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European Country Plans to be First to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

So far, no country in Europe has legalized the production, sale and consumption of recreational cannabis.

The small country of Luxembourg could very well become the first European country to legalize recreational marijuana at the national level. According to the country’s health minister, Luxembourg has some big plans in store on the cannabis law front.

Here’s What Luxembourg is Considering

Lawmakers in Luxembourg are reportedly considering rolling out a plan to legalize recreational marijuana across the country. As of now, the plans are still in their early stages. And is not entirely clear how all the details would work.

But so far, here are some of the key changes that could be implemented if the country eventually chooses to legalize weed:

  • Lawmakers propose making it legal to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis.
  • If the country legalizes, it will establish a framework for retail.
  • So far, lawmakers said it would likely be legal to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis for people over the age of 18.
  • For people between the ages of 12 and 17, the possession of five grams or less would be decriminalized. However, possessing more than that could carry serious penalties.
  • So far, lawmakers are leaning toward prohibiting non-resident visitors from being able to purchase marijuana.
  • The country will regulate and govern not only the retail of recreational weed, but also the cultivation, production, and distribution of cannabis.
  • So far, there is confusion about the issue of public consumption. But many are urging lawmakers to allow for designated consumption sites. This, advocates say, would ensure that recreational weed is accessible to renters and people with limited or no housing.
  • At least a portion of tax revenues will reportedly be earmarked for drug education and addiction treatment programs.

As of now, all of these ideas are still in the early stages of planning. But legislators said they expect to have some formal proposals on the table by the end of the year. Further, key lawmakers hope to see legalization completed and enacted within five years.

Luxembourg Could Make EU History

Cannabis laws in Luxembourg are already relatively progressive. For example, the country has already legalized medical marijuana. Additionally, the country has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed. However, it currently remains illegal to buy, sell, or produce marijuana.

If Luxembourg achieves national legalization, it will be the third country in the world to do so.

Uruguay pulled it off in 2013. Then, in 2017, Uruguay took another big step forward when it began selling recreational cannabis in regular pharmacies.

More recently, Canada made all forms of marijuana legal last year. Almost immediately, the move showed massive popularity. So much so, in fact, that recreational dispensaries quickly ran out of product. And suppliers were initially unable to keep pace with demand.

Now, if Luxembourg’s plans become reality it will be the first country in the European Union with legal weed.

Interestingly, cannabis is actually not legal in the Netherlands—even though Amsterdam is recognized as one of the most 420-friendly cities in the world.

Technically, the Netherlands has never made recreational marijuana legal. Instead, it maintains a policy called “gedoogbeleid,” which is essentially a very open tolerance policy toward cannabis consumption.

Lindsey, ByNick. “European Country Plans to Be First to Legalize Recreational Cannabis.” Green Rush Daily, 8 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/european-country-plans-to-be-first-to-legalize-recreational-cannabis/.

Florida House to Pass Bill Ending Ban on Smokable Medical Marijuana

The speaker of the house has already announced the upcoming change.

In Florida, lawmakers are reportedly preparing to make important amendments to the state’s medical marijuana laws. Specifically, the Florida House has announced its intention to pass a bill that will make it legal for adults to consume smokable forms of medical marijuana. The change could bring about a conclusion to a long winded debate in Florida over smokable medical marijuana.

The House Announces an Upcoming Change

News of the House’s intention came yesterday from Florida House speaker Jose Oliva. According to Oliva, the House is now prepared to allow smokable forms of medical marijuana into the state’s medical marijuana program.

Once the bill becomes law, adults participating in the medical marijuana program will be allowed to use smokable forms of medicine. The new bill will continue to prohibit anyone younger than 21 from accessing smokable marijuana.

As reported by local news sources, some lawmakers are still skeptical about the efficacy of smokable medical marijuana. In particular, many lawmakers are especially worried about non-adults smoking medical marijuana.

“There’s no medicine that we know of, that is smokable. Controlling the dosage of medicine in smokable form is not something that can be done,” Oliva said.

“So there’s a challenge between what I think we have to pass because there’s an amendment in place and what I would like to see. I don’t get to decide on the question that I wish was before me, I have to decide on the question that is.”

In addition to allowing for smokable forms of medical marijuana, Oliva also commented on additional features of the upcoming changes. Specifically, he mentioned the possibility of establishing new research programs.

“Part of our bill will be an extensive study at the University of Florida hopefully in conjunction with the other universities to fully understand what are the effects of smoking marijuana,” Oliva told Florida media.

Florida’s Evolving Medical Marijuana Program

Medical marijuana has been relatively contentious in Florida. To begin with, voters in the state approved medical marijuana back in 2016.

Then, a short time later, the program almost immediately ran into problems. Specifically, former Governor Rick Scott blocked smokable forms of marijuana.

At the time, he argued that the language of the bill approved by voters did not specifically allow for smokable marijuana. This, he claimed, meant that it should not be part of the program.

Not surprisingly, medical marijuana advocates pushed back. Specifically, they argued that smokable marijuana should be an option. From there, the state went through some back and forth on the issue.

At the beginning of 2019, change seemed to be approaching. When Governor Ron DeSantis took office, he almost immediately said he wanted to solve the smokable medical marijuana issue. And he said he wanted to allow patients to access smokable medicine.

Now, it looks like the state might actually be getting close to a formal solution. It’s unclear how long the process might take to finalize the new bill. But with the House apparently on board, the path to completing the necessary legislation should be relatively obstacle free.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Florida House to Pass Bill Ending Ban on Smokable Medical Marijuana.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/florida-house-to-pass-bill-ending-ban-on-smokable-medical-marijuana/.

Michigan Medical Marijuana Sales Exceed $42M in 4 Months

Now that they’re finally up and running, patients have purchased more than 8,700 pounds of medical cannabis from state-licensed provisioning centers.

With roughly 300,000 registered patients, you might expect more purchasing power than the $42 million spent on medical cannabis since last November. But that figure, which represents monthly per patient spending of about $35, only tallies sales at state-licensed “provisioning centers.” It doesn’t count sales made at the dozens of unlicensed dispensaries still operating under “emergency rules” that permit cannabis sales without a permit. Still, $42 million hints at the larger figure of total spending on medical cannabis in Michigan, spending the state would like to direct entirely to the businesses it can tax.

The $42 Million in Sales Michigan Dispensaries Have Posted Since November Could Be Even Higher

Michigan medical marijuana sales exceeded $42 million in four months. But that figure could be even higher. Despite legalizing medical cannabis in 2008, Michigan didn’t begin to establish a licensing and regulatory framework until 2016, when a group of conservative state lawmakers began passing legislation aimed at controlling the informal medical cannabis economy that grew out of 2008.

The sudden push toward taxation, regulation and licensing was disruptive to the medical cannabis industry that had meanwhile established itself. To deal with the difficult transition, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs implemented rules that let dispensaries continue operating. Regulators tried to set deadlines for unlicensed businesses apply for a permit or shut down. But each time, businesses sued the state and won.

As a result, roughly 50 dispensaries are still operating across Michigan without LARA licenses. That number is down from last year, when it hovered around 215. And it roughly equals the number of dispensaries, aka “provisioning centers,” LARA has licensed since last November. Those 54 licensed provisioning centers generated more than $42 million in sales. A reasonable estimate might put sales figures in a similar range for the 50-odd unlicensed dispensaries still doing business.

March 31 “Drop Dead Date” Should Push More Patients to Purchases from Licensed Provisioners

On December 6, 2018, most of Michigan’s Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act went into effect. But as was the case in California in 2016, where voters legalized weed but couldn’t buy it right away, Michiganders will have to wait until December 2019 to purchase retail cannabis products. (No, there won’t be any THC-infused beverages.) But when retail sales finally do begin, state officials expect sales—and tax revenue—to explode. Currently estimates predict $1 billion in retail and medical cannabis by the end of 2020.

Until that happens, however, regulators are trying to choke out the last vestiges of Michigan’s informal cannabis economy. And that means a likely crackdown on the dozens of unlicensed dispensaries still operating under LARA’s emergency rules. Michigan has set a March 31 deadline for those businesses to apply for a license or close up shop. And unlike past deadlines, which courts compelled regulators to compromise on, the state says March 31 isn’t just a deadline. This time, it’s a “drop dead date.”

The stricter approach this time around is likely the result of the additional pressure and added scrutiny LARA has recently faced over cannabis recalls. Due to the necessary shortcomings of the emergency rules, untested, essentially home-grown medical cannabis has made it on and off of dispensary shelves. Subsequent tests revealed mold and pesticide contamination in some of those products. For that reason, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer supports the March 31 drop dead date. “This is the right thing to do in order to provide for continued patient access while ensuring that only tested products are being distributed,” Gov. Whitmer told the Detroit Free Press.

Drury, ByAdam. “Michigan Medical Marijuana Sales Exceed $42M in 4 Months.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/michigan-medical-marijuana-sales-exceed-42m-in-4-months/.

Medical Cannabis Laws Lower Rates of Opioid Prescription, Study Says

Does medical cannabis legalization lower prescription opioid rates? Researchers in Texas say it does—for some groups.

An important new study just published in the journal Preventive Medicine says medical marijuana legalization is helping to reduce opioid prescription rates. There’s still considerable debate among the health researchers and the medical community about whether cannabis can be an effective replacement for opioid medications or whether it can help people struggling with opioid use disorders beat addiction and stay alive. But researchers in Texas say that when it comes to lowering opioid prescription rates, medical cannabis legalization seems to be working. Put otherwise, making medical marijuana legal seems to be lowering the number of patients for whom doctors are prescribing opioids.

Study Looks at How Medical Marijuana Impacts Opioid Prescriptions

Over the past several years, interest in the ways cannabis might join the fight against the US opioid epidemic has exploded. From laboratories to legislative chambers, researchers and policymakers have looked to medical marijuana as one way to reduce the use of opioids and minimize their wide-reaching harm. Still, the relationship between cannabis legalization, cannabis use and opioids isn’t very well understood.

But a just-published study, titled “Association between cannabis laws and opioid prescriptions among privately insured adults in the US,” shines a light on the ways the medical marijuana legalization might be impacting patients’ use of prescription opioids. The study analyzed how different cannabis laws influenced the rate of opioid prescriptions among adults from different age groups in 2016.

To do so, researchers examined the relationships between age, changes in state cannabis laws and the pattern and rate of opioid prescriptions. Examining how those three variables interact with each other using data from one of the US’s largest commercial health insurance databases, researchers made some important findings.

Overall, the study found “a significant interaction between age and cannabis law on opioid prescriptions.” But those interactions changed depending on the age group and the type of cannabis law, whether simple decriminalization, medical legalization or full adult-use legalization.

Researchers looked at 5 different age groups from 18 to 64. For the oldest age group, from 56 to 64 years of age, researchers found no significant interactions between marijuana laws and opioid prescription rates. But for all the other age groups, in other words, all the patients aged 18-55, researchers say the interactions were significant. According to their results, those age groups had lower opioid prescription rates. But researchers only observed the reduction in states with medical cannabis laws only.

New Answers Prompt New Questions About Cannabis and Opioids

So researchers found that patients, between 18 and 55 years of age and with private insurance coverage, were prescribed fewer and shorter opioid prescriptions in states with legalized medical marijuana. But other categories of cannabis law, like decriminalization and adult-use, did not correlate with any significant reduction in opioid prescriptions, according to the study. It was just in medical marijuana-only states that researchers observed the decrease in opioid prescriptions.

Still, the study’s findings support other studies that have looked at the relationships between cannabis legalization and opioid use. A 2015 study, for example, found that states with legal access to dispensaries experienced a decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths. Another study using 2017 data is challenging those findings, however, saying that in recent years the trend has reversed.

In 2018, another study found an association between medical marijuana legalization and lower rates of opioid prescription among Medicaid recipients. Later that same year, researchers found a similar relationship between Medicare recipients aged 65 and above. But this study is the first to look exclusively at patients with private insurance.

Drury, ByAdam. “Medical Cannabis Laws Lower Rates of Opioid Prescription, Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 12 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/culture/medical-cannabis-laws-lower-rates-of-opioid-prescription-study-says/.

Hawaii Now Accepts Out-of-State Medical Cannabis Patients

With a simple online registration process, Hawaii is making it easy for visitors to legally obtain medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis patients often face restrictions when they travel that prevent them from bringing their medicine with them. Transporting cannabis across state lines, for example, even for a medical cardholder, is a federal crime. At the same time, Hawaii continues to set tourism records, year after year. But with 2,500 miles between Hawaii and the nearest U.S. state with legal medical cannabis, tourist-patients have had to worry about access. But not anymore. On Wednesday, the Hawaii Department of Health launched a new online registration for in-state and out-of-state patients alike. Now, it’s easy for non-residents to apply for and obtain a temporary medical cannabis license for their stay in Hawaii.

Online Registration Makes it Easy Get Your Out-of-State Medical Cannabis Permit in Hawaii

The first thing to do is make sure you’re qualified. Out-of-state patient applicants must have an active certification from their home state or territory. But the medical condition that qualifies you in your home state also has to be a qualifying condition under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law.

If you qualify, all you have to do is upload a copy of your valid medical cannabis patient license, and a valid government-issued ID. Even minors can apply for an out-of-state permit if they meet the eligibility criteria. And because the application is online, you won’t have to wait for your temporary Hawaii permit to arrive in the mail. Instead, patients can apply up to 60 days prior to their visit to Hawaii. In fact, visitors can even select the day they want their Hawaii medical card to become active. And that’s important, because non-residents can only apply for a medical card twice a year. So don’t let any of those days go to waste; out-of-state licenses are good for a maximum 60 days.

For the online convenience, patients will have to pony up an application processing fee. For out-of-state patients, the fee is $49.50. After you pay and submit your application, expect a short, likely same-day turnaround. If Hawaii approves your application, your out-of-state card will be available online immediately. You can either print it or simply save it on your mobile device. Patients can access their Hawaii medical cannabis cards electronically, 24/7, and don’t have to worry about lost or stolen registrations.

Finally, keep in mind that Hawaii’s purchase limits may be different from your home state. Hawaii permits patients to purchase up to 4 ounces in 15 days or up to eight ounces in 30 days.

Medical Cannabis Reciprocity Will Boost Hawaii’s Already Successful Medical Cannabis Program

In 2018, Hawaii medical dispensaries sold more than $12.5 million worth of cannabis products. That’s about 1,569 pounds of medical marijuana, according to the state Health Department. Health Director Bruce Anderson estimates that out-of-state patients could boost those figures anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. Currently, Hawaii has about 25,000 in-state patients registered with its medical cannabis program.

Going forward, qualified medical cannabis patients from 32 other states, four U.S. territories and the District of Columbia will all be able to legally purchase medical cannabis from any local dispensary on the islands.

Drury, ByAdam. “Hawaii Now Accepts Out-of-State Medical Cannabis Patients.” Green Rush Daily, 6 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/hawaii-now-accepts-out-of-state-medical-cannabis-patients/.

Stockton University To Introduce Minor In Marijuana For Students

So far, 25 students have registered for Stockton University’s minor in Cannabis Studies.

A New Jersey university tucked away in the Pine Barrens wants to prepare its graduates for a future in the legal cannabis industry.  New Jersey has made some major moves this year to expand its medical cannabis program and push for adult-use legalization. By the time this year’s class graduates, there could be a thriving cannabis industry in New Jersey, which already hosts the largest cannabis greenhouse on the East coast. With career prospects for college graduates on the decline, that presents an exciting opportunity. And the prospect has prompted Stockton University to offer a minor in marijuana studies, just in time for the start of the academic year.

Stockton University in New Jersey Offers Minor in Marijuana Studies

Stockton University’s interdisciplinary minor in Cannabis Studies aims to offer students a foundation for understanding the burgeoning cannabis industry not just in New Jersey, but nationwide. The minor has a clear vocational focus and will expose students to different avenues of employment they might choose to pursue in the cannabis industry.

Stockton’s Cannabis Studies minor will consists of five courses: four required and one elective. All students will take Introduction to Medical Marijuana, a course on Cannabis Law and one on Cannabis History. An Internship Preparation course will introduce students to cannabis research and small business operations. The minor will also offer students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a variety of cannabis-related fields.

The final course in the minor in marijuana is an elective. Students can choose any related course that intersects with their interest in cannabis. So a student interested in cultivation might elect to take an Economic Botany course or a Hydroponics course. Those interested in starting their own cannabis business might choose to take Social and Ethical Considerations of Business. And those are just some of the choices the minor affords interested students. Stockton students interested in pursuing the minor can contact the program’s coordinator, Dr. Ekaterina Sedia.

Cannabis Programs Offer Students Unique Learning Opportunities

One of the most exciting aspects of Stockton University’s Cannabis Studies minor is the emphasis it puts on the intersectionality of the cannabis industry. Studying cannabis allows students to see how different fields relate and interact. How does law interact with commerce and agriculture, medical research with criminal justice policy, global commerce with local greenhouses? Dr. Sedia hopes Stockton’s new minor in marijuana will give students the chance to investigate these crucial relationships between business, law and health through the study of cannabis.

So far, 25 students have enrolled in the minor. Classes begin September 5. And while the program offers many chances for hands-on experience, students won’t be able to handle any cannabis. Except for qualified medical patients, cannabis is still illegal in New Jersey.

Drury, ByAdam. “Stockton University Is Going To Let Students Minor In Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 31 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/culture/stockton-university-minor-in-marijuana/.

UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND AIMS TO OFFER ONLINE COURSE ON CANNABIS

The proposed course will be a seven-week accelerated course in cannabis studies.

Students enrolled at the University of Rhode Island may soon have the opportunity to participate in a new undergraduate certificate program in cannabis studies.

Under a proposal submitted last month by the university’s faculty senate office to the school’s president, David Dooley, the seven-week accelerated online program would consist of four three-credit courses, including a foundational course to “introduce the fundamentals needed to take the remaining courses in any order” and three remaining courses to “develop core competencies in natural product separation and analysis, safe product development and manufacturing, and the evaluation of the therapeutic potential of cannabis.”

“Throughout the certificate program, the students will be working on a pinnacle assignment synthesizing the concepts in each course together and culminating with a real-world experience of researching and designing, in concept, a cannabis product,” the proposal reads.

HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF LEGALIZATION

The program would reportedly be the first of its kind in Rhode Island. In the proposal, faculty members alluded to a similar endeavor at Northern Michigan University, which two years ago launched a bachelor’s degree program in medicinal plant chemistry focusing on cannabis chemistry. In those two years, according to the proposal, enrollment in Northern Michigan’s program has swelled to 230 students.

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, more colleges and universities may have to consider how to provide students with training and skills to pursue jobs in that field. Last year, the University of Maryland announced a two-year master’s program in cannabis studies, which was billed as the first of its kind. And in February, Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colorado announced the creation of its own cannabis chemistry bachelor’s degree program.

The proposal for the University of Rhode Island program said that potential students may include “those currently in the cannabis industry who lack the specialized skills necessary to comply with current and evolving regulations and those that are looking to competitively enter the industry.”

ByHigh Times Magazine. “University of Rhode Island Aims to Offer Online Course on Cannabis • Green Rush Daily.” Green Rush Daily, 12 May 2020, greenrushdaily.com/news/university-of-rhode-island-aims-to-offer-online-course-on-cannabis/.

Gov. Jared Polis Announces Pilot Program to Increase Cannabis Industry Efficiency

On Jan. 31 in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Energy Office announced programs to help the state’s cannabis and beer industries be more energy-efficient.

“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to improve our air quality and reduce harmful emissions,” said Gov. Polis in a press release from his office. “These pilot programs combine a few of the things that Colorado is known for: Environmental responsibility, craft beer, and cannabis. I applaud our state agencies and private partners for working together on these innovative programs to help protect the Colorado way of life.”

In addition to the political support, Amy George, CEO and founder of Earthly Labs; Charlie Berger, co-founder of Denver Beer Co.; and Max Cohen, CEO and founder of The Clinic, were also in support of the initiative.

“The Clinic consistently strives to incorporate sustainable practices into our operations,” said Brian Cusworth, director of operations for The Clinic. “We know that the nation is watching Colorado to see how cultivators of legal marijuana handle our responsibilities to our customers, our community and our planet. With our participation in this project, we’ll demonstrate how an ethical, civic-minded cannabis industry can make a difference while still engaging in smart business practices.”

“The Colorado Energy Office’s newly launched Colorado Cultivators Energy Management pilot program is a partnership with local electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to provide eligible cannabis cultivation businesses with no-cost technical energy use assessments to better understand energy use drivers and cost-effective energy management opportunities,” the press release explains. “The pilot will work with five utilities and 15 licensed cannabis cultivation businesses. The program also offers no-cost resources to rural electric cooperatives interested in developing long term plans to support cannabis industry utility customers.”

It’s not surprising that more great cannabis legislation is coming out of Colorado. The state recently implemented a law to protect employees who use cannabis, and even folks on probation are allowed to use medical cannabis.

By High Times Magazine. “Gov. Jared Polis Announces Pilot Program to Increase Cannabis Industry Efficiency • Green Rush Daily.” Green Rush Daily, 12 May 2020, greenrushdaily.com/news/gov-jared-polis-announces-pilot-program-to-increase-cannabis-industry-efficiency/.

Researcher Receives $3.9 Million Grant to Study Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes found in cannabis hold vast potential in the future of medicine, with a growing body of evidence. Ziva Cooper, who serves as research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, was awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health to study cannabis terpenes and determine if they have the ability to lower the amount of opioid medication needed.

Cooper is an associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. Cooper and her team of investigators will examine two terpenes, myrcene and ß-caryophyllene. The team will determine if they are effective in treating pain on their own, or by enhancing the properties of THC.

“Chronic pain is a significant public health burden and there are few effective treatments that lack the adverse effects that limit use,” said Cooper in a news release. “Specific chemicals in the cannabis plant taken alone or together may be effective options with minimal side effects—placebo-controlled studies to explore this urgent area of research are desperately needed.”

Just months ago, Cooper received a similar grant. In the fall of 2019, Cooper and her team received a $3.5 million grant for a study on how cannabis and cannabinoids affect men and women differently—especially for the treatment of pain. Cooper is recognized as the first research director of the Cannabis Research Initiative, beginning in January of 2019. The initiative was founded in 2017 under the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

There are estimated to be over 200 terpenes found in cannabis, according to a 2011 study, with several displaying the potential for possible medical benefits. Beyond cannabis, myrcene is found in mangoes, hops, bay laurel leaves and thyme. ß-caryophyllene is also found in black pepper, cloves, hops and rosemary.

ByHigh Times Magazine. “Researcher Receives $3.9 Million Grant to Study Cannabis Terpenes • Green Rush Daily.” Green Rush Daily, 4 May 2020, greenrushdaily.com/news/researcher-receives-3-9-million-grant-to-study-cannabis-terpenes/.

Nets’ D’Angelo Russel Cited for Marijuana Possession at NY Airport

Will he have to join the league’s marijuana program as a first-time offender?

Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell enjoyed a career season in 2019, shooting lights out from deep and eluding defenders en route to the Nets’ first postseason birth since 2012-13.

Unfortunately for Russell, he’s not as elusive with Airport security as he is with NBA defenders.

On Wednesday, Russell was cited for marijuana possession at LaGuardia Airport, after being detained by TSA officials following a baggage check.

D’Angelo Russell Caught with Marijuana

According to the New York Post, the 23-year-old Russell was en-route to his hometown of Louisville, Ky., where his father still resides, before airport security discovered weed during a routine search. The weed was allegedly stored in an Arizona Iced Tea “stash can.”

According to a Port Authority spokesperson, he point guard received a summons to appear in court for marijuana possession of less than 50 grams, and will likely have to pay a fine of $100 or less.

The incident, albeit a small one, comes at a somewhat precarious time for the first-time All-Star. Russell put up career numbers this past season, including personal bests in ppg (21.1) and assists (7.0). He is heading towards restricted free agency and will seek close to the league max.

This small transgression shouldn’t play a factor in the Nets’ interest, however. Despite the incident, of which the Nets are fully aware of, ESPN reported Thursday that the Nets will try to strike a deal with Russell before he even hits restricted free agency on July 1st.

Russell’s Projected ‘Punishment’

It is likely Russell will be required to join the league’s marijuana program as a first-time offender. Under the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, any player that “has been convicted of (including a plea of guilty, no contest or nolo contendere to) the use or possession of marijuana in violation of the law,” will be required to join the program. A second violation would result in a $25,000 fine and the third, a suspension of five games.

The NBA could make some changes to its marijuana policy going forward, however. Marijuana usage amongst players is one of the worst-kept secrets in the league, and back in December, Commissioner Adam Silver stated that he would consider making adjustments to league rules, walking back on some of his previous comments.

“I understand that for some players … that marijuana is a way of dealing with those issues,” Silver told Bleacher Report.

Kohut, ByTim. “Nets’ D’Angelo Russel Cited for Marijuana Possession at NY Airport.” Green Rush Daily, 3 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nets-dangelo-russel-cited-for-marijuana-possession-at-ny-airport/.

Illinois Senate Advances Recreational Marijuana Bill

This is the first time a recreational bill in Illinois has made it this far.

Throughout the year, lawmakers in Illinois have been hammering out the details of a potential legalization bill. Now, that bill appears to be progressing through the legislative process.

Most recently, the bill cleared the Senate. It now moves on to the House. But before it can become law, the bill must be fully approved before the state’s legislative session adjourns this Friday.

Recreational Bill Bill Moves Forward

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted 38-17 in favor of the state’s newly-amended legalization bill. As a result, the bill has now been passed on to the House of Representatives.

And while the bill seems to have relatively broad support, lawmakers are up against the clock. Specifically, the bill must receive all necessary votes before this Friday’s adjournment.

If the bill becomes law, it will introduce a number of big changes to Illinois cannabis laws. Some of the most important changes include:

  • The bill would allow the state to create a recreational retail system.
  • Adults 21 and over will be allowed to buy recreational weed from licensed dispensaries.
  • Adults will be allowed to possess as much as 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrates, and up to a half-gram of edibles.
  • The new bill will create a special cannabis DUI Task Force to explore best practices for policing new cannabis laws.
  • Additionally, the new bill includes provisions that prohibit lawmakers and their families from getting a business license for at least two years.
  • The bill includes a $30 million social equity loan to support minority-owned cannabis businesses.

Next Steps

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Illinois House will likely take up a number of issues today, including hashing out final debates on the recreational bill.

It is unclear how the bill will fare in the House. But some of the new amendments reportedly address past concerns raised by law enforcement groups and conservative legislators.

If the House approves the bill, Gov. Pritzker is almost definitely going to sign off on it. In fact, he’s made legalization a priority.

As per the Chicago Sun-Times, Pritzker encouraged the House “to take decisive action to make Illinois a national leader in equity and criminal justice reform” by passing the bill.

“Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis,” Pritzker said. “I’m grateful that the Senate has taken this important step with a bipartisan vote.”

A Back-and-Forth Process

In the wake of multiple debates, this most recent version of the legalization bill includes a number of revisions.

Most notably, there was significant debate surrounding the issues of home growing and how to deal with past cannabis convictions.

As for the home grow debate, the new bill scaled back provisions. Initially, the bill would have allowed people to grow their own weed for recreational uses. But now, the bill will restrict home growing only to state-approved medical marijuana patients.

Similarly, the bill’s provisions for addressing past cannabis convictions has been scaled back. Originally, the bill would have automatically expunged roughly 800,000 cannabis-related convictions.

Now, only those convicted of possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana are eligible. And instead of an automatic expungement, people who qualify will first need to be pardoned by the governor. They can then petition the court for expungement.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Illinois Senate Advances Recreational Marijuana Bill.” Green Rush Daily, 30 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/illinois-senate-advances-recreational-marijuana-bill/.

Disabled Veteran Denied Mortgage at VA for Working at a Dispensary

They refused the loan because he is the assistant manager of a dispensary.

Military veterans in the U.S. who are in some way linked to the legal cannabis industry have faced a number of difficulties and challenges. This includes vets seeking to consume cannabis for medical purposes. Additionally, some veterans have been denied benefits for being involved with the industry. Now, a veteran in Boston was just denied a VA mortgage because he works in a fully legal Massachusetts dispensary.

Boston Veteran Denied Home Loan

The veteran’s story picked up significant public attention when the Boston Globe reported on his experience.

To date, the man’s identity has not been disclosed, as he does not want to further jeopardize his relationship with the military.

As described in the original Globe story, the veteran lives with his wife and their two children. Additionally, the couple also has a third kid on the way.

In preparation for their new child, the couple started looking for a new home in the Boston area. After searching for months, they finally found a house that would meet their needs and fit their budget.

But in order to purchase the home, the couple was relying on a guaranteed home loan program for disabled Army vets.

However, in the final days before closing on the home, the couple suddenly discovered that the VA had denied his loan application. More specifically, the VA refused to give him the loan because he is the assistant manager of a legal marijuana dispensary.

“I was actually accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine, and then to have it pulled right out from under you at the eleventh hour—I was blown away,” the veteran told the Boston Globe. “It was very frustrating and demoralizing.”

As per the Globe, VA spokespeople explained that the agency would not loan him money because doing so would violate federal law. Even more specifically, the VA said that loaning him money would amount to money laundering.

Massachusetts Lawmaker Responds to VA

Eventually. the veteran took his story to Massachusetts congresswoman Katherine Clark. She was reportedly outraged.

Eventually, Clark sent letters to the VA demanding an explanation. Additionally, she said she would on crafting new legislation that would better protect veterans and veterans’ benefits.

“We owe our veterans a great deal of gratitude,” she said. “But it cannot just be something we say. We have to do it and act on it. There had been an injustice here.”

So far, the VA has reportedly not changed its mind about the man’s loan. As a result, the vet and his wife are exploring other options for obtaining a mortgage.

Marijuana is a Source of Tension Between Vets and VA

This most recent story highlights the ongoing tensions between vets and the VA surrounding the issue of cannabis.

One of the biggest problems has to do with VA medical benefits. Specifically, the VA does not cover medical marijuana. But it does cover much more dangerous and addictive medications, most notably opioids.

As a result, many veterans are left feeling unable to access the medicine they’d prefer to use.

Similarly, vets around the country have faced challenges accessing other VA benefits. For example, an Army veteran was stripped of his pension earlier this year simply because he works for Canopy Growth, one of the largest legal cannabis companies in the world.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Disabled Veteran Denied Mortgage at VA for Working at a Dispensary.” Green Rush Daily, 3 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/disabled-veteran-denied-mortgage-at-va-for-working-at-a-dispensary/.

Philippine DEA Calls for Ban of Rap Song They Think Promotes Weed

Artists will have to keep the cannabis talk on the low if they want to make charts in the Philippines.

Under the often authoritarian leadership of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the country has become infamous for waging a heavy-handed and often deadly war on drugs.

Now, the country’s drug enforcement agency is turning its sights on artists and culture producers. Recently, top ranking law enforcement officials have warned against a new rap song they claim promotes the use of cannabis, which is illegal in the Philippines.

And while officials have targeted one song in particular, they also seem to be using this as an opportunity to propose sweeping bans on any music they think speaks favorably of illegal drugs.

PDEA Goes After Rapper

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, also known simply as the PDEA, is speaking out against Filipino rapper Shanti Dope. In particular, the agency has problems with Shanti Dope’s song, “Amatz.”

According to PDEA officials, the song has lyrics they think promote the illegal use of marijuana. And according to Filipino news source ABS-CBN News, these officials are now working to prevent the song from airing in the Philippines.

“It appears that the singer was referring to the high effect of marijuana, being in its natural/organic state and not altered by any chemical compound” PDEA Director General Aaraon Aquino said.

“We strongly oppose the promotion of musical pieces or songs that encourage the recreational use of drugs like marijuana and shabu. It is contrary to our fight against illegal drugs.”

After making clear what they think about the song, PDEA officials are apparently trying to keep the song from playing in the country. And they are also recommending that any song that talks about illegal drugs should be banned.

Check out Ashanti Dope’s “Amatz” here:

Ashanti Dope Responds to PDEA

In response, Shanti Dope took to Facebook. There he published a lengthy response to the PDEA.

“The media alerted Shanti Dope Management with regards the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) media release calling on a ban on Shanti Dope’s song ‘Amatz,’” the rapper’s response said.

Later in the post, he urged Aquino and other officials to “listen to the whole song, and not just take a few lines out of context.”

The rapper went on to explain that the song is speaking more broadly about any positive feelings.

Additionally, Ashanti Dope called out the government for overstepping its bounds. Specifically, he called the attempted ban on his song a “dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom.”

He added: “This is a brazen use of power, and an affront to our right to think, write, create, and talk freely about the state of the nation.”

You can read the rapper’s full response here.

This is far from the first time the Duterte regime has reacted harshly to anything drug related. In fact, Duterte’s war on drugs is widely known for being particularly violent.

So far under Duterte, more than 700 people accused of being linked to illegal drug activity have been killed. And in one particularly bloody raid, cops killed 32 people.

In what has troubled many in the U.S., President Donald Trump has publicly celebrated his “great relationship” with Duterte. Similarly, Duterte has told the media that Trump is a “good friend.” And in meetings between the two leaders, Trump has failed to bring up the issue of human rights abuses.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Philippine DEA Calls for Ban of Rap Song They Think Promotes Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 23 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/philippine-dea-calls-for-ban-of-rap-song-they-think-promotes-weed/.

Vet Claims Dogs Are Getting High Off Human Feces Containing THC

Bay Area vets say dogs are getting high after eating human feces contaminated with THC. Turns out this is very possible.

You have so many questions, we know. So do we. More than we’ll probably even be able to give answers to. Yes, our furry friends have a tendency to scrounge around. And sometimes, they find themselves munching on some cannabis-infused edibles, eating what’s left of a joint, even straight up snacking on some buds.

But do dogs eat human feces? Do human feces contain THC? Considering our bodies metabolize THC and excrement is what’s leftover from that process, this seems possible. Where’s the study on THC in human feces? How much if any ends up in our poo? Enough to get a dog high? Let’s try to answer these pressing questions as best as possible.

Bay Area Dogs Are Getting High Off Human Feces

So far, the phenomenon of dogs getting high because they eat human feces containing THC seems to be confined to the Bay Area. Sure, residents of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose are in the heart of northern California’s cannabis country, in a state with the largest legal cannabis economy on earth. Easy to accept that, yeah, the Bay Area population is likely higher than most.

But are people there just taking dumps anywhere and everywhere? How, exactly, are dogs being exposed to human poo?

The likely answer is the extreme housing inequality that afflicts the Bay Area. Amidst an affordable housing crisis, Bay Area homelessness is the third worst in the nation, according to a recent report. Without access to shelter and sanitation facilities, homeless people are forced into the degrading act of relieving themselves somewhere in public.

So if a pupper has a hankering for a pooper, sniffing around in some park bushes or other public areas where they go for walks is one way to expose them to human feces. It’s injustice all around.

THC in Human Feces? Really?

So we’ve answered the question of how Bay Area dogs are coming into contact with human feces: housing inequality and homelessness.

But what about the question of how much THC ends up in human excrement. Researchers have actually devoted a few studies to this question, because the regime of prohibition, invested in criminalizing and punishing cannabis consumers, has a vested interest in being able to determine whether or not a person consumes cannabis. So researchers have conducted studies looking at what happens metabolically to the THC people consume.

We already know THC metabolites, broken down versions of the THC that gets people high, show up in urine. But according to researchers, they also show up in feces, and in much higher quantities. (Imagine having to submit a stool sample to pass your workplace drug test.)

According to one study, more than 65 percent of cannabis is excreted in the feces and approximately 20 percent is excreted in urine. But most of the cannabis (80-90 percent) comes out as hydroxylated and carboxylated metabolites within 5 days of consumption.

So yes, there’s weed in your poop. But here’s the kicker. Researchers say 11-OH-THC is the predominant form of cannabis in human feces. And if you’re a fan of edibles, you might recognize that molecule. It’s 11-Hydroxy-THC, one of the most potent forms of psychoactive THC. That’s why edibles often make you feel way higher than when you smoke.

Human Feces Can Get Dogs High!

Dogs and other pets are extremely susceptible to the effects of THC, and even more so to the effects of 11-OH-THC. Vets call this “marijuana toxicity,” and the expansion of legalization has produced an uptick of weed-related vet visits. Because of their lower body weight and higher sensitivity, it doesn’t take much for a pet to feel the effects of ingesting cannabis. Those effects typically manifest as poor motor coordination, dribbling urine, low body temperature and nervousness or agitation. So keep an eye out.

So where do we end up with all this? Shockingly, with scientific answers to our questions. Yes, THC, in fact a particularly potent form of it, ends up in human feces. And if a dog happens across some and eats it, they can absolutely become high from it. Human poop is basically a highly potent weed edible for dogs. Gross. And a major bummer.

Drury, ByAdam. “Vet Claims Dogs Are Getting High Off Human Feces Containing THC.” Green Rush Daily, 23 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/vet-claims-dogs-are-getting-high-off-human-feces-containing-thc/.

Ex-Knick Players Lobbied for Legal Weed in New York

Cannabis use has been a hot topic in NBA circles for several years now, but for a certain pair of ex-Knicks, the argument goes beyond the court.

Former New York Knicks power forward Al Harrington and 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith made a surprise visit to the state’s capital on Tuesday to advocate for the statewide legalization of cannabis, just ahead of the end of the legislative session.

A Last Ditch Effort

Back in April, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), all but assured that New York would pass a bill ahead of June 19th—the final day of the Legislative period. Now, however, his tune has changed, citing a lack of support for the bill in the state Senate.

As a result, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), the sponsor for New York’s recreational marijuana bill, invited the former Knicks stalwarts to share their “expertise” on the subjects of both medicinal and recreational cannabis.

Al Harrington told the New York Post that the meetings seemed “positive,” but there is still work to be done before the June 19th deadline.

“It’s been very positive,” Harrington said. “You know this is something that they want, but they want to do it the right way.

Harrington also stated that him and Smith pushed for the black communities to be involved in the legislation.

“We feel that it’s very important that we need to have the seat at the table so we can use some of these funds to rebuild our communities,” he added.

Experts in the Field

Smith and Harrington weren’t chosen as representatives because they’re good at basketball—they’re also noted cannabis connoisseurs.

Harrington is currently the CEO of Viola, a cannabis company that sells flower and vape pens. He’s been vocal about the NBA’s penchant for prescribing opioids over medicinal marijuana.

Smith, who is currently with the Cleveland Cavaliers—the team he won a title with back in 2016, was suspended five games by the league back in 2013 after testing positive for marijuana.

Despite the presence of two New York basketball’s most influential tokers, there has been little movement on the bill since Tuesday.

“There’s just not a lot of conversation happening about it,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky said to Spectrum News.

Kohut, ByTim. “Ex-Knick Players Lobbied for Legal Weed in New York.” Green Rush Daily, 5 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/ex-knicks-al-harrington-and-j-r-smith-lobbied-for-legal-weed-in-ny/.

Oakland Decriminalized Mushrooms, DMT and Other Psychedelics

Oakland just became the second U.S. city to decriminalize mushrooms, and the first to decriminalize all natural psychedelics.

Denver may have been the first U.S. city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms when residents voted yes to the measure on May 3. But Oakland, California just did Denver one better, becoming the first U.S. city to decriminalize not just psilocybin, but ayahuasca, iboga and other psychedelic plants, cacti and fungi. On Tuesday, Oakland City Council voted unanimously in favor of broadly decriminalizing natural psychedelics and hallucinogenics. The measure does not cover synthetic drugs like LSD or ecstasy. But it does cover compounds like DMT, psilocybin and mescaline, which are also federally illegal, scheduled controlled substances.

Mushrooms, DMT and Other Psychedelics Now Oakland Law Enforcement’s Lowest Priority

Did Oakland really just decriminalize mushrooms, DMT, and other psychedelics? In a sense, yes. But in this case, “decriminalized” is shorthand for what Oakland City Council really approved. And that’s to stop using city funds to enforce laws criminalizing people for the use and possession of psychedelics. So, psychedelics aren’t technically decriminalized. California’s laws criminalizing them, not to mention federal laws, still exist—at least for now.

Instead, law enforcement now has to stop enforcing those laws, including any cases currently pending. The prohibition will still be there, but the city council’s vote makes enforcing its law enforcement’s lowest priority. Besides that, police can’t use city funds to investigate, arrest or charge anyone with possession or use of psychedelics. And that means, for the most part, that police will leave them alone.

Natural Psychedelics Embark on the Same Path as Cannabis

If you remember the very early days of marijuana reform, you’ll recall that it began virtually identically to what’s happening with psychedelics in Denver and Oakland right now. Before weed was fully decriminalized, before it became legal for recreational use by adults, cities passed resolutions to make enforcing weed crimes cops’ lowest priority. That didn’t completely stop police from cracking down on simple possession and use offenses. But it helped, and it paved the way for the expansion of decriminalization and in 10 states, legalization.

It’s exactly that excitement, that hope and that relief that overcame decriminalization advocates after Oakland City Council’s vote Tuesday night. According to reports, nearly 100 supporters gave council members a standing ovation.

“I don’t have words, I could cry,” said Nicolle Greenheart, the co-founder of Decriminalize Nature Oakland. “I’m thrilled. I’m glad that our communities will now have access to healing medicines and we can start working on healing our communities.”

Is a Psychedelic Renaissance Emerging?

Psychedelic mushrooms, plants and cacti, or more specifically, the compounds in them—DMT, psilocybin, mescaline—are gaining increasing recognition and legitimacy and therapeutic, medicinal substances. Of course, the use of psychedelics dates back millennia, and they have been central to the spiritual ceremonies and healing practices of many cultures.

Now, it looks like modern medicine may be catching up. Recent studies have shown how therapeutic doses of psychedelic substances can heal and regenerate brain tissue and help treat mental illnesses ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Other studies show how psychedelics can help with addiction. Researchers are finding out how psychedelic experiences expand consciousness and improve mental health. In short, more medical professionals are beginning to take psychedelics seriously. And as a result, they’re beginning to unlock their vast potential for human health and wellness.

Drury, ByAdam. “Did Oakland Just Decriminalize Mushrooms, DMT and Other Psychedelics?” Green Rush Daily, 5 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/did-oakland-just-decriminalize-mushrooms-dmt-and-other-psychedelics/.

Illinois Recreational Marijuana Bill to Clear 770,000 Convictions

Could Illinois be the next state to legalize marijuana?

Illinois is on the verge of making cannabis history. A new bill to legalize recreational marijuana was recently approved by the House of Representatives.

It has since been passed on to the governor. And if he signs it into law, Illinois will become the first state to legalize entirely through the legislature. Additionally, it will also make Illinois one of the leaders when it comes to allowing for prior weed convictions to be cleared from people’s records.

Illinois House Bill 1438

Illinois’s legalization bill, House Bill 1438, would introduce a number of big changes to the state. Some of the most important include:

  • Adults 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of weed.
  • Non-residents who are visiting the state would be allowed to possess roughly half the amount of cannabis as residents.
  • The state would establish a taxed and regulated retail industry.
  • As of now, lawmakers plan on instituting a 10% tax on products with less than 35% THC. Beyond that, products with more THC will be taxed at higher rates of up to 25% or more.
  • It will still be illegal to consume weed in public.
  • It will also be illegal to drive while high.

The bill has so far received broad support from lawmakers. Most recently, the House approved it with a 66-47 vote.

Now, House Bill 1438 has been sent over to Governor J. B. Pritzker. He is expected to sign it into law. But it is currently unclear when he will sign the bill.

Pritzker has been a big advocate of legalization, having made it part of his platform when running for the governor’s office.

An “Equity-Centric” Legalization Bill

Arguably the most important components of the bill have to do with what Pritzker called an “equity-centric approach” to legalization.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation,” Pritzker wrote on Facebook. “This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.”

This equity-centric approach is aimed at addressing the various harms of the war on drugs. Specifically, the ways that prohibition has disproportionately harmed people and communities of color.

To accomplish this objective, the new bill will allow for certain weed-related criminal records to be cleared. Specifically, people with prior convictions for possessing small amounts of weed will be able to get their records cleared, if the original conviction was not associated with a violent crime.

According to ABC News, there are around 770,000 people in Illinois who would immediately qualify for this.

Additionally, the bill is supposed to include provisions to allow priority entry into the industry for minorities.

“Decades of prohibition hasn’t stopped used, prohibition hasn’t made us safer,” Illinois Representative Kelly Cassidy said. “Prohibition hasn’t built communities—in fact, it has destroyed them. Prohibition hasn’t created jobs, in fact, it has prevented people from finding work.” She added: “Ending prohibition will allow us to bring this out of the shadows. Impose reasonable and thoughtful regulation and bring assurance of a tested and safer product.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Bubba Watson Uses CBD Despite PGA Warning.” Green Rush Daily, 2 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/bubba-watson-uses-cbd-despite-pga-warning-to-extend-pro-golf-career/.

Bubba Watson Uses CBD Despite PGA Warning to Extend Pro Golf Career

He hopes that the component will help his longevity in the sport going forward.

It’s no secret that cannabis and professional sports remain on two opposite ends of the spectrum—no pun intended. Considering most leagues disallow the use of cannabis, it’s not a surprise that CBD—the non-psychoactive component of cannabis—is also mostly barred from professional sports, although there have been some recent exceptions. However, that hasn’t stopped Bubba Watson, one of the biggest names in golf, to endorse the compound.

Bubba Watson Endorses the use of CBD products

CBD isn’t actually on the banned substance list by the PGA —it was removed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) just last year. However, there is still a stigma surrounding the agent, due to its link to the cannabis plant.

Regardless of pre-existing bias, Watson has signed on with the CBD company, cbdMD. The two-time Masters champion is the highest-profile golfer to do so.


In a statement, Watson, now 40, said that he’s used their products before, and hopes that the component will help his longevity in the sport going forward.

“I’ve personally felt the benefits of cbdMD’s products,” Watson said in the statement. “cbdMD is the safest on the market and I am proud to partner with them to help millions feel better.”

As part of the multi-year contract, Bubba Watson will wear the cbdMD logo on his headwear during PGA events. He will also be obligated to participate in a number of integrated marketing promotions.

Walking a Thin Line

Here’s where things get tricky for Watson—most CBD products contain a minimal amount of THC (less than one percent), but like plenty of non-FDA approved supplements, this runs a risk of inaccuracy. And while CBD in it’s purest of form isn’t legal, THC is still barred from the league.

Last month, the PGA notified its golfers that they must use CBD products at their own risk.

“The FDA, DEA, and private organizations including Major League Baseball (MLB), have conducted tests on CBD and ‘THC-free’ products only to find significant levels of psychoactive (and prohibited) THC or falsely labeled amounts of CBD,” the notice said.

“Taking a poorly labeled supplement that is contaminated with a prohibited substance is NOT a defense to a violation of the Program,” the newsletter continued. “Therefore, we strongly recommend that if players choose to use supplements, they only use those that are NSF Certified for Sport.”

Luckily for the two-time Masters winner, cbdMD claims its products are all “100% organic, USA grown, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, with no traces of THC. ” In an interview with CNN, Watson said he did his homework before signing on with the company.

“There’s no bad stuff in it, there are no chemicals in there that will mess you up or make you fail a drugs test. There are certain companies we trust.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Bubba Watson Uses CBD Despite PGA Warning.” Green Rush Daily, 2 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/bubba-watson-uses-cbd-despite-pga-warning-to-extend-pro-golf-career/.

D.C. Mayor Introduces Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Sales

D.C. desperately needs “reefer sanity,” say supporters of the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019

Washington D.C. is trying—again—to complete the project it started in 2014 when voters said yes to ballot initiative 71 and legalized cannabis for adults 21 and up. On Thursday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser submitted the District’s latest proposal to legalize recreational marijuana sales. Dubbed The Safe Cannabis Sales Act, Mayor Bowser’s bill wouldn’t just authorize the retail sale of cannabis products. It would also fight criminalization and encourage equity in the local cannabis economy.

D.C. Desperately Needs “Reefer Sanity”

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other members of her administration spoke about how the Safe Cannabis Sales Act would reinvest in D.C. communities hardest hit by the ongoing criminalization of cannabis consumers. They spoke about how the bill would open a process to criminal record expungement as the moral, compassionate, economically justified thing to do. “D.C. desperately needs reefer sanity,” said Justin Strekal, the Political Director of NORML.

The Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 would build on the ballot initiative voters passed in 2014. Under current rules, residents of Washington D.C. can grow and possess small amounts of cannabis, but they cannot legally purchase, sell it or consume it publicly.

To buy cannabis legally, the bill would require consumers to present a valid government ID showing they’re 21 years of age or older. The bill would also tax sales at 17 percent. That’s comparatively high, but the Safe Cannabis Sales Act would direct a large portion of tax revenue to affordable housing programs.

“The Safe Cannabis Act will promote equity by ensuring that the benefits of this new system—from jobs to revenue—go to communities that have been disproportionately hurt by marijuana criminalization,” Mayor Bowser said.

Legal Sales Bill Aims to Stop Racist Enforcement of Cannabis

In remarks about the bill, Mayor Bowser also said that “for far too long the possession of marijuana has been a pipeline to prison, especially for black men in D.C. and across the nation.”

Bowser isn’t exaggerating. An egregious pattern of racist cannabis enforcement has actually increased arrests for weed since D.C. legalized it in 2014. While arrests for marijuana possession have plummeted, arrests for public consumption doubled between 2015 and 2016. And Black people comprised 86 percent of those arrested by D.C. police for smoking weed in public. Recent policy changes have attempted to replace citations with arrest, however. But it’s the encounter with law enforcement itself that is the issue.

Mayor Bowser hopes the Safe Cannabis Act can replace the criminalization pipeline with “a pathway to prosperity.” But as has been the case in the past, local D.C. politics always have to overcome Congress’ stranglehold. Capitol Republicans had many times undermined, slowed or outright blocked efforts to decriminalize and legalize cannabis. Having failed that, they’ve done everything in their power to block the District from establishing a legal retail market.

Drury, ByAdam. “D.C. Mayor Introduces Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Sales.” Green Rush Daily, 3 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/d-c-mayor-introduces-bill-to-legalize-recreational-marijuana-sales/.

Denver is the First U.S. City to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms

At first, it looked like the Initiative 301 to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms would lose. But results flipped as yes votes rolled in.

It came down to the eleventh hour, but if unofficial election results hold, voters in Denver have just made history. Last night, the City of Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. At first, it looked like the ballot initiative 301 was going to lose by a narrow margin. But last night, with the tallies still coming in, the results flipped, showing a narrow margin of victory for the decriminalization ordinance.

Currently, the total stands at 89,320 votes in favor of decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, and 87,341 against. That’s just a 0.6 percent margin of victory, and it will take officials until May 16 to certify the results. But for now, Denver is a city where psilocybin just became law enforcement’s lowest priority.

Supporters of Psychedelic Mushroom Decriminalization Celebrate Come-from-Behind Win

“It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours,” said Initiative 301 campaign organizer Kevin Matthews. “Against all odds, we prevailed.”

Those who campaigned for and supported the effort to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms are celebrating the results of their work today. But initially, it looked like they were going to have to accept defeat. On Tuesday, multiple news outlets reported that Initiative 301 was down and out. At 1 a.m. Wednesday, the measure was still down 3.4 percent.

But overnight, officials counted several thousand votes in favor of the initiative. And by 4 p.m. Wednesday, yes votes had pulled ahead.

So what does Initiative 301 actually do? The letter of the ordinance directs Denver police to make enforcing laws against possessing psilocybin mushrooms their lowest priority. But psychedelic mushrooms would still be illegal to purchase, sell and even possess.

In many respects, Initiative 301 is similar to the marijuana decriminalization bills Denver passed in 2005 and 2007. Then, police still busted people for possessing marijuana—and still along racially disparate lines. But decriminalization was the first step toward the state’s eventual legalization of cannabis in 2012. Supporters hope a similar story will emerge from the passage of the decriminalization of mushrooms.

Is Denver a Sign of Shifting National Attitudes toward Psychedelics?

Denver is the first city—still unofficially—to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. And it was also the first city to try. This week’s vote represents the U.S.’s first vote on psilocybin, but it won’t be the last. Advocates in both Oregon and California are vying to get a similar measure on their state’s ballots in 2020. California came close in 2018, but the measure did not get enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

These efforts could be signs that public attitudes are shifting on the use of psychedelics. And those attitudes are shifting in line with renewed medical and scientific interest in psilocybin therapies.

Studies have found psilocybin to be a powerful treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and for treating substance abuse and addiction, including alcoholism. And last fall, the U.S. FDA designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” due to its potential in these areas. That designation should speed of the development and review of psilocybin-based medicines.

“Our victory here is a clear signal to the rest of the country that we’re ready for a broader conversation around psilocybin and its potential benefits,” said Matthews.

Drury, ByAdam. “Denver Is the First U.S. City to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms.” Green Rush Daily, 9 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/denver-is-the-first-u-s-city-to-decriminalize-psychedelic-mushrooms/.

Thailand Will Use Seized Cannabis to Make Medicine

So you want to start a weed business? Well, there is a lot you should know.

As of June 2019, there are only about a dozen remaining states that have marijuana listed as completely illegal with varying degrees of decriminalization. With the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis and CBD products on the rise throughout the country, now is a prime time for entrepreneurs to get ahead of the market with their cannabusinesses. Except for one setback: the struggle of trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

Finding funding to grow a weed biz is and will continue to be extremely challenging as long as marijuana is illegal on the federal level.

Legal Restrictions

Before discussing what you can do to find funding in the cannabis industry, you first need to know what you can’t do.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug on the federal level, meaning major banks, which are regulated by the federal government and FDIC-insured, cannot get involved with this illegal drug money. The legalization of marijuana varies state by state, so while some small local and state-chartered banks might be able to provide a loan, it still comes with a risk. If the federal government chose to intervene with legalized state rulings, the feds could potentially shut down the cannabusiness at any time. This means any lender with debts being collected from a company recently shutdown by the government would not be paid back, not to mention the bank itself would be in trouble since transactions related to cannabis are considered criminal activity.

Banks also refuse to issue credit cards or even open a checking account for a cannabis business for the same liability reasons. Federally chartered banks can’t touch any weed money and if they do it is at their own risk. The Bank Secrecy Act requires all banks, including the community credit unions and state-chartered ones, to flag any transactions of $5,000 or more that may be associated with illegal activity, including federally illegal cannabis transactions.

The risk to banks has created one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

All banks take a risk when handling marijuana money, not just the major federal ones. Thankfully, banks aren’t the only institutions with money to lend.

Available Options

Banks loans may be the most common business funding source, but they aren’t the only option. Funding for businesses in the cannabis industry comes down to two categories: equity funding and debt funding. The best option for your business depends on what you envision for your company’s future, what assets you already have and how much ownership you want to maintain.

Equity Funding

Venture Capital

Utilizing venture capital requires exchanging equity, or ownership stakes, of your business for money. Weed based businesses with big dreams and anticipation of scaling might find this the best option. Popular venture capital firms that fund cannabis businesses are: Canna Angels, Casa Verde Capital, Green Acre Capital, Poseidon Asset Management and dozens more. A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Angel Investor

Instead of working with a larger firm, you can also look into finding an angel investor, one person with money to provide your business with extra working capital. This method is preferred by those looking for mentorship in addition to money, as working one-on-one can provide guidance while navigating through the early stages of business startup and growth. AngelList has a list of angel investors that will fund cannabis businesses, but keep in mind they probably get contacted quite a bit. If you’re lucky, you might get the attention of a musician, athlete or other celebrity.

Debt Funding

Online lending

Traditional banks are prohibited from working with pot money, but there are still funders and lenders that have the ability to provide large amounts of money to these “legally gray” cannabis businesses. Online lending is done with private investor money and may or may not require collateral. Online lenders known to work with cannabis businesses include: Kabbage, GoKapital, United Capital Source, and others, it just might take some searching to find the right match.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding a cannabis business can be done in two ways. You can ask your family and friends to lend or give you money to bring your beloved green to the community, fingers crossed your rich aunt is feeling generous. Or you can post your business plan on a crowdfunding website to acquire funds from strangers. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best-known platforms, but posting your company may require approval as the state-by-state laws vary and can cause questionability. StartEngine is reported to approve weed-based startups, or you can find a dope-specific platform such as CannaFundr or Fundana. The debt part of crowdfunding comes from the promise you make to those who contribute money: free t-shirt, free product, or other incentives.

What You’ll Need

Traditionally, bank loans require a strong credit score of 700 or higher. However, without the ability to get a credit card, your business won’t have a credit score. Cannabis is currently a cash-only business and while you can exchange quite a few greenbacks for your green, credit card companies, which are run by federally regulated banks, will not accept cannabis money. Using a personal credit card for these transactions is just as illegal and could have repercussions.

Here’s how you can manage cash flow and get the credentials you need to show investors and lenders your startup or established but growing business is worth giving money to.

Get A Cannabis POS System

A new industry is emerging from the underserved cannabusiness market. B2B companies that help marijuana companies run and operate are becoming more common as solutions are needed for businesses in legalized states.

As a dispensary, a point of sale system can help you manage and accept payments, and when you choose a green specific software, you can get a service that knows the legalities of the industry, helping you stay compliant with the law. Green Bits will auto-apply transaction limits per the state laws, capture customer information, create promotions and loyalty programs, generate inventory audits and produce state reports.

If you’re a grower, kitchen or distributor, LeafLogix can help with daily cash flow monitoring. This software services the entire supply chain of cannabis from seed to sale. It’s beneficial when running a business to have the ability to not only track operations, but also generate reports that influence future decisions.

If cash-only becomes an issue for making sales, CanPay is an option. CanPay is a debit based payment app not associated with FDIC-insured banks, which comes at its own risk but can offer convenience to retailers handling large amounts of cash and customers who don’t carry cash.

Understand Cash Flow And ROI

You’ll want to have a software like one of the ones mentioned above because potential investors will need to see your business is healthy and financially a low risk. The next question investors will ask is what you would use the money for and how you would get a greater return on it. Your return on investment needs to be enough to cover the initial investment plus interest. For example, more real estate would allow a greater volume of plant growth that would increase sales and attract bigger processors.

Seek Funds When Strong Not Struggling

A common mistake business owners make in any industry is applying for a loan when the business is struggling. This ends up costing more as underwriters see a risk and will approve a loan with higher rates and terms. Applying for a loan when strong and boasting solid monthly sales will save money in the long term, and it doesn’t hurt to have a cash flow credit available for when opportunity or emergency arises. Some cannabis-friendly online lenders provide revolving lines of credit which may be suitable for your company.

Industry by Industry, State by State

While we wait for the federal government to give marijuana the green light, each industry needs to be aware of the ever-changing state-specific laws and regulations. December 2018 saw the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill which decreed hemp is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance but is still under the regulation of the FDA. Hemp and CBD businesses can access business capital through banks and other federally involved establishments, and interstate commerce of these products can legally occur (As long as the THC concentration of a product is no more than 0.3%).

When evaluating each specialty, grow houses, farms, distributors, processors, and retailers all must look into their individual regulations and loopholes per state. There may be a state-specific financing option available, you just have to get creative.

The Problem

Politicians are noticing the “The Green Boom,” or more accurately, are noticing the money to be made off of taxing marijuana purchases. Even Nebraska is tempted by farming hemp research crops. The states that have embraced medicinal and recreational cannabis sales early on are encouraging business growth, but a handful of online lenders, VC firms, angel investors and generous friends aren’t nearly enough to meet the demands of business owners trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

While a newly legalized state is an open market for new marijuana businesses, the uncharted territory comes with its own set of challenges. Thankfully, bold entrepreneurs are paving the way for future cannabis business funding opportunities.

Rio, ByJuliet Del. “How to Find Funding in the Cannabis Industry.” Green Rush Daily, 18 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/how-to-find-funding-in-the-cannabis-industry/.

Columbus Ohio Stops Prosecuting All Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases

All pending cases will be dropped.

Cannabis laws in Columbus, Ohio have taken another step in a progressive direction. After some key changes earlier this summer at both the city and state level, the city has now decided to stop prosecuting all misdemeanor marijuana charges. As a result, possession of small amounts of cannabis will not lead to criminal charges.

Changes to Cannabis Prosecution in Columbus

Earlier today, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced the change. According to local news source WBNS, the city’s new approach to marijuana will include two big changes.

First, the city will no longer prosecute misdemeanor cannabis charges.

The second big change is closely related to the first. Specifically, the city is also dropping misdemeanor marijuana cases that are currently pending.

Ohio’s Changing Marijuana Laws

In many ways, today’s decision in Columbus is simply the newest chapter in Ohio’s ongoing evolution of marijuana laws. In fact, this summer has already seen a couple other potentially big changes to weed laws, both in the city of Columbus and in the state of Ohio.

Earlier this summer, on July 22, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution to reduce penalties for getting caught with weed. Now, possession of up to 200 grams does not lead to jail time. Instead, people who are caught with less than 100 grams of weed may be fined $10. And people who are caught possessing between 100 grams and 200 grams could pay a fine of $25.

But these aren’t the only weed-related changes to hit Columbus recently. There have also been changes at the state level.

Most notably, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill to legalize hemp on July 30. This bill, Senate Bill 57, makes it legal to grow industrial hemp. It also makes it legal to manufacture and sell CBD products that are derived from industrial hemp plants.

As with hemp and CBD laws in other states, the key to Senate Bill 57 is the amount of THC present in a product. Specifically, to be considered legal, a hemp plant must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. As long as it meets that requirement, it is fully legal in Ohio to grow hemp plants and to use those plants to make CBD products.

Responding to New State Laws

Interestingly, this new state law played a big role in Columbus’s decision to stop prosecuting low level weed charges. As reported by WBNS, City Attorney Zach Klein said that bill prompted his decision today.

From the sounds of things, a big part of his decision has to do with the difficulty of detecting exactly how much THC is present in any given product. Notably, standard law enforcement tools are built to detect the mere presence of THC, not the specific amount of THC.

As a result, it is very hard to tell if a CBD product has too much THC. Simply put, authorities cannot tell if a product containing CBD is legal or not. So, rather than get bogged down in this uncertainty, the city of Columbus will no longer go after any sort of low level marijuana offense.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Columbus Ohio Stops Prosecuting All Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/legalization/columbus-ohio-stops-prosecuting-misdemeanor-marijuana-cases/.

Columbus Ohio Stops Prosecuting All Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases

All pending cases will be dropped.

Cannabis laws in Columbus, Ohio have taken another step in a progressive direction. After some key changes earlier this summer at both the city and state level, the city has now decided to stop prosecuting all misdemeanor marijuana charges. As a result, possession of small amounts of cannabis will not lead to criminal charges.

Changes to Cannabis Prosecution in Columbus

Earlier today, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced the change. According to local news source WBNS, the city’s new approach to marijuana will include two big changes.

First, the city will no longer prosecute misdemeanor cannabis charges.

The second big change is closely related to the first. Specifically, the city is also dropping misdemeanor marijuana cases that are currently pending.

Ohio’s Changing Marijuana Laws

In many ways, today’s decision in Columbus is simply the newest chapter in Ohio’s ongoing evolution of marijuana laws. In fact, this summer has already seen a couple other potentially big changes to weed laws, both in the city of Columbus and in the state of Ohio.

Earlier this summer, on July 22, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution to reduce penalties for getting caught with weed. Now, possession of up to 200 grams does not lead to jail time. Instead, people who are caught with less than 100 grams of weed may be fined $10. And people who are caught possessing between 100 grams and 200 grams could pay a fine of $25.

But these aren’t the only weed-related changes to hit Columbus recently. There have also been changes at the state level.

Most notably, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill to legalize hemp on July 30. This bill, Senate Bill 57, makes it legal to grow industrial hemp. It also makes it legal to manufacture and sell CBD products that are derived from industrial hemp plants.

As with hemp and CBD laws in other states, the key to Senate Bill 57 is the amount of THC present in a product. Specifically, to be considered legal, a hemp plant must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. As long as it meets that requirement, it is fully legal in Ohio to grow hemp plants and to use those plants to make CBD products.

Responding to New State Laws

Interestingly, this new state law played a big role in Columbus’s decision to stop prosecuting low level weed charges. As reported by WBNS, City Attorney Zach Klein said that bill prompted his decision today.

From the sounds of things, a big part of his decision has to do with the difficulty of detecting exactly how much THC is present in any given product. Notably, standard law enforcement tools are built to detect the mere presence of THC, not the specific amount of THC.

As a result, it is very hard to tell if a CBD product has too much THC. Simply put, authorities cannot tell if a product containing CBD is legal or not. So, rather than get bogged down in this uncertainty, the city of Columbus will no longer go after any sort of low level marijuana offense.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Columbus Ohio Stops Prosecuting All Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/legalization/columbus-ohio-stops-prosecuting-misdemeanor-marijuana-cases/.

Medical Cannabis Laws Lower Rates of Opioid Prescription, Study Says

Does medical cannabis legalization lower prescription opioid rates? Researchers in Texas say it does—for some groups.

An important new study just published in the journal Preventive Medicine says medical marijuana legalization is helping to reduce opioid prescription rates. There’s still considerable debate among the health researchers and the medical community about whether cannabis can be an effective replacement for opioid medications or whether it can help people struggling with opioid use disorders beat addiction and stay alive. But researchers in Texas say that when it comes to lowering opioid prescription rates, medical cannabis legalization seems to be working. Put otherwise, making medical marijuana legal seems to be lowering the number of patients for whom doctors are prescribing opioids.

Study Looks at How Medical Marijuana Impacts Opioid Prescriptions

Over the past several years, interest in the ways cannabis might join the fight against the US opioid epidemic has exploded. From laboratories to legislative chambers, researchers and policymakers have looked to medical marijuana as one way to reduce the use of opioids and minimize their wide-reaching harm. Still, the relationship between cannabis legalization, cannabis use and opioids isn’t very well understood.

But a just-published study, titled “Association between cannabis laws and opioid prescriptions among privately insured adults in the US,” shines a light on the ways the medical marijuana legalization might be impacting patients’ use of prescription opioids. The study analyzed how different cannabis laws influenced the rate of opioid prescriptions among adults from different age groups in 2016.

To do so, researchers examined the relationships between age, changes in state cannabis laws and the pattern and rate of opioid prescriptions. Examining how those three variables interact with each other using data from one of the US’s largest commercial health insurance databases, researchers made some important findings.

Overall, the study found “a significant interaction between age and cannabis law on opioid prescriptions.” But those interactions changed depending on the age group and the type of cannabis law, whether simple decriminalization, medical legalization or full adult-use legalization.

Researchers looked at 5 different age groups from 18 to 64. For the oldest age group, from 56 to 64 years of age, researchers found no significant interactions between marijuana laws and opioid prescription rates. But for all the other age groups, in other words, all the patients aged 18-55, researchers say the interactions were significant. According to their results, those age groups had lower opioid prescription rates. But researchers only observed the reduction in states with medical cannabis laws only.

New Answers Prompt New Questions About Cannabis and Opioids

So researchers found that patients, between 18 and 55 years of age and with private insurance coverage, were prescribed fewer and shorter opioid prescriptions in states with legalized medical marijuana. But other categories of cannabis law, like decriminalization and adult-use, did not correlate with any significant reduction in opioid prescriptions, according to the study. It was just in medical marijuana-only states that researchers observed the decrease in opioid prescriptions.

Still, the study’s findings support other studies that have looked at the relationships between cannabis legalization and opioid use. A 2015 study, for example, found that states with legal access to dispensaries experienced a decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths. Another study using 2017 data is challenging those findings, however, saying that in recent years the trend has reversed.

In 2018, another study found an association between medical marijuana legalization and lower rates of opioid prescription among Medicaid recipients. Later that same year, researchers found a similar relationship between Medicare recipients aged 65 and above. But this study is the first to look exclusively at patients with private insurance.

Drury, ByAdam. “Medical Cannabis Laws Lower Rates of Opioid Prescription, Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 12 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/culture/medical-cannabis-laws-lower-rates-of-opioid-prescription-study-says/.

Nate Diaz Smokes and Passes Hemp Joint at UFC Open Workout

UFC star Nate Diaz is lighting up in front of the cameras again. But this time, it won’t land him with a suspension or sideline his career. In fact, when Diaz sparked up a joint during his UFC 241 open workout on Wednesday, the media and the crowd erupted in applause. It was a show of support that Diaz returned in kind by passing the joint around with those in attendance. The scene marked the first time a UFC fighter has ever burned one during an open workout. And it signals how far the UFC and professional mixed martial arts in general have come on the issue of athlete’s using cannabis. And if there’s anyone who deserves much of the thanks for that progress, it’s Nate Diaz.

Nate Diaz’ Smokes Up Crowd During Open Workout

Award-winning MMA fighter Nate Diaz is something of a martyr for professional athletes around the world. In the face of rules barring UFC athletes from consuming cannabis, Diaz remained open and unapologetic about using cannabis to help his body recover from the punishing rigors of the cage. That refusal to back down and follow the rules ultimately cost him three years of his UFC career. Now, that same commitment to cannabis is launching his UFC comeback.

It’s been more than three years since Diaz has stepped into the Octagon. His fight against Anthony Pettis Saturday night in Anaheim, California will be his first since the UFC suspended him for cannabis back in 2016. The anticipation around the fight is huge. But Diaz took the media’s presence at his open workout to show that despite the time off, he’s still the same weed-loving, bone-crushing fighter he’s always been.

In the middle of his workout at The Honda Center, Diaz sparked up a joint. After taking a few puffs for the camera, he passed it around the crowd. Understandably, the place went crazy, and everyone wanted their turn in the rotation. It would seem like a bold move for a fighter just returning to the Octagon after being banned for cannabis. But this time, Diaz wasn’t breaking any rules, because the joint he was passing around contained cannabidiol (CBD), not THC.

And not just any CBD, either. The hemp flower in the joint was from Diaz’ own line of performance products, Game Up Nutrition. You can even purchase a 1000mg bottle of hemp-derived, non-GMO CBD oil on Game Up Nutrition’s website while you read up on all the Diaz-endorsed benefits of cannabidiol.

UFC Now Allows In-Competition CBD Use

In 2016, Nate Diaz made sports headlines when he began puffing on a CBD vape pen at a press conference. It was the moment that arguably contributed most to Diaz’ suspension. The press conference came after Diaz’ banner bout against Conor McGregor. And throughout the conversation with reporters, Diaz wasn’t just hitting his CBD vape. He was also being as open as possible about what it was and why he was doing it.

“It’s CBD,” Diaz explained. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation and stuff like that. So you wanna get these before, after the fight, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”

Back then, basically ancient history on the timeline of cannabis legalization, any form of cannabis, including non-psychoactive CBD, was flat-out prohibited by the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Now, three years later, the UFC has changed its stance on weed. In light of the growing acknowledgement of the medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis and expanding legalization, the UFC no longer completely bans cannabis. Under its new rules, which came about thanks to the relentless advocacy of fans, trainers and athletes like Diaz, CBD is legal both in and out of competition. (CBD is also legal across the United States, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.)

In fact, earlier this year the UFC inked a multi-million dollar CBD deal with Aurora Cannabis. The UFC still bans THC in-competition. But consuming THC in the off-season will no longer land fighters with suspension.

Thanks to the new rules, Diaz could fearlessly spark up a hemp CBD joint during his open workout. Times are definitely changing.

Drury, ByAdam. “Nate Diaz Smokes and Passes Hemp Joint at UFC Open Workout.” Green Rush Daily, 15 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nate-diaz-smokes-and-passes-hemp-joint-at-ufc-open-workout/.

K-Pop Fans Lose Their Shit After Star is Axed for Trying to Buy Weed

Text messages of a weed purchase attempt from 2016 caused a South Korean lead singer, label founder and the CEO to all resign.

C’mon, we all got our favorite boy band. Not all of ours are U.S.-based, though. And some Korean pop fans are pissed (understandably so)—all thanks to a little pot.

This is some heavy-hitting drama, so brace yourselves. iKON, a seven-person group known for hits like “Killing Me” and “I’m OK,” lost its lead singer, YG Entertainment confirmed Wednesday. Why? Turns out Kim Han Bin (most popularly known as B.I.), the dreamy lead singer many fans on social media are heartbroken over, likes to smoke pot!

Well, whether he smokes it isn’t totally clear, but a Korean tabloid published a major expose showing texts from 2016 where the performer is allegedly trying to buy some weed and some LSD, according to Teen Vogue. Damn, he goes hard.

Label Apologizes on Behalf of Artist

The agency wrote in a statement, per Soompi, a Korean pop culture blog:

This is YG Entertainment.

We bow our heads and apologize for disappointing everyone with our artist Kim Han Bin’s problem.

Kim Han Bin is feeling heavy responsibility due to the impact of this matter. Taking the matter seriously, he has decided to leave the team and terminate his exclusive contract.

YG has become keenly aware of our responsibility for managing our agency artists.

Once again we sincerely apologize for causing concern.

Meanwhile, hip hop artists and rappers are out here producing entire bops dedicated to their love for the plant. Looks like homie got into the wrong genre of music. (Or maybe not given how the last Korean rapper caught smoking was treated.) B.I. issued a public apology via Instagram to his fans, who are really torn up about losing him.

B.I. Apologizes for Interest in Drugs

“I’m deeply sorry for causing a controversy over my inappropriate behavior. It’s true that I had interest in something to rely on which I shouldn’t have at one point when I was having a hard time. But I was too scared and worried to follow through,” the singer wrote, according to the translation from the Korea Herald.

In South Korea, medical cannabis was only legalized in December 2018, reports U.S. News & World Report. It was the first East Asian country to do so, but the drug is still heavily stigmatized there. If authorities investigate these allegations, B.I. could face up to four years in prison, per the Korea Herald. South Koreans aren’t even allowed to smoke abroad without catching a charge.

Fans Want B.I. Back

Still, fans are trying their hardest to bring B.I. back. They argue the kid wasn’t smokingor using drugs; he was just stating an attempt to buy. Nearly 700,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate him in the band.

“Ikonics and fans don’t want Hanbin to leave ikon when he did nothing wrong. He doesn’t deserve to,” the petition reads.

Die-hards have even created hashtags to shed a light on this disaster, reports Soompi. #HANBINSTAYWITHUS and #HANBINDONTLEAVEIKON show tweets of despair, anxiety, and disbelief.

Fans are begging, but the show must go on. The remaining (apparently perfect, rule-abiding, straight-edge) members of iKON will be continuing their Japanese tour without their lead man.

YG will continue without its founder Yang Hyun-Suk and his brother and YG Entertainment CEO Yang Min-suk, who both left the company within hours of each other.

CEO of Hershey Confirms Company is ‘Evaluating’ the CBD Trend

Hershey is marking its 125th anniversary with its highest stock price in history. But will CBD be part of the company’s new growth strategy?

On Tuesday, Hershey CEO Michele Buck appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to talk about the 125-year-old company’s recent success and plans for the future. This year, Hershey hit its highest stock price in history, up nearly 30 percent from last June, thanks to new growth strategies. And as the company looks to continue expanding its market, a move into the hemp CBD industry seems to make perfect sense for the snack company. CBD chocolates, gummies and other infused edibles are surging in popularity. Hershey is well-positioned to take advantage of the rapidly emerging trend. But while the company is closely evaluating CBD, Hershey’s CEO says there are no plans to add CBD to its products at this time.

Hershey Eyes Move into the CBD Market

In the alternative health and beauty market today, nothing is trendier than CBD. The enthusiasm surrounding CBD-infused health and beauty products only continues to grow. And their immense popularity among consumers looking for wellness alternatives has attracted the attention of some of the US’s largest retail chains. Companies are carefully and eagerly eyeing the evolving regulatory space around cannabidiol (CBD), looking for opportunities to expand CBD product lineups.

Some major retailers have already taken the plunge. Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens, for example, all sell complete lineups of CBD-infused topical products in select states. Others, however, are still hanging back, like Coca-Cola, Constellation Brands and other beverage and food companies. And Hershey, like those companies, is taking a cautious approach.

Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Hershey CEO Michele Buck described CBD as “a huge trend.” She said that Hershey is “evaluating” the rapidly expanding CBD market, but that there are “no plans at this point in time” for Hershey to produce and sell CBD-infused chocolates. But the company “will continue to monitor and evaluate that trend in the food business,” Buck added.

CBD-Infused Hershey’s Chocolate? “Not Today,” Says CEO

So why would Hershey hold back from such an enormous opportunity? Because for now, the legal risks are too great for a company of Hershey’s size. Even though the federal government legalized hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD late last year, FDA and USDA regulations currently block many companies from offering a broader range of cannabidiol products.

The biggest obstacle is the FDA regulation against putting CBD in food, beverages or in dietary supplements. The FDA restricts the addition of CBD to food and has prohibited retailers from selling it in any ingestible oil, edible or drinkable product. Even in states where CBD-infused foods and beverages are legal, federal regulations prohibit their interstate commerce.

On “Squawk Box,” Hershey CEO Buck explained why these restrictions are causing the company to hold off on CBD offerings—for now. “Frankly, there’s some work to do from a regulatory perspective,” Buck said. “Currently, it is not legal to ship interstate a food product that has CBD.”

But while major companies like Hershey and Coca-Cola wait for the FDA to green light CBD-infused foods and beverages, smaller businesses are cashing in on the CBD craze.

Drury, ByAdam. “CEO of Hershey Confirms Company Is ‘Evaluating’ the CBD Trend.” Green Rush Daily, 18 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/ceo-of-hershey-confirms-company-is-evaluating-the-cbd-trend/.

California Ad Campaign Targets Unlicensed Marijuana Dispensaries

California regulators launch the “Get #weedwise” campaign to draw consumers away from the unlicensed market.

On June 21, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control announced the launch of an ad campaign targeting unlicensed marijuana dispensaries. The statewide “Get #weedwise” campaign aims to encourage consumers to only buy their weed from licensed shops and dispensaries. The campaign also warns unlicensed businesses about the consequences of operating without state approval and provides information about how and why to obtain a license. Get #weedwise will use a variety of advertising methods, but the focus will be on digital ads.

California Regulators Struggle to Uproot Unlicensed Industry

California has the largest legal cannabis market in the country. But so far, the economic gains supporters of legalized hoped for haven’t materialized. Instead of soaring legal cannabis sales, billions in tax revenue and a diminished “black market,” legal cannabis sales fell to around $2.5 billion in 2018, half a billion less than 2017, when only medical marijuana was legal. California had legalized marijuana, but people were still buying their weed on the unlicensed market.

The unlicensed, illicit, so-called “black market” in California is decades-old and deeply entrenched. It also contributes to the root of California’s legal sales problem: an immense surplus of cannabis. In addition to serving hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers in California through a loosely regulated system of medical cannabis cooperatives, California’s unlicensed market also supplied cannabis dealers nationwide. Millions of pounds of cannabis fans its way east across the United States to illicit markets with much higher margins.

But earlier this year, California’s stricter cannabis industry regulations made that vast network of dispensaries and cultivators illegal virtually overnight. The problem, however, seems to be that consumers didn’t get the memo. As a result, many of them are still purchasing cannabis produced by unlicensed cultivators and manufacturers and sold by unlicensed sellers.

Get #weedwise Campaign Warns Consumers About Unlicensed Cannabis

Lori Ajax, the head of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, has been trying to get more consumers buying from the licensed market. And the BCC’s Get #weedwise campaign has been in the works since 2018. It’s a public information campaign to try to persuade consumers to stop buying from “illegal” sellers and start shopping at licensed shops. And to meet that goal, Get #weedwise is relying on the yuck factor.

Unlicensed, unregulated cannabis products continue to make headlines for what’s in them: pesticides, mold, chemicals and even human feces. Get #weedwise plays on consumers’ natural aversion to contaminated weed with a simple message: what’s in your weed shouldn’t be a mystery.

The Get #weedwise ads feature grainy, pixelated images of buds, edibles and vape pens. “Do you know what’s hiding in your counterfeit edibles?” one reads. “Does your oil have something to hide?” asks another. But all the ads warn consumers to “Shop licensed cannabis retailers only.”

The ads also direct cannabis consumers to CApotcheck.com, which provides a directory of licensed retailers across California. “We believe that this campaign will directly impact consumer safety by clarifying that only cannabis purchased from licensed retailers has met the state’s safety standards,” said Ajax.

The Get #weedwise campaign isn’t just focused on educating consumers about the differences between regulated and unregulated cannabis products, either. It also aims to send a clear message to unlicensed businesses that they need to obtain a license or shut down. In California, unlicensed cannabis business operators can face legal consequences and confiscation of cash or cannabis.

Drury, ByAdam. “California Ad Campaign Targets Unlicensed Marijuana Dispensaries.” Green Rush Daily, 24 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/california-ad-campaign-targets-unlicensed-marijuana-dispensaries/.

Pacquiao Wants to Reinstate Philippine Death Penalty for Drug Crimes

Senator Manny Pacquiao’s bill would impose the death penalty on anyone caught possessing 500 grams of marijuana or 10 grams of hash or other illegal drugs.

If you know who Manny Pacquiao is, you probably know him as the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing. You probably know him as the fighter the Boxing Writers Association of America, World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization named “Fighter of the Decade” in the 2000s. But Pacquiao isn’t just a boxer. He’s also a politician in the Philippines; a Senator, to be exact. And he’s using his political platform to call for reinstating the death penalty for drug crimes.

It’s not just a rhetorical move, either. This week, Senator Manny Pacquiao filed a bill that would impose both the death penalty and a fine ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 USD for anyone importing, selling, cultivating, manufacturing, distributing and even possessing illegal substances. The same would go for anyone who maintains or operates any infrastructure, buildings or other assets as part of the drug trade.

Pacquiao Calls for Death Penalty Amid Escalating Drug War

Under President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in 2016, the Philippines has been catapulted into a brutal drug war that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos to date, according to Human Rights Watch. Most of the victims have been poor residents living in Manila, Davao City and other urban centers in the country. And while 2,555 of those killings were the work of Philippine National Police, most have been carried out by vigilante, criminal and paramilitary groups operating at the behest of Duterte and other senior officials.

The large-scale extrajudicial violence against anyone suspected of drug crimes is a hallmark of Duterte’s administration. The killings are basically official drug enforcement policy. And there’s ample evidence to suggest police and other groups committing the killings are falsifying evidence and planting drugs and weapons on victims to justify their murder.

Just this past Sunday, a 3-year-old girl became the latest casualty of Duterte’s drug war, when police shot her to death during a raid targeting her father. “There will be more killings,” Duterte said in March. “It won’t end tomorrow for as long as there is a drug pusher and drug lord.”

Pacquiao Death Penalty Bill Sparks Wave of Similar Proposals in Philippine Senate

While Duterte is waging his violent crackdown on drugs outside of the law, lawmakers in the Philippine Senate are working to reinstate the death penalty for people convicted of drug crimes. And Senator Manny Pacquiao started that trend.

Pacquiao’s Senate Bill 189 imposes execution or imprisonment until death and heavy fines for drug offenders. “The future of our nation is in peril due to the extent of drug use instigating crimes,” Pacquiao wrote in the bill. “This is despite the country’s efforts on drug supply and demand reduction programs.”

“Stringent government response is needed through an aggressive policy. Countermeasures should be upgraded against this social menace,” Pacquiao added.

Pacquiao’s bill makes a distinction between drug offenders and those who “protect or coddle” violators. Simply help a drug dealer, and you’ll face life imprisonment and fines. But if you possess illegal drugs, you’ll be executed. Pacquiao’s bill calls for the death penalty for anyone possessing just 500 grams of marijuana or 10 grams of opium, heroin, cocaine, hash and other illegal drugs.

And Senator Pacquiao isn’t alone. Two other Philippine Senators, including, highly ironically, one nicknamed “Bong,” are introducing death penalty bills for drug offenders this month.

Drury, ByAdam. “Pacquiao Wants to Reinstate Philippine Death Penalty for Drug Crimes.” Green Rush Daily, 3 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/pacquiao-wants-to-reinstate-philippine-death-penalty-for-drug-crimes/.

Illinois is Going to Tax Recreational Marijuana Based on THC Content

Extract enthusiasts draw the short straw in Illinois.

Illinois recently made cannabis history. And not only because it became the newest state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis. The specific ways in which Illinois achieved legalization, as well as some key features of its new laws, have set it apart from other weed-legal states.

For starters, Illinois is the first state to pass legalization entirely through the legislative process. Technically, Vermont lawmakers legalized possession of marijuana this way, but they have yet to establish any sort of retail program. But Illinois, on the other hand, managed to pass legalization and establish a retail framework, which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Additionally, Illinois is also attracting attention for its unique tax structure. Specifically, when weed sales go into effect, the state will levy taxes based on THC content, instead of weight the way other weed-legal states do.

Illinois’ THC-Based Tax Structure

Here’s how Illinois will tax recreational cannabis and cannabis products:

  • Flower or other marijuana products with less than 35 percent THC will have a 10 percent sales tax.
  • Marijuana flower and other products with more than 35 percent THC will see a 25 percent sales tax.
  • And cannabis-infused products like edibles and drinkables will have a 20 percent sales tax.
  • Additionally, the state will impose a seven percent gross receipts tax on weed sales between cultivators and retail dispensaries.

In many ways, this is a novel idea in the world of marijuana legalization. The only other similar tax structure is in Canada. Last year, weed became legal at the national level. Under the country’s new rules and regulations, cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, cannabis oils, and cannabis topicals all face excise taxes based on how much THC they contain.

But in the U.S., Illinois is the first state to attempt this type of tax structure on the sale of legal cannabis.

Will This Affect Medical Marijuana?

For many, especially those who are currently medical marijuana patients, this new structure raises some big questions. Namely, will the three-tiered tax structure make medical marijuana—which can sometimes be relatively potent—more expensive?

According to local news source WTTW, Illinois’ new THC-based tax scheme only relates to recreational sales.

Even after retail sales begin next year, medical marijuana sales will proceed as usual. And when it comes to taxes, WTTW reported that medical marijuana products will continue to see a one percent sales tax, which is reportedly the same sales tax applied to all pharmaceuticals in the state.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program has so far seen relatively strong success since it launched in 2014.

Today, there are reportedly more than 65,500 medical marijuana patients registered with the state’s program. Additionally, sales of medical marijuana in Illinois recently went above $323 million.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program serves patients with one of 41 qualifying health conditions. Along with keeping medical marijuana separate from recreational cannabis in the context of sales taxes, the state has also kept the two separate in other key ways.

This includes keeping medical marijuana free of the same potency limits as products intended for the recreational market.

Home growing is the other big allowance granted to medical patients but not recreational consumers. As currently written, the state’s new recreational laws will not allow for home cultivation. But as per Illinois Policy, registered medical marijuana patients can still grow up to five plants at a time.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Illinois Is Going to Tax Recreational Marijuana Based on THC Content.” Green Rush Daily, 10 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/illinois-is-going-to-tax-recreational-marijuana-based-on-thc-content/.

USPS Workers Are Getting Busted for Delivering Cannabis Packages

Multiple USPS employees have been caught delivering marijuana over the last month.

While the legal marijuana industry continues its rapid rise, there are no shortages of black market sales within the U.S.—in both legal and non-legal states alike. One of the biggest perpetrators of trafficking product has been, ironically enough, government workers.

USPS workers, specifically.

However, it appears law enforcement is beginning to catch on, as two separate U.S. postal workers have been caught complicity delivering cannabis packages in just the last week alone.

USPS Employees Caught Delivering Cannabis Packages

The two USPS Employees caught delivering cannabis packages may have had similar visions of “greener” pastures ahead, but their schemes weren’t intertwined in any way.

The first perpetrator was 33-year-old Mobile, Alabama postman Unterria Rogers, who was sentenced to five years in jail on Tuesday for conducting an underground cannabis delivery service during his USPS route. He was officially charged with using a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, a felony.

According to Alabama news site AI.com, Rogers admitted to delivering around 133 pounds of marijuana on his route. Rogers would pick the packages up from California and for every pound successfully delivered, the USPS worker would pocket $250.

Law enforcement first became aware of the scheme after a USPS database recorded an unusually high number of packages being sent to Mobile. Their inklings were proven correct after undercover surveillance footage depicted Rogers delivering drug packages and accepting cash from third-party collaborators.

Another man, 44-year old Uford Davis, was also found complicit in the scheme and was sentenced to 12 months for possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

A Second Arrest

A second, unrelated arrest was made on Tuesday in New Jersey, where 47-year-old Newark resident Fred Rivers was convicted of intercepting cannabis-filled packages and delivering them to a drug dealer for cash payment.

According to NBC New York, the Springfield-based post officer would receive $100 for each package delivered between the dates of October 2016 and September 2017. Each package contained a fictitious name but legitimate Newark addresses. Rivers would falsely scan that the packages were delivered to their respective addresses, but would instead bring them to a third-party conspirator at the post office’s employee parking lot.

Rivers, who will be formally sentenced on October 29th, faces up to five years in prison.

Considering the fact that cannabis has taken approximately zero lives, these sentences appear to be a bit on the extreme side, to say the least. Factoring in the non-violent nature of the crimes and the vast amount of taxpayer money used to incarcerate marijuana “offenders,” the faster we decriminalize cannabis on a federal level, the better.

Kohut, ByTim. “USPS Employees Caught Delivering Cannabis Packages.” Green Rush Daily, 19 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/usps-workers-are-getting-busted-for-delivering-cannabis-packages/.

Gas Station Owner Imprisoned for Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids

The court ordered he pay a $1 million fine on top of 30 months of jail time.

A 58-year-old McFarland man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison due to his role in selling synthetic cannabinoids in a slew of Wisconsin-based gas stations.

On Thursday, Zahid Shakeel, a general manager of Capitol Petroleum, was sentenced by Chief US District Judge James Peterson in a Madison federal court. The gas station employee pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to commit money laundering back in April.

The Second Peg to Fall

Shakeel was working alongside his boss, Farooq Shahzad, the owner, and operator of the 17-location chain of convenience stores throughout the state. The 50-year-old Pakistani-American business owner was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison back in March after ignoring multiple warnings from his gas suppliers, Exxon Mobil and BP, regarding the sale of the illegal cannabinoids in his stores.

In addition to 30 months of jail time,  Shahzad was ordered by the court to pay a $1 million fine, sell one of his store locations and give the proceeds to the government, and forced to pay $52,514 in tax restitution.

According to the US Attorney’s Office official news release, the two conspired to sell synthetic cannabinoids throughout the gas stations owned by Shahzad between July 2015 through April 2016. Both Shakeel and Shahzad were allegedly aware of the dangers and illicit nature of synthetic marijuana but knowingly proceeded to distribute them, regardless.

“Law enforcement officials repeatedly asked Shahzad, Shakeel and other Capitol Petroleum employees to stop the sale of these dangerous drugs, and executed search warrants in June 2015, seizing the inventories of two gas stations,” the release said, per the Wisconsin State Journal. “Despite these warnings, the conspirators continued to distribute synthetic cannabinoids from a Mobil gas station at 3505 E. Washington Ave. in Madison.”

Synthetic Marijuana: An Epidemic in its Own Right

Synthetic cannabinoids, which are sold under brand names such as Spice and K2, have been illegal since 2012, due to their wide-range of negative effects such as seizures, rapid heart rate, kidney damage, vomiting, suicidal thoughts, and violent behavior.

It was once even responsible for 33 people from a single Brooklyn neighborhood being hospitalized in one day alone.

“Synthetic cannabinoids can have more powerful effects on the brain, and can lead to death,” said a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In 2011, the DEA made some of the chemical compounds typically found in synthetic marijuana Schedule I. However, that hasn’t stopped many places—especially where cannabis is still not legal—from illicitly selling the product. Shahzad and Shakeel are living proof of that notion.

Kohut, ByTim. “Gas Station Owner Imprisoned for Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/gas-station-owner-imprisoned-for-selling-synthetic-cannabinoids/.

Baltimore Mailman Caught Delivering Weed During Postal Route

Maine Governor Signs Bill Establishing Recreational Marijuana Rules

The recreational marijuana rules Maine Gov. Janet Mills just signed into law have the strictest residency requirements of any legal-weed state.

Maine, a state that legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, is finally on track start selling weed to consumers. On Thursday, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bill establishing rules and regulations for a regulated recreational marijuana industry. Retail marijuana sales still won’t begin until March 2020, two and a half years after voters said yes to legalization. The rules themselves, however, will take effect in September 2019, making Maine the eighth state in the U.S. to move toward regulated sales.

But after months of sharp debate and criticism about some of the proposed regulations, the bill Gov. Mills signed is more relaxed than the version state regulators had pushed for. Still, Maine will have some of the strictest residency requirements of any legal-weed state in the U.S. And those requirements will decide exactly who in Maine will be able to legally grow, sell and purchase cannabis.

Recreational Marijuana Rules Aim to Keep Cannabis Industry Profits In Maine

Getting a regulated recreational marijuana program up in running after voters approved the measure in 2016 hasn’t been easy. Gov. Mills’ Republican predecessor, Paul LePage, vehemently opposed recreational legalization and vetoed previous bills to begin retail weed sales. But since Gov. Mills took office in January 2019, Maine has moved quickly to establish a regulated industry. In her first month in office, Gov. Mills established Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy. Working alongside well-known cannabis industry consultants based in Colorado and California, the Office produced a set of draft regulations in under three months.

That 74-page rulebook gave Maine residents and prospective business owners their first real glimpse at what the state’s regulated industry would look like. And its publication kicked off two months of public hearings and debate about the proposed rules. During those hearings, the chief criticism was that Maine’s rules would crush small, craft cannabis growers and medical marijuana caregivers—the same businesses that sustained Maine’s medical marijuana program. The rules, critics said, gave larger corporate producers a competitive advantage over smaller businesses.

As a result, the Office of Marijuana Policy worked to craft strict residency requirements. The goal being to keep Maine’s marijuana industry in Maine, benefiting Maine residents. And even though those residency requirements were watered-down in the version Gov. Mills signed into law Thursday, they’re still the strictest in the nation.

Are Maine’s Strict Residency Requirements a Mistake?

For example, only people who have been Maine residents for at least four years can apply for a cultivation or retail license. Same for anyone who wants to manufacture marijuana products like edibles or who owns a majority interest in a cannabis business.

Initially, however, Maine regulators wanted to drastically limit out-of-state ownership or control of any Maine marijuana business. But after Maine’s largest medical marijuana company, Wellness Connection of Maine, threatened to sue over the rules, state regulators backed down. Wellness Connection has significant financial ties to Acreage Holdings of New York, one of the largest U.S. cannabis companies.

Maine isn’t the first weed-legal state to implement residency requirements in an attempt to keep industry profits from flowing out of state. Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Massachusetts all initially embraced residency requirements. But after struggling to monitor and regulate corporate investment structures and in the face of difficulties obtaining in-state investment, Oregon and Colorado repealed and relaxed their residency requirements.

Maine’s goal with its own residence requirements was to create economic incentive for in-state investment. Regulators wanted to create a market that benefitted Maine residents and businesses, not massive out-of-state corporations. The version of the recreational marijuana rules signed by Gov. Mills, however, has no language limiting out-of-state control of Maine marijuana businesses.

What Maine’s Recreational Marijuana Rules Mean for Consumers

With legal weed sales already underway in Massachusetts, it’s unclear how much marijuana tax revenue Maine has already lost to its New England neighbor. But industry analysts predict Maine’s legal weed market could grow to 107 million in 2020. It could also produce as many as 5,400 jobs when fully underway. According to analysts, about 13 percent of Maine’s population, or 173,000 people, will form the consumer base for the cannabis industry. Recent survey data suggests anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of Maine residents consumed marijuana at least once in the previous six months.

As for prices, Maine’s cannabis consumers should expect to pay illicit market prices, at least initially. As retailers pay for licenses and lab tests, prices will peak within 18 months before dropping off, say industry consultants.

Drury, ByAdam. “Maine Governor Signs Bill Establishing Recreational Marijuana Rules.” Green Rush Daily, 28 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/maine-governor-signs-bill-establishing-recreational-marijuana-rules/.

Fight at Unlicensed Dispensary Over Free Sample Hospitalizes Man

Things got a little crazy over the weekend at an unlicensed marijuana dispensary in the San Diego area.

After what appears to be some crossed wires regarding a free sample of weed, a fight broke out at the shop. And when the dust settled, the fight left behind a lot of confusion about exactly what happened and who was involved.

Miscommunication About Free Weed

Early reports about the incident come from The San Diego Union-Tribune. As per the paper’s report, the incident under question took place Sunday afternoon at a weed shop in Chula Vista, which is located in southern San Diego.

According to reports, a man in the area received a text message announcing free samples at the dispensary. But when he arrived, he apparently found out it was not as simple as he thought.

Specifically, reports indicate that when the man arrived to claim his free sample, a person working at the shop informed him that he needed to buy something first in order to qualify for the free product.

From there, it is a little murky how things unfolded. But from the sounds of things, the customer did not react well to the news.

One way or another, the man and workers at the marijuana shop ended up in a brawl. Reports say that the customer was eventually asked to take it outside.

But when the man turned to leave the building, he was allegedly hit on the head. He claims he was struck from behind by a security guard.

The fight continued outside the building. At that point, the customer said that he was then attacked by two workers from inside the shop.

During the fight, the customer managed to call the cops. And when authorities arrived, they found and arrested the alleged assailants.

According to reports, authorities did not find the security guard who allegedly hit the customer over the head. After the fight ended, the customer was hospitalized.

Unlicensed Dispensaries in Southern California

As of now, it is unclear what, if any, charges the men from the marijuana shop may face. Similarly, it is unclear if the shop will face any penalties.

But local media reported that the shop is not a state-licensed dispensary. As such, the shop could end up in a lot of trouble.

Interestingly, there are a relatively large number of dispensaries throughout Southern California that are technically not fully licensed to operate.

In fact, law enforcement in Southern California has been cracking down on unlicensed and otherwise illegal marijuana shops ever since recreational retail began in the state.

In most cases, the dispensaries are considered “illegal” because they have not completed all necessary applications. Similarly, many of these shops continue operating without all required approvals and licenses.

Last year, authorities in Los Angeles busted 150 businesses for operating without proper licensing. As a result, they charged more than 500 people with criminal offenses.

Then, last summer, the Los Angeles City Attorney said they would begin a broad crackdown on unlicensed weed shops.

And most recently, the city filed a lawsuit against an unlicensed shop. In the suit, the city claimed the shop was unlawfully selling product that was contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Fight at Unlicensed Dispensary Over Free Sample Hospitalizes Man.” Green Rush Daily, 1 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/fight-at-unlicensed-dispensary-over-free-sample-hospitalizes-man/.

90% of Adults Using Cannabis for Pain Reduced or Stopped Opioid Use

Research shows that plants are trumping pills.

One of the most classic anti-cannabis myths ever is that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” According to this idea, weed causes people to move into dangerous drug abuse. But, as more and more research is showing, that myth is simply not true.

In fact, the exact opposite may be more accurate. It appears that cannabis can actually help people stop using harmful drugs. Specifically, opioids.

Thanks to a recently published study, there is more evidence than ever showing that cannabis could be a way to help wean people off of potential addiction to opioids.

New Study on Cannabis and Opioids

The new study was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. It looked at survey results from cannabis consumers in Colorado.

Specifically, researchers worked with two dispensaries. The shops asked customers if they wanted to participate in a survey about cannabis consumption and health. In total, there were 1,000 people in the survey.

Sixty-five percent of those 1,0000 said they consume weed to help treat pain. Similarly, 74 percent said they consume marijuana as a sleep aid.

From there, the survey dug a little bit deeper. Specifically, researchers wanted to see how marijuana consumption might affect the consumption of other substances. Here’s what they found:

  • Eighty percent of those who said they consume weed for pain relief reported that cannabis “was very or extremely helpful.”
  • Eighty-two percent of cannabis consumers who were also taking over-the-counter pain medications said they were taking fewer medications when they consume weed.
  • Similarly, 88 percent of marijuana consumers who were taking opioid painkillers said they reduced or stopped taking opioids when they consumed marijuana.
  • And for sleep, 87 percent of cannabis consumers said they reduced or stopped taking over-the-counter sleep aids.
  • Similarly, 83 percent of those in the survey said they reduced or stopped using prescription sleeping medications.

Implications of New Data

This new data could have big implications. Specifically, for medical patients concerned with opioids. In particular, it could be important for those who end up becoming addicted to opioid painkillers.

Interestingly, this is not the first study to suggest that cannabis might help get people off of opioids.

For example, in May of this year, a study was published. It demonstrated possible correlations between legal cannabis and the rate of opioid prescriptions. This study found that places with legal weed tended to have fewer patients being prescribed opioids.

Similarly, a 2018 study found that states with legal medical marijuana programs had an average of six percent fewer opioid prescriptions.

A similar study found the same thing among older Medicare patients. Specifically, this study found that there were 14 fewer opioid doses per day in states with medical marijuana dispensaries.

Despite the growing body of evidence showing that cannabis may be an effective way to curb reliance on opioids, many researchers believe more work is needed.

“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not,” said Gwen Wurm, a researcher from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who participated in the newest cannabis-opioid study. “Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own ‘trial and error’ experiments, getting advice from friends, social media, and dispensary employees.”

Lindsey, ByNick. “90% Of Adults Using Cannabis for Pain Reduced or Stopped Opioid Use, Study Shows.” Green Rush Daily, 2 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/90-of-adults-using-cannabis-for-pain-reduced-or-stopped-opioid-use/.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sold Meth to Undercovers in Store

From meds to meth.

It’s safe to say there aren’t any qualifying conditions that warrant a recommendation for medicinal meth. But apparently, one dispensary owner didn’t get the memo.

38-year-old Jeffrey Peregrino, the owner of Left-Handed Okies in Spiro, Oklahoma, a medical marijuana dispensary in Spiro, Oklahoma, was busted selling meth undercover Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN). The location at 15627 US Highway 271 has since been shut down following an Emergency Suspension Order from the state.

Dispensary Shut Down: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sold Meth to Undercovers in Store

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Peregrino sold meth to the officers two different times.

“On two separate occasions, our undercover Agents have recently purchased meth from the owner of ‘Left Handed Okies’ dispensary in Spiro. Both of the transactions took place inside the dispensary office,” OBN Spokesperson Mark Woodward told 5 News Online.

Peregrino was booked on Wednesday at the LeFlore County Jail and faces two counts of trafficking methamphetamine. OBN has also recovered any of the items inside Peregrino’s dispensary.

Coty Jerell, the owner of a Left Handed Okies dispensary in Shady Point, Oklahoma, claims his business isn’t associated with Peregrino’s, but he does own the naming rights. Jerell said he will remove the name from the other location as soon as possible as to avoid any connection with the embattled former dispensary owner.

“‘Left Handed Okies in Shady Point is 120% against any kind of methamphetamine or opioids, the reason why we got into this industry is to fight this epidemic,” Jerrell said to 5 News.

A Not-So-Ideal Mix

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time in recent months that meth and legal marijuana have mixed, so to speak. Back in February, 47-year-old John Bruce Fifield, Jr. of Sedalia, Colorado, was accused of lacing cannabis with methamphetamines and distributing it to middle school students at Woodland Park Middle School in Colorado Springs.

Police say it was the first instance they had ever encountered meth-laced marijuana.

“This is the first time that we’re seeing that combination in our county and it’s giving us lots of concern,” said the Teller County Sheriff’s Office at the time.

Kohut, ByTim. “Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sold Meth to Undercovers in Store.” Green Rush Daily, 25 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/medical-marijuana-dispensary-owner-sold-meth-to-undercovers-in-store/.

Nick Young Says Steve Kerr is the Best Blunt Roller in the NBA

Steve Kerr has used medical marijuana himself and advocates for it over many prescription pain meds. Apparently, he rolls a mean blunt, too.

“Can I ask a very personal, yet very serious and important question?” Damon Bruce asked NBA champion Nick Young on air on 97.5 The Game this morning. 97.5 is a sports radio station in the Bay Area, where Young spent a season with the Golden State Warriors. Young, aka Swaggy P, had called into The Damon Bruce Show, and Bruce took the opportunity to ask this very important, very serious question: “Who rolls the best blunt in the NBA?”

“Oh no, you know, that’s snitching,” Young replied with a laugh, before he names a coach—a former Coach of the Year, in fact. “Probably, Steve Kerr,” Swaggy P ultimately replied. Yep, Nick Young says Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is the best blunt roller in the NBA.

Steve Kerr Rolls the Best Blunt in the League, Says Nick Young

For someone who once made headlines over comments that the U.S. should legalize cocaine, NBA shooting guard Nick Young seemed caught off guard when asked who rolls the best blunt in the NBA. And even though Swaggy P probably kept his real answer a secret—NBA players can face penalties for consuming cannabis—his choice of Steve Kerr does make sense.

Since about 2016, NBA head coach Steve Kerr has been fairly outspoken about his personal experiences with medical marijuana. And even though cannabis didn’t work for Kerr’s chronic back pain, he still advocates for athletes to use it. “I’m not a pot person. It doesn’t agree with me. I tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff,” Kerr said on a podcast in 2016. “But I do know this. If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got lots of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin,” Kerr added.

As for Kerr’s blunt rolling expertise, that’s something the Warriors coach hasn’t admitted to publicly. So we’ll have to take Nick Young’s word for it.

Cannabis Use Among NBA Players is an Open Secret

Kerr’s 2016 comments caused a media sensation and even prompted a statement from the NBA. At the time, Kerr expressed frustration that his sincere comments on treating pain in professional sports became a headline about his personal medical cannabis use. In fact, the issue of medical marijuana use among NBA players is an ongoing debate for the league.

And in 2014, when asked about the issue, NBA commissioner Adam Silver admitted that while the league prefers players don’t consume marijuana, it’s still open to adjusting to the times. Testing for marijuana use is also something the league collectively bargains with the players’ association. And currently, players don’t begin to face any consequences for testing positive until it’s their third time.

As for coaches, the league subjects them to one drug test per season. And that happens at training camp. Kerr never popped positive himself, but he admitted that he could have back when he was experimenting with cannabis for treating back pain.

Drury, ByAdam. “Nick Young Says Steve Kerr Is the Best Blunt Roller in the NBA.” Green Rush Daily, 11 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nick-young-says-steve-kerr-is-the-best-blunt-roller-in-the-nba/.

United States Government to Grow 2 Tons of Marijuana for Research

That’s over 4,000 pounds of the good stuff.

Thanks to the burgeoning recreational marijuana industry, the U.S. government is beginning to look at cannabis use in a different light. While it still remains a Schedule I substance under federal law, the paradigm is still shifting. According to a new report from the AP, the U.S. is making a concerted effort to further study the effects of cannabis and is slated to grow the largest crop of marijuana plants in five years.

A Notable Crop Yield

The AP report states that the US will grow  2,000 kilograms, or 4,409 pounds, of cannabis at the University of Mississippi this year.

The marijuana is expected to be researched in several different forms, theoretically duplicating the variety of ways one can consume cannabis in today’s weed legal climate, such as vaporizing the plant, marijuana-based tinctures, edibles, and of course, smoking it through traditional rolling papers. It’s unclear at this time, however, which exact methods will be utilized.

Per an email from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the Associated Press, the US wants to study cannabis products that more closely mirrors what is being sold in weed legal states. Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia. Medicinal marijuana is now available in 33 states and DC.

For research purposes, the cannabis will be split into two main groupings—high THC and high CBD varieties. The main reason for these groups is to determine which type of plant works best for a variety of medical ailments.

“We want to study what our patients are using,” University of Colorado Assistant Professor Emily Lindley told the AP. Lindley is currently studying the effects of high THC strains on chronic back pain.

The Effects of THC and CBD

THC and CBD have widely different effects, but they have both displayed numerous medicinal benefits.

CBD—the nonpsychoactive component of cannabis—has proven to be effective for a variety of ailments, including anxiety, depression, and even neurological disorders like epilepsy.

Back in September, Epidolex, a CBD-based drug for epilepsy, became the first FDA-approved cannabis medication.

THC, on the other hand, has displayed a variety of pain-reducing and pain management qualities, making it a welcomed alternative to prescription opioids. There is even emerging evidence that it could possess certain neurological benefits and protections.

We will have to wait for some time to see the results of this latest study, however. The NIDA expects to see the results sometime in fall, following the harvest of the crop and corresponding analyses.

Kohut, ByTim. “United States Government to Grow 2 Tons of Marijuana for Research.” Green Rush Daily, 12 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/us-to-grow-most-marijuana-for-research-in-5-years/.

How to Find Funding in the Cannabis Industry

So you want to start a weed business? Well, there is a lot you should know.

As of June 2019, there are only about a dozen remaining states that have marijuana listed as completely illegal with varying degrees of decriminalization. With the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis and CBD products on the rise throughout the country, now is a prime time for entrepreneurs to get ahead of the market with their cannabusinesses. Except for one setback: the struggle of trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

Finding funding to grow a weed biz is and will continue to be extremely challenging as long as marijuana is illegal on the federal level.

Legal Restrictions

Before discussing what you can do to find funding in the cannabis industry, you first need to know what you can’t do.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug on the federal level, meaning major banks, which are regulated by the federal government and FDIC-insured, cannot get involved with this illegal drug money. The legalization of marijuana varies state by state, so while some small local and state-chartered banks might be able to provide a loan, it still comes with a risk. If the federal government chose to intervene with legalized state rulings, the feds could potentially shut down the cannabusiness at any time. This means any lender with debts being collected from a company recently shutdown by the government would not be paid back, not to mention the bank itself would be in trouble since transactions related to cannabis are considered criminal activity.

Banks also refuse to issue credit cards or even open a checking account for a cannabis business for the same liability reasons. Federally chartered banks can’t touch any weed money and if they do it is at their own risk. The Bank Secrecy Act requires all banks, including the community credit unions and state-chartered ones, to flag any transactions of $5,000 or more that may be associated with illegal activity, including federally illegal cannabis transactions.

The risk to banks has created one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

All banks take a risk when handling marijuana money, not just the major federal ones. Thankfully, banks aren’t the only institutions with money to lend.

Available Options

Banks loans may be the most common business funding source, but they aren’t the only option. Funding for businesses in the cannabis industry comes down to two categories: equity funding and debt funding. The best option for your business depends on what you envision for your company’s future, what assets you already have and how much ownership you want to maintain.

Equity Funding

Venture Capital

Utilizing venture capital requires exchanging equity, or ownership stakes, of your business for money. Weed based businesses with big dreams and anticipation of scaling might find this the best option. Popular venture capital firms that fund cannabis businesses are: Canna Angels, Casa Verde Capital, Green Acre Capital, Poseidon Asset Management and dozens more. A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Angel Investor

Instead of working with a larger firm, you can also look into finding an angel investor, one person with money to provide your business with extra working capital. This method is preferred by those looking for mentorship in addition to money, as working one-on-one can provide guidance while navigating through the early stages of business startup and growth. AngelList has a list of angel investors that will fund cannabis businesses, but keep in mind they probably get contacted quite a bit. If you’re lucky, you might get the attention of a musician, athlete or other celebrity.

Debt Funding

Online lending

Traditional banks are prohibited from working with pot money, but there are still funders and lenders that have the ability to provide large amounts of money to these “legally gray” cannabis businesses. Online lending is done with private investor money and may or may not require collateral. Online lenders known to work with cannabis businesses include: Kabbage, GoKapital, United Capital Source, and others, it just might take some searching to find the right match.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding a cannabis business can be done in two ways. You can ask your family and friends to lend or give you money to bring your beloved green to the community, fingers crossed your rich aunt is feeling generous. Or you can post your business plan on a crowdfunding website to acquire funds from strangers. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best-known platforms, but posting your company may require approval as the state-by-state laws vary and can cause questionability. StartEngine is reported to approve weed-based startups, or you can find a dope-specific platform such as CannaFundr or Fundana. The debt part of crowdfunding comes from the promise you make to those who contribute money: free t-shirt, free product, or other incentives.

What You’ll Need

Traditionally, bank loans require a strong credit score of 700 or higher. However, without the ability to get a credit card, your business won’t have a credit score. Cannabis is currently a cash-only business and while you can exchange quite a few greenbacks for your green, credit card companies, which are run by federally regulated banks, will not accept cannabis money. Using a personal credit card for these transactions is just as illegal and could have repercussions.

Here’s how you can manage cash flow and get the credentials you need to show investors and lenders your startup or established but growing business is worth giving money to.

Get A Cannabis POS System

A new industry is emerging from the underserved cannabusiness market. B2B companies that help marijuana companies run and operate are becoming more common as solutions are needed for businesses in legalized states.

As a dispensary, a point of sale system can help you manage and accept payments, and when you choose a green specific software, you can get a service that knows the legalities of the industry, helping you stay compliant with the law. Green Bits will auto-apply transaction limits per the state laws, capture customer information, create promotions and loyalty programs, generate inventory audits and produce state reports.

If you’re a grower, kitchen or distributor, LeafLogix can help with daily cash flow monitoring. This software services the entire supply chain of cannabis from seed to sale. It’s beneficial when running a business to have the ability to not only track operations, but also generate reports that influence future decisions.

If cash-only becomes an issue for making sales, CanPay is an option. CanPay is a debit based payment app not associated with FDIC-insured banks, which comes at its own risk but can offer convenience to retailers handling large amounts of cash and customers who don’t carry cash.

Understand Cash Flow And ROI

You’ll want to have a software like one of the ones mentioned above because potential investors will need to see your business is healthy and financially a low risk. The next question investors will ask is what you would use the money for and how you would get a greater return on it. Your return on investment needs to be enough to cover the initial investment plus interest. For example, more real estate would allow a greater volume of plant growth that would increase sales and attract bigger processors.

Seek Funds When Strong Not Struggling

A common mistake business owners make in any industry is applying for a loan when the business is struggling. This ends up costing more as underwriters see a risk and will approve a loan with higher rates and terms. Applying for a loan when strong and boasting solid monthly sales will save money in the long term, and it doesn’t hurt to have a cash flow credit available for when opportunity or emergency arises. Some cannabis-friendly online lenders provide revolving lines of credit which may be suitable for your company.

Industry by Industry, State by State

While we wait for the federal government to give marijuana the green light, each industry needs to be aware of the ever-changing state-specific laws and regulations. December 2018 saw the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill which decreed hemp is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance but is still under the regulation of the FDA. Hemp and CBD businesses can access business capital through banks and other federally involved establishments, and interstate commerce of these products can legally occur (As long as the THC concentration of a product is no more than 0.3%).

When evaluating each specialty, grow houses, farms, distributors, processors, and retailers all must look into their individual regulations and loopholes per state. There may be a state-specific financing option available, you just have to get creative.

The Problem

Politicians are noticing the “The Green Boom,” or more accurately, are noticing the money to be made off of taxing marijuana purchases. Even Nebraska is tempted by farming hemp research crops. The states that have embraced medicinal and recreational cannabis sales early on are encouraging business growth, but a handful of online lenders, VC firms, angel investors and generous friends aren’t nearly enough to meet the demands of business owners trying to find funding in the cannabis industry.

While a newly legalized state is an open market for new marijuana businesses, the uncharted territory comes with its own set of challenges. Thankfully, bold entrepreneurs are paving the way for future cannabis business funding opportunities.

Rio, ByJuliet Del. “How to Find Funding in the Cannabis Industry.” Green Rush Daily, 18 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/how-to-find-funding-in-the-cannabis-industry/.

Cannabis Company Fires CEO Over Illegal Grow Room Scandal, Stock Up

The stock rose 23% after dropping 50 % over the last year.

A large cannabis producer in Canada is currently under investigation for allegedly growing weed in unlicensed grow rooms. With the investigation ongoing, the company has now started making changes.

Most recently, the company fired its CEO. Similarly, the Chair of the company’s Board of Directors also resigned. Interestingly, the immediate news of these changes spurred a quick uptick in the company’s stock value.

CannTrust Responds to Ongoing Investigations

Earlier this month, Canadian cannabis company CannTrust Holdings was found to be non-compliant with Canada’s cannabis laws. According to a report from Markets Insider, CannTrust was allegedly growing weed in unlicensed greenhouses. The grow rooms were reportedly built behind fake walls.

On July 8, Canada Health sent CannTrust a formal notification telling the company that it was non-compliant.

According to officials from Canada Health, CannTrust grew marijuana in unlicensed grow rooms from October 2018 to March 2019. During that time, CannTrust had pending license applications for those rooms. But by beginning to grow before all licenses had been approved and finalized, the company fell into non-compliance. Now, authorities are investigating the case further.

As a result of the investigation, Canada Health put a hold on 5,200 kilograms of cannabis. Additionally, CannTrust placed a voluntary hold on another 7,400 kilograms of product.

Now, as the investigation continues to unfold, CannTrust has announced changes to company leadership.

Specifically, the company’s CEO was fired. Additionally, the Board of Directors requested the company’s Chair to step down. He complied with the request.

Now, Robert Marcovitch has been named interim CEO. Prior to this position, Marcovitch was President and CEO of winter sporting goods company K2 Sports. He was also involved with CannTrust as the company’s Special Committee Chair.

“Our first priority is to complete the remaining items of our investigation and bring the Company’s operations into full regulatory compliance,” Marcovitch said in a new press release. “Implementing the necessary changes is essential to the interests of our medical patients, customers, shareholders, and employees.”

He added: “CannTrust has a number of strengths is can draw upon to reset and rebuild, including industry-leading research, innovation, and intellectual property.”

Immediate Impacts of the Investigation

According to CannTrust, the ongoing investigation—and especially placing on hold so much product—could lead to shortages on the retail end.

This could be particularly troubling to Canadian consumers, especially since the country has already dealt with numerous shortages since national legalization went into effect. Immediately after weed became legal, retailers across the country saw massive demand. So much, in fact, that suppliers could not keep up.

It got so bad that earlier this year, some experts predicted that parts of the country could see shortages for up to five years.

Beyond impacting the supply of product, the investigation into CannTrust is also affecting the company’s stock.

Specifically, and somewhat interestingly, news of the company’s leadership changes spurred a quick spike in stock prices.

As reported by Markets Insider, CannTrust shares are down almost 50 percent over the year. But in the immediate wake of announcing the leadership shakeup, stock prices quickly saw a 23 percent spike.

Drury, ByAdam. “Street THC Cartridge Puts Man In Medically Induced Coma.” Green Rush Daily, 26 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/street-thc-cartridge-puts-man-in-medically-induced-coma/.

Street THC Cartridge Puts Man In Medically Induced Coma

The brother of the man showed reporters a cartridge with “DANK” branding.

The gap between legitimate vape cartridges and fake imitations can be huge. Sometimes, it can be life-threateningly dangerous. A Wisconsin man doctors have just placed into a medically-induced coma is a perfect case in point. And the severe heart and lung damage he suffered after vaping a street THC cartridge is also a clarion call for the importance of legalization. Without access to safe cannabis products, people’s health, wellness, and even their lives are at stake.

Vape Nearly Costs Wisconsin Man His Life

The state of Wisconsin is falling behind the rest of the U.S., and even its neighbors, by continuing to uphold its prohibition against THC. Wisconsin permits the medical use of CBD oil and other cannabis products with negligible THC, but three of its four bordering states, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota have legalized marijuana. In Wisconsin, however, cannabis consumers have to turn to unregulated, illicit products.

The safety and purity of THC vape cartridges, even in places where they’re regulated, routinely comes under question. Tests have turned up lead, pesticides and other contaminants in vape cartridges. And on the unregulated market, THC cartridges are a black box. Unless you can look up reliable information online or in chat rooms about a particular product—and even then—there’s really no way to know what you’re inhaling when you vape.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin say they still don’t know what type of vape landed the brother of Patrick DeGrave in a medically-induced coma Friday. They don’t know where or from whom he bought it. And they’re still waiting on lab results to find out what the cartridges contained.

All we know is that DeGrave said his brother bought the THC cartridges off the street. And when speaking with reporters, Patrick DeGrave held up an empty cartridge and a box with DANK branding and logos. “These street vapes are very, very dangerous,” DeGrave told WITI. “My brother nearly lost his life.”

The cartridges could come from the same batch of bad concentrate that possibly put eight patients in the hospital with severe lung damage in just four weeks. Each of the eight patients vape, but doctors can’t say for sure if there’s a connection.

Illicit Vapes Are Causing Severe Trauma, Doctors Say

Patrick DeGrave says his brother began having issues breathing after vaping a street THC cartridge. As his symptoms worsened, Patrick took his brother to Aurora Memorial Hospital. Doctors thought the issue might be pneumonia or another pulmonary disease. But they soon realized the cause was likely the oil in the vape cartridge. Within 24 hours of going to the hospital, doctors sedated DeGrave’s brother and placed him in a medically-induced coma.

For now, doctors are unsure if the Wisconsin man, who is in his mid-20s, will ever fully recover. “The trauma that he caused to his lungs is significant, the trauma that he caused to his heart is significant,” said DeGrave.

In light of recent vape-connected hospitalizations, Wisconsin health officials are issuing alerts to warn the public, and especially adolescents, about vape cartridges. “Vaping in teenagers is something that’s harming our kids and we want that to be loud and clear, said Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin chief medical officer Dr. Michael Gutzeit.

Drury, ByAdam. “Street THC Cartridge Puts Man In Medically Induced Coma.” Green Rush Daily, 26 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/street-thc-cartridge-puts-man-in-medically-induced-coma/.

Ex TV Weatherman Caught Driving Uber Drunk and Asking Riders for Pot

Not the smartest way to score.

A man working as an Uber driver in Lincoln, Nebraska was convicted yesterday of driving under the influence after riders called the cops on him. Some of the man’s Uber customers complained about the man’s erratic driving. Additionally, customers also said the man was asking them for weed.

According to local news sources, the Uber driver is Sean E. McMullen. The man is reportedly from Douglas, Nebraska, a small town located southeast of Lincoln. Interestingly, McMullen is a former TV weatherman. Previously, he worked at Nebraska TV stations KLKN in Lincoln and KETV in Omaha.

Uber Riders Alarmed by Their Driver

At the time of the incident, McMullen was not working as a weatherman. Instead, he was working as an Uber driver.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, McMullen came into contact with police in the early morning hours of July 7, 2018. At that time, a 31 year old woman and her friends called cops after taking an Uber ride in McMullen’s car.

Specifically, the women said that McMullen was driving very erratically, at times revving the engine and speeding up, and at other times slamming on his brakes suddenly. Additionally, McMullen was also reportedly asking his customers for marijuana.

One way or another, the women became so alarmed that they hopped out of his car when he stopped at an intersection. According to the women, McMullen then got out of the vehicle and tried to get them to go back into the car. The women did not do that. Instead, they called the cops.

When authorities arrived, they said McMullen smelled like alcohol. A short time later, at the local jail, McMullen’s blood alcohol level came in at 0.233 percent—almost three times higher than the legal limit for driving.

Now, a year after the incident, McMullen finally received his sentence. As reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, Lancaster County Court Judge Rodney Reuter sentenced McMullen to 17 days in jail and a $500 fine. Luckily for McMullen, the judge will let him serve his jail time at home on house arrest. Finally, the judge also revoked McMullen’s driver’s license for one year.

Other Unexpected Weed Incidents in Uber Cars

Obviously, there is no reason to suspect any link between Uber cars and drunk driving or strange weed-related problems. But earlier this year, there were reports of another unexpected weed-related incident that centered on an Uber car.

In this case, a man in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania found himself in hot water after he accidentally left weed in an Uber car.

As reported in January of this year, 21 year old Malik Rasaan Mollett ordered an Uber ride. After the ride was over and he had gotten out of the car, he suddenly realized he left a bag filled with two pounds of weed in the car.

Mollett contacted the driver and arranged a meeting to get the bag back. Unfortunately for Mollett, the driver had already called the cops. And when Mollett showed up to retrieve his weed, he was met by cops instead. Ultimately, Mollett was arrested and was immediately held in jail an unnecessarily large $150,000 cash bail.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Ex TV Weatherman Caught Driving Uber Drunk and Asking Riders for Pot.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/ex-tv-weatherman-caught-driving-uber-drunk-and-asking-riders-for-pot/.

Cannabis Company Curaleaf Fined $250,000 For Unauthorized Owner Swap

One of the largest cannabis companies in the nation neglected to make a simple request that could have saved them a quarter of a million dollars.

One of the largest cannabis companies in the United States was just fined by Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission for failing to comply with all state regulations. Despite the fine, all parties agree the mistake was made in good faith. And it looks like there will be no further disciplinary action against the company.

Curaleaf Fined For Breaking Massachusetts Rules

Marijuana company Curaleaf was recently fined $250,000 by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. The reason for the fine was that Curaleaf did not disclose or get approval from the Commission for a few high-level changes to the company’s structure.

As reported by local news source Mass Live, Curaleaf went through multiple ownership changes last year. This included transitioning from a nonprofit structure to a for-profit structure. Similarly, Curaleaf’s parent company merged with a Canadian company last year. This move was made to give Curaleaf access to Canadian stock markets.

There is nothing wrong with these type of changes. But the problem was that Curaleaf failed to inform the Commission of these changes beforehand. As a result, Curaleaf never got approval from authorities to complete those changes.

Now, in the wake of the confusion, the Cannabis Control Commission decided to levy the $250,000 fine.

According to reports, Commission authorities chose to give Curaleaf the fine for two main reasons. First, to push for better compliance from Curaleaf moving forward. And two, to discourage similar failures from other companies in the legal cannabis industry.

According to Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman, Commission “staff has done exactly right thing, one, to rectify the violation and two, to ensure that it won’t happen again.”

An Honest Mistake

Reports indicate that Curaleaf fully cooperated with the Commission and that the company agreed to pay the fine. Interestingly, it sounds like the entire thing stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. In fact, Commission Chairman Hoffman went on record saying that despite making these mistakes, he believes Curaleaf was genuinely “acting in good faith.”

It appears that Curaleaf was confused about how to proceed with the process of seeking approval for ownership changes because Massachusetts’ system for doing so was not fully set up. Specifically, the state was still developing the documents and procedures for disclosing this type of information.

Because of this, Curaleaf concluded that it did not need to submit information since there was no paperwork available. Ultimately, the company went ahead with the changes without disclosing them to the state.

In addition to agreeing to pay the fine, Curaleaf also submitted their request for approval retroactively. The state Cannabis Control Commission approved the changes. Now, everything related to Curaleaf’s structural and ownership changes is above board and legal.

Currently, Curaleaf runs medical marijuana dispensaries in Hanover and Oxford, Massachusetts. In addition to these shops, the company also has a couple of pending applications to open dispensaries in Ware and Provincetown. And finally, Curaleaf also has provisional licenses in place to begin selling recreational cannabis in Oxford and to begin growing weed and making recreational weed products to sell in Webster, Massachusetts.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Cannabis Company Curaleaf Fined $250,000 For Unauthorized Owner Swap.” Green Rush Daily, 9 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/cannabis-company-curaleaf-fined-250000-for-unauthorized-owner-swap/.

New Mexico Judge Rules Non-Resident Medical Marijuana Patients Legal

The judge’s ruling upholds a June rule change permitting nonresidents to obtain medical cannabis ID cards in New Mexico.

In New Mexico, a legal dispute is brewing over whether or not out-of-state medical cannabis patients can access caregivers and dispensaries. New Mexico legalized medical marijuana in 2007 and has since grown to 74,100 registered patients. But a new law that went into effect this past June could grow further grow program, as it revised the definition of “qualified patient” to remove a residency requirement. Previously, patients had to be New Mexico residents to register with the medical cannabis program.

But a recent decision by District Judge Bryan Biedscheid upholding the new law opens New Mexico’s medical cannabis program to anyone with a qualifying condition, regardless of where they live. Now, there’s no longer any restriction on out-of-state residents obtaining medical marijuana cards in New Mexico. The Department of Health, however, is pushing back against the judge’s ruling, claiming that encourages patients to transport medical cannabis across state lines in violation of federal and state law.

Legal Dispute Erupts Over Who Can Access Medical Cannabis in New Mexico

As more U.S. states bring legal medical cannabis programs online, the issue of who can and who can’t access dispensaries is becoming increasingly urgent. Some states have enacted strict residency requirements that restrict medical cannabis to patients who live in-state. But other programs have moved to enact “reciprocity” policies that permit patients with out-of-state registrations to obtain medical cannabis in places they don’t live.

Patient advocacy groups have been pushing for the expansion of reciprocity, since it means that medical cannabis patients won’t lose access to needed medication when they travel or visit other places.

New Mexico’s new law, however, goes one step further. It’s not just that out-of-state medical cannabis patients can access dispensaries. Beyond that, non-residents with qualifying conditions under New Mexico law can obtain a medical cannabis license that’s valid in-state. In other words, New Mexico’s medical cannabis program is now accessible to anyone, so long as they have an approved condition.

Judge’s Ruling Overturns Dept. of Health Denial of Out-of-State Applications

On August 5, New Mexico District Judge Bryan Biedscheid ordered Department of Health officials to issue medical cannabis ID cards to any qualifying patient, no matter where they live. The ruling stems from an emergency petition filed with the court by three out-of-state residents whose medical cannabis applications were denied by the DOH on account of their non-resident status.

One of the plaintiffs in the petition, Arizona resident and Ultra Health, LLC CEO Duke Rodriguez—who used to be a human services secretary for the state of New Mexico—described the judge’s ruling as “the best outcome possible,” adding that it “bodes well for nonresident patients having uninterrupted access to medical cannabis as the Legislature fully intended.”

But the New Mexico Department of Health is arguing that the Legislature did not intend to open the program to nonresidents. The DOH says that welcoming out-of-state patients seeking medical cannabis could increase the risk of patients trafficking products across state lines. Judge Biedscheid has given the DOH until August 19 to make its case against the ruling. The DOH has stated that it will file a response arguing to overturn the ruling by the deadline.

If the ruling sticks, it could dramatically change the size of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. The state shares a border with five states with legalized medical marijuana (including Colorado). But Texas‘ medical cannabis program only permits patients to access CBD oil, not products containing THC. And according to a market report commissioned by Ultra Health, there are about two million Texas residents within a two-hour drive of New Mexico.

If even a small fraction of those residents travelled to New Mexico to obtain medical cannabis, the state’s program could grow substantially, brining a range of economic benefits with it.

Drury, ByAdam. “New Mexico Judge Rules Non-Resident Medical Marijuana Patients Legal.” Green Rush Daily, 8 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/medical-marijuana/new-mexico-judge-rules-non-resident-medical-marijuana-patients-legal/.

Johns Hopkins Opens Center for Psychedelic Research Funded by Donors

Center researchers will study the effects of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin on human psychology and mental health disorders.

On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins Medicine, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, launched the first center for psychedelic research in the United States. The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research will study drugs like LSD and psilocybin and their potential therapeutic uses for improving mental health. The launch of the Center comes amid renewed medical and scientific interest in mind-altering substances healing potential.

Today, more than ever, psychedelics are gaining legitimacy among medical and health experts. But research is lagging behind shifting cultural attitudes toward psychedelic drugs and experiences. Thanks to the $17 million in funding from private donors and The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, however, Johns Hopkins is poised to produce breakthrough research and treatments based on psychedelics.

Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research Launches in Maryland

Psychedelic medicine may still be a fringe concept for many healthcare practitioners. But over the past couple of decades, more scientist have begun to investigate the effects of psychedelics on psychiatric problems. Their work has produced a slew of new and exciting studies that suggest psychedelic drugs have vast clinical potential.

Recent studies have found that the use of psychedelics can help treat anxiety and depression. Others concluded that psychedelics can help ween people off of addictions to nicotine, alcohol and opioids. Research even suggests that positive psychedelic experiences, like having a good trip, can greatly improve psychological well-being. So from treating depression, anxiety, to PTSD, substance abuse and other mental health problems, psychedelic medicine could revolutionize our understanding of human psychology.

And that’s exactly what the backers of Johns Hopkins Medicine‘s new $17 million Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research hope to accomplish. “This is an exciting initiative that brings new focus to efforts to learn about mind, brain and psychiatric disorders by studying the effects of psychedelic drugs,” chair of psychiatry at Yale University Dr. John Krystal told the New York Times via email.

Research Centers Help Legitimize Psychedelic Medicine

Social and cultural towards psychedelic drugs are rapidly shifting in the United States. Just this year, both Denver, Colorado and Oakland, California have decriminalized psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT and mescaline. Of course, humans have used psychedelics in healing practices and spiritual ceremonies for millennia, but in the West, at least, modern medicine is only now beginning to catch up.

And thanks to new research and patient advocacy, more medical professionals are beginning to take psychedelics seriously. As a result, psychedelic medicine is gaining recognition as therapeutic, medicinal substances.

Anorexia and Alzheimer’s First Up for Psychedelic Research

But plenty of reservations and concerns remain, and it will be up to future studies to root them out and challenge them. With its significant financial support, the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research can build an institution to rapidly advance the science of psychedelics in new, previously unheard of ways.

The Center’s $17 million in funding also means it can get started studying applications of psychedelic medicine right away. Roland Griffiths, a Johns Hopkins neuroscientists who will direct the new Center, said the $17 million will support six full-time faculty, five postdoctoral scientists and the high costs of running clinical trials.

According to Griffiths, the Center plans to conduct its first trials on patients with anorexia nervosa and early Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers want to investigate if psilocybin can help patients overcome eating disorders and treat the psychological distress and cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s. But that’s only the beginning. The Center also plans to begin studying how psychedelics can treat opioid-use disorder. Future clinical trials will look at using psilocybin to treat chronic depression, PTSD and more.

Drury, ByAdam. “Johns Hopkins Opens Center for Psychedelic Research Funded by Donors.” Green Rush Daily, 4 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/johns-hopkins-opens-center-for-psychedelic-research-funded-by-donors/.

Nate Diaz Smokes and Passes Hemp Joint at UFC Open Workout

In 2016, the UFC suspended Nate Diaz for cannabis. Now, he can have CBD whenever he wants and still be eligible to fight.

UFC star Nate Diaz is lighting up in front of the cameras again. But this time, it won’t land him with a suspension or sideline his career. In fact, when Diaz sparked up a joint during his UFC 241 open workout on Wednesday, the media and the crowd erupted in applause. It was a show of support that Diaz returned in kind by passing the joint around with those in attendance. The scene marked the first time a UFC fighter has ever burned one during an open workout. And it signals how far the UFC and professional mixed martial arts in general have come on the issue of athlete’s using cannabis. And if there’s anyone who deserves much of the thanks for that progress, it’s Nate Diaz.

Nate Diaz’ Smokes Up Crowd During Open Workout

Award-winning MMA fighter Nate Diaz is something of a martyr for professional athletes around the world. In the face of rules barring UFC athletes from consuming cannabis, Diaz remained open and unapologetic about using cannabis to help his body recover from the punishing rigors of the cage. That refusal to back down and follow the rules ultimately cost him three years of his UFC career. Now, that same commitment to cannabis is launching his UFC comeback.

It’s been more than three years since Diaz has stepped into the Octagon. His fight against Anthony Pettis Saturday night in Anaheim, California will be his first since the UFC suspended him for cannabis back in 2016. The anticipation around the fight is huge. But Diaz took the media’s presence at his open workout to show that despite the time off, he’s still the same weed-loving, bone-crushing fighter he’s always been.

In the middle of his workout at The Honda Center, Diaz sparked up a joint. After taking a few puffs for the camera, he passed it around the crowd. Understandably, the place went crazy, and everyone wanted their turn in the rotation. It would seem like a bold move for a fighter just returning to the Octagon after being banned for cannabis. But this time, Diaz wasn’t breaking any rules, because the joint he was passing around contained cannabidiol (CBD), not THC.

And not just any CBD, either. The hemp flower in the joint was from Diaz’ own line of performance products, Game Up Nutrition. You can even purchase a 1000mg bottle of hemp-derived, non-GMO CBD oil on Game Up Nutrition’s website while you read up on all the Diaz-endorsed benefits of cannabidiol.

UFC Now Allows In-Competition CBD Use

In 2016, Nate Diaz made sports headlines when he began puffing on a CBD vape pen at a press conference. It was the moment that arguably contributed most to Diaz’ suspension. The press conference came after Diaz’ banner bout against Conor McGregor. And throughout the conversation with reporters, Diaz wasn’t just hitting his CBD vape. He was also being as open as possible about what it was and why he was doing it.

“It’s CBD,” Diaz explained. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation and stuff like that. So you wanna get these before, after the fight, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”

Back then, basically ancient history on the timeline of cannabis legalization, any form of cannabis, including non-psychoactive CBD, was flat-out prohibited by the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Now, three years later, the UFC has changed its stance on weed. In light of the growing acknowledgement of the medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis and expanding legalization, the UFC no longer completely bans cannabis. Under its new rules, which came about thanks to the relentless advocacy of fans, trainers and athletes like Diaz, CBD is legal both in and out of competition. (CBD is also legal across the United States, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.)

In fact, earlier this year the UFC inked a multi-million dollar CBD deal with Aurora Cannabis. The UFC still bans THC in-competition. But consuming THC in the off-season will no longer land fighters with suspension.

Thanks to the new rules, Diaz could fearlessly spark up a hemp CBD joint during his open workout. Times are definitely changing.

Drury, ByAdam. “Nate Diaz Smokes and Passes Hemp Joint at UFC Open Workout.” Green Rush Daily, 15 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nate-diaz-smokes-and-passes-hemp-joint-at-ufc-open-workout/.

Air Force Veteran Using Medical Marijuana for PTSD Can’t Own a Gun

Imagine not having the second amendment right you literally fought for.

The ongoing discrepancies between marijuana laws in weed-legal states and marijuana laws at the federal level continue to create challenges and tensions for some consumers. In particular, gun ownership is one of the things that often gets confusing. That’s because admitting to consuming cannabis regularly often disqualifies a person from legally getting a gun permit.

The most recent example of this comes from Delaware. There, a retired Air Force veteran was recently denied a gun permit. The reason: she uses medical marijuana, which is legal in her state.

Medical Marijuana or Guns

Kim Petters was in the Air Force for ten years before retiring to Delaware, where she currently lives. As a result of her time in the military, she now suffers from PTSD. And to help manage her condition, she uses medical marijuana as part of Delaware’s medical marijuana program.

Yet despite the fact that Petters is following all medical marijuana laws in her state, she was recently denied the ability to purchase and own a gun because of her marijuana use.

As part of its application and screening protocols for gun ownership, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) asks gun applicants about marijuana.

Specifically, the language of the application says: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

At first glance, it might look like there’s no problem with that question if an applicant is following all state laws. But the ATF’S application question is followed up by a warning that says: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

Because of this, Petters had to report her cannabis consumption to the ATF. And as a result, her application was denied.

“Cannabis is the only medication in the entire U.S. that makes you choose between medicine or second amendment rights,” Petters told WFLA News 8. “And that’s just not fair.”

She added: “So if I lie on that form, and say no, I’ve created an entirely different felony, which could land me five years in jail. But if I say yes, I’m denied purchase.”

Federal Laws Win Out

Ultimately, Petters’ situation highlights some of the ways that federal laws about marijuana can still interfere with state laws. And every once in awhile, people try to sue the federal government over the issue.

For example, a Pennsylvania doctor and medical marijuana patient was also recently turned down when he tried to buy a gun. The man, Matthew Roman, then tried to sue the government. Specifically, he claimed that his Second and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.

However, these types of lawsuits rarely get any traction. In particular, it is hard to make a case when federal laws continue to outlaw all forms of cannabis.

“I think ultimately it’s going to come down to a change in federal policy,” lawyer Amy Swearer told WFLA News 8.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Marijuana Found Growing on DFW Airport Property, Two Arrested.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/marijuana-found-growing-on-dfw-airport-property-two-arrested/.

Marijuana Found Growing on DFW Airport Property, Two Arrested

DFW doesn’t want people traveling with CBD or growing cannabis on their property.

People trying to grow weed illegally often have to get creative with where they cultivate. Often, growers stick to remote locations that would theoretically be harder to discover. But every once in a while, growers try using land a little closer to mainstream, regular, daily activities.

Apparently, that’s exactly what a couple cannabis growers have been trying in the Dallas, Texas area. But unfortunately for them, it sounds like things did not work out. According to breaking reports, authorities in the area recently discovered an illegal marijuana grow on the grounds of the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport.

Airport Grow Site Discovered

News of the bust surfaced earlier today when local news source WFAA 8 reported that law enforcement found marijuana growing at the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport. Specifically, authorities involved in the case said the plants were growing on what they described as an “undeveloped and remote piece” of the airport’s property.

At this time, details about the incident continue to unfold. So far, it is unclear how many plants were growing at the site. But authorities said they removed all the plants they discovered.

Similarly, it is unclear how the plants were discovered, or how long the plants had been growing at the airport. But authorities have already arrested two people who they believe are responsible for the grow operation. The two people are now reportedly facing second-degree felony charges for possession of marijuana.

Currently, the case is still being investigated. And so far, details about the people arrested have not been made public.

Other Cannabis Controversies at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport

Interestingly, this is not the first time the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport has been involved in a cannabis-related incident. Earlier this year, the airport made headlines when reports showed that people were being detained and in some cases arrested for trying to travel with CBD.

In April, local news source NBC 5 Investigates looked into what was going on at the airport. Investigators found that there was a sharp uptick in the number of times security and law enforcement personnel at the airport chose to confiscate CBD and CBD products from travelers.

Even worse, agents were also detaining and sometimes arresting people for trying to travel with CBD. In the worst cases, travelers ended up facing felony drug charges.

The findings of this investigation highlight some of the ongoing confusions surrounding CBD laws in the United States. Specifically, there appear to be discrepancies between new provisions passed as part of last year’s federal Farm Bill and state or local law enforcement.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Marijuana Found Growing on DFW Airport Property, Two Arrested.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/marijuana-found-growing-on-dfw-airport-property-two-arrested/.

Harvard Study Reveals Cannabis Compound’s Potential in Cancer Therapy

Researchers found that cannabis flavonoid FBL-03G significantly increased survival rates in animals with pancreatic cancer.

A new study from researchers at Harvard University is highlighting how cannabis has the potential to fight pancreatic cancer. But this isn’t a study on THC or CBD, even though research shows how both of those cannabinoids have immense potential to treat cancer and related symptoms. Instead, this study shines the spotlight on a cannabis flavonoid called FBL-03G.

Flavonoids exist in all plants and contribute to many of the health benefits of eating fruits, veggies and other natural foods. Today, researchers are increasingly turning their attention to studying flavonoids and how they work, and they’re beginning to unlock their vast potential as medicines. Earlier this year, scientists in Canada isolated two varieties of cannabis flavonoids and found that they were thirty times more effective than Aspirin for pain relief. Now, another study has discovered that the cannabis flavonoid FBL-03G can help treat pancreatic cancer and reduce tumor growth.

Cannabis Flavonoid Significantly Increases Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate

A pancreatic cancer diagnosis is a grim prospect. Five-year survival rates barely top eight percent. And treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy are notoriously ineffective at stopping the cancer from spreading. The American Cancer Society estimates about 57,000 people will face a pancreatic cancer diagnosis this year. Most of them will die of the disease.

This makes finding a cure an urgent problem for medical researchers. But as barriers to studying cannabis are falling, scientists are finally able to start investigating the claims and experiences of many cancer patients who rely on medical cannabis treatments. Why and how does cannabis fight cancer, reduce tumor growth and help with related symptoms?

One way of answering that question is to continue studying the anti-carcinogenic properties of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Another would be to look at other cannabis compounds like flavonoids. Studies have already demonstrated the potent anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogen properties of flavonoids. Flavonoids are already key parts of pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications. And according to Harvard researchers, cannabis flavonoids in particular could provide an effective treatment for cancer.

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of the cannabis flavonoid FBL-03G on two pancreatic cancer models. They conducted both in vitro and in vivo tests. In vitro, FBL-03G caused a major increase in cancer cell death when used alongside radiotherapy treatments. And in vivo, in animal models, FBL-03G delayed tumor growth and the spread of the cancer. And when researchers repeated the experiment, they observed a “significant increase in survival for animals with pancreatic cancer” compared with the animals that didn’t get the cannabis flavonoid treatments.

Researchers Call for More Studies into Cannabis Flavonoids

Harvard researchers based their work on a 2014 study that found a combination of CBD and THC enhanced the anticancer effects of radiation therapy in brain cancer models. Now, in light of their own exciting findings, they’re calling for others to build off their study. “The results justify further studies to optimize therapy outcomes,” the study concludes. And those results show the significant therapy potential in using cannabis flavonoids to treat pancreatic and potentially other cancers.

With current treatment options falling far short, new therapy options are an urgent need. FBL-03G, the cancer cell-killing cannabis flavonoid, might be just what the doctor ordered.

Drury, ByAdam. “Harvard Study Reveals Cannabis Compound’s Potential in Cancer Therapy.” Green Rush Daily, 20 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/studies/harvard-study-reveals-cannabis-compounds-potential-in-cancer-therapy/.

Newspapers With Cannabis Ads Can’t Be Mailed, Feds Warn

Newspapers

We reveal yet another way that obscure federal laws and regulations are being used to criminalize marijuana, even in states where cannabis is now legal. The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it is a felony to mail material that includes marijuana advertising, even if that advertising is done in states where pot is legal and even if the ads are for fully legit and entirely legal dispensaries.

The warning could force newspapers to choose between running marijuana-related ads and risk being punished, or stop running all marijuana-related ads, which could negatively affect legally operating dispensaries around the country.

While it’s still unclear exactly why the Postal Service sent out the warning, what is clear is that this could very well be yet another backhanded attempt to maintain the prohibition of marijuana in a changing political and cultural landscape.

“Why now?” Jack Orchard, a Portland attorney representing the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, asked The Oregonian.

“You can say what you want to say about recreational marijuana and the liberalization of marijuana laws in Oregon, but medical marijuana is in widespread use throughout the country and certainly has been part of the Oregon landscape for a long time.”

“The timing of this lends a kind of fascinating political edge to this.”

In addition to this postal service law, banking regulations are another way that federal laws are being used to limit the legal marijuana industry and to override state laws that have legalized cannabis consumption.

Federal laws currently make it illegal for banks to do business with any pot-related business, and this little-known law has quickly grown to become a serious thorn in the side of the marijuana industry.

Jeff Merkley, a Democratic Senator from Oregon, explains some of the pressures this law places on legal marijuana businesses:

“Forcing businessmen and businesswomen who are operating legally under Oregon state law to shuttle around gym bags full of cash is an invitation to crime and malfeasance.”

“It’s time to let banks serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government.”

Merkley and other lawmakers are currently working on a bill to change all this and give marijuana businesses access to banks. Apparently, we need similar changes to current mailing laws as well.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Newspapers With Cannabis Ads Can’t Be Mailed, Feds Warn – GRD.” Green Rush Daily, 31 Mar. 2017, greenrushdaily.com/politics/newspapers-cannabis-ads-usps/.

NY Governor Backtracks Saying Including Legalization in State Budget is Unlikely

After kicking off his third term with a call to legalize weed in 100 days, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he “isn’t sure” legalization will make it into this year’s budget.

After surviving primary challenges from candidates much more progressive on the issue of marijuana, like Cynthia Nixon, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo began his third term with a plan to legalize weed in the first 100 days of 2019. On Monday, however, Gov. Cuomo walked back that plan, saying that legalization very likely won’t be included in the state’s 2019 budget legislation. Cuomo’s backtracking has dashed hopes of an accelerated path to legalization in New York. And it could mean that weed won’t be legal until 2020, or later.

NY Gov. Cuomo’s Ambitious Plan to Legalize Weed is Likely a Bust

Late last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo marked a serious heel-turn on the issue of legal cannabis, announcing his administration’s plans to legalize marijuana for adult use. As recently as 2017, Cuomo was still espousing anti-marijuana talking points. But a re-election bid against progressive rivals forced the governor to revise his stance on the issue. Then, in early January, Gov. Cuomo revealed that cannabis legalization would be included in the upcoming state budget proposal.

Politicians often tuck large or controversial bills inside state budget legislation, making them more difficult to contest. And the strategy of putting marijuana legalization in the budget proposal gets the lawmaking ball rolling faster, compared with introducing legal weed as its own separate bill. Indeed, it was the only way to meet Gov. Cuomo’s ambitious 100-day target for legalizing cannabis.

Since Cuomo’s January announcement, legalization advocates (and even opponents) have been eagerly awaiting the budget proposal’s March 31 deadline. It seemed that on April 1, New Yorkers would finally have a glimpse of what legal weed would look like.

Now, with that deadline just three weeks away, Gov. Cuomo says “he isn’t sure” if legal marijuana will in fact be included in this year’s budget. But “isn’t sure” is probably a softer way of simply saying, “very likely won’t be.” If lawmakers fail to include legalization in the 2019 budget legislation, they’ll either have to wait to introduce it as a standalone bill late this summer or wait until 2020’s budget proposal.

Is a “Wide Divide” on the Issue of Legalization to Blame for Lawmakers’ Failure?

Gov. Cuomo says he’s confident that at some point in the future, New York lawmakers will be able to reach a consensus on adult use marijuana. But “not in the next two weeks.”

According to the governor, there remains too wide of a divide on the issue of adult use. And that divide means lawmakers will need more time to craft the rules for a taxed and regulated cannabis industry. Gov. Cuomo might accept some of the responsibility for that divide himself. While Republican lawmakers have historically blocked votes on legalization in New York, opposition from the governor’s office forced minority Democrats to adopt piecemeal decriminalization reforms over broad efforts to legalize cannabis.

However, now that Democrats hold a majority in the New York Senate for the first time in several years, a divide on the issue itself should be less of an obstacle. Rather, it’s more of a procedural divide among the supporters of legalization that’s holding things up. At the start of 2019, Cuomo moved so fast—or appeared to be—to bring legal weed to a vote that Democratic lawmakers didn’t have a clear sense of what a legal, taxed and regulated adult use program might look like.

In other words, lawmakers who support lDecegalization didn’t have much time to figure out how to actually implement it effectively. And those agreements, coupled with a concern for “getting it right,” have slowed lawmakers’ efforts to include legalization in the budget.

Drury, ByAdam. “NY Governor Backtracks Saying Including Legalization in State Budget Is Unlikely.” Green Rush Daily, 11 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/ny-governor-backtracks-saying-including-legalization-in-state-budget-is-unlikely/.

Hickenlooper Says Colorado Legalization Didn’t Spike Pot Consumption

In fact, sources say it went down.

As the 2020 presidential race already begins picking up momentum, many presidential hopefuls are voicing their perspective on the issue of cannabis legalization.

In particular, more and more potential candidates are addressing some of the longstanding myths about the purported “dangers” of legalization.

The most recent example of this comes from former Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper. He recently talked about whether or not legalization leads to increased use among teens.

Speaking from his experience in Colorado, Hickenlooper sent a clear message: legalization does not lead to a spike in teen consumption.

Hickenlooper Speaks Out About Teen Pot Consumption

It is fairly common to hear opponents of legalization complain about teen consumption. In particular, many claim that legalizing weed will encourage more teens to smoke weed.

But those fears have consistently been proven wrong. Recently, Democratic presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper explained all this to the media.

As summarized by Newsy, Hickenlooper said: “We were worried about teenage consumption going up, when kids’ brains are rapidly growing, what it could do.”

“We were worried about the risks of, you know, more people driving while high. And I have to say, at this point, most of our fears haven’t come true. We haven’t seen a spike in consumption.”

Hickenlooper Backed Up By Stats

Hickenlooper’s comments come largely from his experience serving as governor of Colorado. In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize receational cannabis.

But his comments also speak beyond his own firsthand political experience. They’re also backed up by multiple studies and surveys.

Most recently, a survey in Colorado revealed a number of interesting findings about teens and weed. Key trends include:

  • 59 percent of teens in Colorado say they have never consumed cannabis.
  • 22 percent of teens say they have consumed cannabis only once or twice in their lives.
  • 8 percent of teens say they consume weed once a month or less.

Importantly, all these numbers are more or less in line with national averages. And even more importantly, they do not show a notable increase in teen rates of consumption since legalization.

And studies in other weed-legal states have reached similar conclusions. For example, a 2017 study in Washington found that teens are not consuming more weed after the state legalized recreational cannabis.

National Trends Show No Spike in Teen Marijuana Consumption

Beyond the level of weed-legal states, national rates of teen marijuana consumption remain stable—even as more and more states legalize.

Take, for example, the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey. This study found that cannabis consumption among teenagers has remained more or less the same no matter what happens with legalization.

Key findings from this study include:

  • Marijuana use among eighth graders has declined in recent years, falling from 6.5 percent to 5.4 percent.
  • Daily marijuana use among eighth graders dropped from 1.1 percent in 2015 to 0.7 percent in 2016.
  • Among tenth graders, cannabis consumption has remained stable. But researchers also noted that current rates of consumption in this cohort are actually the lowest they’ve been in over two decades.
  • Among high schoolers, 6 percent say they consume marijuana daily. And 22 percent say they consume it monthly. These figures are essentially the same as prior years.

All things considered, there does not seem to be any real foundation to the fear that legalization will create a dangerous spike in teen marijuana consumption.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Hickenlooper Says Colorado Legalization Didn’t Spike Pot Consumption.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Apr. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/hickenlooper-says-colorado-legalization-didnt-spike-pot-consumption/.

Study Finds Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Increase Traffic Deaths

Researchers say their study sends a clear message to policy makers and the public concerned about cannabis-impaired driving.

Researchers at Kansas State University just wrapped up a panel study of marijuana legalization and road safety in the United States. And after analyzing traffic data spanning more than two decades, researches came to one conclusion: marijuana legalization doesn’t increase traffic deaths. The results of the study send a clear message to policy makers and the public that legal weed doesn’t pose a mortal threat to safety on the road.

Study Finds Legal Weed Is Not a Predictor of Traffic Fatalities

Across the U.S. and Canada, one of the most common anti-cannabis talking points has been the fear that legal weed would turn America’s highways and byways into meatgrinders of mayhem and carnage. Despite scant evidence supporting this view, opponents of legalization have kept their foot on the gas, claiming that legalization threatens traffic safety and leads inevitably to an uptick in drug-impaired driving. The pressure has been so constant, that even in weed-legal states, opponents have won numerous concessions in the form of “zero tolerance” policies and massive public investment in awareness campaigns, police training and detection equipment. Even supporters of legalization seemed to agree with the logic of legal marijuana causing problems on the road.

But every time researchers have taken a close look at the issue, they’ve been unable to find any real connection between legal weed and increased traffic accidents and fatalities. In Canada, for example, police saw no uptick in traffic incidents involving cannabis-impaired drivers in the months after legalization last October. And in places where traffic fatalities increased, like in Colorado, officials could not definitively attribute the situation to legal cannabis.

Part of the reason it’s so difficult to answer this question is that there just isn’t much data available. But that hasn’t prevented opponents of marijuana reform from insisting on the risks legalization poses to traffic safety. Even without hard data, it just seemed like common sense.

Thanks to the new panel study from researchers at Kansas Sate University, however, there’s hard data supporting the opposite view. Marijuana legalization doesn’t cause more traffic fatalities, as 23 years worth of data demonstrates.

Recent Nationwide Uptick in Traffic Fatalities Not a Result of Marijuana Legalization

After two years of sharp increases, the number of people dying each year in traffic collisions is beginning to level off. But still, about 40,000 people are dying on the road each year in the U.S. Experts with the National Safety Council say the uptick coincides with an increase in vehicle miles traveled. But they also acknowledged other factors, like texting, distracted driving, failure to wear seat belts and drug and alcohol impairment.

Amid these rising numbers, then, marijuana has been a convenient scapegoat. But KSU researchers say not so fast. Taking 23 years of state traffic data and data about the contemporaneous legal status of both medical and adult-use cannabis, researchers looked for a connection.

What they found was that the legalization of medical use or adult use doesn’t predict the number of fatalities per 100,000 vehicle-miles traveled. And they reached that result using two different statistical models. “According to the models, the recent upward trend of traffic fatality rates nationwide is not a result of medical marijuana legalization,” the study concluded.

Drury, ByAdam. “Study Finds Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Increase Traffic Deaths.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Apr. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/studies/study-finds-marijuana-legalization-doesnt-increase-traffic-deaths/.

Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Lower Arrests for Youths, Study Says

The decrease in arrests experienced by adults doesn’t carry on to youths.

A new study has found that legalizing cannabis doesn’t carry the same impacts for youth that it does adults. In fact, youth still face arrest and incarceration in states that only legalize without a proper decriminalization policy.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics Monday, the study analyzed arrest data from 38 states in 2000 to 2016 between adult and youth younger than 18 to learn how the varying policies across states impacted each group’s arrest numbers over time.

The researchers found that states with a decriminalization policy saw their arrest rates among adults decrease by more than 131 per 100,000 people. For youth, the rate dropped by 60 per 100,000 people. When it comes to legalization, however, youth barely saw anything change: the rate dropped by just 7 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, adults saw a higher reduction with legalization than decriminalization: more than 168 per 100,000 people.

The authors—from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis—wanted to see how legalization policies fare up to decriminalization policies. Decriminalization doesn’t make weed legal, but it does reduce the consequences when police catch a person with some. Instead of facing jail time, you may have to pay a small fine that won’t tarnish your record.

Legalization usually involves that and allowing people to purchase cannabis without a problem. However, legalization involves people 21 and older, so youth aren’t always included in the policy. That means they may continue to face criminalization under these. In total, the study includes seven states that have decriminalization policies and four with legalization. The rest were used as controls.

Most states that legalized cannabis had their own individualized policy for youth. For instance, Alaska, Colorado, and Washington still treated possession for underage users as a crime after their legalization policies took hold. They slowly grew more lenient, but some stayed the same.

The results aren’t all that surprising, the authors note. After all, legalizing weed is for adults. But its also been a response to the mass criminalization of people of color, especially youth, have faced at the hands of the war on drugs. As the Drug Policy Alliance notes, nearly 80 percent of the people incarcerated for drug offenses are black or Latino.

“However, focusing on adults to the exclusion of youths also runs counter to the spirit of legalization, which is motivated by the desire to reduce criminal penalties for cannabis use,” the authors write in the study.

Kids are the future, and an arrest record for pot possession could threaten their future opportunities for a job or college. This new study highlights the way so-called progressive cannabis policy may have left our next generation behind. The authors speculate that legalization for adults may even have a side effect on police behavior; perhaps they shift their focus to kids if they don’t have to worry about adults anymore. That requires further examination, of course. The study goes on:

This possibility is consistent with prior research suggesting that police interact with youths and adults differently and that arrest is the preferred strategy of officers when interacting with juvenile suspects.

All that being said, the authors note some limitations, including the assumption that policy change is to blame for this shift in the arrest rate. The rate changes occur after the new policies take effect, but it’s worth noting for transparency. What the study makes clear, however, is that young people in the U.S. are getting the short end of the stick. With cannabis exploding into a multibillion-dollar industry, should young people still be going to jail for it?

Fun, ByLissett. “Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Lower Arrests for Youths, Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 17 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/marijuana-legalization-doesnt-lower-arrests-for-youths-study-says/.

National Health Service Takes Huge Step Toward Cannabis Legalization

National Health Service

The National Health Service, or NHS, is England’s publicly funded healthcare system. Being the largest single-payer healthcare system in the entire world, the National Health Service is responsible for a broad range of duties within the UK. One such responsibility is testing and evaluating private-market products. The National Health Service has begun testing a cannabis product with the intention of regulating it and medications like it.

The Medipen

The product being tested by the National Health Service is called the Medipen. The UK-based company sells these portable vaporizers with great success. The Medipen is used for consumers to ingest cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis-based medication. CBD is utilized by this pen to alleviate depressionanxietyarthritis, and fibromyalgia, among other things. The company states that the CBD in their product is free of THC, the ingredient in cannabis that produces a “high.”

Managing director of the company, Jordan Owen, has said,

We’ve recently been working very closely with a team of NHS production and regulatory support pharmacists who’ve been able to meticulously analyse our proprietary formulation for both safety and cannabinoid concentration.

While the National Health Service is currently only confirming the blend’s purity and CBD concentration, many in the UK believe this is an important first step toward advancing the state of medical cannabis in England.

Bright Future for Cannabis Legalization

Owen is excited at the prospect of the National Health Service examining his company’s product, stating that this sets a “…new benchmark in providing a much-needed sense of legitimacy to the… legal cannabis industry.”

Medipen

And it seems he’s right. The Medipen is the first consumer cannabis product that the NHS has set its sights on. It seems that, at the very least, this is an implicit admission that there is some benefit for cannabis in the medical sphere. Despite the government’s current classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with “no therapeutic or medicinal benefits,” others like Owen are optimistic about what this holds for the future.

The Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust focused on drug-policy reform within the UK, threw in its two cents on the issue. Anna Ermakova, a science officer for the Foundation, views the NHS’s decision as “progress.” She adds,

If you can show that CBD has benefits you can start testing the whole cannabis plant for medical benefits.

Ermakova’s comment makes sense. If the government can prove to itself that the plant has a place in medicine, maybe a reclassification of the drug is on the horizon. Some may view this as overly optimistic in light of a recently failed petition signed by 230 thousand English citizens to legalize the plant. Still, the failed petition was for outright legalization; the National Health Service is looking merely at its medicinal uses. Hopefully, this paves the way for more widespread use of medical cannabis in the UK.

Riley, ByCasey. “National Health Service Takes Huge Step Toward Cannabis Legalization.” Green Rush Daily, 20 Mar. 2017, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/national-health-service-takes-huge-step-toward-cannabis-legalization/.

Roadside Saliva Test Could Allow California Cops to Test For THC

Sure, most people these days have come around to the fact that cannabis has medicinal uses. But THC is a psychoactive substance, and concerns abound about the public health risks of more people getting high legally. Since cannabis has intoxicating effects, the logic goes, being high behind the wheel is just like driving drunk. While there have been some hilarious attempts to study the effects of weed on driving, no one has been able to prove that being high has no effect on driving skills. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it –there’s no reliable way to tell “how high” someone is with a drug test. But that hasn’t stopped California cops from rolling out a new roadside saliva test device that measures THC.

California Cops Are Hoping This Saliva Test Will Detect THC

Roadside Saliva Test Could Allow California Cops to Test For THC

Actually, police use roadside saliva tests to test for all kinds of drugs. Not just marijuana, but also meth, cocaine, and even prescription medications. But the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in California has turned their attention to enforcing DUI laws. To do so, police officers are relying on a saliva test, not urine or blood, to detect THC.

NarcoCheck, the company that manufactures one of the standard saliva tests, boasts about the efficiency of their test. They claim that the saliva test can detect if a person has smoked weed in the last 4-6 hours.

According to the NarcoCheck website, the saliva test detects the activated form of THC, delta 9-THC. “The smoke of a marijuana cigarette is full of this molecule, leaving a trace for several hours,” the description somewhat nerdishly explains.

California police departments are also equipping themselves with a device called the Dräger 5000 test. It’s an electronic saliva analyzer about the size of a bookshelf speaker. San Diego rolled out the device about two months ago, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

However, this raises an important question. Is a person still high from a joint they smoked 6 hours ago? What if they only had just a hit or two? Comparing the situation to alcohol, you’d be hard-pressed to make the case that someone was driving drunk at midnight if they drank a beer with dinner.

Nevertheless, California cops are hoping the saliva tests help them make a better guess of who is too stoned to drive, and who isn’t. But is the test really the “true innovation in testing saliva,” as some claim?

Does Being High Really Affect Your Driving?

Roadside Saliva Test Could Allow California Cops to Test For THC

Of course, the answer is somewhat subjective, and it’s important to know your limits. Nevertheless, there isn’t any solid scientific basis for thinking that the mere presence of THC in someone’s system is impairing their driving.

In fact, AAA’s own Safety Foundation couldn’t come up with any conclusive evidence that drivers with THC in their systems were bad or dangerous drivers.

On the one hand, it makes total sense that lawmakers and the public would want to know how to set some kind of legal limit for cannabis intoxication. It’s important to understand how legal cannabis effects public safety. That’s how we educate ourselves to come up with sensible weed laws.

But San Diego Police chief Shelley Zimmerman says drugged driving is still a huge concern. She expects to see a rapid increase in cannabis-related intoxication in drivers.

Saliva Tests Could Still Stick Sober Drivers With DUIs

Roadside Saliva Test Could Allow California Cops to Test For THC

Fair enough, saliva tests are more immediate than blood tests. Blood tests don’t tell you much, just whether or not a person has consumed cannabis at some point recently. Saliva tests may be able to narrow the detection window. But again, the simple existence of THC in your spit doesn’t mean you’re too high to drive, or high at all.

So until there’s a more reliable way to test for cannabis intoxication, officers should rely on other methods. There’s no reason why field sobriety tests aren’t good enough for testing coordination.

Alcohol-related driving deaths kill more than 10,000 Californians every year, according to the CDC. Alcohol definitely impairs your ability to drive. But a 2015 study by researchers at the University of Iowa found that stoned drivers actually attempt to drive more cautiously. Drunk drivers took more risks.

Final Hit: Saliva Test For THC

The point is simply that a positive saliva test could stick you with a DUI even when you’re sober. Fortunately, you shouldn’t have any problem fighting the issue in court.

The test still leaves lots of room for doubt. It’s basically impossible to totally prove that someone was intoxicated from a THC cheek swab. Additionally, drivers can refuse to submit to the saliva test, making a DUI for cannabis even harder to prove.

Drury, ByAdam. “Roadside Saliva Test Could Allow California Cops to Test For THC.” Green Rush Daily, 28 Aug. 2017, greenrushdaily.com/news/roadside-saliva-test-thc/.

Cannabis Ex-Convicts Given Opportunity To Start Weed Businesses

After the War on Drugs, this California city is giving cannabis ex-convicts an edge in the legal weed industry.

Another city in California just gave cannabis ex-convicts a leg up when it comes to starting a weed business. Sacramento, the capital of California, just passed a Cannabis Equity Program. By giving cannabis ex-convicts priority, this new program is working to undo the War on Drugs’ legacy in the state of California.

States Bar Ex-Convicts From Working In Legal Weed

In some states, it doesn’t matter that the crime someone committed is now no longer a crime. Just last year, a major Massachusetts medical cannabis dispensary campaigned to exclude cannabis ex-convicts from the medical weed industry.

The CEO of Patriot Care, the dispensary involved, wrote in a widely publicized letter: “Permitting those who have demonstrated the interest and willingness to ignore state and federal drug laws sends the wrong signals to those who would participate in the legal, regulated industry.”

Though the Massachusetts weed community has widely disparaged Patriot Care, many states still bar cannabis ex-convicts from working in—nevermind opening—their own weed businesses. This is still true in Alaska, Nevada and California. This essentially means that those who lost the most during the War on Drugs, notably Black and Latino communities, are barred from profiting from a major industry.

Sacramento’s Weed Industry No Longer Discriminates Against Ex-Convicts

Last week, the Sacramento City Council voted in favor of a Cannabis Equity Program. People who have committed non-violent weed crimes, or whose family members have, and people living in certain communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs qualify for the program.

The program offers significant benefits to its members, according to Sacramento’s report. First, they don’t have to pay weed business licensing fees, which are prohibitively expensive. They also get business development advice and lots of other benefits. This can mean help raising capital, getting loans, promoting on social media and employee training. They’ll also get mentorship on the nitty-gritty of running a weed business.

Regarding the program’s future, president of the California Urban Partnership Malaki Seku-Amen told KCRA, “We have a goal of having 50 percent of all licenses be awarded to those who were impacted by the war on drugs.”

Cities and States Redefining The War on Drugs’ Legacy

Sacramento just decided to waive fees for those affected by the War on Drugs and help them establish weed businesses. Hopefully, this embodies a movement towards recognizing that the War on Drugs still affects people’s employability, even after legalization.

Sacramento isn’t the first place to help cannabis ex-convicts join the industry. Massachusetts launched the nation’s first cannabis equity program. Additionally, in Los Angeles and San Francisco ex-convicts can have their non-violent weed crime records expunged. Conceivably, California, the world’s largest recreational weed market, will follow suit.

Powell, ByBurgess. “Ex-Convicts Locked Up For Bud Get A Chance To Start Weed Businesses.” Green Rush Daily, 14 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/politics/cannabis-ex-convicts-weed-businesses/.

Sicilian TV Chef Arrested for Possessing Cannabis for Cooking

He was apparently “researching new flavors.”

One of Italy’s most famous chefs was arrested on Saturday after police found cannabis plants and edibles in his eastern Sicily home.

Carmelo Chiaramonte had two 6 ½-foot tall marijuana plants and 35 ounces of Indian hemp, according to BBC News. A variety of cannabis-infused foods, olives, coffee, tuna, and even a marijuana-infused wine were also taken from his home.

However, the 50-year-old Chiaramonte, who lives in the quaint village of Trecastagni, located at the foot of Mount Etna near Catania, told police he was simply “researching new flavors” for his job. The chef denied any wrongdoing, telling police he considers himself an “agro-food consultant for third-millennium cuisine,” per the local Italian newspaper La Sicilia.

The food connoisseur has since been released from police custody as he awaits his trial.

Chiaramonte, who is currently a chef at the Katane Palace Hotel restaurant in Catania, rose to spotlight after hosting a popular Italian culinary television show that depicted” the history of production and the tradition of Sicilian agriculture.”

Another one of his most noteworthy shows was “Immoral Recipes and Aphrodisiac Foods.” Rather fittingly, he’s quoted as saying that “A cook is a drug addict and an alchemist.”

But perhaps Chiaramonte would be better suited for a certain American cook show, instead.

Cannabis Laws in Italy

Currently, cannabis is legal — and strictly regulated — in Italy for both medicinal and industrial uses (aka hemp). Medical qualifying conditions include chronic pain, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, HIV treatments, or radiotherapy. Additionally, it’s permitted to reduce involuntary movements caused by Tourette’s Syndrome, induce hypotension within glaucomas, and as an appetite stimulant for patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, anorexia, and cachexia.

Recreational marijuana isn’t fully legal quite yet, but it has been decriminalized. Those found with small amounts of cannabis for personal use will receive a misdemeanor and are subject to a small fine, as well as a possible suspension of their personal documents like a driver’s license or passport. Alternatively, any unlicensed cultivation — much like the situation that unfolded for Chiaramonte — or the unauthorized sale of cannabis, are still punishable through jail time. Although the country has also decriminalized at-home growing for medicinal purposes.

However, Italy, like other countries in recent years, has experienced its own “cannabis mania.” But the rules are a bit unorthodox, to say the least.

In 2016, the country introduced legislation that would once again regulate Italy’s once-booming hemp industry. The new law allowed for the legal sale of cannabis sativa plants containing under .2% THC — similar to the CBD craze within the United States.

The new laws spawned the sale of what Italians commonly refer to “light weed.” As a result, a large influx of “weed shops” have begun to pop up around the country. Unfortunately, with such a low percentage of THC, feeling a slight, mellow buzz is the absolute best-case scenario.

And while the weed doesn’t get its users “high,” so to speak, there has been a fair share of controversy surrounding the market. But those within the industry think that it could lead to the legalization of the real thing.

“The hope is that the market, which is the strongest power of all, will finally stimulate the public opinion on marijuana as it’s happening for light cannabis now,” Claudio Miglio, a lawyer specializing in drug-related offenses said to The Associated Press back in June.

Public sentiment seems to point toward the eventual legalization of cannabis. Even Italy’s largest police union has clamored for legal weed.

That would certainly bode well for one Carmelo Chiaramonte.

Drury, ByAdam. “Beijing Blames Canada and US for Spike in Drugs Smuggled into China.” Green Rush Daily, 17 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/beijing-blames-canada-and-us-for-spike-in-drugs-smuggled-into-china/.

Beijing Blames Canada and US for Spike in Drugs Smuggled into China

China’s narcotics authorities say international students keep trying to express mail cannabis back home.

Cannabis is becoming more popular in China. And China’s narcotics officers say that’s because of legalization in the United States and Canada. According to the Deputy Director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, Liu Yuejin, the number of cannabis users in China increased 25 percent in 2018, rising to roughly 24,000 people in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion. That same year customs officers intercepted 115 packages containing a total of 55 kilograms of cannabis buds and products, Liu said at a press conference Monday. The Deputy Director said that most of the suspects connected to the cannabis shipments have been students.

International Students Are Shipping Cannabis to China

China’s drug laws are among the strictest and most punitive in the world. And they don’t just apply to Chinese nationals. Tourists, visitors and other foreign travelers can also face serious legal trouble for violating China’s anti-drug laws. In China, the crime of possessing just 50 grams of any illegal drug, including weed, carries the death penalty.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to crack down on controlled substances. CNN reports that law enforcement authorities even go so far as to subject people to random drug tests in public, at nightclubs and bars.

In Canada and much of the United States, by contrast, the expansion of the legal industry has brought with it a dramatic change in social attitudes toward cannabis. Compared to China, it’s a different world. And it’s young people, especially who seem to want to bring something of that world with them to China.

According to China narcotics officers, most of the people trying to smuggle weed into the country are students. Either they’re American or Canadian students trying to send weed ahead so they have it on their semester abroad, or it’s Chinese international students trying to send some of the good life back home.

According to Liu, most of the packages came through international postal parcels. The express delivery packages were often sent by students, who are the suspects in most of the trafficking cases.

Drug Trafficking Blame Game Heightens Tensions

China is blaming the United States and Canada for a spike in drugs smuggled into the country. And China’s drug enforcement authorities say legalization in North America is to blame. Legalization, in the words of Liu Yuejin, represents “a new threat to China.”

The accusations aren’t dissimilar to the charges US President Donald Trump leveled against China last year. In August 2018, Trump blamed China for fueling the opioid crisis, saying fentanyl was “pouring into the US postal system.”

In April 2019, the Chinese government announced efforts to reduce the distribution and trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Despite its harsh stance against cannabis and other controlled substances, China is a hemp production powerhouse. According to a recent Forbes report, China produces roughly half of the world’s hemp supply. Furthermore, Chinese companies own half of the cannabis-related patents filed globally.

Drury, ByAdam. “Beijing Blames Canada and US for Spike in Drugs Smuggled into China.” Green Rush Daily, 17 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/beijing-blames-canada-and-us-for-spike-in-drugs-smuggled-into-china/.

Coast Guard Order Forbids Members from Consuming Legal Marijuana

Coast Guard members in states with legal marijuana can’t partake.

Although cannabis might be becoming increasingly legal throughout the United States—33 states currently have legalized marijuana in some capacity— the country’s armed forces remain stringent on the matter. This notion was once again on display Tuesday, thanks to a general order released by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. The official Coast Guard order forbids members from consuming legal marijuana in weed-legal states, clearing up any potential grey area in the matter.

Coast Guard Advised to Steer Clear

Coast Guard-wide message ACN 079/19 not only bars members of the Coast Guard from smoking cannabis, but it also prevents them from entering any type of business that “grows, distributes, sells or otherwise deals with marijuana.” This includes both classic brick and mortar buildings and online delivery services.

Considering cannabis is still considered a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, the ruling shouldn’t be all that of a surprise, but Cmdr. Matt Rooney told Military.com that the order was released to prevent any “ambiguity” under today’s weed-legal climate.

“The culture in certain parts of the nation is shifting around marijuana … we want to be clear to the workforce in providing our expectation that consumption of marijuana is still prohibited,” Rooney told the Military news outlet.

Failure to follow the general order falls under the umbrella of “failure to obey a lawful order,” due to the fact that the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not contain any specific orders that would otherwise bar service members from utilizing legal marijuana businesses. Maximum punishment under these pretenses includes two years confinement, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, reduction to E-1, and a dishonorable discharge.

Rooney also noted that members of the Coast Guard should steer clear of other cannabis-based products that don’t contain THC, including hemp and CBD oil, due to the unregulated nature of the business.

“We advise everyone to err on the side of caution,” Rooney said. “If they have a desire to use a product that may or may not fall into the definition of what’s prohibited, they should seek guidance or use caution.”

The Future of Marijuana in the Military

General order ACN 079/19 only affects members of the Coast Guard, who rank under the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense. However, members of the military have been issued a similar, informal warning regarding legal marijuana—under no circumstances is it ok to consume. This includes—you guessed it—within the confines of cannabis-legal states.

“We understand there might be confusion,” Donna Clouse, the prevention services branch chief for the Army’s Substance Abuse Program said. “especially for individuals who live in the states where marijuana use is legal.”

However, the unclear nature of policy could change within the year.

Shannon McGuire, a counsel for the Air Force Ethics Office, said in a March 6th email obtained by the Forum, that the Department of Defense could make a uniform policy sooner, rather than later.

“SOCO hopes to put out guidance soon,” McGuire said. “So please continue to stand by. I know there are a lot of emails floating around on this issue. Continue to have your legal offices hold off on certifying financial disclosures with marijuana-related holdings for the time being.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Coast Guard Order Forbids Members from Consuming Legal Marijuana.” Green Rush Daily, 31 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/coast-guard-order-forbids-members-from-consuming-legal-marijuana/.

Michigan Becomes First State to Ban Flavored Vaping Products

The Governor made the order to protect the children of Michigan.

As vaping continues to become popular with consumers around the country, many are beginning to wonder about its broader health implications. This is especially true when it comes to young consumers.

Now, the governor of Michigan has taken steps to make Michigan the first state to fully ban flavored vaping products. She claims the move will help keep children and teenagers away from e-cigarettes and other vaping products that some believe could have detrimental health effects.

Michigan Governor’s New Vaping Ban

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to ban all flavored vaping products in her state. Her decision comes in large part as a response to findings from the Michigan chief medical officer.

As reported by local news source Fox 2 Detroit, Gov. Whitmer’s chief medical officer has concluded that vaping is dangerous to young consumers. Additionally, the medical officer also said that the large and rapidly growing number of young people consuming such products now constitutes a public health emergency in the state of Michigan.

As a result, Gov. Whitmer has called for a full ban on flavored vaping products. Interestingly, she claims that if Michigan institutes the ban she’s after, it will become the first state in the country to take this type of action.

“One of my biggest, most important jobs of being governor is protecting the kids of Michigan,” Gov. Whitmer told Fox 2 Detroit. “I’m living with two teenagers. I know a lot of their friends are vaping. We see it every day. We see this constantly bombarding kids with this as a healthy option, getting kids hooked on nicotine before their brains are fully formed, and now we’re seeing kids showing up with respiratory problems. So we know this is a national health crisis.”

Gov. Whitmer also voiced particular concern over the ways vaping products are marketed.

“Bubble gum, fruit loops. These are flavors that are geared towards kids,” she said. “This is deceptive. This is destructive and most importantly it’s compromising our kids’ health.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of e-cigarettes and similar vaping devices is harmful to kids, teens, and young adults.

What the Ban Will Do

As explained by Whitmer, her proposed ban would:

  • Eliminate online and retail sale of any vaping products that are flavored to taste sweet, fruity, minty, or menthol.
  • Outlaw misleading marketing efforts. This includes putting flavored vape products on shelves next to candy.
  • Prohibit companies from using words like “clean,” “safe,” “healthy,” and other similar terms in advertisements of flavored vape products.
  • Instruct the Michigan Department of Transportation to prohibit billboard ads that market vaping products.

For now, Gov. Whitmer’s ban will be temporary. But she hopes that state lawmakers will eventually make the ban a permanent law.

It is still unclear when exactly Gov. Whitmer’s administration might move her proposed ban into effect.

And even though the ban is in its early stages, there is the possibility that it could face legal challenges. Specifically, Fox 2 Detroit reported that some in Gov. Whitmer’s administration expect to face lawsuits from players in the vaping industry.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Michigan Becomes First State to Ban Flavored Vaping Products.” Green Rush Daily, 4 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/michigan-becomes-first-state-to-ban-flavored-vaping-products/.

Saudi Arabia Beheads Hash Smugglers

Saudi Arabia is known for its harsh drug laws. Last week, two people were beheaded for smuggling hash into the country. Additionally, a Saudi citizen was beheaded for smuggling amphetamines.

Saudi Arabia And Drugs

Saudi Arabia Beheads People For Hash

Many countries are beginning to accept cannabis. But Saudi Arabia remains opposed to it. In fact, getting caught with weed and other drugs is punishable by death.

According to reports, Yemeni citizens Ahmed Mubarak and Abdul Salam al-Jamali were executed last week. They were caught trying to sneak hash into the country.

Hash is a potent form of cannabis. It is made out of compressed cannabis resin. After being convicted of smuggling the drug, the two men were beheaded in Jazan. The city is in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, near its border with Yemen.

To the north, in the region of Tabuk, another man was executed for breaking drug laws. Saudi citizen Daifallah al-Omrani was also beheaded. He was convicted of smuggling amphetamines.

A History Of Executions

Saudi Arabia Beheads People For Hash

Last week’s killings were the latest in the country’s ongoing history of executing criminals. In most cases, state executions are carried out as beheadings.

Last year, Saudi Arabia beheaded four members of the same family for drug possession. In particular, they were caught with large amounts of hash.

The government did not report how much hash the men had. Furthermore, Amnesty International raised concerns about the entire case. The group claimed the four men confessed to the crimes under torture.

There are currently no additional details about last week’s executions. But human rights groups like Amnesty International have voiced concern over Saudi Arabia’s high numbers of executions. Many of them are for breaking drug laws.

Back in 2015, the country killed 153 people. Most of them were for drug crimes. Things got worse in 2016. Last year, the country executed more people than it had in two decades.

And so far this year, things do not look any better. After last week’s beheadings, there have been 63 executions so far this year. On January 2, the country put to death 47 individuals. They were convicted of terrorism.

The Global War On Drugs

Saudi Arabia Beheads People For Hash

Last week’s executions are the most extreme example of the global War on Drugs. But even in less severe countries, anti-drug laws criminalize huge numbers of people.

In recent years, a number of organizations have ramped up efforts to end the global War on Drugs. For example, last year the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a statement calling on the UN to push for the decriminalization of drugs.

In the statement, the group said countries should stop incarcerating people for drug crimes. Similarly, it demanded an end to capital punishment for drug-related offenses. Along with Saudi Arabia, there are currently more than two dozen countries where drug possession and sale can lead to a death sentence.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Saudi Arabia Beheads Hash Smugglers.” Green Rush Daily, 25 May 2017, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/saudi-arabia-beheads-hash-smugglers/.

Ex-Pot Smuggler That Inspired ‘Kid Cannabis’ Shot Dead in Bar Fight

Michael “Topher” Clark was shot dead by a drunk man during an altercation at a bar.

One of the most famous cannabis smugglers in the U.S. died recently from a gunshot wound. Michael “Topher” Clark was killed during an altercation at a bar in northern Idaho. Clark became famous when his experience as a big-time marijuana smuggler was used as the basis for the 2014 film “Kid Cannabis.”

Bar Fight Turns Deadly

In the early hours of Sunday morning, local officials in Hayden, Idaho responded to a call about a fight at a bar called The Tipsy Pine.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they found a man on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. That man was Michael Clark. He had reportedly been shot by a man who has since been identified as 33 year old Coeur d’Alene resident Scott M. White.

According to local news sources, White and Clark got into a fight earlier that night at the bar. Friends who were present at the incident said the whole thing started when Clark approached White about being too loud.

In response, White said something back to Clark, calling him by name. This apparently alarmed and angered Clark, who apparently did not know White.

From there, tensions escalated quickly. White punched Clark in the head, leaving Clark bleeding. From there, Clark allegedly hit White in the face and they started brawling.

As soon as the two men started fighting, the bartender quickly moved to break up the altercation. He then gave White and his girlfriend their bill and asked them to leave.

As White and his girlfriend were preparing to leave, Clark at some point exited the bar and confronted them in the parking lot. According to reports, Clark punched White and the two ended up tussling on the ground.

At that point, White stood up, pulled a gun, and shot Clark multiple times. Police records said Clark suffered gunshot wounds to the chest, stomach, back, and bicep.

Despite receiving CPR from emergency responders and being transported to a nearby hospital, Clark died from the wounds.

Clark’s Killer Had a Gun and Was Drunk

As reported by local sources, White was heavily intoxicated during the entire incident. He was reportedly slurring his speech when law enforcement first arrived on the scene.

Even more, White said he had no memory of the fight or of the shooting. He told authorities that he’s a registered gun owner with a concealed-carry permit.

Further, White told authorities that he owns at least two handguns, and that he typically carries one of them at all times, including when he goes out to bars.

This isn’t the first time White has had legal troubles resulting from heavy drinking. Previously, he was convicted for a DUI.

Legendary Weed Smuggler Dead

Clark became something of a pop culture icon in 2014. That year, his life story was used as the inspiration for the movie “Kid Cannabis.”

As depicted in the movie, Clark and some of his friends started smuggling marijuana into the U.S. from British Columbia, Canada. They eventually found themselves running a relatively big-time operation reportedly worth several million dollars.

Clark was eventually arrested. Subsequently, in 2003, he was indicted on federal drug charges and went on to serve time in prison. Since his release, Clark has reportedly stayed away from the illegal marijuana market.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Ex-Pot Smuggler That Inspired ‘Kid Cannabis’ Shot Dead in Bar Fight.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Feb. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/entertainment/celebs/ex-pot-smuggler-that-inspired-kid-cannabis-shot-dead-in-bar-fight/.

1,400 Pounds of Marijuana Found Inside Coconuts

Officials working at the Mexico-U.S. border discovered more than 1,400 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a huge shipment of coconuts.

The bust happened at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility in Texas.

A tractor trailer filled with fresh coconuts was referred for what border authorities call “a non-intrusive imaging inspection.” From there, drug dogs were used to sniff out the hidden cannabis.

By the end of the day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found 2,486 packages of marijuana carefully packed inside the coconuts.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the 1,400 pounds of seized cannabis has a street value of $285,000.

It’s unclear at this point where the shipment of weed-filled coconuts started out. It’s also not clear where it was headed.

Smugglers are constantly looking for new creative ways to sneak their cannabis into the U.S. And hiding it in shipments of fruits and vegetables seems to be a favorite technique.

In March border agents in Texas found 766 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a shipment of broccoli. The veggies were coming out of Mexico and into the U.S.

And in January authorities busted yet another veggie-themed drug smuggling attempt.

In this one, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found 2,493 pounds of cannabis hidden in a shipment of carrots.

The marijuana was packaged in the shape of a carrot and then wrapped up in orange tape to make it look even more convincing.

Of course, the only time we ever hear about a smuggling attempt is when it fails. So who knows how many of them work.

But maybe smugglers should rethink the whole hiding weed inside shipments of produce thing. It doesn’t seem to be working too well.

For years now there has been significant cannabis smuggling activity between Mexico and the U.S.

Officials have discovered elaborate systems of tunnels crisscrossing the border. In some cases, these tunnels include elevators, ventilating systems, electrical lighting, and intricate rail systems designed for shipping cannabis and money back and forth.

But cannabis legalization in the U.S. could be slowing things down.

At the beginning of the year, there were reports that black market marijuana cultivation in Mexico is down as a direct result of increased legalization north of the border.

And data from the U.S. Border Patrol shows that marijuana seizures in 2015 were the lowest in at least a decade.

Lindsey, ByNick. “1,400 Pounds of Marijuana Found Inside Coconuts.” Green Rush Daily, 20 Mar. 2017, greenrushdaily.com/politics/1400-pounds-marijuana-coconuts/.

California’s Water Regulators Are Cracking Down On Weed Farmers

California’s Water Resources Control Board has at least 20 ongoing cases against weed farmers.

Illegal marijuana growers in California have a new—and possibly unexpected adversary—to deal with. The California State Water Resources Control Board is now cracking down on illegal grow sites. And this crackdown is spreading, as the water control board’s cannabis team has now started operating in Southern California in addition to Northern California.

The Cannabis Enforcement Unit of California’s Water Control Board

Four years ago, California’s Water Control Board launched a new unit. Known as the Cannabis Enforcement Unit, this task force focused on finding illegal marijuana grow sites that could pose risks to local water supplies.

Initially, the unit was only in Northern California. And for good reason. Northern California is legendary for its illegal cannabis grows. In fact, the region around Humboldt County is nicknamed “The Emerald Triangle” as a result of all the weed-growing activity in the area.

After those first four years, the Cannabis Enforcement Unit moved south. More specifically, the agency started operating in Southern California. According to local news sources, the unit started its SoCal operations in 2017.

Today, the unit functions in many of California’s most popular growing spots. And the unit has moved to the front of a growing crackdown on illegal growers.

Cannabis Cultivation and Water

Cannabis cultivation has long been linked to various environmental problems, especially ones related to water. These problems are particularly bad at illegal grow sites.

Many times, growers use a variety of chemicals. These can include fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. Often, these additives leach into nearby water supplies. When this happens, it can poison bodies of water, harming fish and animals that downstream.

Similarly, some of the pesticides used by illegal growers are poisonous to animal populations. For example, the Pacific fisher has been particularly harmed by illegal grow sites. Pesticides and other chemicals have killed large numbers of the animal, which is currently endangered.

Further, some illegal growers divert rivers, streams, or other waterways in order to water their plants. This can disrupt local ecologies. More broadly, it can also disrupt regional water agreements among farmers and other water users.

There are other ecological concerns associated with marijuana growers. This is especially true when it comes to issues having to do with water. And all of these concerns are exacerbated in California since many parts of the state regularly deal with drought conditions.

Weed Farmers Are Being Held To Higher Standards

The state of California has recognized all these potential problems. In fact, this was the main impetus for creating the Water Control Board Cannabis Enforcement Unit.

Further, water laws remain one of the few ways that law enforcement can tag illegal growers with a felony. Since weed became legal, many cannabis laws have been loosened. In many cases, this also includes a more lax approach to enforcing rules about cannabis cultivation.

But illegal growing poses such a threat to water that growers can still be charged with felonies that have to do with environmental damage. At this point, it’s not so much the actual weed growing that will get people in trouble. In many cases, illegal growers are more likely to be charged with a water-related environmental damage crime.

Lindsey, ByNick. “California’s Water Regulators Are Snitching On Weed Farmers.” Green Rush Daily, 9 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/cultivation/water-regulators-cracking-down-weed-farmers/.

Great-Grandmother Arrested for Possession of CBD Oil at Disney World

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office eventually dropped the felony possession charge, but not until Hester Burkhalter spent 12 hours of her family vacation in jail.

69-year-old Hester Burkhalter had saved up for two years to join her family on its first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. But the great-grandmother ended up spending more than 12 hours of her family vacation behind bars after Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested her for possessing a 30 mL bottle of CBD tincture. Police initially charged Burkhalter with felony possession of marijuana. But ultimately, Captain Carlos Torres of the Orange Country Sheriff’s Office dropped the charge against her. Cap. Torres still stood up for his deputy’s decision to arrest Burkhalter, highlighting the absurd enforcement actions stemming from Florida’s laws against hemp CBD.

Great-Grandmother Jailed For Doctor-Recommended CBD Oil

69-year-old great-grandmother Hester Burkhalter was with her family on a vacation to Walt Disney World. But she was arrested and charged with a felony for possessing CBD oil. Park security found the oil in Burkhalter’s purse at a security checkpoint at the Transportation & Ticket Center between Disney World and the Magic Kingdom.

After discovering the clearly labeled bottle of Peppermint CBD tincture, Disney Park Security notified Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies. When police arrived, Hester Burkhalter showed them the recommendation letter her physician back home had given her, instructing her to take CBD to treat the arthritis in her legs, arms and shoulder.

The tincture’s label stated that the 30 mL solution contained 1000 mg of CBD and 0 mg of THC. Under recently modified federal law, CBD products are legal so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. But the deputy went through the trouble to test the tincture for CBD. And in Burkhalter’s arrest report, the deputy said that the THC-test came back positive, but did not specify any amount.

As a result of the positive on the THC test, police arrested the 69-year-old, placing her in handcuffs and taking her to jail. Burkhalter spent more than 12 hours behind bars before Orange Country Sheriffs Captain Carlos Torres dropped the felony marijuana charge against her.

Charges Dropped in Absurd Disney CBD Arrest

The Burkhalters hail from North Carolina, where despite the state’s partial decriminalization of minor marijuana possession offenses, THC is completely prohibited. CBD, on the other hand, is legal. Retailers can sell CBD oils, tinctures and topical products, they just can’t advertise any health claims or sell CBD-infused foods or beverages.

So Hester Burkhalter wasn’t breaking the law when she purchased CBD oil on the recommendation of her physician. The 69-year-old Burkhalter deals with arthritis, like many her age. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties make it an effective treatment for arthritis. And considering all the walking a trip to Disney entails, no wonder Burkhalter brought it with her.

Based on the label of her CBD tincture, Burkhalter had no way of knowing that it contained some amount of THC. Or enough that the health product would land her in jail in Florida.

And what make’s Burkhalter’s case so baffling is that Florida just passed a law legalizing hemp. That bill is still awaiting signing from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But police are still arresting elderly people for possessing hemp CBD. In fact, Cap. Torres defended his deputy’s actions, saying he was just doing his job and following the law.

Drury, ByAdam. “Great-Grandmother Arrested for Possession of CBD Oil at Disney World.” Green Rush Daily, 7 May 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/great-grandmother-arrested-for-possession-of-cbd-oil-at-disney-world/.

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

From full degrees to online programs, these college courses will teach you everything there is to know about cannabis.

The cannabis industry is booming, and we need a qualified workforce to fill the jobs legal weed continues to create. If you want to join the cannabis revolution, but aren’t sure where to begin, check out these colleges with cannabis courses. Whether you’re a lawyer, biologist or a freshman, there is a class, program or degree for everyone. Here’s where to start (or continue) learning about cannabis business, agriculture, law, medicine or all of the above in the classroom.

The University of Washington

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Joe Mabel/Flickr

Washington’s State’s leading research university offers a “Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain” training program, designed for medical professionals. At the end of it, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals can take a quiz to receive Continuing Medical Education credit. This is key for people wishing to expand their area of healthcare expertise to include cannabis.

The course begins with the basics of the endocannabinoid system. This includes which cannabis products are available, which conditions can be treated with what in Washington. The second part of the course delves into marijuana for chronic pain, and weed’s other applications and side effects. It also goes into the differences between cannabis delivery methods. This can mean answering questions like: Is it better to smoke weed or take a tincture for a certain condition?

UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Brent/Flickr

There isn’t just one class on cannabis at the Univesity of California, Los Angeles. Instead, there’s a whole research institute devoted to studying the herb! The Research Initiative was founded in 2017 with the goal of making up for lost time: After decades of cannabis oppression, we don’t fully understand the health science behind cannabis, or the legal, social, and economic implications of legalization. With the backing of a major university, researchers are making major headway.

At UCLA’s newest program, linked with the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, top scientists in the health-related fields are studying cannabis. You can participate in one of the ongoing studies. Currently, there’s one on “Does Marijuana Smoke Affect The Lung’s Defenses Against Infection.” Another study looks at the effects of cannabis on depression and anxiety.

Though this isn’t technically one of our colleges with cannabis courses, work through this program could define coursework to come.

The University of Vermont

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

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In light of Vermont’s recent legalizastion—albeit without a retail market—it makes sense for the state university to offer courses on cannabis. The University of Vermont has a “Cannabis Science and Medicine Program.” This includes a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program for medical professionals.

Interested in work at a dispensary, pharmacy, edibles company or in advising patients on medical cannabis? UVM was the first university to offer this sort of a cannabis science program. Though it, you’ll learn the science behind cannabis as a therapeutic agent, and cover the business and legal side of it.

The Community College of New Brunswick

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Blazingluke/Wikimedia Commons

Canada is so desperate for cannabis professionals that the government is helping students pay for college cannabis classes. Specifically, last year, the Canadian government contributed $70,000 so that 25 students could take the Community College of New Brunswick’s “Medical Cannabis Cultivation” course.

This intensive program lasted 12 weeks and taught students how to grow weed to meet the Canadian government’s standards. This involved working at a nearby marijuana grow, Organigram, whose CEO worked with the college to create the program.

They’ve yet to announce whether the Dieppe campus program will continue this year. However, the school’s proximity to large-scale cannabis producers and the nation’s need for qualified growers will undoubtedly allow the program to continue.

Northern Michigan University

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Kpotes/Wikimedia Commons

Northern Michigan University’s Medicinal Plant Chemistry degree is one of the first 4-year undergraduate programs dedicated to teaching students about the cannabis industry. Run by the university’s chemistry department, this program begins with a foundation in plant biology, chemistry and horticulture, with a focus on cannabis and other medicinal herbs.

Afterward, you can pursue two different tracts. There’s the Bio-analytical Track, which goes more in-depth into the chemistry behind cannabis. Similarly, the Entrepreneurial Track includes biology but also explores business and accounting.

Durham College

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Adidostar/Wikimedia Commons

Durhan College, located near Toronto, Ontario, is offering weed business classes, which can go towards a Cannabis Certification Program. To begin the program, you start off with the intensive two-day Medical Cannabis Fundamentals for Business Professionals class. This will give you a baseline understanding of its history, laws, cultivation practices and clinical uses.

After taking the introductory course, which is offered throughout the summer, there are more college weed classes offered in the fall that can go towards your cannabis certification. This includes options like an “Importing and Exporting Cannabis” class—Canada is a global weed exporter, after all—and “Cannabis in the Adult-Use Market.”

The University of California, Davis

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr

Two of our colleges with cannabis courses are part of the University of California system. UC Davis held a class on “The Physiology of Cannabis” this past spring. Aimed at biology students, this class covered cannabis’ biology and physiology. Ever wanted in-depth insight into the endocannabinoid system? This course could be for you.

Likewise, for those who aren’t students at UC Davis, don’t worry. The school plans on offering an array of classes for medical students and anyone from the public hoping to learn more about cannabinoids.

The University of Denver

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Wikimedia Commons

It makes sense that the University of Denver has had some of the most varied coursework on our colleges with cannabis course list. The Daniels College of Business just concluded its “Business of Marijuana” class, which taught 24 students that included undergraduates, MBAs and alumni.

Prof. Paul Seaborn, who taught the course, designed it to teach his students about legal weed in relation to finance, marketing, ethics and business management. The ten-week course, which began in March of this year, was met with acclaim from both students and media.

Another course, titled”Cannabis Journalism,” explored the industry from a different angle. To create a narrative about legalization, students interviewed dispensary employees and industry insiders to understand both personal and political ramifications.

The University said that as a result of the business course’s popularity, similar elective will follow. Previously, they offered a law class on “Representing the Marijuana Client.”

Niagara College of Canada

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Niagara College of Canada/Instagram

The School of Environment and Horticulture at Niagara College in Ontario now has a “Commercial Cannabis Production” program. This one-year curriculum gives you a certificate, and the skills to work as a weed grower, production manager or quality assurance professional.

Much of the coursework is focused on Health Canada’s stringent grow regulations. Additionally, it focuses on how to grow a great marijuana crop again and again. This means understanding lighting, nutrition and pest control. It will also teach you about cost-effective production and update you on the latest fads in growing.

In contrast to other colleges with cannabis courses, this program focuses more on honing large-scale production skills, well-suited for Canada’s adult use market.

Ohio State University

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Michael Barera/Wikimedia Commons

Ohio State University just announced a class on cannabis business starting this year. The course, titled “Cannabiz: Exploring the ‘Legalized’ Cannabis Industry,” is offered through the Moritz College of Law. It will investigate the entrepreneurial side, specifically the risks and rewards of starting or investing in a cannabis company.

Though the university hasn’t finalized the course’s exact content, students will be able to register for it this fall.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

This British Columbia polytechnic university offers three online courses for future cannabis professionals. In “Plant Production and Facility Management,” students can learn about horticulture without leaving home. What does a healthy root look like? How do you store weed? What is a hydroponic system? This class will teach you all this.

There is also a class for those looking at colleges with cannabis courses on the pharmaceutical side of weed: “Marketing, Sales and Drug Development.” This covers the drug developing process and the medical benefits of cannabis. Another course, “Financing a Cannabis Enterprise in Canada,” explores how public and private weed businesses raise capital.

There Are More Colleges With Cannabis Courses Than Ever

11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses

Cannabis Reports/Flickr

As the weed market continues to grow, so do employment opportunities. Though people have traditionally learned about weed through the grey market, many would prefer to learn in a classroom setting. Formal education is especially important as more states legalize medical marijuana: we need medical professionals who are equipped with the knowledge, and certification, to prescribe the right kind of medical cannabis.

And as cannabis begins to resemble other industries, many people want to study it from a business or law perspective, rather than as growers. These colleges with cannabis courses prove that education is yet another way that the marijuana industry is creating new opportunities.

Powell, ByBurgess. “11 Colleges With Cannabis Courses You Can Take This Fall.” Green Rush Daily, 30 July 2018, greenrushdaily.com/entertainment/listicle/colleges-with-cannabis-courses/.

Dealers Use Drones to Fly Ecstacy, Cannabis and More into Festivals

As music festivals adopt stricter drug policies, dealers are getting creative.

It’s no secret that drugs and music festivals go together like peanut butter and jelly—at least for the majority of raucous festival-goers— so finding illicit substances is typically not an issue. Now, however, it might easier than ever before, thanks largely in part to today’s accessible technology.

Specifically, flying drones.

Drug Dealer Drones

At festivals, airdropping is becoming more prominent than ever before, and no, we’re not referring to your new iPhone XR. According to a report from the Daily Star, dealers are bringing in popular festival drugs such as ecstasy, prescription pills,  ketamine, coke, and even weed, via airdrops, thanks to law enforcement’s crackdown on festival drug use.

Amid today’s festival culture, police are finding more and more Class A contraband than ever before. As a result, they’ve employed an influx of drug-sniffing dogs to weed out some of the narcotics. It did have an impact, until dealers started utilizing drones.

“Sniffer dogs are all over it and we’re losing s**t loads. So we’re flying drones in now instead,” an anonymous dealer said to the Star.

The process itself is pretty, however, it takes some degree of reconnaissance work. Typically, dealers scope out a remote area at the festival grounds where security is non-existent. They then put a tracker device in the area, and a third-party located outside of the festival will fly the narcotics to the track location.

“Once it’s in you’re sorted. It’s getting it in that’s the problem. But with drones it’s a lot easier,” the dealer said. “You find a point in a field where no one is, then put a tracker there so the drone can find the location. Then you land it and pick up the drugs. We’ll get someone outside the festival to operate it and I’ll pick them up. You only really need one journey.”

This newfound technique isn’t actually all that groundbreaking— it somewhat mirrors what the cartel does to smuggle drugs into prison and over the U.S. Mexico border Albeit, those come in much larger quantities.

Festival Deaths on the Rise

One of the biggest reasons for the crackdown has been a rise in festival deaths due to illicit drugs—drugs that have, by and large, been initially acquired on the dark web with no real warnings about strength and proper dosage.

“It used to be that people at festivals wanted pills and you pretty much knew what you were getting, but now they want all kinds – ket, MDMA, GHB, the lot,” the Star’s source added.

“People underestimate how potent they are and their bodies can’t take what they’re being given.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Dealers Use Drones to Fly Ecstacy, Cannabis and More into Festivals.” Green Rush Daily, 12 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/dealers-use-drones-to-fly-ecstacy-cannabis-and-more-into-festivals/.Kohut, ByTim.

El Chapo Just Got Sentenced to Life in Prison

A jury found the 62-year-old Sinaloa kingpin guilty of all counts.

The name “El Chapo” will forever be synonymous with violence, crime, and hard drugs. But for the man with the infamous moniker, forever will be spent behind bars.

On Wednesday, drug kingpin El Chapo, whose real name is Joaquin Guzman Loera, was sentenced to life in prison —plus thirty years—by the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, for a slew of drug trafficking and weapons charges stemming from his tenure as the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel. He was also forced to hand over $12,666,191,704, the estimated total Chapo earned over decades of drug running and criminal activity. That figure, however, was deemed “conservative” by some prosecutors.

Justice Is Finally Served

While the landmark ruling occurred Wednesday, the near 12-week trial ended back in February, after the jury found the 62-year-old Sinaloa kingpin guilty of all counts on the sixth day of deliberations.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan, surrounded by bomb-sniffing dogs, high-level agents, and a number of other advanced security precautions, made the official announcement, citing “a mountain load of evidence” in the jury’s ultimate decision.

“The overwhelming evil is so clear,” Cogan said.

Guzman’s trial is one that has, seemingly, gone on for almost two decades, thanks to the drug lord’s penchant for escaping maximum-level security prisons. Back in 2001, El Chapo managed to escape prison by hiding in a prison cart. Then in 2015, Guzman made a ‘Shawshank Redemption’-esque escape through a manmade, mile-long tunnel. He was ultimately caught for a third and final time back in 2016. Guzman has been in solitary confinement ever since.

Guzman will, in all likelihood, be sentenced to ADX, an “administrative maximum” prison in Florence, Colorado.

Pushback from ‘El Chapo’ and his Lawyer

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence—including testimonies from former business associates, victims, government witnesses, and even a former mistress—against Guzman, he and his attorney believe the former cartel boss wasn’t afforded a fair trial. Criticisms of the court case stemming from accusations of juror misconduct. The allegations, originally raised by a Vice News report, raise questions about the use of outside information within the court of law. The media outlet contends that at least five jurors followed the case through social media, despite a judge’s official orders not to.

“All he wanted, and he said to me from day one, ‘I just want a fair trial. You tell me that I can get justice here, I just want a fair trial.’ And at the end of the day, we like to pretend that it was justice—it was not justice,” El Chapo’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman said to reporters outside of the courthouse. “You can’t have a situation where jurors are running around lying, lying to a judge, lying to a judge about what they were doing and learning about allegations that were purposely kept out by the government.”

After remaining silent for the duration of three-month long trial, Guzman, through an interpreter, also raised questions about the integrity of the trial.

“My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching,” Guzman said. “When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite.”

El Chapo’s defense lawyers have hinted at an appeal of the court’s decision, but it’s highly unlikely Guzman’s ultimate fate will change.

Kohut, ByTim. “El Chapo Just Got Sentenced to Life in Prison.” Green Rush Daily, 17 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/el-chapo-just-got-sentenced-to-life-in-prison/.

Denver’s Cannabis Industry Lowers Crime And Raises Revenues

In the 2017 annual report, Denver shows the world yet again that legalizing weed means better social programs and less crime.

As more states and countries move toward legalization, everyone is looking to Colorado for guidance. This means that not only is Denver’s cannabis industry’s success significant for the city as a whole, but it impacts the public’s opinion on cannabis. And this year’s report on Denver’s cannabis industry shows that legalization has lowered crime and raised revenue for the city. Here’s what the latest news on Denver’s cannabis industry foreshadows nationwide.

Legalizing Cannabis Lowers Crime

It makes sense that legalizing weed would lower crime. Weed prohibition continues to play an important role in the War on Drugs. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, incarceration rates bloomed, especially for people of color. Politifact charted a 500 percent increase in the rate of incarceration over the past 40 years. Since the population of the United States only grew 51 percent during that time, we can attribute most of the prison population’s growth to a crackdown on drug use.

Most importantly, legalizing weed means decriminalizing weed. Though selling weed illegally, smoking it in public places and other offenses can still get you into trouble, the number of people arrested for weed has plummeted. According to Drug Policy, 9,864 weed-related cases went to court in Denver in 2012. By comparison, there were only 1,537 court cases in 2014. By redefining what a what a crime is, Colorado, and its largest city, Denver, has lowered crime rates.

Furthermore, Denver’s annual report shows that marijuana-related crime has decreased post-legalization. Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of cannabis-related arrests fell from 0.58 to 0.30 percent. Overall, cannabis-related burglaries fell from 191 in 2012 to 139 last year, despite its increasing popularity. Impaired driving across the board has also gone down.

Even smaller crimes are less prevalent. For instance, public consumption violations fell from 762 to 369 in 2016. Six years since legalizing weed in Colorado, Denver reports less crime by every metric.

Denver City Revenues Skyrocket After Legalization

Buying weed in Denver comes with tax rates of 6.55 and22.15 percent for medical and recreational cannabis, respectively. Since Denver accounted for 38.7 percent of total weed sales in Colorado in 2017, the city is reaping huge dividends. Specifically, sales in Denver reached $584 million in 2017, which is a 16 percent increase from 2016.

Last year, Denver made an impressive $44,700,000 in weed taxes.

The report also contains a reminder that though this seems like a big number, its only 3.41 percent of the city’s total revenue. Yet, on the whole, weed taxes brought great things to the people of Denver. Millions went to building affordable housing, treating opioid addiction, funding schools, maintaining infrastructure and enforcing weed laws.

Denver Demonstrates Legalization’s Positive Impact In 2017

Not only is Denver an emblem of urban weed legalization, it’s also one of the best places to live in America. And this year, there was less crime, lower incarceration rates and more funding for social programs and infrastructure than ever before. Not only is legalizing cannabis good for business, but it can benefit pretty much everyone.

Powell, ByBurgess. “Weed Is Lowering Crime and Raising Revenue In This City.” Green Rush Daily, 13 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/news/denvers-cannabis-industry-lowers-crime/.

Colorado Surpasses $1 Billion in Marijuana Tax Revenue

After posting its highest-grossing monthly sales ever in April and May this year, Colorado’s legal cannabis industry has generated more than $1 billion in taxes and fees.

Marijuana has made Colorado more than a billion bucks since legal sales began in 2014. Taxes and fees have pumped exactly $1,017,120,136 into Colorado education and health care programs, mental health services and youth drug-prevention programs. It’s exactly what legalization advocates and policymakers had hoped for, and there are no signs of sales slowing down. In fact, Colorado marijuana sales are accelerating, and that means state revenue is too. It took Colorado more than three years of retail cannabis sales to generate $500 million in state revenue. But it took less than two years to break the $1 billion milestone.

Record-Breaking Marijuana Sales Generating Massive Revenue for Colorado

They say April is the cruelest month. But not for Colorado’s cannabis retailers, who posted their highest-grossing month ever in April this year. Then, they did it again, in May, posting the second-highest sales numbers Colorado has ever seen. In those two months alone, record-breaking marijuana sales generated more than $48 million dollars for state coffers. And it was that $48 million that brought Colorado over the $1 billion mark in state revenue.

According to marijuana sales data, Colorado’s monthly haul of taxes and fees hasn’t dropped below $20 million since July 2017. Compare that to the first month of recreational sales, February 2014, which earned Colorado just $3.5 million in tax and fee revenue.

Since those early days, Colorado’s cannabis industry has grown to encompass nearly 3,000 licensed businesses and over 41,000 licensed employees. And according to the most recent figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue, that industry has so far generated more than $6.5 billion in sales. “It’s going very well,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis back in May. “It’s creating tens of thousands of jobs, tax revenue for the state, filling up buildings for landlords and reducing crime.”

What is Colorado Doing with All that Weed Money?

Colorado’s tax scheme has pretty much set the standard for states that have followed Colorado’s lead legalizing marijuana. The state collects a 15 percent excise tax on retail marijuana, in addition to a 15 percent special sales tax. Medical marijuana is taxed at 2.9 percent at the point of sale. Besides sales and excise taxes, business and individual licensing fees also generate millions of dollars for the state.

That tax revenue goes into the coffers of both state and local governments in Colorado. And it funds everything from youth and public health programs, youth literacy initiatives, anti-bullying programs, mental health and substance abuse programs, and more.

“This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generative valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction,” said Gov. Polis in a statement.

But with the accelerating rate of marijuana sales, Colorado is generating more state revenue from weed than it thought it would. As a result, some of the marijuana tax and fee revenue didn’t end up where legalization advocates thought it would. And so lawmakers are constantly tweaking the formula that parses out all that cash and distributes it to various state programs.

But from the perspective of Colorado government, it’s a good problem to have. “There is obviously more advantage to us when we are all a little bit more special, and obviously more and more states are moving in this direction,” said Gov. Polis.

Drury, ByAdam. “Colorado Surpasses $1 Billion in Marijuana Tax Revenue.” Green Rush Daily, 13 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/colorado-surpasses-1-billion-in-marijuana-tax-revenue/.

Massachusetts’ 2 Retail Marijuana Shops Have Already Made $7 Million

Recreational marijuana sales are up and running in Massachusetts. And although there are currently only two dispensaries selling weed, the state is already seeing some impressive sales figures. In fact, in the short time that they’ve been open, the state’s two dispensaries have already pulled in a total of $7 million.

Massachusetts Dispensaries Putting Up Big Numbers

So far, the two recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts are Cultivate, in Leicester, and New England Treatment Access, located in Northampton.

The shops have only been open since November 20. That’s when the state’s recreational retail program went live. And since then, both shops have seen steady demand—and have been putting up some impressive sales figures.

According to local news sources, the shops raked in a combined $4.8 million in the first two weeks after they opened. Then, they made another $2.2 million over the last seven days or so in December.

From Dec. 3 through Dec. 9, the shops sold a combined 57,127 “units,” which include measured-out amounts of flower as well as individually sold cannabis products like edibles or topicals.

Adding it all up, the shops have so far made at least $7 million. And they haven’t even been open for a full month yet.

Obviously, these numbers arise out of a steady and consistent demand for legal weed. Additionally, they also mean that the state will start seeing a new stream of tax revenue.

Under Massachusetts law, dispensaries are taxed 6.25 percent on all sales, plus a 10.75 percent excise tax, and a three percent local tax.

Weed taxes will fund a number of projects. Most notably, these include social justice programs aimed at addressing the harms caused by the war on drugs. Specifically, these programs will go to communities that have been disproportionately harmed by past prohibition laws, especially poor communities and communities of color.

As these shops continue their high volume of sales, and as other dispensaries begin opening throughout the state, it seems likely that Massachusetts will start seeing a potentially significant boost to its tax revenue.

More Dispensaries Will Open Soon

The activity being seen at both of these shops could soon spread to other parts of the state. That’s because there is a lineup of new dispensaries getting ready to open in other locations.

Most immediately, state officials recently approved a dispensary called Alternative Therapies Group. Set to open in Salem, this shop has now been cleared to begin operations later this week.

Similarly, there are reportedly two other dispensaries that have received final approvals. However, before these shops can actually open their doors, they still need clearance from regulators. But that should presumably happen relatively quick.

In addition to these shops, all of which are on the verge of opening their doors, local news reported that the state’s regulatory commission will also be looking at a number of new applications.

In particular, the commission is set to examine three retail hopefuls during its meeting today. Those potentially new dispensaries include Northeast Alternatives Inc., which will be located in Fall River, Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts Inc., applying to open shops in Hudson and Pittsfield, and Theory Wellness Inc., which wants to open shop in Great Barrington.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Massachusetts’ 2 Retail Marijuana Shops Have Already Made $7 Million.” Green Rush Daily, 13 Dec. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/business/massachusetts-2-retail-marijuana-shops-have-already-made-7-million/.

Illinois is Going to Tax Recreational Marijuana Based on THC Content

Extract enthusiasts draw the short straw in Illinois.

Illinois recently made cannabis history. And not only because it became the newest state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis. The specific ways in which Illinois achieved legalization, as well as some key features of its new laws, have set it apart from other weed-legal states.

For starters, Illinois is the first state to pass legalization entirely through the legislative process. Technically, Vermont lawmakers legalized possession of marijuana this way, but they have yet to establish any sort of retail program. But Illinois, on the other hand, managed to pass legalization and establish a retail framework, which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Additionally, Illinois is also attracting attention for its unique tax structure. Specifically, when weed sales go into effect, the state will levy taxes based on THC content, instead of weight the way other weed-legal states do.

Illinois’ THC-Based Tax Structure

Here’s how Illinois will tax recreational cannabis and cannabis products:

  • Flower or other marijuana products with less than 35 percent THC will have a 10 percent sales tax.
  • Marijuana flower and other products with more than 35 percent THC will see a 25 percent sales tax.
  • And cannabis-infused products like edibles and drinkables will have a 20 percent sales tax.
  • Additionally, the state will impose a seven percent gross receipts tax on weed sales between cultivators and retail dispensaries.

In many ways, this is a novel idea in the world of marijuana legalization. The only other similar tax structure is in Canada. Last year, weed became legal at the national level. Under the country’s new rules and regulations, cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, cannabis oils, and cannabis topicals all face excise taxes based on how much THC they contain.

But in the U.S., Illinois is the first state to attempt this type of tax structure on the sale of legal cannabis.

Will This Affect Medical Marijuana?

For many, especially those who are currently medical marijuana patients, this new structure raises some big questions. Namely, will the three-tiered tax structure make medical marijuana—which can sometimes be relatively potent—more expensive?

According to local news source WTTW, Illinois’ new THC-based tax scheme only relates to recreational sales.

Even after retail sales begin next year, medical marijuana sales will proceed as usual. And when it comes to taxes, WTTW reported that medical marijuana products will continue to see a one percent sales tax, which is reportedly the same sales tax applied to all pharmaceuticals in the state.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program has so far seen relatively strong success since it launched in 2014.

Today, there are reportedly more than 65,500 medical marijuana patients registered with the state’s program. Additionally, sales of medical marijuana in Illinois recently went above $323 million.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program serves patients with one of 41 qualifying health conditions.Along with keeping medical marijuana separate from recreational cannabis in the context of sales taxes, the state has also kept the two separate in other key ways.

This includes keeping medical marijuana free of the same potency limits as products intended for the recreational market.

Home growing is the other big allowance granted to medical patients but not recreational consumers. As currently written, the state’s new recreational laws will not allow for home cultivation. But as per Illinois Policy, registered medical marijuana patients can still grow up to five plants at a time.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Illinois Is Going to Tax Recreational Marijuana Based on THC Content.” Green Rush Daily, 10 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/illinois-is-going-to-tax-recreational-marijuana-based-on-thc-content/.

12 States With Tax-Free Cannabis Sales

Medical marijuana patients have way more options when it comes to states with tax-free cannabis.

Despite the fact that the federal government considers them illegal, cannabis businesses still pay their taxes, both to their home state and Uncle Sam. Ultimately, those costs trickle down to consumers in the form of higher prices on cannabis products, whether consumers pay sales tax on those products or not. Of course, tax rates differ across states. Different segments of the industry pay different taxes, too. And that makes states with tax-free cannabis sales rare birds, indeed. Here’s which ones they are.

States With Tax-Free Cannabis for Medical Patients

Generally, medical cannabis patients pay lower tax rates than adult retail consumers. And in some states, medical cannabis patients don’t pay any tax on dispensary purchases at all. Rather, taxes are usually paid by cultivators who sell cannabis to dispensaries or manufacturers.

Here’s a complete list of states with tax-free cannabis for registered medical patients.

  • Alaska patients pay no tax, but there is a $50 per ounce tax on flower and $15 per oz of trimmings on wholesale purchases.
  • California medical cannabis patients don’t have to pay the retail and additional excise tax non-medical buyers do.
  • Delaware‘s Medical Marijuana Act stipulates that there shall be no tax collected on dispensary purchases by registered patients.
  • D.C. isn’t a U.S. state, but the District of Columbia has tax-free medical cannabis.
  • Maine residents have to pay a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales, but medical patients pay no tax.
  • Massachusetts medical cannabis patients are exempt from the retail, state and municipality taxes other buyers pay on cannabis.
  • New Hampshire‘s Therapeutic Cannabis Program does not impose a tax on medical cannabis sales.
  • New Mexico added no new taxes for medical cannabis patients.
  • North Dakota‘s House Bill 1430 does not levy a tax on dispensary sales to medical patients.
  • Oregon tax rates for retail sales can be as high as 20 percent, but not for medical cannabis patients, who pay no tax.
  • Vermont‘s sale and use tax doesn’t apply to medical cannabis.
  • West Virginia‘s Senate Bill 386 imposes a 10 percent excise tax on wholesale cannabis, but medical patients don’t pay tax at point of sale.

Any states with medical cannabis not included in this list place a tax on medical cannabis purchases by patients and/or licensed caregivers.

Are There Adult-Use States With Tax-Free Cannabis Sales?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single state that doesn’t charge sales tax for adult-use purchases. In some states, the tax on retail cannabis purchases is simply the same as the local sales tax rate. In some places, however, like Massachusetts, there are additional taxes on top of the standard sales tax. Other states, like Oregon, let municipalities opt in or out of the additional tax on cannabis.

Furthermore, in states that have separate regulations for their medical and adult-use cannabis industries, cultivators and manufacturers can pay high excise taxes that can end up raising prices for consumers even further. Often, weed prices like $20 for a single gram, common for higher-end flower in many shops, are more a reflection of businesses overhead costs than they are of limited supply.

Drury, ByAdam. “12 States With Tax-Free Legal Weed Sales.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Sept. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/entertainment/listicle/states-with-tax-free-cannabis/.

Washington Gets Their First Unionized Dispensary

Workers in the cannabis industry are unionizing to get benefits employers won’t provide.

Have a Heart cannabis dispensary is one of Washington’s oldest and largest licensed marijuana retailers. Serving cannabis consumers across five locations, the company employs 134 workers, most of them in retail. And last week, Have a Heart made cannabis history in Washington by becoming the first company to sign a collective bargaining agreement with its employees. But the union contract wasn’t the result of workers’ demands alone. Have a Heart executives also welcomed the union agreement, because it gives them the ability to provide benefits they had been unable to provide to workers due to federal prohibition.

Workers Unions Help Cannabis Companies Deal With Federal Prohibition

On Friday, Have a Heart signed a collective bargaining agreement with United Food and Workers Local 21 chapter. The agreement covers all of Have a Heart’s 134 retail shop workers. As the ink dried on the contract, Have a Heart became Washington’s first marijuana business with unionized retail stores. And CEO Ryan Kunkle is looking forward to the union being able to provide what his company could not.

By now, nearly everyone is familiar with the problematic legal contradictions between state cannabis laws and the federal prohibition on marijuana. But fewer know that Uncle Sam is having it both ways.

State-legal cannabis businesses have to pay federal taxes even though the government in D.C. considers them illicit operations. At the same time, cannabis businesses are unable to deduct many of the expenses businesses that aren’t breaking federal laws can. These deductions include employer-supplied benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions.

Unable to deduct these significant expenses, many cannabis businesses decide not to provide them to their employees at all. And that contributes to a whole host of related consequences. Companies that can’t provide good employee benefits can’t compete for the best candidates, while workers leave because they can’t afford health care out of pocket, contributing to the industry’s high turnover rates.

And that’s where unions come into play. Unions can provide benefits to their members that companies won’t because they can’t deduct them on their tax returns.

Workers of the Cannabis Industry, Unite!

Unions and worker power are on the decline across the United States. Various “right to work” bills and other union-busting legislation have been staples in conservative legislatures and courts. And this June’s SCOTUS ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case was another decisive blow to the power of working-class people in the U.S.

But as the cannabis industry expands amid federal criminalization, there’s an opportunity for workers in it to get organized. There’s no federal law that prevents workers in the marijuana industry from unionizing. And if Washington’s recent example is any indication, workers are likely to face very little resistance from employers.

UFCW 21 President Todd Crosby said the Have a Heart negotiation was one of the fastest the union has ever had. And that was because, according to Crosby, owners were neutral and let the employees do what they wanted. Have a Heart CEO Ryan Kunkel even wants employees at his retail shops in other states to collectively bargain.

Where companies can’t deliver, unions can step up. And that’s a win for workers and the industry as a whole.

Drury, ByAdam. “This Retail Weed Dispensary Just Unionized.” Green Rush Daily, 28 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/business/washington-first-unionized-dispensary/.

Cannabis Company Offers Employees Medical Marijuana Coverage

A Canadian cannabis giant will be one of the first to offer its employees medical marijuana coverage.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. is showing its commitment to medical marijuana in a big way. Along with making medical cannabis available to markets and customers throughout the world, the company is now making it easier for its own employees to access. As the cannabis company offers employees medical marijuana coverage, more and more companies in Canada are beginning to follow suit.

Aurora’s Employees Can Now Get Medical Marijuana

Yesterday, Aurora announced a new benefits package for its employees. And the most important change had to do with medical marijuana.

Now, employees of Aurora Cannabis Inc. will have medical marijuana covered by their health insurance. As reported by local Canadian news sources, the new insurance plan will be operated by Sun Life Financial.

Starting in March, Sun Life began making medical marijuana an option for its insurance plans. As a result, when employers put together benefits packages for employees, they can choose to include medical marijuana coverage.

Under the terms of coverage, Sun Life will cover medical marijuana for certain health conditions. This reportedly includes symptoms linked to some forms of cancerarthritisHIV/AIDSmultiple sclerosis, and a few other conditions.

With medical marijuana coverage now on the table, Aurora Cannabis apparently took advantage of the new option. Now, all Aurora employees will have medical marijuana insurance coverage, as long as they have one of the qualifying health conditions.

Cannabis Company Offers Employees Medical Marijuana Coverage

Aurora’s decision to add medical marijuana coverage to its benefits plan is especially fitting. That’s because Aurora is poised to become one of the biggest providers of medical marijuana in the world.

Back in May, Aurora was part of a huge deal. The company acquired MedReleaf Corporation, one of Canada’s largest marijuana companies. That acquisition came on the heels of other high profile acquisitions.

Along with acquisitions, Aurora has been making moves to land distribution deals in other countries. For example, at the beginning of the year, the company won a contract to supply medical marijuana to the government of Italy.

That deal came as a result of shortages in Italy. As demand for medical marijuana has skyrocketed in Italy, the country has failed to produce enough product on its own. Italy eventually chose to enter a partnership with Aurora. As a result, Aurora will now ship medical marijuana to Italy.

As a result of all these moves, Aurora has solidified its spot as one of Canada’s biggest cannabis companies. Given its role as a provider of medical marijuana to patients around the world, it is only fitting that it offers medical marijuana benefits to its employees in its home country.

It is becoming increasingly popular for companies in Canada to give employees medical marijuana insurance coverage. Private companies like food retailer Loblaw and the Arthritis Society have reportedly offered medical marijuana coverage to employees.

More broadly, this trend is part of larger and ongoing cannabis-related changes in Canada. At the top of the list is the legalization of recreational weed. After a number of delays, Canada is scheduled for full national legalization later this fall.

Lindsey, ByNick. “This Company’s New Benefit Plan Covers Medical Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 25 July 2018, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/cannabis-company-offers-medical-marijuana-coverage/.

Judge Rules Injured Worker Is Entitled To Medical Marijuana

A New Jersey resident took his employer to court for medical cannabis… and won. Here’s a look at the precedent-setting case.

In New Jersey, a judge ruled that a local town has to cover a state employee’s medical marijuana expenses. This comes after the town’s insurance provider argued that since marijuana is still federally illegal, it shouldn’t have to pay for cannabis medicine. This is one of a few precedent-setting cases foreshadowing medical marijuana legislation changes, and a big clash between federal and state lawmakers.

New Jersey Town Must Cover Medical Cannabis Treatment

Steven McNeary, who works for Freehold Township, suffers from chronic back pain. He has injured his back several times, first in 2007. After the first two incidents, McNeary still receives disability, though it did not match his previous salary.

In an attempt to remedy his back pain, McNeary had surgery several. He continued to take opiates to cope with the pain for several years. However, with his physician’s guidance, McNeary recently opted to go off opiates, instead of increasing his dosage. He was becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs.

All the while, New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has been booming. McNeary’s lawyer told the judge that his doctor, provided by the state, encouraged McNeary to enroll in the state’s program. Chronic and severe pain are qualifying condition for medical cannabis in New Jersey. However, almost all employers do not cover medical cannabis expenses. As a result, most people like McNeary pay large sums out of power.

Rather than continue to pay the prohibitively high cost of cannabis medicine, McNeary took his employer, Freehold Township, to court. There, the town’s insurance provider, PMA Group, contended that marijuana is still a federally controlled substance. Compensating someone for cannabis would be, according to them, comparable to distributing an illegal substance.

Despite these objections, Judge Lionel Simon decided in McNeary’s favor. A transcript of the court case quotes the Judge as saying, “If there’s anything criminal here, it’s how these drugs have been force fed to injured people creating addicts.”

More Medical Cannabis Cases Will End Up In Court

There is still time for PMA Group to appeal the ruling. And even if they don’t, the Judge’s ruling contradicts earlier workers’ compensation and cannabis cases. For instance, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sided with Twin Rivers Paper Company in a case brought forth by employee Gaetan Bourgoin. According to the Press Herald, Bourgoin argued that opioid painkillers were not curbing his work injury-related pain and that he needed medical marijuana. The state ruled that it could not override federal drug laws. This meant that Bourgoin’s employer’s insurance provider did not have to cover medical cannabis expenses through their workers’ compensation program.

As cannabis programs expand, and federal and state laws increasingly clash, more cases like McNeary’s and Bourgoin’s will end up in court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to decide what insurance providers are liable to cover. In light of Donald Trump’s nomination of staunch—and most likely weed prohibitionist—conservative Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a future ruling favor of medical cannabis is unlikely.

Powell, ByBurgess. “Judge Rules Injured Worker Is Entitled To Medical Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 14 July 2018, greenrushdaily.com/news/injured-worker-entitled-medical-marijuana/.

Watch This Stock If The New York Health Department Legalizes Weed

There are a few financial moves to consider if the New York Health Department were to legalize weed.

He’s long been opposed to the legalization of cannabis. But he may be changing his tune. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has, on more than one occasion, called cannabis a gateway drug. But a new report on the benefits of legalization could be a catalyst for the governor to reconsider his opposition to legalization.

Changing Cuomo’s Mind

The report, which was backed by Cuomo and released by the state Health Department, found that the positives clearly outweigh the negatives when it comes to legalization.

Of course, this isn’t some big epiphany, but the governor needed some convincing.

The governor also has quickly discovered that one of his challengers, actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, has garnered a lot more support than political insiders expected, due primarily to her making legalization a top priority in her bid to become governor.

Politics aside, the Health Department’s new report offered some great data points that are sure to be excellent fodder for coming debates.

Reductions in opioid prescriptions, the fact that prohibition has resulted in disproportionate criminalization of certain racial and ethnic groups, and the realization that with legalization in place, the Empire State could end up generating as much as $542.3 million a year in tax revenues, are all key points that will certainly bolster the movement to legalize cannabis.

Stock That Will Benefit From New York Legalization

Of course, this doesn’t mean Cuomo will really back legalization in an honest and responsible way. But if he does, there’s one company that investors should have exposure to: Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE: IIPR).

Innovative Industrial Properties is a cannabis REIT that utilizes triple-net lease arrangements, whereby the tenant is responsible for taxes, maintenance, insurance and structural repairs, as well as base rent. The lease terms are typically set at a minimum of fifteen years with renewal options exercisable by the tenant, and with contractual annual rent adjustments.

IIPR currently has two assets in New York: One with PharmaCanna, which has 127,000 square feet of rentable space, and one with Vireo Health, which has 40,000 square feet of rentable space.

IIPR also has assets in MinnesotaArizonaMarylandMassachusetts, and Pennsylvania. But today, we’re focusing on New York, which is where Innovative Industrial Properties already has a first-mover advantage.

Innovative Industrial Properties is actually a fairly safe cannabis stock to own. It trades on the NYSE, it pays a small dividend, and the company’s executive chairman is a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry who co-founded two NYSE-listed REITs. One of which was BioMed Realty Trust, which was sold to Blackstone in 2016 for $8 billion. Keep a close eye on Innovative Industrial Properties.

Siegel, ByJeff. “Watch This Stock If The New York Health Department Legalizes Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 24 July 2018, greenrushdaily.com/politics/legalization/invest-new-york-legalizes-weed/.

Toronto Keeps Cement Blocking the Entrances of Illegal Dispensaries

A physical barricade isn’t enough to stop licensed cannabis sellers who are turning to sidewalk sales after police block dispensary doors with cement blocks.

Routine police raids, orders to shut down, seizures of cannabis products and cash, fines, arrests, criminal charges—none of these has been enough to uproot Toronto’s vast network of unlicensed weed dispensaries. Consumer demand is just too high, and the availability of legal products too scarce, for Toronto law enforcement’s efforts to have much effect on the illicit market. In fact, Toronto police have been virtually powerless to reduce the footprint of the city’s unlicensed cannabis distributors and retailers, even as the one year anniversary of legalization approaches.

But it’s certainly not for lack of trying. And now, Toronto police are reportedly trying a new tactic to shut down unlicensed cannabis retailers. They’re using cement blocks to barricade the entrances to illegal underground “pharmacies,” in hopes customers won’t be able to enter them.

Not Even Cement Block Barricades Can Stop Illegal Dispensaries from Doing Business

Toronto law enforcement agencies have been making good on their promises to shut down and drive out the unlicensed cannabis shops operating across the city. The pace of police raids is constant. But when one shop shuts down, several others just seem to pop up in its place. Now, however, police are trying a new tactic. They’re erecting barriers between unlicensed retailers and their customers.

Toronto police are putting cement blocks in front of the entrances to unlicensed cannabis shops. But given the resilience we’ve seen from these illegal operations already, it’s hard to imagine cement blocks standing in their way. And sure enough, illicit retailers have found a workaround—literally. Retailers are simply working around the cement blocks, conducting business on the sidewalks outside the barricaded shops. Take the unlicensed dispensary CAFE, for example. Last Wednesday, police raided the shop and shut it down for illegally operating without a license. By Friday, several “budtenders” were outside the shop on the sidewalk, selling weed to eager customers.

Barricaded Cannabis Retailers Resort to Sidewalk Sales

Barricaded weed shops may not be enough to stop unlicensed retailers from satisfying consumer demand for cannabis products. But they are making the job of arresting retail operators easier for police. It’s one thing to sell unlicensed cannabis behind a closed door and a security system. It’s another to do so on the sidewalk for all to see.

After raiding and shutting down illegal dispensaries, police have been barricading storefronts with cement blocks. That’s driving unlicensed purveyors onto the streets, where they’re interfacing with customers through sidewalk sales. According to police, sidewalk sales are happening across Toronto outside recently shut-down dispensaries. They’re easy to spot because they’re attracting large crowds. Those crowds attract complaints. The complaints attract police.

In a series of tweets addressing the recent trend toward sidewalk cannabis sales, Toronto Police are urging residents not to purchase from illicit sellers, which they say support organized crime. Police also tweeted that sellers who flee sidewalk sales when officers approach are leaving behind iPads containing sensitive customer data like names, emails, financial information, and product orders.

Sidewalk sales in front of barricaded dispensaries may be the latest response of Toronto’s unlicensed marijuana market to persistent enforcement efforts. But will it be their last? In lieu of a robust accessible legal market, Canadian cannabis consumers are going to continue purchasing from unlicensed sellers. And if cement blocks won’t work to dissuade them, what will?

Drury, ByAdam. “Toronto Keeps Cement Blocking the Entrance to an Illegal Dispensary.” Green Rush Daily, 23 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/toronto-keeps-cement-blocking-the-entrances-of-illegal-dispensaries/.

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Laws Include Extracts

The state can no longer prosecute medical marijuana patients for possessing extracts.

Earlier today, the Arizona Supreme Court clarified a key point of medical marijuana law. Specifically, the court ruled that cannabis concentrates and extracts are allowable under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

Importantly, this decision puts to rest an ongoing legal battle over what place—if any—concentrates have in the state’s medical marijuana program.

Arizona Supreme Court’s Landmark Ruling

The decision came earlier today when the Arizona Supreme Court announced its decision in the State of Arizona v. Rodney Christopher Jones case.

While that case was focused on one man’s battle to overturn a conviction for possessing hashish, it ultimately has implications for the entire state.

Shortly after medical marijuana became legal in Arizona, a legal medical marijuana patient named Rodney Jones was arrested when authorities found him in possession of hashish.

Jones claimed he was allowed to have the hash because he had a medical marijuana card. But local cops thought otherwise. And ultimately, so did the local courts. As a result, Jones was convicted. And he ended up serving 2.5 years behind bars.

His case quickly took center stage in a hotly contested debate over concentrates and extracts. Much of this debate arose because the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed in 2010, did not explicitly define whether or not it included concentrates. As a result, decisions were left up to local officials.

In some cases, as with Jones, authorities believed that the AMMA did not overturn a previous law that defined concentrates and flower as two separate and distinct substances. State authorities in this camp understood that to mean that medical marijuana laws did not protect concentrates.

But on the other hand, many in the state believed that the AMMA automatically protected all forms of cannabis, including concentrates.

Supreme Court Clarifies Confusion

In many ways, this was the question at the heart of Jones’s case. An initial attempt by his lawyers to dismiss the case was overturned and he was convicted.

Then, in 2018 the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Jones’s conviction. And it wasn’t until today that the Arizona Supreme Court changed course. It voted 7-0 in favor of Jones. And by extension, that decision explicitly defines concentrates and extracts as legal under the AMMA.

“AMMA defines ‘marijuana’ as ‘all parts of [the plant,’” the court wrote in its decision. “The word ‘all,’ one of the most comprehensive words in the English language, means exactly that.”

The decision continued: “Taken together, ‘all parts’ refers to all constituent elements of the marijuana plant, and the fact the resin must first be extracted from the plant reflects that it is part of the plant.”

Many in favor of medical marijuana in Arizona see today’s decision as a big step forward.

“The court got it right,” said ACLU of Arizona Criminal Justice Staff Attorney Jared Keenan. “This ruling means that qualifying patients will no longer have to fear being prosecuted for using their medicine in the most helpful form.”

He added: “This is what voters intended when they overwhelmingly passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

Even before today’s clarifying decision, concentrates were very popular with patients. According to the Phoenix New Times, patients purchased 2.5 tons of edibles and another 2.5 tons of concentrates in 2018.

Drury, ByAdam. “Arizona Iced Tea Maker Strikes Deal With Cannabis Company.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/arizona-iced-tea-maker-strikes-deal-with-cannabis-company/.

SUNY School Introduces a Cannabis Cultivation Program

A state university is developing a program to bring cannabis cultivation education to New York.

At colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, there is a rapidly growing trend of offering more and more cannabis-related courses. Now, a school in New York is taking that trend to the next level. Officials at the State University of New York (SUNY) Morrisville recently announced that they are currently developing a brand new Cannabis Industry Minor.

New Cannabis Minor at SUNY Morrisville

The primary objective of SUNY Morrisville’s upcoming Cannabis Industry Minor is to give students a rigorous and broad background that will prepare them to move into a number of different positions in the legal marijuana industry.

To accomplish this, the program will bring together expertise from a number of different fields. For example, the program will draw from the university’s agricultural engineering, science, horticulture, and business departments.

The hope is that a broad-based education will give students familiarity with many different aspects of the legal cannabis industry. This includes not only cultivating and manufacturing actual product, but also running a successful business.

In particular, school officials and instructors hope that a more organized, formal, and academically rigorous background will give students a competitive edge when it comes to the job market.

“They want students who went for horticulture or similar environmental majors because they understand plant growth,” Howard Rice, an Instructional Support Associate in the school’s Horticultural Department, told local news sources. “They’re not just hiring the guy who was growing in his basement for 10 years, they want the people who understand the science behind it.”

The program is currently in the development phase. But if all goes well, the school hopes to have the program up and running and available to students in time for the Fall 2019 semester.

Hands-on Learning

One of the most interesting aspects of SUNY Morrisville’s Cannabis Industry Minor is that students will have the chance to interact hands-on with actual cannabis plants.

Technically, hemp plants. And even more specifically, hemp plants that do not product any significant amount of THC.

Under current federal laws, the school is barred from working with cannabis plants that do produce THC. But hemp plants with minimal or no THC production are allowable.

In many ways, laws regarding the cultivation of hemp plants have recently been clarified. In late December, President Trump signed into law a new bill commonly known as the Farm Bill.

Among a number of changes affecting several different federal agencies and programs, the bill officially made it legal to grow, produce, and use products from no-THC hemp plants.

This also opened the door to possible research using hemp plants. And by extension, it makes it possible for schools like SUNY Morrisville to grow hemp plants for educational purposes.

SUNY Morrisville is not the first school to offer cannabis-themed courses. In fact, there have been more than 11 universities and colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada to offer such courses.

And most recently, UConn launched a brand new cannabis cultivation course. As with SUNY Morrisville’s proposed program, the UConn course will give students scientifically-proven, hands-on training in how to grow cannabis.

Lindsey, ByNick. “This SUNY School Is the First to Introduce a Cannabis Cultivation Minor.” Green Rush Daily, 23 Jan. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/cultivation/suny-school-introduces-a-cannabis-cultivation-program/.

New York Child Services Stops Flagging Parents for Marijuana In Home

In New York City, parents who consume or possess cannabis will no longer face automatic child abuse investigations.

Marijuana legalization and decriminalization is supposed to protect people and families from the pervasive and far-reaching consequences of prohibition. But across the United States, instances of children being separated from their parents due to drugs have increased 250 percent over the last twenty years. Even in places where marijuana is decriminalized or legal for medical or recreational use, the mere possession of cannabis by a parent can be enough to trigger child welfare investigations that lead to separating families. But last week, New York City Council passed two important marijuana resolutions that will provide relief for parents and mothers who possess or use cannabis.

One resolution prevents the Administration for Children’s Services from removing kids from their parents simply because a parent possesses or uses cannabis. The other protects pregnant mothers’ rights against nonconsensual drug testing. Both pieces of legislation are part of a raft of bills and resolutions introduced by City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus.

Breaking the Equation Between Cannabis Use and Harm

It was back in April when members of New York City Council began hearings on how marijuana use and possession can trigger investigations of child abuse. According to parents and advocates, these investigations often result from testing pregnant women and their newborn children at the city’s public hospitals.

And according to the data, it is almost exclusively low-income families of color that NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) end up investigating, despite the fact that white pregnant people and their children screened for drugs are more likely than parents of color to test positive for drug exposure. “We are absolutely tearing families apart, needlessly,” said Queens Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, who described child abuse investigations for marijuana a “systemic criminalization of women of color.

The knockdown effects of these investigations are severe, according to parents and public defenders who described them during sworn testimony. Such investigations require parents to attend drug treatment programs, even when they repeatedly test negative for cannabis. Marijuana use can also prevent parents from reuniting with their children. And the demanding schedule of treatment programs and constant testing can hinder parents’ abilities to maintain employment, pursue an eduction and spend time raising their kids.

The two resolutions City Council approved last week, however, will dramatically reduce the number of mothers and parents who get caught up in child abuse investigations over marijuana. And both stem from a growing acknowledgement that, in the words of an ACS spokesperson, “the use of cannabis in and of itself does not equate with risk of harm.”

New Resolutions Aim to Keep Families Together

Taken together, the two resolutions City Council passed last week will help ensure cannabis is no longer an excuse for separating children from their parents. And they both address highly problematic drug testing and child welfare policies. Resolution 740 compels New York City’s ACS to drop its policy of labeling marijuana possession by parents as a “risk of harm” that could lead to ACS taking a child into protective custody.

Resolution 746 establishes much clearer consent rules and policies for hospitals who drug test mothers who are pregnant or giving birth. Previously, testing positive for cannabis at a hospital required healthcare providers to file a report with the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, triggering a child abuse investigation. Even if a mother simply disclosed to her doctor that she consumed cannabis during pregnancy, say to relieve nausea or other symptoms, a child welfare case was automatically opened.

Going forward, however, hospitals will have to provide much clearer information to mothers about their rights before any drug testing occurs. Thus, the resolution makes it easier for mothers to discuss their cannabis consumption with health professionals without fear of losing their children.

Drury, ByAdam. “New York Child Services Stops Flagging Parents for Marijuana In Home.” Green Rush Daily, 30 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/new-york-child-services-stops-flagging-parents-for-marijuana-in-home/.

Michigan Pharmacy School Offers PharmSci 420 Course about Cannabis

University of Michigan’s Pharm Sci 420 will offers students a multi-disciplinary approach to the science around cannabis.

Now that Michigan is a weed-legal state, its universities are recognizing that jobs in the industry are about to be in high demand. And to prepare graduates for careers in the medical and retail cannabis industry, the University of Michigan is offering a course that will give students a deep look at the science around marijuana. That course, PharmSci 420—of course—is on offer for the first time at UM this semester. And it’s already one of the most well-attended pharmacy classes at the prestigious public university.

PharmSci 420 Course Teaches Science of Medical Cannabis

Professor Gus Rosania has been a long-time advocate of a rigorous scientific approach to the study of cannabis. And now that his state has opted to fully legalize the cannabis industry, students are approaching that science with a newfound sense of urgency. Prof. Rosania says attendance at his pharmacy course lectures typically hovers around 25 percent. But 90 percent of his students have been showing up to his PharmSci 420 lectures.

Half of Prof. Rosania’s students are pharmacy majors. But the course has also attracted students from a range of other disciplines, including computer science, business, nursing and botany. PharmSci 420 guest lecturer and chemistry professor David H. Sherman says that this interdisciplinary approach is exactly what makes the study of cannabis so interesting. “What I love about this field is how multi-disciplinary it is,” Sherman said.

Guest Lecturers from Across the Industry Attract PharmSci 420 Students to Career Opportunities

With job opportunities for college grads barely starting to recover, career prospects in the cannabis industry present exciting opportunities. Universities across the country have seized on this student interest to build new curriculums and course offerings focused on cannabis. In fact, Michigan is a trend-setter in this department. Northern Michigan University became the first in the U.S. to offer a four-year degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, a program it launched in 2017.

At other colleges, universities and technical schools, students can find horticulture classes on growing cannabis, business classes on starting a cannabis company, social science classes on law and health issues surrounding cannabis and more. UM’s PharmSci 420 course will focus primarily on the biomedical science of cannabis. A typical lecture, for example, might study the secondary metabolism and biosynthesis of CBD and THC.

But PharmSci 420 will also rely heavily on industry experts. Guest lecturers include physicians, psychologists, lawyers, social policy experts and dispensary operators. That’s why the course has attracted so many students outside of pharmacy. But even pharmacy students recognize the importance of having a well-rounded knowledge of the industry. “I figured as a pharmacist, I might be getting questions about it , so I almost felt obligated to take this class,” said first-year pharmacy student Sarah Harris.

Those in Michigan’s medical cannabis industry are also excited about UM’s new cannabis course. They’ll have the chance to connect directly with students about the issues facing the industry now and going forward. And so will state politicians working on cannabis legislation. State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), for example, plans to give a guest lecture in March.

Drury, ByAdam. “Michigan Pharmacy School Offers PharmSci 420 Course about Cannabis.” Green Rush Daily, 20 Feb. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/michigan-pharmacy-school-offers-pharmsci-420-course-about-cannabis/.

Community College Offers Free Tuition But Not if You Smoke Weed

Students will have to pass drug tests every semester.

West Virginians planning to attend one of the state’s public community colleges could get free tuition through the West Virginia Invests free tuition program. But not if they consume cannabis.

At a recent meeting, the West Virginia Community and Technical College System board outlined the drug testing requirements for students applying for free tuition. Cannabis was among the drugs that students must test for to qualify for the program.

Students are Required to Pay for and Pass a Drug Test

Earlier this week, the board of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System reviewed policies connected to the state’s new West Virginia Invests free tuition program.

One of the key policies of that program includes mandatory drug testing. As reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, in order to qualify for the free tuition program, students must pay for and then pass a drug test. But it’s not just a one-time thing. In fact, students must complete this process before each semester in which they want free tuition.

As per the Gazette-Mail, the drug tests will reportedly cost students around $34. And students are required to pass the drug test within 60 days of the start of each semester.

This week’s board meeting was not about crafting, debating, or potentially amending any of the rules related to drug testing. Instead, the board simply listened to a presentation outlining how the drug testing program will work.

Notably, as explained in the meeting, the drug tests being required by the state include THC. As a result, students who consume weed will not be eligible for the free tuition program.

After this week’s meetings, the community college system is planning on rolling out the drug testing rules beginning this fall.

Cannabis in West Virginia

Interestingly, there was no public comment period and no legislator sign off on this current drug testing rule. But officials involved with the program told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that there could be opportunities to revisit and possibly revise these rules in the future.

For now, officials said they wanted to get the program up and running without delays. “It takes a while to change a policy,” Kathy Butler, a consultant working with the board, told the Gazette-Mail. “This makes it more pliable and workable for us. It’s probably going to be revised within a year.”

It is unclear at this time how students or the general public are reacting to the marijuana-testing requirement.

Officials indicated that there would be allowances for doctor-prescribed substances. This presumably would open the door for some protections for medical marijuana patients.

West Virginia has a relatively limited medical marijuana program. According to the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, the Medical Cannabis Act does not allow for smokable marijuana. Instead, qualifying patients can consume:

  • cannabis pills,
  • medical marijuana oils,
  • Gels, creams, ointments, and dermal patches,
  • and non-plant medical marijuana products that can be vaporized.

Smoking medical marijuana is not allowed in West Virginia. And while patients can vaporize certain medical marijuana products, they cannot vaporize “dry leaf or plant forms” of cannabis.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Community College Offers Free Tuition But Not If You Smoke Weed.” Green Rush Daily, 14 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/community-college-offers-free-tuition-but-not-if-you-smoke-weed/.

Edmonton Airport Receives Complaints of Skunk Smell from Nearby Grow

Airport spokespeople say they’ve received a handful of complaints. Others say they enjoy the smell of cannabis.

“Something smells like a skunk, and I want some,” sang the immortal Cannabis Sativa Diva. But at the Edmonton International airport in Alberta, Canada, something smells like a skunk, and they want none. According to airport spokesperson Christopher Chodan, airport staff has received a handful of complaints about the skunky smell of cannabis emanating from a massive Aurora Cannabis grow facility next door.

Complaints Stem from Confusion Over Smell and Impairment

In 2017, the Edmonton International Airport got a new neighbor: an 800,000 square foot, high-tech cannabis production facility. That facility, nicknamed Aurora Sky, belongs to Aurora Cannabis, one of Canada’s largest medical cannabis producers. Aurora says that at maximum capacity, the facility can produce more than 100,000 kilograms of cannabis per year.

Naturally, that kind of production is going to produce some smells. And those smells are wafting over to the taxiways and terminals of the Edmonton airport. It’s likely wafting over to the nearby Premium Outlet Collection mall, too. But so far, no shoppers have complained, just airport travelers.

Cam Battley, Chief Corporate Officer of Aurora Cannabis, said the complaints could stem from travelers’ confusion about the smell of cannabis. Battley thinks there’s still a common misconception that simply smelling cannabis can cause impairment. But “what people are smelling is not the cannabinoid—the active pharmaceutical ingredient in cannabis,” Battley said. In fact, they’re smelling terpenes, the aromatic compounds that impart the signature smells (and tastes) of cannabis plants.

Here’s How a Massive Grow Op Controls Cannabis Odors

Complaints about the odors produced from farming cannabis are not uncommon. In fact, complaints about smells have led to major lawsuits in some U.S. states. But Aurora Cannabis says its doing everything it can—and everything required by law—to control the odors of their operation.

Construction finished on the Aurora Sky facility in January this year. The last step was the addition of two massive exhaust units for deodorization. Since the facility has added an additional 800 HVAC filters in the processing areas and another 1,360 pocket filters in the grow bays.

Aurora Sky also has a high-tech “air misting system” that filters the air with specialized carbon and charcoal filters. On top of that, the company conducts daily aroma audits across the entire 800,000 square foot facility. “One of the things we’re doing at Aurora Sky is perfecting the technology of odor eradication,” said Battley.

Battley admits that Aurora can still do better, “not just on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of the industry.” Battley said Aurora is committed to continuous improvement because the company wants to be a good neighbor. With plans to expand production operations in Canada and internationally, odor-busting expertise will be crucial.

Others, however, don’t see what the fuss is about. They say the smell of cannabis in the morning is vastly preferable to the smell of coal-fired power plants and landfills.

Kohut, ByTim. “Former New York Giant Tiki Barber Enters Cannabis Industry.” Green Rush Daily, 23 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/former-new-york-giant-tiki-barber-enters-cannabis-industry/.

Feds to Take Over Marijuana Prosecutions That the State Won’t

Florida’s recent legalization of hemp has prompted state attorneys to delay and halt some marijuana cases. But federal prosecutors say they’ll pursue the cases the state won’t.

In Florida, state attorneys have been delaying and even halting some marijuana cases. But on Monday, federal prosecutors announced that they would be taking over the state’s caseload. That means the feds will now pursue the cases Florida state attorneys have slowed or dropped. The handoff comes amid a transition moment in Florida’s policies regarding marijuana, medical cannabis and hemp. And it could establish legal precedents that allow the federal government to step in when states decide there’s no point in prosecuting certain marijuana convictions.

According to one state attorney, Florida’s Northern District alone handles more than 1,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases a year. And instead of reducing prosecutions as Florida moves to decriminalize cannabis and legalize hemp, the feds will take the reigns.

Legal Hemp Slows Marijuana Prosecutions in Florida

On July 1, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1020 into law. SB 1020 effectively legalizes hemp in the state of Florida, establishing a hemp regulatory program and directing the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to draft a plan that follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products.

Florida’s legalization of hemp, however, created some complications for state attorneys. The problem, according to state attorney Jack Campbell, is that Florida law enforcement agencies don’t really have the ability to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

Under its legal definition, hemp is simply any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC. But police drug detection kits aren’t calibrated to measure that threshold. Instead, they’re designed to detect even the smallest traces of THC, in order to produce evidence for prosecutors that a person possessed, used or sold weed.

But now that hemp is legal, there are all kinds of totally lawful products and plants out there that would trigger a positive on a police THC test. The problem is that this test is essentially meaningless, since it can’t distinguish between legal and illegal products containing THC.

“The Legislature is still very clear that marijuana is illegal in this state,” Campbell said. “They’re also very clear that hemp is legal in this state. So we just need to be able to differentiate.”

But they can’t differentiate, at least not at the moment, without relying on expensive lab tests. In other words, by pouring more time and resources into pursuing minor possession crimes. So hemp legalization, combined with Florida cities moving to decriminalize and reduce penalties for marijuana possession, prompted state’s attorneys to delay and even drop some of their misdemeanor possession cases.

Suspects Will Likely Face Harsher Penalties in Federal Court

The feds, however, aren’t going to let Floridians off that easy. U.S. Attorney of Florida’s Northern District Lawrence Keefe, whose office oversees 25 Florida counties, is taking over where the state was less willing to go. In Keefe’s view, the DEA makes the federal criminal legal system better equipped to tell the difference between illegal cannabis and legal hemp. And that means federal prosecutors will be able to go after those cases that hemp legalization had delayed.

The move has rankled some defense lawyers who are concerned people charged with marijuana crimes will face harsher penalties in federal court. For now, it’s not exactly clear what level of marijuana offenses Keefe plans to prosecute.

But on Monday, Keefe’s his office released a statement that federal prosecutors would prioritize violent criminals and larger-scale marijuana traffickers. Keefe also said his office won’t go after Florida’s growing medical cannabis industry. “This office has no intent to discourage or deter the evolution of the Northern District of Florida’s legal marijuana industry, which is rapidly changing at the state level,” the statement reads. Instead, Keefe said federal prosecutors will focus on cases involving criminal gun violence, dangerous drug trafficking, human trafficking and domestic terrorism.

“The fact remains,” the statement continues, “that marijuana is currently illegal under federal law.” But Keefe’s office won’t devote resources to federally prosecuting activities that Florida has decided are legal, such as possessing medical marijuana with a license.

Drury, ByAdam. “Feds to Take Over Marijuana Prosecutions That the State Won’t.” Green Rush Daily, 21 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/feds-to-take-over-marijuana-prosecutions-that-the-state-wont/.

Florida Cops Kill Man After Smelling Weed and Won’t Release Videos

Pensacola Police won’t release the dashboard and body cam footage that would support their version of the police killing of Tymar Crawford in July.

On July 5th, a Pensacola, Florida police officer—the department won’t release the officer’s name—thought he smelled weed coming from a car. In some parts of Florida, where possessing up to 20 grams of cannabis is decriminalized, that officer might have just continued on his way. But this Pensacola cop made a traffic stop. The man behind the wheel was Tymar Crawford, a father of four. That traffic stop ended up costing Crawford his life. Police shot Crawford five times in front of his family, killing him.

At the time, Crawford’s shooting sparked protests and marches. Local residents gathered outside the Pensacola Police Department demanding justice for Crawford and the firing of the officer that killed him. Now, a layer representing Crawford’s family is fighting for the release of the dashboard and body camera footage of the killing. But Pensacola police are fighting to keep the video out of the public eye.

Family of Man Killed After Police Smelled Weed Demand Video of the Shooting

Pensacola police say they shot Tymar Crawford to death because he took an officer’s gun during a scuffle. That’s all it would take for the justice system to justify Crawford’s killing. But the Pensacola Police Department won’t release any dashboard or body camera footage from the fatal July 5th incident. Footage that would support their version of events.

But so far, police haven’t offered any evidence to support any part of their version of what happened. They just allege they smelled weed coming from Crawford’s car, that Crawford “fled at low-speed” then struggled with the cops trying arrest him outside of his family’s home. During that struggle, the police allege that Crawford tried to disarm one of the officers by grabbing his gun. That’s when officers shot him five times.

The gunshots and the aftermath were all caught on cell phone videos taken by witnesses. But cars and other objects blocked the bystanders’ view from the alleged “scuffle” that lead to Crawford’s killing. Those same witnesses, five of them, in fact, have challenged the officers’ version of events. They say police shot Crawford for no reason.

Joe Zarzaur, the attorney representing Crawford’s family, is demanding Pensacola police release the police footage of the incident. Zarzaur says the videos are part of officers’ routine duties and should be part of the public record. But the department says the videos are part of an ongoing investigation and are classified.

Pot Politics in Pensacola

Last November, Pensacola held a mayoral election. At least a couple candidates spoke openly about local changes to marijuana laws, but only one made decriminalization part of his platform. Drew Buchanan, a Pensacola businessman, proposed making Pensacola follow the more than a dozen other Florida municipalities that had decriminalized simple possession. On the campaign trail, Buchanan’s proposal “shocked” then-Comissioner Grover Robinson, who ultimately won the bid for mayor.

Another 2018 candidate for mayor also issued a prophetic response to Buchanan’s decriminalization proposal. While saying that it wasn’t “a campaign fight of mine,” candidate Lawrence Powell admitted that “granted, it does affect people.”

“If you get pulled over and in possession of, depending on how much and what your historical criminal record may look like, it can be a game changer — a life changer,” Powell said.

In Tymar Crawford’s case, it was a life ender.

Drury, ByAdam. “Florida Cops Kill Man After Smelling Weed and Won’t Release Videos.” Green Rush Daily, 23 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/florida-cops-kill-man-after-smelling-weed-and-wont-release-videos/.

Pennsylvania is Looking for More Cannabis Researchers

Pennsylvania is now accepting more medical marijuana research applications.

The state of Pennsylvania opened another round of applications for cannabis companies that want to get involved with the research side of things. Specifically, companies can now apply to partner with research institutions in the state.

Companies that are approved by the state and that enter partnerships with research centers will provide raw data about medical marijuana. From there, that data will be analyzed by researchers.

Pennsylvania Now Accepting Applications from Cannabis Companies

This is the second time Pennsylvania has accepted applications from cannabis companies interested in participating in the state’s medical marijuana research initiatives.

Last year, the state began taking applications from cannabis cultivators. At the time, the idea was to find companies that could partner with state-approved marijuana research institutions.

But, as reported by local news source The Philadelphia Inquirer, that first round of applications did not produce any concrete results. More specifically, state officials did not grant any licenses. Officials ended up rejecting all applicants, citing a number of different technicalities.

As a result, the state is now opening up its second round of applications. In this round, cannabis companies can apply to become a licensed provider for state-approved research facilities.

Companies that win licenses will be allowed to grow cannabis. Additionally, the license will enable them to open six retail dispensaries.

In order to apply, applicants must already have a pre-existing arrangement with one of Pennsylvania’s state-approved research institutions. Companies interested in applying to the program have until April 11 to submit all materials.

Medical Marijuana Research in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana research program essentially involves two main parts. First, there are the state-approved research institutions.

These are essentially colleges and universities in the state that are now approved to conduct certain types of medical marijuana research.

To date, the state has approved eight schools to become “Academic Clinical Research Centers.” The schools licensed to participate are:

  • Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia
  • Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, in Philadelphia
  • Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Philadelphia
  • Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Erie
  • Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in Pittsburgh

Interestingly, these schools are not authorized to handle any actual cannabis or cannabis products. And that’s where cannabis companies come into the equation.

Licensed cannabis companies, which will be called Clinical Registrants, make up the second key part of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana research program.

These companies will each be partnered with one of the eight schools. And the companies will handle all medical marijuana. Additionally, they will deal directly with medical marijuana patients.

These companies will gather a broad range of data regarding medical marijuana and medical marijuana patients. They will then send all data to their partner research center. From there, the research institution will use the data as the basis for a number of studies.

While this approach could generate a lot of much needed data about medical marijuana, there are some concerns over the quality of research.

For example, The Philadelphia Inquirer voiced some potential problems: “patients will be self reporting data, making any research built on it unlikely to be considered by typical peer-reviewed scientific journals.”

Lindsey, ByNick. “Pennsylvania Is Looking for More Cannabis Researchers.” Green Rush Daily, 8 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/science/pennsylvania-is-looking-for-more-cannabis-researchers/.

Facebook Confirms Ban on CBD and Hemp Advertising

Despite the decisive bans on pages and ads related to hemp and CBD, Facebook isn’t providing users clear rules or reasoning for its decisions.

Tech giant Facebook is blocking any promoted mentions of CBD and hemp on its platform. But the company doesn’t say anything specifically about CBD or hemp in any of its rules regarding permissible content. Instead, Facebook is simply shutting down, and in some cases deleting, accounts and pages it deems are in violation of its ad policies. At the same time, Facebook doesn’t seem to be very willing to explain its own rationale for banning pages promoting CBD or hemp products. And that’s frustrating for business and individuals who post and advertise on the platform because CBD isn’t illegal.

In just a few years, the CBD market has rocketed from a niche health and wellness trend to a mainstream phenomenon. Analysts project a CBD market that could break $20 billion by 2022. And businesses from small cafés to massive pharmacy retailers are stocking CBD products to meet surging consumer demands. In short, CBD is extremely popular, and that makes it a big business.

Facebook’s Secret Rules for CBD

But at the moment, Facebook isn’t being very friendly to businesses that sell CBD and other hemp products. To the contrary, Facebook seems to be going to extraordinary lengths to ban and censor CBD and hemp-related content, especially in promoted pages and ads.

Multiple companies and online retailers have reported sudden suspensions of their accounts, deleted pages and ad takedowns. But when users ask Facebook to explain why the word “CBD” or the picture of a hemp leaf violates its rules, the company isn’t providing clear answers. Facebook spokespeople also aren’t being very clear.

Facebook has confirmed the ban on CBD and hemp advertising. But it’s backing up that decision with company policies that don’t specifically mention hemp or CBD. Instead, Facebook’s policies just say it prohibits pages that promote “illegal products or services,” “drugs and drug-related products,” and “unsafe supplements.”

But CBD, by the federal government’s own definition, is none of those things. As long as it comes from hemp and contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, cannabidiol is legal. Neither is CBD a drug or drug-related product. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and its derivatives from the federal list of controlled substances. And finally, CBD technically cannot be a supplement. That’s one of the restrictions on legal CBD put in place by the USDA and FDA.

The problem, however, is that Facebook determines “at its sole discretion” whether hemp or CBD belongs to any of those categories. And at the moment, the company is treating hemp just like any other marijuana product containing THC. And without clear rules, users are taking unknown risks—and potentially wasting money— advertising hemp or CBD on the platform.

Facebook Faces Lawsuit over Ban on Pages Advertising Hemp and CBD

Despite an announcement last October when Facebook said it would stop shadow banning cannabis-related content, the company’s ban on CBD seems to have been in place for several years. Now, however, Facebook is facing a lawsuit over its stance on CBD-related content.

Felicia Palmer, who founded one of the oldest hip hop websites on the internet, filed a lawsuit against Facebook early this June. Palmer, who turned to cannabis as she fought breast cancer in 2016, paid Facebook to promote posts about CBD and the online cannabis summit, Cannaramic. But after accepting the money, Facebook didn’t show the ads. Then, it completely disabled Palmer’s ads account. Facebook said it disabled the account because it “doesn’t allow ads that promote illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”

Hemp and CBD Retailers Ponder Abandoning Facebook Marketing Strategy

Facebook is aggressively enforcing its ban on hemp and CBD. But its inability to provide a clear justification for doing so is beginning to drive businesses away from its platform. For small businesses, who spend considerable money promoting goods and services, an un-announced, unpredictable account suspension can be a major issue. Account deletions and ad takedowns can seriously impact a company’s revenue.

Drury, ByAdam. “Facebook Confirms Ban on CBD Advertising and Promotion.” Green Rush Daily, 11 June 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/facebook-confirms-ban-on-cbd-and-hemp-advertising/.

Helicopter Covering Cycling Race Exposes Rooftop Weed Farm to Cops

The number one (unwritten) rule for growing your own weed: make sure it can’t be seen by any flying objects.

If rule number one is broken, the highly important—and oddly specific—second rule of thumb goes into effect: if your giant rooftop weed farm is spotted by a television helicopter, you should probably look for a new place to store it, pretty much immediately.

Ok, that second one might be more common sense than anything else, but this apparently was not the case for one unfortunate weed grower, whose entire grow stash was exposed on live TV over the weekend. AKA, a farmer’s worst nightmare.

Helicopter Narcs Rooftop Weed Farm

During the Vuelta a Espana race—a three-week Grand Tour cycling stagerace currently taking place in Spain, Andorra, and France—a television crew helicopter flew over a house with a rooftop weed farm as they were covering the race in Barcelona.

Per TMZ, someone watching the race spotted the plants and decided to call law enforcement. Barcelona police didn’t wait long to act on the tip, and soon after raided the house. They seized a whopping 40 marijuana plants during their search.

While that amount of green would undoubtedly land you in some dire straits in the U.S. — even in the weed legal states, where personal growing is usually limited to an absolute maximum of 12 plants (in select states)— cops say they haven’t made any arrests just yet and they’re still investigating the matter.

Spain’s ambiguous cannabis laws can be thanked for that.

Cannabis Laws in Spain

In Spain, cannabis consumption is *technically* legal. They’ve also been known as a hub for some of the most important medicinal studies over the years. But there are a few nuances that require an asterisk on marijuana’s legal status.

In October of 2018, the left-leaning political party, Podemos, introduced policies that would completely legalize the cannabis plant throughout Spain. However, those policies haven’t completely been put into effect yet.

As of now, it’s legal to smoke and cultivate cannabis for personal use, so long as its for “therapeutic” purposes. Unsurprisingly, it’s still illegal to traffic the drug and it’s also illegal for sale in commercial use, meaning cannabis companies and dispensaries—both recreational and medicinal— are not yet legal.

Additionally, it’s illegal to smoke in public, but thanks to a 2015 bill decriminalizing cannabis in private spaces, it can be consumed in cannabis clubs (there are over 700 estimated clubs in Spain today).

And while growing is legal, it has to be done on private property, away from the public eye. This is where the lines begin to blur for the “Vuelta a Espana” weed farmer. His crop was, technically, in the public eye, as it was seen from an overhead helicopter. Otherwise, it wasn’t in plain sight.

Furthermore, police are, in all likelihood, investigating whether or not the cannabis was being sold for commercial use, or simply being trafficked. Because let’s face it — 40 plants for one household is certainly a lot of tree.

Well, for most people, at least.

Kohut, ByTim. “Helicopter Covering Cycling Race Exposes Rooftop Weed Farm to Cops.” Green Rush Daily, 4 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/helicopter-covering-cycling-race-exposes-rooftop-weed-farm-to-cops/.

New York Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

The bill will become a law in 30 days.

New York state took a step toward more progressive marijuana laws. Specifically, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new decriminalization bill.

The new bill will amend how the state deals with possession of small amounts of marijuana. Importantly, the bill will also provide a way for people’s records to be expunged.

Ultimately, Cuomo said the new bill could help address the ongoing racial disparities inherent to cannabis prohibition laws.

New York State’s New Decriminalization Bill

Earlier today, Gov. Cuomo signed Senate Bill S6579A. The main focus of the bill is to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis. Along the way, the bill also includes provisions designed to address some of the social inequities of anti-cannabis policing.

The bill will go into full effect in New York 30 days after it becomes law. Under the terms of the new bill, it is no longer a criminal offense to possess or consume two ounces or less of cannabis.

Instead, these types of offenses will be punishable by a simple fee. Specifically, possessing or consuming between one to two ounces of marijuana will be punishable by a $200 fine. And possession or use of less than one ounce of cannabis will be punishable by a $50 fine.

Decriminalization bills like this one primarily affect cannabis law moving forward. In large part, they are designed to help limit the heavy-handedness of marijuana policing. But in an effort to extend the benefits of New York’s new decriminalization bill into the past, the law will also provide a way for previous marijuana offenses to be expunged.

Specifically, people convicted of certain types of low-level possession charges will now have a way to get those charges removed from their records.

Working Toward Social Equity

Cuomo and other lawmakers hope these two key features of the bill will help address some of the social inequities of anti-marijuana policing.

Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by-laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said in a statement. He continued: “By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

A study from John Jay College of Criminal Justice published in February 2019 showed how disparate policing is in New York. Specifically, it found that “Blacks and Hispanics consistently had higher rates of arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession compared to Whites.”

Cannabis Laws in New York

This is not the first time Gov. Cuomo has tried to decriminalize marijuana. In fact, he initially proposed it back in 2013. And earlier this year, he actually put the possibility of full legalization on the table.

At the beginning of the year, Gov. Cuomo said he wanted to include legalization in the year’s budget. But things eventually stalled out. In large part, that was because early bills failed to consider social equity adequately.

For example, progressive lawmakers raised several key concerns. Specifically, many worried that there were no provisions to ensure that communities of color have a stake in the future legal industry.

Lindsey, ByNick. “New York Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill.” Green Rush Daily, 30 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/new-york-governor-signs-marijuana-decriminalization-bill/.

Detroit Police Blame Illicit Marijuana Sales for Increase in Violence

And the solution being offered is an extention of the ban on recreational marijuana sales in the city.

Recreational marijuana may be legal in Michigan. But roughly 80 percent of municipalities in Michigan, including Detroit, have opted out of the recreational industry and banned legal marijuana sales. Filling that gap, however, are an estimated 150-plus unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Detroit city limits alone. And Detroit police say its this illicit marijuana industry that’s responsible for an increase in violent crime in 2020.

Meanwhile, medical dispensary owners and applicants for recreational businesses are calling on Detroit City Council to issue recreational licenses to combat the illicit market. But City Council said it plans to uphold its ban on the recreational industry until it can remove barriers to entry for residents who’ve been primarily impacted by marijuana criminalization.

Police Complaints Likely to Extend Ban on Weed Sales

Since the start of the new year, Detroit has seen a total of 17 homicides, up from 10 during the same period last year, and 32 nonfatal shootings, up from 27. Detroit’s Chief of Police says that this increase in violence is weed-related. In a statement to The Detroit News Tuesday, Chief James Craig blamed the city’s illicit marijuana market. “I had a meeting with precinct investigators and Special Response Team members, and they said most of these shootings and homicides came from illegal marijuana sales,” Craig said.

“It’s supply and demand — there’s a higher demand for black market marijuana because it’s cheaper,” Craig added.

Detroit currently has an active ban on recreational marijuana sales that runs through January 31. But next week, City Council will hold a vote on an amendment to extend the ban until March 31.

City Council Wants Detroit Residents to Be Able to Own and Operate Cannabis Businesses

The holdup over allowing recreational sales in Detroit boils down to City Council’s interest in developing real social equity programs to help those most impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement enter the legal industry.

Social equity programs are mandated by the recreational marijuana law voters approved in 2018. They help residents of eligible communities like Detroit qualify for fee and license reductions and waivers, provide application assistance and other legal resources. But putting them into practice has been a challenge, especially as other cannabis companies move quickly into Michigan’s legal industry.

“It’s clear that Detroit’s medical marijuana industry is overwhelmingly owned and operated by individuals who don’t live in the city and take their dollars back to their communities,” said Detroit City Councilman James Tate, who supports extending the ban on legal sales.

“It’s not enough for Detroit residents to simply hold security jobs or floor sweeping in this industry within our city,” Tate added.

Dispensary Owners Take Their Case to Court

Medical marijuana dispensary owners in Detroit, however, are putting pressure on City Council to end the ban on recreational sales before a social equity program can be put in place. Business owners agree with Detroit police that the delay is leading to an increase in marijuana-related crime.

The problem for City Council is that it did not opt out of recreational sales until after a handful of dispensary owners had submitted applications for recreational licenses. Michigan’s marijuana law requires the Marijuana Regulatory Agency to respond to or approve license applications within 90 days.

That means application decisions would technically have to be made prior to the end of the ban if City Council votes to extend it to March 31. As a result, five Detroit-area dispensary owners have sued the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to force LARA to issue their recreational licenses.

Drury, ByAdam. “Detroit Police Blame Illicit Marijuana Sales for Increase in Violence.” Green Rush Daily, 23 Jan. 2020, greenrushdaily.com/news/detroit-police-blame-illicit-marijuana-sales-for-increase-in-violence/.

Governors of Tri-State Area to Meet and Discuss Legalizing Marijuana

After a preliminary meeting on Sep. 25, Govs. Lamont and Cuomo revealed plans to develop a unified approach to legalizing recreational cannabis.

This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been spearheading an effort to coordinate marijuana policy in a region irreversibly moving toward recreational legalization. Neither New York, New Jersey or Connecticut have so far managed to push a legalization bill through their respective Legislatures. But Cuomo views that as an opportunity to develop consistency across the tri-state area’s eventual legalization policies. Multiple issues related to legalizing recreational cannabis would be on the table, from age requirements, taxation, packaging requirements, THC potency limits and restrictions on product types to criminal justice measures like expungement.

Cuomo first announced his interest in working alongside New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on September 24. And after an initial meeting with Gov. Lamont on September 25, Cuomo announced plans for an October 17 summit where all three tri-state governors will hash out a unified approach to legalizing cannabis for adults.

Govs. of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut To Meet for Mid-October Weed Summit

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t think it makes much sense for neighboring states to have different marijuana laws. “It’s counterproductive,” Cuomo said during a Long Island News Radio interview. “People drive across the border, they buy a better product, or they buy a cheaper product, or they buy marijuana with more THC, or they buy marijuana that comes in a different form, and now you have people driving and possibly smoking marijuana at the same time.”

But while coordination and consistency may make sense from a regional perspective, Cuomo seems to be using it to spread his views on product bans and restrictions to other states. Commenting on the recent vape-related national health crisis—Cuomo authorized a 90-day ban on flavored e-cigarettes last week—the New York governor floated the idea of banning cannabis-infused gummies. Around the same time, Cuomo also spoke out harshly against smoking or vaping cannabis, suggesting he might push for a ban on smokable marijuana products when lawmakers draft another legalization proposal in 2020.

Both bans are exactly the kind of policy decision that would likely isolate New York from neighboring legal-weed states, creating the cross-border issues Cuomo cited in his Long Island Radio interview. “These are the kinds of issues we’re going to have to think through,” Cuomo explained in a Tuesday interview with WNYC. “To the extent that we can have coordination with the other states it would be better.” So far, neither Gov. Lamont or Gov. Murphy have signaled any intent to ban gummies or smokable cannabis products.

Cuomo Wants Legalization Proposal Ready by January 2020

After meeting with Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont seemed to concur that a coordinated approach to crafting cannabis legalization was a smart move. “A patchwork of laws won’t be effective when you can go over the border to a state with a totally different policy,” Gov. Lamont tweeted after the meeting. “Governor Cuomo really has been forceful in saying this is something we want to do together,” Lamont said.

Following the Wednesday meeting, both Lamont and Cuomo announced plans to host a regional summit on October 17 to develop recreational marijuana policy guidelines. Interestingly, neither governors’ tweets about the October summit mentioned New Jersey or Gov. Phil Murphy. “NY & CT are better off when we work together,” Cuomo tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

Cuomo hopes the meetings help produce a coordinated approach not just on cannabis legalization, but also on vaping and e-cigarettes. For Cuomo, the objective is to have a legalization proposal ready to deliver to the New York Legislature at the start of next year. Cuomo has said he’s making recreational cannabis legalization a priority for his administration in 2020.

Kohut, ByTim. “WeWork CEO Allegedly Smoked and Brought Weed on Flight to Israel.” Green Rush Daily, 18 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/wework-ceo-allegedly-smoked-and-brought-weed-on-a-flight-to-israel/.

WeWork CEO Allegedly Smoked and Brought Weed on a Flight to Israel

Talk about a mile high club.

Not all CEOs are created equal. This could be the understatement of the year when it comes to WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, a rather eccentric fellow, to say the least.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a feature about Neumann and his unorthodox leadership style fittingly dubbed, ‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork.’

While there were some fascinating tidbits, perhaps the one that stood out the most — at least to cannabis consumers — is how the WeWork CEO allegedly smoked and brought weed on a flight to Israel. Unsurprisingly, much like his management style, it was pretty bizarre, to say the least.

How the WeWork CEO Allegedly Smoked and Brought Weed on a Flight to Israel

According to the Wall Street Journal report, the WeWork co-founder and a group of friends took a Gulfstream G650 private jet to Israel last summer. Neumann and his friends were casually smoking cannabis throughout the ride.

But that’s not the best part.

Once the group disembarked the aircraft, the plane’s crew “found a sizeable chunk of the drug stuffed in a cereal box for the return flight.” Like any intelligent toker with a bit of foresight, Neumann was clearly thinking in the long-term.

Considering the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, this is hardly an indicting incident. There are, after all, similar co-working spaces—modeled after WeWork—that cater to cannabis smokers. However, it does give some insight into the eccentricities of one of the world’s fastest-growing companies’ CEO.

In addition to that marijuana-laced anecdote, there were a number of other, err, quirky stories about the 40-year-old billionaire.

One particularly odd incident the WSJ recounted happened after one of the company’s mass layoffs. A few weeks after Neumann cut ties with roughly seven percent of his staff, he addressed his remaining employees about the incident over tequila shots…and Run DMC.

“Employees carrying trays of plastic shot glasses filled with tequila came into the room, followed by toasts and drinks,” the report said. “Soon after, Daryl McDaniels of hip-hop group Run DMC entered the room, embraced Mr. Neumann, and played a set for the staff. “

Obviously, the song was “It’s Tricky.”

The publication also noted the CEO once claimed that “if he ran for anything, it would be president of the world.”

Nuemann and his company have, perhaps unsurprisingly, refused comment on the Journal’s report. Considering the company is set to go public soon, it’s likely a “tricky” situation for all parties involved (Nailed it).

Kohut, ByTim. “WeWork CEO Allegedly Smoked and Brought Weed on Flight to Israel.” Green Rush Daily, 18 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/wework-ceo-allegedly-smoked-and-brought-weed-on-a-flight-to-israel/.

Denver CO Accused of Smuggling Drug-Filled Burrito Into Prison

A Denver CO was caught allegedly trying to smuggle a burrito with all the fixings into the prison he worked at.

Drug smuggling has, and likely always will be, a thing. We’ve seen some pretty creative methods criminals have smuggled narcotics—from drones, to air cannons, to cleverly concealed coconuts. The list goes on.

The latest entry to this illustrious catalog of smuggled drugs comes courtesy of a certain classic south-of-the-border entree— the burrito.

Not Your Grandmother’s Burrito

You’re not likely to get this kind of burrito at your local Chipotle. You’d also likely get arrested if you even asked.

According to a report from Colorado’s local NBC affiliate, 9News.com, a Colorado corrections officer is in hot water after allegedly attempting to sneak in a drug-filled burrito into the Buena Vista Correctional Facility last week.

Trevor Martineau has since been fired from his position at the state-run facility and will face a litany of federal charges for the head-scratching endeavor.

Per the 9News report, a prisoner tipped off a Colorado Department of Corrections investigator on July 2nd before Martineau came into work. After probing from investigators, the embattled corrections officer allegedly confessed to possessing drugs in his lunchbox.

The investigator uncovered a large burrito in the Martineau’s lunchbox, and upon further inspection, saw a plastic baggie sticking out of the end of the “lunch.”

Police uncovered 91.4 grams of meth, 26.1 grams of heroin, 46 strips of suboxone, 13 individually-wrapped portions of cannabis wax,10 strips of “suspected Buprenorphine Naloxone,” and six thumb drives. The contents of the thumb drives have yet to be revealed.

It is believed, according to court documents, that Martineau was to be paid $1,000 for pick up and delivery of said drugs. It’s also not clear who instructed the guard to do so.

An Impactful Arrest

And while Colorado remains, arguably, the most progressive states when it comes to drug regulation—it legalized recreational marijuana back in 2012 and Denver recently became the first city to decriminalize “magic mushrooms”—it still faces an uphill battle against illicit drugs. After all, it’s safe to say the state won’t be legalizing methamphetamines or heroin anytime soon.

Considering the opioid epidemic plaguing our country, Martineau’s bust looks all the more impressive. At least, DOC Executive Director Dean Williams thinks so, as he lauded his team for the quick uncovering.

“I am very proud of the work our staff did to bring this case forward,” he said in a statement.

Kohut, ByTim. “Denver CO Accused of Smuggling Drug-Filled Burrito Into Prison.” Green Rush Daily, 10 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/denver-co-accused-of-smuggling-drug-filled-burrito-into-prison/.

New York Medical Marijuana Patients Can Finally Buy Flower Products

… sort of.

New York state’s medical marijuana program could become slightly more accessible with the introduction of the first approved flower product. Currently, regulations prohibit patients from purchasing smokable flower. But the new product could be moving things a step closer in that direction.

Rolling Out Curaleaf Ground Flower Pods

Starting today, medical marijuana patients in New York can purchase flower for the first time ever. Sort of.

The state has approved cannabis company Curaleaf to market and sell its Ground Flower Pods.

The pods come pre-filled with a specifically dosed amount of ground cannabis flowers. From there, the pods can be used in medical vaporizers, which heat the ground flower to temperatures just below combustion but hot enough to vaporize the bud. To medicate, patients simply inhale the vapor.

As per a press release circulated today, Curaleaf’s Ground Flower Pods contain 350 milligrams of cannabinoids. More specifically, the pods come in a 20:1 ratio of THC to CBD. And the company is selling pods in both indica and sativa strains.

For now, Curaleaf has been approved to sell the pods in its dispensary located in Nassau County, Long Island. Moving forward over the next few weeks, the pods are scheduled to roll out across Curaleaf’s four other New York state dispensaries.

In addition to the new flower pods, Curaleaf also said it is selling its own tabletop vaporizer. The device works perfectly with pods.

And the company also has a delivery service for patients. Delivery is free with any purchase. But Curaleaf only runs deliveries Thursday through Saturday. Only patients registered in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Kings, and New York Counties qualify for delivery.

Complying With State Laws

Importantly, the new flower pods walk something of a legal tightrope, given the difficulty of selling flower in New York state.

Under the state’s current medical marijuana regulations, patients can purchase, possess, and consume only the following products:

  • capsules, tablets, or lozenges
  • pre-measured oils for vaporizing
  • topicals
  • transdermal patches
  • certain types of measured ground plant preparations

Notably, these regulations prohibit any form of smokable marijuana as well as edibles. In practice, this rule essentially makes it impossible for dispensaries to sell actual bud to patients.

But Curaleaf’s pods manage to find some middle ground. That’s because they aren’t selling straight up nugs. They’re selling pre-ground flower in a specifically dosed pod.

Further, the pods can’t actually be smoked. Instead, they are designed to go inside a vaporizer, so that patients can medicate while still complying with the state’s rules against smoking.

Many in the state are optimistic about patients being able to purchase flower—even if it is still limited to pre-ground, pre-measured pods.

“As a practitioner in the Long Island area, I strive to help patients attain the most effective medicine to treat their conditions,” medical marijuana doctor Grace Forde said in the press release.

“It’s extremely beneficial to patients to offer more options beyond cannabis oil. In addition to being more affordable and all-natural, vaporizing cured ground flower cannabis produces effects faster than oral solutions and is therefore better suited for treating certain medical conditions.”

Lindsey, ByNick. “New York Medical Marijuana Patients Can Finally Buy Flower Products.” Green Rush Daily, 23 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/new-york-medical-marijuana-patients-can-finally-buy-flower-products/.

Supermarket Chain Selling CBD Flowers As Alternative To Tobacco

This supermarket chain selling CBD flowers as alternative to tobacco is making wellness and tobacco cessation easier.

In Switzerland, legal weed is heading in an entirely new direction. A supermarket chain selling CBD flowers as an alternative to tobacco will be taking the lead on this new approach to cannabis retail. At this point, only CBD flower will be sold in the stores, so don’t expect to get high from this supermarket bud.

Buying Weed at Supermarkets

Swiss supermarket chain Lidl recently announced plans to sell a new line of cannabis products. The stores will soon sell 1.5-gram boxes of CBD flower.

The bud will be grown by a company called The Botanicals. The cannabis producer is based in northeast Switzerland and will grow the CBD-rich weed in greenhouses.

The CBD flowers will be packaged and marketed in the supermarket chain as an alternative to tobacco. To that end, Lidl said it will sell the boxes of weed alongside regular rolling tobacco at the cash register.

Although the weed will be marketed as an alternative to tobacco, it will be priced much higher. At this point, the supermarket chain said it plans to sell a 1.5-gram box of CBD bud for 18 Swiss Francs, which is roughly $18 USD.

At this point, the new cannabis product line is limited to only CBD flowers. In order to stay within Switzerland’s laws, only cannabis with less than 1 percent THC can be produced and sold.

That restriction is part of a sweeping medical marijuana law introduced in Switzerland in 2011. That year, the country passed a new set of laws and regulations that made it legal for people 18 and over to purchase weed with less than 1 percent THC. The idea was to make high-CBD medical marijuana accessible and easy for adults to buy.

“The legally cultivable varieties contain only very small amounts of THC and a high proportion of CBD oil,” Lidl said in a statement to news source The Sun.

The chain added: “The manufacturer relies on sustainable agriculture and refrains entirely from adding chemical, synthetic, or genetically modified substances.”

Will This Be The Next Big Thing?

Over the past year or so, companies in Switzerland have experimented with different ways to market legal weed. For example, in 2017 a company called Koch & Gsell announced a new line of pre-rolled spliffs the company called Heimat.

The product was a pre-rolled combination of tobacco and cannabis. And just like the weed that Lidl plans to sell, the weed used in the Heimat product line was a low THC variant. In fact, the spliff products were designed to fall below the country’s 1 percent THC limits.

Here’s how Koch & Gsell described their product: “The natural tobacco-and-hemp blend develops a bouquet of mild, sweet and spicy aromas when smoked, exuding the unmistakable scent of cannabis. And yes, of course, it’s legal.”

For many weed smokers, developments like those being made by Koch & Gsell and Lidl supermarkets are a mixed bag. On the one hand, it may be promising to see cannabis become more widely accessible. But on the other hand, weed with negligible amounts of THC might not represent a very big step forward.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Supermarket Chain Selling CBD Flowers As Alternative To Tobacco.” Green Rush Daily, 15 June 2018, greenrushdaily.com/business/supermarket-chain-selling-cbd-flowers-as-alternative-to-tobacco/.

Man Dies After an E-Cigarette Exploded in His Face

Exploding vape pens and e-cigarettes are racking up a serious kill count.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office report on the death of William Brown is grisly. It reads like a coroner’s review of Saw V. “Cerebral infarction and herniation.” “Dissection of left internal carotid artery.” In other words, part of someone’s head exploded and they bled to death. What could cause such damage? A bullet? A meth lab explosion? A tiny explosive charge implanted by some homicidal madman? That last guess comes closest. What really killed William Brown was penetrating trauma from an exploding vaporizer pen.

Exploding Vaporizer Pen Caused Fort Worth Man’s Untimely Demise

Exploding vaporizer pens are racking up a serious kill list. And their latest victim is 24-year-old William Brown of Forth Worth, Texas. At 3:45 p.m. on January 29, 2019, Brown passed away. He had been in the hospital for two days since his e-cigarette device exploded in his face. Doctors and surgeons couldn’t repair the explosive damage caused to his head and face.

Explosions in cheap vaporizer pens always originate in the battery. On cheap pens, batteries leak and are often faulty. Cheap Lithium-ion batteries are prone to catching fire. They also suck at standing up to even moderately inclement weather. Cold below 50 or temps above 90, and the batteries stop working properly, overheating, short circuiting, catching fire—exploding.

But even using vape pens, especially the cheap ones, poses serious risks. Too many charges and the battery starts to get covered in this stuff called Dendrite. Dendrite is conductive. And about as flammable as gasoline. Once it covers the battery and creates a short between the two electrodes….Boom. That’s usually what happens when vape pens explode. If people are lucky enough to make it out with their lives, they’re often left with severe burns, fractured face bones and missing teeth.

Faulty Vape Pens Act Like Miniature Hand Grenades

The explosion that killed William Brown was small. But it packed a lethal punch. The medical examiner’s report details how metal shrapnel from the exploding battery and cartridge of the e-cig vaporizer peppered Brown’s skull. The shrapnel penetrated Brown’s brain, severing a major artery.

The explosion happened not when Brown was at home, but instead in a Fort Worth vape shop. Shop employees were able to call 911 and first responders rushed Brown to a nearby hospital. Two days later, he died.

The dangers of exploding e-cigarettes are real and on the rise as vaping grows in popularity. More people are vaping today than ever. Between 2009 and 2014, before the meteoric rise of vaping’s popularity, there were more than two dozen cases of e-cigs exploding. Online today, you can find innumerable stories of pens blowing up, catching fire, sparking, shorting out and more.

If you recognize any of those symptoms in your vape pen—stop using it! Buy a new one—and get a good one! Whatever it costs, it’s worth it. And you won’t regret it—or not live long enough not to.

Drury, ByAdam. “Man Dies After an E-Cigarette Exploded in His Face.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Feb. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/man-dies-after-an-e-cigarette-exploded-in-his-face/.

California Lab Testing Facility Admits to Faking Pesticide Results

During a surprise visit from state inspectors, Sequoia Analytical Labs’ lab director admitted to faking test results for 700 batches of cannabis.

A Sacramento, California cannabis testing laboratory is facing permanent shutdown after admitting to faking pesticide results. The company, Sequoia Analytical Labs, is one of four Sacramento testing facilities, and one of just 44 across all of California. Sequoia’s general manager is taking full responsibility for the fake lab results. The lab director responsible for the falsified data has lost his job and Sequoia has surrendered its temporary testing license. But the city of Sacramento is looking into imposing additional sanctions.

Lab Director Tells State Inspectors He Faked Over 700 Test Results

Steven Dutra described learning about the false data coming out of his lab as a “gut punch completely.” It took state inspectors one surprise visit to catch the fraud. Dutra says Sequoia’s now-former lab director, Marc Foster, straight up confessed to inspectors who caught him off guard. Inspectors simply asked Foster where the data came from. And Foster replied, honestly, “I faked it.”

Foster told inspectors he faked data on 22 of the 66 pesticides California’s cannabis regulations limit. But we don’t know which pesticides at this time. We do know, however, that Foster faked results for 700 tests over a four month period. Each test analyzed a sample of a 50 pound batch of cannabis. So that means Sequoia’s lab director cleared more than 35,000 pounds of weed using false pesticide results.

Recall Unlikely as Contaminated Products Have Likely Already Been Consumed

Sequoia Analytical ships out cannabis products to more than 30 different distributors who supply dozens of retailers. The problem is that retailers and dispensary owners have no idea what company tests their products. Before state-wide adult-use legalization, retailers often had direct relationships with testing labs. Under new regulations, however, it’s up to distributors, not retailers, to make sure all products have passed lab tests. So retailers have to wait and see what the Bureau of Cannabis Control will tell them.

So far, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has not issued any public statement regarding a possible recall of the improperly tested cannabis. Sacramento’s chief of Cannabis Enforcement, however, did say the city is looking at suspending and possibly revoking Sequoia’s permit. To avoid that possibility, Dutra is doing everything possible to help regulators address the issue. Dutra wants to pay to re-test the samples at another lab, just to make sure there’s nothing wrong with them. But tracking down contaminated products would be tough. And there’s no guarantee, since the false data covers five months, that consumers haven’t already purchased and used most of the cannabis with false test results.

As for the risk this all poses to consumers, Dutra says chances of consuming contaminated products are minimal. Even though 20 percent of California cannabis products failed lab tests after strict new regulations went into effect on July 1, the majority failed due to inaccurate packaging. Comparatively, roughly 3-4 percent of products tested since July have failed due to pesticide contamination.

California Desperate for More Licensed Testing Labs

Sequoia Analytics is out of operation for now. But Dutra hopes to regain the company’s testing license in January. Sequoia is currently looking for a new lab director. Unfortunately, while false data poses health risks to consumers, the loss of a testing lab will also be felt. California needs more licensed testing labs, especially given new requirements. Currently, the scarcity of licensed labs has led to numerous supply chain bottlenecks, preventing in-demand products from reaching dispensary shelves.

Drury, ByAdam. “This Lab Testing Facility Admitted to Faking Pesticide Results.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Dec. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/news/california-lab-testing-facility-admits-to-faking-pesticide-results/.

Forests Are Being Poisoned by Pesticides on Illegal Cannabis Farms

One of the pesticides used was carbofuran, a chemical officials say creates a web of death throughout the forest.

The extremely dangerous pesticide carbofuran is turning up on illegal cannabis farms in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. According to experts, a single teaspoon of carbofuran is poisonous enough to kill a full-grown bear. But bears aren’t the only part of the Sierra’s delicate ecosystem that are at risk.

Forest officials say they’ve detected traces of the deadly chemical in streams and rivers, in soil and in animals both living and dead. And the origin appears to be a network of illegal grow sites hidden among a rugged stretch of the Sierra National Forest in Madera County. Law enforcement say the sites support about 6,000 cannabis plants, and the pesticide carbofuran is visible on their leaves.

“Web of Death” Pesticide Used on Illegal Cannabis Farms

On Monday, U.S. Forest Service agents raided an encampment adjoining several cannabis grow sites at Dutch Oven Creek in the Sierra National Forest. The forest in the surrounding area had been clear-cut by the farmers, and cannabis plants were growing in the clearing. Amid the camp’s bed frames and sleeping bags, officials found bottles of fertilizers and hazardous chemicals.

One of the bottles contained the ultra-toxic pesticide carbofuran. “It’s a web of death that happens,” said Mourad Gabriel, an ecologist who tracks the environmental impacts of illegal grow sites and leads a team that cleans them up. In addition to the contamination from chemicals and fertilizers, Gabriel says that clear-cutting, stream diversion and water consumption all threaten the forest ecology.

“These are federal lands, and they are being systematically destroyed through clear-cutting, stream diversion, chemicals and pesticides,” said U.S. Atty McGregor Scott. Scott will prosecute the criminal case against two of the farmers police apprehended during the raid Monday.

Legalization Cuts Down on Environmentally Destructive Grows

The remote areas of the United States’ national and state forests are popular locations for illegal cannabis farmers and drug traffickers. In fact, illicit grows in Oregon, Colorado and California feed the bulk of the illegal market’s supply. And their unregulated use of pesticides and fertilizers, clear-cutting, terracing, water consumption and wildlife poaching create real and lasting environmental damage.

So reducing illicit forest grows is an urgent demand. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: legalization. Even though the unregulated, illicit cannabis market still dominates, legal, regulated markets are starting to make a serious dent in illegal cultivation. One recent study identified how recreational legalization significantly lowers the number of illicit grows reported on national forests. So does reducing taxes on cultivators and processors.

The illegal cannabis farm at the Dutch Oven Creek site, for example, was poaching at least 5.4 million gallons of water a year to grow 6,000 plants. And that’s just one illegal farm. With California facing water shortages and unprecedented dry seasons, diverting water toward more responsible uses is extremely important. “Water is the most important issue in California, and the amount being used to grow an illegal product in the national forest is mind-boggling,” Scott said.

Drury, ByAdam. “Forests Are Being Poisoned by Pesticides on Illegal Cannabis Farms.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/forests-are-being-poisoned-by-pesticides-on-illegal-cannabis-farms/.

Israel Partially Decriminalized Cannabis

The partial decriminalization eliminates offenses for personal use and possession in a private residence.

A decision dating back to March 2017 to partially decriminalize cannabis finally went into effect at midnight on Monday, April 1. The plan eliminates most criminal penalties for public cannabis possession and consumption. It also completely decriminalizes use and possession in private residences. The temporary reform will last for three years, at which point the government of Israel will decide to make it permanent or cancel it. The decriminalization plan includes additional reforms aimed at increasing the number of legal medical grows across Israel.

Private, Personal Cannabis Use Completely Decriminalized in Israel

A plan to decriminalize cannabis in Israel went into effect Monday, amending Israel’s Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Using and possessing cannabis for personal use in a private home is no longer an offense at all. Get caught with weed in public, however, and you’ll still face a fine. For first-time offenses, the fine is $275 (1,000 shekel). Second-time offenders will pay double that amount.

A third strike in seven years triggers a criminal investigation and possible criminal charge and loss of driver’s or firearm licenses. Minors, however, will enter diversion and rehabilitation programs, in an effort to keep young people out of the criminal legal system. Adults who complete a drug prevention program can have their third-time criminal charge erased.

Although the reform plan does not specify a quantity of cannabis designated “personal use,” Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority defines it as 15 grams, or about half an ounce.

The decriminalization reform won’t apply to soldiers, minors or anyone with a prior criminal record. Israel police are taking efforts to remind people that possessing and consuming weed is still illegal. Only now, the offense carries a civil rather than criminal penalty, up to a point.

Law Enforcement Will Turn Focus to Securing Cannabis Farms

In addition to partially decriminalizing adult marijuana use, Israel has significantly expanded its medical cannabis industry. The country’s medical cannabis program has licensed more doctors, removed caps on authorized growers, made medical cannabis products available at public retail pharmacies. Patients can obtain a medical cannabis authorization simply with a recommendation from their primary physician.

A worldwide leader in medical cannabis research and cultivation, Israel also legalized the export of medical cannabis in December 2018. Israel’s rapidly growing industry, however, has faced increased security risks.

Just last week, masked and armed robbers raided a medical cannabis farm in northern Israel. The robbers made off with cannabis plants and the security guards’ weapons.

While just the first successful robbery attempt on a medical cannabis farm in the country, Israeli officials are increasingly concerned about the security risks posed by industry expansion. Israel could add up to 50 farms in the next few years.

Medical Cannabis Reform Cracks Down on Gifting

A final component of the reform plan will try to decrease the quantity of cannabis each patient can legally obtain. Globes reports that patient’s leftover cannabis is making its way into the illicit market. It says patients are selling their surplus cannabis or simply gifting it to friends and relatives. The decriminalization plan that went into effect Monday could make it harder for police to prevent selling and gifting cannabis.

Drury, ByAdam. “Israel Decriminalized Cannabis.” Green Rush Daily, 1 Apr. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/world/israel-partially-decriminalized-cannabis/.

Family of Murdered Student Bash NYPD for Linking Marijuana to Case

President of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association Ed Mullins called marijuana the “common denominator” in the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old Barnard College student.

The family of Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old Barnard College freshman who was fatally stabbed in a New York City park last Wednesday, is blasting the NYPD for blaming marijuana for her murder. And the family isn’t alone. More than 1,000 mourners, alongside New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, have condemned the suggestion linking marijuana to Majors’ death. The comments came from NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins, who used the news as an opportunity to blame the recent de-escalation of marijuana enforcement for the murder.

NYPD Union President Calls Marijuana “Common Denominator” in Fatal Stabbing

On a Sunday morning radio talk show, NYPD Union President Ed Mullins, who recently came under fire for sharing a racist video to members of the union claimed that Tessa Majors was killed because she was in Manhattan’s Morningside Park to buy weed. But there is no evidence that Majors was attempting to purchase marijuana in the park.

“An 18-year-old college student at one of the most prestigious universities is murdered in a park, and what I’m understanding, she was in the park to buy marijuana,” Mullins said on the John Catsimatidis radio program.

Majors’ boyfriend told investigators that she was in the park jogging when she was attacked.

In addition to the unfounded claim about buying weed, Mullins also accused Mayor de Blasio’s policy shift on marijuana enforcement for crippling the NYPD’s ability to fight crime.

De Blasio has been battling with the NYPD to get police to adopt new enforcement postures that deprioritize busting people for cannabis use or possession. The mayor’s efforts have drawn fierce criticism from officers and the Benevolent Association in particular. Multiple studies have documented immense racial disparities in marijuana arrests by the NYPD.

Mullins exploited the tragedy of Majors’ killing to make his case against New York’s recent move to decriminalize simple marijuana use and possession. “We have a common denominator of marijuana,” Mullins said.

Family, de Blasio Condemn NYPD’s Victim-Blaming

NYPD Union head Ed Mullins’ comments sparked outrage among Tessa Majors’ family, mourners and the mayor. In a statement thanking the more than 1,000 mourners from the neighborhood and Barnard College who attended a vigil, Majors’ family called Mullins’ comments “irresponsible” and “deeply inappropriate.” In the statement, Majors’ family said Mullins’s accusations direct blame onto their daughter for her own murder.

Mayor de Blasio echoed the family’s words on Twitter. “This is heartless. It’s infuriating. We don’t shame victims in this city,” de Blasio said.

Public Defenders Bash Use of Murder to Push for Criminalization

Public defenders also spoke out against Mullins’ remarks. On Twitter, Scott Hechinger, a Brooklyn Public Defender, said “the NYPD is weaponizing Tessa Major’s murder to attack reductions in marijuana enforcement and the prospect of legalization. They use every tragedy to push their cynical agenda of more criminalization & greater harshness,” Hechinger added.

Still, sources close to the NYPD have told reporters that police are investigating the claim that Majors was in the park to buy marijuana. So far police have three suspects, all young teenage boys between the ages of 13 and 16. Only one suspect is currently in custody, and police are still searching for the suspect who allegedly committed the stabbing.

Drury, ByAdam. “Family of Murdered Student Bash NYPD for Linking Marijuana to Case.” Green Rush Daily, 17 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/family-of-murdered-student-bash-nypd-for-linking-marijuana-to-case/.

The Status of Legal Cannabis in Asia

With a history of strict anti-drug policies and a knack for unpredictability, the largest continent on earth could soon be the new scenario for the next wave of cannabis legalization.

This is the place where it all started. Although there’s no consensus between botanists as to where exactly the first cannabis strain originated, all theories point towards somewhere between Central, East and South Asia.

Whether the first sprouts of cannabis first saw the sunlight on the foothills of the Himalayas, along the banks of the Yangtze River, or somewhere in the Caucasus, it’s unanimously accepted that the first humans to use the plant were Asian, which makes it interesting to learn that today, the continent is somewhat left behind on legalization policies when compared to its western buddies.

A Brief History of Cannabis in Asia

The Chinese people pioneered in human-cannabis relations. Their territory is the first to indicate a use of the plant, as rope imprints on ancient pottery, dating back to more than 12,000 years ago.

Evidence also indicates that Chinese emperor Shen Nung (a noted physician of the ancient world) was the first to document the plant’s medical properties over 4,700 years ago.

The Vedas, ancient texts of Hinduism, speak of cannabis as a sacred plant of the Hindu people, in writings that were compiled at least 3,400 years ago. The plant, taken in the form of a hot drink called bhang became popular on the Indian subcontinent, and its presence can still be found there to this day. The strong commercial ties between Indian kingdoms and the Persian empire brought the plant to the middle-east, where it was smoked and eaten in the form of Hashish, achieving strong popularity around the middle ages, and finding its presence in classical Sufi poetry.

Entering the 19th and 20th centuries, influenced sometimes by western powers, others by regional legislation, most of Asia’s nations added cannabis to their list of banned substances.

However, some of Asia’s most advanced nations are already taking the lead in the subject, jumping on the western world’s bandwagon.

Israel

Perceived by many as Asia’s most “European” nation, the small middle-eastern country has been a global leader of medical cannabis innovation, research, health-care and technology for the past three decades.

Israel legalized medical cannabis as a prescription medication in 1994, and today, more than 30,000 patients are periodically provided with prescriptions, which makes it one nation with the highest rates of legal consumers per capita, when considering that the country has a population of only than 8,7 million.

The 2018 European Cannabis Report released by Prohibition Partners, states that “The country is currently growing significantly more cannabis than its medical market can sustain”, which makes for great export opportunities that the Israeli government is not waiting to exploit. A bill soon to be approved, will allow Israel to become the newest member of the international club of cannabis exporters.

South Korea

The Republic of Korea recently made headlines as it warned its citizens living in Canada that partaking in the use of cannabis outside of Korea was still illegal for them. The message was especially aimed at the 23,000 South-Korean exchange student currently living in Canada, as well as everyone thinking about paying a visit to the country.

However harsh Korea’s policies might by regarding recreational use, the country is dialing it down when it comes to medical, as it very recently announced amending their Narcotics Control Act, making medical cannabis legal throughout the country. Nonetheless, the new legislation is quite restrictive, as it only allows for hemp-based CBD, requires a doctor’s recommendation and special approval by the Korea Orphan Drug Center, the institution that handles all rare medications.

Thailand

The 60s saw the first illegal imports of Thai marijuana into the US. With products happily welcomed as the “Cuban cigar of Cannabis”, during the 1980s, the “land of smiles” became one of the world’s top cannabis producers for the international black market. But, after implementing tough anti-drug campaigns, in strong alliance with the “war-on-drugs”, Thai weed became pushed into the background. In 1934, charges for possession in Thailand could not exceed 1 year of prison. After the US government got involved in the 80s, new laws emerged, and current possession charges could land felons a nice 15 year-long visit to a Thai jail-house.

That’s why it’s so surprising to learn that Thailand could soon become the second nation in the Far East to allow some form of legalized cannabis for their citizens. This May, an amendment to the country’s drug law was passed, allowing for the research of medical marijuana in humans.

A private company called the Thai Cannabis Corporation has already been granted permission to cultivate 5,000 hectares of cannabis in order to develop cost-effective growth models and study the possible applications of CBD.

A history of quality production techniques, crossed with perfect geography for cultivation, could re-establish Thailand as one of the world’s cannabis powers, this time, through legal means.

Malaysia

recent controversy triggered by the death sentence of a 29-year-old Malaysian citizen for producing and selling CBD oil prompted a necessary revision of the country’s drug laws by the Cabinet members.

Although public outrage started a domino effect that could soon change the Southeast Asian country’s legislation, actual legalization may still be far ahead. The particular problem Malaysia is facing now is how to come up with an effective way to differentiate cannabis from other psychoactive drugs, which at the moment, lay inside the same bag of capital punishment. Although hard developments are still to occur, the Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar recently stated in an interview with Bloomberg, that he’s doing everything in his power to open the country to legal cannabis.

China

Although the Far East giant still punishes cannabis consumption and possession without mercy, there’s some indication of its interest in entering the international weed game. After Canada went legal on Oct. 17th, China joined the group of Asian countries warning their citizens not to use the drug even on Canadian ground. Chinese government officials also held Canada responsible as the main producer and exporter of illegal cannabis into China.

However, what the Chinese government isn’t bragging about, is that their country stands for 50% of the entire worldwide cannabis production. Composed mainly of hemp cultivated for textile production, the Chinese hemp fields take up huge portions of the Heilongjiang and Yunnan provinces.

China is also taking a quiet lead-in cannabis research and innovation. Of the 606 cannabis related patents worldwide, 309 belong to Chinese companies. What the Chinese government plans to do with this capital is yet to be discovered, but based on the country’s recent tendency to ingeniously capitalize on international commerce opportunities, it wouldn’t be a surprise to soon learn of a new move by the Chinese cannabis industry.

Although some Asian countries, like India, have ancient cannabis traditions that are still widely spread amongst locals, and even tolerated by law-enforcers, there still has been no news of official announcements regarding legalization. Other countries, like Afghanistan, hold the title for the world’s biggest exporter of illegal hash, yet keep strict anti-marijuana laws on paper. Singapore recently started a genetics research program to try and identify the genes responsible for producing CBD in the cannabis plant, in order to create synthetic cannabinoids for medicinal use. Nonetheless, possession and consumption of natural cannabis can result in 10 years of imprisonment in the small city-state.

Since most of the news treated on this article happened within last year, we can expect a large flow of new cannabis-related events to occur before long in the Asian continent.

Ponieman, ByNatan. “The Status of Legal Cannabis in Asia.” Green Rush Daily, 21 Dec. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/politics/legalization/the-status-of-legal-cannabis-in-asia/.

Survey Reveals Industries with the Highest Rate of Stoned Employees

The highest industries are those with the least consequences for being stoned on the job.

People get high at work. That much is fact. But thanks to a new survey, we now know more about the how, why, when and where of smoking on the clock, including which industries are the highest—literally.

The workplace, of course, has never been a very weed-friendly space, those in the cannabis industry notwithstanding. But expanding legalization is beginning to have an effect on workplace drug policies, especially for authorized medical cannabis patients. But whether for medical or recreational purposes, increasing productivity or just dealing with that awful boss, more people are high at work than ever before.

High at Work: Daily Necessity or Special Occassion?

In a survey of 1,000 people across the U.S., all of whom are at least part-time employees, 157 people, or about 16 percent, admitted to being high on the job. While that may seem like a small percentage, it’s still higher than it was five years ago, when just 10 percent of people reported working while stoned.

So what accounts for the uptick? Legalization, you would likely reason, means more stoned employees. But in fact, states, where weed is fully illegal, have the highest percentage of high employees, though not by much. In fully legalized states, 16.2 percent of employees have worked high, compared to 17 percent in prohibition states. Medical only states come in last, at 14.6 percent. Ironic, since workplace protections for medical cannabis patients are rolling out in those places.

But what really paints the clearest picture of who’s high at work is the survey data on how many times people do it. Topping all other use-frequency categories are both employees who smoke up on the job every day and those who do so just a few times per year. In other words, getting high at work is either a daily ritual or something reserved for special occasions, holiday parties, raises, bonuses or as a final f*ck you on your way out the door.

These are the Highest—and Least High—Job Sectors in America

An entire sociological study could be conducted on the relationship between how demanding and/or fulfilling a job is and how many people get high to put in their hours. But for now, we just have the data. And this data could reflect anything. It could reflect how someone relates to their job. It could reflect how many people work in the industry. Or, it could simply represent how tolerant a particular industry is to an employee failing a drug test for weed.

According to the survey, employees in the service sector—food and hospitality—are the highest in the country. With 35 percent of workers in that industry reporting being stoned on the clock, service industry employees best all other industries. But a close second is construction, at 32.5 percent. Third place, perhaps no surprise, is the arts, entertainment and recreation industry.

At the lower end of the spectrum are those jobs that have strict safety requirements or that are highly specialized and don’t have nearly as large of a workforce. Tucked in with them, however, are jobs that require intense interpersonal interaction, especially with minors or the public, like education and healthcare—the lowest on the list at 7.8 percent and 5.7 percent respectively.

People Get High at Work for All Kinds of Reasons

So about 17 percent of 1,000 workers surveyed have been high at work. Most do it rarely or every day. And half of those surveyed say they have to undergo drug tests. So people are also smoking up for work, despite the risks. So why do people do it? Not surprisingly, for all kinds of reasons. But the top two paint a telling picture.

The top reason for being high on the job is to increase productivity. Power to all the productive smokers out there. But the second-place reason, just behind the first, was simply to pass the time. Between making the time more productive and just making time move faster, reasons for getting high at work vary from coping with stress to helping focus. Just 14.7 percent of high-on-the-jobbers do so for medical reasons, according to the survey.

So, does getting stoned make employees more productive? Survey says it doesn’t hurt. 60 percent said they experienced no change in productivity. 23 percent said being high made them more productive. Just 17 percent said it made them less productive.

Interestingly, though, those who were high at work were twice as likely than their sober co-workers to report feeling very stressed.

But even though more workers may be high on the job than ever, most aren’t holding their session in the office or on the job site. Most people smoke up or vape at home, or in their car on a break or on their commute. Then again, the office parking lot is also fairly popular. Classic stuff.

Drury, ByAdam. “Survey Reveals Industries with the Highest Rate of Stoned Employees.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Apr. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/survey-reveals-industries-with-the-highest-rate-of-stoned-employees/.

Western Washington University Protestors Surprise Dosed by Pot Pasta

Two students were treated after inadvertently ingesting the cannabis-laced food.

On March 8th, women’s day 2019, a group of students from the Western Washington University gathered up to rally against the University’s food contractor. In the midst of the protest, some students had to be taken to a health center after eating a pasta meal that had been secretly laced with marijuana.

The boycott was part of an international day of action organized by 5 different colleges, in which students were invited to refrain from eating at Aramark’s campus facilities. Aramark Corporation is a food service provider that operates in 20 countries and ranked  27th on 2018’s Fortune 500 list.

According to the student’s online petition, the multi-billion dollar corporation holds a near-monopoly on all campus food-facilities and has a history of mistreating student employees at WWU.

A Sensible Request Gone Wrong

Although the student protestors had a special interest in making the college community aware of the corporation’s near-monopoly in regards to a 2021 contract renewal opportunity, the main complaints against Aramark’s laid on the company’s ties with the Prison-Industrial Complex and its lack of transparency and accountability.

Aramark runs over 500 dining operations in prisons across the country and holds contracts with big food corporations. Being almost the only food provider on campus, the students disapproved of the quality of the food being served and claimed that given the disproportionate number of incarcerated people of color, the company’s business model thrives on white supremacy.

Anticipating the University’s contract with Aramark to expire on 2021, the student organization is proposing a self-operated dining system in which “WWU would instead directly hire dining management and staff which would allow for more transparency, accountability, and equity for WWU students and community members.”

When a Protest Backfires

The students gathered up at the University’s Red Square at 11 am. According to a Facebook post made by the student organization after the events occurred, “some community members showed up with their own table and prepared food to share with boycott participants. One of the foods being served was pesto pasta. We have just become aware that this pasta contained some kind of marijuana and we are working on finding and contacting the individuals who brought this food.”

The post adds that one of the organizers who had a small serving of the laced pasta felt “extreme effects” and was unable to participate in the action. Other students who also ingested the dish had to be taken to the health center.

However, the organization’s main regret was that, on top of having members of their community intoxicated, the attention was deflected from their original demand:

“We are disappointed and frustrated that this incident occurred and led to difficult situations for some people and derailed the focus of the action itself.”

Ponieman, ByNatan. “Western Washington University Protestors Surprise Dosed by Pot Pasta.” Green Rush Daily, 20 Mar. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/western-washington-university-protestors-surprise-dosed-by-pot-pasta/.

Washington, DC Joins Several States In Suing Juul Labs

The lawsuits are a reaction to Juul’s online ads and promos, which allegedly target minors.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia is joining several states in suing the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, saying the company’s online ads and promotions illegally targeted minors.

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that Juul’s viral marketing contributed to the surge in underage vaping by teens in the district and across the U.S.

The lawsuit also says that Juul misled consumers about the potent nicotine levels contained in its flavored pods.

The move follows similar lawsuits filed last week by California and New York. North Carolina became the first state to sue the San Francisco startup in May.

A Juul spokesman said Tuesday the company’s products are intended for adults and that it is committed to combating underage vaping.

Under intense legal pressure, Juul recently suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company closed its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO.

Juul, which launched in 2015, now controls roughly two-thirds of the U.S. retail market for e-cigarettes. The company also faces separate investigations by Congress, the FDA and other federal regulators.

Juul rocketed to the top of the vaping market based on the popularity of its high-nicotine pods, fruit and dessert flavors and early online marketing, which featured youthful, attractive models.

Racine said Tuesday the company’s practices “unfairly and unconscionably dragged a new generation into nicotine addiction.”

The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, also alleges that Juul previously:

— made unsupported claims that its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional smoking,

— failed to adequately verify customers’ ages before selling e-cigarettes through its website, and

— failed to implement a “secret shopping” program and other steps touted by the company to deter underage use.

The district also said it sent subpoenas to eight other vaping companies seeking information about their business and marketing practices.

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.

E-cigarettes, which have been available in the U.S. since about 2007, have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry with little government regulation. The battery-powered devices typically heat a solution that contains nicotine, the drug that makes cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive.

Most experts say vaping is likely less harmful than traditional smoking, which produce thousands of toxic chemicals. But there is little research on the long-term health effects of vaping.

Associated Press. “Washington, DC Joins Several States In Suing Juul Labs.” High Times, 7 Dec. 2019, hightimes.com/news/washington-dc-joins-several-states-in-suing-juul-labs/.

Over $5 Million in Cannabis From Illegal Colorado Grows Destroyed

Colorado authorities have been on a cannabis killing spree since discovering a set of illegal grows at the start of summer.

Law enforcement agencies in Colorado have been cracking down on illegal cannabis activities in the state. Over the course of the summer, authorities in a handful of Colorado counties ended up arresting several individuals and seizing loads of illegal cannabis plants. All told, well over $5 million worth of illicit market cannabis was seized and destroyed.

Authorities Discover Illegal Marijuana Grow Sites

According to a news release from law enforcement in Colorado and as reported by The Denver Post, the crackdown started in at the very beginning of the summer.

Specifically, on May 26, a rancher called the Otero Sheriff’s Office to report that somebody had shot a gun at his 13-year-old son. The rancher’s son was reportedly rounding up the man’s cattle. At the time, the cows were grazing on county land being leased by the rancher.

It turns out, the shooting happened near a suspected illegal marijuana grow operation. And when authorities went to investigate the shooting, they eventually found the site.

By the time the shooting investigation ended, deputies in Otero County found two grow houses. Additionally, they made a number of arrests. Specifically, they busted four men.

Currently, the men are being held in jail. And each has a $50,000 bail. According to local reports, the men are being investigated for drug cultivation and distribution charges.

Scaling Up a Full-Blown Crackdown

From there, law enforcement dramatically ramped up their focus on illegal marijuana grow sites. So much so, in fact, that the dragnet eventually included agents from at least five separate counties.

All told, these investigations led to some massive busts. As summarized by The Denver Post, here’s what authorities cracked down on this summer:

  • Agents busted 40 illegal marijuana grow sites.
  • Law enforcement agents seized and destroyed almost 6,000 individual cannabis plants.
  • All told, the plants that were seized and destroyed amounted to $5.8 million.
  • Cops and sheriff’s department agents also seized six guns.
  • And finally, law enforcement agents made five arrests. This includes the four who were linked to the original shooting incident, and one other person caught up in the busts later on. The man busted in this fifth arrest is being investigated for drug cultivation charges. He was released after paying $45,000 bond.

In addition to the thousands of cannabis plants destroyed by law enforcement, there were between 5,000 and 15,000 more plants that were seized but not destroyed.

That’s because these plants were reportedly sprayed with a potentially toxic pesticide. As a result, authorities will not destroy these plants until they have been fully inspected by environmental experts.

Illegal Markets Exist—Even in the Age of Legalization

As evidenced by these busts, the illegal cannabis market continues to thrive, even as more and more places legalize marijuana. And Colorado isn’t the only weed-legal state that has seen crackdowns on illegal activities.

In fact, a recent report found that California’s illicit cannabis market is three times larger than the regulated industry. All told, the report said that California has nearly 3,000 unlicensed dispensaries, compared to roughly 900 fully licensed, legal, and regulated ones.

Similarly, a different investigation found that California is being flooded with counterfeit cannabis vapes. This discovery adds to concerns over the recent spate of deaths linked to vaping.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Over $5 Million in Cannabis From Illegal Colorado Grows Destroyed.” Green Rush Daily, 18 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/over-5-million-in-cannabis-from-illegal-colorado-grows-destroyed/.

DEA Announces Move to Improve Access to Marijuana Research

In its announcement, DEA said that the approval of new cultivators will approve the quality and variety of cannabis available for research projects.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has just released a statement announcing plans to improve access to marijuana for researchers. In recent months, the DEA has faced pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to speed up its approval of medical cannabis producers. And in May, thirty members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to DEA leaders calling on them to act on the backlog of dozens of application from companies wishing to grow cannabis for federal research.

Now, DEA says it will move forward with its review of those applications. But before it makes any decisions, DEA intends to propose new rules for the federal government’s research cultivation program.

Under Pressure, DEA Sets Plan to Approve More Marijuana Growers

It’s not easy obtaining federal approval for researching cannabis. Since the federal government considers cannabis a Schedule I substance, cultivating for Uncle Sam requires approval from multiple government agencies. Companies that want to cultivate cannabis to support medical research need approvals from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DEA.

For the past few years, DEA has been the bottle-neck in the approval process. DEA began accepting applications to grow marijuana for research three years ago. But when the Trump administration took office, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to sign-off on the few applications DEA did approve. As a result, there are currently just a handful of federally-approved medical cannabis cultivators.

And those cultivators have a reputation for producing cannabis of extraordinarily low quality. Researchers have complained for years about the subpar samples with which they must conduct their studies. They say weed grown for federal research is nothing like the products currently available on commercial or illicit markets.

But under mounting pressure for health experts, researchers and policy-makers, and with a new Attorney General who’s at least a little less hostile toward cannabis than Sessions, the DEA has been forced to act. “I am pleased that the DEA is moving forward with its review of applications for those who seek to grow marijuana legally to support research,” said Attorney General William Barr. Barr vowed to improve the working relationship between DEA and the Justice Department moving forward.

New Federally-Approved Growers Will Improve Cannabis for Research

In its statement announcing the steps necessary to improve access to marijuana research, DEA said it “anticipates that registering additional qualified marijuana growers will increase the variety of marijuana available for these purposes.”

DEA is also moving to expedite the registration process with that goal in mind. “We support additional research into marijuana and its components,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “And we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”

DEA’s statement also issued a reminder that under the federal government’s new hemp authorization, research into cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight no longer requires DEA authorization. By definition, any hemp/cannabis plant below that 0.3 percent THC threshold is no longer a controlled substance.

DEA Will Set New Rules for Federal Medical Marijuana Growers

In an implicit response to critics of its slow pace of approval, DEA also shared data about the progress it has made on registering new cultivators. In its statement, DEA has that the total number of individuals approved to conduct research with marijuana, extracts, derivatives and THC had increased 40 percent between 2017 to 2019, now totaling 542. Similarly, DEA said it “more than doubled” the production quota for marijuana each year based on the expansion of federally-approved research projects.

Still, the pace of DEA approvals is not keeping up with demand or the urgency of cannabis studies. And despite its announcement, DEA hasn’t released a clear timetable. In fact, there could be further delays. Before making any decisions on pending applications, the DEA will go through a process of creating new rules for governing the marijuana growers program for scientific and medical research.

That process will include a public comment period that while crucial for transparency, will further slow the approval process.

Drury, ByAdam. “DEA Announces Move to Improve Access to Marijuana Research.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/dea-announces-move-to-improve-access-to-marijuana-research/.

Michigan’s Marijuana Agency Expands Social Equity Program

Social Equity Program representatives are visiting 19 disproportionately impacted communities to provide application and licensing services.

Back in July, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) launched its Social Equity Program. The program aims to encourage participation in the marijuana industry by those living in Michigan communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of laws against cannabis. And it does so primarily through offering people who live in those communities discounts on license applications, fees and other major start-up costs for opening a legal cannabis business.

In addition to lowering financial hurdles to entering the legal industry, MRA social equity representatives have been visiting 19 disproportionally impacted communities. Representatives are holding educational and other informational sessions about the Social Equity Program and the application and licensing process itself. Applications for the program are currently available and representatives can provide one-on-one help completing it. The MRA will begin accepting applications on November 1, 2019.

Figuring Out Who to Help Amid Drug War Devastation

A part of the legal weed bill Michigan voters passed in November 2018 required the MRA to come up with a plan to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.

After passage of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act of 2018, the MRA spent several months gathering input from work groups and online surveys to figure out which ares of the state had been most disproportionately harmed by marijuana enforcement. The same stakeholders helped determine how to identify individuals who qualify for the Social Equity Program. They settled on two primary factors. First, marijuana-related convictions, and second, poverty rate.

For the first round, the agency identified Michigan counties with total marijuana-related convictions exceeding the average marijuana conviction rate for the state. From there, they narrowed the list down to areas where thirty percent or more of the population live below the federal poverty level. That left a list of 19 communities, including Detroit, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Saginaw and Flint.

“A lot of work has gone into the development of this program and we are proud of the results,” MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo said. “I believe that our Social Equity Program will lead the nation and accomplish the social equity objectives that Michigan voters assigned us last fall when they passed the adult use marijuana proposal.”

Equity Program Taps Multiple State Agencies for Help Reaching Potential Applicants

Individuals who live in the 19 selected areas and want to start a cannabis business should take advantage of the program’s benefits. The program is offering fee reductions from 25 to 60 percent for qualifying individuals. Anyone who has been a resident of one of the 19 areas from the past five years qualifies for 25 percent off the application fee, initial license fee and future renewal fees. An additional 25 percent reduction is available if the majority business owner meets the residency requirement and has a prior marijuana-related conviction.

The Social Equity Program is also offering 10 percent off, on top of the base 25 percent, for individuals who were registered primary caregivers under Michigan’s informal medical cannabis program, which ran from 2008 to 2017.

Those are the benefits the MRA announced in July. But this week, the agency announced an expansion of the roll out process. The MRA is partnering with several Michigan state agencies related to individuals and businesses participating in the adult-use cannabis industry, as well as medical facility licensees and individuals from the private sector. Combined, the multi-agency approach aims to give potential cannabis business owners the resources they need to succeed in the new industry.

Drury, ByAdam. “Michigan’s Marijuana Agency Expands Social Equity Program.” Green Rush Daily, 3 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/michigans-marijuana-agency-expands-social-equity-program/.

The Cannabis Lawyer at the Center of Giuliani Trump Ukraine Scandal

Lawyer of indicted businessman Lev Parnas is James Bondy, a cannabis industry veteran.

For two nights earlier this month, viewers of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC were treated to an exclusive barrage of bombshells in the Ukraine-Trump scandal, delivered by would-be international fixer Lev Parnas.

As Parnas, one of the four associates of presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani indicted last fall for soliciting foreign help for President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, outlined exactly what he did — digging for dirt that would hurt Joe Biden, spooning damaging fabulism on former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch back to the president — a stone-faced man with close-cropped gray hair in a dark blue suit sat silently at his client’s left: Joseph Bondy. Bondy is Parnas’s lawyer, a prominent New York criminal defense attorney and, prior to his turn in Twitter-age international political intrigue, a prominent figure in cannabis legal defense and legalization advocacy circles.

As Trump’s impeachment trial begins in the U.S. Senate, Parnas is seizing a central role in both the legal proceedings and the attendant media circus. Bondy is also proving up to the task of keeping his client in a favorable spotlight, advocating for him to testify in the Senate with the #LetLevSpeak hashtag; and of releasing information at just the right time, to a variety of sources in the media as well as the House Intelligence Committee.

Through Bondy, Parnas is releasing more documents and evidence to Congress that would appear to back up his assertions that the president was tuned in to what he was doing. And when Trump denied so much as knowing Parnas, it was Bondy who responded by releasing a video off the two of them chatting amiably in an intimate group at Mar-a-Lago.

You may well ask: What’s a well-known weed lawyer doing representing an alleged would-be Mar-a-Lago fixer? And who is this guy, anyway? Bondy did not respond to requests for comment sent via his website or via Twitter DM, but there’s ample information out there to offer a brief sketch.

A native New Yorker, Bondy is one of the members of the pro-bono legal team suing the federal government, in Washington vs Barr, to overturn federal cannabis prohibition on constitutional grounds, as the New York Law Journal observed on Jan. 18.

As CelebStoner’s Steve Bloom posted last week, Bondy is also volunteer director of the Cannabis Cultural Association, a New York City-based nonprofit that advocates and “provides resources” for people of color to obtain entrepreneurship and job opportunities in the cannabis and hemp industries.

He seems effective in cannabis business. Two of his clients have won one of New York State’s 15 CBD-processing applications. Out of a pool of 352 applicants, that’s no mean feat. And Bondy has also spent enough time representing defendants against the might of federal marijuana law in federal court to earn accolades from the national leadership of NORML, where he’s a “lifetime member” of the organization’s legal committee.

And small wonder: Bondy has a track record of rescuing clients caught with cannabis from lengthy sentences According to his website, he managed to get a defendant accused of trafficking 6.5 tons of cannabis a 15-month sentence and managed to get another client, accused of both trafficking and conspiracy and cultivating more than 2,000 plants, an offense that would trigger a mandatory minimum of a decade in jail, 36 months.

He gave a talk at the 2016 NORML National Legal Committee seminar, held in Key West, Florida, in 2016. He’s also been since 2016 a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association. Of course, none of this repetition of his resume answers the question of how he came into Parnas’s orbit, or why Parnas would hire him.

One simple answer is that Bondy is a criminal defense attorney licensed to practice in the Southern District of New York, the federal court district in Lower Manhattan where Parnas and his alleged associates have been charged. Then again, there are an awful, awful lot of criminal defense attorneys licensed to practice in the Southern District of New York — this is the district where, coming full circle here, Rudy Giuliani made his bones as a U.S. attorney, prosecuting Mafia figures in the 1980s.

It is true that there’s a cannabis angle to the Parnas saga: one of the three other men indicted along with him is Andrey Kukushkin, who had interests in California cannabis dispensaries, and allegedly engaged in an illegal scheme to funnel money from Ukraine and Russia to straw donors in Nevada in an attempt to change cannabis laws to his favor.

And as the Daily Beast reported last week, Parnas in part gained access to pro-Trump political players — invited to attend an October 2018 dinner with Ivanka Trump and her husband, first-son-in-law Jared Kushner — in part because he was a “Trump loyalist” who was also “pro cannabis.” Fundraisers wanted him there because they wanted Ivanka and Jared’s help in convincing Trump to relax federal marijuana law, a cause shared by plenty of MAGA Republicans in Florida, probably chief among them Rep. Matt Gaetz.

That’s the most likely avenue for Bondy and Parnas to know one another—and, after his arrest Oct. 9 at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., with a one-way ticket to Vienna, Parnas could conceivably have flipped through his contacts list, seen Bondy up top, and given him a call. For now, seems like to have been a smart move.

Roberts, ByChris. “The Cannabis Lawyer at the Center of Giuliani Trump Ukraine Scandal.” Cannabis Now, 22 Jan. 2020, cannabisnow.com/the-cannabis-lawyer-at-the-center-of-giuliani-trump-ukraine-scandal/.

With Brexit Done, Why Won’t Boris Johnson Fix British Medical Cannabis?

The Conservative prime minister’s party is still reserving medical cannabis access to only the richest of sick Britons and his best excuse is gone.

Last summer, Boris Johnson, the rumpled former tabloid journalist and ex-mayor of London now serving as the press-hating prime minister of the United Kingdom, surrounded himself with weedheads.

With the hire of Blair Gibbs, a longtime cannabis-policy reform advocate and legalization supporter to a senior position at No. 10 Downing Street, it seemed Johnson was preparing for a post-Brexit Britain where medical cannabis was at last available to all Britons — and, within as little as five years, commercial recreational cannabis would follow.

But with Johnson’s adversaries in Jeremy Corbyn and Labour vanquished, and Britain finally exiting the European Union, where are we? In just the same place we were before, if not worse: cannabis illegal, sick children forced to break the law or pursue expensive and potentially harmful pharmaceutical cures, and nobody happy about any of it.

Except, maybe, for Johnson, who — despite supporting medical cannabis back in 2008, when he didn’t have any power — now doesn’t have to make any difficult decisions. Meanwhile, families of sick people are selling their family homes to pay for medicine.

With an election in the balance, Johnson promised in October to discuss medical cannabis access for epileptic children personally with a member of Parliament. As the Daily Record reported, Johnson broke that promise in January, dispatching instead an apparatchik to meet with elected officials.

Currently, medical cannabis is “legal” in Britain, but can’t be dispensed through the National Health Service except in extremely limited circumstances, meaning access is only for the rich or the lawbreakers. It can cost up to £3,500 pounds a month for a cannabis prescription through a private doctor, the BBC reported.

Since Nov. 1, 2018, when U.K. law “legalized” medical cannabis, only 18 patients have managed to get a prescription through NHS, as iNews reported. (Keep in mind that “saving” the U.K.’s vaunted single-payer healthcare system was part of how Brexit was sold to the massesbefore leading Brexiteers then started calling for U.S.-style privatization.)

Even when patients do obtain a prescription, treatment options are limited. Only two “cannabis-based” medicines have been approved for use in the United KingdomEpidiolex and Sativex, both developed by Britain-based GW Pharmaceuticals. One is prescribed for epilepsy, and the other is to treat multiple sclerosis — meaning anyone else, with chronic pain, or wasting syndrome from cancer, or insomnia, or autism, is screwed, even though companies like Canada-based Tilray have been advertising cannabis-oil imports since last summer.

A massive clinical trial project, meant to supply as many as 20,000 U.K. citizens with medical-grade cannabis products by 2021, is in the beginning stages, but in the meantime, policy in the U.K. is well behind that in other European countries like Italy and Germany — and well behind most U.S. states.

During an appearance on the BBC, Matt Hancock, Johnson’s secretary of health, blamed delays on drug companies, insisting that “it comes down to the drug companies to make them in the right way. They need to come to the table on this.” Except that’s a half-truth: NHS could subsidize drug costs, but is choosing not to. The NHS and related health officials could allow patients to access whole-plant medicine, if the Home Office allowed for citizens to grow cannabis at home — but none of that is happening.

And here’s Johnson. While a privileged teen at Eton, the U.K.’s posh prep school, Johnson is known to have had a “jolly nice” time smoking spliffs — he’s admitted as such.

Other world leaders oversee far more draconian drug policies. It’s not a list you want to be on: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, Xi Jinping’s China. The difference is that none of them have called for reform or promised to do something about it, before changing their minds.

Now, as prime minister, Johnson is deporting longtime U.K. residents for minor cannabis offenses, and conveniently forgetting whatever rationale it was that led him to understand legal weed was a good idea back in 2008. In the meantime, in the post-industrial cities in Britain’s version of the U.S. Rust Belt, a drug-overdose crisis is brewing.

Does this sound familiar? It should! More and more, Johnson’s U.K. is resembling Donald Trump’s America, with one very large difference — without the (blue) states where cannabis is legal.

Roberts, ByChris. “With Brexit Done, Why Won’t Boris Johnson Fix British Medical Cannabis?” Cannabis Now, 12 Feb. 2020, cannabisnow.com/with-brexit-done-why-wont-boris-johnson-fix-british-medical-cannabis/.

New Mexico Races to Legalize Pot by the End of February

The race is on to become the 12th state in the union to legalize cannabis. With measures pending in the legislature, New Mexico isn’t racing against other states, but its own short legislative session.

New Mexico is serious about being the next state to legalize cannabis. But the state has a legislative session of just 30 days in 2020, and the deadline now looms ominously.

There is a sense of déjà vu here. Last year, New Mexico came very close to legalizing marijuana. A legalization measure was approved by the state’s House, but never made it out of the Senate — despite the support of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat. As a kind of consolation prize to cannabis advocates, a decriminalization bill did pass.

After that, Lujan Grisham launched a Cannabis Legalization Working Group, with members from the public and private sectors, as well as representatives from activist groups including the Drug Policy Alliance. In October, it issued its recommendations, calling for a legalization model based on “equity and opportunity,” with low licensing fees and “micro business” licenses designed to keep proceeds within local communities. 

When the session opened in January 2020, legalization bills were quickly introduced in both chambers of the statehouse. But with the finish line now just two weeks away, lawmakers are still nailing down the details. 

Down to the Wire 

Most people expect, that if the bill passes, it will be a close call — including Pat Davis, the Albuquerque city councilor who headed the Working Group. He told the Albuquerque Journal last month that he expects the measure’s fate to be decided during the final days of the session, which ends on Feb. 20.

It’s somewhat predictable that most opposition is coming from Republicans. Even Albuquerque’s Sen. Mark Moores, one of three Republican senators who last year joined with Democratic colleagues on a legalization bill, is now balking at the idea of cannabis legalization. One issue is that last year’s proposal would have allowed sale only through state-run stores. The new measure follows the recommendations of the Working Group for a more decentralized system based on small private operators.

On Jan. 28, the Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 along party lines to advance Senate Bill 115, the Cannabis Regulation Act, which would legalize personal use for those 21 years and older. It has yet to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee or the Finance Committee — where last year’s version died.

The bill calls for a 9% tax on cannabis sales. And, as the Santa Fe New Mexican notes, it has plenty of elements designed to appease conservative sentiment. It requires law enforcement agencies to compile an annual report on the number of arrests, citations and other violations connected to those using cannabis. It mandates “cannabis education programs” for middle and high school students, and funding of additional substance abuse treatment programs. In what will certainly be a controversial move, it calls for police to devise an “oral fluid test” to determine if motorists are driving under the influence.

Beyond compromises that may end up not pleasing either side, however, there is also a degree of sheer confusion in the proposed legislation.

‘Haze of Unknowns’ 

A Feb. 5 editorial in the Albuquerque Journal was unable to resist the smart-alecky headline “Haze of unknowns clouds legislation on recreational cannabis.” But after you get past the puns, it noted some of the confusion around SB 115 and its counterpart House Bill 160. 

For one thing, the “timelines don’t track.” Under the proposed legislation, existing cannabis retailers operating under the state’s medical marijuana program (in place since 2007) will be able to start adult-market sales on Jan. 1, 2021. But that’s also the deadline for the regulations overseeing the market to be issued — meaning those retailers be “forced to comply on the fly.”

Complicating it further, those regs are for seed-to-sale tracking, quality control and the like. But the mandatory server training rules don’t even have to be drawn up until April 1, 2021 — leaving retailers unregulated for three months.

And while customers have to be 21, the servers can be 18. The Journal asks: “How does that make any sense?”

Then there’s the strange contradiction that “recreational” buyers will be able to get more product than medical patients. Current law limits medical users to eight ounces every 90 days, though recreational users will be able to buy two ounces per transaction. Retailers will supposedly be required to reserve enough product for the state’s 80,000-plus medical users, but there are concerns about shortages — especially because there will be no increase in the number of plants commercial growers are allowed.

The closing assessment of the Journal’s editorial may prove accurate: “There are simply too many unanswered questions, too many contradictions and too hard of a push to get recreational cannabis through in a short 30-day budget session.”

It is clear that lawmakers in Santa Fe are going to have to work fast if they are to avoid a repeat of last year’s narrow defeat for legal cannabis in the Land of Enchantment.

Weinberg, ByBill. “New Mexico Races to Legalize Pot by the End of February.” Cannabis Now, 10 Feb. 2020, cannabisnow.com/new-mexico-races-to-legalize-pot-by-the-end-of-february/.

Peddler’s Licenses & Co-Ops: Chicago Brainstorms Ways to Make Cannabis More Equitable

A month into legal cannabis in Illinois, Chicago is considering various experimental models for cannabis cultivation and sales aimed at empowering those communities criminalized under prohibition.

Cannabis became legal in Illinois on New Year’s Day, and now Chicago’s administration and community leaders are brainstorming ways to implement a model for the industry that addresses the social harms of prohibition.

Chicago is one of the cities that has been most impacted by the drug war dystopia, so it is fitting that some unorthodox and cutting-edge ideas are being broached in the Windy City. The current unique cannabis ideas the city is considering include a city-owned cultivation co-op which residents could join and earn a stake in and a “peddler’s license” for individuals to sell cannabis themselves.

“Ensuring this emerging industry brings unprecedented economic and social benefits to our communities has been at the heart of our efforts since day one,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times.

With some Illinois municipalities already experimenting with alternative models like cannabis-tax funded “reparations,” Chicago is still in the phase of weighing proposals.

Cannabis buyers spent nearly $40 million in the first month days of the adult-use market, according to numbers reported by the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 4. This was despite widespread supply shortages, long lines and a limited number of licensed outlets across the state.

“Illinois had a far more successful launch of cannabis than many of the other states that have legalized, but this is about more than money, it’s about starting a new industry in a way that includes communities left behind for far too long,” Toi Hutchinson, the governor’s senior adviser for cannabis control, told the Evanston Patch.

Some 40 new dispensaries have opened already this year across Illinois, adding to the approximately 30 pre-existing medical marijuana dispensaries that have been grandfathered into the adult-use market.

But Chicago may be trying something very different — indeed, unprecedented in the nation.

A City-Owned Cannabis Co-Op?

In December, Mayor Lightfoot said her office has plans for a city-owned cannabis cultivation co-op would especially offer residents, especially those from black and brown communities, an opportunity to buy in with a “modest cash investment,” or, for those who can’t afford it, with “sweat equity” — labor in lieu of money.

Lightfoot portrayed the “cooperative cultivation center” idea as a means of assuring that Chicago’s cannabis market will not be dominated by big capital, or the city’s most privileged.

“This is a very, very expensive business to get involved with,” she told the Sun-Times in announcing the idea. “The basics to be a cultivator requires about a $13 million to $15 million investment. There are not a lot of people that have that, particularly in a market that a lot of banks and traditional lenders won’t touch. I think the only way to really crack this nut is for the city to invest its own resources to get engaged, get diverse entrepreneurs involved in the most lucrative part of the business, which is cultivation.”

Alderman Jason Ervin of Chicago’s 28th ward expressed outrage that African Americans have “zero representation” among the 11 grandfathered medicinal dispensaries that offered the city’s first adult-use sales on New Year’s Day.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s office voiced tentative support for Lightfoot’s proposal — but said it would have to wait until next year, when the new law allows the Illinois Department of Agriculture to decide whether to increase the number of large-scale cultivators in the state.  

“The administration is excited that people are discussing new and innovative approaches to equity and we look forward to exploring those options when the application for cultivation centers begins in 2021,” a Pritzker representative said in a statement.

But the Department of Agriculture, contacted by the Sun-Times, hedged on whether the new law allows issuance of cultivation licenses to a public entity.  

“The rules are still being written on that,” said department media rep Krista Lisser. “We really haven’t been posed with that question as of right now.”

A ‘Peddler’s License’ for Pot Dealers?

Another proposal, likely to be more controversial still with state authorities, has emerged from community activists led by Tio Hardiman, a longtime anti-violence campaigner with the group CeasefireChicago. Hardiman on Jan. 22 issued his call for the creation of a “peddler’s license” that would allow a retailer to sell cannabis at farmer’s markets or out of the backs of trucks. Hardiman said the idea could help “ease some of the conflict with the illegal drug trade,” and help ease the city’s crisis of gun violence.

“This way you can take the criminal element out of [selling cannabis] and allow these young guys to make some legal money. And then you can help reduce unemployment in the African American community,” Hardiman said at a press conference outside the Herbal Care Center, one of the city’s grandfathered medical dispensaries.

According to the Sun-Times, Hardiman said these small retailers would be required to keep a “paper trail,” and drew a parallel to operations such as Grubhub or Uber that use mobile apps and log transactions.

Contacted by the Sun-Times, the offices of Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot issued statements that “didn’t directly address” Hardiman’s proposal. Pritzker media rep Jordan Abudayyeh noted that legal cannabis is currently only sold by licensed dispensaries “to ensure that products are regulated and safe.” But she added that as new licenses are handed out, priority will be given to “social equity candidates,” who have cannabis offenses on their records or live in areas hit hard by the drug war.

Pat Mullane of Lightfoot’s office similarly said the mayor is committed to ensuring that all Chicagoans, but especially those from “disadvantaged communities,” will be able to “benefit from jobs and economic opportunity created by the newly legalized cannabis industry.”

Chicago over the past decade has suffered from blatantly racist police practices in drug enforcement, and what can only be called human rights abuses. In 2015, grim revelations emerged of “black site” or clandestine prison run by the city police force — completely outside the law or any public oversight.

Correcting this legacy will clearly be one of the biggest challenges for legal cannabis in the nation. Advocates coast to coast would do well to watch how things unfold in this heartland metropolis.

Weinberg, ByBill. “Peddler’s Licenses & Co-Ops: Chicago Brainstorms Ways to Make Cannabis More Equitable.” Cannabis Now, 6 Feb. 2020, cannabisnow.com/peddlers-licenses-co-ops-chicago-brainstorms-ways-to-make-cannabis-more-equitable/.

Is the Data You Give to Cannabis Dispensaries Safe?

Personal data from 30,000 cannabis customers leaked from an Amazon Web Services bucket used by a Seattle-area dispensary management software. You should be worried.

Big Weed exists in the age of Big Data, meaning the cannabis industry is vulnerable to all the same attacks and hacks as everyone else.

This was demonstrated with the revelation two weeks ago that an Amazon Web Services storage bucket, containing point of sales data from 30,000 cannabis dispensary customers and more than 85,000 individual data files, was left open, unencrypted, and unsecured.  Anyone internet-savvy enough to notice — and malicious enough to use the data — could have accessed the customers’ government IDs as well as personal information like their age, address, driver’s license numbers, phone numbers, and signatures, as privacy and security outlet SC Magazine noted.

Which means this problem is real, it’s big, and it’s not going away anytime soon. And, depending on how your favorite dispensary manages your data, your data is almost certainly being stored digitally, somewhere, and is a potential target.

The open data bucket, first discovered on Dec. 24 and closed on Jan. 14, was managed by THSuite, a Seattle-area point-of-sale system used by dispensaries in Maryland, Ohio, and Colorado. (vpnMentor discovered the data, open and unencrypted, as part of its ongoing web-mapping project; THSuite also didn’t respond to vpnMentor when they were told of the leak, according to SC Magazine.)

More dispensaries who used THSuite could be implicated; the researchers said the data trove was simply too big to quantify and they checked out only a handful of files to see what was exposed.

As vpnMentor pointed out, dispensaries collect loads of personal data from anyone who shops there, because they have to, thus creating an extremely attractive pot of data for hackers. This is a liability for medical-marijuana dispensaries, who might run afoul of federal HIPAA requirements for leaving medical patients’ records unsecured, but it’s probably a wider concern for cannabis dispensary customers — particularly in states where simply being a cannabis user can lead to complications at work and elsewhere.

The problem is that this is at least partially a problem of government. Laws in most states, including California, requires dispensaries to keep customer data in order to ensure that they’re complying with state law and not selling weed to underage customers. Along with that minimum, many dispensaries also record sales trend data.

To manage all this information in a way that’s not paper ledger or shoebox in the attic, dispensaries in many states are turning to cloud-based software solutions like THSuite —to manage inventory but also to comply with onerous state laws including track-and-trace as well as age verification.

Another problem is that many dispensaries appear to interpret state law too broadly and retain too much data.

“Current law and regulation require cannabis licensees retain certain records, including receipts, for seven years,” as the California state legislative analyst noted recently. “The regulations do not explicitly require licensees to retain the personal information that they have collected as part of a sale for seven years, although some licensees may interpret the record retention requirement to apply to that information.”

That prompted state lawmakers to pass and former Gov. Jerry Brown to sign into law a prohibition on selling personal data to third parties, but that data is still out there, somewhere. There are cloud options that are secure and HIPAA compliant such as Truevault. In this instance, it seems THSuite just used a poor solution — an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket — rather than something more secure.

So what do you do with this? Cannabis customers should feel empowered to ask dispensaries what data they collect and where they store it. If they can’t or won’t answer, or you don’t like the answer, you should feel compelled to shop somewhere else. But onerous and often vague state laws requiring dispensaries to hang onto so much personal data ought also be revisited. If liquor stores don’t create huge troves of attractive data, why do dispensaries? As usual, the answer is “because it’s weed,” and that answer is creating extra trouble for everybody.

Roberts, ByChris. “Is the Data You Give to Cannabis Dispensaries Safe?” Cannabis Now, 3 Feb. 2020, cannabisnow.com/is-the-data-you-give-to-cannabis-dispensaries-safe/.

Can We Blame Senate Republicans for Dispensary Robberies Now?

The problem itself isn’t exactly rocket science. If you legalize something wildly popular, add even wilder taxes and then don’t let businesses go to the bank, you’re gonna have a bad time.

The effort to get banking access for legal cannabis businesses seems to have lost the wind in its sails for a moment, and while we wait for a new breeze in Congress, a wave of crime is targeting the legal cannabis industry’s fat stacks of cash.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen cannabis operators who police treated like criminals for 20 years being targeted by actual criminals. In December, one dispensary in San Diego County reported losing over $300,000 in cannabis products overnight. In Washington state, things have been getting so bad lately that the state removed the online map of cannabis permit holders out of fear that thieves were using it to find targets. There is an ongoing manhunt in Oklahoma for some dispensary parking lot stickup men, while another man was shot leaving an Oklahoma City dispensary on Dec. 31. Meanwhile, the suspect who robbed a Washington dispensary last Saturday is still at large. Keep in mind that these examples are merely a drop in the bucket of cannabis-related crime that has occurred in recent months.

So now that this cannabis crime wave is evident, who do we blame? Obviously, it’s worth blaming the people actually conducting the crimes, but who is creating the situation that allows them to prosper? There’s one easy answer: Senate Republicans, and namely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell himself.

For years, state-legal cannabis dispensaries have been complaining that, due to federal prohibition, they’re forced to conduct business in cash. In 2019, it looked like Congress might finally fix the problem. In September, the House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow legal cannabis business to access federally backed banking services, with a vote of 321-103.

It was a huge moment for a bill that had failed to pass for the six previous years. The Hill even called it one of the top moments of the year for cannabis.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado, is one of the bill’s cosponsors. At the time, he said the SAFE Banking Act would “go a long way in getting cash off our streets and providing certainty so financial institutions can work with cannabis businesses and employees.”

Perlmutter also said he was looking forward to working with “Senate Banking Committee Chairman [Mike] Crapo, Ranking Member [Sherrod] Brown and the entire Senate as they take up this important issue.”

But that didn’t happen. The bill was dead on arrival, partially thanks to McConnell’s apparent oath to not hear debate on any cannabis legislation that doesn’t have anything to do with benefitting Kentucky hemp farmers.

We asked the experts about who is to blame over the rise of cannabis-related crime, and about what should be done to fix it.

The National Cannabis Industry Association’s Media Relations Director Morgan Fox told Cannabis Now that he thinks it is safe to say that lawmakers who delay passage of a workable cannabis banking bill must shoulder some of the responsibility for the ongoing public safety issues caused by lack of access to financial services.

But on the positive side, Fox did speak on the plan moving forward in the incremental steps that have been a hallmark of cannabis progress over the last two decades.

“We are hopeful that we can convince Sen. Crapo that the 2% THC cap he suggested is a non-starter and work with him and other Senate Republicans to pass legislation this year,” Fox said.

NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri, however, took a firmer stance.

“Any theft or injury that arises from cannabis businesses being forced to operate in a grey area is firmly on the shoulders of Senate Republican leadership,” he told Cannabis Now. “They can talk a big game about supporting states’ rights and small business, but their inaction puts an industry and lives at risk. They should be ashamed of their inaction and voters sure won’t forget come November.”

Devine, ByJimi. “Can We Blame Senate Republicans for Dispensary Robberies Now?” Cannabis Now, 7 Jan. 2020, cannabisnow.com/can-we-blame-senate-republicans-for-dispensary-robberies-now/.

Chuck Schumer Pitches Guidelines for Regulating CBD in New York

New York Senator Charles Schumer has pushed for clear guidelines from the FDA.

Even as the CBD market in the United States continues to explode, there is a great deal of confusion regarding CBD’s legal status.

On the one hand, the federal Farm Bill of 2018 went a long way toward legalizing hemp-derived CBD. But on the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to drag its feet when it comes to formally approving CBD products.

In response to this ongoing confusion, various parts of the hemp and CBD industries have called for clarity. And now, lawmakers are asking for clarity, too.

Most recently, New York Senator Charles Schumer has pushed for clear guidelines from the FDA.

Sen. Schumer Calls for Guidelines From the FDA

Sen. Schumer sent a letter to acting FDA commissioner Norman Sharpless. In it, he asked the agency to establish clear guidelines for CBD.

Schumer said that doing so would be a benefit to industry players and consumers alike.

Specifically, Schumer said that without clear guidelines on the legality of CBD products, many businesses are unsure how to proceed. Similarly, banks and other financial institutions reportedly remain slow to get involved with hemp and CBD companies.

Additionally, there are also concerns that consumers are being negatively affected by the lack of legal clarity.

On the one hand, the absence of FDA approval means that many CBD products are sold without being held to strict quality testing standards. Similarly, consumers often find themselves unsure of CBD’s actual health and wellness benefits.

Earlier this year, the FDA said it was working to gather research and other data related to CBD. Now, Schumer’s letter requested an update on this initiative. Specifically, the New York Senator wants an update within 90 days.

“The lack of regulation and clarity is creating a real fog,” Schumer said, according to The Post Star. “I’m launching a push to clear up the murkiness.”

CBD Lives in a Legal Gray Area

CBD currently exists in a legal gray area. On the one hand, the Farm Bill of 2018 appears to have paved the way to national legalization of certain types of CBD.

Specifically, last year’s federal Farm Bill officially defined “hemp” as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3 percent THC. Importantly, the Farm Bill removed hemp plants that meet this definition from the federal list of banned substances.

As a result, products made from legal hemp plants are generally presumed to be legal also. And that includes hemp derived CBD and CBD products.

However, at the same time, the FDA has been put in control of regulating and approving CBD products. And to date, the agency has only approved one consumer CBD product, thereby leaving everything else in a precarious position of non-approval.

Despite the FDA’s lack of action, the CBD market is exploding this year. In fact, CBD is now one of the fastest-growing segments in the broader cannabis market.

For example, a study from July 2019 reported that CBD sales growth is expected to see a 706 percent spike this year. And that trajectory is set to continue for years to come. According to the study, CBD sales are predicted to climb to $23.7 billion by 2023.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Chuck Schumer Pitches Guidelines for Regulating CBD in New York.” Green Rush Daily, 24 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/cbd/chuck-schumer-pitches-guidelines-for-regulating-cbd-in-new-york/.

Israel Approves First Shipment of Medical Cannabis to the U.K.

Israel finally received the green light to export its first shipment of medical cannabis to the U.K. to help supply the country’s newly-legalized medical cannabis needs.

According to Yahoo! FinanceIM Cannabis Corp., a medical cannabis company based in Israel and Europe, is planning to send this first shipment over to the U.K. This is happening ahead of schedule and a year after the approval of this reform was first announced. They are working to become a major supplier of medical cannabis for the U.K.in order to take advantage of this emerging market.

“There is a very large commercial opportunity for exporting medical cannabis from Israel into Europe and other international markets and we applaud the Israeli government for its vision in recognizing this market opportunity,” said Oren Shuster Chief Executive Officer of IMC according to Yahoo! Finance. “IM Cannabis is committed to delivering high-quality medicinal-grade cannabis products to its patients in Israel and establishing a leadership position in international markets by supplying branded medicinal cannabis products via the company’s fully-licensed import and export distribution facility.”

The company intends to leverage operational and become established in the emerging medical cannabis markets including Germany, Portugal and Greece, and now, also the U.K. So far, they are on the ball when it comes to exporting cannabis and getting a leg up in the industry from the very start.

Israel has been making a major impact on the cannabis industry over the past few years, and especially recently. Snoop Dogg recently announced his role as a brand ambassador for a cannabis tech company in the country and a college in Israel now offers a medical cannabis degree. This will ensure they have a bright future when it comes to exporting cannabis to the U.K.

Magazine, ByCulture. “Israel Approves First Shipment of Medical Cannabis to the U.K. • Green Rush Daily.” Green Rush Daily, 3 Feb. 2020, greenrushdaily.com/news/israel-approves-first-shipment-of-medical-cannabis-to-the-u-k/.

Man Fires Up a Joint in Court to Protest Marijuana Laws

Tennessee man smokes a joint in front of a judge after being charged with small-time cannabis possession.

Now that marijuana legalization is creeping more toward the edge of mainstream society, giving way to the rise of a wickedly, insane, multi-billion-dollar cannabis market where legal pot products can be purchased similarly to how we’ve been doing for decades with beer, the advocacy community has grown soft. It seems now that 11 states have legalized the leaf for adults 21 and over, most people all of a sudden forgotten that the cannabis plant is still mostly illegal in the United States, leading to hundreds of thousands of people being arrested for it every year and jamming them up in the court system. There is a tendency to forget that the federal government of 2020 still considers the plant an outlaw substance — just as dangerous as hard, death drugs like heroin — which prevents many states from jumping on the side of common sense in ending the prohibition of a substance that is considered medicine to some and freedom to others. But every once in a while, someone stands up and reminds us that if anything is going to change in this rotten world, sometimes it is necessary to put up your dukes and take a swing.

Or… a toke.

Earlier this week, a 20-year-old Tennessee man by the name of Spencer Boston did what most cannabis advocates would be too scared to do when standing before a judge on a charge for small-time marijuana possession. Rather than take it quietly on the chin, as so many other pot offenders have done at the mercy of the courts, this rowdy dude pulled out a joint and fired it up right there before God and everyone. Boston, who began his old school approach to protest, preaching before a small courtroom about how broken the pot laws continue to be in the United States, just reached inside his jacket, pulled out a hooter, and fired it up in front of the judge without hesitation.

It was a wild scene that cannot be denied. A fitting tribute, if you will, to the nation’s foretokers, reminiscent of times in black and white when the whole pro-legalization spiel was spearheaded by poets and outlaws hellbent on stopping Uncle Sam’s reign of terror against high society. It was a flashback to when supporting legal weed, a mission that would have never been embraced 20 years ago by the suit-wearing entrepreneurial types of the now, meant having to shake the foundation of safe and rattle the very cages in which the system used to keep blacks, hippies and other fashionable rebels of the cause down and out. It’s because of actions like Boston’s, in fact, that the marijuana movement has come as far as it has in the past four decades. Stone cold rebellion used to be the only way to get through to the man, remember that?

But just how many puffs did this high time hero get in before getting busted? Well, it must have been some stinky-ass bud. A video of the event shows Boston taking only a couple of quick hits before an extremely surprised bailiff runs over and slaps the cuffs on him. Yet, in the true spirit of loud-mouthed protest, Boston continued to give the proverbial middle finger to the very system wanting to incarcerate him for weed and drag him into the depths of downtrodden. In the video, he can be heard screaming, “the people deserve better,” as he was escorted from the courtroom.

As CNN reported, “Spencer Boston had a message,” but precisely what was the point he was trying to convey?

Well, it was obviously a stab at the state of Tennessee for its refusal to allow residents to have marijuana for medicinal use. Although several pot-related bills have been filed in the State Legislature over the years, many lawmakers aren’t willing to give the issue the consideration it needs in this day and age. Instead, it has completely disregarded the progress of the times. What’s worse is the state has continued to employ hammer-fisted law enforcement tactics when it comes to weed, whereby anyone busted for under a half-ounce can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and pay hundreds of dollars in mandatory fines. And unfortunately, jail time could end up being the fate of a young Boston, who is scheduled to appear in court again in April for the possession offense. Right now, however, he is serving 10 days in the county slammer for contempt. Apparently, judges are not at all too keen on people smoking weed in a court of law.

Yet, Boston’s stoned sacrifice will not go down in vain. Not a chance. Many national, mainstream media outlets are starting to pick up on this courthouse toker, putting some heat on Tennessee lawmakers and their dim-whited ways. If there is perhaps one main takeaway from Boston’s story, it’s that the fight for legalization, even after all of these years, is still far from over. So smoke em’ if you’ve got em — especially if you get a chance to do it in front of a judge.

We should still be raising hell.

Adams, ByMike. “Man Fires Up a Joint in Court to Protest Marijuana Laws.” Cannabis Now, 31 Jan. 2020, cannabisnow.com/man-fires-up-a-joint-in-court-to-protest-marijuana-laws/.

Austin Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis

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Vote to effectively decriminalize cannabis in Texas’s most progressive city is ignored by police, who won’t be able to make any possession cases anyway.

Last week, the city council in Austin, Texas — almost certainly the most progressive city in a slowly changing, but still undeniably conservative state — voted unanimously in favor of hardcore conservative values: no more would the city pay for lab tests necessary to differentiate illegal cannabis from state-legal hemp. Small government, personal responsibility, and fiscal restraint. And, consistent with these mores, de-facto marijuana decriminalization, and in Texas!

Elation lasted just about 24 hours. The following day, Brian Manley, Austin’s chief of police, called a press conference. Big government and the nanny state would continue unabated, damn the elected officials, the police chief said. Cannabis, Manley said, “is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” as the Texas Tribune reported.

After all, said the chief, “a city council does not have the authority to tell a police department not to enforce a state law.”

The result, as both Reason and the Tribune reported, is an old-fashioned standoff, but one in which the lawman lacks both the firepower and the public support to enforce his will.

Broadly speaking, what’s happening in Texas is happening elsewhere in the United States, as law-enforcement agencies spoiled by years of cannabis prohibition are finding their lives and work hopelessly complicated by hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump, legalized hemp production, defining “hemp” as the cannabis sativa plant with 0.3% or less of THC. (Pedants will argue that it always was, but pedants will also be forced to admit that the shift in policy injected heretofore unseen clarity.)

Hemp legalization helped supercharge the already fast-moving CBD boom, but it also meant that in order to continue arrests for low-level marijuana possession, police needed to do more work than declaring a green leafy substance to be marijuana based solely on smell and look. Specifically, cops needed to submit whatever cannabis sativa they encountered for costly and time-consuming lab tests to determine how much THC the joint in question contained and whether it was cannabis, or hemp — a process that was such a pain that, many police complained, the hemp law basically amounted to de-facto decriminalization of weed.

According to Margaret Moore, the local prosecutor, submitting samples of seized weed to the state testing lab involved a turnaround time of up to a year, more time than anyone seemed willing to commit to low-level possession busts. With state drug laws unchanged, prosecutors asked for more cash. In the meantime, prosecutors also dropped 32 possession cases after defense attorneys pointed out that the weed involved wasn’t tested.

Rather than pay for costly new lab equipment or for weed to be tested in private labs, the Austin City Council voted unanimously that no city money could be spent on testing cannabis in misdemeanor-level cases — meaning that though state drug laws were unchanged, anyone busted with 4 ounces or less couldn’t be prosecuted because Austin cops wouldn’t be able to prove they had weed. Hundreds more pending cases will be dropped as a result, Councilmember Gregorio Casar, sponsor of the vote, told Reason.

But even if they won’t appear in court, anyone in Austin caught with pot can be ticketed and inconvenienced — and have their weed taken away — and filing pointless paperwork appears to be what police intend to do. As per the Tribune, Chief Manley has instructed police to continue issuing tickets and/or making arrests.

The disagreement here might sound like some kind of “Texas standoff,” but in this instance, the lawmakers hold the purse strings and thus the upper hand. Casar told the paper that, even if Manley’s officers do continue making busts, any tickets issued will be “meaningless pieces of paper,” and any arrests, while time-consuming and certainly not fun, will end with a “quick release with no charges.”

Under the resolution, Austin’s city manager must present a progress report to lawmakers by May 1. If Manley is serious, his officers may be spending a lot of time on fruitless weed searches. If he’s not, cannabis is indeed effectively decriminalized. Either way, it seems like Austin is on its way to becoming the weed-friendliest locale in Texas. Which isn’t saying much, but it’s all thanks to the hemp bill.

Roberts, ByChris. “Austin Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis.” Cannabis Now, 31 Jan. 2020, cannabisnow.com/austin-votes-to-decriminalize-cannabis/.

Florida Teacher In Danger of Losing His Job Because He Uses Medical Marijuana

Florida’s 2016 medical cannabis law does not protect patients who work for employers with zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace policies.

The board of Marion County Public Schools in Florida has suspended a Belleview High School teacher and student services manager over his use of medical cannabis. Mike Hickman, 50, was placed on unpaid leave after the Superintendent of Schools, Heidi Maier, recommended he be fired for testing positive for cannabinoids in early November 2019. Hickman is a registered cannabis patient under Florida’s 2016 medical cannabis law. And a physician licensed under the state’s program to recommend medical cannabis issued Hickman a recommendation for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is an approved condition.

Now, Hickman, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s, is fighting for his job back—and his livelihood.

FORMER MARINE AND HIGH SCHOOL DEAN PLACED ON UNPAID LEAVE FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS USE

When a fight broke out between students at Marion County, Florida’s Belleview High on November 5, Mike Hickman did what any teacher would do: he tried to stop it. In the process, Hickman injured his shoulder, kicking off a chain of events that would lead to his suspension and possible dismissal from the Marion County Public School system.

As part of seeking a worker’s compensation claim for the shoulder injury he incurred on the job, Hickman had to see the district’s worker compensation doctor. Virtually every worker’s compensation case requires drug testing employees involved. And the results of Hickman’s urine drug test came back positive for cannabinoids.

The doctor reported the drug test results to the school district, since Marion County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance alcohol and drug-free workplace policy. When School Board superintendent Maier received the report, she issued the recommendation to fire Hickman.

Hickman appealed the school board’s move to fire him. And as a result, the board placed him on unpaid leave, pending the results of the case. But school officials say the appeal process could take eight to ten months to play out. In the meantime, Hickman is out of a job, has no income and cannot teach in Marion Country schools.

FLORIDA’S MEDICAL CANNABIS LAW DOES NOT REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO ACCOMMODATE PATIENTS

Under Florida law, there’s absolutely nothing illegal about Hickman’s use of medical cannabis. He’s a combat veteran, and his military service left him with a diagnosed case of PTSD. “To alleviate the effects of PTSD, Hickman was prescribed medical marijuana by a licensed physician in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida,” wrote Hickman’s attorney, Mark Herdman, in a letter to the school district.

Furthermore, the fact that Hickman tested positive for cannabinoids on a urine drug test does not indicate that he was under the influence of THC at work. Urine tests simply indicate prior cannabis use up to several weeks. Mark Avery, president of the local teacher’s union that’s standing up for Hickman, said that Hickman never used medical cannabis at school, only at home.

“Hickman’s use of legally prescribed medication had no effect on his ability to perform his job duties and responsibilities,” Herdman wrote in the letter announcing Hickman’s appeal.

Still, Florida’s medical cannabis law does not require employers to make any accommodations or alter any workplace drug policies, even for legal, registered medical cannabis patients.

Statute 381.986 of the law places no restrictions on the kind of zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policy Marion County Schools has in place. In fact, the law actually protects employers instead of patients, stating that there can be no “cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.”

SCHOOL BOARD BLAMES FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION FOR SUSPENSION OF VETERAN TEACHER

Marion County School District spokesperson Kevin Christian responded to Hickman’s suspension without pay by pointing to the ongoing federal prohibition against cannabis. “It puts the School District in a very jeopardizing position of losing millions of federal dollars if we allowed this, period,” Christian said.

Yet there has not been a single instance of a state agency losing or being denied federal funding for employing legal medical cannabis patients. But the potential for losing federal funding has been the go-to excuse for school districts across the U.S. when they deny studentsand staff access to legal medical cannabis or sanction employees for off-the-clock medical cannabis use.

Employers in some states, however, are beginning to change workplace drug policies in the wake of legalized medical or recreational cannabis, such as ending workplace drug testing.

Drury, Adam. “Florida Teacher In Danger of Losing His Job Because He Uses Medical Marijuana.” High Times, 17 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/florida-teacher-danger-losing-his-job-because-he-uses-medical-marijuana/.

Washington State Lawmakers Propose Bill That Would Limit THC in Certain Products

If passed, the new rule would only affect non-medical users.

A bill proposed last week by a group of Washington lawmakers would limit the THC content of all non-medical cannabis sold in the state to 10 percent. 

The legislation, co-sponsored by 22 Democrats in the state House, cited “health professionals and researchers [who] continue to find an association between the use of high potency marijuana and the occurrence of psychotic disorders.”

The bill, introduced on Wednesday, would prohibit cannabis retail outlets in the state from selling marijuana concentrates, like those used in vape oils, with a THC concentration greater than 10 percent—unless the customer is a patient with a valid medical marijuana prescription.

Washington has had legal medical marijuana since 1998; in 2012, it became one of the first two states (the other being Colorado) to legalize recreational pot use.

In the bill, the Democratic lawmakers said that “ sales of high-potency marijuana concentrates represent nearly forty percent of total sales of marijuana products,” and that the aforementioned study “defined high-potency cannabis as a potency greater than ten percent.”

“The legislature finds that high potency marijuana products are increasingly prevalent in the market. Whereas the THC concentration of marijuana-infused edible products is limited to ten percent by state law and the THC concentration of marijuana flower is biologically limited, there is currently no limit on the potency of marijuana concentrates such as THC-infused vape oils,” the bill reads.

“These types of high-potency marijuana products are available with a THC concentration of almost one hundred percent THC. Prior to Washington and other states legalizing marijuana sales, many of these high-potency products did not exist or were not widely available. In 2019, sales of high-potency marijuana concentrates represent nearly forty percent of total sales of marijuana products.”

THE BLOWBACK

The bill has already inspired opposition. A Change.org petition with nearly 1000 signatures argues the proposal “would force thousands of legal consumers into the illegal market, which has killed dozens with tainted vape cartridges,” and “would dramatically alter the face of Washington’s legal cannabis landscape by outlawing the vast majority of state-licensed vape cartridges, dabbable extracts, and other concentrated products.”

“This is an attack on consumers and cannabis enthusiast [sic], it would have no measurable affect [sic] except for less tax revenue and more health issues with black-market, unregulated products  as well as the potential for deadly fires as individuals may try to make there [sic] own product,” the petition says. “The High Potency numbers used were for any concentrate above 10% and it seems lawmakers have chosen such numbers arbitrarily than anything based on science.”

Cannabis Magazine. “Cannabis Could Be the Answer to Drug-Resistant Superbugs.” Cannabis Magazine, 20 Jan. 2020, cannabismagazine.com/cannabis-could-be-the-answer-to-drug-resistant-superbugs/.

Officials Say That Chicago Cannabis Taxes May Exceed 41% By Summer

Illinois is still ironing out its recreational marijuana industry.

For those looking to buy some legal weed in Chicago, be prepared for some sticker shock.

That’s because pot products there are larded with taxes. On Wednesday, the Cook County Board approved another one: a three percent tax on marijuana retailers, which will be tacked on to a bevy of other taxes already levied on the state’s nascent legal cannabis industry. 

As the Chicago Sun-Times reported, the latest three percent tax “would be in addition to the city’s 3% planned tax and state excise taxes of 10-25%, based on the level of THC, the ingredient in pot that gets users high, in the product purchased.” 

Pot products are also subject to a standard sales tax, which in Chicago comes out to a bit more than 10 percent. Taken together, that’s a potential 41 percent tax on marijuana products by this summer.

Larry Suffredin, a Democratic commissioner on the county board, argued in favor of the additional tax to compensate for “increases in emergency room and medical treatments because of interactions between the marijuana products and other drugs,” according to the Sun-Times. Suffredin also said that there had been an uptick in “the number of DUIs and the requirement of police authorities, like our sheriff’s office, to come up with unique methodologies to be able to register how impaired individuals are who are driving under the effects of marijuana.”

Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana when its new law took effect on New Year’s Day. The law will also include pardons for individuals previously convicted of low-level, non-violent marijuana offenses. 

MARIJUANA OFF TO A BOOMING START

Marijuana sales have gotten off to a roaring start in Illinois. Customers, both Illinois residents and individuals from neighboring states, formed long lines outside the marijuana shops on the first day of the new year to revel and take advantage of the new law. That day brought a total of 77,128 transactions, averaging $41.18 each, for a total sales tally of $3,176,256. By January 2, sales had swelled to $5.5 million, with some dispensaries even running out of marijuana products. 

After passing the Illinois state legislature, the measure was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June.

“Today Illinois is demonstrating everything that can be accomplished when we set aside our comfort with the status quo and instead govern with the belief that our best days are ahead,” Pritzker said at a press conference after the signing. “With this legislation our state is once again a leader.”

Edward, Thomas. “Officials Say That Chicago Cannabis Taxes May Exceed 41% By Summer.” High Times, 16 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/officials-say-chicago-cannabis-taxes-may-exceed-by-summer/.

Recreational Cannabis Laws Don’t Increase Crime, Study Says

A new study has found that the legalization of recreational cannabis doesn’t increase crime.

The new research paper, published in Justice Quarterly Tuesday, takes a close look at Colorado and Washington. the first U.S. states to legalize the consumption of cannabis. The research authors—who hail from Stockton University and Washington State University—examine violent and property crime rates, in particular; they found that the have barely changed since pot became legal in these states.

LEGALIZATION IS HERE TO STAY

Since legalization has swept the nation, many critics have tried to argue that legalizing cannabis will make people mad with violence! After all, that was behind much of the reasoning behind the campaign to criminalize the drug in the first place. “Reefer madness!” Some GOP members even believe smoking weed makes people into zombies. (Really.) While this argument has made its way into political talking points, particularly among the right, even Snopes has had to take steps to debunk these false claims.

Well, sorry, folks. Legalization is here to stay: 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis to some extent. And previous studies have concluded similarly to this new one. In fact, some research has even found decreased arrest rates for violent crime after legalization, suggesting that crime reduces. That’s true for this 2015 paper presented at the annual conference for the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. A 2016 study in the Journal of Drug Issuesfound similar results.

“This is but one study and legalization of marijuana is still relatively new, but by replicating our findings, policymakers can answer the question of how legalization affects crime,” said author  Dale W. Willits, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University, in a press release.

More analysis always welcome, of course, and this new study pulled data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report between 1999 and 2016. And this research compares Colorado’s and Washington’s crime rates to 21 other states that have not legalized cannabis recreationally or medically. The researchers compare crime rates in these two states following legalization to how crime rates have changed elsewhere during that time.

WASHINGTON SEES DECLINE IN BURGLARIES

“In many ways, the legalization of cannabis constitutes a grand ongoing experiment into how a major public policy initiative does or does not accomplish its expected outcomes,” said author Ruibin Lu, assistant professor of criminal justice at Stockton University, in a press release.

“Given the likelihood of more states legalizing recreational marijuana, we felt it was important to apply robust empirical methods to parse out the effects of this action on crime in the first years after legalization.”

The one change authors did notice was a decline in burglaries in Washington state. Besides that, the study didn’t uncover any permanent changes in crime patterns. There were some immediate increases to property crime in Colorado and Washington, as well as aggravated assault in Washington, but the researchers are clear that these impacts were short-term. They’re also tough to attribute to legalization.

All that being said, the study didn’t cover all crimes. The scientists didn’t take a look outside violent and property crime, so the number of arrests for driving under influence wasn’t included, for example. And their analysis didn’t take a look at how different communities were impacted. There’s always the chance that the numbers would look different when broken down by race, gender, or age.

Scientists are only beginning to understand these connections, and there’s a lot more to unpack. So far, though, the research has been encouraging. And that’s likely to help spread the wave of cannabis legalization even farther.

Fun, ByLissett. “Recreational Cannabis Laws Don’t Increase Crime, Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 8 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/studies/recreational-cannabis-laws-dont-increase-crime-study-says/.

Oregon State University Receives $2.5M to Study Hemp

Oregon State University (OSU) will receive additional funding for its Global Hemp Information Center in Corvallis, Oregon, according to a Jan. 13 announcement. According to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley announced that the federal government will be appropriating $2.5 million for OSU’s hemp program.

The funding is part of a larger appropriations bill that passed the U.S. Senate and House near the end of 2019. That appropriations bill set aside nearly $20 million for hemp-related projects, as well as $35 million for other irrigation projects.

Organizers were happy to witness the U.S. government’s commitment to promote critical hemp research. “We were pleased to see the appropriation get approved as it shows the federal government’s confidence in our work,” said Alan Sams, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU.

The team behind the center plans on working with other universities and “will foster collaborative research to support the development of this new industry,” Sams said.

The Global Hemp Information Center and other hemp projects involve over 40 OSU faculty representing 19 academic disciplines. The center was first introduced in June 2019. The research could eventually lead to better and safer health and nutrition products, as well as textiles and building materials.

Several months ago, Oregon State University alumni Seth and Eric Crawford, who are behind Oregon CBD, donated $1 million to the center to promote hemp research and genetics.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp research is possible with fewer limitations and restrictions at the federal level. With better hemp research, progress can finally move forward in the hemp industry. While hemp research is flourishing, hemp cultivators are concerned over the future of the industry as new draft regulations involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Oregon State University Receives $2.5M to Study Hemp.” Culture Magazine, 17 Jan. 2020, culturemagazine.com/oregon-state-university-receives-2-5m-to-study-hemp/.

California Cannabis Employees Can Unionize Easier with New Law

A new California law says cannabis companies can’t prevent their workers from organizing and joining unions.

If a California cannabis business wants to get a license, it will have to let its employees unionize. That’s according to a new state law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week. The bill requires cannabis dispensary applicants to file a statement that it will enter into a Labor Peace Agreement with unionized workers as soon as the company hires 20 employees. Once a company reaches the 20 employee threshold, license applicants will have 60 days to enter into the agreement. The new law makes it easier for California cannabis employees, who work in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries, to unionize. 

Unions Look to Grow Membership with Cannabis Industry Workers

Traditionally, labor unions and the companies of the workers they represent have competing interests. Companies want to make as much money as possible, which typically means paying their workers as little as they can get away with. But the cannabis industry is somewhat of an exception to this rule. Because of the federal prohibition on cannabis, employers in the cannabis industry do not have access to federal subsidies, such as those for health care coverage. Unions can help secure benefits that employers have a difficult time providing. As a result, cannabis workers looking to unionize are facing relatively little resistancefrom employers. 

It’s a situation that major unions, like the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, are taking advantage of. UFCW, in fact, has been one of the driving forces behind efforts to get states to mandate unionizing cannabis employees. Seeing the rapid growth of the cannabis industry as a prime opportunity to swell its ranks, UFCW has emerged as the most powerful cannabis union in the country after it began organizing industry workers in 2011. The union now represents more than 10,000 workers across 14 states, according to Rolling Stone

And California’s new law stands to boost UFCW’s membership even further. But that won’t necessarily translate to more bargaining power for workers. Under the new law, cannabis workers and cannabis companies that cross a 20-employee threshold must enter into “labor peace agreements,” or LPAs. As the name indicates, these agreements are designed to defuse in advance any antagonisms between unions, workers, and employers. 

With an LPA, companies agree not to stop or otherwise discipline or dissuade employees from unionizing. Companies even have to let union organizers meet with employees in the workplace. But in return, unions agree not to encourage labor strikes or other actions against employers. Technically, unions can’t even criticize companies to their members under an LPA. 

Workers Unions Provide Many Benefits for Growing Cannabis Industry

In short, LPAs, like the kind now mandated under the new California law, makes it easier for employees to organize. But it’s all about growing union membership, rather than using that leverage to compel employers to treat their workers more fairly. 

Still, LPAs and the easier road to union membership they provide offer several benefits to the rapidly growing cannabis industry. In the first place, unionized cannabis employees have been able to negotiate higher wages—in real dollars, not just “weed paychecks”—and annual raises, health insurance subsidies, paid time off, employer-funded retirement plans and more. Those benefits help attract and keep qualified workers, which helps reduce turnover in an industry where turnover is exceedingly high.

Union-negotiated employee benefits also help legitimize cannabis businesses and efforts to expand legal access to cannabis products. And they also benefit cannabis consumers by ensuring the availability of safer, better-regulated products. In fact, one of the earliest labor disputes in the legal cannabis industry erupted over employees’ concerns about their employers’ shady pesticide use

Cannabis employees are unionizing across the country, and that’s a sign of a healthy trend in the $6 billion-and-growing industry. Unions help ensure neither workers or consumers get taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies. And it helps ensure jobs in the cannabis industry are good jobs. Workers are unionizing across the country. And for the moment, they’re doing it with the help of politicians. So far, both New York and California have passed laws requiring cannabis employers to sign LPAs. And unions like UFCW are ramping up recruitment efforts.

Drury, ByAdam. “California Cannabis Employees Can Unionize Easier with New Law.” Green Rush Daily, 16 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/california-cannabis-employees-can-unionize-easier-with-new-law/.

NYPD Flexes 106 Pound ‘Marijuana’ Shipment Bust, Owner Says It’s Hemp

The investigation is active and ongoing.

Upon first glance, hemp and marijuana are essentially indistinguishable. And that’s exactly why you need to make more than an initial glance when you’re making a 106 pound marijuana drug bust.

The NYPD, apparently, did not get that memo.

A 106 Pound Dud

According to a report from MyNBC5, Jahala Dudley and Buddy Koerner, two business partners at Fox Holler Farms in New Haven, Vermont, prepared a large-scale, 106 pound hemp order for a client in Brooklyn. After dropping off the nine boxes of organic hemp flower to their local FedEx shipping location, they would soon find out that the product would never reach their customer.

It would, instead, be intercepted by NYPD officers at the New York Police Department’s 75th Precinct in Brooklyn.

Koerner and Dudley maintain that the whole process was legal and done “by the book.” In fact, they’ve used that exact FedEx location for many of their hemp shipments in the past.

“Everything was fine,” Dudley said. ” We’ve done shipments with FedX before…many times.”

The particular strain produced by the farm was of a very high grade. The CBD retailer agreed to pay $17,500 for the entire shipment.

However, when a staff member of Green Angel CBD shop came to pick up the product at the location, they were promptly arrested. And to add insult to injury, the NYPD’s 75th Precinct took to facebook to gloat about their successful “raid.”

“I’m looking at it. It’s the stuff you see in movies,” Dudley told NBC5. “Like, these two cops are holding our hemp, like it’s an awesome drug bust! This is hemp!”

Hemp, a versatile plant that can be used for a number of different things, including the harnessing of CBD, must contain low, almost untraceable levels of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Dudley said the product met all of the rigid regulatory standards.

While Dudley admits it’s difficult to distinguish between hemp and marijuana plants, she believes the cops should have done their due diligence on the product before confiscating it and making an arrest. She says all of the necessary paperwork was there to show proof of product.

“You can’t tell the difference,” she said. “Genetically it’s a very similar plant. I’m not blaming anyone for that. But the paperwork was there. We’ve had it all tested.”

In perhaps a retaliatory post, or, perhaps more accurately, a post on the defense, Fox Holler’s first official Facebook post was a reshare of the NYPD’s ” drug bust” image. Of course, the caption was a bit, well, different.

“We cannot believe this will be our first official Facebook post, ” the company said in the post. “We’ve been working hard all summer to grow a CBD compliant hemp crop. We succeeded too; Our crop was ‘Non detectable’ on delta 9 thc – compliant in Vermont, New York and federally. We paid for well-known, CBD-compliant genetics, did all we could to test the product through the growing season and once harvested. This shipment was 100% hemp. “https://www.facebook.com/Fox-Holler-Farms-109660977144408/

Dudley says she has since been advised to go through the U.S. Postal Service, Unlike FedEx, a private shipping company, the U.S. Postal Service is a federally run entity, and therefore cannot, by law, go through the packages that they ship.

As it stands, the hemp still remains in police custody, and the investigation remains ongoing. Obviously, Dudley and Koerner are hopeful the situation is rectified, considering the large scale order could make or break their sales for the year.

“We have a limited product, a limited crop,” Dudley admitted. “This shipment will make or break the farm this year. If this sale goes through, we’ll be OK. If it doesn’t, we don’t break even.”

Kohut, ByTim. “NYPD Flexes 106 Pound Marijuana Shipment Bust, Owner Says It’s Hemp.” Green Rush Daily, 6 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/nypd-flexes-106-pound-marijuana-shipment-bust-owner-says-its-hemp/.

USDA Proposes Regulations to Decriminalize Hemp with up To .5% THC

But farmers would still have to scrap any hemp testing between .3 – .5%

This bill formally removed hemp plants from the nation’s list of illegal substances—so long as the plants do not have more than 0.3 percent THC.

Now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has instituted a number of new, interim rules about hemp while more permanent rules are in the works.

Arguably one of the biggest changes introduced by the USDA’s new rules has to do with allowable levels of THC. Specifically, the new rules propose decriminalizing hemp plants with up to 0.5 percent THC.

This rule does not yet legalize such plants. But it does give farmers some breathing room by not punishing them if plants go slightly above the previous 0.3 percent threshold.

USDA’s New Hemp Rules

The USDA’s new rules were published recently in a formal draft version.

Importantly, these rules are technically interim regulations that will function until the USDA completes and implements all final hemp rules. By that time, it is possible that some of these new interim rules will be changed.

But for now, the interim rules will introduce a number of interesting changes to the nation’s hemp laws.

Under these rules, hemp farmers will not be subject to criminal punishment for plants that go slightly above the established 0.3 percent THC limit.

Instead, the USDA is proposing to give growers some wiggle room, in the form of a “measurement of uncertainty” going as high as 0.5 percent THC.

“This rule specifies that hemp producer do not commit a negligent violation if they produce plants that exceed the acceptable hemp THC level and use reasonable efforts to grow hemp and the plant does not have a THC concentration of more than 0.5 percent on a dry weight basis,” the rules state.

The rules continue: “USDA recognizes that hemp producers may take the necessary steps and precautions to produce hemp, such as using certified seed, using other seed that has reliably grown compliant plants in other parts of the country, or engaging in other best practices, yet still produce plants that exceed the acceptable hemp THC level.”

Decriminalizing, Not Legalizing

There is one important distinction in all this. Hemp plants with 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent THC are still not legal.

In fact, the guidelines require that such plants be destroyed. The only difference is what happens to the grower.

Now, farmers with crops in that range can’t be punished. But they will still lose any crop with more than 0.3 percent THC.

Public Comment Period

The guidelines are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. At that point, they will immediately go into effect.

Additionally, when they are published, the rules will enter a period of public comment. Specifically, the public has 60 days to comment on them.

Once the guidelines go into effect, the public will have until December 30, 2019 to file any comments.

From there, the interim rules are slated to remain effective for up to two years. During that time, the USDA is supposed to finalize all hemp rules.

Lindsey, ByNick. “USDA Proposes Regulations to Decriminalize Hemp with up To .5% THC.” Green Rush Daily, 30 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/usda-proposes-regulations-to-decriminalize-hemp-with-up-to-5-thc/.

California Destroys $1 Billion Worth of Seized Marijuana Plants

State and federal law enforcement agencies have eradicated a nearly 500-acre grow site with more than 10 million plants.

In a macabre scene of destruction befitting the Halloween season, more than 10 million cannabis plants were chopped, mulched and incinerated last week after state and federal law enforcement investigated a grow site north of Los Angeles, California. The site, which spanned 11 fields across 459 acres of land, was supposed to be cultivating industrial hemp. But investigators say preliminary field tests found the plants’ THC content to be well above the 0.3 percent threshold for legal hemp. And while California law does exempt some hemp cultivation from the 0.3 percent THC limit, officials say the billion-dollar grow operation did not meet those requirements.

INVESTIGATORS DESTROY CANNABIS GROW POSING AS HEMP FARM

Back in April, California Governor Gavin Newsome said the state’s situation with illicit marijuana grows was “getting worse, not better.” Despite legalization, unlicensed cannabis cultivation hasn’t decreased. In some places, illegal production has even expanded. And California’s recent legalization of industrial hemp cultivation, in light of the federal government’s move to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, may be providing cover for illicit growers posing as legal hemp producers.

Or at least, that’s the narrative from the Kern Country Sheriff’s Office, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the FBI. The three agencies launched an investigation into the Arvin-area cannabis fields after receiving information from local residents about a large-scale marijuana farm. After executing a search warrant at 11 different fields in the Arvin area, investigators ended up seizing and eradicating 10 million marijuana plants. Officials estimate the total “black market” value of the crop at over $1 billion.

“These illicit marijuana gardens were grown under the guide of legitimate hemp production,” the Kern County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook postannouncing the raid.

So far, however, there have been no charges in connection with the investigation. It’s also unclear whether the farms’ operators intended to produce legally compliant industrial hemp and simply failed, or were actually aiming to conceal an illegal cannabis grow.

$1 BILLION WORTH OF WEED DESTROYED

In line with federal regulations, California’s Food and Agricultural Code of Health and the state’s Safety Code define industrial hemp as cannabis plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. There is, however, a research exemption. If a cultivator is growing hemp in connection with research to develop types of industrial hemp that will ultimately meet the legal standard, those plants can be over the 0.3 percent limit on THC content.

But officials say the cannabis plants they seized in Kern County tested well above that limit. And further, the farms were not part of any research and development program or project. As a result, officials have so far concluded that the 11 fields were part of California’s vast network of illicit cannabis cultivation, and that the plants growing there were destined for the unlicensed market. Determining that the plants “were in fact cannabis,” the Kern Country Sheriff’s Office Narcotics unit destroyed all 10 million plants: over $1 billion worth of weed, according to estimates.

The size of the unlicensed grow is a testament to the widespread concern over illegal cannabis cultivation. In addition to distributing potentially harmful or contaminated cannabis, illegal grows stress ecosystems with pollution and resource consumption. Authorities in Kern say their investigation is ongoing.

Drury, ByAdam. “California Destroys $1 Billion Worth of Seized Marijuana Plants.” Green Rush Daily, 4 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/california-destroys-1-billion-worth-of-seized-marijuana-plants/.

Florida Has Two Initiatives to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Floridians could have the chance to vote on cannabis legalization in next year’s elections.

Currently, two cannabis advocacy groups are working to gather signatures of support for two separate legalization initiatives. If both or either of them get enough signatures, they will be on the 2020 ballot.

So far, neither initiative has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. But already, lawmakers in the state are taking notice of this grassroots activity. And many of them are preparing to respond to the growing call for legalization.

Florida Currently Has Two Legalization Initiatives

One of the two legalization initiatives now circulating around Florida is being spearheaded by advocacy group Make It Legal Florida.

This one calls for an amendment to the Florida State Constitution. If it passes, this initiative would legalize marijuana for all adults 21 years and up. Additionally, it would reportedly require distribution to go through channels already established in the state’s current medical marijuana program.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Make It Legal Florida has received more than $1.2 million in supporting funding. To date, this initiative has not received enough signatures to qualify for next year’s ballot.

Although Make It legal Florida has not gotten enough signatures yet, the group is trying to make it as easy as possible for voters to sign on.

“We are making it easier than ever for Florida voters to make their voices heard,” chairman of Make It Legal Florida Nick Hansen told the Sun Sentinel. “Pre-qualified Florida voters will receive a personalized mail piece with their name and address already printed on the form so all they have to do is sign, date and return.”

In addition to this initiative, there is another legalization proposal circulating through the state. This one is being spearheaded by advocacy group Regulate Florida.

This group’s proposal would also legalize recreational weed for adults 21 and older. Additionally, and unlike Make It Legal Florida’s initiative, this proposal would also make it legal for adults to grow their own cannabis.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Regulate Florida has gathered roughly 88,000 signatures for its proposal. Under Florida law, an initiative like this needs over 766,200 signatures to be placed on the ballot.

Lawmakers Are Taking Notice

Currently, neither of these initiatives has enough signatures to make it onto next year’s ballot. But they are receiving enough popular support to grab the attention of lawmakers in the state.

Earlier today, local news source Click Orlando reported that the House Health & Human Services Committee spent more than an hour talking about the initiatives.

Specifically, state lawmakers talked about the importance of understanding legalization and having a clear stance on the issue.

“We’re all going to be asked by our constituents where are we on this,” Committee Chair Representative Ray Rodrigues said. “We need to be equipped to take a position and articulate why we’ve taken that position.”

During the meeting, lawmakers heard from opponents and supporters of legalization. Ultimately, the meeting made clear that ongoing movements to legalize weed in Florida are picking up momentum.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Florida Has Two Initiatives to Legalize Recreational Marijuana.” Green Rush Daily, 17 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/florida-has-two-initiatives-to-legalize-recreational-marijuana/.

Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Legalize Marijuana Nationwide Revealed

Marijuana legalization is a popular position among 2020 Democratic nominees. But Bernie Sanders’ plan will be tough to beat.

At exactly 4:20 p.m. on October 24, Bernie Sanders revealed his plan to legalize marijuana nationwide. Sanders, a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has long been a champion of ending the federal prohibition on cannabis. It’s a position that is currently so popular, especially among Democratic voters, that Sanders’ stance has pulled nearly every serious contender for the Democratic nomination toward a pro-legalization stance—with the notable exception of Joe Biden. 

But Sanders’ comprehensive legalization plan goes further than even the most ambitious proposals of his 2020 rivals. Unlike other candidates, who have either recently “evolved” on the issue of legal cannabis or put forward tepid or partial legalization/decriminalization proposals, Sanders would take swift executive action to end the federal ban on marijuana and follow it up with legislation to undo and reverse the devastating effects of the War on Drugs with billions in grants and other subsidies for those criminalized for cannabis. 

BERNIE SANDERS’ PLAN TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA IS THE BEST YET

Elect Bernie Sanders as President of the United States, and he’ll legalize marijuana nationwide within his first 100 days in office. But that’s just the beginning of Sanders’ wide-ranging plan to create a just and equitable legal cannabis industry across the country. 

Step 1, according to Sanders’ just-released plan, would be to issue an executive order within 100 days of assuming the presidency. That order would order the U.S. attorney general to remove cannabis containing THC from the federal list of controlled substances. The move would be similar to the recent removal of hemp—defined as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC—from the Controlled Substances Act. 

Step 2 would be pushing Congress to pass a bill that would “ensure the permanent legalization of marijuana.” Once passed, however, states would still need to pass their own legal marijuana laws. But with increasing public support, even among Republicans, for legalization, and federal prohibition no longer serving as an excuse for not legalizing cannabis, states would likely have a much easier time passing their own legal weed bills. 

Several 2020 Democratic presidential nominee hopefuls have centered criminal justice reforms as part of their legalization proposals, from Julian Castro to Beto O’Rourke. But Sanders’ plan goes further and does more for communities most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis. 

SANDERS’ LEGALIZATION PLAN WOULD DO MORE FOR IMPACTED COMMUNITIES THAN CANDIDATES’

The War on Drugs, and especially the harsh criminalization of even minor cannabis offenses, has not only fueled mass incarceration, it has also robbed people of economic and social opportunities to go to school, start businesses, access public housing, receive federal aid and grants and even vote. Sanders’ legalization plan would directly address that, and not just for minority and disenfranchised communities that want to get into the weed business. Here’s a breakdown of everything Sanders’ marijuana plan would do for impacted groups. 

  • Push state and federal law enforcement and criminal justice authorities to expunge and vacate past convictions for marijuana. This includes establishing an independent clemency board to help free people locked up in federal prisons for marijuana convictions. 
  • Eliminate barriers to public housing, social security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for those who have interacted with the criminal justice system. 
  • Use new tax revenue from legal cannabis to create a $20 billion grant program for entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital along with an additional $10 billion grant program for businesses that are at least 51 percent owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrestedor convicted of marijuana offenses. 
  • Create a $10 billion development fund to provide grants to communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs.

And that’s not just for impacted individuals who want to start cannabis companies. Grants would help impacted individuals start whatever businesses they want. But Sanders plan doesn’t leave those who want to enter the legal industry on the sidelines. His plan would also create another $10 billion grant to help impacted individuals start urban and rural farms and urban and rural marijuana growing operations. 

SANDERS’ LEGALIZATION PLAN WOULD PREVENT BIG TOBACCO TAKEOVER

Supporting diversity and equity in the legal marijuana industry is part and parcel of Sanders’ plan to put checks on a corporate takeover of marijuana. Sanders doesn’t want to see the legal industry become another adjunct of the Big Tobaccoand pharmaceutical companies, and this is where his plan even further distinguishes itself from his 2020 rivals’. 

As president, Sanders would create financial incentives for marijuana businesses to operate as non-profit organizations. Even more radically, Sanders said his plan would actually bar tobacco companies, as well as other manufacturers of cancer-causing products and companies that engage in deceptive marketing, from the legal industry. Additionally, Sanders’ plan calls for setting market share caps, to prevent large companies from monopolizing the cannabis market. 

All together, Sanders’ marijuana legalization plan goes further on criminal and social justice, economic equity and public safety. Amid a crowded Democratic field with nearly all of the top candidates, and even many of those polling under 5 percent, supporting marijuana legalization, the devil is in the details. And Sanders plan, down to its finest points, does more and goes further, making it the most progressive and comprehensive federal cannabis legalization plan to date.

Drury, ByAdam. “Bernie Sanders Plan to Legalize Marijuana Nationwide Revealed.” Green Rush Daily, 25 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/bernie-sanders-plan-to-legalize-marijuana-nationwide-revealed/.

Seattle-Based Marijuana Delivery Service Could Be Using Drones Soon

The plan could see cannabis taking flight as soon as next month.

In an effort to save money on logistical costs, a cannabis company has announced its plans to deliver product to Seattle businesses with drones. The high-flying partnership was publicized last month by GRN Holding Corporation, which is carrying out the plan by purchasing the aggressively-named Bellevue, Washington company Squad Drone.

The drones could be hoisting marijuana above your head for test deliveries as quickly as February or March.

“We anticipate the entire industry will adopt this where applicable,” said GRN Holding Corporation CEO Justin Costello in a December press statement, which estimates that the drones will dramatically cut down on the costs associated with getting cannabis to where it needs to go.

“All the flights will be monitored by a command center in Seattle and operated by a licensed pilot,” Costello continued. “We expect hiring about 20 employees in the various cities to hook the drones into charge ports, calibrate them, and ensure the safety totes and computer systems pass flight requirements.”

The company is not the first to announce that it will be dabbling in drones to deliver products. Drones have already been delivering snacks and healthcare products in Christianburg, Virginia, as well as in countries such as Australia and Finalnd.

Amazon has been forecasting drone deliveries for years via its so-called Prime Air program. The mega corporation says that the air system will shave time off its deliveries to customers.

ARE DRONES MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

Drones have been hyped as an environmentally friendly alternative to ground deliveries, but the reality is that the veracity of the statement depends on certain factors. For one, where the energy comes from that is required to charge their batteries. They also may be more environmentally effective in certain types of delivery networks. Studies have shown that trucks, for example, may consume less energy when serving product to densely located destinations.

MarketWatch reports that GRN Holding has been in the process of testing and customizing six drones over the past year. The machines will be able to manage 40 kilograms of product, and are equipped to operate over a range of 10 kilometers, courtesy of a “GPS navigation system and digital signature interface.”

Currently, the drones are slated to distribute to other businesses, not individual customers. And yes, they’ll be able to take businesses’ money, thanks to the installation of an iPad with CannaTrac’s cashless payment system.

“Basically the cost to run and operate a drone is 1/10th of a van or sprinter,” said CannaTrac CEO Tom Gavin. “So this is not some move to change an industry on just policy or technology, this will change an industry based on safety and cost savings as well.”

A local radio host expressed his concern for the safety of the cannabis drones.

“I wonder how many young toughs out there are going to bring out the old slingshots and try and shoot down a drone carrying pounds of weed,” said Seattle FM show KIRO Nights host Aaron Mason. “I don’t know, but I assume someone has thought about this.”

Donohue, Caitlin. “Seattle-Based Marijuana Delivery Service Could Be Using Drones Soon.” High Times, 9 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/seattle-based-marijuana-delivery-service-could-be-using-drones-soon/.

Austin Politician Proposes Ban on Using Government Funds for THC Testing

If approved, it would echo a move away from cannabis prosecution taking place state-wide.

When Texas legalized hemp last year, it threw the state’s marijuana policing into some kind of chaos. All of a sudden, officers were largely left without proper testing technology to determine if suspects’ leafy greens possessed a THC percentage above the legal cutoff of 0.3 percent. As a result, law enforcement authorities across the state began to throw up their hands and throw out low-level possession cases.

In the state’s capital, that trending away from marijuana possession policing may soon be turned into official policy. Austin City Council member Greg Casar has filed a draft resolution that would prohibit city cops from using government money to test for THC percentages. 

The plan would also instruct the police department to deprioritize cannabis misdemeanor cases unless there is a safety threat involved. 

“Frankly, we’re trying to maintain what’s happening right now, which is that [marijuana] citations are going nowhere,” Casar told the Texas Observer. “Why would we go back to a world where these citations go somewhere?”

In addition to the resources needed for THC testing procedures, the city has long struggled with the racially biased nature of its cannabis policing. Nearly half of all marijuana possession citations issued by the Austin police in 2019 went to Latino residents, who make up only 34.3 percent of the city’s population according to the most recent Census numbers. 

Between the passage of the hemp law on June 10th of last year and September, the Travis County attorney’s office declined to move forward on some 170 marijuana-related charges, a “cite and release” policy that echoes state-wide trends. 

The Austin Police Department reportedly does have one machine that is capable of testing cannabis THC levels. But city politicians have already voiced concerns over additional taxpayer dollars being spent on marijuana testing and policing in general. 

Travis County Justice of the Peace Nicholas Chu told a local news site last fall that he did not believe that officers’ time was best spent pursuing marijuana offenders. 

“If you look at the whole reason behind the cite-and-release process to begin with … it was created so law enforcement wouldn’t be wasting their time on low-level nonviolent misdemeanor offenses,” he said. “And also wasting people’s time in terms of worrying about these cases when law enforcement can be focused on more important, serious violent offenses.”

The Future of Cannabis in Texas

Perhaps the most pertinent question is, why hasn’t Texas pulled the trigger on marijuana legalization altogether?

In fact, even the state’s Republican Party has had decriminalization in its platform since 2018, when delegates also overwhelmingly voted to support removing cannabis from a Schedule I designation at the federal level. 

But during last year’s push for Democrat Representative Joe Moody’s decriminalization measure, policymakers were exposed to some very misleading presentations by law enforcement officials. 

“Not all marijuana smokers become drug addicts, but all drug addicts — especially in Plano we have a lot of drug addicts — have started with marijuana,” said Plano Police Sergeant Terence Holway while testifying for the state’s House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. In the past, the Texas Sheriffs’ Association has published papers suggesting that marijuana leads to lower IQs and increased chance of developing schizophrenia. (Cannabis consumption and schizophrenia have been shown to be correlated, but there is no established proof that one causes the other).

Donohue, Caitlin. “Austin Politician Proposes Ban on Using Government Funds for THC Testing.” High Times, 13 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/austin-politician-proposes-ban-using-government-funds-thc-testing/.

Study Finds Long-Term Heavy Cannabis Use May Impair Driving

Researchers say poor driving performance in non-intoxicated drivers means heavy cannabis use impairs cognition.

Long-term, heavy cannabis use might be making adults bad drivers. Especially, according to a new study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, if drivers started consuming cannabis in their early teens. Researchers studying the impacts of recreational cannabis consumption on cognitive function say bad driving behaviors like speeding, ignoring traffic signals, and getting into accidents could stem from heavy adolescent cannabis use. Furthermore, researchers found that long-term cannabis users drove badly whether or not they were under the influence of THC.

Bad Driving is a Downstream Effect of Adolescent Cannabis Use, Study Says

Dr. Staci Gruber is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center. She’s an expert in the ways that substance use among adults and adolescents affects the brain, and her recent work looks at how cannabis affects cognitive ability and brain development. Her latest study, “Recreational cannabis use impairs driving performance in the absence of acute intoxication,” presents a new perspective on the relationship between cannabis and traffic safety.

No, this isn’t a study showing how being high makes you a bad driver. In fact, many studies that have looked into driving under the influence of THC have found that being high doesn’t have much of an impact on driving ability. In some cases, being high actually made drivers more cautious. Similarly, researchers have been unable to link expanding legal access to cannabis to any uptick in traffic accidents caused by drivers who were high behind the wheel.

Instead, Dr. Gruber’s new study is about how long-term heavy cannabis use impairs cognition, making complex cognitive tasks like driving more difficult.

The study’s findings, published Tuesday, resonate with other studies linking adolescent substance use to diminished cognitive performance later in life. Consuming mind-altering substances like alcohol and cannabis appear to disrupt the brain’s development at a crucial stage. Those disruptions lead to a range of cognitive and psychiatric problems down the line, not just bad driving.

“Prior to age 16, the brain is especially neurodevelopmentally vulnerable, not just to cannabis but to other drugs, alcohol, illness, injury,” saidGruber. “The brain is really under construction.”

Weed Can Make You a Bad Driver if You Consumed Heavily in Your Teens

To determine how adolescent cannabis use impaired driving ability later on in life, it was important for Dr. Gruber to assess driving performance in non-intoxicated cannabis users who consumed cannabis on a daily or near daily basis. For the purposes of the study, “heavy, long-term use” meant a minimum of 4 to 5 times a week, and with a lifetime exposure to cannabis of 1,500 times.

At first, the Dr. Gruber’s team found what they expected. Cannabis users demonstrated impaired driving compared with a group of drivers without a history of cannabis use. But they found something interesting when they broke down the results according to age group. According to the findings, significant driving impairment was detected and completely localized to those with early onset (before age 16) heavy cannabis use compared with the late onset group (after age 16).

So, the study concluded, chronic, heavy recreational cannabis use was associated with worse driving in non-intoxicated drivers. And the earlier someone became a chronic, heavy recreational cannabis user, the poorer they were at driving.

Study Highlights Cannabis’ Impact on Developing Minds

The study also found that impulsivity had a major impact on driving performance. And that’s exactly what researchers expected to see. “Research has consistently shown that early substance use, including the use of cannabis, is associated with poorer cognitive performance,” said study co-author Mary Kathryn Dahlgren. “Specifically tasks controlled by the most frontal part of the brain,” Dahlgren added.

The frontal lobe of the brain plays a major role in impulse response. It’s the part of the brain that significantly impacts how we make decisions. In this study’s findings, increased impulsivity overlapped with early-onset cannabis use, leading to poor decision-making on the road. And that, Gruber said, calls for further research.

We still don’t know whether impulsivity leads to adolescent cannabis useor vice versa. And the study’s authors also cautioned against taking its findings to suggest that cannabis consumers can’t drive. “By no means does this data suggest that everybody who uses cannabis is impaired and they can’t drive,” said Dahlgren.

Drury, Adam. “Study Finds Long-Term Heavy Cannabis Use May Impair Driving.” High Times, 14 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/study-finds-long-term-heavy-cannabis-use-may-impair-driving/.

Despite Support, Recreational Marijuana Will Not Appear on Florida Ballot

Advocates are hoping for a vote in 2022.

Voters in Florida will have to wait at least two more years before they get the opportunity to decide whether the state should legalize pot. 

Make it Legal Florida, the group that spearheaded the campaign to get the proposed amendment on the 2020 ballot, said this week that it is tabling the effort, with an eye toward 2020.

“With the support of over 67 percent of Florida voters, Make it Legal Florida is proud to have gathered more than 700,000 signed petitions in the effort to bring adult-use cannabis to the Sunshine State,” the group said in a statement, as reported by local TV station WFLA. “The narrow timeframe to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022.”

In November, Make it Legal Florida announced that it had rounded up 313,000 signatures, though none were certified. The group had until early next month to get 766,200 certified signatures.

“We are overwhelmed by the support the Make it Legal Florida effort has received around the state from Florida voters who believe adults should have access to regulated cannabis products,” the group’s chairman Nick Hansen said at the time. “We are continuing to deliver signatures for validation, and we are confident we will meet the deadline for Florida’s 2020 ballot.”

Other efforts to get a legalization proposal on this year’s Florida ballot have likewise gone up in smoke.

What Could Have Been

If the Make it Legal campaign had materialized, Florida could have joined 11 other states—most recently Illinois—to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Other states could follow suit this year. Voters in South Dakota will decide on an amendment to legalize recreational pot in November. The state’s ballot will include a separate proposal to legalize medical marijuana. 

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for his state to legalize recreational pot for adults 21 and over.

The failed effort in Florida is a setback for advocates who believed the state was ready to embrace legalization. A poll from Quinnipiac University in June found that 65 percent of Florida voters supported allowing adults to possess small amounts of pot for personal use—an all-time high in the state.

More than 70 percent of Florida voters approved a measure in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana.

Edward, Thomas. “Despite Support, Recreational Marijuana Will Not Appear on Florida Ballot.” High Times, 14 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/despite-support-recreational-marijuana-will-not-appear-on-florida-ballot/.

Proposed Law Update Has Some Hemp Farmers Nervous

Alexandr Grant/ Shutterstock

Hemp farmers are growing anxious over proposed regulations.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Hemp growers and entrepreneurs who were joyous a year ago after U.S. lawmakers reclassified the plant as a legal agricultural crop now are worried their businesses could be crippled if federal policymakers move ahead with draft regulations.

Licenses for hemp cultivation topped a half-million acres (200,000 hectares) last year, more than 450% above 2018 levels, so there’s intense interest in the rules the U.S. government is creating. Critical comments on the draft have poured in from hemp farmers, processors, retailers and state governments.

Growers are concerned the government wants to use a heavy hand that could result in many crops failing required tests and being destroyed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency writing the rules, estimates 20% of hemp lots would fail under the proposed regulations. “Their business is to support farmers — and not punish farmers — and the rules as they’re written right now punish farmers,” said Dove Oldham, who last year grew an acre (0.40 hectares) of hemp on her family farm in Grants Pass. “There’s just a lot of confusion, and people are just looking for leadership.”

The USDA did not respond to the criticism but has taken the unusual step of extending the public comment period by a month, until Jan. 29. The agency told The Associated Press it will analyze information from this year’s growing season before releasing its final rules, which would take effect in 2021.

Agricultural officials in states that run pilot hemp cultivation programs under an earlier federal provision are weighing in with formal letters to the USDA.

“There are 46 states where hemp is legal, and I’m going to say that every single state has raised concerns to us about something within the rule. They might be coming from different perspectives, but every state has raised concerns,” said Aline DeLucia, director of public policy for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Testing for THC in Hemp

Most of the anxiety involves how the federal government plans to test for THC, the high-inducing compound found in marijuana and hemp, both cannabis plants. The federal government and most states consider plants with tiny amounts — 0.3% or less — to be hemp. Anything above that is marijuana and illegal under federal law.

Yet another cannabis compound has fueled the explosion in hemp cultivation. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is marketed as a health and wellness aid and infused in everything from food and drinks to lotions, toothpaste and pet treats.

Many have credited CBD with helping ease pain, increase sleep and reduce anxiety. But scientists caution not enough is known about its health effects, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year targeted nearly two dozen companies for making CBD health claims.

Still, the CBD market is increasing at a triple-digit rate and could have $20 billion in sales by 2024, according to a recent study by BDS Analytics, a marketing analysis firm that tracks cannabis industry trends.

About 80% of the 18,000 farmers licensed for hemp cultivation are in the CBD market, said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. The remaining 20% grow hemp for its fiber, used in everything from fabric to construction materials, or its grain, which is added to health foods.

But hemp is a notoriously fickle crop. Conditions such as sunlight, moisture and soil composition determine its ratio of THC to CBD. Choosing the right harvesting window is critical to ensuring it stays within acceptable THC levels.

Under the draft USDA rules, farmers have no wiggle room. They must harvest within 15 days of testing their crop for THC, and the samples must be sent to a lab certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Samples must be from the top of the plant, where THC levels are highest, and the final measurement must include not just THC, but also THCA, a nonpsychoactive component.

Crops that test above 0.3% for the two combined must be destroyed. Growers with crops above 0.5% would be considered in “negligent violation,” and those with repeated violations could be suspended from farming hemp.

In addition, a pilot program for federal crop insurance that would be available to hemp growers in some states specifies that crops lost because of high THC levels won’t be covered.

Those provisions are causing alarm among growers and states with pilot hemp programs allowed under the 2014 Farm Bill. Some states allow THC levels above 0.3%, and not all include THCA in that calculation. Many permit more harvesting time for growers after THC testing.

Farmers are lobbying for a 1% THC limit and a 30-day harvest window to give them more flexibility while remaining well under THC levels that can get people high.

The draft regulations don’t “seem to be informed by the reality of the crop,” said Jesse Richardson, who with his brother sells CBD-infused teas and capsules under the brand The Brothers Apothecary.

“If no one can produce (federally) compliant hemp flower, then there will be no CBD oil on the market.”

Growers are also worried about the proposed rule requiring that all THC testing be done in a DEA-certified lab because there are so few of them. Some states have only one, which would serve hundreds of growers in a short harvest window.

Samantha Ford, a third-generation farmer in North Carolina, waited two weeks to get back THC results from a lab last fall and then spent 45 days harvesting her 1 acre (0.40 hectares) of hemp by hand.

“The 15-day window — that’s not feasible, and that was on a small scale,” she said. “I can’t imagine farmers who have acres and acres and acres of it.”

Concerns also have emerged about the workload the draft rules would place on states. Many do random sampling for THC levels, but the USDA would require five samples from every hemp lot — a burden for state agricultural departments, said DeLucia, of the national ag agencies group.

If federal rules are too onerous and expensive, some states might drop their hemp programs. In those cases, farmers would have to apply for licenses with the USDA, and at this stage it’s unclear how U.S. officials would manage or pay for a nationwide licensing program, DeLucia said.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA must approve state plans for hemp programs. Louisiana, Ohio and New Jersey last month were the first to get the green light — but those plans might need to be reworked after final rules are written.

“What we don’t want to see is states having to write their rules and then have to change the rules again and rewrite them” after 2021, said Steenstra, of Vote Hemp.

Associated Press. “Proposed Law Update Has Some Hemp Farmers Nervous.” High Times, 13 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/proposed-law-update-has-some-hemp-farmers-nervous/.

11 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant

You don’t have to trim buds or stand behind a dispensary counter. Skills from other industries can be used to assist the cannabis industry.

More and more job hunters are eying the cannabis industry as their next possible work environment. The first and most obvious reason is a love for weed. Regular consumers, patients who benefited from the plant and non-consumer have seen the positive effects legal marijuana is bringing to our country. They’re the first to get enthusiastic about the possibility of getting down to business with producers, distributors and dispensaries.

But you don’t have to be a marijuana fanatic to crave a job in the cannabis industry. Since legalization started a domino effect across the US and Canada, it has generated over 211,000 jobs, and counting. 64,000 of those jobs came to be in 2018 alone and about 90,000 more are expected for 2020. That’s why audacious job hunters should definitely keep an eye on a booming industry that offers great benefits for employees and has higher average salaries than the US medium.

Yet, that’s not all. As one would assume, starting out in an industry that’s making its way into adulthood is an amazing opportunity for personal and professional growth. Businesses are expanding, which allows employees to slide up the corporate ladder with a weed-powered boost. Companies are being born every day, which creates a higher demand for trained workers, which ultimately translates in better pay. Who knows, maybe the cannabis start-up you just applied for is bound to become the next Canopy Growth.

If you’ve read our recent article on 11 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry, you might have felt bummed when not finding your job description amongst the list. But don’t throw the towel just yet. There are many careers in the cannabis industry that don’t imply being in touch with the plant.

Accounting

10 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant
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From experienced CFOs to fresh-out-of-college accounting assistants. Whether it’s a small owner-run dispensary or a giant producer like Aurora Cannabis Inc., cannabusinesses are in need of accounting professionals to help keep track of payments, perform monthly, quarterly and yearly balances, prepare liabilities reports and perform audits on the business’ activities.

Although not exclusive, knowledge of industry regulation is a plus for accountants on the lookout for a cannabis company. That’s why active accountants should look into companies like Dope CFO to get specialized training and resources in cannabis industry bookkeeping.

Physical and Digital Security

Every business should make sure safety is guaranteed throughout its operations. But cannabis businesses have special needs that call for special security procedures.

First of all, the federal restrictions on the legality of cannabis push banks to deny accounts to cannabis businesses. This causes cannabis companies to operate in all-cash, which is a major security hazard that requires a lot of personnel to guard and transport all earnings.

Secondly, coming from a black market, cannabis businesses are strongly pressured by state and local governments to report and audit their operations. That’s why good quality footage of everything that goes on in a company’s facilities is crucial, to make sure no problems arise during inspections. Lastly, making sure all digital files are well-kept is also a necessity for cannabis businesses. This is why digital security specialists are often employed to make sure information is properly backed-up.

Specialized cannabis security companies are already out there. So safety professionals -from security guards to CCTV and digital specialists- should check out their sites for a resume upload.

Marketing

10 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant
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Cannabis businesses are sprouting around legal states like flower buds in spring. That’s why a strong need for brand building, consumer communication and market strategy is needed in all corners of the industry. Marketing analysts have the difficult task of understanding the current cannabis consumer, which nowadays is elusive and ever-changing. Communication experts must find creative ways to reach customers in a field that has many advertising restrictionsBranding professionals have the need to develop strong products that appeal to consumers and differentiate from other brands.

Entering a young industry, cannabis marketers will meet many challenges. But they will also get to explore and set the basis of the industry standards that will remain there for decades to come.

There are already many cannabis-focused marketing agencies like Wick and MortarCannabrand and Cohnabis that work every day with cannabusinesses. They’re a great place to start a cannabis marketing job search.

Design

Cannabis businesses need designers. Period. Good design is a crucial aspect of any successful business and the cannabis industry is in desperate need for it. When an entrepreneur is planning a new dispensary, an interior designer is hired to build and decorate the inside. When a producer is developing a new cannabis product, an industrial designer is hired to work on the packaging. When any new business is born, whether it’s retail or B2B, graphic designers are recruited to develop its visual identity.

Specialized design agencies like Brand Joint and The Hybrid Creativegive cannabusinesses solutions for their design needs. However, freelancers are often hired to work directly with marketing departments on a project-basis.

Content Creation

10 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant
High Times

Cannabis is definitely giving a lot to talk about, and media outlets are welcoming new creatives to join the conversation. Cannabis-specific media companies have gained strong ground since the old days when High Times was the sole magazine in sight. Today, podcasts, video platforms, and online publications make a family of independent and corporate-owned channels that daily employ creatives. Editors, writers (Ahem!… yours truly), producers, influencers and many other creative folks, are hired to inform, educate and entertain the cannabis community.

Human Resources

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware that the cannabis industry is hiring new personnel by the minute. Well, all that scouting, recruitment and hiring needs to be done by someone and that’s where Human Resources professionals come in.

Cannabis companies take big legal risks when going into business because of the highly regulated industry they’re inserting themselves in. That’s why they need informed and trained HR experts who can comply with employment regulation, choose the right people and train them properly.

Cannabis specific job search sites and personnel agencies have already started to pop up along the cannabisphere. But in-house positions are raising in demand as companies grow and their need for new employees becomes larger. 

Law Compliance

10 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant
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Believe it or not, lawyers are amongst the most sought-after professionals of the booming cannabis industry. Cannabis might be legal in many states and Canada. But regulation is tough and being updated on every detail is a full-time job that CEOs don’t have the time and expertise to do. That’s why Compliance Managers are there to apply for licenses, develop procedures that comply with local, state and federal law, be on the loop for changes in legislation, an make sure every aspect of the company’s operation is up to speed, so that the government gives them their thumbs-up.

There are compliance consulting agencies that employ up-to-date professionals. They guide companies through the bureaucratic nightmare that is legal cannabis. However, those interested in these types of positions can also try to find an in-house job at a cannabis company.

Coding and Tech

The cannabis industry is accustomed to being in the innovative side of business. Today, it’s leading the implementation of groundbreaking technologies in every corner of its supply chain. From cultivation automation. From platforms that use AI, machine learning and Big Data to improve its efficacy; to blockchain based transactions used to provide security and transparency into the business. Cannabis and tech professionals mix the best of both worlds. They provide users with an unprecedented consumer experience, in a market whose limit is the sky.

Programmers, computer scientists, innovation researchers, UX/UI designers, automation experts and Big Data analysts heed the call. You’re being recruited by some of the top cannabis tech companies to envision and build the industry of the future.

Finance

10 Ways to Work in the Cannabis Industry Without Touching the Plant
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Cannabis stock is so hot, even countries are going after it. While the Green Rush floods wall street, thousands of inexperienced investors are looking up to market analysts to reveal what company will go up, which one will go down, and where should the money be put. Finance analysts are also hired by cannabis companies and hedge funds to research markets and provide insights on the next best move.

Medicine

In such a multi-layered industry, it’s sometimes easy to forget it all comes down to medicine. Arguably, even recreational users are experiencing marijuana in a medicinal capacity. Hey, they’re also benefiting from the plant’s healing potential. In any case, in its starting stages, the driving force behind cannabis legalization is its medical use.

Through the power of prescriptions, physicians have become some of the most important players in an industry that relies on their opinion and professional recommendation to acquire new consumers.

Cannabis clinics are already a global phenomenon, hiring large staffs of MDs to use marijuana as a main component in health treatments. Online courses and certifications are also available, which can help doctors get more acquainted with the subject in order to land a job in the field of medical cannabis.

Glassblowing

Combustion might not be the healthiest way to consume cannabis. It is, however, amongst the most popular. Glassblowers are the artisans in charge of producing the pipes, bongs and glass devices people will use to smoke their weed.

Today, many glassblowers focus on dab rigsquartz bangers and other accessories for concentrate users.

Those thinking of a glassblowing career need to be meticulous, attentive to detail and good with their hands. Although there are places to learn glassblowing, some are self-taught. But anyone thinking of getting into the art of glassblowing must be extremely careful. Daily glassblowing tasks include using very dangerous instruments.

Glassblowing can be a regular job, but it can also be considered an art form. There’s a high-end market for intricate and functional bongs that can go up to $100,000 a piece. There are even special art gallery shows dedicated to bongs.

Not every glassblower will be making their yearly wages out of a single bong sale. But still, it’s a fabulous way of making a living for those wanting to be in touch with the cannabis industry through a noble craft.

Daily, ByGreen Rush. “Best Dispensaries In Southern California.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/guides/best-dispensaries-in-southern-california/.

Best Dispensaries In Southern California

Cruising through SoCal? Be sure to stop at one of their premier dispensaries.

A new medical or recreational cannabis user in California will have tons of dispensaries to choose from. Figuring out which ones are medical and which ones are recreational is only the first step. Then, you’ll need to figure out which ones carry quality medication and which are ones are selling undesirable nugs for top-shelf prices. Looking up how many dispensaries are in California can be intimidating. We’ve narrowed the number of dispensaries from over two hundred to the 20 best dispensaries in Southern California.

AHHS (Alternative Herbal Health Services) WE-HO

7828 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of AHHS

Alternative Herbal Health Services in West Hollywood is a premium cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles. Dina Browner, better known as Dr. Dina or the cannabis consultant for the recently canceled Netflix show Disjointed, has been serving clients with a taste for the finer buds like Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, the Game and plenty more for years. They have a wide selection of some of the finest products in the cannabis industry. Concentrate connoisseurs won’t be disappointed with the selection of sauceice waxrosin and dry sift.

AHPS (Absolute Herbal Pain Solutions)

824 E 17th St Los Angeles, CA 90021

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of AHPS

Absolute Herbal Pain Solutions is the newest dispensary where you can find the highly-sought after Jungle Boys flowers and extracts. On top of Jungle Boys, they have frosty flowers from the renowned Cali Kush farms and more. They’re licensed to sell both medical and recreational marijuana. You won’t be able to count the number of quality strains you’ll have to choose from. When it comes to their concentrates they carry hundreds including connoisseur favorites like full melt extracts, sauces, live rosin and more.

Buds & Roses

13047 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Buds & Roses

Buds & Roses is one of the finest looking dispensaries in SoCal both inside and out. Their displays highlight their frosty nugs and see-through extracts. If you want to ensure your buds were treated with the utmost care from seed to smoke, Buds & Roses has some veganic nugs for you. It’s no wonder why they’ve accumulated nearly 30 High Times Cannabis Cup Awards. The boutique dispensary has a comfy lounge and a big open dispensing area making it easy to browse before you buy. Since the owners founded the dispensary, they have been shaping policy, educating the public and holding themselves to the highest standard of excellence.

Coast To Coast Collective

7127 Canoga Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Coast To Coast Collective

Coast to coast is highly rated for their excellent customer service. Both the  and the staff are welcoming. The floors are clean, everything looks newly renovated and there are different colored lights all around the room to set the right vibe. The buds are neatly organized in a well-lit display case. The nugs are quality and constantly changing every week. They have a wide selection of extracts, edibles and other cannabis products as well.

Connected Cannabis Company (Cookies OC)

2400 Pullman St, Suite B Santa Ana, CA 92705

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Cookies OC

Connected Cannabis Company has seven dispensaries across California. The company is well known for being “powered by Cookies.” If you’re a fan of the “Cookies” strains this is one of the best dispensaries in Southern California for you. On top of carrying some of the most popular flowers in the world, Connected carries the best THC cartridges, topicals, extracts and flowers you can find in SoCal.

Downtown Patients Group (DTPG)

1320 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of DTPG

Downtown Patients Group has tons of Sativa, Indica and Hybrid strain choices for their clients. Their buds come in a wide variety of prices to reflect the level of quality. Whether you’re looking for something with a gassy smell or something with more fruity notes, DTPG will have something for you. They’ve got a variety of concentrates for you to choose from, a few edibles and plenty of topicals as well.

Evergreen

1320 E Edinger Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Evergreen

Carry a wide variety of some of the best extracts including THC-a crystalline, live resin, sauce, sugars, shatters and cartridges. They carry some of the best edibles with an overwhelming number of choices to suit every kind of taste bud. When it comes to buds, they offer high-quality cannabis to the recreational and medical marijuana markets. The staff is friendly and helpful when it comes to figuring out the best medicine for you from their large selection.

Exhale Medical Center

980 North La Cienega #102 Los Angeles, CA 90069

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Exhale

Exhale Medical Center carries flowers from some of the top cultivation groups in Los Angeles. They consistently carry a wide variety of cannabis products and they regularly have deals for their customers. Exhale recently received their adult-use dispensary license. They have a fridge stocked with all types of infused-edible products. Their display cases are filled with jars of frosty nugs. Finally, their staff is friendly and helpful to new and returning customers alike.

Greenwolf LA

 2950 Los Feliz Blvd #100, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Greenwolf

IG/BermudaDaze

Greenwolf is known for making some of the frostiest nugs in the game. In fact, Greenwolf has accumulated several High Times Cannabis Cup awards for their flowers and concentrates. You can expect the same level of quality when you walk into the Greenwolf dispensary in Los Angeles. On top of a wide variety of high-quality flowers, they carry all the extract companies connoisseurs have grown to love. If you want to be a guaranteed a certain level of quality but still want a wide selection, Greenwolf LA is one of the best dispensaries in Southern California for you.

The Higher Path

14080 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of The Higher Path

The Higher Path carries high-quality cannabis from well-known growers as well as more affordable medicine for patients on a budget. On top of a wide variety of cannabis products, people keep coming back for the excellent customer service and laidback environment. At the Higher Path, you can pick up both your medicine and the tools needed to consume it. As of January 20th, they received their license to sell recreational cannabis.

The Kind Center

1944 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of @killneeeka/Instagram

Kind Center is home to some of the most popular cannabis flower brands on the California market. To top it off, they have the types of terpy extracts that’ll make your mouth water when you get a whiff. The edible selection at the Kind Center is huge. They also have plenty of pre-rolls, seeds, topicals and equipment for smoking or vaping weed.

Kushland

8459 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90003

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Kushland

Kushland is a great dispensary to stop at for your late-night weed needs. They’re open til midnight on most nights and open until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday. Kushland carries many leading cannabis brands as well as top-shelf, private reserve and exotic strains of flower. If your budget won’t allow for the items on the top shelf, there are plenty of more affordable blue label strains. Concentrate lovers won’t be disappointed by the selection of shatter, crumble, rosin, THCa crystalline and more.

Los Angeles Kush Collective #1

5470 Valley Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90032

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Kush Collective

Los Angeles Kush Collective #1 was formerly known as California Herbal Remedies. As expected with a name like Los Angeles Kush, they carry a huge variety of Indica strains. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of Sativas or Hybrids either. Whether you need something for the super low or some next-level fire on the private reserve, Los Angeles Kush Collective #1 will have it on deck. Los Angeles Kush Collective doesn’t discriminate. The same goes for their huge selection of cannabis concentrates. You can get a gram of BHO for as low as $30 or a gram of sauce for $120. The choice is yours. Regardless of what cannabis product you need, L.A.K #1 has plenty for you in each category.

Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group

7213 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group

The Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group is serving legal marijuana to adult users as well as medical ones. To make up for the increased taxes, they’ve had daily and weekly deals. Their top shelf consists of award-winning brands of flower. There are a few brands of concentrate to choose from with tons of edible, topical and tincture options.

Mankind Cooperative

7128 Miramar Road, #10, San Diego, CA

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Mankind Cooperative

Mankind Cooperative carries premium top-shelf buds but they also have extremely affordable options that are still enjoyable and everything in between. They have all the most popular pre-filled cartridges in stock and concentrates from popular extract artists in California. Their staff is extremely helpful when it comes to answering questions or guiding cannabis consumers in the right direction.

Med Men West Hollywood

8208 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California

Med Men was one of the first recreational dispensaries to open its door in Southern California. There are glass displays, fine-wood everywhere and iPads showcasing products giving the dispensary an upscale vibe. First-time customers will be overwhelmed by their vast stock. Fortunately, their staff is equipped with the knowledge to help guide customers to the right strains or products for their individual needs.

TLC Collective

3650 E. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90023

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of TLC Collective

It’s never hard to find parking at the TLC Collective. The security guards are friendly and the smell, once you enter the elevator, will make you want to stay forever. Upstairs there’s a lobby with a wall of vibrant art dedicated to a Jungle Boys strain. There’s a show grow room so you can take a look at some of their flowers before they’re harvested and served to their loyal clientele. On top of being the premier distributor of Jungle Boys flowers and extracts, TLC always has the work of other respected growers and extract artists in stock. You can press some of your purchased flowers in their on-site rosin press. If you know what you want there’s an express line. Otherwise, a budtender will give you their individual attention and answer any questions you may have once it is your turn.

ShowGrow

1625 E St. Gertrude Place Santa Ana, CA 92705

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of ShowGrow

There is a wide selection of cannabis products in every category at the ShowGrow marijuana dispensary. There are at least a dozen different choices in every category. They carry the top brands in flowers, concentrates, topicals, tinctures and edibles. You could lose an hour scrolling through each item on their menu. Cannabis isn’t all they’ve got, though. If you need papers, a lighter, a quartz banger or a dab tool they’ve got you covered.

Wellness Earth Energy Dispensary

11557 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Wellness Earth Energy Dispensary

The Wellness Earth Energy Dispensary or The WEED, is one of the best dispensaries in Southern California when it comes to quality strain choices. You’ll find dozens of high-quality flowers cultivated by renowned growers. They’ve got a nice selection of concentrates for connoisseurs like ice wax, live resin and more. The WEED has specials going for just about every day of the week. If you don’t want to wait in line you’ll love WEED because you can order online.

Zen Noho

5142 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries In Southern California
Photo Courtesy of Zen Noho

At Zen in North Hollywood, first-time patients get to spin a wheel for a prize. There are also weekly deals and a bargain bin full of deals for all customers. They have premium medical marijuana options but most of their buds are dank and affordable. Zen Noho carries all of the cannabis products you would expect from a dispensary plus seeds for growers. To top it all off, they are now serving their wide variety of products to the recreational marijuana market.

Best Dispensaries In Southern California

The best dispensaries in Southern California carry a variety of products to satisfy both beginners and connoisseurs. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want a dispensary with knowledgeable and helpful budtenders. Connoisseurs should just go somewhere with more of a focus on the product like having tons of high-end options to choose from. Most are licensed to sell recreational marijuana to anyone above the age of 21 but a few are choosing to focus their energies on the patients that truly need cannabis for medical uses.

Daily, ByGreen Rush. “Best Dispensaries In Southern California.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/guides/best-dispensaries-in-southern-california/.

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Planning a trip to NorCal? Here are a few places to keep an eye out for.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and they’ve recently implemented recreational marijuana laws. Because of California’s long history with legal marijuana, there are now hundreds of storefront dispensaries. Here are the Northern California spots you need to hit.

AIRFIELD SUPPLY CO.

1190 Coleman Ave, San Jose, CA 95110

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

The Airfield Supply Co. has a nice open layout in their dispensary section, with floors painted to look like an airstrip. It feels like you’re about to board a plane once you get past the lobby (where their on-site garden can be viewed). Airfield Supply Co. will set you up with everything you need before you take off. The boutique style retail store offers both recreational and medical marijuana cannabis clones, strains, concentrates and edibles. Don’t forget to check out their online calendar for info on upcoming discounts, g