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By Ben Adlin

Colorado sold a billion dollars in cannabis last year. Well, $996,184,788, to be exact. That’s a big gain from 2014’s $699 million in sales, thanks largely to more stores opening across more markets. All that business raked in more than $135 million in taxes and fees last year, more than $35 million of which is earmarked for school construction. Sales peaked in August and December, with a lull in early autumn. All told, legal sales across the U.S. soared to 5.4 billion last year.

Australia could legalize medical cannabis grows nationwide. A bill introduced today would establish a national licensing and permit scheme to supply patients with chronic conditions . Odds for passage look good, as the main opposition party has already pledged its support. If all goes well, it could become law by April. The country already grows a large number of medical poppy plants for use in prescription painkillers. Crikey!

Washington health officials aren’t keen on medical cannabis specialty clinics. The state Department of Health recommended against any plan to establish the clinics, which would “allow for the authorization and dispensing of marijuana to patients” and would have the health department certify prescribing doctors. Officials cited conflicts with the federal Controlled Substances Act and a lack of accepted protocols around medical cannabis.

Mormons vs. MMJ battle heats up in Utah. The Mormon church’s stance against medical marijuana (officials announced their opposition Friday, citing a fear of “unintended consequences”) hasn’t deterred Utah state Sen. Mark Madsen. A member of the church, Madsen vows to push forward with his medical cannabis bill in the state Legislature. “It would be immoral to back down,” Madsen said. (Cue Tom Petty, please.) Apparently nothing moves in the Legislature without the church’s approval, because some are already talking about taking the issue directly to voters with a ballot initiative. Tea Party member and legalization supporter David Kirkham says: “If the church is going to do this in smokeless back rooms, then we need to light some fires for the people in broad daylight.”

QUICK HITS: MarketWatch finds the cheapest legal cannabis in the country in Oregon, where the average ounce goes for $214. Prices rise as you go south and east, with Los Angeles clocking in at $269, Phoenix at $286, and Detroit at $282. Most expensive? Grand Rapids, Mich., where a medical ounce will run you $392. * Oregon ordered the removal of mite-control pesticide Guardian. In its announcement barring further sales in the state, the state Department of Agriculture said Guardian’s product label seems to have misrepresented its ingredients. * Twenty members of parliament proposed legalizing medical cannabis in Greece. The lawmakers, who belong to the radical left SYRIZA party, are also pushing the benefits of industrial hemp, noting its potential to spur the Greek economy. * The Berkeley record store Amoeba Records could sell cannabis after being named a finalist for the city’s fifth dispensary license. Amoeba owners in say the long-term slide in record sales has left them looking for “supplemental income.” If the shop lands the license, it would add a dispensary to the jazz room.

Image Source (curves, color balance, graphic overlay): Sara Nichols via Flickr Creative Commons

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