Colorado Teachers Start Carrying Guns to Fight School Shootings

Some teachers are tired of school shootings being a thing, so they’re doing something about it. No, they’re not hash tagging or gluing awareness ribbons to their plaid shirts. Check out what this pro-Second Amendment, pro-not-dying group (called Faster) is doing to make school campuses a safer place. Trigger warning: triggers are involved… Teachers are […]

Newest pot sales numbers show Colorado on track for an even bigger payday in 2017

The green rush won’t last forever. But it looks far from over.

State agricultural regulators tour a cannabis growing facility in Colorado in January. CREDIT: AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt

Three years, billions of dollars, and thousands of new jobs into Colorado’s legal marijuana experiment, we’re still nowhere near the economic ceiling of retail cannabis.

New monthly revenue figures indicate the state is on track to exceed last year’s massive sales totals for medical and recreational weed. Retail stores sold more than $125 million in product statewide in April, The Cannabist calculates based on state revenue numbers.

Through the first four months of 2017, the state has collected over $76 million in taxes and fees on almost half a billion dollars in sales.

The figures project out to a wild increase over the previous year’s sales and revenue numbers. Raw-dollar sales totals are up about 27 percent despite falling prices, according to The Cannabist’s metrics.

Marijuana’s $2.4 billion impact in Colorado is a lesson for 5 states considering legalization

State revenue collections from taxes and licensing fees are almost 50 percent above where they stood at the same point a year earlier. Colorado ended up netting about $199 million in public revenue from cannabis that year.

April was the 11th straight month where Colorado businesses sold more than $100 million worth of pot — a particularly impressive streak given that retail prices have continued to fall since legalization first began.

Colorado’s own industry won’t keep lapping itself like this perpetually, of course. At some point — when enough other states have legalized, and when Coloradans have fully abandoned the black and “gray” markets for weed in favor of the fully sanctioned marketplace — the growth rates will soften.

But the 2017 trendlines aren’t just about Colorado’s first-in-the-door status. Tourism helps account for some of the growth, but it would be a mistake to read Colorado’s continued green boom as driven by out-of-staters eager to light up safely.

The real story of the 2017 growth, Marijuana Policy Group research associate Clinton Saloga told ThinkProgress, is that legalization is still moving pot activity out of back alleys and into the light.

Largest legal pot farm may mark end of cannabis industry’s “Wild West” phase

“The continued rise in sales is due more to people leaving the black market and starting to shop in the regulated market, as opposed to a huge surge in total use,” said Saloga.

“It’s hard to say with a straight face that a lot of people are coming to Colorado just to smoke pot. Colorado has a million attractions,” Saloga said, “and if you look back at the trends, Colorado and the Denver area were increasing across all [tourism and economic] measures before legalization.”

Opponents of softer marijuana laws have often argued that decriminalization or legalization will increase usage. That’s not what MPG’s numbers show in Colorado, Saloga said. Instead, the group is seeing evidence to bear out the long-standing legalization argument that people who want to use pot will be happy to move under the umbrella of the law.

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When masses of smokers, brownie aficionados, and chronic pain sufferers shift their dollars from illicit sources to official ones, they aren’t just providing a “peace dividend” to public spending for schools and other services. They’re depriving the organized drug networks and cartels of a major revenue stream.

The ongoing shift from black markets to legal ones still comes with a sour footnote. Many of those Americans who operated in the black market before they had any other option have found themselves shut out of the ongoing green rush, both in Colorado and elsewhere, as leery legislators work to ban anyone with a criminal record from being employed in the legal cannabis trade.

Newest pot sales numbers show Colorado on track for an even bigger payday in 2017 was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

After two deadly explosions, Colorado’s largest gas producer faces lawsuits

State’s pro-industry governor orders review of all pipelines located near occupied dwellings.

Workers dismantle the charred remains of a house destroyed by an Anadarko Petroleum natural gas line leak that caused an explosion that killed two people inside the house in Firestone, Colorado. CREDIT: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Anadarko Petroleum, the largest oil and gas producer in Colorado, is coming under pressure from the public and investors to provide explanations for two deadly explosions over the past couple months.

In April, leaking methane from a natural gas pipeline owned by Anadarko reportedly caused a house to explode in Firestone, Colorado, killing two residents and injuring a third. Last week, a storage tank exploded at a Mead, Colorado facility owned and operated by Anadarko, killing one worker and injuring three others.

Both Firestone and Mead are located in Weld County, Colorado, the state’s top natural gas-producing county.

Anadarko and its top executives are facing multiple proposed class action lawsuits over allegations that the company made “materially false statements” before the explosion that destroyed the house. An investor filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas earlier this month, claiming Anadarko defrauded investors by misrepresenting the company’s “business, operational and compliance policies.”

Since the deadly explosion at the house in Firestone, Anadarko’s stock price has dropped approximately 16 percent, from $61.21 per share to $51.23 per share at midday on Tuesday.

After local and state officials announced in early May that Anadarko’s operations were responsible for the Firestone explosion, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) ordered a statewide review of all oil and gas lines in the state that lie within 1,000 feet of an occupied building.

Last week, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, an agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, reportedly told residents of the Firestone subdivision where the April explosion occurred that a second underground leak had been found. The subdivision sits on the edge of a natural gas field developed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Oil and gas drilling operations across the nation are increasingly occurring closer to homes and schools. At the request of the homeowners association in Firestone, Anadarko reportedly is providing funding for the purchase of home natural gas detection devices. The gas that seeped into the home in the neighborhood that killed two people was unprocessed, without the additive mercaptan, which provides a rotten egg smell to otherwise odorless natural gas.

Pipeline Leak Caused Deadly Colorado House Explosion (via @EcoWatch)

 — @SierraClub

“Sadly, last month in Firestone, a fatal house explosion killed two men by an explosion caused by a flow-line seeping methane into the basement of the home that ignited,” Shane Davis, a prominent anti-fracking activist in Colorado, wrote in a blog post last week. “This tragedy could have been prevented, and all future catastrophes can be prevented if the state acts in a manner consistent with public health, safety and environment with regards to oil and gas development.”

Davis, in a letter sent earlier this month to Boulder County, Colorado, officials, reminded them that he had issued many warnings about the occurrence of an incident similar to the one in Firestone. “There is no doubt a catastrophic tragedy will happen if Boulder County does not act immediately to pass local laws that protect the ‘civil rights to safety’ of Boulder County citizens and that of the environment and not favor the oil and gas industry,” he wrote.

Hickenlooper, who is a strong supporter of the state’s oil and gas industry, also is considering whether to support legislation that would require oil and gas companies to release maps telling homeowners how close they live to oil and gas lines.

Anadarko opposes the legislation. The company’s spokesman told the International Business Times, “We believe any legislative or regulatory action around this issue will be most effective when we have all the information from the investigation and the state regulatory authority’s Notice to Operators, and with input from home builders, commercial developers, industry, regulators, the environmental community, local officials and others.”

The line that caused the deadly explosion in Firestone was considered inactive, according to a report in The Colorado Independent.

Anadarko Agrees To Record $5 Billion Fine For ’85 Years Of Poisoning The Earth’

In a statement issued earlier this month, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state’s primarily lobbying group for the industry, said it supports the state’s call to inspect flowlines. “In the weeks and months that follow, we will endeavor to enhance flowline and pipeline procedures and remain committed to improving Colorado oil and gas production,” the association said.

The lawsuit brought by the Anadarko investor stated that the company’s maintenance and safety protocols for certain of its vertical wells were inadequate. Due to those “shortcomings,” the wells were at an “increased risk” of explosion. “As a result of the foregoing, Anadarko’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times,” the proposed lawsuit said.

In response to the incident in Firestone, Anadarko said in a statement that it has begun the process of inspecting all wells, with priority being placed on wells and infrastructure that are in closer proximity to homes and communities.

On May 15, residents in Firestone who live next door to the house that exploded filed a nuisance lawsuit against the company and another oil and gas producer, Noble Energy, in Weld County (CO) District Court, DeSmogBlog reported. Noble Energy was included in the lawsuit because it was a prior owner of the natural gas wells in the neighborhood that connected to the Anadarko pipeline.

The plaintiffs stated the pipeline “associated with the explosion site was reported by the initial investigators to not have been capped, purged or properly abandoned pursuant to industry standards.”

After two deadly explosions, Colorado’s largest gas producer faces lawsuits was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.