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:
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
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: $75 (Backstage pass to all venues, schwag bag, Artist Meet and Greets): Only 200 available.
There’s more! See a full list of Colorado 420 events.
Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
National Orange Show Center, San Bernardino, CA
The three-day schedule of performers includes: Trishes, OKIM, A$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
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.
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
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!
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.
CBD is Starting a Medical Revolution
Once THC’s lesser known cousin, CBD is getting serious attention these days because of its potential use in treating a wide-range of medical conditions. So what is CBD and what are some of its therapeutic uses? Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:
So what exactly is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s one of the 60+ compounds found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD produces little to no psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD can actually lessen, or balance out, the psychoactivity of THC. Hemp has also been used for extraction to remove CBD without the THC.
One of the reasons cannabis is so effective in treating illness has to do with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is present in both humans and animals, and scientists estimate that it evolved in our primitive ancestors over 600 million years ago. The system plays a big role in our immune systems, healing, and maintaining homeostasis. Receptors are found throughout the body–in our brain, organs, connective tissues, and glands. In the brain, cannabinoids “control emotional behavior, mood, stress, and fear.”
The ECS even allows communication between different cell types. In an article for NORML, Dr. Dustin Dulak explains that the “endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind.”
What are the therapeutic benefits of CBD and which conditions does it help treat?
According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following therapeutic effects:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Suppresses seizure activity
- Combats psychosis disorders
- Combats inflammatory disorders
- Combats neurodegenerative disorders
- Combats anxiety and depression disorders
Cannabis is being used to treat a number of conditions, including Dravat’s Syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, epilepsy. Research has even shown that CBD may help slow down tumor growth and prevent cancer from spreading.
CBD and THC work best together
Often described as the “power couple” of cannabis compounds, used together CBD and THC actually enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Researchers have found that together, THC and CBD enhance anti-inflammatory properties, anti-tumoral effects, and neuropathic pain. Though in high doses, CBD alone can bring some of these benefits too.
Despite having no lethal dose or known serious medical side effects, both cannabis and CBD are still illegal under U.S. federal law, though in some small cases, low potency medicinal CBD has been ignored by law enforcement.
Smoke-Free Las Vegas Cannabis Cup Celebrates Nevada’s End of Marijuana Prohibition
Las Vegas’ second-ever High Times Cannabis Cup wasn’t the toke-friendly festival that many hoped it would be–organizers were forced to make the Cup a cannabis-free event after a federal prosecutor sent a letter warning that anyone caught distributing or consuming marijuana would be subject to prosecution.
The Cannabis Cup, produced by cannabis-centric magazine the High Times, describes the event as the world’s leading marijuana trade show, “celebrating the world of ganja through competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts and product showcases.” Recreational cannabis was legalized in Nevada as of January 1 this year, and the Cup was slated as an unofficial celebration of the new law.
However, that didn’t stop thousands of pot enthusiasts from attending the event at the Moapa Indian Reservation–the first Cannabis Cup held on U.S. tribal lands. 15,000 people were expected to attend the two-day festival, which featured musical acts Ludacris, B-Real, Chief Keef, and J Boog. A rally stage was a gathering point for speakers and activists; there were cannabis-themed panels on topics like legal and veterans issues and grow advice from experts. The festival included 300 vendors from 15 countries.
Daniel Bogden, the U.S. Attorney who sent the letter, went so far as to underline several sentences, emphasizing that,
“Marijuana remains illegal under federal law…[and] federal investigation and prosecution may still be appropriate.
…nothing in the Guidance Memorandum or the Cole Memorandum alters the authority or jurisdiction of the United States to enforce federal law in Indian Country or elsewhere.”
In response to Bogden’s letter, the High Times cautioned vendors and attendees prior to the event:
“Vendors, guests, performers and attendees are advised to comply with all local, state, and federal laws regarding the use and distribution of cannabis and cannabis related products. In order for the cannabis industry to continue to earn legitimacy and social acceptance, we understand that rules and laws need to be abided,” the letter stated. “High Times will continue to stand up for our civil liberties and advocate for our inalienable rights to cultivate and consume cannabis. We urge you to join us.”
The festival was scheduled to take place March 4-5, but in another turn of bad luck, day two of the event was canceled due to high wind. Gusts reportedly reached above 60 mph.
Read the entire letter from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden here.
New Celebrities Launch Cannabis Brands, Help Normalize Industry
California is expected to become the largest recreational marijuana market in the country, so it’s not surprising that a number of celebrities are jumping on the marijuana bandwagon and creating their own cannabis brands.
Industry experts say that by investing in cannabis celebrities like Willie Nelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Wiz Khalifa, and billionaire Richard Branson are helping promote broader social acceptance of marijuana. Heck, even Martha Stewart is pro-marijuana–she’s teamed up with rapper and marijuana icon Snoop Dogg to create Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. And, yes, Snoop Dogg does have his own weed line.
Cheryl Shuman, the founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said that celebrities are “helping to legitimize marijuana. Marijuana is fast becoming cool and glamorous.”
Two of the late reggae singer Bob Marley’s children are taking advantage of the marijuana boom, each helming separate marijuana businesses. Marley’s oldest daughter, Cedella Marley, launched Marley Natural in 2014. Damian, Marley’s youngest son, opened Stony Hill, a dispensary in Colorado, and recently purchased a 77,00-square-foot prison in Coalinga, in California’s Central Valley, with the intention of turning it into a marijuana grow farm.
Singer Melissa Etheridge has somehow managed to bridge the alcohol vs. cannabis divide, producing a line of cannabis-infused wine. Some big names in the beer and spirits industry are alarmed at the growth of the marijuana, worrying that the growing industry could cut into their profits as more people choose to consume marijuana rather than alcohol.
Regulators in the state hope to start issuing the first recreational licenses to growers and dispensaries by early 2018. Californians approved recreational cannabis sales in last year’s election. Businesses with existing medical marijuana licenses are likely to be among the first to receive recreational permits.
The financial services firm, Cowen and Co., estimates that the recreational marijuana market could grow from $6 billion to $50 billion in the next decade.
Trump White House Indicates Possible Federal Crackdown on Marijuana
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that the Trump administration won’t be taking the same lax attitude towards marijuana as the Obama administration.
At the press conference, Spicer said, “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement.” He said that while federal law prohibits raids of medical marijuana operations, “that’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.”
The marijuana industry has been unsure of what to expect from the new administration. During the presidential campaign, President Trump took wavering stances on cannabis, at times supporting states’ rights and acknowledging the benefits of medical cannabis use, while at others expressing skepticism and disapproval towards recreational marijuana. However, other members of the Trump cabinet have been vocal opponents of marijuana, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Pence.
The announcement is at odds with growing public support for marijuana legalization. A new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found 71 percent of Americans would oppose a federal crackdown on legal marijuana, and 93 percent are in favor of medical marijuana, according to the survey of 1,323 voters nationwide.
“The president has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states,” U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, said in a statement about Spicer’s comments. “Now either the president is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn. Either way, these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state.”
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is approved in forty-four states. Cannabis has become a multibillion dollar industry that creates jobs, supports state economies, and raises taxes for things like improving infrastructure and education.
Pro-Marijuana Lawmakers Launch Cannabis Caucus
Thanks to a group of bipartisan lawmakers, cannabis is heading to Congress.
At a press conference on Thursday, Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
The coalition is focused on easing tensions between federal and state drug laws and supporting the growing cannabis industry.
“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”
Despite the fact that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, many in the cannabis industry worry that the appointment of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General signals a change in how federal drug laws are enforced.
However, during his campaign, President Trump supported states rights regarding marijuana laws, so it remains uncertain what the new administration’s stance towards marijuana will take.
“Alaska voted to legalize it — pretty large margin — and I believe in states’ rights and the federal government should stay out of it, period,” Young said.
Polis said that part of the reason the coalition was formed was because, “We don’t want to be a place where we rely on the goodwill of which side of the bed any attorney general wakes up on at any given day. That’s why we are pursuing statutory changes.”
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is approved in forty-four states.
Other issues the caucus members hope to tackle are federal research into cannabis, allowing medical access to military veterans, and changing tax laws to allow marijuana businesses to write-off their business expenses.
New Mexico Bill May Give Military Veterans Access to Medical Marijuana
The Senate Judiciary Committee in New Mexico approved a bill that would make all military veterans eligible for a medical marijuana card. The Committee voted 7-3 along party lines to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.
The changes to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program would automatically allow veterans to enroll without being diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition.
Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor, said that changes to the program were necessary for veterans who suffer from PTSD. After the hearing, he said that a PTSD diagnoses can be stigmatizing and he hopes that access to medical marijuana will help reduce suicide rates in the state.
Republican Senator and former Navy Rear Admiral William Payne called the provision offensive because it paints all military veterans as presumptive marijuana patients.
Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, said that he found the provision offensive, as it assumes that all veterans have PTSD.
The bill would make additional changes to the medical cannabis program, including allowing patients to possess up to 5 ounces of marijuana during a 30-day period. Currently, patients are allowed to possess 8 ounces during a 90-day period.
As the number of medical marijuana patients grows, cannabis producers will gradually be able to up their plant count. Growers are currently allowed to have up to 450 plants.
Another important provision in the bill is the addition of substance abuse disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions. Valerie Gremillion, a neuroscience researcher, told the committee that marijuana is a good way to fight addiction to opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol. “It’s much less harmful than so many of the other drugs.”
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Illinois State Treasurer Urges Trump to Let Banks Work with the Cannabis Industry
The uneasy relationship between cannabis and the banking industry could improve if Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has anything to do with it.
Frerichs issued a press release Monday, urging the Trump administration to give clear guidance to financial institutions regarding medical marijuana. In his letter, he urged President Trump to reassure banks that they will not face penalties or prosecution for doing business with state-licensed marijuana growers and dispensaries.
“Medical marijuana is not right for everyone. However, its positive results for those with debilitating conditions, including Veterans and children threatened by seizures, are undeniable,” Frerichs said. “Updating our banking laws to embrace commonsense change will allow Illinois to properly manage this reasonable program, guarantee uninterrupted access to medical users, and protect financial institutions that serve the industry.”
The nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general has marijuana advocates unsure if he’ll reverse President Obama’s directive not to enforce federal marijuana laws. Federal law prohibits banks from processing money from the legal marijuana industry, making day-to-day transactions difficult. Most dispensaries work on a cash-only basis, and business owners have difficulty opening checking accounts and securing loans. The current system also makes it difficult for states to audit sales, verify taxes are collected, and encourages a gray market and criminal activity.
Lack of access to banking has been a thorn in the side of the legal marijuana industry since its inception. Even ancillary cannabis businesses have difficulty accessing banking services to send or receive payment. Frerichs press release notes that “most refuse to provide banking services to those in the medical marijuana industry while smaller community banks do so with great trepidation. The lack of full engagement hobbles the industry despite the availability of marijuana in 27 states.” Currently, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law.