• Jury Selection Begins In First Federal Trial Over Opioid Epidemic
    CLEVELAND (AP) — Jury selection began Wednesday in the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic despite a last-minute request from lawyers to delay it because of news reports on a settlement offer. Two Ohio counties claim drug companies that made, distributed and sold prescription painkillers engaged in a deadly conspiracy that has inflicted massive damage on their communities and created a public nuisance that costs the counties hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The legal situation became a bit more complicated Wednesday as multiple defendants asked Judge Dan Polster to delay the trial after reports that the three big drug distributors were offering a total of $18 billion over 18 years to settle the suits set for trial and some 2,000 others. Two people with knowledge of the talks confirmed to The Associated Press that the offer had been made. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose details from ongoing talks. The offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The lawyers argued that jurors who read or saw any of the coverage would be tainted when learning of the massive amount of money possibly being discussed. Polster denied the motions and said he didn’t believe many of the potential jurors would have been exposed to the stories. He said he will question members of the jury pool to determine whether they were aware of the coverage. “There’s no way to avoid this,” Polster said. “Something leaked out. I can’t control leaks and we’re going forward.” Polster said a delay could have pushed the trial into next year. “Only a fool would start a trial in Cleveland in January or February,” Polster said. If a settlement is reached for any of the defendants before or even during the trial, it would end their part of the case. But it’s not clear whether the trial would proceed against other companies if some settled. It’s expected to take up to three days for attorneys for Summit and Cuyahoga counties, home to Akron and Cleveland, and six drug companies to select a 12-person jury. Prospective jurors from nine northeast Ohio counties were mailed a 19-page questionnaire that asked whether there were people in their lives who used, abused or overdosed on opioids. Those with close connections to the crisis are expected to be excluded from serving on the jury. The pool does not include people from Summit County, which is a separate subdistrict in the 40-county Northern District of Ohio and has its own ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-16
  • California Governor Signs Several Marijuana-Related Bills
    California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a passel of bills affecting the cannabis industry, his office announced on Saturday. Among the legislation that is now law is AB 37, a proposal sponsored by Democrat member of the California House Reggie Jones-Sawyer that will allow cannabis companies to make tax deductions. AB 37 requires that eligible companies file their taxes as sole proprietors or partnerships. A similar bill was vetoed last year by former Governor Jerry Brown. At the federal level, such write-offs depart from official Internal Revenue Service policy. But Newsom showed he had little problem with that conflict—despite the fact that on the same day, he announced that he had “begrudgingly” vetoed SB 305, which would have legalized medical cannabis treatment for terminally ill patients at California health care facilities. Of that proposed legislation, Newsom wrote in a veto message, “This bill would create significant conflicts between federal and state laws that cannot be taken lightly.” In his statement, he suggested that such institutions could lose their federal funding were they to allow patients to use medical cannabis, even though he stated that he finds the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug (and therefore devoid of medicinal value) a “ludicrous stance [that] puts patients and those who care for them in an unconscionable position.” But hopefully some of the other pieces of legislation the governor put into effect will expand the medical community’s understanding of cannabis. AB 420 (heh) will establish a new cannabis research program within the University of California system. Other bills that Newsom signed into law include a social equity measure that waives or defers the fees associated with getting licensed as a cannabis business for “needs-based” applicants. SB 34 will make it possible for dispensaries to supply free cannabis to medical patients—an important continuation of the compassionate care programs that play an important role in the history of California marijuana activism. But Wait; There’s More Another important piece of legislation signed into effect was Assembly Bill 1291, which requires cannabis companies that employ 20 or more people to provide a notarized document confirming that they will adhere to a labor peace agreement. That’s a promise that the company will not interfere should workers decide they want to form their own union, and also means that any potential union will not encourage strike activity. That legislation has already been on the books in California since last year, but the new law gives businesses a 60-day deadline to produce such a notarized communication. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Bill Would Remove Cannabis Possession As Grounds For Deportation
    A bill introduced by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. recently would remove possession of cannabis as grounds for deportation under federal law. Under the bill, the Remove Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act (S. 2021), the offenses for which an undocumented immigrant could be deported would be amended. The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey in June and in the House last month with an identical companion bill from fellow Democrat Assistant Speaker Ray Ben Luján of New Mexico. “This Administration’s efforts to use marijuana possession as a tool for deportation is misguided and does not make our communities safer,” said Booker in a press release. “Limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on deporting people for something two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing. This legislation will remove another one of ICE’s weapons that have been deployed to execute this Administration’s hardline immigration policy.” Why This Bill is Necessary With the bill, the Immigration and Nationality Act would be amended, adding the phrase “other than the distribution of marijuana” to the section that defines “illicit trafficking in a controlled substance” as an offense that warrants the deportation of an undocumented immigrant. The measure also adds that “any offenses involving the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana shall not be considered as grounds of inadmissibility.” The bill would also allow immigrants who have been deported or denied a visa to reapply for admission to the country or have their visa reissued. “The Trump administration’s decision to use marijuana as a weapon against our immigrant communities is despicable,” said Luján. “The federal government should not be wasting resources to wreak havoc on immigrant families when there are children held in border camps that are desperate for legal services, hygiene products, and basic humanitarian care. Providing care for these children and families should be where the Trump administration devotes its funding—not working as a deportation force.” “I’m proud to be fighting for this legislation to hold President Trump accountable and defend our immigrant communities from senseless and hateful policies,” he added. More than 34,000 immigrants were deported between 2007 and 2012 for marijuana possession, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Since President Trump rescinded guidelines that listed misdemeanor offenders and cannabis convictions as a low priority, the crisis has worsened, according to Luján’s office. He adds that “this anti-immigrant agenda from the Trump administration stands in contrast to the policies of dozens of states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana use and ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • FBI Investigating Possible Public Corruption In Sacramento’s Cannabis Industry
    The FBI is investigating whether public officials in Sacramento, California accepted bribes in return for favorable treatment for applicants for licenses to operate cannabis businesses in the city, according to a report in local media. Three sources with direct knowledge of the probe have told the Sacramento Bee that the FBI has questioned several local cannabis businesses over the last three months about the potential corruption of city officials. The sources of the information declined to be identified so that the identities of the marijuana businesspeople questioned by the FBI would remain confidential. The sources said that those interviewed by agents were asked if they had knowledge of any bribes paid to public officials in return for favorable treatment during the cannabis business licensing process. Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI, refused to comment on a possible investigation into public corruption in Sacramento related to the city’s cannabis industry. “The FBI neither confirms nor denies such an investigation,” Swankie wrote in an email. “Who is making such a claim?” However, only two months ago, the FBI said in a podcast that it was “seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry” and asked for tips from anyone with knowledge of corruption among public officials and marijuana businesses. City Officials Probe Ukrainian Connection to Local Cannabis Industry City officials in Sacramento are investigating how cannabis business owner Garib Karapetyan and his associates have been able to amass eight licenses to operate dispensaries in the city, or about one-third of the permitted retailers. One of Karapetyan’s partners, Ukrainian businessmen Andrey Kukushkin, was one of four men indicted by federal prosecutors for involvement in a scheme to direct foreign funds into campaign donations and investments in legal marijuana businesses in Nevada and other states. Two other men indicted in the case, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are also associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, and have been implicated in a reported plot by the former mayor of New York City to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said on Sunday that the mayor wanted to know how Karapetyan and his partners were able to obtain so many licenses under city regulations, which were designed to prevent a concentration of ownership in Sacramento’s cannabis industry. “If this story is true, then our cannabis licensing process, which was designed to protect consumers and reward local law-abiding businesses, is being improperly exploited,” Vellinga said in a statement. “The ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Compassion Lives on in California as Governor Signs The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act
    After a multiyear effort by advocates, Governor Gavin Newsom announced over the weekend he had signed SB-34, The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, in support of medical marijuana compassion care programs.  The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, named for San Francisco’s beloved pioneering medical marijuana activists, would exempt compassionate care programs from state cannabis taxes. For twenty years these programs have provided for low-income patients across the state their medicine for little to no money.  In recent years the programs were devastated by the cost of doing business in California’s developing legal cannabis market. When adult-use sales began almost two years ago on New Year’s Day 2018, there was no mechanism to exempt these programs from the wild tax rates that have helped the illicit market in California grow to three times the legal one. Hence many programs disappeared or withered to a shell of their former selves.  Even worse, many of those patients once participating in the programs lived on fixed incomes. They were likely forced back to the illicit market due to the regulatory overheard consumers are forced to cover in pricing schemes for California’s legal cannabis businesses.   Advocates almost tasted success a year ago. But then-Governor Jerry Brown ended up vetoing the bill only 10 months after Dennis Peron passed away. At the time Brown feared the bill would somehow undermine the will of the voters.  It’s not very difficult to argue that 2018 was the worst year for medical marijuana in California since Denis Peron, Brownie Mary, and their comrades passed Proposition 215 in 1996. California to Continue a Legacy of Compassion With The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act But all those roadblocks are now a thing of the past and advocates and producers can now establish a plan to get these programs back to their once-robust levels.  The bill’s chief sponsor State Senator Scott Wiener released a statement on the signing.  “For decades, compassion programs have played a critical role in helping low income people with serious medical conditions access their medicine,” Wiener said, “Access to medical cannabis has allowed so many people living with HIV, cancer, PTSD, and other health conditions to survive and thrive. Taxing programs that give away free medical cannabis, and thus have no revenue, makes no sense and has caused far too many of these programs to close. SB 34 will allow compassionate care programs to survive and serve those in need. Many people will be healthier as a result of today’s action by the Governor.” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania
    Less than a month after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf called on state lawmakers to draft a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, Senators Sharif Street and Daylin Leach have delivered. And what the two Democrat lawmakers are proposing with SB350 could be the most comprehensively progressive marijuana legalization bill to date. The bill includes provisions for home grow, total expungement of prior cannabis-related convictions and delivery services. It also opens the door to the industry, making it easy for individual and small-scale growers and retailers to open businesses and placing checks on large out-of-state corporations. Advocates of recreational legalization in Pennsylvania, an issue which enjoys majority support among state residents, are praising how SB350 centers criminal justice reform and focuses on equity in the industry. Even out-of-state cannabis officials are impressed with the bill. But the question is whether Sens. Street and Leach can win the support of the Republican opposition. When Gov. Wolf announced his support for recreational legalization late last month, Republic representatives in the House responded by saying they had “no plans or interest” to pursue a legalization agenda. New Pennsylvania Legalization Bill is Progressive Cannabis Advocates’ Dream Throughout 2019, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman embarked on a statewide “cannabis listening tour.” Fetterman held public discussion forums online and in each of the state’s 67 counties, and in September, the governor’s office released a report on the tour’s findings. That report showed overwhelming support among Pennsylvanians for significant cannabis reforms, from criminal record expungement to decriminalization and recreational legalization. The overwhelming show of support ultimately pushed Gov. Wolf, who had yet to take a definitive stance on adult-use cannabis, to support legalization efforts. At a press conference announcing his new position and the release of the listening tour report, Gov. Wolf issued three broad recommendations to legislators: decriminalization, expungement and a “serious debate” about recreational legalization. SB 350 gives Gov. Wolf what he wants, and then some. Home grow? No problem; a $50 annual permit fee allows anyone to cultivate up to 10 plants and gift or use that cannabis for personal use. That’s more than any other state that allows home grow. Support for local small businesses and entrepreneurs? Absolutely; microgrowers and craft cultivators can grow up to 150 plants to sell raw cannabis to processors and dispensaries for just a $250 per year permit. Compare that to the license fees for bigger growers, which the bill sets at $100,000 with an annual renewal of $10,000. The bill would also cap large cultivators ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Florida Man Calls Police to Report His Roommate For Stealing His Weed
    Over the weekend, a man reportedly called his local sheriff’s office to report that his roommate was stealing his weed. As if calling the cops to report your own marijuana isn’t unusual enough, the man’s roommate had apparently taken only $20 worth of pot. Man Calls Cops Multiple Times The incident occurred recently in Pasco County, Florida. And according to local news outlet WFLA-TV, the man in question made multiple calls to the Pasco County 911 dispatcher. Apparently, in each call the man attempted to get the cops to respond to his complaint that his roommate had stolen his weed. Specifically, $20 worth of it. From the sounds of the local news report, the sheriff’s office never went to the complaining witness’s home. Instead, Pasco County Deputy Zalva reportedly asked the man to stop calling. “The guy’s calling in saying his roommate stole his weed—$20 worth,” Zalva said in a video posted to social media. “I called him to let him know not to call the sheriff’s office to report his drugs. He started to freak out a little on the phone, and hung up on me shortly after.” It appears that nothing else came of the man’s repeated calls to 911. And there have been no updates indicating that authorities responded or did anything about the roommate. Cops, Weed Jokes, and Social Media Instead of responding to the man’s calls, local authorities did what they called a #TweetAlong. Basically, Deputy Zalva took to twitter while out on duty. In a couple posts, Zalva is seen driving around and describing the situation. Presumably, the TweetAlong was intended to be a humorous social media post. Interestingly, this has become a fairly common thing for law enforcement agencies around the country. Other examples of cops posting weed-enforcement related posts include: In the days leading up to Seattle Hempfest, cops one year handed out bags of Doritos. The bags came with notes reminding attendees that it is illegal to smoke in public.In the small town of Wyoming, Minnesota, cops regularly stage social media jokes about cannabis crackdowns. Most notably, they posted a picture of officers posing with snacks, video games, and a net. They called the whole thing “undercover #420 operations.”Similarly, cops at Iowa State University staged what they called “weed traps.” Like the cops in Minnesota, this cop weed joke depicted the officers’ luring weed smokers with donuts.Beyond these staged social media posts, cops regularly post photos of seized assets from drug busts. On the surface, these types of social media ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • NYPD Outreach Targets Neighborhoods Where Pot Laws Hit the Hardest
    After decimating communities of color for decades with low-level pot arrests, the NYPD and its top brass are attempting outreach in the neighborhoods where the war on drugs hit the hardest.   According to recent reporting from Bklyner., the NYPD’s efforts are based around educating those neighborhoods about the new rules since New York lawmakers moved to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana across the whole of The Empire State.  The big change happened on August 28th a month after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the decriminalization of marijuana into law. At the time of the signing, Cuomo noted what happened in the communities that NYPD is now doing outreach in as a major inspiration for the change in state law.  “Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said. “By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes noted on the serious consequences communities of color faced for a little bit of weed while others were never faced arrested or the threat of being charged. “By decriminalizing marijuana use in New York once and for all, we are ending this repressive cycle that unfairly targets certain communities,” she said. Fast forward a few months later to last Tuesday evening, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan joined community activist Kwesi Johnson and State Senator Zellnor Myrie. Monahan was pretty blunt with those in attendance, telling the crowd, “I want to be clear on one thing: Marijuana is not legal. It was decriminalized. It is not legal to possess marijuana. It went from a crime to be arrested for, to an offense that you could get a fine for.”  Monahan said patrol officers still had the discretion about what they were going to do. But if you did end up with a summons, you may end up getting a warrant if you fail to show up to court. He also noted one of the big problems from the NYPD’s perspective is people using marijuana in public places.  Compared to the policies of the past, the chief’s speech likely came across as endearing.  Marijuana Enforcement in New York City A decade ago, even though possession of a small amount of marijuana in your pocket or bag wasn’t ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Eight Months After Ban, Food And Drink With CBD Is Still Being Sold In NYC
    NEW YORK (AP) — Food and drink are still being sold with CBD in New York City, months after health officials banned restaurants and cafes from selling edibles spiked with or accompanied by the trendy cannabis derivative because of safety concerns. The city’s health department surprised bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, and other food sellers in February by telling them they were not permitted to put cannabidiol, or CBD, in prepared foods because it hadn’t been approved as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They also can’t provide CBD to customers to add it themselves. City health inspectors started seizing CBD-laced products, then backed off and gave food establishments until Oct. 1 to comply with the rules or face a fine of up to $650. Yet on a recent spin around Manhattan in the days after that deadline passed, an Associated Press reporter was able to find CBD-infused coffee, cookies and other food items still for sale. In the coffee bar at Le District, a fancy grocery near the World Trade Center, a sign read: “Add an extra dose of CBD oil to any drink for $5.” At the Fat Cat Kitchen cafe in Manhattan’s East Village, freshly baked CBD cookies and brownies sat on display in a glass case. CBD-infused drinks — including lavender matcha latte and white peach iced tea — were also on sale at the Forever Coffee Bar, near Columbia University’s new satellite campus in upper Manhattan. Customers could get 10 milligrams added to their beverage for $2.50. Owner Artem Arnopulo said he was aware the ban was in place. Health inspectors, in fact, had already visited another one of his Manhattan cafes in September and asked it to stop serving CBD-laced items. “That was before the Oct. 1 deadline, and they said, no violation, no tickets. But it was a warning,” Arnopulo said. Still, he said he plans to keep serving CBD drinks until the inspectors show up at his other location and tell them to stop, too. “We’re waiting for them,” he says with a grin. “I’m really a bit upset about it. If we cannot sell this anymore because CBD is kind of special and people are so excited about it.” The Fat Cat Kitchen’s co-owner, C.J. Holm, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Le District initially denied any CBD beverages were still for sale, then stopped responding to inquiries after being told an Associated Press reporter had been able to purchase a coffee with a packet of CBD that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Researchers Study How to Treat Cannabis Addiction With More Cannabis
    The solution to cannabis dependency might simply be more cannabis. That’s according to a new study from researchers at University College London, which found that cannabidiol (CBD) can help people reduce their consumption of THC. Presenting the study at this year’s London’s New Scientist Live festival, lead author Val Curran called the findings “really remarkable.” Curran, a professor of psychopharmacology at University College London, and her team were the first to test the idea of using CBD extracts to treat cannabis use disorders. And indeed, the results are very promising: Curran’s study found that CBD extracts cut the amount of cannabis people smoked in half. CBD Extracts Can Help Reduce Cannabis Dependency Cannabis “addiction” can be difficult to define. With no strong chemical dependencies, cannabis use disorders aren’t as destructive or difficult to overcome as those involving more addictive substances, such as nicotine and alcohol. Still, rough estimates put about ten percent of cannabis users in the “addiction” camp. For these cannabis consumers, reducing intake or trying to quit can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia and agitation. Scientists believe increasingly potent THC products are increasing the number of people becoming addicted to cannabis or struggling with dependency issues. But Curran thinks her research is pointing to an answer. And the answer, she says, is treating cannabis addiction with more cannabis. But Curran doesn’t mean more flower, edibles, concentrates or other THC-dominant products. Instead, she says therapeutic doses of another cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD), can help people quit or reduce cannabis use without withdrawal symptoms. Curran’s study took 82 people living in the U.K. who were classified as “severely addicted” to cannabis. The participants were divided into three groups, and over the course of a four-week trial, each group was given either a daily 400 mg dose of CBD, 800 mg of CBD, or a placebo. All participants also had access to counselors and other psychological support to help them drop their cannabis habit. According to the study, the 400 mg CBD group experienced the greatest reduction in cannabis use after six months. Researchers measured cannabis consumption by testing participants’ urine for THC. Not only did the 400 mg CBD group have half as much THC in their urine, they also doubled the days when their urine did not test positive for THC. The 800 mg CBD group saw some improvement, but less than the 400 mg group. The placebo group saw no reduction in cannabis consumption. Cannabidiol (CBD) and the Fight Against Addiction Curran’s University ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Thailand To Host Inaugural World Ganja Festival in 2020
    In a bid to highlight the country’s foray into legal medical marijuana, Thailand will host the inaugural World Ganja Festival early next year. The event is being organized by the Association of Researchers of Thailand with cooperation from the national and local governments. “We’re the main host. Thailand’s the main host. We’re deciding who we will invite to the Ganja Festival,” said the World Ganja Festival’s Honorary Advisor, Gen. Charan Kullawanit. “There will be Chinese, Japanese and American guests. They once opposed the idea.” “We’ll invite them so we can listen to their academic ideas, presentations, and statements,” he added. “We’ll see how the event will benefit the global community.” The Association of Researchers of Thailand announced that the group had signed agreements to hold the first World Ganja Festival next year from January 29 through February 2 with the Thai Nationalism Foundation, the Journalist and Media Association of Thailand, and provincial administrative organizations of Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, and Mukdahan. The event will be held at a 40-acre venue near the Nong Yat Reservoir in Nakhon Phanom province. Sharing Knowledge About Cannabis The World Ganja Festival 2020 will serve as a platform for the sharing of knowledge about the medicinal uses of cannabis, according to Gen. Kullawanit. The event will include educational seminars, information about technological innovations, and opportunities for business negotiations. A music festival and product design competition will also be featured. Organizers of the festival hope the event will help create new opportunities for Thailand, the first country in the region to legalize medical marijuana. They also hope to provide a better understanding of cannabis and the legal issues pertaining to its cultivation and use. Thailand legalized cannabis for medicinal use and for research last year, a move that was affirmed by royal decree in February. The government is looking to legalization as a way to benefit the Thai people both medically and by providing new economic and agricultural opportunities for the country. Thailand has a tradition of cannabis use to relax muscles and for the treatment of fatigue and labor pains that goes back centuries. In August, the Thai government began distributing 10,000 vials of medical cannabis oil to hospitals to be used for patient care. The post Thailand To Host Inaugural World Ganja Festival in 2020 appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Nevada’s Governor Vows To Tighten Control Over The State’s Cannabis Marketplace
    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 ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Kushy Punch Under Scrutiny For Allegedly Making Illegal Vape Cartridges
    Police are cracking down on unlicensed vaping products as a vape-related health crisis sweeps the continent that has already claimed the lives of at least 18 individuals. On October 2, California law enforcement raided SoCal-based company Kushy Punch’s Canoga Park factory based on allegations that it was making illegal cannabis vape products. An investigation uncovered illegal Kushy Punch products that had been sent to local marijuana store Genesis Marketplace. It found that the items for sale differed from those documented by Kushy Punch’s lab test paperwork. Reports state that Kushy Punch operates two Los Angeles facilities, one with state compliant cannabis products and the Canoga Park address, which processed marijuana that may not comply with state restrictions on pesticide content. Health authorities continue to be perplexed over the vaping health crisis that has resulted in over 1,000 cases of lung injury across the United States. A Mayo Clinic report from earlier this month says that the affected individuals’ lungs look like they have suffered “a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure or a chemical burn injury,” according to the health facility’s surgical pathologist Brandon T. Larsen. Elsewhere, health officials have investigated vitamin E acetate and THC oil, both substances used in many vaping products, for their possible connection to the health crisis. Without hard answers about what is causing the lung injuries, local authorities have begun to crack down on unlicensed products and suppliers. In Wisconsin, an illegal operation producing three to five thousand vape cartridges a day was busted. “The safety and well-being of our customers and patients is our top priority,” Genesis Marketplace’s Sal Palma told a local news site. “It is unfortunate that some companies are willing to operate outside the lines of legality, but we will continue to act as the safety net between those bad actors and our clientele.” Kushy Punch a.k.a. Vertical Bliss is a company that has participated in the California medical marijuana market for upwards of two decades. The brand produces vaping products, gummies, and CBD items. The company maintains that it has a functional license to sell the products. A representative says that the items uncovered in the Canoga Park factory raid conducted by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cannabis Enforcement Unit not only had expired batteries, but were not meant to be consumed. “These cartridges were located in a single box labeled for destruction following their discovery among packaging and marketing materials at a separate storage facility,” wrote Eric Shevin, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • High Times Bringing Cannabis Lounge to Jamaica’s Bright Side Festival
    Are you already planning your escape from the bitter cold of January? Are you dreading the prospect of facing sleet and slush for days on end? Don’t settle for that terrible weather. Instead, trade your snow boots for sandals and join us for a four-night beach party in Jamaica! The Bright Side Festival is an all-inclusive vacation experience filled with live music, bonfires, water sports like scuba diving, reef snorkeling, and more. Other activities include yoga, soccer, a costume theme night, and optional day trips to Dunn’s River Falls and Bob Marley’s 9 Mile Tour. We are also told that there will be a waterslide! There’s an open bar, but here’s something even better: High Times is bringing a cannabis lounge to the party! Can you think of anything better than toking up at a Caribbean beach resort? The Bright Side Festival is Going to Be Lit The Bright Side Festival features live musical performances by Rebelution, Common Kings, Alborosie, Earthkry, Jah9, and DJ Mackle. At the end of each nightly performance, there will be a bonfire and barbecue—the party never ends at the Bright Side Festival! The Bright Side Festival takes place January 9th to 13th 2020 at the Jewel Paradise Cove Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Tickets are flying off the shelves, so act fast—you’re not going to want to miss this! For more information (and to secure your spot) visit their website here. The post High Times Bringing Cannabis Lounge to Jamaica’s Bright Side Festival appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Finland’s Supreme Court Decides Not To Charge Motorists Under Influence Of Cannabis
    Finland’s highest court has ruled that motorists are unlikely to get slapped with a driving under the influence charge if they drive days after using marijuana. The Finnish Supreme Court determined that the DUI laws still need legislative action in order to sort out the gap between when the psychoactive effects of cannabis subside, and how much longer using it leaves a so-called “fingerprint” in your blood sample. Here’s how the Finnish news service Yle News breaks it down: “Cannabis usage leaves a substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in the body, prompting the production of a metabolite, carboxytetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), where a metabolite is a substance required for or produced from metabolism.” But while THC typically exits the body within hours of usage, THC-COOH, which does not yield any intoxicating effects, can linger in the system for days or even weeks. Finnish police have been known to issue DUI charges when THC-COOH is found in the blood. According to Yle, the Finnish Supreme Court addressed this matter a few years back, when it dismissed the conviction of a driver who had smoked marijuana before driving, ruling that THC-COOH “does not affect the ability to drive nor endanger traffic safety even at high levels.” But despite that ruling, some Finnish law enforcement officials have continued to write DUIs in those circumstances, as the country’s code requires citations if drivers have “an active substance or metabolite of a drug used” in their blood. “It’s quite rational that finding it several days after use would not lead to a drunk driving penalty because it does not affect the ability to drive,” said Teemu Gunnar, a forensic toxicologist with the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, as quoted by Yle. Recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Finland, though it is available to treat certain medical conditions. According to Yle, cannabis metabolites were the second-most-frequently found substance in Finnish DUI cases last year that were caused by drug use, with records showing 1,784 hits of THC in lab samples and 3,794 of THC-COOH. It’s something that American law enforcement is increasingly grappling with on U.S. roads, too. A survey released in June by AAA found that almost 70 percent of Americans believe it is unlikely for a driver to get busted by the cops while high on marijuana, and reported that roughly 14.8 million drivers had gotten behind the wheel within an hour of using pot in the last 30 days. The post Finland’s Supreme Court Decides Not To Charge Motorists Under Influence ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
 
  • Jury Selection Begins In First Federal Trial Over Opioid Epidemic
    CLEVELAND (AP) — Jury selection began Wednesday in the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic despite a last-minute request from lawyers to delay it because of news reports on a settlement offer. Two Ohio counties claim drug companies that made, distributed and sold prescription painkillers engaged in a deadly conspiracy that has inflicted massive damage on their communities and created a public nuisance that costs the counties hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The legal situation became a bit more complicated Wednesday as multiple defendants asked Judge Dan Polster to delay the trial after reports that the three big drug distributors were offering a total of $18 billion over 18 years to settle the suits set for trial and some 2,000 others. Two people with knowledge of the talks confirmed to The Associated Press that the offer had been made. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose details from ongoing talks. The offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The lawyers argued that jurors who read or saw any of the coverage would be tainted when learning of the massive amount of money possibly being discussed. Polster denied the motions and said he didn’t believe many of the potential jurors would have been exposed to the stories. He said he will question members of the jury pool to determine whether they were aware of the coverage. “There’s no way to avoid this,” Polster said. “Something leaked out. I can’t control leaks and we’re going forward.” Polster said a delay could have pushed the trial into next year. “Only a fool would start a trial in Cleveland in January or February,” Polster said. If a settlement is reached for any of the defendants before or even during the trial, it would end their part of the case. But it’s not clear whether the trial would proceed against other companies if some settled. It’s expected to take up to three days for attorneys for Summit and Cuyahoga counties, home to Akron and Cleveland, and six drug companies to select a 12-person jury. Prospective jurors from nine northeast Ohio counties were mailed a 19-page questionnaire that asked whether there were people in their lives who used, abused or overdosed on opioids. Those with close connections to the crisis are expected to be excluded from serving on the jury. The pool does not include people from Summit County, which is a separate subdistrict in the 40-county Northern District of Ohio and has its own ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-16
  • California Governor Signs Several Marijuana-Related Bills
    California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a passel of bills affecting the cannabis industry, his office announced on Saturday. Among the legislation that is now law is AB 37, a proposal sponsored by Democrat member of the California House Reggie Jones-Sawyer that will allow cannabis companies to make tax deductions. AB 37 requires that eligible companies file their taxes as sole proprietors or partnerships. A similar bill was vetoed last year by former Governor Jerry Brown. At the federal level, such write-offs depart from official Internal Revenue Service policy. But Newsom showed he had little problem with that conflict—despite the fact that on the same day, he announced that he had “begrudgingly” vetoed SB 305, which would have legalized medical cannabis treatment for terminally ill patients at California health care facilities. Of that proposed legislation, Newsom wrote in a veto message, “This bill would create significant conflicts between federal and state laws that cannot be taken lightly.” In his statement, he suggested that such institutions could lose their federal funding were they to allow patients to use medical cannabis, even though he stated that he finds the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug (and therefore devoid of medicinal value) a “ludicrous stance [that] puts patients and those who care for them in an unconscionable position.” But hopefully some of the other pieces of legislation the governor put into effect will expand the medical community’s understanding of cannabis. AB 420 (heh) will establish a new cannabis research program within the University of California system. Other bills that Newsom signed into law include a social equity measure that waives or defers the fees associated with getting licensed as a cannabis business for “needs-based” applicants. SB 34 will make it possible for dispensaries to supply free cannabis to medical patients—an important continuation of the compassionate care programs that play an important role in the history of California marijuana activism. But Wait; There’s More Another important piece of legislation signed into effect was Assembly Bill 1291, which requires cannabis companies that employ 20 or more people to provide a notarized document confirming that they will adhere to a labor peace agreement. That’s a promise that the company will not interfere should workers decide they want to form their own union, and also means that any potential union will not encourage strike activity. That legislation has already been on the books in California since last year, but the new law gives businesses a 60-day deadline to produce such a notarized communication. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Bill Would Remove Cannabis Possession As Grounds For Deportation
    A bill introduced by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. recently would remove possession of cannabis as grounds for deportation under federal law. Under the bill, the Remove Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act (S. 2021), the offenses for which an undocumented immigrant could be deported would be amended. The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey in June and in the House last month with an identical companion bill from fellow Democrat Assistant Speaker Ray Ben Luján of New Mexico. “This Administration’s efforts to use marijuana possession as a tool for deportation is misguided and does not make our communities safer,” said Booker in a press release. “Limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on deporting people for something two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing. This legislation will remove another one of ICE’s weapons that have been deployed to execute this Administration’s hardline immigration policy.” Why This Bill is Necessary With the bill, the Immigration and Nationality Act would be amended, adding the phrase “other than the distribution of marijuana” to the section that defines “illicit trafficking in a controlled substance” as an offense that warrants the deportation of an undocumented immigrant. The measure also adds that “any offenses involving the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana shall not be considered as grounds of inadmissibility.” The bill would also allow immigrants who have been deported or denied a visa to reapply for admission to the country or have their visa reissued. “The Trump administration’s decision to use marijuana as a weapon against our immigrant communities is despicable,” said Luján. “The federal government should not be wasting resources to wreak havoc on immigrant families when there are children held in border camps that are desperate for legal services, hygiene products, and basic humanitarian care. Providing care for these children and families should be where the Trump administration devotes its funding—not working as a deportation force.” “I’m proud to be fighting for this legislation to hold President Trump accountable and defend our immigrant communities from senseless and hateful policies,” he added. More than 34,000 immigrants were deported between 2007 and 2012 for marijuana possession, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Since President Trump rescinded guidelines that listed misdemeanor offenders and cannabis convictions as a low priority, the crisis has worsened, according to Luján’s office. He adds that “this anti-immigrant agenda from the Trump administration stands in contrast to the policies of dozens of states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana use and ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • FBI Investigating Possible Public Corruption In Sacramento’s Cannabis Industry
    The FBI is investigating whether public officials in Sacramento, California accepted bribes in return for favorable treatment for applicants for licenses to operate cannabis businesses in the city, according to a report in local media. Three sources with direct knowledge of the probe have told the Sacramento Bee that the FBI has questioned several local cannabis businesses over the last three months about the potential corruption of city officials. The sources of the information declined to be identified so that the identities of the marijuana businesspeople questioned by the FBI would remain confidential. The sources said that those interviewed by agents were asked if they had knowledge of any bribes paid to public officials in return for favorable treatment during the cannabis business licensing process. Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI, refused to comment on a possible investigation into public corruption in Sacramento related to the city’s cannabis industry. “The FBI neither confirms nor denies such an investigation,” Swankie wrote in an email. “Who is making such a claim?” However, only two months ago, the FBI said in a podcast that it was “seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry” and asked for tips from anyone with knowledge of corruption among public officials and marijuana businesses. City Officials Probe Ukrainian Connection to Local Cannabis Industry City officials in Sacramento are investigating how cannabis business owner Garib Karapetyan and his associates have been able to amass eight licenses to operate dispensaries in the city, or about one-third of the permitted retailers. One of Karapetyan’s partners, Ukrainian businessmen Andrey Kukushkin, was one of four men indicted by federal prosecutors for involvement in a scheme to direct foreign funds into campaign donations and investments in legal marijuana businesses in Nevada and other states. Two other men indicted in the case, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are also associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, and have been implicated in a reported plot by the former mayor of New York City to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said on Sunday that the mayor wanted to know how Karapetyan and his partners were able to obtain so many licenses under city regulations, which were designed to prevent a concentration of ownership in Sacramento’s cannabis industry. “If this story is true, then our cannabis licensing process, which was designed to protect consumers and reward local law-abiding businesses, is being improperly exploited,” Vellinga said in a statement. “The ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Compassion Lives on in California as Governor Signs The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act
    After a multiyear effort by advocates, Governor Gavin Newsom announced over the weekend he had signed SB-34, The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, in support of medical marijuana compassion care programs.  The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, named for San Francisco’s beloved pioneering medical marijuana activists, would exempt compassionate care programs from state cannabis taxes. For twenty years these programs have provided for low-income patients across the state their medicine for little to no money.  In recent years the programs were devastated by the cost of doing business in California’s developing legal cannabis market. When adult-use sales began almost two years ago on New Year’s Day 2018, there was no mechanism to exempt these programs from the wild tax rates that have helped the illicit market in California grow to three times the legal one. Hence many programs disappeared or withered to a shell of their former selves.  Even worse, many of those patients once participating in the programs lived on fixed incomes. They were likely forced back to the illicit market due to the regulatory overheard consumers are forced to cover in pricing schemes for California’s legal cannabis businesses.   Advocates almost tasted success a year ago. But then-Governor Jerry Brown ended up vetoing the bill only 10 months after Dennis Peron passed away. At the time Brown feared the bill would somehow undermine the will of the voters.  It’s not very difficult to argue that 2018 was the worst year for medical marijuana in California since Denis Peron, Brownie Mary, and their comrades passed Proposition 215 in 1996. California to Continue a Legacy of Compassion With The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act But all those roadblocks are now a thing of the past and advocates and producers can now establish a plan to get these programs back to their once-robust levels.  The bill’s chief sponsor State Senator Scott Wiener released a statement on the signing.  “For decades, compassion programs have played a critical role in helping low income people with serious medical conditions access their medicine,” Wiener said, “Access to medical cannabis has allowed so many people living with HIV, cancer, PTSD, and other health conditions to survive and thrive. Taxing programs that give away free medical cannabis, and thus have no revenue, makes no sense and has caused far too many of these programs to close. SB 34 will allow compassionate care programs to survive and serve those in need. Many people will be healthier as a result of today’s action by the Governor.” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania
    Less than a month after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf called on state lawmakers to draft a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, Senators Sharif Street and Daylin Leach have delivered. And what the two Democrat lawmakers are proposing with SB350 could be the most comprehensively progressive marijuana legalization bill to date. The bill includes provisions for home grow, total expungement of prior cannabis-related convictions and delivery services. It also opens the door to the industry, making it easy for individual and small-scale growers and retailers to open businesses and placing checks on large out-of-state corporations. Advocates of recreational legalization in Pennsylvania, an issue which enjoys majority support among state residents, are praising how SB350 centers criminal justice reform and focuses on equity in the industry. Even out-of-state cannabis officials are impressed with the bill. But the question is whether Sens. Street and Leach can win the support of the Republican opposition. When Gov. Wolf announced his support for recreational legalization late last month, Republic representatives in the House responded by saying they had “no plans or interest” to pursue a legalization agenda. New Pennsylvania Legalization Bill is Progressive Cannabis Advocates’ Dream Throughout 2019, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman embarked on a statewide “cannabis listening tour.” Fetterman held public discussion forums online and in each of the state’s 67 counties, and in September, the governor’s office released a report on the tour’s findings. That report showed overwhelming support among Pennsylvanians for significant cannabis reforms, from criminal record expungement to decriminalization and recreational legalization. The overwhelming show of support ultimately pushed Gov. Wolf, who had yet to take a definitive stance on adult-use cannabis, to support legalization efforts. At a press conference announcing his new position and the release of the listening tour report, Gov. Wolf issued three broad recommendations to legislators: decriminalization, expungement and a “serious debate” about recreational legalization. SB 350 gives Gov. Wolf what he wants, and then some. Home grow? No problem; a $50 annual permit fee allows anyone to cultivate up to 10 plants and gift or use that cannabis for personal use. That’s more than any other state that allows home grow. Support for local small businesses and entrepreneurs? Absolutely; microgrowers and craft cultivators can grow up to 150 plants to sell raw cannabis to processors and dispensaries for just a $250 per year permit. Compare that to the license fees for bigger growers, which the bill sets at $100,000 with an annual renewal of $10,000. The bill would also cap large cultivators ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Florida Man Calls Police to Report His Roommate For Stealing His Weed
    Over the weekend, a man reportedly called his local sheriff’s office to report that his roommate was stealing his weed. As if calling the cops to report your own marijuana isn’t unusual enough, the man’s roommate had apparently taken only $20 worth of pot. Man Calls Cops Multiple Times The incident occurred recently in Pasco County, Florida. And according to local news outlet WFLA-TV, the man in question made multiple calls to the Pasco County 911 dispatcher. Apparently, in each call the man attempted to get the cops to respond to his complaint that his roommate had stolen his weed. Specifically, $20 worth of it. From the sounds of the local news report, the sheriff’s office never went to the complaining witness’s home. Instead, Pasco County Deputy Zalva reportedly asked the man to stop calling. “The guy’s calling in saying his roommate stole his weed—$20 worth,” Zalva said in a video posted to social media. “I called him to let him know not to call the sheriff’s office to report his drugs. He started to freak out a little on the phone, and hung up on me shortly after.” It appears that nothing else came of the man’s repeated calls to 911. And there have been no updates indicating that authorities responded or did anything about the roommate. Cops, Weed Jokes, and Social Media Instead of responding to the man’s calls, local authorities did what they called a #TweetAlong. Basically, Deputy Zalva took to twitter while out on duty. In a couple posts, Zalva is seen driving around and describing the situation. Presumably, the TweetAlong was intended to be a humorous social media post. Interestingly, this has become a fairly common thing for law enforcement agencies around the country. Other examples of cops posting weed-enforcement related posts include: In the days leading up to Seattle Hempfest, cops one year handed out bags of Doritos. The bags came with notes reminding attendees that it is illegal to smoke in public.In the small town of Wyoming, Minnesota, cops regularly stage social media jokes about cannabis crackdowns. Most notably, they posted a picture of officers posing with snacks, video games, and a net. They called the whole thing “undercover #420 operations.”Similarly, cops at Iowa State University staged what they called “weed traps.” Like the cops in Minnesota, this cop weed joke depicted the officers’ luring weed smokers with donuts.Beyond these staged social media posts, cops regularly post photos of seized assets from drug busts. On the surface, these types of social media ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • NYPD Outreach Targets Neighborhoods Where Pot Laws Hit the Hardest
    After decimating communities of color for decades with low-level pot arrests, the NYPD and its top brass are attempting outreach in the neighborhoods where the war on drugs hit the hardest.   According to recent reporting from Bklyner., the NYPD’s efforts are based around educating those neighborhoods about the new rules since New York lawmakers moved to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana across the whole of The Empire State.  The big change happened on August 28th a month after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the decriminalization of marijuana into law. At the time of the signing, Cuomo noted what happened in the communities that NYPD is now doing outreach in as a major inspiration for the change in state law.  “Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said. “By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes noted on the serious consequences communities of color faced for a little bit of weed while others were never faced arrested or the threat of being charged. “By decriminalizing marijuana use in New York once and for all, we are ending this repressive cycle that unfairly targets certain communities,” she said. Fast forward a few months later to last Tuesday evening, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan joined community activist Kwesi Johnson and State Senator Zellnor Myrie. Monahan was pretty blunt with those in attendance, telling the crowd, “I want to be clear on one thing: Marijuana is not legal. It was decriminalized. It is not legal to possess marijuana. It went from a crime to be arrested for, to an offense that you could get a fine for.”  Monahan said patrol officers still had the discretion about what they were going to do. But if you did end up with a summons, you may end up getting a warrant if you fail to show up to court. He also noted one of the big problems from the NYPD’s perspective is people using marijuana in public places.  Compared to the policies of the past, the chief’s speech likely came across as endearing.  Marijuana Enforcement in New York City A decade ago, even though possession of a small amount of marijuana in your pocket or bag wasn’t ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Eight Months After Ban, Food And Drink With CBD Is Still Being Sold In NYC
    NEW YORK (AP) — Food and drink are still being sold with CBD in New York City, months after health officials banned restaurants and cafes from selling edibles spiked with or accompanied by the trendy cannabis derivative because of safety concerns. The city’s health department surprised bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, and other food sellers in February by telling them they were not permitted to put cannabidiol, or CBD, in prepared foods because it hadn’t been approved as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They also can’t provide CBD to customers to add it themselves. City health inspectors started seizing CBD-laced products, then backed off and gave food establishments until Oct. 1 to comply with the rules or face a fine of up to $650. Yet on a recent spin around Manhattan in the days after that deadline passed, an Associated Press reporter was able to find CBD-infused coffee, cookies and other food items still for sale. In the coffee bar at Le District, a fancy grocery near the World Trade Center, a sign read: “Add an extra dose of CBD oil to any drink for $5.” At the Fat Cat Kitchen cafe in Manhattan’s East Village, freshly baked CBD cookies and brownies sat on display in a glass case. CBD-infused drinks — including lavender matcha latte and white peach iced tea — were also on sale at the Forever Coffee Bar, near Columbia University’s new satellite campus in upper Manhattan. Customers could get 10 milligrams added to their beverage for $2.50. Owner Artem Arnopulo said he was aware the ban was in place. Health inspectors, in fact, had already visited another one of his Manhattan cafes in September and asked it to stop serving CBD-laced items. “That was before the Oct. 1 deadline, and they said, no violation, no tickets. But it was a warning,” Arnopulo said. Still, he said he plans to keep serving CBD drinks until the inspectors show up at his other location and tell them to stop, too. “We’re waiting for them,” he says with a grin. “I’m really a bit upset about it. If we cannot sell this anymore because CBD is kind of special and people are so excited about it.” The Fat Cat Kitchen’s co-owner, C.J. Holm, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Le District initially denied any CBD beverages were still for sale, then stopped responding to inquiries after being told an Associated Press reporter had been able to purchase a coffee with a packet of CBD that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-15
  • Researchers Study How to Treat Cannabis Addiction With More Cannabis
    The solution to cannabis dependency might simply be more cannabis. That’s according to a new study from researchers at University College London, which found that cannabidiol (CBD) can help people reduce their consumption of THC. Presenting the study at this year’s London’s New Scientist Live festival, lead author Val Curran called the findings “really remarkable.” Curran, a professor of psychopharmacology at University College London, and her team were the first to test the idea of using CBD extracts to treat cannabis use disorders. And indeed, the results are very promising: Curran’s study found that CBD extracts cut the amount of cannabis people smoked in half. CBD Extracts Can Help Reduce Cannabis Dependency Cannabis “addiction” can be difficult to define. With no strong chemical dependencies, cannabis use disorders aren’t as destructive or difficult to overcome as those involving more addictive substances, such as nicotine and alcohol. Still, rough estimates put about ten percent of cannabis users in the “addiction” camp. For these cannabis consumers, reducing intake or trying to quit can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia and agitation. Scientists believe increasingly potent THC products are increasing the number of people becoming addicted to cannabis or struggling with dependency issues. But Curran thinks her research is pointing to an answer. And the answer, she says, is treating cannabis addiction with more cannabis. But Curran doesn’t mean more flower, edibles, concentrates or other THC-dominant products. Instead, she says therapeutic doses of another cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD), can help people quit or reduce cannabis use without withdrawal symptoms. Curran’s study took 82 people living in the U.K. who were classified as “severely addicted” to cannabis. The participants were divided into three groups, and over the course of a four-week trial, each group was given either a daily 400 mg dose of CBD, 800 mg of CBD, or a placebo. All participants also had access to counselors and other psychological support to help them drop their cannabis habit. According to the study, the 400 mg CBD group experienced the greatest reduction in cannabis use after six months. Researchers measured cannabis consumption by testing participants’ urine for THC. Not only did the 400 mg CBD group have half as much THC in their urine, they also doubled the days when their urine did not test positive for THC. The 800 mg CBD group saw some improvement, but less than the 400 mg group. The placebo group saw no reduction in cannabis consumption. Cannabidiol (CBD) and the Fight Against Addiction Curran’s University ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Thailand To Host Inaugural World Ganja Festival in 2020
    In a bid to highlight the country’s foray into legal medical marijuana, Thailand will host the inaugural World Ganja Festival early next year. The event is being organized by the Association of Researchers of Thailand with cooperation from the national and local governments. “We’re the main host. Thailand’s the main host. We’re deciding who we will invite to the Ganja Festival,” said the World Ganja Festival’s Honorary Advisor, Gen. Charan Kullawanit. “There will be Chinese, Japanese and American guests. They once opposed the idea.” “We’ll invite them so we can listen to their academic ideas, presentations, and statements,” he added. “We’ll see how the event will benefit the global community.” The Association of Researchers of Thailand announced that the group had signed agreements to hold the first World Ganja Festival next year from January 29 through February 2 with the Thai Nationalism Foundation, the Journalist and Media Association of Thailand, and provincial administrative organizations of Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, and Mukdahan. The event will be held at a 40-acre venue near the Nong Yat Reservoir in Nakhon Phanom province. Sharing Knowledge About Cannabis The World Ganja Festival 2020 will serve as a platform for the sharing of knowledge about the medicinal uses of cannabis, according to Gen. Kullawanit. The event will include educational seminars, information about technological innovations, and opportunities for business negotiations. A music festival and product design competition will also be featured. Organizers of the festival hope the event will help create new opportunities for Thailand, the first country in the region to legalize medical marijuana. They also hope to provide a better understanding of cannabis and the legal issues pertaining to its cultivation and use. Thailand legalized cannabis for medicinal use and for research last year, a move that was affirmed by royal decree in February. The government is looking to legalization as a way to benefit the Thai people both medically and by providing new economic and agricultural opportunities for the country. Thailand has a tradition of cannabis use to relax muscles and for the treatment of fatigue and labor pains that goes back centuries. In August, the Thai government began distributing 10,000 vials of medical cannabis oil to hospitals to be used for patient care. The post Thailand To Host Inaugural World Ganja Festival in 2020 appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Nevada’s Governor Vows To Tighten Control Over The State’s Cannabis Marketplace
    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 ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Kushy Punch Under Scrutiny For Allegedly Making Illegal Vape Cartridges
    Police are cracking down on unlicensed vaping products as a vape-related health crisis sweeps the continent that has already claimed the lives of at least 18 individuals. On October 2, California law enforcement raided SoCal-based company Kushy Punch’s Canoga Park factory based on allegations that it was making illegal cannabis vape products. An investigation uncovered illegal Kushy Punch products that had been sent to local marijuana store Genesis Marketplace. It found that the items for sale differed from those documented by Kushy Punch’s lab test paperwork. Reports state that Kushy Punch operates two Los Angeles facilities, one with state compliant cannabis products and the Canoga Park address, which processed marijuana that may not comply with state restrictions on pesticide content. Health authorities continue to be perplexed over the vaping health crisis that has resulted in over 1,000 cases of lung injury across the United States. A Mayo Clinic report from earlier this month says that the affected individuals’ lungs look like they have suffered “a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure or a chemical burn injury,” according to the health facility’s surgical pathologist Brandon T. Larsen. Elsewhere, health officials have investigated vitamin E acetate and THC oil, both substances used in many vaping products, for their possible connection to the health crisis. Without hard answers about what is causing the lung injuries, local authorities have begun to crack down on unlicensed products and suppliers. In Wisconsin, an illegal operation producing three to five thousand vape cartridges a day was busted. “The safety and well-being of our customers and patients is our top priority,” Genesis Marketplace’s Sal Palma told a local news site. “It is unfortunate that some companies are willing to operate outside the lines of legality, but we will continue to act as the safety net between those bad actors and our clientele.” Kushy Punch a.k.a. Vertical Bliss is a company that has participated in the California medical marijuana market for upwards of two decades. The brand produces vaping products, gummies, and CBD items. The company maintains that it has a functional license to sell the products. A representative says that the items uncovered in the Canoga Park factory raid conducted by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cannabis Enforcement Unit not only had expired batteries, but were not meant to be consumed. “These cartridges were located in a single box labeled for destruction following their discovery among packaging and marketing materials at a separate storage facility,” wrote Eric Shevin, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • High Times Bringing Cannabis Lounge to Jamaica’s Bright Side Festival
    Are you already planning your escape from the bitter cold of January? Are you dreading the prospect of facing sleet and slush for days on end? Don’t settle for that terrible weather. Instead, trade your snow boots for sandals and join us for a four-night beach party in Jamaica! The Bright Side Festival is an all-inclusive vacation experience filled with live music, bonfires, water sports like scuba diving, reef snorkeling, and more. Other activities include yoga, soccer, a costume theme night, and optional day trips to Dunn’s River Falls and Bob Marley’s 9 Mile Tour. We are also told that there will be a waterslide! There’s an open bar, but here’s something even better: High Times is bringing a cannabis lounge to the party! Can you think of anything better than toking up at a Caribbean beach resort? The Bright Side Festival is Going to Be Lit The Bright Side Festival features live musical performances by Rebelution, Common Kings, Alborosie, Earthkry, Jah9, and DJ Mackle. At the end of each nightly performance, there will be a bonfire and barbecue—the party never ends at the Bright Side Festival! The Bright Side Festival takes place January 9th to 13th 2020 at the Jewel Paradise Cove Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Tickets are flying off the shelves, so act fast—you’re not going to want to miss this! For more information (and to secure your spot) visit their website here. The post High Times Bringing Cannabis Lounge to Jamaica’s Bright Side Festival appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Finland’s Supreme Court Decides Not To Charge Motorists Under Influence Of Cannabis
    Finland’s highest court has ruled that motorists are unlikely to get slapped with a driving under the influence charge if they drive days after using marijuana. The Finnish Supreme Court determined that the DUI laws still need legislative action in order to sort out the gap between when the psychoactive effects of cannabis subside, and how much longer using it leaves a so-called “fingerprint” in your blood sample. Here’s how the Finnish news service Yle News breaks it down: “Cannabis usage leaves a substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in the body, prompting the production of a metabolite, carboxytetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), where a metabolite is a substance required for or produced from metabolism.” But while THC typically exits the body within hours of usage, THC-COOH, which does not yield any intoxicating effects, can linger in the system for days or even weeks. Finnish police have been known to issue DUI charges when THC-COOH is found in the blood. According to Yle, the Finnish Supreme Court addressed this matter a few years back, when it dismissed the conviction of a driver who had smoked marijuana before driving, ruling that THC-COOH “does not affect the ability to drive nor endanger traffic safety even at high levels.” But despite that ruling, some Finnish law enforcement officials have continued to write DUIs in those circumstances, as the country’s code requires citations if drivers have “an active substance or metabolite of a drug used” in their blood. “It’s quite rational that finding it several days after use would not lead to a drunk driving penalty because it does not affect the ability to drive,” said Teemu Gunnar, a forensic toxicologist with the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, as quoted by Yle. Recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Finland, though it is available to treat certain medical conditions. According to Yle, cannabis metabolites were the second-most-frequently found substance in Finnish DUI cases last year that were caused by drug use, with records showing 1,784 hits of THC in lab samples and 3,794 of THC-COOH. It’s something that American law enforcement is increasingly grappling with on U.S. roads, too. A survey released in June by AAA found that almost 70 percent of Americans believe it is unlikely for a driver to get busted by the cops while high on marijuana, and reported that roughly 14.8 million drivers had gotten behind the wheel within an hour of using pot in the last 30 days. The post Finland’s Supreme Court Decides Not To Charge Motorists Under Influence ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14