about leaving my colleagues in a position to succeed. We had just overtaken in digital traffic, and we were regularly battling it out with High Times’ online readership, too—not bad for a three-year-old site. Even though The Cannabist was still young, I’d been at The Denver Post for fifteen years, and so it really was time for the next stage of my professional life.

I’d never worked outside of daily newspapers, so the jump was thrilling. And while many people are freaking out about cannabis journalists leaving news organizations to work with the industry, this is actually a normal trajectory for writers. Going into the industry you’ve been covering has been happening for decades, especially as newspapers are struggling economically.

But I’ve always been someone who was never fully sated with journalism alone. When I first started at The Denver Post, I helped a colleague create a SXSW-style music festival called The UMS. As I watched Pitchfork become a household name, I knew Denver needed its own music blog and created a platform called Reverb. When Post editors were looking for someone to lead the paper’s cannabis coverage and create a standalone news-and-culture vertical, they asked me if I was up to the challenge. I most definitely was.

In the three years I worked the cannabis beat, I witnessed first-hand an industry trying to legitimize itself—coming out of the shadows and creating relationships with the public, the government, and the media. Many of these companies weren’t prepared for such scrutiny, and those relationships suffered accordingly. My job required me to keep in touch with these entrepreneurs on every level, from their websites to the social media to the press releases and the interviews they’d grant me, and I almost always found myself thinking they needed a professional helping them with this important work.

Ricardo Baca
Photo By Mike Rosati

And that’s what Grasslands is. We’re a journalism-minded content agency that helps businesses where they need it most. We manage their important relationships with the media, and our vast experience on the other side of the inbox informs everything we do.

It helps that all of our employees are journalists. Emily Gray Brosious was the lead cannabis writer at the Chicago Sun-Times until July. Previous to her joining Grasslands, Nora Olabi was the editor of a community news website in Houston. All of us have journalism degrees. That, in addition to our thirty-plus years of combined experience in newsrooms, informs everything we do.

At The Cannabist, were there moments that were especially meaningful for you or felt historic?

I’ll start with the meaningful. Back in 2013, when I first was appointed as the Post’s marijuana editor, we were trying to figure out what we were about to create, what it was going to be called, looking at social handles and available URLs, making up words like “cannabist” and trying to figure out what was going to be right.

In the process of doing that, I also made an effort to get to know all the major players on both sides of the conversation. I was meeting with anti-legalization folks, as well as the pro-legalization people, the people who had passed decriminalization in Denver and medical in Denver and medical statewide and recreational statewide.

So, one of those meetings was with an activist named Mason Tvert, who until recently was the communications director for Marijuana Policy Project. He was a very big driving force behind Amendment 64 [in Denver], and in every interview he would talk about how marijuana was safer than alcohol. I was brand-new to the beat, was figuring this all out by myself, and I’m also a product of the [19]70s and ’80s. I was in elementary school when Nancy Reagan was making the “Just Say No” push, and I believed what I was told.

Even as a mid-thirties adult in Colorado, entering the legal era, to hear Mason say marijuana was safer than alcohol, I wasn’t sure I believed it, especially as a journalist who needed to confirm everything before repeating it or writing it in the newspaper. So, before meeting him, I made a point to do some research, just looking into it, and I was like, “I wonder if I can actually figure this out…” That research only took me ten minutes to find evidence and statistics on federal websites that talk about how deadly alcohol is. We lose almost 40,000 people to alcohol every year—and the federal government was acknowledging even back then that cannabis is non-lethal. We don’t lose people to cannabis. Instantly, the light bulb went on in my head.

It was a personally meaningful moment for me and sparked this light bulb inside me that I had been lied to throughout my entire life by the federal government, my principals, teachers, mentors, and parents, and I was just broken about that because I like to trust people. It made me all the more steadfast to move forward, do the research and, ideally, spread quality information so people didn’t have to put up with bullshit misinformation anymore. So, I’ve always thanked Mason for that.

Historic moments along that path led to the convergence of journalism and science. It was early on when I realized that not all edibles were created the same. Some 10mg pieces of chocolate made me feel a certain way, while other 10mg gummies made me feel another way; much stronger. So, that spurred me to buy a bunch of edibles and take them to a lab and have them tested for potency. At the time, Colorado had regs that said, “Yes, we will test marijuana all the time for potency,” but that had yet to be implemented because the state was figuring out with the private labs how they were going to do that.

As they were figuring out how to do that, I took all the edibles to the lab and had them tested, and we were able to show these edibles were wildly inconsistent. Some were stronger than they said they were going to be, some were not as strong as they said they were supposed to be, and one brand was completely ripping off customers.

When we did that piece on the cover of the Sunday Denver Post, showing that you couldn’t rely on the milligram counts on the labels of these marijuana products, that immediately put the impetus on the industry to get that right and on the government to regulate [potency].

I was glad that with science being a fact-based entity, I could employ science to help this industry mature and to hold the regulators accountable to their initial goals of being able to test these products for potency, as well as contaminants, residual solvents, and pesticides.

mg magazine cover December 2017
Ricardo Barca on mg Magazines December cover

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After Comcast Lawsuit Settlement, Players Network Answers Shareholders’ questions about the future of its “Vegas on Demand” and the Breakthrough Media Technology being used to launch “WeedTV”, a Cannabis Lifestyle Channel

Las Vegas, NV, Dec. 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Player’s Network, Inc. (OTCQB: PNTV), a diversified holding company in media and legalized Marijuana Industry (Green Leaf Farms and “WeedTV”) announcement on Nov 20th, 2017 of the confidential, out-of-court settlement of its $150 million lawsuit against media giant Comcast Corporation (view press release), seeks to answer shareholder questions about the company’s future, including plans to roll out its revolutionary Proprietary Media Technology Platform (see Players Network Media and Technology Report).

Most investors are now aware of the tremendous upside PNTV’s Green Leaf Farms subsidiary has created for the company and its shareholders, cultivating medical and recreational Marijuana and producing cannabis extracts for the Las Vegas and Nevada Markets. However, few are aware of the potentially even greater opportunities and upside via the company’s Proprietary Media Technology Platform, along with its media properties “Vegas on Demand”, and the soon to be officially launched, “WeedTV” channel.

New investors may not be aware of PNTV’s long history and exceptionally strong relationships with the casino industry. Prior to its entry into the marijuana market, PNTV launched the successful Video On Demand (VOD) channel, “Vegas On Demand”.   The PNTV team was an early pioneer in digital, short form and on demand programming that gained a national footprint with major public distribution partners including Comcast (CMCSA), DirecTV (DTV), Dish Network (DISH), AT&T (T), U-verse, Verizon Fios (VZ), HULU, and Google Video (GOOGL) to deliver over 650 million videos in 104 million television homes.  At that time the company did not possess the technology to adequately monetize “Vegas On Demand”, which lead to the company re-inventing itself.

In addition to entering the lucrative marijuana market by launching Green Leaf Farms, the company continued developing its Proprietary Media Technology Platform that is nearing completion. In its recently published Players Network Media and Technology Report, PNTV goes in depth to outline its strategy going forward. 

The first market PNTV will exploit with this new technology is the huge, medical and recreational marijuana market through adding “WeedTV” to its bricks and mortar subsidiary, Green Leaf Farms. 

This powerful Technology Platform allows businesses to intimately interact with, and target potential customers based on the lifestyle category of the videos they watch, providing consumers with resources intuitively presented to them based on their video viewing preferences, and allowing advertisers to reach a targeted audience demonstrating pre-disposed preferences toward the advertiser’s goods or services. 

“WeedTV’s” strategy is to use its wholly-owned, customized hybrid micro-casting platform to integrate high-quality recreational and medical marijuana content, category and general brand sponsors, and cannabis lifestyle talent and influencers to reach tens of millions of followers.  The newly developed Proprietary Media Technology Platform allows PNTV to do this utilizing a high level of activation and interactivity of its audiences and social media followers.  

To provide a frame of reference as to the economic payoff PNTV envisions, “WeedTV” will initially target 70,000 brick and mortar businesses and brands in the cannabis industry.  Assuming a 10% advertiser response at a modest $1000/mo, less than almost any other type of media or advertising, “WeedTV” could generate revenues of over $7 million per MONTH! 

While PNTV is excited about the potential for its marijuana subsidiary, Green Leaf Farms, management believes its new Proprietary Technology Platform provides the company an almost unlimited upside.

While settlement of PNTV’s lawsuit against Comcast will certainly help the company financially, perhaps the bigger, unforeseen benefit is that the issues that prompted the lawsuit in the first place, forced PNTV to reinvent itself. This led Players Network to develop its own Proprietary Media Technology in order to monetize video content on the Internet.  

And now, with a strong management team in place including CEO Mark Bradley, Chief Creative Officer Michael Berk, creator of “Baywatch” and hundreds of hours of Network Television, and Andy Orgel, a member of the founding, start-up teams of MTV, A&E and Nickelodeon, PNTV is ideally positioned to dominate the exploding Cannabis Lifestyle Category with the company’s new interactive network, “WeedTV”, and move aggressively to utilize its Proprietary Technology to re-launch “Vegas On Demand” and launch other Niche Lifestyle Channels.

To read the full “Players Network Media and Technology Report”, please click here.

To sign up for PNTV investor and platform alerts, please visit:

About Player’s Network (PNTV)

Player’s Network is a diversified company operating in media and cannabis markets. PNTV owns approximately 89% of Green Leaf Farms Holdings, LLC (Green Leaf Farms), which holds cultivation and production license(s) awarded by the state of Nevada. The Cultivation License enables Green Leaf Farms to grow medicinal and recreational marijuana, and the Production License enables it to create extracts for use in cartridges, oils and edibles. is positioning itself to become the ultimate resource/destination for those interested in the Marijuana Lifestyle.

For more information please visit
Please visit our Investor Relations site
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Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain as they are based on current expectations and assumptions concerning future events or future performance of the company. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are only predictions and speak only as of the date hereof. In evaluating such statements, prospective investors should review carefully various risks and uncertainties identified in this release and matters set in the company’s SEC filings. These risks and uncertainties could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements.

Source: Uptick Newswire


Player’s Network Contacts:

Investor Inquiries:
Brett H. Pojunis, Director
Office: 702.840.3272

U.S. Media Inquiries:
Lisa Mayo-DeRiso
Office: 702.403.7779

European Media Inquiries:
Jeff Robinson
Office: 702.840.3298
Office: 702.403.7779

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Las Vegas Pot Dispensaries Offer Black Friday Deals

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Big-box stores won’t be the only ones offering discounts to shoppers in Las Vegas this Black Friday. Marijuana dispensaries are rolling out deals, too.

More than 40 dispensaries in the Sin City area will offer discounts on marijuana flower products, edibles such as chocolates, and concentrates, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday. This will be the first Black Friday since legal sales of recreation marijuana began in Nevada.

“It’s a great stocking-stuffer, and now you can treat it like alcohol in that regard,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who helped legalize recreational pot in the state. “As long as no kids can get to it. It’s for adults only.”

Some dispensaries will offer an eighth of an ounce of select flower products for $35, down from $53. One dispensary will gift shoppers a 10-pack of fruit chew edibles with any purchase, while another one will have a buy-one-get-one-free special on edibles.

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in the state July 1. Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. People can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Las Vegas Strip, hotels and casinos.

“Cannabis use has been misunderstood and vilified in our country for over 80 years, so this day will feel both surreal and celebratory,” said Andrew Jolley, owner of dispensaries and president of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “We’re very excited about the first holiday season of adult-use in Nevada.”

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