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.

Still Plenty of Investment Opportunity in Cannabis



While many players in the cannabis industry are a bit hesitant about its future given its still illegal status with the federal government, many cannabis entrepreneurs still see a lot of hope for the future of the industry.

Traditionally, access to banking and venture capital has been difficult for new cannabis businesses. Lately, due to the rapid legalization of cannabis on the state level (8 states are fully legal, 20+ have medical marijuana laws), more opportunity exists for banking and potential investing.

As the cannabis industry in legal states continues to boom in legal states, New Frontier Data, an organization specializing in industry statistics, predicts legal marijuana sales will jump to more than $24 billion by 2025. As a result, some venture capital companies are diving on the opportunity while its here.

While there’s plenty of cashflow coming from the cannabis industry, entrepreneurs have found it to be a difficult road to navigate since investors with deep pockets are few and far between. Limited access to banking and the overall acceptance of cannabis nationwide still holds many back from investing in a cannabis business.

Whatever the future holds, the majority of Americans currently support legal cannabis, and the industry continues to expand state-to-state every year.

Ending Marijuana Prohibition Would Save Lives and Taxpayer Money



A father-daughter duo of public policy researchers from the University of Georgia have published a follow-up to their 2016 research that found in states with a medical marijuana program, prescriptions for medications like painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications dropped sharply.

That means that among adults 65 and older who are enrolled in Medicare, many are choosing to self-medicate with cannabis rather than taking medications prescribed by a doctor. It’s a significant shift in approaches to healthcare, and is especially relevant given the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Numerous studies have found that opiate abuse and overdose rates fell in states with medical marijuana laws.

The Bradfords’ new study applies the same analysis as the Medicare study, but this time they looked at Medicaid prescriptions. Medicaid covers low-income people of all ages. The results were similar to the Medicare research: in states with a medical marijuana program, prescriptions for certain drugs fell significantly.

Anti-nausea prescriptions fell by 17 percent, anti-depressants fell 13 percent, and anti-seizure and psychosis drugs fell 12 percent. Prescriptions for painkillers, including opiates, fell by 11 percent.

“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the Bradfords concluded.

They also concluded that a nationwide medical marijuana program would save taxpayers about $1.1 billion on Medicaid prescriptions annually. However, while Medicaid and Medicare see cost savings, medical marijuana must be purchased outside of the insurance system, essentially shifting the burden of cost to low-income and senior patients.

Last summer the DEA affirmed marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug–categorizing cannabis as an addictive drug with no medical benefits. The Bradfords warned that, “This decision was made despite the substantial and growing evidence that the requirements for Schedule I status involving ‘no currently accepted medical uses’ are no longer met by marijuana.”

Mountain High Suckers Partners with Comedian Josh Blue



Hello Mountain High Suckers followers and happy 4/20!

Today we’re extremely excited to share the launch of our brand new collaboration with our friend, Colorado comedian Josh Blue: Josh Blue’s Dream – our  favorite blueberry and watermelon flavored suckers made with Blue Dream strain cannabis extract, Josh’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.

“We’ve been treating it like it was legal for years anyway, so it didn’t make too much of a difference when they legalized it. It’s really great though, you don’t need a medical card or anything like that. There’s dispensaries everywhere and it’s bringing in a shitload of tax revenue. I think a lot more states will start legalizing it,” he says. Check out more about Josh Blue, his connection to cannabis, and his thoughts on the Denver comedy scene in this recent interview in Rare magazine.

Mountain High Suckers is proud to partner with Josh to help bring awareness to the positive effects of cannabis – drop by your favorite dispensary and ask for Josh Blue’s Dream suckers by name!

 

National 420 Cannabis Week Events 2017



 

Welcome to another 420 week! Pot enthusiasts across the country have a ton of events to choose from this year. Celebrate April 20th and legal weed and check out all the best cannabis festivities happening around the country this week:

Colorado:

If you’re new to cannabis and/or planning a trip to the Mile-High State, you may want to check out Good to Know Colorado for local pot laws and helpful toker tips.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO
Performers include Method Man & Redman, Flatbush ZOMBiES with Curren$y, $uicideBoy$, Futuristic, RDGLDGRN, Afroman, and ProbCause. Doors open at 4:00 p.m.

General admission tickets $45.00 online, $50.00 at the door

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Civic Center Park, Denver, CO

Denver’s annual 420 Rally is totally free to the public this year, so event organizers are expecting a larger than usual turnout.The average annual turnout for the high holy holiday is around 50,000 attendees. Grammy award-winning rapper 2 Chainz will start at 2pm and lead the crowd to the 4:20 countdown.

420 Rally 10am-8pm
FREE concert starring 2 Chainz 2pm-6pm

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO
Doors open: 6:30 p.m./Show: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $64.95 online, $70 Door

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Denver, CO
Must be 21 or older

A multi-venue event featuring music, art, and comedy. The musical lineup includes Cut Chemist, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Blockhead, Magic Beans, Live Animals, Rusko, Dumpstaphunk, J Phlip of “Dirtybird Records,” and more.

Comedians slated to appear include Brent Gill, Pussy Bros, Timmi Lasley, Alex Falcone, and Billy Wayne Davis.

Glass artists, VJs, and live painters will be at venues across Denver.

One pass gets you into all venues, there will also be a two story marketplace in City Hall, comedy in the Living Room and many speakers and meet and greet opportunities.

Buy a ticket before April 20 for $42; Day of tickets are $50.
VIP/All Access Ticket: $75 (Backstage pass to all venues, schwag bag, Artist Meet and Greets): Only 200 available.

There’s more! See a full list of Colorado 420 events.

California
 

Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
National Orange Show Center, San Bernardino, CA

The three-day schedule of performers includes: Trishes, OKIM, A$AP Ferg, Method Man & Redman, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Nas, Vic Mensa, The Game, Chief Ceef, Lit, and Wu-Tang Clan.

Seminars available include Cannabis Tinctures 101, Veterans: National Access, Future of Concentrates, Jobs in Cannabusiness, Legal Weed: How to Grow at Home, Professional Athletes in cannabis, and more.

Awards will be handed out on Sunday, April 23 @ 3:15pm.

Tickets: GA 1-Day Pass $55; GA 3-Day Pass $150; VIP 1-Day Pass $100; VIP 3-Day Pass $275; Super VIP Pass $420

Alaska

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Cannabis Classic is Alaska’s largest cannabis conference, competition, and trade show. The event isn’t actually until May, but their cannabis competitions are consumer-judged, so be sure to check out a list of voting locations while you’re stocking up for 420.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6pm
420 W. 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK
Door prizes, industry vendors, clothing, edibles, food, live music, and some of the best buds Alaska has to offer.

Potluck Events is a private cannabis club, so you’ll need to become a member to attend the event.
With a current membership, tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door.

Oregon

Saturday, April 22 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
Riverhouse on the Deschutes, 2850 Rippling River Court, Bend, OR

Check out hemp and cannabis products, accessories and tools, grow and harvest equipment and more in our amazing expo hall. Then, take in some great sessions on growing, medicinal benefits, Prop 91, and more.

Weekend Admission: $15

Massachusetts

Saturday, April 22 – Sunday, April 23
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Featuring 175+ local and national exhibitors, 100+ industry expert speakers, programming tracks on careers, investment, medical marijuana education and live demos, this is THE must-attend event for New Englanders, and anyone who wants to be a part of the fastest growing industry in the world!

See ticket and registration information here.

Washington, DC

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Festival Grounds are situated along the Anacostia River in Lot 6/7 of RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

National Cannabis Festival brings together activists, business owners and enthusiasts to celebrate the spirit of the movement while enjoying a full day of music, education sessions, wellness, art, activism, and culture.

Performers include Talib Kweli, The Pharcyde, Backyard Band, Kenyatta Hill (of Culture), Empresarios, Pinky Killacorn, and more.

Tickets: $35 General Admission, VIP Annual Membership $255 per ticket.

Marijuana Could Benefit Native Tribes in Nevada



Last week, tribal leaders in Nevada testified in support of a bill that would bring the medical and recreational cannabis industry to tribal lands.

Senate Bill 375, introduced by Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), would allow the state to work with individual tribes whose tribal councils have approved medical and/or recreational cannabis.

“The tribes would oversee what is happening on their reservation, but when they participate in the system they would have to follow the state rules,” Segerblom said of the bill.

Opening marijuana dispensaries and production facilities could be a big deal for the tribes, bringing revenue and new opportunities to their communities. Most of the tribal leaders at last Thursday’s meeting said that marijuana could help mitigate high unemployment and poverty rates.

Tildon Smart, former chairman of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone tribe, said that about 98 percent of her community of 1,100 are unemployed.

“We lack a tribal court system, we lack a police department, we lack health services – this may help create those services,” said David Decker, Chairman of the Elko Band Council for the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone. “Just to pay for dispatch, this is very expensive. This could help us pay for all those economic securities that we currently can’t provide.”

If the bill passes, Nevada wouldn’t be the first state to reach a compact with tribes. In 2015, the Suquamish and Squaxin Island tribes signed 10-year compacts with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Unfortunately, Washington seems to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to cannabis on American Indian reservations. Similar compacts between tribes and states have fallen flat, especially because tribes still have to contend with the federal government–many tribes rely on federal funds to keep their communities afloat.

“They are sticking their necks out on this one, but at some point you have to say, ‘We can’t sit around and twiddle our thumbs,'” Segerblom said. “I think the tribes – because they’re sovereign nations – they will have a better leg to stand on.”

Alaska Debates Allowing On-Site Cannabis Use



The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to revive a proposal that would allow cannabis consumption at licensed pot shops.

Following voter approval of recreational marijuana in 2015, the board began work on regulations that would allow retailers to create consumption spaces, similar to a cafe or bar. However, when the board last discussed the proposal in February, they decided to shelve it–citing uncertainty over the future of marijuana given the anti-weed stance of the current Justice Department.

This month, the board appears to have had another change of heart. They decided to begin the process again, inviting board members to submit new on-site consumption regulations.

Of the three proposals submitted, only one met the deadline–and instead of outlining new regulations, the proposal suggested putting a hold on the whole idea.

Loren Jones, who holds the board’s public health seat, said that he’s opposed to being the first state to allow on-site consumption, instead suggesting a two-year moratorium on the proposal. “I don’t think we need to rush into that,” he said.

Jay Butler, the state’s chief medical officer, is also opposed to on-site use, citing second-hand smoke and driver impairment. Butler told The Associated Press, “Even though marijuana is not the same as tobacco smoke, there’s a lot that we don’t know about it. Clinically, we see signs of it being a respiratory irritant in people who smoke frequently.”

Marijuana business owners were hoping the new regulations would be in place before the summer tourist season, but that appears increasingly unlikely. The board meets again in April and should the proposal move forward, it will go out for at least 30 days of public comment.

Marijuana Grown on Federal Research Farm Full of Mold and Lead



Remember that scene in Half Baked when Thurgood, played by Dave Chappelle, discovers that the government lab he works at has a serious stash of marijuana?

Well, it turns out that cannabis used in government research isn’t all that great. Unlike commercial marijuana, the government product is stringy, light in color, and full of stems. If you’re used to the cannabis sold at dispensaries, chances are you wouldn’t even recognize the government product as weed.

Jake Browne, a marijuana critic for the Cannabist, called government cannabis unusable. “In two decades of smoking weed, I’ve never seen anything that looks like that,” Browne said. “People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on.”

Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher studying medical marijuana for treating PTSD, told PBS NewsHour, “It doesn’t resemble cannabis. It doesn’t smell like cannabis.”

That’s a problem for researchers studying the effects and medical efficacy of cannabis. Since the marijuana researchers are using is so unlike commercially-available cannabis, it’s difficult to reach conclusions that are applicable to real-world use.

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.

Researchers have complained that government-grown marijuana isn’t subject to any federal testing standards and discrepancies in potency have created problems in some cannabis studies. Some samples even contained mold and lead.

University of Denver Expands Cannabis Curriculum



The University of Denver is expanding its marijuana course offerings with a new “Business of Marijuana” class. A first for the Daniels College of Business, the class will focus on the expanding marijuana industry, including issues related to dispensaries, cultivation operations, and ancillary cannabis businesses.

Paul Seaborn, assistant professor of management at DU and instructor of the course, said in a statement, “There’s a lot of really interesting writing and analysis being done in the media and also by academics. We will really be tapping into all of those sources to try to get a clear picture of what’s similar and what’s different in this industry compared to other industries. Whether it’s alcohol or tobacco, even automotive or biotech. Lots of comparing and contrasting to see what makes it unique and what are the common issues these industries have experienced in these early stages.

I think part of the learning for our students will be for our students to understand all of the different types companies that participate in the industry,” Seaborn said. “The dispensaries are the most obvious. Behind the scenes we’ve got companies manufacturing products of various types, you’ve got companies that are growing and cultivating the products and providing them into the retail side. Then, there are all kinds of support businesses around whether its security, advertising and marketing, legal services or financial services.”

DU already offers classes in cannabis journalism and marijuana law. The cannabis business course will serve as a management elective credit for undergraduate students and a general business elective credit for graduate students. Classes resume for Spring Quarter on March 27.

There are at least nine universities across the country with cannabis-related courses on offer. Private companies like THC University offer another route to cannabis training and education with online certification programs.