The DARE Program Attempts to Make a Comeback



Bring up DARE to people of a certain age, and they’re likely to remember the program as the butt of a joke. DARE, an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, was a nation-wide program that reached the height of its popularity in the late 1980s.
The curriculum brought local law enforcement into schools and sought to curb and prevent teen drug use. DARE warned kids to “Just Say No” and relied heavily on role-playing to get kids to avoid peer pressure.
During the era when DARE was popular, there was huge public consciousness and concern over drug use. There were PSAs on television that urged abstinence–like the one with an egg in a frying pan that admonished, “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.”
At its peak, 75 percent of the country’s schools participated in the DARE program. But that changed in the early 1990s, when a slew of studies came to the same conclusion: DARE wasn’t decreasing the rate of teen drug or alcohol use. One study even found that the program made teens more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol in a sort of “boomerang effect.” In this new era of cannabis legalization, the lucky stoners with the foresight to hang on to their DARE t-shirts are the kings and queens of irony.
But now, it seems, DARE is back, this time with a curriculum called “Keepin’ It REAL“. Maintaining their cheesy acronyms, REAL stands for refuse, explain, avoid, leave. DARE is pushing the curriculum as a prevention program for middle school students as part of its mission to “teach students good decision making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.”
One of the biggest changes the DARE organization has made is their claim that they no longer teach drug abuse resistance education. Now, they claim to “teach students good decision making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.”
However, the Washington Post reported that not everyone is behind the new program. A peer-reviewed study conducted last year concluded that “the systematic review revealed major shortfalls in the evidence basis for the KiR D.A.R.E. programme. Without empirical evidence, we cannot conclusively confirm or deny the effectiveness of the programme. However, we can conclude that the evidence basis for the D.A.R.E. version of KiR is weak, and that there is substantial reason to believe that KiR D.A.R.E. may not be suited for nationwide implementation.”

Gorilla Glue Settles in Trademark Suit vs. Cannabis Strain



In what may be a sign of things to come, the adhesive brand Gorilla Glue Co. has reached a settlement with the Las Vegas-based cannabis company behind Gorilla Glue #4 (as well as #1 and #5).

The Gorilla Glue Co. filed a trademark infringement suit against GG Strains back in March of this year. The glue company said that the cannabis company was infringing and diluting its “famous, valuable brand.”

The settlement comes after months of negotiations.

According to The Cannabist, under the agreement GG Strains will have to transition away from the Gorilla Glue name, imagery and any other similarities to Gorilla Glue Co.’s trademarks by September 19, 2018. The cannabis company will also shut down gorillaglue4.com and transfer the domain to Gorilla Glue Co. by January 1, 2020.

The marijuana company’s website says the strain names will change as follows:

  • Gorilla Glue 4 is now GG4 and or Original Glue
  • Gorilla Glue 5 is now GG5 and or New Glue
  • Gorilla Glue 1 is now GG1 and or Sister Glue
  • LVPK x GG4/Purple Glue & Gluchee remain the same

Don Peabody, the grower behind the sticky strain, was trimming his harvest when his phone rang. After the call, Peabody went to hang up the phone, but it was stuck to his hand. It reminded him of the super-strong adhesive, so he dubbed the strain Gorilla Glue.

Cannabis has a tradition of naming strains after things or people in pop culture. There’s Skywalker OG, Girl Scout Cookies, Bruce Banner, and Charlotte’s Web, just to name a few.

Before widespread legalization, cannabis breeders and growers didn’t need to worry about things like trademark infringement. But with more social acceptance also comes with more scrutiny, and as the market grows, more companies will want to protect their names.

The dispute and rebranding effort is estimated to cost the cannabis firm $250,000.

Ross Johnson, one of the founders of GG Strains, said about the settlement, “We’re going to survive; we’re going to overcome it. Is it a setback? Most definitely it is a setback. But it’s all behind us now, and it’s allowing us to move forward.”

 

California: A Testing Ground for E-commerce Weed Delivery



Tech company Eaze is hoping to use e-commerce to bring the weed industry into the future. The San Francisco startup was formed in 2014, and the company’s app allows patients to connect with dispensaries to order cannabis for delivery.

California doesn’t require dispensaries to have a storefront, and in a state that’s an economic powerhouse with a population of nearly 40 million people, it’s uniquely placed to become the testing ground for e-commerce weed delivery. And when recreational marijuana sales begin in 2018 the potential for growth is huge.

New Frontier Data, a cannabis data analytics firm, projects that California’s cannabis sales at about $2.8 billion in 2017. The firm expects that as the cannabis market matures, that number could climb to 6.6 billion by 2025.

John Kagia, New Frontier’s executive vice president of industry analytics, thinks that “California is going to be the most important and the largest single market in the world (for the cannabis industry).”

Colorado has so far opted out of cannabis delivery, fearing that it would invite increased scrutiny from federal enforcement agencies. In Oregon, the city of Portland has legalized delivery services. Nevada is looking to venture into the delivery business, as well.

Despite being federally illegal, Eaze operates in more than 100 cities. The company also has a line of vaporizers,  and they’re planning to create private-label cannabis brands, and offers low-cost marijuana recommendations under EazeMD.

Eaze has secured $24.5 million in venture funding from investors including rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg, as well as a number of well-known Silicon Valley venture-capital firms. Earlier this month Eaze received an additional $27 million in investment capital.

By fiscal year 2020, Eaze is aiming to ship rough equivalent of a 33-foot-cube of marijuana–nearly three joints for every registered voter in the U. S.–to consumers in legal markets.

Sheena Shiravi, head of Eaze’s public relations, said that the growth of e-commerce is “not unique to cannabis. I think that (e-commerce) is the wave of the future…What we see in California is hopefully a pilot for federal regulation.”

Coloradoans Increasingly Turn to Marijuana for Relief



Sometimes it feels like people don’t agree on anything these days, so it’s reassuring to find that, in Colorado at least, there’s still one thing that can bring people together: weed.

At least according to a new survey released by Consumer Research Around Cannabis.

Consumer Research compiled data from Denver and Colorado Springs, the state’s two largest cannabis markets. They found that despite differences in city size, demographic makeup, and overall political affiliation, more than half of the respondents approved of recreational and medical marijuana use.

Jeff Stein, Vice President of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, said the survey results show that “Denver leads Colorado Springs, 58% to 52%, in acceptance of medical and/or recreational marijuana, but the two regions reflect each other almost identically when looked at through a political lens. In both areas, nearly 75% of liberals, about 60% of independents, and roughly 35% of conservatives approve of legal usage.”

Colorado Springs is home to 725,00 adults and was rated the fourth-most conservative major city in the country in 2014, while Denver, with at population of 3.2 million adults, was rated the 19th most liberal city.

On top of high marijuana approval rates, respondents from both cities reported having similar reasons for using cannabis. More than 40% of respondents said that they used marijuana to help them sleep, followed closely by those who use it to treat chronic and recurring pain.

One notable difference in the data was the percentage of people who used cannabis to treat “temporary or minor pain” in Colorado Springs at 17.2%, making it the city’s third most important reason for using cannabis. Lumping together chronic and temporary or minor pain means that about 67% of cannabis use in Colorado is as a painkiller.

“Over the long run, It will be interesting to see how marijuana use affects sales of traditional pharmaceuticals for these kinds of ailments,” said Stein.

The survey didn’t identify how respondents consumed cannabis: whether flower, concentrate, or edible.

Hawaii the First State to Require Debit-Only Cannabis Sales



Beginning Oct. 1, Hawaii will be the first state in the U.S. to require cashless-only cannabis sales.

A Colorado-based credit union will permit dispensaries in Hawaii to open bank accounts, and a debit app called CanPay will enable patients to purchase cannabis with their smartphones. The app is currently in use in six states, but Hawaii will be the first to use it exclusively for medical marijuana transactions.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, most banks and credit card companies refuse to work with cannabis industry. As a result, marijuana businesses are forced into cash-only transactions, making day-to-day operations tedious and putting dispensaries and employees at risk for robberies and other crime.

To put the amount of cash floating around the marijuana market in perspective, consider that Colorado consistently makes $100 million in pot sales every month (with California expected to dwarf that number)–that’s a lot of physical money, and most businesses don’t to have anywhere to put it.

Having access to banking is a big deal in the cannabis industry–and widespread access probably won’t happen until Congress decides to deschedule marijuana.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015.

The state Department of Health delayed the roll-out of medical marijuana until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–putting dispensaries in the unenviable position of growing and harvesting plants that they weren’t allowed to sell.

So far, there are eight licensed dispensaries in the state: Three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island and two on Maui. The state’s first two medical marijuana dispensaries opened last month.

Alaska’s Adult Use Cannabis Market Sets New Sales Record



Cannabis sales are booming in Alaska: in July the state sold more weed in one month than the 3-month sales average.

The Alaska Department of Revenue reported that they collected nearly $600,000 in marijuana tax revenue during July–which equals about a third of the total marijuana tax revenue brought in last fiscal year. The figures are the highest to date in Alaska since recreational sales began last October.

During the last fiscal year that ended on June 30, the cannabis industry generated $1.7 million in marijuana tax revenue for the state. In Alaska, state taxes are collected from cannabis farms rather than retail dispensaries.

The Juneau Empire reported that Fairbanks had a total of 12 cannabis farms returning tax revenue, the most of any city in the state. Anchorage came in second with seven farms. Soldotna was third with four farms, and Juneau ended tied for fourth with multiple cities having three farms.

Kalley Mazzie, Alaska’s excise tax supervisor, reported that there was no revenue from outdoor marijuana farms in July, “but it shouldn’t be much longer before we start seeing those crops make their way to market.”

In July, 612 pounds (280 kilograms) of cannabis bud and 369 pounds (170 kilograms) of stems or leaves were sold. The state collects $50 per ounce of bud and $15 per ounce for trimmings.

Despite the record sales, the figures were lower than the state expected. In fiscal year 2017, the state expected $2 million in revenue, but failed to meet the mark. In fiscal year 2018, the state expects $10.6 million in marijuana tax revenue, or an average of $883,000 per month.

Mazzie expects similar numbers when August figures are published in October.

Denver Gets Ready to Issue Cannabis Social Use Licenses



The problem of where to consume cannabis in Colorado has been an issue since recreational marijuana use was approved by voters in 2012. Now, five years later, the city of Denver is ready to become the first in the nation to launch a program allowing businesses to set up social marijuana consumption areas.

Initiative 300, the ballot proposal to create a four-year social cannabis pilot program was approved by Denver voters last November.

As of August 24, Denver’s department of Excise and Licenses began accepting applications from businesses interested in getting in on the growing cannabis industry. Private, invitation only cannabis clubs are already legal, but the new program allows more conventional businesses, like art galleries, coffee shops, concert venues or yoga studios, to wade into the cannabis industry.

A committee of 20 people from the marijuana industry, city council members, and community groups were responsible for hammering out the details of the program.

Some of the rules that the committee came up with were expected: Social use clubs or venues will be strictly 21-and older. Businesses with a social use license will not be allowed to sell cannabis on site, so expect to bring your own weed. Additional restrictions require social use licensees at least 1,000 feet from schools, as well as distance restrictions to keep them at least 1,000 feet away from daycares, public recreation — public parks and community pools — and alcohol and drug treatment facilities.

Additional rules require obtaining backing from a nearby neighborhood or business group, making sure the site isn’t within 1,000 feet of restricted sites, putting together extensive supporting documents and plans, and paying the $1,000 application fee.

However, not everyone is happy with the committee’s final rules. The drafters of the initiative have publicly criticized the results, arguing that the rules don’t reflect the will of voters and undermine existing cannabis laws in Colorado that regulate marijuana like alcohol–Emmett Reistroffer and Kayvan Khalatbari, the creators of the initiative are planning to sue the city.

“Nothing has changed,” Khalatbari says of a potential lawsuit. “All of my comments about this inequality between how they’re treating alcohol and cannabis are the same. We’ve even had a lot of conversations with the mayor’s office since then, and they continue to say there was consensus, and that’s bullshit.”

Many fear that the committee’s rules are so restrictive that businesses will be discouraged by the extensive requirements to obtain a social use license.

Adding to the difficulty, Khalatbari and Reistroffer explain that the distance requirements will make it extremely difficult for businesses to find a space suitable for a social cannabis use.

Reistroffer, who was on the Social Consumption Advisory Committee explains, “Now the pilot program is set up to fail, because there is such little space available in Denver where permits are eligible and none of the original businesses that supported our campaign are able to apply. This means the issue of private consumption clubs and events will continue to proliferate throughout the city without any oversight from the city or feedback from neighbors — and public consumption will continue to occur in public places like parks and sidewalks because there will be no safe access to permitted consumption areas.”

Mountain High Suckers Participates in the Clinic’s Charity Classic 2017



We are so privileged to live in amazing state with safe legal access to cannabis and great organizations like our friends at the Clinic who put on their annual Charity Classic Golf Tournament at Arrowhead Golf Club this year. Cheers to all the local cannabis and non-cannabis businesses that sponsored their time and money to give to such a great cause.

In the last 8 year’s this even has raised over $400,000 dollars for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Colorado/Wyoming. We’re very proud to sponsor this extremely fun event which managed to raise over $100,000 this year!

We’re also very happy to help MS patients get safe, natural access to cannabis medicine like our infused suckers.

Cannabis has demonstrated effects on immune function that have the potential of reducing the autoimmune attack that is thought to be the underlying pathogenic process in MS. Many MS patients report that cannabis has a startling and profound effect on muscle spasms, tremors, balance, bladder control, speech and eyesight. Many wheelchair-bound patients report that they can walk unaided when they have smoked cannabis.

We’re blessed for the opportunity to participate in such a great cause!

 

Justice Department Blocks DEA Cannabis Research



A year after the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began accepting applications to grow cannabis for research it appears that the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the pressure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are blocking researchers from moving ahead with their proposals.

The DEA has received 25 research proposals, but so far none of them have been able to move forward. As part of the approval process, researchers must get final sign-off from the DOJ–and it’s no secret that Sessions is not a fan of weed.

“They’re sitting on it,” one law enforcement official told the Washington Post, “They just will not act on these things.”

A senior DEA official said that, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.”

The marijuana that researchers currently have access to is not what most people would consider weed. Since the late 1960s, all marijuana used in clinical research is required to come from a single government-run marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi. The problem is that the marijuana grown there doesn’t even really resemble the weed that’s sold at dispensaries, making it difficult for researchers to reach conclusions that are applicable to real-world use.

The quality of the government grown cannabis was so bad that Johns Hopkins University, which planned to begin a multiyear clinical trial studying cannabis and PTSD, backed out of the study.

One of the researchers who submitted a proposal to the DEA is Lyle Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Craker submitted his last application in February but hasn’t heard back on his yet. He’s hoping to do research into whether other parts of the cannabis plant have medicinal value.

“I’ve filled out the forms, but I haven’t heard back from them. I assume they don’t want to answer,” said Craker. “They need to think about why they are holding this up when there are products that could be used to improve people’s health. I think marijuana has some bad effects, but there can be some good and without investigation we really don’t know.”

Hawaii Opens First Medical Marijuana Dispensary After 17-Year Wait



After a 17-year wait, Hawaii’s 18,000 medical marijuana patients will finally have a place to shop.

Maui Grown Therapies is set to open next week, having been the first dispensary to receive approval from the Department of Health to begin selling medical cannabis.

“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii. This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited,” said Teri Freitas Gorman, Maui Grown’s director of community relations and patient affairs.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legal in the state until 2015. Eight other medical marijuana dispensaries have also been granted licenses (three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island, and two on Maui), but sales were delayed until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–meaning that dispensaries who had begun growing and harvesting plants were unable to sell it.

Maui Grown had a “soft opening” yesterday, limiting sales to pre-registered patients by appointment only. Freitas Gorman said that they made 22 transactions and encountered a few software glitches, but she said patients were very excited. Flower was sold for $20 per gram and $90 to $125 for a quarter-ounce, depending on the strain. Regular hours and walk-in sales will begin with the official opening on Tuesday, August 15.

Registered patients and caregivers can purchase up to 4 ounces of medical marijuana during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of 8 ounces over a 30 consecutive day period.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.”

Aloha Green in Honolulu will open on the heels of Maui Grown Therapies. They’ve received the go-ahead from the Department of Health and expect to open Wednesday.

New Jersey Senator Introduces Bill to End Cannabis Prohibition



New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act this week, a bill that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, as well as begin to address social justice issues that have resulted from the war on drugs.

“I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business,” Booker said. “You see what’s happening around this country right now. Eights states and the District of Columbia have moved to legalize marijuana. And these states are seeing decreases in violent crime in their states. They’re seeing increases in revenue to their states. They’re seeing their police forces being able to focus on serious crime. They’re seeing positive things come out of that experience.”

Booker argues that marijuana enforcement disproportionately targets poor and minority communities, creating what he calls a “poverty trap.”

“You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities — targeting our veterans,” Booker said in a Facebook Live session following the introduction of the bill. “We need to seek not just to change the law, but be agents of restorative justice.”

The bill would legalize marijuana at the federal level and withhold federal money from building prisons, along with other funds, from states whose cannabis laws disproportionately incarcerate minorities.

If the bill were signed into law, it would:

  • Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Encourage states to legalize cannabis locally through incentives
  • Retroactively expunge Federal convictions for marijuana use and possession
  • All individuals serving in federal prison for marijuana use or possession could petition the court for resentencing
  • Cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
  • Create a “Community Reinvestment Fund” of $500 million to provide grants to communities most effected by the war on drugs. The fund would support job training, reentry services, community centers, health education programs, and more.

Plus, cannabis legalization could actually help the current opioid epidemic and reduce overdose deaths, and Booker dismisses prohibitionists’ argument that cannabis is a gateway to heavier drug use.

“The evidence that it’s a gateway drug just is not compelling, and the reality is, as I said with the challenges of opioid addiction, there’s some great medical studies that have come out that have shown that actually having the availability of marijuana actually lessens the chances you’re going to have overdose deaths,” Booker said.

Colorado’s $100 Million/Month of Cannabis Sales the “New Norm”



Another month, another record-breaking amount of cannabis sales in Colorado. The cannabis industry achieved a milestone in May, with $100 million in pot sales for the 12th consecutive month.

“I think that $100 million a month (in sales) are the new norm,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm.

Over 12 months, Colorado saw monthly sales reach $1.4 billion the state collected nearly $223 million in taxes and license fees. Since recreational marijuana was legalized four years ago, recreational sales have consistently counted for two-thirds of the monthly pot sales totals.

In May, recreational-use sales accounted for about $90.1 million and those from medical marijuana contributed just over $37.5 million. The industry’s 2017 cumulative sales through five months neared $620 million, generating close to $96 million in state revenue from taxes and fees.

However, Colorado is seeing a slow-down of growth in the industry as more states legalize recreational marijuana. Sales in Nevada–where dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4–prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency as marijuana supplies ran dry. Recreational marijuana sales launch in California in 2018.

In Colorado, the market is still growing, but Gomez said that the market is approaching maturity.

“What you’re seeing in Colorado is similar to other industries, we’re starting to see lower double-digit growth rates, rather than the triple-digit growth rates,” she said. “That time of massive growth expansion in Colorado, I think, is over.”

Signs of market maturity includes the increased demand for concentrates and edibles, as well as a decrease in overall number of medical marijuana patients. New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics firm, said that falling prices have reduced the incentive for patients to apply for medical marijuana prescription.

As of May 31, 2017, a total of 86,964 patients had an active medical marijuana registration, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. A year before, that figure was 106,066.

Since recreational use began in 2014, the products that cannabis users have evolved. Consumers have shifted from dried marijuana flower to infused products, edibles, and concentrates.

“There is increased innovation in the product category, and that’s continuing,” she said. “Consumption patterns haven’t really settled in the recreational market yet; people are still experimenting. There is still a lot of room for change there.”

 

Massachusetts Court Rules Employees Can’t be Fired for Using Medical Cannabis



Following up on a hot button issue this week: In a first of its kind ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decreed on Monday that employers in the state cannot fire employees for medical cannabis use.

Cristina Barbuto was fired after her first day at Advantage Sales and Marketing after she testing positive for marijuana. Barbuto has a prescription for medical marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease, something she disclosed to the company after being told that she would need to take a mandatory drug test. Barbuto’s supervisor told her twice that her cannabis use shouldn’t be a problem, as long as she didn’t use it before or during work.

But after she’d completed her first day of work, an HR representative told her that her employment was terminated because, “We follow federal law, not state law.”

Barbuto filed suit against the employer, claiming that her termination violated state anti-discrimination laws. The case reached the state supreme court after being dismissed in 2015. Similar cases have been filed in the past, but have often ruled against the employee.

In this ruling, the state supreme court said that, “the use and possession of medically prescribed marijuana by a qualifying patient is as lawful as the use and possession of any other prescribed medication.”

Similar cases have been tried in Colorado, California, Washington, and Montana. In each, the court ruled that employers could fire workers for legal, off the clock, cannabis use because it is still illegal under federal law.

“I can’t stress this enough, it’s the first case of its kind in the country,” said Dale Deitchler, a shareholder at world’s largest labor and employment law firm and an expert on marijuana issues in the workplace.

“Massachusetts is not a state where such protections are written in the law so this is really significant,” Deitchler said. “The court created law.”

The ruling means that the case will be sent back to the Suffolk County Superior Court, the court that initially dismissed Barbuto’s suit.

The justices concluded that, “An employee’s use of medical marijuana under these circumstances is not facially unreasonable as an accommodation of her handicap.” However, “it does not necessarily mean that the employee will prevail in proving proof of handicap discrimination”, If accommodating an employee’s medical cannabis use, “would create undue hardship” on an employer.”

“Undue hardship” would apply, for example, in the transportation industry, where cannabis use would impair an employee’s ability to do their work or endanger public safety. Past cases have been with employees with less physically stressful jobs so this ruling has not yet applied. Let’s hope this means a step forward for cannabis patients’ rights!

 

Nevada Governor Declares State of Emergency After Weed Runs Low



There’s a first for everything, especially when it comes to the cannabis industry, so perhaps it’s not surprising that a lack of weed has led the governor of Nevada to declare a state of emergency.

Less than two weeks after recreational marijuana sales began, dispensaries report that they’re running out of product to sell. The state of emergency will allow state officials to decide on new rules to help alleviate the shortage.

The problem is that when Nevada approved recreational marijuana last November, the ballot measure stipulated that for the first 18 months of recreational marijuana sales, wholesale alcohol distributors would be granted the exclusive right to transport cannabis from grows to dispensaries.

However, the Department of Taxation hasn’t approved a single distribution license–and dispensaries are unable to restock their shelves. The department says that they haven’t issued any licenses because of incomplete applications and zoning issues.

“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt. A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state’s school budget,” said Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

The Nevada Dispensary Association estimated that dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4. Over the next two years, Nevada tax officials expect cannabis sales to generate $100 million in revenue.

The Nevada Tax Commission will vote on regulation to expand the pool of eligible distributors on Thursday.

 

A Small Win for Cannabis Industry Banking



Denver-based credit union, Fourth Corner, has another shot at bringing banking to the cannabis industry. Since the beginning, banking has always been an issue for cannabis businesses since cannabis is still federally illegal, but this marks a small step forward in progress.

Fourth Corner opened in 2014, the same year recreational weed sales became legal in Colorado. The state gave the credit union a charter, but they were denied a master account from the Federal Reserve–something they need for basic banking transactions.

The credit union challenged the denial but a district court upheld the it, dismissing the case with prejudice in January 2016. The U.S. District judge overseeing the case ruled that granting access to the Federal Reserve would “facilitate criminal activity.”

Fourth Corner again appealed the decision, and this month they met with success when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated the 2016 ruling. The ruling means that the credit union can submit a new application to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Mark Goldfogel, the executive vice president of industry relations for Fourth Corner, said, “That really is, at its core, the same question: Does a cannabis- or marijuana-related business have rights to normal business protections and legal protections? And that’s changing literally right in front of us.”

The 10 Circuit’s ruling did come with a caveat, however: Fourth Corner’s member base would be limited to marijuana industry supporters such as nonprofits and advocates as long as marijuana remained illegal on the federal level.

Deirdra O’Gorman, Fourth Corner’s chief executive officer, said, “This really wasn’t a huge change to our business plan,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to give these directly licensed businesses legitimate (banking services).” She added that Fourth Corner would be reapplying for a master account “sooner rather than later.”

However, even if the credit union is approved for a master account from the Federal Reserve, they still have the additional hurdle of obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration. Fourth Corner’s application to the federal regulator of credit unions also met with denial in January 2016.

UN Report: Cannabis Still Hasn’t Caused One Overdose Death



Cannabis is the most widely used, cultivated, and confiscated drug on the planet, according to a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). But despite its use, there hasn’t been a single report of fatal cannabis overdose.

The 2017 World Drug Report states that between 128 million to 238 million people used cannabis in 2015–that equates to an estimated 3.8 percent of the world’s adult population. Amphetamines were the second most commonly used drug used worldwide, while opioids were found to cause the highest negative health impact.

Prevalence of cannabis use varies by country, but it’s not surprising to see that cannabis use in the U.S. is on the rise.

“According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the past-month prevalence of cannabis use among the population aged 12 years and older in the United States increased from 6.2 per cent in 2002 to 8.3 per cent in 2015, with an estimated 22 million people aged 12 years and older being current (past-month) cannabis users in 2015,” the report states. “Since 2008 there has been a consistent year-on-year increase in cannabis use among the population aged 12 years and older, particularly in those states that currently allow the production and sale of cannabis for recreational use among adults.”

Cannabis cultivation was reported in 136 countries, while opium poppy cultivation was reported in 49 countries. Coca bush–the plant used to make cocaine was cultivated in 8 countries.

Globally, UNODC estimates that there were 190,900 drug-related deaths in 2015, although the report notes that “this is likely and underestimate.”

Approximately one quarter of global drug-related deaths are in the United States.

“Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths more than tripled in the period 1999-2015 and increased by 11.4 per cent in the past year alone, to reach the highest level ever recorded,” according the the report. “Of the 52,000 total drug-related deaths reported for the United States, those related to opioids accounted for more than 60 percent.”

Recreational Cannabis in Nevada Hits a Roadblock



Excited for recreational marijuana in Nevada on July 1? Hold that thought.

On Tuesday, a Carson City judge, James Wilson, issued an injunction that reverses the Tax Department’s decision to allow more than just alcohol wholesalers to transport recreational marijuana from growers to dispensaries. The move could delay a planned July start date for recreational cannabis sales.

When voters approved Question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana in November, the initiative included a requirement that distribution licenses would be issued only to alcohol wholesalers for the first 18 months of sales.

Representatives from the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada (IADON) and the state Department of Taxation gave testimony on Monday in an 8-hour hearing. In his 11-page ruling, Wilson said that a “brief filed on behalf of the liquor distributors corroborated evidence that the businesses would be shut out of the marijuana distribution business entirely if the tax department issues licenses to non-alcohol distributors…Once licenses are issued to others, it will be difficult if not impossible to revoke those licenses.

However, the Department of Taxation said in March that there was limited interest among alcohol wholesalers and that the requirement would result in an in insufficient number of distributors.

According to the spokesperson for the tax department, Stephanie Klapstein, at the end of the application deadline in May, only five of 93 applications for recreational cannabis distribution licenses were issued to alcohol wholesalers. And of those five, none have actually completed the application. The other 85 applications were from existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is reviewing the court’s decision with the attorney general’s office and “will explore all legal avenues to proceed with the program as provided in the regulations,” Klapstein said in a statement.

The approval of Question 2 tasked the state with creating a regulated marijuana sales structure by the start of 2018. But after visiting and studying other states that legalized marijuana, Nevada officials determined that waiting a full year after the drug became legal would risk growing the black market. Instead, they planned for an “early start” to get the program up and running by July.

 

Come See Josh Blue and Mountain High Suckers at Colorado Harvest Co.



Come see Josh Blue and Mountain High Suckers – Friday June 30th from 4pm to 7pm at Colorado Harvest Co. on Broadway!

As part of our celebration of our recently released Josh Blue’s Dream suckers – our  favorite blueberry and watermelon flavored suckers made with Blue Dream strain cannabis extract, Josh Blue’s favorite strain. Josh, who has cerebral palsy, has been using cannabis to help treat his symptoms for years and has recently joined the cannabis community as an advocate for change.

Mountain High Suckers is extremely proud to be working with Josh Blue and Colorado Harvest Co. in this joint effort, so please swing by on Friday, June 30th afternoon to lend your support and to pick up one of these great cannabis infused suckers!

 

 

Medical Marijuana in Dispensaries Hawaii are Open but Unable to Sell



Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens Thursday, but don’t expect to see any cannabis on the shelves.

The problem? The state labs tasked with testing medical marijuana prior to sale have yet to be certified. The state Department of Health says they must take the necessary time to ensure that testing is accurate.

“It has to be done in the right way and we think we’re going about a very deliberate path to make sure the law is followed,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the health department’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

So instead of selling medical cannabis on Thursday, Aloha Green will open its doors for patient outreach and education.

“Once they saw that it wasn’t this dingy, scary place, then they started to see it’s something legitimate that will provide relief for a lot of patients,” said Tai Cheng, Chief Operating Officer of Aloha Green.

Cheng says that they’ve harvested four times since last month, but instead of putting product out into the market, they’ve had to vacuum seal their flower and hope that testing is certified sooner rather than later.

“It’s frustrating for our team and our growers. You’re able to hold that product for an extended period of time between 6-12 months, but oxidization of the product does cause it to lose not only its flavor but its efficiency as well,” Cheng said.

The delay is putting dispensary owners in a tough spot: operating costs can exceed $100,000 per month, and without product to sell, there’s no money coming back in.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana 17 years ago, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015. Dispensaries were slated to open in July 2016, but the state had not approved software to track the product from seed-to-sale.

The health department plans to have labs up and running by summer.

Colorado Approves Medical Cannabis for PTSD



On Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17, enabling physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans and patient advocates in Colorado have been working for years to get PTSD included on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.

There hasn’t been an addition to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana since 2001. The state Board of Health had rejected inclusion of PTSD at least four times in the past, with the most recent rejection in 2015, despite support from physicians and scientists.

The 2015 rejection led to a lawsuit filed by a group of veterans with PTSD. One of the plaintiffs, Larisa Bolivar, has been petitioning the state since 2006 to include the condition as eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

“It’s always been mired in politics. It’s always been an uphill battle,” Bolivar said. “But this is relieving. I know this is going to save a lot of lives and have open relationships with medical practitioners. Patients can talk about using cannabis for PTSD with them. Now we can have documentation about what used to be assumed was anecdotal.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Irene Aguilar and Representative Jonathan Singer. Colorado legislators approved the bill in the Senate in early February and the House on April 20.

Prior to Hickenlooper signing the bill, the state had eight qualifying conditions: HIV or AIDS, seizures, cachexia, muscle spasms, cancer, glaucoma, severe pain, and severe nausea.

Although Colorado was an early adopter of medical marijuana, the state has been alone in its failure to include it as a treatment for PTSD. Colorado joins 20 other states, plus the District of Columbia, in its inclusion of PTSD in state medical pot laws.

“I hope it opens a door so that physicians recommending marijuana are no longer considered pseudo-scientific or quacks for recommending marijuana,” Singer says. “We aren’t really a trailblazer in this — a number of other states already allow it — but when the next issue comes along, maybe we have a template now.”

As soon as application forms are updated, patients can apply for doctor recommendations as early as next week.

Visit Mountain High Suckers & Comedian Josh Blue at GroundSwell



Come visit Mountain High Suckers and Comedian Josh Blue this Wednesday June 7th from 3pm to 6pm at GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique in Denver!

We’re celebrating our recent release of Josh Blue’s Dream – our  favorite blueberry and watermelon flavored suckers made with Blue Dream strain cannabis extract, Josh Blue’s favorite strain. Josh, who has cerebral palsy, has been using cannabis to help treat his symptoms for years and has recently joined the cannabis community as an advocate for change.

Mountain High Suckers is extremely proud to be working with Josh Blue and GroundSwell in this joint effort, so please swing by on Wednesday afternoon to lend your support and to snag one of these great cannabis infused edibles!

 

 

Colorado Cannabis Tax Revenue Exceeds $105 Million



Colorado governor John Hickenlooper signed a budget bill on Friday that earmarks how marijuana tax revenue will be spent. Marijuana is still big business in Colorado, and tax revenue from the 2016-2017 fiscal year brought more than $105 million to the state’s “Marijuana Cash Fund.”

The bill allocates funds to programs that support health programs in public schools, housing for at-risk populations, and treatment programs aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.

Housing for at-risk populations:
$15.3 million of the tax revenue will be used to pay for “permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing assistance for individuals with behavioral health needs, and for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. By providing stable housing, which includes rental assistance and supportive services, we expect to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Addressing Mental Health in Colorado’s Criminal Justice System:
The Department of Human Services will receive $7.1 million aimed at “ending the use of jails for holding people who are experiencing a mental health crisis, and to implement criminal justice diversion programs at the local level. These initiatives will help direct individuals with immediate mental health and substance needs to more appropriate services outside the criminal justice system.”

School Health Professionals Grant Program:
Colorado’s Department of Education will receive $9.7 million. The money will go towards hiring 150 health care workers  who will visit high schools statewide to provide “education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.”

Unregulated “Gray Market” Medical Marijuana Activity:
$5.9 million will be doled out to combat the gray market–marijuana diverted from the regulated medical and recreational markets and sold in the unregulated market. Funds will go towards reimbursing local governments for law enforcement and prosecutions costs. In addition, the governor signed legislation that places a new 12-plant cap on the number of plants that can be possessed or grown on a residential property.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Program for Opioid Addiction:
Finally, Hickenlooper signed a bill that allocates $500,000 per year for the next two years towards creating a pilot program to expand access to medication-assisted treatment in Pueblo and Routt, two Colorado counties hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

Vermont Governor Vetoes Current Marijuana Bill



Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have legalized recreational marijuana.

The bill would have made it legal for anyone over 21 to possess and grow cannabis.

Scott cited concerns about public safety, seeking changes to the bill that would include more aggressive penalties for driving while impaired or in the presence of children. The governor is also calling for an expansion of a commission that would develop a proposal to tax and regulate marijuana. He wants it to include representatives from the Vermont departments of Public Safety, Health and Taxes as well as the substance abuse prevention and treatment community.

“We must get this right,” said Scott during a press conference, adding, “I’m not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana.”

Matt Simon, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project responded to the governor’s decision, “We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.” A new bill could be introduced as early as July.

Studies by the Vermont Department of Health have found that Vermont has among the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the country and the second-highest use among people ages 12 to 25.

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. Vermont would have been the ninth state to legalize recreational cannabis, but the first state to legalize marijuana through a state legislature rather than by public referendum.

Nearly 20 states have bills pending that would legalize adult-use marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Applications for Nevada Recreational Cannabis Sales Now Open



Good news Nevada cannabis enthusiasts: the application period for recreational cannabis sales is underway and stores are expected to open by July 1. Licenses will be distributed to currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries. In addition, liquor wholesalers will be able to apply for temporary distribution licenses.

Here’s everything you need to know about applying for a recreational cannabis license:

The Department of Taxation began accepting applications Monday for businesses wanting to grow, produce and sell recreational marijuana. The licenses will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis products to adults 21 and older, with the goal of retail sales beginning July 1. The application deadline ends May 31.

The voter-approved ballot measure tasked the state with creating a regulated marijuana sales structure by the start of 2018. But after visiting and studying other states that legalized marijuana, Nevada officials determined that waiting a full year after the drug became legal would risk growing the black market.

Businesses will need similar licenses at the state level to begin selling marijuana to non-medical patients. Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas are all planning to issue licenses by July 1. Henderson implemented a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana in February.

Only currently licensed and operating medical marijuana establishments in good standing with the state are eligible to apply for retail, production, cultivation and testing licenses.

Distribution licenses are available to liquor wholesalers, medical marijuana companies and operating medical marijuana distribution companies.

Permanent regulations are being crafted by the Department of Taxation, and permanent licenses are expected to be issued on Jan. 1.

License to Sell

How much a 6-month recreational marijuana licenses will costs businesses:

$5,000 to apply for a license, plus an additional fee if the company is awarded a license.

Those additional fees range from:

  • $20,000 for retail stores
  • $30,000 for cultivation facilities
  • $10,000 for production facilities
  • $15,000 for testing labs
  • $15,000 for distributors

Marijuana Boosts Memory in Aging Brains



According to a study released in Nature Medicine, marijuana may boost cognitive function and memory in elderly brains–at least in mice.

In past years, the focus of marijuana research has looked at effects of cannabis consumption in teenagers and young adults. Findings concluded that cannabis use in young brains is detrimental–and this most recent study did corroborate those findings.

However, when it comes to elderly brains and cannabis, it’s a completely different story.

Andreas Zimmer, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the University of Bonn in Germany, along with a team of researchers, found “a dramatic improvement in cognitive functions” in mice given daily, low doses of THC for a month.

Researchers included young, mature, and elderly mice in the study and performed a number of behavioral experiments. In some of the experiments, THC seemed to improve the memory in the older mice to such a degree that their cognitive function appeared to be as good as those of young mice.

In one of the tasks, mice were placed in a water maze with a hidden platform that allowed them to escape. In the control group, (mice who were not given THC) the mature and old mice took longer to climb out than the young mice. Among mature and elderly mice that had been given THC, they found the platform faster than the control mice in corresponding age groups. Young mice given THC took longer to learn where the platform was hidden.

The findings raise the possibility that cannabinoids might act as anti-aging molecules in the brain. “That is something we absolutely did not expect: the old animals [that received] THC looked most similar to the young, untreated control mice,” Zimmer said.

However, other scientists cautioned that extrapolating findings in mice to humans is premature. “This well-designed set of experiments shows that chronic THC pretreatment appears to restore a significant level of diminished cognitive performance in older mice, while corroborating the opposite effect among young mice,” Susan Weiss, director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse who was not involved in the study, wrote in an e-mail to Scientific America. Nevertheless, she added, “While it would be tempting to presume the relevance of these findings [extends] to aging humans…further research will be critically needed.”

Zimmer and his colleagues have already been awarded funding to begin a clinical trial studying the effects of THC in elderly adults with mild cognitive impairments.

“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care, then that is more than we could have imagined,” study co-author Andras Bilkei-Gorzo told The Guardian.