News

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
Shutterstock

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
Shutterstock

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
Shutterstock

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
Shutterstock

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, guests vendors, or events.

BARBARY COAST

952 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

A dispensary and lounge in San Francisco, Barbary Coast Collective has an upscale look while maintaining reasonable prices. Originally a medical-only dispensary, they’ve finally jumped into the recreational game. Customers can even relax and enjoy their cannabis onsite at their dab bar, as well as several tables and booths equipped with vaporizers.

BERKELEY PATIENTS GROUP

2366 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

Berkeley Patients Group was established in 1999 making them the longest running (and still one of the best) dispensaries in Northern California. The reason they’re still open in this risky, competitive market is because they’ve maintained a level of professionalism and adapted to regulations as they’ve changed. Their staff is friendly, knowledgeable and they carry a wide variety of cannabis products that are high in THC or CBD for all types of patients and adult users. There are two lines in case some customers already know what they need before walking in. Customers that know what they need can go to the express line while the other is for patients to take their time, ask questions and pick out their products before purchasing.

BLOOM ROOM

471 Jessie St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

Bloom Room is a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco, California. They have high-quality cannabis flowers and concentrates for connoisseurs as well as affordable options for patients on a budget. In fact, there are weekly discounts. There is a vape lounge with two volcanoes so you can enjoy some of your buds with one of the best desktop vaporizers on the market. The staff can help with any questions you might have. If you’re in San Francisco and have a medical marijuana recommendation Bloom Room is worth stopping by.

CANNACRUZ

115 Limekiln St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

CannaCruz has been serving California patients since April, 2014. They work with local, responsible growers to provide patients with some of the best flowers in Santa Cruz County. One of their exclusive growers, RB26 is responsible for their multiple award-winning cut of the original “GG4” strain, testing at over 30 percent THC. They have had several other strains testing that high with complex terpene profiles to match. They regularly update their website and there is an online order option. The dispensary has won awards for their flowers, concentrates, edibles, topicals and customer service. They now serve recreational marijuana users but medical users receive a 10 percent discount!

CBCB (CANNABIS BUYERS CLUB BERKELEY)

3033 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

The Cannabis Buyers Club Berkeley is welcoming with a knowledgeable staff that can guide you to the right medicine. The club has high-quality cannabis products but you can also find bargain prices on certain items. They offer cannabis for both adult users and medical marijuana patients. There are separate lines for medical users and recreational ones. There’s a large lounge with plenty of chairs and couches for relaxing.

EMERALD PHARMS

13771 U.S. 101 Hopland, CA 95449

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Emerald Pharms is unique in that it is a solar-powered cannabis resource center located adjacent to a “permaculture oasis” known as the Solar Living Center. You won’t want to miss the serene scenery outside. Fortunately, the vibes are good inside and out. Emerald Pharms is known for their knowledgeable and welcoming staff. In fact, they’re highly rated for their customer service. They have both high THC and CBD products. They can help guide patients to the right cannabinoids and terpenes based on the effects they desire. Emerald Pharms displays their buds and stores them with humidity packs to keep things fresh for their customers.

GREEN DOOR SF

843 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94103

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

The Green Door started in Oakland in 2003 but in 2005 they moved to San Francisco. The dispensary has weekly specials as well as events that have celebrity guests. In fact, the beloved Snoop Dogg stopped by and sparked up some of Green Door’s finest with patients at the event. The dispensary has express pick up and delivery options available. They work with several local charitable organizations and aim to improve the city of San Francisco with civic outreach and donating to the right causes. The menu at Green Door SF is extensive. There is a wide variety of edibles, tinctures, concentrates, pre-rolls, premium flowers and more.

THE GUILD SJ

2943 Daylight Way, San Jose, CA 95111

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

The Guild San Jose is the flagship dispensary for the California Growers Guild which is well known for producing high-quality award-winning medicine and developments in the cannabis industry. It is a great stop for all your quality cannabis needs. The decor is something like the lobby of a college chemistry building. They’ve got plenty of cannabis strains that test higher than 20 percent THC as well as high CBD phenotypes. They have cartridges, edibles and concentrates from some of the best brands on the market. There are also topicals, tinctures and pre-rolls available.

HARBORSIDE

1840 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA 94606

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Harborside is a compassionate dispensary now serving the California Adult market. They have online ordering for pick up or delivery as well as fifteen percent discounts for veterans and seniors. Customers suffering from the increased taxes since January 1st can take advantage of Harborside’s weekly affordable care packages. They have dozens of strains of flowers and concentrates on their shelves at all times. They test their cannabis to ensure there are no safety or quality concerns.

HARVEST OFF MISSION

33 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in California

Harvest Off Mission is a very stylish upscale cannabis dispensary set up like a retail shop. The wooden walls and shelving give the dispensary a similar appearance to Eastern herbal shops. They have a wide variety of products and you can browse them as well as their ingredients while shopping. Harvest Off Mission doubles as a full consumption lounge. If you’re looking for a comfortable place to purchase and enjoy cannabis, look no further. You can find variety in both products and prices to suit the needs of several types of consumers.

HUMBOLDT PATIENT RESOURCE CENTER

980 6th Street Arcata, CA 95521

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

The Humboldt Patient Resource Center (HPRC) is a state permitted Adult and Medical Cannabis dispensary on the northern coast of California. The dispensary has been operating for over 19 years and it was one of the first in Humboldt County. They offer in-house cultivated flowers, edibles, concentrates, clones, tinctures, salves, oils, balms, and lab testing services. They’re an accredited business under the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating.

LUX 

1859 Little Orchard St, San Jose, CA 95125

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Lux is serving the California recreational marijuana market with award-winning strains like their Cordero Kush. They have a wide variety of THC cartridges, cannabis concentrates, top-quality flowers, topicals, prerolls and edibles. You can speed up your purchases with the option to pre-order online. Returning customers should be able to pick up their items 30 minutes after placing a preorder. They have deals going on about every other day of the week.

MAGNOLIA WELLNESS

161 Adeline St, Oakland, CA 94607

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Magnolia is a small, welcoming dispensary with quality medicine and compassionate employees. The dispensary has been serving patients in Oakland since 2009. You can find deals every week. Thursdays are “concentrates day” while Wednesday is “heavy eighth day.” They have a vape and dab bar so patients have a place to safely consume. Their calendar is loaded with events like classes for vaping or micro-dosing.

MERCY WELLNESS OF COTATI

7950 Redwood Dr #8, Cotati, CA 94931

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dispensaries-northern-california-mercywellness-e1518707757200.jpg

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Mercy Wellness does not require a medical recommendation for purchasing. However, medical marijuana patients have their own line to get their medicine faster. They are happy to help any first-time customers with questions. They’ve been highly rated since their opening and they continue to rack up positive reviews despite the hectic regulation changes at the start of the year.

MONTEREY BAY ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

800 Portola Drive, Del Rey Oaks, CA 93940

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine has a wide selection of cannabis flowers, tinctures, concentrates, edibles and more. Their staff is equipped with the knowledge to help you find the right medicine for you. If you already know what you want, you can expect an in-and-out experience. You can expect deals and great customer service at the Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine center.

MOUNT SHASTA PATIENTS COLLECTIVE

418 S Mt Shasta Blvd, Mt Shasta, CA 96067

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Mount Shasta Patients Collective is a highly-rated dispensary in Mount Shasta, California. Their customer service keeps customers happy and coming back. They have high THC and CBD-rich products. Whether you’re looking for a preroll, seeds, topicals, cartridges, edibles, concentrates or flowers they’ve got a wide variety for you to choose from.

PURPLE LOTUS PATIENTS CENTER

752 Commercial St #20, San Jose, CA 95112

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Purple Lotus Patient Center has one of the widest selections in San Jose. They have some of the best edibles, cartridges and flowers around. There are dozens of strains of flowers to choose from. If you don’t know how to roll a joint, there are still about two dozen strains of prerolls to choose from. The staff is knowledgeable enough to guide any new customers in the right direction.

PURPLE STAR MD

2520 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Adult Use (Recreational) & Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Purple Star MD provides excellent service and reasonable prices. The dispensary is set up like a head shop. They even have grinders, papers, torches and more devices to make consuming their products easier. Purple Star MD opens early and doesn’t close until 10. They carry over 50 connoisseur-quality strains and several consistencies of cannabis concentrate like shatter, crumble, hash and wax. Veterans and seniors get a twenty percent discount here.

URBAN PHARM

122 10th Street San Francisco, CA 94103

Medical Use

Best Dispensaries in Northern California

Urban Pharm is what we’d expect a bar in a steampunk universe to look like. They serve medical marijuana patients in San Francisco and host events like open mic comedy nights. If you’re looking for atmosphere this is the place to be. You will feel welcome and you can even spend some time at their dab bar. They have a nice variety of reasonably priced cannabis products for you to choose from.

BEST DISPENSARIES IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Incase you didn’t know how many dispensaries there are in California, the number is in the hundreds and many are struggling to adapt to the new regulations. The dispensaries listed above have overall positive customer feedback, a wide variety of quality cannabis products and genuine compassion for their patients as well as their adult-use consumers.

Daily, ByGreen Rush. “Best Dispensaries In Northern California.” Green Rush Daily, 22 Aug. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/guides/best-dispensaries-in-northern-california/.

NFL Suspends Alex Collins for Three Games Over Marijuana Possession

Collins is currently still a free agent and is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a broken leg back in July.

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins has finally learned his fate for the remainder of the 2019 season, nearly eight months after his initial arrest. The NFL has officially suspended the 25-year-old free agent three regular-season games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, after the Fort Lauderdale native caught with marijuana back in March.

NFL SUSPENDS ALEX COLLINS

The suspension stems from a spring arrest, where police smelled marijuana in Collins’ vehicle after a car crash. After searching the tailback’s vehicle, officers found five ounces of marijuana and a handgun. Collins was about a mile outside of the Baltimore Ravens’ practice facility at the time of the arrest.

Collins was then charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana in excess of 10 grams, and possession of a handgun in a vehicle. He was later released on $7,5000 bail. The Baltimore Ravens decided to sever ties with their former starting running back — a move that was perhaps made easier by the offseason signing of former New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram.

Collins is currently still a free agent and is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a broken leg back in July. With Collins set to be medically cleared in the coming weeks, the NFL’s decision on a three-game ban is all the more timely.

Despite Collins’ recent run-in with the law, he could be a valuable depth commodity for a team following his suspension. Last year, Collins received 114 carries for 411 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games — good for 3.6 yards a carry. He missed the final six contests of the season due to a foot injury.

In 2017, Collins broke out with the Ravens after coming over from the Seattle Seahawks — the team that drafted the former Arkansas star in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft. That season, he led the Ravens in rushing, receiving 212 carries for 973 yards and six touchdowns.

For his career,  the ex-Razorback has totaled 1,509 yards rushing on 357 carries and 14 touchdowns.

A FAMILIAR TREND

Cannabis use has, by and large, been prevalent in the NFL over the past decade. Some of the most notable suspensions have come from Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, who is currently suspended indefinitely after yet another failed drug test, and the recently-released ex-Patriots and Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was also suspended multiple times for marijuana use. Both players received year-long suspensions at different points in their careers.

Another ex-Cowboys defensive lineman, David Irving, decided to retire from the NFL after deciding to “choose weed over the NFL.

Players have clamored for the use of medicinal marijuana as a replacement for the highly addictive opioid painkillers. In fact, there have been plenty of big names to admit they’ve smoked the plant regularly during their time in the NFL. Most recently, former Detroit Lion superstar Calvin Johnson Jr., who retired early from the NFL due to fears from his health.

Kohut, ByTim. “NFL Suspends Alex Collins for Three Games Over Marijuana Possession.” Green Rush Daily, 4 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nfl-suspends-alex-collins-for-three-games-over-marijuana-possession/.

NBA’s Dion Waiters Has Panic Attack on Flight, Blames Pot Edibles

On top of missing the game he was flying to play in, he was hit with a suspension.

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters has had a less-than-desirable start to the 2019-20 NBA season. After being handed a one-game suspension from the team on opening night after getting into it with head coach Erik Spoelstra, the talented, yet volatile scorer is facing his second team-mandated suspension of the season—a season that, keep in mind, is just nine games in.

The reason for his latest suspension? Waiters had a panic attack on a flight to LA last Thursday, courtesy of pot edibles.

Hey, it happens to the best of us. Sort of.

Blame it on the Edibles

According to a report from ESPN’ NBA stalwarts Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski, Waiters suffered a panic attack on a team flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles ahead of the Heat’s showdown with LeBron James and the LA Lakers. The 27-year-old guard was listed as “out” for the game due to illness. He was allegedly treated by doctors once the plane touched down in Los Angeles.

“Waiters overdosed on ‘gummies’ sources say, and was passed out when plane landed,” an unnamed source told Miami journalist Andy Slater  “He had a seizure when he was finally woken up, I’m told.”

Waiters previously missed the Heat’s Thursday night game against the Suns due to a stomach ache. According to ESPN’s report, Waiters consumed THC-infused gummies to treat the stomach ailment. THC, of course, is still on the NBA’s banned substance list.

The guard was then handed a 10-game suspension for repeated conduct deemed detrimental to the team— his second such suspension thus far in the early NBA season.

The 10-game ban, which was effective immediately in Miami’s game against the Lakers, comes with huge financial implications for the oft-maligned guard. He’s missing out on $835,000 in salary over the 10 games, bringing his season total to around $920,000. Additionally, Waiters is set to miss out on a $1.1 million roster bonus he would be eligible for had he played in 70 contests—a number he can no longer achieve, even if healthy.

A Unique, But Somehow Unsurprising Twist

There are some around Waiters, however, who believe the guard didn’t suffer a THC-induced anxiety attack.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that a source close to Waiters believed that he didn’t even take a

“It’s notable that the ESPN report that Waiters suffered a panic attack, after reportedly ingesting a THC-infused gummy, has been disputed by a league source with direct knowledge,” Jackson wrote. “If that ‘panic attack’ information was given to ESPN by Paul — which wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude — it would serve Paul’s and Waiters’ interests by bringing the mental health issue into the equation.”

It’s unclear at the time if the panic attack was, in fact, real, or if the incident was as a carefully-thought-out ploy to force Miami’s hand in a potential Waiters trade. The guard currently has two years, $25 million left on his deal and has clashed with the Heat over playing time, dating back to last year. Waiters was fined at the end of last season for complaining about a lack of minutes.

There were also, reportedly, a few different reasons for the loft 10-game suspension— a number that is typically handed down from the league, not a team and its own player. According to Jackson, Waiters’ antics on the bench against Houston in the preseason finale, an outright refusal to participate in one of the Heat’s mandatory weigh-in, and thinly-veiled social media posts directed at head coach Erik Spoelstra and rookie sharpshooter Tyler Herro, who has essentially taken Waiters’ spot in the rotation.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, however, Miami hasn’t closed the door on a Waiters return and a buyout or trade remains unlikely.

“The Heat has let Dion Waiters know we need you back in this rotation, ” Charania said. “We want you to come back and earn your stripes.”

Waiters may or may not have to lay off on the edibles for that to happen. Of course, that’s contingent on if he even consumed them in the first place.

Kohut, ByTim. “NBA’s Dion Walters Has Panic Attack on Flight, Blames Pot Edibles.” Green Rush Daily, 12 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/sports/nbas-dion-waiters-has-panic-attack-on-flight-blames-pot-edibles/.

Brazil Approves Importation Of Medicinal Cannabis-Based Products

Non-hemp marijuana production remains illegal in the country.

Brazil policymakers have approved the sale of medical cannabis in the country, making it the largest medical marijuana market in Latin America. The country’s FDA-like governmental agency Anvisa said on Tuesday that its full regulations regarding cannabis-based products will be published shortly in Brazil’s federal gazette, and that the new laws will come into effect three months following that announcement.

The policy shift is momentous for a country that previously banned all use of cannabis, and is currently governed by the far-right administration of Jair Bolsonaro. But Brazil’s regulations have a key omission that many will see as indicative of the government; production of non-hemp cannabis will remain illegal in the country, requiring the involvement of foreign corporations in the new industry.

Forbes reports that an Anvisa spokesperson encouraged Brazilian companies to “import the semi-finished raw material, not the cannabis plant or parts thereof.”

That decision — which warranted its own vote apart from the general body of cannabis regulations — could set back the Brazilian marijuana industry. In Colombia, medical marijuana regulations have allowed for a burgeoning wave of cannabis companies while Brazil’s neighbor Uruguay became the first country in the world to allow for recreational cannabis usage and production in 2013.

The cultivation of hemp, however, will be allowed inside the country’s borders. Under Brazil’s regulations, individuals will need a doctor’s prescription to purchase cannabis products, which will only be available in registered pharmacies.

Other procedures that will be regulated by the new set of laws will be packaging, prescription requirements, manufacturing procedures, import guidelines, and licensing requirements for distributors. The regulations will be valid for the next three years.

DRUG-RELATED VIOLENCE PERSISTS

For years, activists and judicial officials have called for the legalization of marijuana and other drugs in Brazil, which is one of the world’s biggest cocaine markets. The country has suffered from the same cartel-fueled violence and concurrent police brutality as the rest of South and Central America, resulting in seven civilian fatalities a day at the hands of law enforcement at the start of the year in Rio de Janeiro.

After a mid-aughts expansion of sentencing discretion, Brazil now has the third highest prison population in the world, behind the United States and China. Black people make up slightly more than half of the country’s population and are more likely to be impacted by Drug War policing than whites.

Thousands of activists march each year in Rio’s Global Marijuana March demanding legalization to counteract the justice system’s blatant racial bias. “In countries where there is huge social inequality, like Brazil, prohibition is a factor of the production of violence,” Rio councilperson Renato Cinco once said.

International corporations announced their pleasure at the opportunities that have been established by the new Brazilian market. “We congratulate legislators and the health authority in Brazil for their leadership in establishing a legalized environment for medical cannabis in the country,” said Khiron Life Sciences Corp.’s vice president of business development Andres Galofre in a press statement. “With a population of over 200 million this will directly benefit the health and wellbeing of a significant number of patients in Brazil and affirms our position as a LatAm leader in a rapidly globalizing cannabis market.”

Donohue, Caitlin. “Brazil Approves Importation Of Medicinal Cannabis-Based Products.” High Times, 7 Dec. 2019, hightimes.com/news/brazil-approves-importation-of-medicinal-cannabis-based-products/.

Cannabis among top priorities for New York legislators in 2020

New York lawmakers are set to return to Albany this week for the start of the new legislative session, and a second year of near-total control of state government by Democrats.

During last year’s session, Democrats — who wrested control of the state Senate from Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections — passed a tsunami of bills long desired by liberals. This year, they are set to tackle complicated and weedy topics that have yet to pass, including paid surrogacy, aid-in-dying, a single-payer health care system, and legalization of recreational cannabis.

Arguing over tax revenue

Attempts to legalize recreational cannabis fizzled in New York last year. But Cuomo has said legalization is again a top priority this year.I think people are getting closer, but you know there’s still conversations to be had.Andrea-Stewart Cousins , Senate Majority Leader

One key sticking point has been deciding where any state revenues from marijuana production and sales should go. And there’s still hesitation among a number of Senate Democrats on Long Island.

“I think people are getting closer, but you know there’s still conversations to be had,” Stewart-Cousins said.

The governor has pushed for revenues to go toward the state’s general fund, while Democrats want the money to go toward more specific purposes.

“There is certainly a desire to make sure that the revenues that come in are utilized to be helpful not only to the state in general but to communities of color” negatively impacted by cannabis law enforcement, said Stewart-Cousins.

Cuomo wants New York, Connecticut, and other neighboring states to work together on recreational cannabis policies. Several Northeast Democratic governors who support legalization have found their proposals stalled by more hesitant lawmakers.

‘A very tough budget year’

A looming $6 billion deficit fueled by ballooning Medicaid costs and potential political fall-out over the end of cash bail for New Yorkers charged with nonviolent crimes are also expected to take up lawmakers’ attention this year. Labor groups also hope lawmakers pass efforts to provide protections to workers in the gig economy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicks things off with his annual State of the State address Wednesday.

“We’re going to come into January going full speed ahead,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, the Democrat who leads the Senate’s Health Committee. “We’ll do so in a very, very tough budget year.”

Republicans, who face a challenging election year, plan to criticize the rollout of new bail reforms and oppose tax hikes.

Cuomo has been announcing pieces of his 2020 agenda over the past few weeks in advance of his speech.

Initiatives announced so far include proposed restrictions on vaping advertisements and a ban on single-use plastic foam take-out containers. The third-term governor, whose administration is hashing out a budget proposal, has cautioned advocacy groups, lawmakers, and state agencies against expecting big spending initiatives.

The legislative session will end June 2, ahead of a state primary election on June 25.

Press, The Associated. “Cannabis among Top Priorities for New York Legislators in 2020.” Leafly, 6 Jan. 2020, https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/cannabis-among-top-priorities-for-new-york-legislators-in-2020.

Utah Picks Companies, Sites for Medical Cannabis ‘Pharmacies’

(enisTangneyJr/iStock)

Utah health officials plan to award pharmacy licenses to 10 companies to dispense medical cannabis at 14 sites across the state, a major development in the program’s approaching launch. Utah’s medical cannabis program refers to dispensaries as “pharmacies,” emphasizing the program’s medical aspect.

The chosen sites announced Friday by the Department of Health are largely in metro Salt Lake City or elsewhere in northern Utah, but also include two in southern Utah and one in rural eastern Utah.

Along with multiple sites in Salt Lake City, other northern Utah sites include West Bountiful, Ogden, Logan, Park City, Provo, Linden, Springville, and a location that would be Box Elder County, Morgan County, or Rich County.

The southern sites are Cedar City and St. George. The sole site in eastern Utah is Vernal.

The department said some locations could change because of various processes still underway, including site acquisitions, criminal background checks, and reviews of operating plans.

Eight sites may open as early as March while others would open by July, the department said.

The locations were evaluated and chosen through a competitive scoring process from among more than 130 applications from more than 60 companies, the department said.It was a highly competitive process and some qualified applicants will be left disappointed, but that is the nature of a highly competitive process.Richard Oborn, Director of the Center for Medical Cannabis

Criteria included medical marijuana experience, regulatory compliance, local community connections, and a strategic plan with a high likelihood of success, the department said.

“It was a highly competitive process and some qualified applicants will be left disappointed, but that is the nature of a highly competitive process,” said Richard Oborn, director of the Center for Medical Cannabis, which is part of the health agency.

Osborn said the selection of the sites is a major milestone for Utah’s launch of its medical cannabis program because it enables companies to “start to verify their locations and hire employees and really make some serious preparations for March when they plan to, when some of them will need to be rolling out.”

Utah voters approved the ballot initiative, Proposition 2, in November 2018 legalizing doctor-approved cannabis treatment for certain health conditions. State lawmakers the next month replaced the measure with a law they said puts tighter controls on the production, distribution, and use of the drug.

Desiree Hennessy, executive director of the Utah Patients Coalition, said Friday’s announcement is welcome because it means the program’s launch is approaching.

“I’m hopeful that this is one of the last pieces of the puzzle that we’re putting in place to get Utah patients the medications that we’ve been fighting for for years,” she said.

Press, The Associated. “Utah Picks Companies, Sites for Medical Cannabis ‘Pharmacies’.” Leafly, 7 Jan. 2020, https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/utah-picks-companies-sites-for-medical-cannabis-pharmacies.

New Zealand’s Cannabis Referendum Gives Power to the People

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New Zealand voters will take part in a world-leading double referendum when they vote in the general election next year. One referendum question will ask about legalizing cannabis for recreational use and the other will ask about whether euthanasia should be legalized under certain circumstances.

New Zealand has previously released the details of the proposed cannabis referendum, with the proposed law including a minimum purchase age of 20, not allowing public consumption and including controls on potency of recreational cannabis being sold.

New Zealand recently completed the regulatory foundation for its medical cannabis industry, allowing for general practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis products without any oversight from a specialist. The new rule is expected to go into effect April 1, 2020.

“There is huge international interest in the potential of medicinal cannabis. These regulations mean New Zealand companies will be well placed to manufacture for both the local and international market,” said Health Minister David Clark.

Currently, 20 companies are licensed to grow cannabis for research purposes and 238 companies are licenses to grow industrial hemp. The first commercial licenses are expected to be handed out in the middle of 2020 and products from local producers could end up in pharmacies by the end of the year.

New Zealand will also be the first country to put euthanasia to a public vote after lawmakers passed a bill explaining the country’s regulations for euthanasia. The law would allow any terminally ill patient with less than six months to live to choose euthanasia if approved by two doctors.

No other country has dealt with these issues via a public referendum, but the minor parties in the government pushed the two issues to referendum. There has been some backlash, as many believe a less informed public is doing a job that should be done by parliamentarians. 

“New Zealand’s Cannabis Referendum Gives Power to the People.” Culture Magazine, 23 Dec. 2019, https://culturemagazine.com/new-zealands-cannabis-referendum-gives-power-to-the-people/.

Coca-Cola Denies Rumors of Entering CBD Market

Coca-Cola Co. representatives denied rumors that the company is releasing a CBD-infused drink. Bloomberg News first reported that the rumor originated from a YouTube video by “Gabor the Blind Guy,” but the video was deleted shortly after being exposed as untrue.

An archived version of the video is available on a Reddit forum. In the video that claimed Coca-Cola is releasing a CBD-infused drink in Canada, a man tests a can of Coke with a childproof lid. He also claimed that his father was an engineer at Coca-Cola with inside knowledge of the company’s plans.

Coca-Cola representatives flatly denied any of the claims. “These rumors are untrue,” Coca-Cola told Bloomberg News in an emailed statement. “As we have stated many times, we have no plans to enter the CBD market.”

While the company has no immediate plans to release a CBD-infused drink, it’s not the first time rumors have circulated about a CBD-infused product. The company supposedly floated the idea of a CBD-infused drink back in 2018. In September 2018, a Coca Cola Co. “source” told BNN Bloomberg Television that it is in “serious talks” with Canada-based producer Aurora Cannabis Inc. to release a CBD product. Shortly after that story broke, the company also denied rumors of a CBD-infused drink via a press release, but didn’t address any talks with Aurora. “No decisions have been made at this time,” the company stated.

Coca-Cola’s original recipe contained minute traces of cocaine until 1929—so a Coca-Cola drink infused with cannabis isn’t entirely unrealistic.

While Coca-Cola remains reluctant to enter the CBD market, other drink-makers are not. The Bob Marley estate released a line of CBD-infused drinks last year. Professional tennis star John Isner also endorsed DEFY, a CBD-infused beverage last August. If Coca-Cola eventually decides to enter the CBD market, there is no doubt it would be a game-changer for the CBD industry.

“Denies Archives.” Culture Magazine, 3 Jan. 2020, https://culturemagazine.com/tag/denies/.

Long Lines Form on Illinois’ First Day of Recreational Cannabis Sales

New Year’s Day marked the first day of recreational cannabis sales in Illinois, and the turnout was outstanding.  According to local reports, lines formed up to several hours before dispensaries opened. While the overall outcome was positive, some customers were struck with sticker shock due to high taxes that add up quickly.

So far, about three dozen dispensaries have received adult-use licenses to sell recreational cannabis on Jan. 1. The same day, Gov. JB Pritzker granted 11,017 pardons to people with cannabis convictions that are no longer relevant. “We are ending the 50-year long war on cannabis,” he stated.

Pamela Althoff is executive director of the Springfield, Illinois-based Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. Althoff told The Associated Press that people waited up to three hours to purchase their first order of legal cannabis. “It has been joyous and well-run,” Althoff said. “People are extraordinarily courteous and civil.”

“We hope that down the line it will become less expensive,” she added. “The message from the industry is not promoting or opposing, it’s the state of Illinois made it legal and we’re here to provide a safe and a quality product for those who wish to consume. We encourage our customers to be responsible.”

Despite the initial excitement, adult-use purchases in Illinois are subject to Local County Tax, Local City Tax, Illinois Sales Tax and Illinois Recreational Excise Tax. Those taxes added up quick, leading many customers to post their receipts on social media, showing the outrageous prices.

One customer posted a receipt of a purchase of three grams of shatter that cost her over $300 after all taxes were added. Hundreds of other customers posted similar receipts with complaints about the current tax rate.

The high taxes also suggest high numbers of potential cannabis tax revenue that the state could reap. Cannabis sales could generate $250 million in tax revenue for Illinois by 2022, according to state financial experts.

Grad Students Designed a Machine that Extracts Cannabis Oil at Home

The product, called ‘Nectar’, can obtain cannabis oil from flowers by pressing just a few buttons.

Five grad students from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina designed a machine that can extract medicinal oil at home. The product, still in its prototype stages, will allow lay people to retrieve high-quality cannabis oil with minimum effort and at low costs.

Just enter the flower buds in the metal cylinder, set the pressure and temperature on the screen and hit play. The process can take from 5 minutes up to a few hours, depending on the herbs inserted, since Nectar also has the ability to extract essential oils from other plants like lavender, peppermint and sage.

Defining a Market for Nectar to ‘Extract its Juice’

The five students, who are all under 25, developed Nectar as their Master’s Thesis for their final course in Industrial Design. On a conversation with Green Rush Daily, team member Franco Di Paolo told us:

“We’re wrapping up our business model, because, although the product is finished, the final version could change depending on the opportunities we find from investors, which will determine the size of production, which affects the final product itself”.

Nectar was conceived for markets like Argentina, where although production of cannabis for medicinal purposes was officially legalized, patients have to go through hell to get an authorization from the government, and once they do, families need to import the medicine at ridiculously high prices (like $400 dollars for a month’s supply). Other options include using house-made chemistry sets that by no means guarantee a safe and reliable result, or rely on black market products, that extract the oil using toxic solvents, without any type of control or health regulation.

“This product will have a greater impact in the many places where good quality oil cannot be yet found” -Said Di Paolo. While the final price for the machine has not been defined, the group is estimating that for a normal family, Nectar will cost as much as a big-screen TV.

The student group is still searching for investors to develop mass production, so those looking to jump in the Green Rush should keep an eye on the bunch.

Possibilities Outside of the Medical Cannabis Business

As an oil extraction device for different types of herbal plants, Nectar has many capabilities that are still to be explored. Since the students are still looking for investors, they remain open to the many markets that could benefit from the device:

Di Paolo: “Nectar has a lot of other possible uses as a research tool for labs. In that context, its price will be a lot more accessible, when compared to other extraction equipment out there.”

When discussing the extraction method used by Nectar, the grad student told us: “The extraction technology we use leaves no residue and is completely harmless. we’re gathering up the last bits of data together, making some final tests we colleagues from the University’s Biochemistry Department.”

By using solid Carbon Dioxide (also known to regular folks as dry ice), the machine takes advantage of CO2’s ability to extract different cannabinoids like THC or CBD, depending to the decided pressure and temperature.

Other uses include rapid quality control for grains in the agricultural sector and the extraction of essential oils for cosmetics.

Study Finds Fewer Young Adults Abuse Cannabis Despite Legalization

As legalization expands, fewer young adults and adolescents who use cannabis on an almost daily basis are developing cannabis use disorders.

As legalization expands, fewer young adults and adolescents who use cannabis on an almost daily basis are developing cannabis use disorders.

An important new study published in this month’s issue of “Drug and Alcohol Dependence” reveals a surprising trend in the age of legalization: fewer young people are developing cannabis use disorders. More specifically, among individuals aged 12-25 who report daily or almost daily cannabis use, instances of behaviors defined as cannabis abuse or dependance have decreased significantly. In short, the young people who smoke cannabis the most aren’t having a problem with it.

The results stunned the study’s authors, who expected to observe the opposite trend among regular cannabis users, especially in such “high risk” groups as teens. The study, which surveyed 22,651 individuals who used cannabis more than 300 days in the past year, complicates our understanding of the dynamics between cannabis legalization and use among young people. It also provides important insights into the relationship between regular cannabis consumption and the negative behaviors associated with substance dependence and abuse.

YOUNG PEOPLE WHO GET HIGH THE MOST AREN’T DEVELOPING DEPENDENCY

The DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by mental health professionals, defines drug and alcohol abuse and dependence with several specific criteria. Abuse, for example, is identified by behaviors like failing to fulfill important obligations at workschool or home, putting yourself at risk when you obtain or use a substance, legal problems, and the inability to quit despite all that. Dependence, according to the DSM, involves things like needing to consume more of a substance due to high tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and an inability to control persistent desires to consume a substance.

It was exactly those characteristics that researchers looked for in young people who reported using cannabis 300-plus days a year. Using data spanning 2002-2016 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the study’s authors analyzed 22,651 individuals for “cannabis use disorder” or CUD, defined using the DSM-IV criteria for dependence and abuse. The study looked at three age groups: 12-17, 18-25 and 26 and above.

Across each age group and for each abuse item, the prevalence of DSM-IV cannabis use decreased. The results for dependency items were more varied. Researchers observed the most significant decrease in the 12-17 group. Among adolescents, the study’s results indicate that CUD behaviors decreased by 43.9 percent. For young adults, the 18-25 age group, dependency behaviors decreased by 26.8 percent.

Among the adults aged 26 and over, however, the patterns of dependence were more mixed. Researchers say that from 2002 to 2016, CUD dependencies remained constant for adults 26 and older while dropping significantly for young adults and adolescents.

DOES NORMALIZING MARIJUANA LEAD TO FEWER USE DISORDERS

Many of the legalization measures past in states across the U.S. set aside public funds to support cannabis research. Much of that research involves studying medical cannabis and developing new treatments. But to respond to the public health concerns raised by legalization opponents, skeptics and supporters alike, a significant portion of cannabis research investigates how legalization impacts use habits across the population.

Most of those concerns involve the impact of legalization on young people, especially with their cognitive development and behavioral habits. Lawmakers, doctors and health professionals across the country have all sounded the alarm about legalization potentially increasing teen cannabis consumption.

So far, researchers haven’t seen the dramatic uptick in cannabis use among young people in the wake of legalization. In fact, older adults like Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers are spending the most cash on legal cannabis, whereas cannabis use among young people appears to be holding steady or even declining in some states.

But what this study shows is that even among young people, regular, almost daily cannabis use isn’t leading to the ills of dependency and abuse that some feared. In fact, for young people, the opposite appears to be the case. Put otherwise, the study’s results help to highlight the relative safety of cannabis as a mood-altering substance. Unlike other popular and legal substances, regular cannabis consumption isn’t inevitably leading to dependency and abuse.

Drury, ByAdam. “Study Finds Fewer Young Adults Abuse Cannabis Despite Legalization.” Green Rush Daily, 31 Oct. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/news/study-finds-fewer-young-adults-abuse-cannabis-despite-legalization/.

Chicago PD Release Video Showing Where You Can Smoke Weed Legally

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Find out where you will be allowed to consume cannabis before it becomes legal in Illinois in a few weeks.

Recreational cannabis is slated to become legal in the state of Illinoisstarting January 1, 2020. As that date approaches, cities throughout the state are getting ready to implement changes.

In some locations, that means flat-out banning the sale and consumption of marijuana. In other places, that means rolling out public information campaigns.

The city of Chicago will allow cannabis sales and consumption. Recently, the city launched an informational campaign called Cannabis Facts Chicago. The initiative aims to give city residents an overview of everything related to recreational weed. That includes information on consumption, the effects of marijuana, and how new laws will work in 2020.

Most recently, the Chicago Police Department published a video explaining where people will and will not be allowed to smoke weed when it becomes legal next year.

Chicago PD’s New Video

The PD posted the video to its Facebook page yesterday. In it, a police officer explains a number of rules that will go into effect next year.

According to the video, the main rules about legal weed in Chicago include:

  • Only adults 21 and older can buy, possess, and consume weed.
  • It will be legal to buy and possess up to 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of weed-infused products.
  • The only place to buy weed legally is from a licensed retailer, nobody else.
  • It will still be illegal to grow weed at home. Medical marijuana patients with a card are the only ones who can grow weed.

After outlining the main rules about buying and possessing weed, the video turns its focus on where it will be legal to consume it.

Here’s where you will be allowed to consume cannabis private residences. However, the video noted that landlords can ban residents from smoking. Additionally, it is legal to consume in designated consumption spaces.

On the other hand, there are a number of places where it will still be illegal to consume weed. This includes inside cars. Similarly, it will be illegal to consume weed on public transportation property.

Additionally, you can’t smoke weed near public schools or in public places like restaurants, cafes, sidewalks, and parks.

Cannabis in Chicago

These public education programs are not the only ways Chicago is preparing for legalization. At different times throughout the year, city authorities have outlined specific rules and guidelines.

Some of the most important rules and guidelines established by local officials have to do with where retail will be allowed.

Most notably, in September, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new zoning rules outlining where dispensaries will and will not be allowed to operate.

Under these rules, the city will be divided into seven zones. Starting in January, each zone will be allowed to contain seven dispensaries.

From there, Lightfoot’s plan will scale up the number of dispensaries in the city. Specifically, each zone will be allowed to open seven more dispensaries beginning in May 2020.

However, there is also one “exclusion zone” in the city. There will be no dispensaries in downtown Chicago. Specifically, this zone includes most of the Loop and the Magnificent Mile.

Kohut, ByTim. “Women Prefer Cannabis Strains High in CBD, According to New Study.” Green Rush Daily, 31 Oct. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/health/cbd/women-prefer-cannabis-strains-high-in-cbd-according-to-new-study/.

ILLINOIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JOINS HUNDREDS IN LINE TO BUY LEGAL WEED

Governor Juliana Stratton was among consumers eagerly waiting in line to legally purchase recreational cannabis in Illinois for the first time ever.

As of January 1, 2020 recreational weed is legal in Illinois. Even better, the state’s recreational retail system also went into full effect that day. Now, it’s possible to purchase and possess weed in the state.

On the first day of legal sales, shops saw significant demand. That included long lines of consumers excited to be among the first to make legal purchases. And in some cases, those lines included high profile people. Most notably, the state’s Lieutenant Governor was there to make a purchase of her own.

Long Lines for First Day of Weed Sales

According to local news source KTLA, there were long lines at dispensaries before shops even opened their doors. Specifically, many places had lines so long it took roughly three hours before consumers could actually enter a shop and make a purchase.

The first legal purchase in Illinois was made by a man named Renzo Mejia.

“To be able to have here is just mind-boggling,” he told local media.

Mejia was one of about 500 people lined up outside a Chicago dispensary hours before the shop opened its doors. Interestingly, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton was also among consumers eagerly waiting in line. Per local media reports, she purchased gummies from a Chicago dispensary.

“I’m here to celebrate a big day in Illinois,” Stratton said of her purchase.

Throughout the day of Jan. 1 lines got shorter and shorter, as shops filled people’s orders and consumers made their purchases. From the sounds of things, there were no significant product shortages, as has happened in other places that have legalized weed.

Illinois’ Legal Weed Laws

Under Illinois’ new weed laws, adults 21 and older can purchase, possess, and consume recreational weed. Specifically, they can possess up to 30 grams of weed at any time. Additionally, consumers can have up to five grams of concentrates. It still illegal to consume weed in public.

As for the business side of the industry, the state has licensed 16 cultivation centers. Additionally, there have been almost 36 dispensaries licensed to sell products.

Authorities predict that recreational weed in Illinois could generate as much $250 million in sales by 2022.

Social Justice

Importantly, legalization in Illinois is not only about being able to purchase, possess, and consume weed. The state also included some efforts to address social harms caused by previous prohibition laws.

Specifically, the new laws allow for people arrested or convicted of certain weed related charges to have their records expunged. And as soon as legal sales began, state lawmakers moved to begin the expungement process.

According to the Associated Press, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has already granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana offenses. Now that Pritzker has issued the pardons, they will move on to the state attorney general, where those records can officially be cleared or sealed.

Officials said there are roughly 116,000 convictions that are eligible for pardons. Additionally, there are another 34,000 records that are eligible for a different process in which individuals must file court petitions to get their records cleared.

Even more, the AP reports that law enforcement agencies have five years to expunge records for people who were arrested but not convicted of low level marijuana charges. There are an estimated 572,000 arrest records that would qualify for this process.

Kohut, ByTim. “Women Prefer Cannabis Strains High in CBD, According to New Study.” Green Rush Daily, 31 Oct. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/health/cbd/women-prefer-cannabis-strains-high-in-cbd-according-to-new-study/.

Construction Workers Most Likely To Use Drugs, New Study Says

Pot being the most popular.

Construction workers are the most likely to use drugs, according to a new study. The types of drugs may surprise you—cannabis should be the least of the public’s concern.

Researchers with New York University published their research Wednesday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. They’re the most likely to misuse prescription opioids and to use cocaine. As for cannabis, they’re second-most likely; those in service jobs took the prize for cannabis.

POT MOST POPULAR WITH CONSTRUCTION WORKERS

“It makes sense that we see higher rates of construction workers using pain-relieving substances such as opioids and marijuana, given the labor-intensive nature of their work and high rates of injuries,” said lead author Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at NYU College of Global Public Health, in a statement.

True, but that’s also why it’s such a risk for them to use such drugs. In 2017, one of five of the 4,674 worker deaths were in the construction industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s mostly due to falls, but electrocutions and injuries also contributed. That makes this sector among the most dangerous to work in.

“Construction workers are at an increased risk for drug use, which makes them vulnerable to work-related injuries or even overdose deaths,” said Ompad, in a statement.

The study authors examined this issue looking at nearly 10 years worth of data of more than 293,000 people between 2005 and 2014 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Construction workers made up about 6 percent of the sample—16,610 participants—and they also included workers in the extraction and mining sector. The researchers compared their responses to people in 13 other jobs, also learning about workplace drug policies.

Compared to all other sectors, construction misused prescription opioids by 3.4 percent, compared to 2 percent. With cocaine, 1.8 percent of workers reported using compared to 0.8 percent elsewhere. Many more use pot—12.3 percent—but it’s was 0.1 percent less than the rate from the service industry.

RECENTLY UNEMPLOYED WORKERS AT HIGHER RISK FOR DRUG USE

The team found that instability in the workplace also contributed to increased drug use. Those workers who have been unemployed in the last week or working three or more jobs were more likely to use cannabis and abuse prescription opioids. The scientists also found connections between workers who skipped work and those who used cannabis, cocaine, and prescription opioids.

While cannabis is fairly safe, the opioid epidemic has killed hundreds of thousands over the last 20 years, per the Centers for Disease and Control. This study highlights the risk this sector faces in light of the opioid crisis.

Fun, ByLissett. “Construction Workers Most Likely To Use Drugs, New Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 30 Oct. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/news/construction-workers-most-likely-to-use-drugs-new-study-says/.

3,350 POUNDS OF HEMP SEIZED FROM U-HAUL WAS MISTAKEN FOR MARIJUANA

Aneudy Gonzalez spent a month in the custody of U.S. Marshals before his felony marijuana possession charge was dismissed.

On December 5, 2019, Texas Highway Patrol pulled over a U-Haul truck for an alleged traffic violation. Officers then searched the cargo area of the truck, which was loaded with 3,350 pounds of hemp. But Texas Highway Patrol thought it was marijuana, not hemp. The driver of the truck, 39-year-old Aneudy Gonzalez, showed officers lab sheets identifying the cargo as hemp. But lab sheets weren’t enough to convince Texas cops or the DEA agent they called for backup. Instead, troopers arrested Gonzalez, charged him with felony possession, and threw him in jail in Amarillo.

One month later, Gonzalez is now a free man. A federal court threw out his case and dropped the charges against him. But Gonzalez still had to spend a month in jail because Texas police and federal DEA agents couldn’t distinguish between illegal marijuana and legal hemp.

Innocent Driver Spent Month in Jail for Transporting Legal Hemp

After seizing 3,350 pounds of hemp mistaken for marijuana, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers took to social media to brag about their latest and greatest drug bust. They slandered an innocent man, Aneudy Gonzalez, as a drug trafficker they’d taken off the streets and proudly stood for photographs beside the thousands of pounds of seized hemp they said was dangerous marijuana.

But Gonzalez wasn’t trafficking weed. He was delivering hemp from California to a commercial buyer in New York. He had lab reports showing that the plants were hemp and that they contained less than the legal limit of 0.3 percent THC. But none of that mattered to Texas state troopers or a DEA task force agent called in to assist with the “bust.”

DEA Agent Admitted to Not Knowing Texas, Federal Hemp Laws

It didn’t matter, because law enforcement officials were completely ignorant about the law. Both Texas Highway Patrol and a DEA agent had no idea about the recent federal legalization of hemp or Texas’s own hemp laws. They also had no idea what the legal THC limit for hemp is. The DEA agent called in to assist believed the limit was 0.03 percent THC. But the actual legal limit is ten times higher at 0.3 percent.

Furthermore, Texas troopers had no probable cause to arrest Gonzalez. But because of the DEA’s failure to distinguish between marijuana and hemp, Gonzalez had to spend a month in jail under the custody of U.S. Marshals.

“The idea that Texas DPS and ultimately, a DEA task force agent, would have no idea what the law is and people go to jail that are completely innocent is horrifying to me,” said Gonzalez’s attorney, Daniel Mahler, in a statement.

Federal Court Dismisses Felony Possession Charges

It would take a month for federal DEA agents to run their own tests on the 3,350 pounds of hemp seized by Texas police. Those tests proved what Gonzalez had been saying all along: he was transporting legal hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC.

As a result, a federal court dismissed the felony charge against Gonzalez: “possession with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marihuana.”

Now, Gonzalez and his attorney are seeking damages and compensation for the month Gonzalez spent behind bars for doing nothing wrong. After his release January 2, Gonzalez flew back to New York City where he was reunited with his family.

“The idea that we’re going to arrest people and sort it out later is — that’s not how any of this works,” Mahler said.

Drury, ByAdam. “3,350 Pounds of Hemp Seized From U-Haul Was Mistaken for Marijuana.” Green Rush Daily, 3 Jan. 2020, https://greenrushdaily.com/news/3350-pounds-of-hemp-seized-from-u-haul-was-mistaken-for-marijuana/.

NEW STUDY SHOWS STUDENTS ARE LESS LIKELY TO BINGE DRINK WHERE CANNABIS IS LEGAL

Problem binge drinking decrease by an average of six percent among of-age college students in states with legalized recreational marijuana.

New Study Shows Students Are Less likely to Binge Drink Where Cannabis Is Legal

Ten year’s worth of data from a survey of American college students with 1.1 million participants shows that of-age students are less likely to binge drink where recreational cannabis is legal. That’s according to a new study just published in Addictive Behaviors, one of the first to investigate how university students’ substance consumption changes after states legalize recreational marijuana. Researchers have already detected trends of increased cannabis consumption among college students after legalization. But this new study suggests that students are substituting cannabis for alcohol and binge drinking less often as a result.

Recreational Marijuana Legalization Decreased Binge Drinking Among Of-Age College Students

In a newly published study, researchers examine trends in college students’ alcoholnicotine, prescription opioid and other drug use after recreational marijuana legalization. Using data from surveys of American university students from 2008 to 2018, researchers wanted to see how recreational marijuana legalization (RML) impacts other substance use trends.

The study highlights how RML was linked to decreased binge drinking prevalence among university students old enough to legally consume alcohol. After states legalize recreational weed, researchers observed a decrease in college binge drinking by an average of 6 percent.

Oregon State University Ph.D student Zoe Alley, one of the study’s authors, said the decrease could be accounted for by the wider availability of cannabis after legalization. “When you reach the legal drinking age, suddenly a lot of people transition to using more alcohol because now it’s more available and marijuana is not,” said Alley. Legalizing marijuana, by contrast, may prevent students who turn 21 from substituting alcohol for cannabis based on availability.

The data supports Alley’s hypothesis. In Oregon, for example, where cannabis and alcohol are about equally available, fewer people are turning to alcohol. As a result, there appears to be less alcohol misuse and abuse.

Researchers Expect Legalization to Change Substance Use Trends in U.S. and Canada

The phenomenon of expanding or substituting substances based on availability and convenience is one researchers are only beginning to understand. But experts expect RML to alter substance use trends in both the U.S. and Canada. In Canada, the legal age for alcohol and cannabis are in many provinces lower than they are in the U.S. But a dearth of retail storesand product shortages in Canada have made cannabis less available than alcohol, at least so far.

Still, expanding the availability of legal cannabis could reduce binge drinking in Canada, too, as it has in the United States. And that could be a big win for public health.

Many experts acknowledge that the harms and risks of alcohol outweigh the risks of cannabis consumption. From cancer to liver disease, to sexual assault, drunk driving, and fatal alcohol poisoning (problems that plague college campuses), alcohol is the greater health and public safety risk.

But the exact relationship between RML and other substance use is still up for debate. Some studies have shown RML increases alcohol consumption in some populations, while others show a decrease or no relationship at all between legalization and alcohol use. This new study specifically examines how legalization changes alcohol use trends among college students who are 21 and over. “The biggest takeaway from our paper is that problem binge drinking in college students who are 21 and over changes after the implementation of recreational marijuana use,” said Alley.

Drury, Adam. “New Study Shows Students Are Less Likely to Binge Drink Where Cannabis Is Legal.” High Times, 3 Jan. 2020, https://hightimes.com/news/new-study-shows-students-less-likely-binge-drink-cannabis-legal/.

U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION RAISES MINIMUM AGE TO BUY TOBACCO TO 21

New spending package initiates key changes to tobacco laws.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Raises Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco To 21

Following the passage of a new spending package at the end of December, the age for purchasing tobacco in the U.S. has now changed. Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised the age from 18 to 21.

Spending Package Initiates Change to Tobacco Rules

The new change was part of a $1.4 trillion spending package signed by President Donald Trump on December 20. The package touched on a number of things, including tobacco sales, gun violence research, and Trump’s border wall.

On the tobacco front, the new package tasked the FDA with implementing a new change such that 21 is now the minimum age for buying tobacco.

USA Today originally reported that it was not clear when that change would go into effect. But the FDA’s website now makes it look as if the change has already been put into place.

A note from the FDA reads: “On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.”

The note continued: “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product—including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes—to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.”

The change, and the spending package it was part of, reportedly had bipartisan support. In fact, the change echoed similar changes already enacted in different parts of the country.

Specifically, USA Today reported that 19 states and Washington D.C. had already raised the minimum age for buying tobacco. Now, the new federal law simply aligns with these more local changes.

FDA and Tobacco Products

This new change is the latest in several fairly recent tobacco-related changes coming down from the FDA. Most notably, in recent months and years, the FDA has begun tightening restrictions on tobacco vape products.

Most recently, the FDA sent Juul Labs a warning letter in September. Juul Labs is the company behind the explosively popular tobacco e-cigarette product Juul. However, amid its popularity, the company has faced significant backlash over what many claim is a product that tends to target underage consumers.

In the FDA’s September letter to Juul Labs, the agency told the company it can no longer advertise that its products are safer than regular cigarettes. In the letter, the FDA specifically mentioned young consumers.

“Our concern is amplified by the epidemic rate of increase in youth use of [electronic nicotine delivery system] products, including JUUL’s products, and evidence that [electronic nicotine delivery system] products contribute to youth use of, and addiction to, nicotine, to which youth are especially vulnerable.”

In November, the company stopped selling its mint flavored products. That same month, Washington D.C. and several states launched a lawsuit against Juul Labs. The suits claim that the company’s marketing and promotional materials wrongfully target minors.

Juul Labs is not the only tobacco company to face increased scrutiny in recent months. In fact, vaping products in general—both those containing THC and those containing only tobacco products—have faced a lot of pressure in the wake of vape-related lung injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

Lindsey, Nick. “U.S. Food and Drug Administration Raises Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco To 21.” High Times, 2 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/food-drug-administration-raises-minimum-age-buy-tobacco/.

FIRST DAY OF RECREATIONAL CANNABIS IN ILLINOIS HAS GENERATED NEARLY $3.2 MILLION

Consumers waited in hours-long lines for their chance to be among the first to buy legal marijuana in Illinois.

First Day of Recreational Cannabis In Illinois Has Generated Nearly $3.2 Million

New Year’s Day was a historic day for cannabis in the United States. At 6 a.m. CST, more than three dozen licensed cannabis shops opened their doors for the first time, as Illinois joined the ranks of 10 other states with legalized recreational marijuana. Waiting on the other side of those doors were thousands of Illinoisans—and some out-of-staters— eager to be among the first to legally purchase cannabis in the state. And by the time shops closed up for the night, marking the end of the first day of retail cannabis, they’d tallied nearly $3.2 million in sales. Compare that to Colorado, which raked in just over $1 million in its first day of legal retail on January 1, 2014.

Illinois Tallies 77,128 Cannabis Sales on Day 1

77,128 transactions, averaging $41.18 each, for a total sales tally of $3,176,256. Those are the numbers the Illinois Department of Financial and Profession Regulation reported from the first day of recreational cannabis in Illinois. On New Year’s Day, January 1, 2020, Illinois became the eleventh state to permit people 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis for recreational use. And Illinoisans came out in droves, many waiting in hours-long lines, to celebrate their new liberties.

“I’m here to celebrate a big day in Illinois,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, who stood in line to buy a bottle of THC-infused gummies. Indeed, the scenes outside retail dispensaries were like little celebrations themselves, “joyous,” in the words of Pamela Althoff, executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. “People are extraordinarily courteous and civil,” Althoff said.

From Chicago to Collinsville, retail shops attracted thousands of customers willing to wait patiently in lines that stretched down streets, through alleys, around parking lots and across fields to purchase weed legally. And those lines are still there, and likely will be for the foreseeable future.

To manage the overwhelming demand, some shops have implemented purchase limits well shy of the 30 gram possession limit for flower and the 5 gram limit for concentrate. A statewide shortage of flower could mean limited options until cultivators can catch up.

Illinois Gov. Pritzker Marks Start of Legal Sales with 11,000 Pardons

Beyond the blowout sales figures, Wednesday was also an important day for two major provisions of Illinois’ recreational marijuana law. First, Wednesday marked the deadline for social equity applicants to file cannabis business license applications. Illinois’ marijuana law includes social equity provisions that lower licensing fees and provide lending and technical assistance for qualified applicants. These provisions aim boost industry participation among minorities and those most adversely impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.

A second social justice provision of Illinois’ recreational marijuana law provides criminal record expungement for low-level marijuana offenses. The expungement provision kicked in January 1, with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issuing more than 11,000 pardons for misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

Cannabis Shops Will More than Double in May

Illinois’ recreational cannabis industry is now in full swing, and set to expand significantly in the coming months. So far, the state has licensed 37 retail cannabis shops. But by May 2020, regulators say they’ll approve another 75 applicants. If regulators hold to that schedule, the state’s legal industry would better be able to meet consumer demand.

Adding more retail locations could also help lower prices. Many consumers are experiencing sticker shock at the dispensary checkout, with eighths of flower weighing in at around $65 plus sales tax. And due to higher excise taxes on infused products and products exceeding 35 percent THC, Illinois consumers will end up paying more than double for edibles and concentrates than consumers in markets like Michigan.

While high prices are raising criticisms that Illinois’ legal industry won’t be able to compete with illicit sellers, selling $3.2 million worth of cannabis in a single day suggests many are willing to pay the premium for legal, regulated, tested products. State officials estimate that by 2022, legal retail cannabis sales could generate $250 million for the state in taxes and fees.

Drury, Adam. “First Day of Recreational Cannabis In Illinois Has Generated Nearly $3.2 Million.” High Times, 2 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/news/first-day-recreational-cannabis-illinois-generated-nearly-3-2-million/.

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA SALES WILL BE LEGAL IN MICHIGAN THIS DECEMBER

Officials in Michigan confirmed that recreational sales will be allowed beginning on December 1.

Legal marijuana in Michigan has been through some big ups and downs over the past handful of years. At one point, the state nearly shut down all medical marijuana dispensaries in order to roll out a new set of rules and regulations. Luckily for patients, that never happened.

Nonetheless, it’s been something of a long road in the state. But now, it looks like full-scale recreational cannabis is about to become available to consumers in Michigan.

According to state officials, retail sales of recreational marijuana are now scheduled to go into effect on December 1.

NEW ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MICHIGAN AUTHORITIES

Earlier today, officials in Michigan confirmed that recreational sales will begin on December 1. The announcement came amid ongoing uncertainty if or when retail might actually begin.

Initially, it looked like recreational sales might not kick off until some time in the first quarter of 2020. That’s because officials originally did not want to bring any product over from the medical marijuana side of things.

This plan would have required all products intended for the recreational market to start out from scratch. As a result, the earliest products could have hit shelves would be early 2020, after the first complete growing cycle.

But instead of putting the recreational market on hold for that long, authorities reached a compromise.

Now, the plan is to allow certain licensed medical marijuana companies to transfer up to 50 percent of all inventory into the recreational market. As a result, sales can start much quicker than waiting for a full harvest to be completed.

“This approach will allow for a transition to the adult use market as we estimate that there will be around a dozen or so licensees who would be eligible on Dec. 1,” David Harns, spokesperson for Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, told local news source MLive.

He added: “Similar to the medical market, we expect it be a slow build out as the production of plants and products increases. This will create an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible.”

FEAR OF ILLICIT MARKET CATALYZES DECISION

According to local news reports, concerns about the illicit marijuana market were key drivers in the decision to initiate recreational sales sooner rather than wait until next year.

Specifically, many were concerned that delaying retail might push consumers into to the illicit market.

At the same time, authorities did not want to slow down or harm the medical marijuana program.

But by allowing for an initial transfer of products from the medical market to the recreational market, authorities believe they can accomplish all their goals simultaneously.

“By only allowing a transfer of 50%, it will keep production and sales on the medical side moving as well,” Harns said.”Businesses will make decisions to move products where the demand exists, including the non-flower products that are currently in abundance.”

The new decision puts Michigan on pace for a potentially robust recreational market.

In addition to today’s announcement, the state started taking applications for recreational businesses on November 1. Already, authorities say they have begun approving applications and issuing early licenses.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Recreational Marijuana Sales Will Be Legal in Michigan on Dec. 1.” Green Rush Daily, 13 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/recreational-marijuana-to-be-available-in-michigan-as-soon-as-dec-1/.

Recreational Dispensaries in Michigan Are Running Out of Product

Shutterstock

Shops that still have product are finding different ways to stretch out their remaining supply.

Michigan launched recreational marijuana retail on December 1. And not surprisingly, retailers saw massive demand right out of the gate. So much so, in fact, that many shops have either started running out of product or have had to implement purchase limits.

One way or another, it seems clear that Michigan’s recreational market is off to a strong start—almost too strong.

Massive Demand

According to Michigan news outlet MLive, there are currently 10 cannabis businesses licensed to participate in the recreational market. And so far, only five have actually started recreational sales.

Almost immediately, these shops saw massive demand. There were long lines reported at these dispensaries, located across the state.

All those lines translated into very active sales. According to local media, the first four shops to begin selling recreational weed combined for a total of $221,000 in sales on day one.

Weed Shops Try to Handle Massive Sales

Recreational retailers currently open in the state have taken actions to try and address all this activity.

Here’s a rundown of what shops have been doing:

  • Greenstone Provisions said it ran out of weed on Sunday and Monday. They are trying to restock every day to keep up. Additionally, the shop started limiting customers to 7 grams per day.
  • Michigan Supply and Provisions also ran the risk of running out of product. They instituted a purchase limit to try and avoid that happening.
  • Arbors Wellness had to cap sales to an eighth per person to avoid shortages.

Recreational Marijuana in Michigan

Recreational marijuana in Michigan has gotten off to an interesting start. And that extends even beyond the initial product shortages.

Prior to the Dec. 1 start of recreational weed, it looked as if sales might not start until well into 2020. That’s because lawmakers were initially thinking about waiting for the first full harvest of products grown specifically for the recreational market.

However, authorities changed their minds on this issue in November. Instead of waiting for the next harvest to be completed, officials decided to expedite things and go for a Dec. 1 launch.

To make it happen, they made a temporary arrangement in which medical marijuana companies and dispensaries were allowed to transition a portion of their medical inventory over to recreational inventory.

Officials believed this plan would strike a balance. On the one hand, it would clear up enough inventory to get the recreational market up and running quickly.

And on the other hand, it would theoretically leave enough products on the medical side to avoid disrupting the state’s medical-marijuana program.

“This approach will allow for a transition to the adult-use market,” Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency spokesperson David Harns said in November. “Similar to the medical market, we expect it to be a slow build-out as the production of plants and products increases. This will create an environment where businesses can supply the market as quickly as possible.”

For many authorities, starting recreational sales earlier rather than later—even if it means seeing potential product shortages—was the better option. In particular, there were concerns about getting out in front of the illicit market.

Some feared that any delays in the recreational market would simply push more people to continue buying from illicit sources.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Recreational Dispensaries in Michigan Are Running Out of Product.” Green Rush Daily, 9 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/legalization/recreational-dispensaries-in-michigan-are-running-out-of-product/.

Legal Cannabis Stores Fall Under Fire in Connection with Massachusetts Vaping Illnesses

The vape-lung crisis that started proliferating across the United States in August has allegedly claimed the lives of 47 people in 25 states and the District of Columbia; three of the deaths occurred in Massachusetts. An additional 2,300 people have been affected in every U.S. state. This is all according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Fingers were initially being pointed at black market dealers initially, but a recent update from the Department of Public Health suggests that state-licensed dispensaries are also to blame for the health crisis. Six patients in Massachusetts with likely cases of vaping-related lung problems have reported falling ill after using regulated cannabis products sold inside state-licensed dispensaries. 

As a result, a handful of branded products containing the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) were deemed dangerous after being used by patients with suspected cases/confirmed cases of lung illness; “Dank” labeled products constituted a large portion of the dangerous products. 

This information was released by the state on Thursday, December 5. However, state officials have not confirmed which products are regulated or unregulated. State data indicates that 22 out of 90 sick individuals in Massachusetts used THC vape products that were purchased from illegal sources.

President of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, David O’Brien, has urged state officials to disclose the names of licensed companies suspected of selling contaminated goods. His company provides representation for legal cannabis companies in the state.

“The industry wants to know if there’s cause for alarm so we can address it. If they think the companies have an issue, they should tell the companies at least, and tell the ,” O’Brien said, adding that, “I’ve not heard of any other cases being linked to regulated products.”

DISCOVERY OF VITAMIN E ACETATE CONCERNS

A “breakthrough” laboratory discovery was announced by CDC officials on November 8, when the lung fluids of 29 sick people were found to contain vitamin E acetate. Officials are concerned that vitamin E acetate is the main chemical that has cost many people their lives and health in the U.S. as of late.

Although the stable form of vitamin E is commonly used as a skincare aid, it can be lethal when added to vaping or e-cigarette products. Moreover, additional substances should not be added to vape products sold in retail establishments. Unfortunately, it’s happening anyway, as vendors battle to undercut one another, on price, by diluting THC oil with alternative substances. 

According to the CDC, THC-rich products obtained from “informal sources” – such as street dealers and online dealers – are the most high-risk. The agency believes that these products are mostly to blame for the vape-lung crisis. On the other hand, Agency officials have admitted that they cannot dismiss the potential of contaminated THC vape products having already infiltrated the legal market. 

The CDC has alerted people who vape that they should be on the lookout for the following symptoms associated with vaping-related lung problems:

  • Respiratory issues, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and persistent cough
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Temperature problems, such as chills or fever

While some patients claim that their symptoms surfaced within a couple of days, others say that they noticed their symptoms linger and worsen over a number of weeks. 

MASSACHUSETTS THC VAPE PRODUCT BAN COMES TO AN END

Legal recreational cannabis sales kicked off in Massachusetts in November 2018. The state is certainly feeling the effects of the vape-lung crisis, what with the sale of THC vaporizer products – not including dry herb vape products – recently being banned by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). However, the ban was lifted prematurely on December 11.

According to the CCC, data will now be analyzed to determine if there is, in fact, a direct connection between THC vape products and sickness.

“Immediately, the Commission will use this new data toward its ongoing investigation into whether marijuana products manufactured by Massachusetts licensees contain substances or contaminants of concern and thoroughly explore the origin of the products identified by DPH,” said a spokesperson for the Agency.

Jenkins, ByBethan. “Dispensaries Fall Under Fire in Connection with Massachusetts Vaping Illnesses.” Green Rush Daily, 17 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/legal-cannabis-stores-fall-under-fire-in-connection-with-massachusetts-vaping-illnesses/.

Man Arrested After Giving Away Marijuana ‘Because it was Christmas’

He was trying to spread some holiday spirit.

The holiday season is all about food, family, friends, and the act of giving.

Oh and apparently, handing out weed to random strangers. Although, one could probably just put that under the umbrella of “giving.”

And give is exactly what 67-year-old Richie Ellis Spurrier did. The St. Petersburg resident was caught blessing random strangers with marijuana over the weekend. While that warms our heart here at Green Rush Daily, police were not as enthralled with the random act of “kindness.”

A Green Christmas

Spurrier was arrested on Saturday after police found Spurrier handing out cannabis flower like it was candy. Or candy canes, for that matter.

When asked, the Florida man (we’ve heard that one before) said he was handing out the green because “it was Christmas.” While we certainly can’t knock the holiday spirit, Christmas isn’t until Wednesday, so Spurrier might have jumped the gun on that one just a bit.

It’s highly unlikely that defense would have mattered, regardless.

The St. Petersburg resident had a total of 45 grams of him when he was arrested around 11 PM Saturday night. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell (although no marijuana, allegedly, was actually sold. But you get the point).

Ironically, Spurrier’s cane was also found to possess a hidden sword in it, so there’s that. It’s like the Florida man gift that keeps on giving.

While medicinal marijuana is permitted in the state of Florida, recreational cannabis has yet to make its legal rounds. Some cities and counties, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, and Broward county, have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, St. Petersburg has yet to take similar action. And even if they did, it’s likely that 45 grams would exceed the civil limit. The aforementioned jurisdictions have decriminalized cannabis up to 20 grams—the usual standard for such provisions.

The good news for Floridians who, understandably, would like to have a “green Christmas” of their own, two initiatives have been introduced by advocacy groups to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of Florida.

One group,  Regulate Florida, has introduced a measure that would allow the recreational sale of marijuana, as well as adults 21 and over to grow the product themselves. Another group, Make it Legal Florida, calls for an amendment of the Florida State Constitution that would effectively allow adults to consume recreational marijuana. This measure would require distribution to go through channels that have already been established under the state’s current medical marijuana program. Both initiatives need 766,200 signatures to be placed on the ballot.

“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 South Florida Sun Sentinel back in October. “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.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Man Arrested After Giving Away Marijuana ‘Because It Was Christmas’.” Green Rush Daily, 23 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/entertainment/man-arrested-after-giving-away-marijuana-because-it-was-christmas/.

Alberta Weighs Legal Changes for Marijuana Vape Market

Findings from Alberta’s smoking law review could lead to legislative or regulatory changes involving cannabis vaping – though the analysis is not specifically aimed at cannabis – the Treasury Board and Finance ministry told Marijuana Business Daily.

The review, which started in October, is being conducted because Alberta’s current legislation does not address vaping or “tobacco-like” products.

It is expected to be completed by the end of the year so potential amendments can be considered in 2020.

A legal change involving marijuana vaping products would have implications for any of the province’s 354 authorized cannabis providers looking to capitalize, or even specialize in, the newly regulated product category.

Press secretary Jerrica Goodwin said the ministry is paying close attention to developments in confirmed cases of vaping-related illnesses.

Alberta has no confirmed cases of such illnesses, while 13 instances have been reported across Canada as of Dec. 3.

“We’re monitoring closely in conjunction with other provinces and the national public health agency. This evidence-based information may inform changes to legislation and regulations around cannabis vaping,” Goodwin said.

“With the legalization of additional cannabis products this fall, we are paying close attention to the Tobacco Act review; in particular, to any findings around vaping to ensure regulations are balanced and protect the health and safety of Albertans.”

Legislation and regulation of Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is within the purview of the Treasury Board and Finance ministry.

The review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act is being led by the Health ministry.

Any potential legal changes regarding cannabis vaping would be a joint function of the Health and Finance ministries.

Cannabis 2.0 products – edibles, extracts and topical cannabis products – will be available in limited supplies this month, with a wider rollout taking place in the new year.

Some provinces are moving to restrict access to cannabis vapes, citing health concerns.

Regulators in Quebec and Newfoundland have announced plans to ban cannabis vape products in their respective provinces.

British Columbia plans to increase its sales tax to 20% on retail sales of legal oil and dried flower vapes.

Manitoba is banning consumption of cannabis-infused products in public spaces.

Lamers, Matt. “Alberta Weighs Legal Changes for Cannabis Vape Market.” Marijuana Business Daily, 20 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/alberta-weighs-legal-changes-for-cannabis-vapes/.

Denmark Eyes Medical Marijuana Trial Extension

Denmark might need to extend its medical cannabis trial plans in order for the government to conduct a mandated midterm evaluation of the pilot program, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.

The four-year program launched in 2018, and a formal evaluation is required to take place in 2020.

The number of patients who accessed medical cannabis via the scheme saw virtually no growth in recent quarters because of a combination of pricey imports and supply issues.

Heunicke said it would be difficult to thoroughly access the trial program since domestically produced medical marijuana, which remains behind schedule, has not yet reached patients.

Stakeholders have been meeting with Heunicke as well as the parliamentary health committee to share their views on the program’s future.

Published December 10, 2019. “Denmark Eyes Medical Marijuana Trial Extension.” Marijuana Business Daily, 11 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/denmark-eyes-medical-marijuana-trial-extension/.

BC, Ontario See Lowest Cannabis Sales Per Capita in First Year of Legalization

The two most important cannabis markets in Canada experienced the worst sales of adult-use products per capita in the first year of legalization, reflecting struggles of officials in those provinces to get a handle on the policy tools at their disposal to regulate the industry.

From October 2018 through September 2019, British Columbia’s marijuana stores sold 50 million Canadian dollars ($37 million) worth of cannabis, while Ontario recorded sales of CA$216 million. That represents just CA$10 and CA$15 per person, respectively.

Among the 10 provinces, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia saw the highest per-person sales of CA$97 and CA$68, respectively.

“Differences between regions in total and per capita cannabis store sales may be explained in part by Canadians’ access to cannabis stores,” according to the Statistics Canada report.

British Columbia and Ontario utilized a slow rollout of adult-use stores in Year One, though the outlook for the second year of legalization is already brightening.

B.C. authorized a flurry of new stores and Ontario is planning to open the floodgates to applications next month.

Overall, CA$908 million worth of cannabis products were sold across the country in the time period.

Canada saw just more than 400 stores open in the first year, with most of them located in Alberta.

In 2020, that number likely will surpass 1,000.

Statistics Canada cited a number of factors that may influence access to cannabis, including:

  • Administrative and operational steps required to establish a retail store.
  • The immediate or staggered entry of retail operations over the course of the year.
  • Competition from illicit markets.
  • Disruptions in the supply chain.
  • Differences in the regulatory approaches.

Regulatory factors that vary by province include:

  • Raising the legal consumption age.
  • Lowering allowable possession limits.
  • Restricting the number of private or public stores.
  • Restrictions on store hours.

The data showed that Canadians had little appetite for online ordering.

In September, online cannabis sales accounted for only 5.9% of all receipts.

That is partly attributable to poorly run provincial online stores, which rely on unreasonably slow and expensive delivery methods compared to private sector solutions.

Despite the poor results, most provinces have chosen to maintain a grip on online cannabis platforms.

Statistics Canada concluded that “the cannabis retail market will continue to evolve as jurisdictions adapt their regulatory approaches, as supply chains develop and as cannabis product offerings diversify.

“Measures such as retail sales values and proximity estimates will continue to be important sources of market insight.”

Published December 16, 2019. “Canadian Cannabis Producer Hexo’s Sales Decline as Net Loss Grows.” Marijuana Business Daily, 16 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/cannabis-producer-hexo-sales-decline-as-net-loss-grows/.

British Columbia Exempts Dry Cannabis Vaporizers From Increased Tax

British Columbia updated a notice clarifying how its planned increased sales tax on vaporizer products will apply to cannabis devices.

The new notice removes “dry herb vaporizers” from the list of products subject to the increased tax rate.

The higher 20% provincial sales tax will still apply to liquid cannabis vaping products when it takes effect Jan. 1.

In November, British Columbia became the first province in Canada to introduce a specific tax through legislation related to vaping products to “deter harmful behavior.” That tax applies to e-cigarettes, e-hookahs and other vaping-related products.

The amended law received final approval in the Legislative Assembly on Nov. 27.

According to the November notice, the tariff would apply to, among other things, “dry herb vaporizers,” and the Ministry of Finance confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily at the time that vape devices for dry flower would not be exempt from the tax.

However, the updated notice explicitly states that “dry herb vaporizers – e.g., vaporizers used with dry cannabis – will remain subject to 7% (tax rate).”

Industry groups criticized the province for its plan to nearly triple the sales tax on vape devices for dry flower.

“Dramatically increasing taxes on vape products will allow the black market to continue to flourish with its low prices and decrease options for regulated and reliable products from licensed producers,” the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry body representing federally regulated marijuana producers, said at the time.

B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch said adult-use cannabis extracts, vapes and topicals will start making their way into private and public retail stores in late December.

Jurisdictions across North America have tightened regulations as the number of vaping-related illnesses, thought to be related to unregulated sources, have risen.

As of Dec. 12, three vaping-related illnesses were reported in British Columbia and another 11 in the rest of Canada.

Neighboring Alberta, meanwhile, is weighing legal changes for its cannabis vape market.

Quebec and Newfoundland effectively banned the sale of cannabis vape products.

Lamers, Matt. “British Columbia Exempts Dry Cannabis Vaporizers from Increased Tax.” Marijuana Business Daily, 19 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/british-columbia-exempts-dry-cannabis-vaporizers-from-increased-tax/.

Italy to nearly triple domestic medical cannabis production in 2020

The Italian Ministry of Health plans to almost triple the quantity of medical marijuana to be produced domestically in the coming year.

This signals the intention of the government to rely to a lesser degree on imports in 2020 to serve growing domestic demand for medical cannabis.

As per the country’s psychotropic substances quota, which covers medical cannabis, the health ministry is allowing the Stabilimento Chimico Farmaceutico di Firenze (SCFF) to produce 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of cannabis flower in 2020, according to a decree recently published in Italy’s official Gazette.

The SCFF, which is under the wing of the Ministry of Defense, is the only organization authorized to grow medical cannabis in Italy.

It does so under European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP), growing two different cultivars, called FM1 and FM2.

In 2018, 578 kilograms of medical marijuana were sold to patients in Italy, but that quantity is expected to increase significantly for 2019 when the final total is tallied.

The SCFF’s 2019 production is estimated to be below 200 kilograms.

Giuseppe Libutti, an Italian business lawyer, told Marijuana Business Daily that the production increase is positive because it shows the commitment of Italy’s government to the continuity of the medical cannabis program.

However, it also “confirms the SCFF’s inability to satisfy the growing demand,” Libutti said. “Imports will continue to be needed because planned domestic production won’t be enough.”

Domestic production is supplemented with imports, which also need to comply with EU-GMP processes.

Most of the medical marijuana sold in Italy comes from the Netherlands, where it is produced by Bedrocan and exported by the Dutch government Office of Medicinal Cannabis.

Aurora Cannabis is the only Canadian-based company supplying Italy, albeit a very small portion of the market.

Through a contract won in early 2018, Aurora could supply 100 kilograms to the country.

The company also won a recent application process to supply another 400 kilograms of medical cannabis over a period of two years.

However, part of the latest contract was recently canceled by the government.

Government investment

The Italian region of Tuscany and the SCFF agreed on a joint venture to produce medical cannabis and to generate evidence on the efficacy and safety of the drug.

The decision, made in November, is a continuation of an ongoing collaboration between the two entities. The project was approved by a resolution presented by Councilor for Health Stefania Saccardi and approved by the regional council.

The three-year project – which might be extended – will focus on three areas:

  • The production of cannabis flower for medical use.
  • The standardization of oil extracts.
  • The design and conduct of clinical trials.

The total investment amounts to 1.4 million euros ($ 1.5 million). Of that total, the SCFF will contribute 600,000 euros and the region of Tuscany 795,000 euros, starting with 397,000 euros in 2020 followed by 198,750 euros in each of the following two years.

Tuscany justified the investment as a way to acquire clinical data to validate the safety and efficacy of cannabis and its derivatives covered by its health services.

Despite the small quantities being sold, Italy and the Netherlands remain the next largest medical cannabis markets in Europe after Germany.

Pascual, Alfredo. “Marijuana Production in Italy to Nearly Triple in 2020.” Marijuana Business Daily, 18 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/italy-to-nearly-triple-domestic-medical-cannabis-production-in-2020/.Open publish panel

Pure Global Cannabis ‘Temporarily’ Lays off Staff to Conserve Cash

Canadian license holder Pure Global Cannabis has become the latest marijuana firm to shed part of its workforce to conserve cash amid the challenging capital market conditions facing the industry.

“This is about cost containment,” CEO Mel Panchal said in an interview. “It’s just prudent fiscal measures to ensure that we’re not burning unnecessary cash. When the time comes, they’ll be brought back in.”

Panchal did not state how many workers were let go.

Some of Canada’s largest and oldest cannabis companies have resorted to layoffs and closed cultivation facilities in recent months to conserve capital.

Securing financing has been difficult, the Pure Global CEO said, but a deal is “very close.”

Pure Global is reviewing two options, one of which may close by the end of the year.

“We’re sort of in a holding pattern, waiting to be able to buy more inventory and commence certain operations, so there are certain staff that just couldn’t be utilized. It’s just a prudent fiscal measure of containing costs where we possibly can,” Panchal said.

“It gives us enough of a buffer to ensure the company secures the right financing.”

Pure Global’s wholly owned subsidiary, PureSinse, is licensed by the federal government for cannabis sales, processing and cultivation.

PureSinse’s main site is an 18,000-square-foot facility in Brampton.

In a recent regulatory filing, Pure Global said its current capital resources “are not sufficient to pay overhead expenses for the next twelve months and is currently seeking additional funding to fund its overhead expenses and its continuous search for other business opportunities.”

Pure Global is yet to generate significant sales and relies on external financing to generate capital.

As of Sept. 30, Pure Global held cash and cash equivalents of 146,000 Canadian dollars ($111,000), down from CA$7.7 million on Dec. 31, 2018.

Panchal acknowledged that the cannabis industry has gone through tough times recently.

“There’s a real world that’s now emerging and I think those operators that have a lean perspective have the best chance of surviving,” he said.

“We have operations now commencing in China, so we want to allocate more of our resources to ensuring that is progressing. Canada is really our R&D hub, so we don’t really need a hefty organization here. We’re really just making adjustments to hone in more.”

The company recently received its Canadian manufacturing license.

“Now our focus can shift to that key area of bulk extracts, pre-formulated co-manufacturing, white labeling, and indoor cultivation of high-quality GMP-grade (cannabis) for exporting,” said the CEO.

Pure Global’s shares trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under the trading symbol PURE.

Lamers, Matt. “Pure Global Cannabis ‘Temporarily’ Lays off Staff to Conserve Cash.” Marijuana Business Daily, 20 Dec. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/pure-global-cannabis-temporarily-lays-off-staff-to-conserve-cash/.

New York Bar: Lawyers Can Help Clients with Medical Marijuana Laws

The bar reaffirmed that lawyers helping clients with the state’s medical marijuana laws won’t be breaking a professional ethics rule.

The stark differences between federal and state-level laws regarding medical marijuana have long become a roadblock for its patients — and their lawyers. While certain restrictions are often lifted in compliance with state medical marijuana ordinances, the matter, from a legal and professional standpoint has remained somewhat in a gray area.

In New York, the landscape of legal marijuana is even more convoluted. For years, medical marijuana has legal — but you couldn’t smoke it — and pot for recreational purposes has been decriminalized, but it’s still illegal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led to some question marks when it comes to law-related issues. Specifically, for New York-based lawyers with clients who have their own history of using medical marijuana.

However, the prestigious New York Bar recently went out of its way to shed some light on whether or not attorneys can help their clients comply with New York’s state-mandated medical marijuana laws.

They can.

NEW YORK STATE BAR GIVES ATTORNEY ADVICE

The New York State Bar recently shed some light on the matter, due to the ever-evolving landscape of legal cannabis. Through an opinion from the N.Y.S. Bar Ass’n Comm. on Prof’l Ethics, Op. 1177, the Bar reaffirmed that attorneys can, in fact, work with clients in compliance with New York State’s medical marijuana laws without breaking professional ethics Rule 1.2(d), which prohibits counseling a client to break the law.

While federal law does prohibit medical marijuana usage, there have been some exceptions made in the past, most notably, the now-rescinded Cole Memo, which put restrictions on federal marijuana law enforcement when individuals were in accordance with state MMJ regulations, and the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using their funds to prevent medical marijuana states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize, the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Then, back in 2014, the Bar determined — based on those two amendments — that it would be legal to counsel a client for medical marijuana law-related issues. However, the Cole Memo was rescinded in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leaving the Bar’s position on the matter in flux.

But the Bar recently reinforced their aforementioned stance through their opinion.

 “Implicitly, the state law authorizes lawyers to provide traditional legal services to clients seeking to act in accordance with the state law.,” the Bar stated. “Nothing in the history and tradition of the profession, in court opinions, or elsewhere, suggests that Rule 1.2(d) was intended to prevent lawyers in a situation like this from providing assistance that is necessary to implement state law and to effectuate current federal policy.”

CHANGES TO NEW YORK’S MARIJUANA LAWS

There have been a few drastic changes to New York’s laws on marijuana. Most notably, the recent statewide decriminalization of cannabis, The new laws deem possession of less than two ounces of marijuana a violation, not a crime. It also decreases the fine for possession of less than an ounce from $100 to $50 without increasing because of an individual’s criminal history.

Furthermore, past convictions for marijuana possession of 25 grams or less are now automatically expunged. Cannabis has also been added to the definition of smoking in the Public Health Law, essentially barring anybody from smoking cannabis in public areas where even tobacco is not allowed.

“It makes something that was a misdemeanor now a violation, and it automatically expunges old misdemeanor convictions,” Emma Goodman, a staff attorney in Legal Aid Society’s special litigation unit said. “That’s more than a lot of states have done. The problem is that it’s just getting rid of one very small amount of low-level offenses and it’s not actually legalizing marijuana … violations are still arrestable offenses in New York.”

Although full-on legalization still remains in the fold — and is certainly coveted by many lawmakers in Congress — decriminalization has served as a step in the right direction.

“While this legislation falls short of the goal of legalization of adult-use cannabis, the ability to create a mechanism for expungement, both retroactively and forward-looking, is a step in the right direction in finally ending the heavy-handed war on drugs that has decimated communities of color, ” Sen. Jamaal Bailey (D-Bronx) said after the bill was passed in June.

Others throughout the industry are also high on statewide legalization, but caution that both sides will likely have to make concessions.

Kohut, ByTim. “New York Bar: Lawyers Can Help Clients with Medical Marijuana Laws.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/new-york-bar-lawyers-can-help-clients-with-medical-marijuana-laws/.

Harborside Opens First Drive-Thru Dispensary in Southern California

Harborside Opens First Drive-Thru Dispensary in Southern California

In another win for the mainstreaming and normalization of cannabis, Southern California just got its first drive-thru dispensary. The Harborside dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, California is just the second drive-thru retail shop in the entire state, and the first in SoCal.

There are so few drive-thru dispensaries in California because state law actually bans them. But Harborside was able to navigate through a tiny loophole in the law for businesses that submitted a drive-thru license application before June 2018. In fact, Harborside, which was among the first dispensaries in the U.S. to sell medical cannabis, has always been a trailblazer in California cannabis retail. Now, the company is bringing a whole new level of convenience to the cannabis buying experience.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BUY WEED FROM A DRIVE-THRU?

Desert Hot Springs is nestled in the Coachella Valley, an extremely cannabis-friendly region in California and a hub of tons of commercial activity. Desert Hot Springs was one among several Coachella Valley cities that opened their doors to the legal industry after California passed Proposition 64. Today, cannabis consumers in that region have their choice of roughly 40 licensed dispensaries. But with the opening of its drive-thru service, the Harborside location offers something none of the rest have.

So what’s it like buying weed from a drive-thru dispensary? Just like completing a transaction at a bank or a pharmacy—or even a fast-food joint. Drivers simply pull up to one window where they place their order and pay, then pull up to a second window where they receive their products, receipt and any change.

But if that’s not fast enough, shoppers can even place an order with Harborside online and pick up their purchase at the drive-thru window. Harborside says it accepts both cash and debit cards for payment. Additionally, Harborside says it will only check the ID of the driver of the vehicle. Passengers will not have to provide ID to the budtender.

Shoppers who place their order at the drive-thru will have a smaller menu to choose from, however. That menu includes the shop’s most popular items, like pre-rollsedibles and vape cartridges, but consumers with more esoteric tastes will want to shop inside the store or order online.

HARBORSIDE’S BIGGEST CONCERN IS SLOW SHOPPERS

California banned drive-thru dispensaries with its revised emergency regulations back in May 2018. The idea behind the ban was to prevent instances of drugged driving, which many assumed would be a concern with drive-thru cannabis retail. But California law already prohibits consumption on dispensary grounds and consumption while driving or driving under the influence of THC. So drive-thru’s really aren’t any different than driving and parking at a dispensary.

Instead, Harborside co-founder Steve DeAngelo says his biggest concern is newcomers gumming up the works. Some people just like to take their time at the dispensary, especially people navigating the buying experience for the first time. In a tourist-heavy place like the Coachella Valley, that could potentially be a problem.

Conrad Gregory, government relations and business development manager with Harborside, agrees. “For a lot of folks, this will be new to them,” Gregory said. “How do you help them make a decision that doesn’t take away the No. 1 factor for a drive-thru, which is speed and convenience? You can’t have a 30-minute transaction.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine a more seamless and convenient cannabis buying experience than a drive-thru. And for now, Harborside in Desert Hot Springs, located behind a gas station right off Interstate 10, is the only place in SoCal to get it.

Drury, ByAdam. “Harborside Opens First Drive-Thru Dispensary in Southern California.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/business/harborside-opens-first-drive-thru-dispensary-in-southern-california/.

FDA Sends Warning to 15 Companies Illegally Selling CBD Products

The FDA is asking 15 companies that are currently producing or selling CBD products that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to stop.

2019 has been dominated by CBD. In the wake of the federal Farm Bill of 2018, which removed a broad range of hemp products including hemp-derived CBD from the list of federally banned substances, the popularity of CBD products has exploded.

Today, it’s easy to find CBD products being sold everywhere from head shops, to CBD specific retailers, to coffee shops, cafes, and convenience stores.

Interestingly, all this activity has happened without any significant approval from the FDA. But today, the FDA released a couple of new memos clarifying the agency’s official stance on CBD and CBD products.

Most notably, the agency warned 15 companies that they are illegally selling products containing CBD.

FDA WARNS CBD COMPANIES

The 15 companies to receive warnings from the FDA include:

  • Red Pill Medical Inc., located in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Pink Collections, Inc., located in Beverly Hills, California.
  • Healthy Hemp Strategies LLC, located in Concord, California.
  • Koi CBD LLC, located in Norwalk, California.
  • Sabai Ventures Ltd., located in Los Angeles, California.
  • Organix Industries Inc., located in San Bernardino, California.
  • Whole Leaf Organics LLC, located in Sherman Oaks, California.
  • Infinite Product Company LLLP, located in Lakewood, Colorado.
  • Sunflora Inc., located in Tampa, Florida, and Your CBD Store, in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Daddy Burt LLC, located in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Bella Rose Labs, located in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Private I Salon LLC, located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Natural Native LLC, located in Norman, Oklahoma.
  • Apex Hemp Oil LLC, located in Redmond, Oregon.
  • Noli Oil, located in Southlake, Texas.

The warning stated that each of these companies is currently producing or selling CBD products that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Specifically, this act stipulates that companies cannot sell food products or market products as dietary supplements unless they first receive approval from the FDA.

As of yet, the FDA has only approved one CBD product. That product is Epidiolex, a prescription drug designed to treat childhood epilepsy and that contains CBD.

According to the FDA’s warning, any food or drink product containing CBD has not been approved for commercial sale. The same is true of any product marketing CBD as a dietary supplement.

“The FDA has requested responses from the companies within 15 working days stating how the companies will correct the violations,” the FDA explained in a statement. “Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and/or injunction.”

FDA ALSO WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT CBD

Alongside its warnings to companies making and selling CBD products, the FDA also published a consumer-facing memotitled “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD”.

In it, the agency states that it has not approved CBD dietary supplements or food and drink products containing CBD.

The FDA’s consumer memo highlights three main claims:

  • “CBD has the potential to harm you,” the memo states. It continues: “harm can happen even before you become aware of it.”
  • The memo also claims that “CBD can cause side effects that you might notice” including drowsiness, gastrointestinal distress, and changes in mood.
  • Finally, the FDA states that CBD has not been researched enough to reach any clear conclusions about its safety or efficacy.

Lindsey, ByNick. “FDA Sends Warning to 15 Companies Illegally Selling CBD Products.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/fda-sends-warning-to-15-companies-illegally-selling-cbd-products/.

SpaceX is Delivering Cannabis to the International Space Station

Front Range Biosciences wants to see if microgravity changes the DNA of cannabis in commercially viable ways.

What happens to cannabis in space? That’s the question at the heart of an exciting new mission to study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on cannabis plants. Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado-based agricultural technology company working in the hemp and coffee industries, is partnering with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, to send cannabis (and coffee) tissue cultures to space. The experiment is the first of its kind, and it will begin aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020.

SpaceX will deliver the cannabis tissue samples to the International Space Station, where NASA astronauts and scientists back on Earth will study whether and how plant cells experience genetic mutations while in space. Along with its partners, Front Range Biosciences is eager to see if the conditions of space produce new strains of hemp with commercial applications.

COMPANY WANTS TO STUDY EFFECTS OF MICROGRAVITY AND SPACE RADIATION ON HEMP

In March 2020, nearly 500 cannabis cell cultures will travel aboard a SpaceX cargo flight to the International Space Station. Once they arrive, NASA astronauts will transport the cultures to a space-made incubator on the ISS, which will be their home for about 30 days.

Over the course of the month-long experiment, BioServe will regulate the conditions and temperature in the incubator remotely, from an operational center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Then, after a month of exposure to the microgravity conditions of space, the ISS will jettison the incubator back to Earth.

Once the cannabis tissue samples return home, Front Range Biosciences will analyze them. The ag-tech company is looking to see how microgravity and space radiation mutate the DNA and RNA of the cannabis plants. Changes to the genetic makeup of the plant have the potential to produce novel gene expressions—in other words, different strains or “chemotypes” of cannabis that it would be impossible to create on Earth.

It’s possible, says Co-Founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences Dr. Jonathan Vaught, that those mutations could produce cannabis plants that can thrive in hostile conditions or grow in atypical climates.

“There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations,” Vaught explains in a press release announcing the experiment. “This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”

IS THIS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD SPACE WEED?

SpaceX has landed in hot water over weed before, with co-founder Elon Musk‘s ill-conceived 420 joke and penchant for smoking weed on podcasts. This time, however, things are a little different. In the first place, the cannabis samples SpaceX is delivering to the ISS won’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC. Instead, SpaceX is delivering hemp samples to space, not buds containing THC.

But given hemp’s incredible number of uses, from medicine to food to textiles and building materials, there’s plenty of reason to study what happens to it in space. Perhaps one day hemp will be the crop of choice for the first colonies on Mars. Or at least that’s one idea Front Range Biosciences has.

Another is being able to cultivate breeds of hemp that can survive in adverse conditions on Earth. Climate change and rising temperatures mean many environments that have supported crops for millennia may no longer be able to. We may have to grow cannabis in places where it doesn’t typically grow. And mutations caused by space radiation and microgravity could show us how.

Drury, ByAdam. “SpaceX Is Delivering Cannabis to the International Space Station.” Green Rush Daily, 12 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/science/spacex-is-delivering-cannabis-to-the-international-space-station/.

Legal Cannabis Stores Fall Under Fire in Connection with Massachusetts Vaping Illnesses

Data will be analyzed for a connection between THC vapes and sickness.

The vape-lung crisis that started proliferating across the United States in August has allegedly claimed the lives of 47 people in 25 states and the District of Columbia; three of the deaths occurred in Massachusetts. An additional 2,300 people have been affected in every U.S. state. This is all according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Fingers were initially being pointed at black market dealers initially, but a recent update from the Department of Public Health suggests that state-licensed dispensaries are also to blame for the health crisis. Six patients in Massachusetts with likely cases of vaping-related lung problems have reported falling ill after using regulated cannabis products sold inside state-licensed dispensaries. 

As a result, a handful of branded products containing the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) were deemed dangerous after being used by patients with suspected cases/confirmed cases of lung illness; “Dank” labeled products constituted a large portion of the dangerous products. 

This information was released by the state on Thursday, December 5. However, state officials have not confirmed which products are regulated or unregulated. State data indicates that 22 out of 90 sick individuals in Massachusetts used THC vape products that were purchased from illegal sources.

President of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, David O’Brien, has urged state officials to disclose the names of licensed companies suspected of selling contaminated goods. His company provides representation for legal cannabis companies in the state.

“The industry wants to know if there’s cause for alarm so we can address it. If they think the companies have an issue, they should tell the companies at least, and tell the ,” O’Brien said, adding that, “I’ve not heard of any other cases being linked to regulated products.”

Discovery of Vitamin E Acetate Concerns

A “breakthrough” laboratory discovery was announced by CDC officials on November 8, when the lung fluids of 29 sick people were found to contain vitamin E acetate. Officials are concerned that vitamin E acetate is the main chemical that has cost many people their lives and health in the U.S. as of late.

Although the stable form of vitamin E is commonly used as a skincare aid, it can be lethal when added to vaping or e-cigarette products. Moreover, additional substances should not be added to vape products sold in retail establishments. Unfortunately, it’s happening anyway, as vendors battle to undercut one another, on price, by diluting THC oil with alternative substances. 

According to the CDC, THC-rich products obtained from “informal sources” – such as street dealers and online dealers – are the most high-risk. The agency believes that these products are mostly to blame for the vape-lung crisis. On the other hand, Agency officials have admitted that they cannot dismiss the potential of contaminated THC vape products having already infiltrated the legal market. 

The CDC has alerted people who vape that they should be on the lookout for the following symptoms associated with vaping-related lung problems:

  • Respiratory issues, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and persistent cough
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Temperature problems, such as chills or fever

While some patients claim that their symptoms surfaced within a couple of days, others say that they noticed their symptoms linger and worsen over a number of weeks. 

Massachusetts THC Vape Product Ban Comes to an End

Legal recreational cannabis sales kicked off in Massachusetts in November 2018. The state is certainly feeling the effects of the vape-lung crisis, what with the sale of THC vaporizer products – not including dry herb vape products – recently being banned by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). However, the ban was lifted prematurely on December 11.

According to the CCC, data will now be analyzed to determine if there is, in fact, a direct connection between THC vape products and sickness.

“Immediately, the Commission will use this new data toward its ongoing investigation into whether marijuana products manufactured by Massachusetts licensees contain substances or contaminants of concern and thoroughly explore the origin of the products identified by DPH,” said a spokesperson for the Agency.

As of December 2019, 11 states have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes and 33 states have legalized medical use. Nonetheless, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under federal law. Until restrictions are lifted and the plant is more tightly regulated, the illicit market will continue to thrive. Furthermore, federal legalization would establish a better set of rules for product testing, thus enhancing consumer safety overall.

Jenkins, ByBethan. “Dispensaries Fall Under Fire in Connection with Massachusetts Vaping Illnesses.” Green Rush Daily, 17 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/legal-cannabis-stores-fall-under-fire-in-connection-with-massachusetts-vaping-illnesses/.

Substitute Teacher Fired for Allegedly Smoking Pot in Front of Class

This teacher never learned there’s a time and a place for everything.

It reads like something from a stoner comedy movie. But according to school officials in North Attleborough, Massachusetts it’s real life. And like the old cliché says, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

Students at North Attleborough High School recently had a substitute teacher for one of their classes. At some point during the school day, the substitute teacher allegedly started smoking weed—in a classroom full of students.

Students Report Weed-Smoking Substitute Teacher

According to reports from local news source WHDH News 7, the students immediately reported the incident to school administrators. And when officials heard what happened, the substitute teacher was promptly fired.

“The incident at North Attleborough High School was entirely unexpected and unprecedented and it was in no way a reflection of the great students, faculty, staff, and families of this great school and community,” school principal Peter Haviland told WHDH News 7.

Similarly, it is also unclear if the teacher will face any sort of criminal charges. But local media reports that the incident remains under investigation.

Recreational cannabis is legal in Massachusetts. However, it is not legal to smoke in public. The prohibition against smoking in public includes schools—especially when you’re the one teaching the class at a public school.

Public Schools Battling Weed and Vaping

This incident is the latest example of public schools dealing with weed-related issues. The North Attleborough incident is definitely unique in that it involves a teacher consuming marijuana on campus. Most other instances are about students.

Specifically, public schools in a few locations around the country have started trying to crack down on vaping. That includes both THC cartridges and nicotine vapes.

Most recently, school officials in Ohio started letting cops bring drug-sniffing dogs into their schools. The K-9 units conduct hallway sweeps looking for THC and vape products.

Similarly, a number of public schools in Utah have started installing vape detectors in bathrooms. According to administrators at these schools, the move is aimed at finding students who are trying to vape at school.

In most cases, these detectors cost schools several thousand dollars. And from the sounds of things, the vape detectors are turning up mixed results. In some schools, they are allowing administrators to crack down on students. And in other schools, officials have not been able to get the detectors to work.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Substitute Teacher Fired for Allegedly Smoking Pot in Front of Class.” Green Rush Daily, 18 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/substitute-teacher-fired-for-allegedly-smoking-pot-in-front-of-class/.

Massachusetts Lifts Ban On Cannabis Vaping Products

The new rules require lab testing for the presence of vitamin E acetate, toxins, and other contaminants including heavy metals.

Cannabis regulators in Massachusetts have modified a ban on marijuana vape products that will allow businesses to begin selling newly manufactured goods as soon as retailers can get them on the shelf. However, vape products manufactured before December 12 will remain under a quarantine imposed by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) on November 12.

Under the amended quarantine order, medical marijuana treatment centers and adult-use dispensaries will be permitted to sell devices that vaporize cannabis flower or concentrates provided that they comply with new regulations.

November’s quarantine order was issued in response to the outbreak of lung illnesses that has been dubbed e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) by health officials. In its ongoing investigation of the lung injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified vitamin E acetate as a toxin of concern.

Shawn Collins, the executive director of the CCC, emphasized that the new regulations, which were put in place in the interest of consumer safety, only apply to products purchased from licensed retailers.

“These protections exist in the legal market,” he said. “They do not exist in the illicit market.”

NEW RULES PUSH TRANSPARENCY

Dispensaries that carry cannabis vaping products will be required to post a warning and disclaimer to consumers that reads “This product has been tested for contaminants, including Vitamin E Acetate, with no adverse findings. WARNING: Vaporizer Products may contain ingredients harmful to health when inhaled.” The warning must also be contained on an insert provided with vaping products.

Amanda Rose, the president of cannabis retailer New England Treatment Access, said that the new regulations will help advance consumer safety and confidence in licensed cannabis businesses.

“[The commission’s decision] is really a win for our customers and our patients who can now have access to a product that has been tested, that’s well regulated, that comes with accurate information about what’s inside those products, and that really drives them back into the regulated market and away from the illicit market,” she said.

Businesses selling cannabis vaping products “will be required to list their active or inactive additives, including the amount infused or incorporated during the manufacturing process, including thickening agents, thinning agents, and specific terpenes,” according to Thursday’s announcement from the CCC. Regulators are also requiring transparency on the parts used in vape pens and other devices, which “will be required to include a written insert that identifies their manufacturer, battery, and other known components, and discloses the materials used in their atomizer coil. This information will be required to be included in product lists posted on the licensee’s website and other third-party applications as well.”

David Torrisi, the executive director of industry group the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, applauded state regulators in a statement.

“Today’s ‘lifting’ of the quarantine order on cannabis vaping products by the CCC’s Executive Director Shawn Collins is reflective of the thorough, thoughtful, collaborative, and evidence-based approach he has led the CCC through,” he said.

Cannabis companies in Massachusetts can begin producing vape products that comply with the new regulations. But before they can be sold they’ll have to be lab tested, a process that usually takes three to five days, according to Michael Kahn, the CEO of licensed cannabis analytic laboratory MCR Labs.

“If we have a huge onslaught, of course it’ll take longer,” he said. “We’re doing our best.”

Herrington, A.J. “Massachusetts Lifts Ban On Cannabis Vaping Products.” High Times, 13 Dec. 2019, hightimes.com/news/massachusetts-lifts-ban-on-vaping-products/.

Trinidad and Tobago’s House of Representatives Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

Trinidad and Tobago is positioning itself at the vanguard of progressive cannabis law in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago is making history with the advancement of two new marijuana related bills. Most notably, the country’s House of Representatives just approved a bill that would decriminalize the possession of cannabis.

Taking things a step further, the nation is also considering a second bill. This one could set up a framework for regulating the production and sale of marijuana.

All in all, this new legislation could bring big changes to the country. But it could also have much broader implications throughout the region.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO GETTING CLOSE TO DECRIMINALIZING WEED

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives in Trinidad and Tobago approved the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill of 2019. After the House’s approval, the bill will now move on to the Senate.

The Senate will discuss and debate the bill before it goes up for a vote. All of that is reportedly going to take place this week and next week.

If the Senate agrees on a final version of the bill and approves it, the legislation would eventually be sent back to the House for one more vote. And from there, it would finally be handed on to President Paula-Mae Weekes to be officially signed into law.

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill of 2019 introduces a number of big changes for cannabis law in the country. These include the following:

  • A person can possess up to 30 grams of weed and five grams of resin without facing any criminal charges.
  • Possession of between 30 and 60 grams of weed, and between five and 10 grams of resin, will face a fee of roughly $200 USD. Importantly, this will not carry any criminal charges.
  • Possession of 60 to 100 grams of weed, or 14 grams of resin, would carry a penalty as high as $11,092 USD.
  • Citizens will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. A previous version of this legislation allowed for home-growing male plants only. But this was changed, since male plants don’t actually produce smokable flowers.
  • None of these will result in criminal offenses punishable by jail time. But, failure to pay fines could lead to additional fines and community service.

FAR-REACHING IMPACT

Obviously, if these amendments pass into law it will immediately affect Trinidad and Tobago. But it could also have ripple effects throughout the Caribbean.

According to Investopedia, Trinidad and Tobago is the wealthiest country in the Caribbean bloc, giving it a lot of weight and influence throughout the region.

ONE MORE PIECE OF CANNABIS LEGISLATION

While the nation is currently closest to passing its decriminalization bill, lawmakers are also considering another potentially big bill. This one is called The Cannabis Control Bill.

Importantly, this bill would establish a framework to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in the country.

The Cannabis Control Bill was recently moved to a Joint Selection Committee of the Parliament. Reportedly, this body will make recommendations to Parliament in early 2020.

If this bill eventually passes into law, it would move Trinidad and Tobago firmly to the forefront of progressive cannabis law in the Caribbean.

Lindsey, Nick. “Trinidad and Tobago’s House of Representatives Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana.” High Times, 13 Dec. 2019, hightimes.com/news/trinidad-and-tobagos-house-of-representatives-votes-to-decriminalize-marijuana/.

Peru Effectively Launches Its Medical Marijuana Program

The new guidelines, however, are not without criticism.

Government officials effectively launched Peru’s medical marijuana program last week with the publication of regulations for the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis. Although some rules to implement the South American nation’s 2017 law legalizing medical marijuana had been issued by decree earlier this year, they did not include guidelines for companies to apply for required licenses.

Under the new rules, licenses will be available for research, production, import, wholesale commercialization, seed production, and retail sales of cannabis. To obtain a license, applicants must submit detailed information including agricultural production plans and security protocols.

Regulators also issued rules that will allow businesses with production licenses to import seeds from other countries including Colombia. However, some regulations including the procedures for exporting medical marijuana products to other nations have not yet been issued.

“While there are always more details that regulators need to figure out, these guidelines represent the initial building blocks that will allow Peru to create a framework for companies to start capitalizing on different businesses opportunities, joining the global cannabis industry,” saidAndrés Vázquez Vargas, the executive director of agricultural consulting firm ACM Peru.

“The long-awaited guidelines just published allow businesses to really start having meaningful operations in the country,” he added.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZED IN 2017

The medicinal use of cannabis was legalized in Peru in 2017 following generations of strict enforcement of laws prohibiting marijuana. As he signed the legislation, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said that it was time to reject cannabis’s reputation as a dangerous drug.

“Here we are breaking with a myth,” he said. “Peru is turning several pages, moving toward modernity.”


The Peruvian congress passed the bill legalizing medical marijuana in response to the work of Buscando Esperanza (Spanish for Searching for Hope), a group of mothers who were covertly cultivating cannabis to create medicine for their seriously ill children. Ana Álvarez, a leader of the group, had been making a tincture for her son.

“Anthony has suffered from severe epilepsy since he was 3 years old,” she told High Times last year. “For years, he had seven or eight fits each day. Pharmaceuticals would work only for three or four months. Trying one medicine, another—that’s how the years passed. We went to different neurologists, they all said the same thing—there’s no cure. And with each fit, neurons are killed, and the condition worsens.”

With the cannabis tincture, however, Anthony’s seizures have been reduced to about two per day. The severity of the seizures has lessened, as well. He is now working toward his high school graduation after years of being too ill to study and is developing his social skills at a theater workshop.

“He is connected to reality again,” Álvarez said last summer. “Before he was there physically, but off in a world of his own. Now he can lead a dignified life.”

But despite the advances made by the legalization of medical marijuana in Peru, the law only allows production by licensed businesses. Patients and their caregivers are not permitted to cultivate cannabis at home, leaving Buscando Esperanza with another battle to fight.

“This law was meant to help us but I’m worried that it could do the opposite,” Álvarez says. “We are not well-off. How will we be able to afford this medicine if we can no longer make it at home?”

Herrington, A.J. “Peru Effectively Launches Its Medical Marijuana Program.” High Times, 12 Dec. 2019, hightimes.com/news/peru-effectively-launches-medical-marijuana-program/.

MLB Set to Stop Testing Players for Marijuana

Minor League Baseball proposes to join Major League Baseball in eliminating pot drug testing.

America’s favorite pastime is about to get a lot more interesting, at least for players who like to hit weed as much as they do home runs. The MLB (Major League Baseball) and the MLB Players Association have decided that it is a detriment to the health of those who play the sport to test for marijuana. The organizations have determined, instead, that it would be more advantageous to implement a new set of drug testing protocols aimed at keeping players from striking out on opioids. But as far as marijuana goes, it is no longer going to be cause for disciplinary action.

In the latest agreement, the MLB is moving to eliminate the cannabis plant from its list of banned substances. It means Minor leaguers will no longer be subjected to drug testing for the herb, which puts them right in line with the Majors. MLB players have not been tested for pot in almost 20 years. Nope, back in 2002, the MLB put the kibosh on those shenanigans. The league is more concerned these days about players using performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers than it is with them showing up to play with THC in their system. 

Still, it took a minute for the Minors to catch up with this progressive drug policy. Until now, these players were at risk of a 25-game suspension if they got nailed for pot even once. They faced a 50-game suspension for testing positive a second time and 100 games the third time around. Players who couldn’t get their act together after that were at risk of getting banned for life. So, you know, the MLB used to take all of that “three-strikes and you’re out” stuff pretty seriously.

But not for much longer.

“As part of a new agreement on opioids being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, MLB will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers, sources tell The Athletic. Major leaguers have not been subject to testing for marijuana,” MLB insider Ken Rosenthal wrote in a Twitter post earlier this week.

Marijuana is still struggling, however, to find acceptance in all sports. The National Football League (NFL) doesn’t allow players to use it, not even for medicinal purposes, and neither does the National Basketball Association (NBA). There are some stiff penalties, too, for those players who break the rules. It was just last month that Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters was suspended for 10 games after he suffered a cannabis-induced panic attack on a flight from Phoenix to Las Angeles. This suspension is reportedly going to cost Waiters $834,483 in forfeited salary. He also misses out on a $1.2 million bonus that was set to come after he completed 70 games during the regular season.

As it stands, the National Hockey League (NHL) is the only professional sports organization that doesn’t give two-flying squirts if their players test positive for marijuana. They still check for it, but they do not impose any punishments — no suspensions or fines — for those who get popped. The only stipulation is if a player shows up to a game stoned and disrespects his team and the sport.

But other than that, weed isn’t a big deal in the eyes of the NHL. In fact, parts of the organization believe that marijuana could benefit players. The NHL Alumni Association is presently involved with a research program to see if cannabis medicine might help players suffering from brain injuries. Other sports organizations are still on the fence about medicinal use.

report from TMZ Sports suggests that the MLB’s policy change on marijuana and opioids could be a reaction to Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs suffering a fatal opioid overdose earlier this year. Skaggs tested positive for Oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol at the time of his death.

The MLB’s drug policy change is not quite a done deal, not yet. Tony Clark, MLB players’ union chief, believes the agreement will be finalized before the end of the year. It will be in place before the start of the next season. So, don’t be surprised if you start seeing hotdog vendors hanging around in the dugouts. Baseball players are getting ready to be hella hungry come summer 2020. 

Adams, Mike. “MLB Set to Stop Testing Players for Marijuana.” Cannabis Now, 12 Dec. 2019, cannabisnow.com/mlb-set-to-stop-testing-players-for-marijuana/.

A Group of California Trimmigrants Sue for Worker Protections

PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

A new potential class action lawsuit highlights a key difference between a legal cannabis market and an illegal one: a worker’s ability to turn to the courts for help.

California cannabis workers have filed a major class action lawsuit against two cannabis companies, alleging that the companies did not pay their workers for overtime, did not provide the required meal and rest breaks and threatened employees not to leave the farm’s remote location.

According to the proposed class action lawsuit, a group of workers hired to trim cannabis at a farm in Lake County, California are looking to sue the cannabis harvesting company Loud Buddha LLC and Pura Cali Management Corp., a cultivation contractor hired by Loud Buddha.

The companies are accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California labor code for practices which, unfortunately, are common on illicit market cannabis grows but are now verboten on California’s newly legal cannabis farms.

According to the complaint, after working on the farm through the summer, 50 workers processed the crop and loaded it into commercial freezers. The workers said in the complaint they produced multiple tons of cannabis. While that may sound like a fun time, according to the workers’ 11-count complaint, it was anything but. They say they were forced to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. They were also expected to remain at the farm’s remote location and were threatened with discipline if they left. Other parts of the complaint included failing to track hours, overtime, travel reimbursement, and even not providing meal and rest breaks.

Some would argue these kind of cases will be a growing pain of the cannabis industry necessary to force out the bad actors. But whatever these class action cases are, expect more of them. This is because of a recent ruling in the Tenth Circuit, Kenney v. Helix TCS, which firmly established even if a business was operating in violation of the federal Controlled Substance Act, it must be in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of state law.

In short, the Tenth Circuit court concluded that just because an employer is breaking one federal law doesn’t mean they are off the hook with following other ones, namely, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“Cannabis consumers can and must demand better from businesses in the legal cannabis industry,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told Cannabis Now.

Altieri went on to note that the cannabis community didn’t push to bring marijuana from an underground market to a regulated one just so rich investors could exploit and demean working class Americans for no reason other than to slightly increase their profit margins.

He had a firm response to how these kinds of operators should be dealt with by regulators.

“If the allegations of labor abuses practiced by Loud Buddha, Pura Cali Management and others are accurate, they should not only be forced to compensate their employees for their rightfully earned wages and then some, they should promptly lose whatever licenses they maintain to engage in cannabis commerce in legal states,” Altieri said.

This isn’t the first time the California cannabis industry has been rocked by a labor lawsuit scandal. Last December, multistate cannabis operator MedMen was hit with a potential class action lawsuit that alleged two of its subsidiaries failed to pay minimum wage for off-the-clock work, pay employees the proper amount for their time and provide mandatory breaks, and that they failed to keep accurate records of hours worked. MedMen disputes the allegations.

When California voted to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2016 and when the regulated market rolled out in 2018, advocates hoped that the newly legal cannabis market would allow workers in the cannabis industry access to the legal system and to regulations that could protect them from exploitation. Whether or not these workers are able to exercise their rights remains to be seen.

TELL US, would you want to work in the cannabis industry?

Devine, ByJimi. “A Group of California Trimmigrants Sue for Worker Protections.” Cannabis Now, 13 Dec. 2019, cannabisnow.com/a-group-of-california-trimmigrants-sue-for-worker-protections/.Open publish panel

$1 Billion Worth of Cannabis Seized in California Hemp Field Bust

Authorities say the product’s THC content was too high under state law.

A Southern California sheriff’s department made a bust on what its owners had previously presented as a hemp field, uncovering 10 million marijuana plants with “an estimated value of over $1 billion.” On October 25, law enforcement descended on the fields whose growers had claimed to be growing non-psychoactive hemp. They were, in fact, raising marijuana plants that clocked in at over the .3 percent THC content allowed under California law.

The investigation was catalyzed by a tip sent to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office about 11 fields sprawling out over 459 acres in the small town of Arvin. An investigation was launched in collaboration with the FBI and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that resulted in the October 25 search warrants.

“Preliminary testing showed the levels of THC in these fields were well over the legal limit for industrial hemp production and were in fact cannabis,” announced the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in a Facebook post. “The investigation is ongoing.”

California law does allow for THC content over .3 percent if the hemp is being grown for research purposes.

The announcement did not specify how the farmers came to be growing the unlicensed cannabis. But if they were confused over the THC content of their own product, they wouldn’t be the first in the country to employ the excuse. In February, Idaho state police confiscated 6,701 pounds of marijuana they discovered in the truck of a Colorado company at a weigh station. The company that owned the plant, Big Sky Scientific, said that it had tested the crop via 19 different samples that concluded the cannabis’ THC level stood at .043 percent.

Confusion About Cultivation

Farmers who are marijuana producers are not the only ones who have displayed confusion over the THC content of their products. Law enforcement agencies in Florida and Texas have concluded that their agencies lack the testing technology to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, which has led to a de-prioritization of small-time possession arrests.

And consider the criminal element similarly befuddled. Earlier this year in Fresno County, there were reports of hemp theft by thieves who were apparently under the impression that their heist involved psychoactive cannabis.

Comments made on the sheriff’s post announcing the Arvin bust wondered whether the growers themselves had known the THC content of their own crop. More than a few questioned law enforcement’s priorities when it came to the bust. “What a Ducking [sic] waste of time!!” wrote one user named Lucy Cartagena. “The war on drugs does NOT WORK!!”

But enforcement of laws surrounding hemp production can also be seen as law enforcement’s attempt to protect cannabis farmers operating within legal guidelines. Much attention (including an October 27 program that aired on CBS) has been given to the difficulties that legal California growers are having when it comes to competing with the state’s still robust illegal market. A reportreleased in September concluded that illegal sellers continue to outnumber the state’s licensed retailers by a ratio of almost three to one.

Donohue, Caitlin. “$1 Billion Worth of Cannabis Seized in California Hemp Field Bust.” High Times, 4 Nov. 2019, hightimes.com/news/1-billion-worth-of-cannabis-seized-in-california-hemp-field-bust/.

20 Denver Marijuana Dispensaries Fail Mold and Yeast Tests

Random tests for mold and yeast at more than two dozen Denver-area cannabis dispensaries resulted in 20 stores being ordered to hold or quarantine their cannabis flower, shake or pre-rolled joints.

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment conducted 25 tests over a two-day period in September, according to alt-weekly newspaper Westword, which analyzed the results.

The failure rate amounted to 80% of the dispensaries that underwent testing.

Denver has hundreds of cannabis retailers. And the random inspections were part of a research project, announced in August, aimed at learning more about the shelf life and packaging of marijuana and did not target specific stores.

Most dispensaries that failed microbial testing got their product from wholesale providers, which were not identified in the reports.

It isn’t clear whether a voluntary recall of marijuana plant-material products issued by Denver-based Bonsai Cultivation is tied to the random inspections.

The Department of Public Health and Environment declined to provide the reports to Marijuana Business Daily because the study was confidential, said Tammy Vigil, manager of media relations.

“We believe the Westword reporter may have invested significant time searching our online database to draw the conclusions he did,” Vigil wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

Published October 31, 2019. “20 Denver Cannabis Dispensaries Fail Mold and Yeast Tests.” Marijuana Business Daily, 31 Oct. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/20-denver-cannabis-dispensaries-fail-mold-and-yeast-tests/.

Michigan Starts Taking Recreational Marijuana Applications

Joanna O’Boyle

Michigan’s adult-use cannabis application process got off to a fast start Friday, with regulators giving “prequalification” approval to two existing medical cannabis operators before 9:30 a.m. local time.

But a spokesperson for the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency told the Detroit Free Press that the second stage of the approval process will take a few weeks.The market launch isn’t expected until spring 2020.

Marijuana Business Daily projects that Michigan’s adult-use market will reach $1.4 billion-$1.7 billion in annual sales when it matures.

But initial business opportunities will be limited because more than 1,000 municipalities have banned or limited rec MJ businesses.

The quick prequalification approval for some applicants was made possible because those businesses had gone through a lengthy vetting process in order to get their MMJ licenses.

It also reflected the fact that Michigan recently streamlined a process that had gotten bogged down under a five-member, politically appointed medical marijuana licensing board.

While most businesses applied online, some did so in person.

The Free Press cited one example where nine boxes of documents were submitted by a law firm for three clients.

Published November 1, 2019. “Michigan Starts Taking, Reviewing Adult-Use Cannabis Applications.” Marijuana Business Daily, 1 Nov. 2019, mjbizdaily.com/michigan-starts-taking-adult-use-marijuana-applications/.

National Political Action Committee Pushing For Cannabis Legalization In Montana

Big-time support, but still a long ways to go.

Momentum could be building for the legalization of recreational weed in Montana. That’s because a local group working for cannabis reform in the state has just received big time backing from advocacy groups.

If the efforts in Montana succeed, voters could see legalization on the ballot next year. However, with all that said, there is still a long ways to go. That includes getting initial approval for the proposal and then gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

National Support for Local Efforts

Right now, the charge to legalize recreational weed in Montana is being led largely by a group called Coalition406. Currently, the group is spearheading two separate ballot initiatives. Both of them would impact cannabis laws in the state.

So far, the group has been operating more or less on its own throughout Montana. But now, the group said it has received national support.

Specifically, Coalition406 just announced that it is partnering with national marijuana advocacy organization New Approach PAC. New Approach is based in Washington, D.C. and has already been a big player in legalization efforts in places such as CaliforniaMaine, and Massachusetts.

In addition to partnering with New Approach PAC, Coalition406 also said it has received support from the Marijuana Policy Project.

Moving forward, Coalition406 will now go by the name New Approach Montana. And along with the new name, the group has voiced renewed confidence in its mission.

“I have every faith that these are gonna pass,” Pepper Petersen, political director of Coalition406, told Montana Public Radio. “There seems to be an inevitability coming from the federal government. So let’s do something in Montana that we own, rather than something that D.C. hands us.”

Two Legislative Proposals

Currently, Coalition406—now with its national backers—is working to advance two legislative proposals.

The first one deals explicitly with cannabis. This one, called the Marijuana Regulation Act, would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adult use in the state.

The second proposal is not directly about cannabis. But its implications would directly impact what legalization would look like in Montana. It has to do with the legal definition of an adult in the state.

Currently, a person 18 and older is considered an adult. But if weed becomes legal, that would change to 21. To address this, Coalition406 is also putting forth a proposal to amend the state constitution so that adults are defined as those 21 years and older.

At the moment, the group is still finalizing the wording of these proposals. Additionally, they still need to get initial approval for the proposals. If the proposals get the necessary approvals, the group can start gathering signatures of support.

The proposals will only show up on next year’s ballot if Coalition406 gets enough signatures. But with new backing, the group plans to devote much more funding to advancing its ideas. Specifically, Petersen said the group could be on the verge of spending more than $3 million on campaigning efforts.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in Montana voted against a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Lindsey, Nick. “National Political Action Committee Pushing For Cannabis Legalization In Montana.” High Times, 30 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/news/national-political-action-committee-pushing-cannabis-legalization-montana/.

Portland City Council Approves Over $630k In Cannabis Equity Grants

The grant money is designed to benefit those who have faced marijuana-related criminal charges prior to the legalization of recreational cannabis.

Wikimedia Commons

Portland, Oregon took a big step towards properly funding its social equity in cannabis program on Wednesday. Its city council earmarked $631,000 in grants to go to the grant program that has been established to ensure that people who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs have a place in the marijuana industry.

The decision comes in the midst of a growing cannabis tax revenue windfall for Oregon. During the 2019 fiscal year, the state’s Department of Revenue took in over $102 million. That money comes from a 17 percent tax on marijuana sales, with cities and counties permitted to add an extra three percent should they see fit. It’s expected to amount to $284.2 million during 2021-2023.

Typically, 40 percent of that money goes to schools, 25 percent to various mental health and addiction services, and 35 percent to different law enforcement agencies. But a report by the Portland city auditor found that in the state’s largest city, 79 percent of cannabis tax revenue was being channeled into transportation and law enforcement.

The People’s Voice Has Been Heard

The city council members’ vote on Wednesday was an attempt to redistribute funds according to Oregon voters’ wishes. In 2016, cannabis tax measure 26-180 was passed, declaring that a three percent tax on cannabis sales could go to supporting social equity measures within the marijuana industry. Voters approved the measure, which included support for women and persons of color-owned businesses, safety measures against unsafe drivers, and addiction services.

One of the qualifying factors for the entry of small businesses into the program is that people with a prior cannabis conviction comprise either at least 25 percent of ownership or 20 percent of staff hours.

The recently approved $631,000 will go to support retroactive justice for the negative effects of cannabis prohibition. Similar funding has been used to help level the cannabis industry playing field in a variety of ways.

“You already have hundreds of Portlanders who have been directly benefiting from this tax funding,” said Brandon Goldner, who is a supervisor of the city’s Cannabis Program. “Whether it’s people getting workforce development, help getting education in the construction field, or whether it’s people who are helping – getting help clearing their records and expunging their records.”

Given Portland’s history of racially biased cannabis-related policing, the programs seem particularly crucial.

“Many studies have shown that adults across races use cannabis at similar rates,” POC cannabis advocate Jeanette Ward Horton shared with the attendees of the council meeting on Wednesday. “However, we can see […] the disproportionate targeting first of African American communities. Second, native American communities.”

Horton’s organization the NuLeaf Project was established to support cannabis business owners of color, and runs a mentoring program, gives out grants, and runs a business accelerator program that aims to build technical skills in future entrepreneurs.

Donohue, Caitlin. “Portland City Council Approves Over $630k In Cannabis Equity Grants.” High Times, 24 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/news/portland-city-council-approves-over-630k-in-cannabis-equity-grants/.

Maine’s first cannabis sales expected by March 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine marijuana enthusiasts will probably be able to purchase their preferred products in retail stores by March 2020 after years of waiting.

But a key act passed by the Legislature is now in effect, and that means the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy is in a position to complete final adoption of marijuana rules, said David Heidrich, an office spokesman.

The act made tweaks to Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act that were necessary for the marijuana office to adopt the rules, which it is expected to do within two months. That means it will likely be able to accept applications for retail cannabis sales by the end of 2019, Heidrich said.

The state will need time to process the applications, and retailers will also need local approvals, but the state is projecting revenue from marijuana sales by March 15, Heidrich said. How swiftly the applications are approved might depend on how complete they are, he said.

“We won’t know until we get applications. It’s possible we get applications from someone who has all their ducks in a row and has a municipality lined up that’s poised to give them local authorization,” Heidrich said.

Maine’s rollout of legal marijuana has been beset with hiccups, such as a squabble over the hiring of a key consultant, and was also slowed by former Gov. Paul LePage’s opposition to legalization.

However, the result has been a process that will ultimately protect public health and safety, said Scott Gagnon, who led a drive against legalization and has since played a role on a state marijuana commission.

“From a public health perspective it has been a slower pace, a more deliberative pace than has happened in some states,” Gagnon said. “I think that’s been good.”

David Boyer, an independent marijuana industry consultant in Maine, said that it’s “disappointing that adults still don’t have a place to purchase legal cannabis in Maine,” but that the finish line is in sight.

Press, The Associated. “Maine’s First Cannabis Sales Expected by March 2020.” Leafly, 7 Oct. 2019, http://www.leafly.com/news/industry/maines-first-cannabis-sales-expected-by-march-2020.

Nevada’s Governor Vows To Tighten Control Over The State’s Cannabis Marketplace

Governor Steve Sisolak criticized the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s lack of oversight concerning recreational and medical marijuana

Getty Images

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s governor expressed outrage Friday and vowed to tighten control of the state’s lucrative legal marijuana marketplace in response to reports that a foreign national contributed to two top state political candidates last year in a bid to skirt rules to open a legal cannabis store.

Gov. Steve Sisolak declared in a statement that there has been “lack of oversight and inaction” of the recreational and medical pot industry by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. He also said he is commissioning a multi-agency task force to “root out potential corruption or criminal influences in Nevada’s marijuana marketplace.”

The Democratic governor pointed to a federal indictment made public Thursday in New York alleging that a man identified as having “Russian roots” funneled $10,000 each to the Republican campaigns of Adam Laxalt and Wesley Duncan.

The indictment included a conspiracy charge against four men, including two with ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the Ukraine investigation at the center of impeachment proceedings.

Laxalt lost the race for Nevada governor. Duncan ran unsuccessfully for attorney general.

Both said Thursday through spokesmen that they would return the donations they received a week before the November 2018 election from a donor named Igor Fruman. Federal prosecutors allege that Fruman, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, was acting on behalf of an unnamed foreign national.

Duncan’s representative did not immediately respond to messages Friday.

Laxalt, through spokesman Robert Uithoven, said it is “absurd that the governor is trying to pin this on me.”

He noted the indictment said the alleged scheme was concealed from candidates, campaigns, federal regulators and the public.

Laxalt also accused Sisolak of accepting campaign money from marijuana businesses and failing “to clean up the problem while in office.”

Sisolak’s statement acknowledged “illegal sales to minors, serious allegations of manipulated lab results and a licensing process mired in litigation.” It said the governor will speed up oversight that was to be assigned to a yet-to-begin state Cannabis Compliance Board.

“Yesterday’s indictments and their connections to Nevada, in combination with ongoing issues in Nevada’s legalized marijuana industry … have led the governor to expedite regulatory and enforcement measures,” spokesman Ryan McInerney said in the statement.

The governor referred to revelations in testimony during court hearings in Las Vegas this summer stemming from failed bidders’ claims that the licensing process was rife with mistakes and bias. Dozens of companies argued the state should redo a process that awarded 61 new dispensary licenses last December to 16 businesses among 462 applications.

“Effective immediately,” Sisolak’s statement said, “any marijuana entity — licensed or unlicensed — that violates the law will see swift and severe criminal and regulatory action.”

McInerney did not immediately respond to messages seeking details.

The statement called the governor “disappointed in the lack of oversight and … inaction from the state over many years that led us to this critical juncture.”

It pointed to the “apparent absence of a single criminal referral by the Marijuana Enforcement Division since the inception of licensed marijuana sales, medical or recreational, in Nevada.”

Nevada voters legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and approved recreational use in a separate ballot measure in 2016.

Press, Associated. “Nevada’s Governor Vows To Tighten Control Over The State’s Cannabis Marketplace.” High Times, 14 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/news/nevadas-governor-vows-to-tighten-control-over-the-states-cannabis-marketplace/.

Walmart Accidentally Sells Cannabis Leaf Sweatshirt for Kids

Las Vegas Now

Walmart apparently wants everyone of all ages to be “super lucky” for St. Patrick’s Day this year, and by super lucky they mean stoned. 

Online Walmart shoppers were shocked to find a hooded sweatshirt available for purchase on the retail-giant’s website which depicted three different types of leaves, one of which belonging to the cannabis plant. 

Advertised as a St. Patrick’s Day theme, the hoodie, which was available only in kids sizes, displayed the word “normal” under a three-leaf clover, the word “lucky” below a four-leaf clover, and the words “super lucky” assigned to the cannabis leaf. All three leaves are displayed in line next to one another. 

In Walmart’s defense, the product seems to actually have been uploaded by a third party retailer based in Canada, where cannabis is federally legal. Also, like many online clothing retailers, it is likely that the design is photoshopped onto the youth sized sweatshirt to show potential buyers what they would receive. No children were harmed in the making of this product page. 

As soon as Walmart representatives were notified about the item, it was removed from the website. 

“This isn’t an item sold on Walmart.com and we will alert the IT team to remove the image and/or page immediately,” a Walmart.com supervisor said

The url still exists on walmart.com, but the page is now empty. Super lucky for us, it was not taken down before some shoppers snagged screenshots of the item.

Walmart.com

While Walmart pharmacies may not be distributing medical cannabis just yet, the company did make a deal with the American Cannabis Company out of Denver, CO in March of 2018 to sell a couple of their cultivation products online. 

The products selected are designed specifically for cannabis cultivation and can be purchased on Walmart.com. The two ancillary cannabis-industry items sold by Walmart are SoHum Living Soils and Dr. Marijane Root Probiotic.

“ACC is excited to have the opportunity to offer our products online through these major retailers,” said American Cannabis Company CEO Terry Buffalo. “We are especially excited to be selling our proprietary SoHum Living Soils potting mix through these online channels, as we have spent years perfecting our blend, and fine-tuning the messaging around the brand itself.”

American Cannabis Company products are also available through Amazon and Home Depot.

MassRoots, and MassRoots Posts made by MassRoots Staff are an effort on the part of one or more contributing writers. We hope we help you have a better cannabis experience. “Walmart Accidentally Sells Cannabis Leaf Sweatshirt for Kids.” MassRoots, 21 Mar. 2019, http://www.massroots.com/news/walmart-accidentally-sells-cannabis-leaf-sweatshirt-for-kids/.

Meet the Pot Power Players Bringing Legal Marijuana to Boston

Legal cannabis companies are sprouting up like weeds—each one backed by a pot pioneer. Here’s who’s poised to rake in all the green.

iStock

HOMECOMING KING
Tim Keogh
President and CEO, AmeriCann

Who They Are: It’s a classic tale of local boy makes good. Marion native Keogh cut his teeth in the weed biz during the early days of the Colorado green rush at AmeriCann, and is returning to the Bay State a bona fide weed-trepreneur.

Why We’re Watching: With a combined net loss of $7 million over the past two years, according to its annual report with the SEC, Keogh’s company is betting that a new million-square-foot cannabis campus for cultivation and processing in Freetown will make for a welcome and lucrative homecoming

Tasty Nugget: Keogh also doubles as a board member at the Bask medical marijuana dispensary in Fairhaven, whose cash registers have been ringing since February 2018.

THE HEIR
Mario Signore
Founder, Green Line Boston

Who They Are: What do you do if you’re heir to the Brookline Ice Company fortune? If you’re Signore, you head to L.A. and become a cameraman on Deadliest Catch. But every scion really wants to build their own fortune, right?

Why We’re Watching: In 2018, Signore founded Green Line and took over an empty lot in Boston’s Newmarket Industrial District that his family owned. Now he’s building a $20 million cultivation complex aimed at growing and marketing a distinctly New England brand of weed.

Tasty Nugget: His tagline: “I want to create the Sam Adams of cannabis.”

THE POLITICIAN
Tito Jackson
CEO, Verdant Medical

Who They Are: A community organizer, a grassroots politician who lost to Mayor Marty Walsh in 2017, and now a purveyor of pot, Jackson’s name carries major clout in Boston.

Why We’re Watching: Jackson is poised to do more than just turn a buck; armed with an insider’s know-how of city politics, he’s out to make sure his budding company is a force for good in a legal industry known for shutting out minorities.

Tasty Nugget: Jackson’s stated goal is for Verdant to employ people with criminal records for drug-related offenses.

THE TRANSPLANTS
Eamonn O’Kane and Niall McManus
Founders, Valiant-America

Who They Are: Roughly a decade ago, Irishmen O’Kane and McManus quietly entered the Bay State cannabis game as the guys who built many of today’s bleeding-edge grow facilities.

Why We’re Watching: Plans to fly under the radar were scuttled late last year when word got out that they were the team behind Revolutionary Clinic’s sprawling new state-of-the-art cultivation center and dispensary in Fitchburg. Whatever they work on next is going to get major buzz.

Tasty Nugget: Their work is so good, they’ve heard other construction crews pitch their projects as being “like those Irish guys at Valiant.”

HOST WITH THE MOST
David Yusefzadeh
Founder, Cloud Creamery/Eat Sacrilicious

Who They Are: Yusefzadeh cooked meals for President George W. Bush and was a chef at some of the highest-rated hotels and dining spots around the world before joining the weed game in eastern Massachusetts.

Why We’re Watching: Yusefzadeh founded Cloud Creamery, the East Coast’s first CBD- and cannabis-dosed-ice-cream company, based in Framingham. Then he launched Eat Sacrilicious, a high-end, multicourse cannabis dinner series held in secret locations around Boston.

Tasty Nugget: A rising go-to chef for green-friendly celebrities, Yusefzadeh has hosted and catered dinners for 2 Chainz and B-Real of Cypress Hill, David Beckham, and other glitterati.

TOP SEED
Joseph Lekach
CEO, Apothca/Artcan dispensaries


Who They Are: In addition to running a beverage company that he would sell for $34 million, Lekach jumped on the weed wagon and launched a series of dispensaries in Lynn and Arlington called Apothca.

Why We’re Watching: As of early 2019, Lekach has a third retail location on its way to Jamaica Plain. He also has a retail store in Oregon he calls a “test lab for the best stuff that will work in the Massachusetts market.”

Tasty Nugget: Lekach’s umbrella holding company, Artcan, has an operation in Colombia—a country that’s set up to become a world-leading exporter of cannabis oil to the legal market.

McCarthy, Dan. “Meet the Pot Power Players Bringing Legal Marijuana to Boston.” Boston Magazine, Boston Magazine, 4 Mar. 2019, http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/03/05/marijuana-businesses/.

CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA LEGALIZES RECREATIONAL CANNABIS USE & CULTIVATION

The Australian capital of Canberra made history on Wednesday, becoming the first city in the country to legalize marijuana.

The landmark measures were passed in the Australian Capital Territory [ACT] Legislative Assembly, clearing the way for individuals there aged 18 and over to possess and grow cannabis.

Marijuana remains illegal under national law in Australia—producing a scenario similar to the United States, where a growing number of city and state governments have legalized recreational cannabis use despite it being illegal under federal law.

History Made, But Not Without Concern

Wednesday’s historic vote made the Australian Capital Territory the first state or territory in the country to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The territory is home to a little more than 420,000 people, with most residing in the capital city of Canberra.

Critics of the newly passed measures raised concerns about marijuana’s legal status on the national level.

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said Wednesday that the growth and consumption of marijuana would remain a risky proposition.

“The ACT’s legislation attempts to provide a clear and specific legal defence to an adult who possesses small amounts of cannabis in the ACT, but is prosecuted under Commonwealth law,” Ramsay said, as quoted by local Australian broadcaster ABC. “But unfortunately it cannot stop someone being arrested and charged if the Commonwealth officials were minded to do so, or prosecuted if the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions thought it were appropriate to do so.”

But Michael Pettersson, a labor leader in ACT, told Sky News that he would be “amazed” if any prosecutor brought charges against a pot smoker in the territory.

“Prosecutors will not be bringing charges because, quite simply, there is a complete defence to the commonwealth drug charge,” he said. “There won’t be a territory offence and they’ll have a complete defence to the commonwealth charge.”

“I don’t think it’s particularly likely the commonwealth government will try to fight this,” Pettersson added, as quoted by The Guardian.

Edward, Thomas. “Capital Of Australia Legalizes Recreational Cannabis Use And Cultivation.” High Times, 25 Sept. 2019, hightimes.com/news/capital-australia-legalizes-recreational-cannabis-use-cultivation/.

THE TOP 10 GUIDE & RANKING FOR STATE-BY-STATE CANNABIS REGULATIONS IN THE US

We recently received word that the Tracking Cannabis Blog announced their latest state-by-state ranking of state cannabis regulations based on how favorable they are to cannabis businesses. California leads the pack, but you might be surprised by which states make the top — and bottom — of the list.

Their guide provides a holistic review of the current cannabis laws in every state and the District of Columbia, from most favorable to cannabis businesses to most restrictive. In addition, you can find each state in alphabetical order below. Jurisdictions are ranked on the following factors:

  1. Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from marijuana plants (THC concentration equal to or greater than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis) – legality and required qualifications.
  2. Medical cannabis – legality and required qualifications.
  3. Recreational cannabis – legality and issuance of commercial cannabis licenses.
  4. Non-profit cannabis entities – permissibility and requirements.
  5. Commercial cannabis licenses – availability, caps and restrictions.
  6. Cannabis regulatory agencies – authority and qualifications.
  7. Developments and trends – support for ongoing cannabis legalization measures.
  8. Business opportunities – number of operators, consumers and untapped industry potential.

Note that this ranking is subjective, and different factors weigh more heavily in different states. All of the information regarding each state is current as of August 2019. However, laws are constantly changing and with each election the statutes in any particular state may also change. In addition, this list does not consider federal laws, which may be consistent on a national level but can be applied selectively on a state level. To find any particular state, just click on the respective link below:

#1 CALIFORNIA

California has legalized both adult use and medical marijuana, making it one of the most relaxed states in the nation with regard to cannabis use. The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215) was the first legislation in the United States legalizing medical marijuana use under state law. It has subsequently been superseded by the Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. California’s cannabis market recorded $2.5 billion in sales in FY2018.

CUA allowed patients and their primary caregivers to obtain marijuana for medical use by the patient without subjecting either to criminal prosecution. The Act authorized medical use for patients with one of 11 specific conditions and included a general purpose clause that also allowed use for any condition that substantially limited the ability of a person to conduct a major life activity as defined in the ADA.

Proposition 64, also called the Adult-Use Marijuana Act, took effect on November 9, 2016. It allows adults twenty-one and older to cultivate up to six plants and possess 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Adults can also give away up to one ounce of cannabis to other adults. It restricts the possession or use of cannabis in certain areas like public places, non-smoking areas, daycares, schools, and vehicles.

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), enacted in June 2017, combined the regulatory framework for medicinal and adult-use cannabis. MAUCRSA designated three agencies to oversee cannabis activity:

  1. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is the lead regulatory agency and authorizes licenses
  2. The California Department of Public Health – Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch; and
  3. The California Department of Food and Agriculture – CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing.

The licensing system created by MAUCRSA is complex, with a minimum of twenty license classifications and an elaborate set of regulatory requirements established under the emergency regulations adopted by each agency.

License types include, but are not limited to, adult use, medical use, types of cultivation and manufacture, retailor or distributor, testing, and microbusiness. Once a license is granted, it is non-transferable. There are no caps on the number of licenses, but the requirements are rigorous. MAUCRSA also grants municipalities the power to further regulate commercial cannabis or to prohibit it altogether.

To be granted a state license, applicants must be residents of California, pass a background check, provide proof of a legal right to use the proposed location, apply for and obtain a valid seller’s permit, provide proof of bond, and describe the applicant’s operating procedures in detail. As the largest cannabis regulatory regime in the world, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has struggled to fill positions and conduct investigations.

In such a large market, regulatory issues are inevitable. Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation has been slow to roll out its social equity program, causing eligible businesses to bear the costs of rent on storage and retail locations without any idea of when they can begin sales.

Controversy has also emerged over the definition of “financial interest holders” involved with cannabis companies, and what being listed as a financial interest holder may mean under federal law. Additionally, the majority of municipalities currently prohibit commercial cannabis activities, a state of affairs that Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting attempted to address through a bill forcing municipalities where a majority of the community approved Proposition 64 to license pot retailers.

The proposed bill required such municipalities to approve one on-site cannabis retail license for every six liquor licenses, or distribute one license for every 10,000 residents, whichever is smaller. Ting has withdrew the bill for now, with plans to reintroduce it in 2020.

With regard to criminal punishment, California has very forgiving policies compared to most states. Underage use or possession often results in a small fine or counseling, with use on the grounds of a grade school having harsher punishments. Illegal cultivation and possession with intent to sell are both misdemeanors, though the latter can be enhanced to a felony depending on certain conditions. It remains a felony to employ a minor in cannabis sales or to provide cannabis to a minor.

Overall, California’s attitude toward cannabis legalization and regulation is welcoming when compared to other states. It was the first state to legalize medical marijuana and one of the first to legalize adult use. While some municipalities impose further restrictions or prohibit adult use, there are many that see legalization as an economic opportunity to be capitalized on. With a robust supply chain for both medical and adult use emerging throughout the state, California leads the nation in its regulation of commercial cannabis activity and cannabis use.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

#2 NEVADA

Nevada legalized medical marijuana in 2001 and adult-use marijuana in 2017. Medical marijuana legislation is codified under Chapter 453A. Medical Use of Marijuana in Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 453A.010 to 453A.810. Adult use marijuana is permitted under the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, which is codified in Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 453D.010 to 453D.600.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (the “Department”) is tasked with regulating commercial cannabis activity. To qualify for a medical prescription, a patient must be diagnosed with a “chronic or debilitating medical condition,” which includes conditions ranging from cancer to severe nausea.

Adult use marijuana restrictions are similar to restrictions on alcohol: users must be 21 years of age or older; marijuana may only be purchased from a business licensed in Nevada; selling or giving marijuana to individuals under 21 years of age is illegal; and driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

Medical marijuana establishment certificates are available for independent testing laboratories, cultivation facilities, production facilities for edibles and other products, or dispensaries. To obtain a certificate, an applicant must complete an application and pay the requisite fee.

The application requires evidence that the applicant controls not less than $250,000 in liquid assets to cover initial expenses and evidence that the applicant owns property on which the proposed medical marijuana establishment will be located or permission from the owner of the property. There is a cap on the number of certificates that may be issued, and the cap is based on county population.

Nevada’s medical marijuana businesses must follow certain rules, as set out in the statute. One such rule is that each medical marijuana establishment must have “an appearance, both as to the interior and exterior, that is professional, orderly, dignified and consistent with the traditional style of pharmacies and medical office, and have discreet and professional signage that is consistent with the traditional style of signage for pharmacies and medical offices.”

Other requirements, such as installing a video monitoring system, must also be followed. Additionally, if the city or county where the medical marijuana dispensary is located has enacted zoning restrictions, the establishment must be in compliance.

Source: Safety & Health Magazine

Licenses are issued for adult-use dispensaries if an applicant completes an application and pays the requisite fee. For 18 months after the Department began to receive applications for marijuana establishments in early 2018, the Department will only accept applications for licenses for retail marijuana stores, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and marijuana cultivation facilities.

Currently, licenses will be issued to marijuana distributors only if the person holds a wholesale dealer license, unless an insufficient number of distributors results from that limitation. Moreover, the application is only accepted if the proposed establishment is not in violation of any zoning or land use rules adopted by the locality where the establishment would be located. There is also a cap on the number of licenses that may be issued based on county population.

Adult-use dispensaries must also follow certain rules regarding production, manufacturing, distribution, and/or sales of cannabis products. For example, cultivation, processing, and manufacture of marijuana must not be visible from a public place by unaided vision.

A key case in which 2018 applicants for dispensary licenses sued the state for an injunction when they did not receive licenses had yet to be decided in August 2019. State officials defended the process as impartial. Vegas hotels and casinos have not embraced adult-use legalization as much as the rest of the state has. Gaming is a $13 billion industry in Nevada, and casino licenses require following federal law. Vegas casinos and hotels may have too much at stake to allow marijuana smoking in their hotels, at least while marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level.

#3 COLORADO

Currently, both medical and adult use of cannabis is legal within the State of Colorado. Colorado’s constitution was amended on December 28, 2000 to legalize cannabis for medical purposes, and amended again on December 10, 2012 to legalize adult use. In 2018, Colorado cannabis sales across medical and adult-use sectors were over $1.5 billion, totalling $6 billion since adult-use was legalized in January 2014.

As other states slowly move towards comprehensive cannabis legalization, Colorado’s overall attitude regarding legalization has consistently been ahead of the rest of the nation. Since the legalization of adult use marijuana in 2012, Colorado has focused on establishing a robust regulatory framework and increasing the effectiveness of these regulations through subsequent legislation.

For medical and adult use cannabis businesses wishing to operate in Colorado, the state issues licenses that vary depending upon the entity’s actual business interest. Required qualifications that must be met for every commercial cannabis license include: a background check, filing of a complete application, and payment of a licensing fee.

While Colorado does require many different qualifications to obtain a license, state law permits the transfer of commercial cannabis licenses. In some instances, local licenses might also be required which may have other restrictions on transferability. At the state level Colorado does not cap the number of licenses issued, but some counties and municipalities do restrict the number of licenses that may be issued and active within that particular county.

State cannabis regulations impose various restrictions on licensees. For example, a cultivator is only authorized to cultivate a maximum of 1,800 plants at any given time. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the intent of this rule is to encourage responsible production to meet demand for retail marijuana, while also avoiding overproduction or underproduction.

Additionally, the state limits the amount of cannabis that can be sold by retailers. A dispensary and its employees are prohibited from transferring more than one ounce of flower or its equivalent in a single transaction to a consumer.

One such legislative initiative proposed an increase in the punishment for a person not licensed to sell medical or adult-use marijuana advertising the sale of marijuana. Other legislative actions have been more permissive, increasing opportunities for cannabis investment in the state.

For example, HB 18-1011, signed into law on June 5, 2018, repealed a law that required limited passive investors to go through an initial background check when investing in a cannabis related company. HB 18-1011 also allows certain publicly traded companies to hold an interest in medical marijuana businesses and offer securities for investment in medical marijuana businesses.

On May 29, 2019 Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation authorizing marijuana hospitality spaces where cannabis can be consumed on the premises of dispensaries.

Source: KKTV.com

#4 MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts legalized the adult use of marijuana in November 2016. Any person 21 and over is no longer be penalized for possessing, using, purchasing, or giving away one ounce or less of marijuana. Individuals can also possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana from plants cultivated within their primary residence. The definition of marijuana is very broad, and unlike states like Arizona, encompasses cannabidiol.

Medical marijuana is governed by a separate act known as the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana. It was enacted in 2012 and allows for the acquisition, cultivation, possession, processing, transfer, transportation, sale and distribution for the benefit of qualifying patients. The list of qualifying conditions is fairly broad and includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and Crohn’s disease. Other conditions not specified in the statute may also qualify if so determined in writing by the patient’s treating physician.

Under Massachusetts’ adult-use regulations, marijuana establishments must obtain appropriate licenses to operate legally within the state. Massachusetts offers eight types of business licenses: marijuana cultivator, craft marijuana cooperative, marijuana product manufacturer, marijuana retailer, marijuana research facility, independent testing laboratory, marijuana transport, and marijuana micro-businesses.

Commercial cannabis activity is regulated by the Cannabis Control Commission, but local municipalities can also regulate some activities. Although there is a cap on the number of licenses a licensee can obtain, cannabis businesses can operate as for-profit entities. As of July 2019, Massachusetts has issued 22 retail licenses, and Boston’s first retail store will open in fall 2019. The favorable regulatory climate and sizable market make Massachusetts a lucrative state for commercial cannabis operators.

#5 OREGON

Oregon legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1998 with the passage of Measure 67, known as the Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA). OMMA modified state law to allow the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana by patients with certain medical conditions upon recommendation by a doctor and compliance with OMMA. The rulemaking authority pursuant to OMMA is vested in the Oregon Health Authority.

Under OMMA, in order to legally use marijuana for medical purposes a person must first obtain a registry identification card under 47B.797. To do so, a person must have a “debilitating medical condition” as defined in ORS 475B.791(6) and provide written documentation from an attending physician certifying the patient has “a debilitating medical condition and that the medical use of marijuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of the applicant’s debilitating medical condition.”

Patients with medical condition that are not listed in 791(6), may petition the Oregon Health Authority, pursuant to ORS 475B.946, to have their condition included among the diseases and conditions that qualify as debilitating medical conditions. Employers are not required to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in the workplace.

Oregon legalized adult use of marijuana in 2014 with the passage of the Adult and Medical Use of Cannabis Act. The Act became operative on July 1, 2015. The Act expressly does not amend nor affect the Medical Marijuana Act. The rulemaking authority pursuant to the Act is vested in the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

The Adult and Medical Use of Cannabis Act legalizes the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by adults age 21 or older. Pursuant to ORS 475B.301, persons aged 21 or older may grow up to four marijuana plants in their household, may possess up to eight ounces of useable marijuana, may produce and/or possess up to 16 ounces of cannabinoid products in solid form, produce and/or possess up to 72 ounces of cannabinoid products in liquid form, and may produce and/or possess up to 16 ounces of cannabinoid concentrates. A variety of licenses are available for activities such as production, processing, wholesaling and retailing.

Since legalizing cannabis, Oregon has increased its efforts to curtail illegal production and transportation of marijuana as black market activity has continued to grow. In a May 2018 memorandum written by U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams in which he stated “there can be no doubt that there is significant overproduction of marijuana in Oregon. As a result, a thriving black market is exporting marijuana across the country, including to states that have not legalized marijuana under their state laws.”

As of August 2019, Oregon licensed 1,136 recreational growers. Some growers have recently gone out of business, and prices have stabilized for the moment.

Due to overproduction, on May 30, 2018 the OLCC announced it would temporarily “pause” accepting new applications for licenses under the Adult and Medical Use of Cannabis Act. In addition, in June 2019 Gov. Kate Brown signed a state law intended to allow Oregon to negotiate with other states to sell a portion of the marijuana surplus.

#6 ILLINOIS

Illinois legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2014. Users of medical cannabis must have been diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” by a licensed physician. Users may only possess a maximum of 2.5 oz of usable cannabis during a 14-day period.

In July 2016, Public Act 99-0697 reduced penalties associated with the adult use of cannabis. In August 2018 the state legislature passed a law allowing medical cannabis to be used as an alternative to opioids for some medical conditions. The law allows state residents who are given an opioid prescription to ask their physicians for medical cannabis instead.

On June 25, 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 1438, the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, into law. The bill legalized the adult use and purchase of cannabis. For recreational purposes, Illinois residents over 21 can possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC in products such as edibles. Illinois visitors are able to possess half those amounts. Unlike medical marijuana patients, adult users are not permitted to grow marijuana at home.

HB 1438 also created a $30 million dollar loan program to help social equity applicants with cannabis industry start-up costs. Applicants qualify based on being in a disproportionately impacted area and having a cannabis charge expunged as a result of the new law.

HB 1438 does not affect medical marijuana users, except to the extent the bill mandates that any medical dispensary can apply within sixty days of the passage of HB 1438 for an Early Approval Adult Use Dispensing Organization License. In a shortage, such dispensaries must prioritize medical patients before recreational purchasers.

Illinois’ Department of Revenue projects the industry to generate over $57 million in tax revenue and fees in FY2020. An excise tax of 10% is imposed on products with less than 35% THC, and a tax of 25% is imposed on products with higher doses. The new law is in effect beginning January 1, 2020. Initially, medical marijuana dispensaries will be the only licensed retailers, but by mid-2020 new licenses will be granted to dispensaries, processors, cultivators and transporters.

Source: RobinOlimb/Getty

#7 MICHIGAN

On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters legalized adult-use cannabis with the passage of Proposal 18-1, also known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (“MRTMA”). At the time of its enactment, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis and the first to do so in the Midwest.

MRTMA authorizes and legalizes the possession, use and cultivation of cannabis products by individuals at least 21 years of age. The new law tasks the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with promulgating rules and procedures 8 | Thompson Coburn Blog Post for issuing cannabis licensing in the state. The state will not cap the number of licenses at the state level, although municipalities are authorized to do so. Non-Michigan residents are permitted to invest in cannabis businesses in the state.

Previously, in 2018, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”) legalized the use and possession of cannabis by any Michigan resident diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. Presently, a debilitating medical condition includes cancer, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and any other medical condition approved by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The general regulatory framework established under the new law is particularly business-friendly, as it establishes tax rates (6% sales tax and 10 percent excise tax) lower than most states that allow adult use, and the state permits for-profit licensees. For medical-use cannabis-related businesses wishing to operate within the state, Michigan issues licenses that vary depending upon the company’s actual activities.

Each license is subject to different statutory qualifications. In 2016, Michigan enacted the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, which provided for the licensure of growers, processors, secure transporters, provisioning centers, and safety compliance facilities. Once obtained, all of the aforementioned licenses may be transferred after state approval.

Statutory limitations restrict the production of medical-use cannabis. The limitation depends on the company’s class of license. For example, a “Class A” production license allows a company to produce 500 cannabis plants, while a “Class B” license permits a company to produce 1,000 cannabis plants.

Recreational sales are on hold until 2020, but the Marijuana Regulatory Agency accepts applications for business licenses starting November 1, 2019. Regulators have issued a set of emergency rules that anticipate more thorough guidance. Barriers of entry for business licenses are substantially lower than those for medical licenses; a business license does not require proving a daunting amounts of assets, fees are lower, and the license itself is a third of a medical license’s cost. Other emergency rules allow businesses to permit use at social events while banning drive-through, mobile marijuana shops and online sales.

Also in 2016, House Bill 4210 amended the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to prevent a person from being penalized for manufacturing a marijuana-infused product if the person was a qualified registered patient or a registered primary caregiver. On the municipal level, cannabis activity is regulated by local governmental authorities. In towns such as Ann Arbor, where an annual “Hash Bash” event has been celebrated by residents and University of Michigan students for almost 50 years, local ordinances regulate and license cannabis dispensaries.

As evidenced by the recent passage of MRTMA, Michigan’s overall attitude regarding legalization has consistently been ahead of most states in the nation.

#8 MAINE

On May 2, 2018, the Maine Legislature overturned a veto by then-Gov. Paul LePage in order to pass adult-use legalization. The Legislature voted heavily in favor of passing the bill, as the House votes tallied 109-39 in favor and the Senate votes tallied 28-6 in favor. The Marijuana Legalization Act legalizes adult use throughout the state without restrictions on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limits.

The Act allows a person to both use or possess up to five grams of marijuana or marijuana concentrate without legal ramifications. The Act restricts the amounts of marijuana plants adults can use and transfer and imposes many requirements on companies seeking a license to cultivate, test, manufacture, or sell marijuana or marijuana concentrate.

A bill signed by Gov. Janet Mills in June 2019 will launch Maine recreational sales in March of 2020. It maintains the strictest barrier to entry in the retail market by requiring business to be run by individuals who have been residents of Maine for four years. Edibles will be permitted in retail stores, but edibles in the shape of animals, people or characters are not permitted.

#9 ALASKA

Alaska legalized the adult use of marijuana in 2014 with a successful ballot measure, making it the third state in the nation at the time (behind Colorado and Washington) to legalize adult use. Any person 21 and over is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under state law for possessing, growing, purchasing, or transferring to another adult one ounce or less of marijuana.

The state also permits businesses to possess, grow, process, transport, or transfer to another person 21 and over up to 6 marijuana plants. The statutory definition of marijuana is broad, and likely encompasses products like cannabidiol.

Commercial businesses must obtain appropriate licenses to operate legally within the state. Alaska offers four (4) licenses: retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and marijuana testing facilities. The licensing framework in Alaska is favorable to cannabis businesses.

These licenses can be transferred with approval from the state’s Marijuana Control Board, the state agency charged with regulating commercial business within the state. A business can operate as non-profit or for-profit, but they must be run by Alaska residents. Beginning on April 11, 2019, dispensaries in freestanding buildings can set up separate designated smoking areas for patrons. The city of Anchorage only permits consumption of edibles at dispensaries, and other local regulations may vary.

Patients with certain debilitating medical conditions can apply to register and receive a medical marijuana identification card. The law provides an affirmative defense against state-law prosecution for the manufacture, delivery, or possession of marijuana if the patient is properly registered with the state. The list of eligible conditions is broad and includes, for example, cancer, glaucoma, chronic conditions resulting in severe pain, nausea, or seizures. Other conditions may also be approved by the state’s Department of Health and Social Services.

Although the Act legalized marijuana use on private property, the use of marijuana in bars or restaurants is still entirely illegal.

Source: MGN Online

#10 WASHINGTON

Washington has a history of being ahead of the curve on marijuana legislation. The state legalized medical use in 1998 via ballot measure (Wash. Initiative 692), just two years after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. On November 6, 2012, Washington became one of the first two states to legalize adult use (along with Colorado on the same day) by passing Washington Initiative 502.

This legalized adult-use marijuana for those 21 years and older. Sales began in July 2014, and while the first years of adult-use legalization led to double digit YOY increases, as of 2019 sales have slowed to single digit increases for the first time in the state’s short history. Wholesale cannabis prices have suffered a commensurate decline.

Given the longer duration of Washington’s medical and adult-use marijuana programs, the laws and regulations are more comprehensive than other states. The medical program is run through the Washington State Health Department, while the adult-use program is run by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Chapter 69.51A of the Revised Code of Washington offers full details on the medical program and its restrictions, while Washington Admin. Code Title 314-55 provides all regulations relevant to the adult-use program.

The adult-use program is heavily licensed, and heavily restricted. Residency requirements, financing regulations, and limits on the number of licenses per entity are all found in the Washington Administrative Code.

Source: The Portlander – Willamette Week

Weisz, Barry Weisz, and Michael Rosenblum. “The Ultimate Guide & Annual Ranking for State-By-State Cannabis Regulations in the US.” Cannabis Magazine, 11 Sept. 2019, cannabismagazine.com/the-ultimate-guide-annual-ranking-for-state-by-state-cannabis-regulations-in-the-us/.

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