• West Hollywood Set To Get “First of Its Kind” Cannabis Café
    On Tuesday, West Hollywood stepped out in front of the cannabis dining and entertainment market by approving the country’s first licensed restaurant featuring THC and CBD-infused food. Lowell Farms — a project of marijuana company Lowell Herb Co. — will also offer an open-air smoking area. While cannabis industry types and users rejoiced over the decision, not all neighbors were pleased.   Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and Elevation VIP Coop founder Andrea Drummer has been tapped to put together a menu for Lowell Farms that features CBD, THC, or both in every dish, with an emphasis on highlighting cannabis’ benefits for personal wellness. Customers will not be able to order alcoholic beverages (which aren’t allowed at sites selling cannabis comestibles per California law), but will be able to snag tea, coffee, juice, and smoothies with their meal.  “Anyone who has one of those licenses should feel an enormous sense of responsibility—and there should be—not only to the city of West Hollywood but to the country,” Drummer told a local website in April. “There are eyes on us in doing this and executing it.” The location will offer the first brick and mortar cannabis restaurant in the United States, but this will not be the country’s first cannabis café. That would be Portland, Oregon’s World Famous Cannabis Café (now NW Cannabis Club), which offered a space for members to consume marijuana products bought elsewhere, and a food and drink menu. In the UK, The Canna Kitchen has been showing its Brighton customers how to make a meal with weed, and specializes in meat and animal product-free fare infused with CBD and other cannabinoids.  But Lowell Farms will be the current high water mark of the cannabis fine dining trend, which has largely cropped up in the United States in the form of private dinners and pop up events organized by chefs who specialize in marijuana edibles.  Aesthetically, the business plan appears to be anything but out of the norm for the area. The Lowell Farms design showcases a recognizable Hollywood brunch chic. The outdoor dining areas feature walls of dangling succulents and cushioned lawn-type furniture that would not look out of place in a passive aggressive lunch scene on Real Housewives.  West Hollywood started accepting applications for eight consumption lounges permits in April.  Not everyone was thrilled about Lowell Farms’ approval. The synagogue Congregation Kol Ami is located 300 feet away from the site of the future restaurant, and made its disapproval of the plans known early on. The synagogue fears that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-17
  • Columbus, Ohio May Significantly Reduce Penalties for Marijuana Possession
    The city council in Columbus, Ohio is considering cannabis policy reforms that would significantly reduce the penalties imposed for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The council has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed city ordinance to enact the reforms for Thursday evening. Under the proposed ordinance, possession of up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of marijuana would be subject to a fine of up to $10. Those caught possessing between 100 and 200 grams (approximately seven ounces) of cannabis could be fined up to $25. Possession of more than 200 grams would still be a felony. The fine for possession of marijuana paraphernalia would be reduced to $10. The ordinance would also increase funding to help those with previous convictions for marijuana possession offenses have their criminal records sealed. The fines for cannabis possession would not apply to “any person who obtained the marihuana pursuant to a lawful prescription issued by a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs,” according to the ordinance. Punishments More Severe Under State Law Under Ohio state law, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis can be punished with a fine of up to $150 while possessing 100 to 200 grams of pot could set you back $250 and land you in jail for up to 30 days. Council President Shannon G. Hardin said in a written statement that the council has scheduled Thursday’s public hearing in an effort to receive feedback on the proposal from the community. “We want to know what residents think about on proposed reforms,” said Hardin. “We are having serious conversations about inequalities in the criminal justice system. “There are two key elements to the proposal: lowering fines for small amounts of marijuana possession and increasing funds for Legal Aid attorneys to help seal records for minor convictions so Columbus residents can get good-paying jobs.” Racial Inequality of Cannabis Enforcement Cited In a background paper attached to the proposed ordinance, it is noted that the racial inequality prevalent in the enforcement of marijuana laws has already led other Ohio cities to enact their own ordinances with more lenient penalties for possessing cannabis. The Columbus ordinance “will further the city’s efforts to address criminal penalties that have disproportionate effects on communities of color,” reads the background paper. “Given the racial inequities that exist with enforcement of marihuana laws locally and nationwide, the recent legalization of medical marihuana in the state of Ohio, and the number of recent ballot initiatives and ordinances liberalizing marihuana laws in municipalities ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • New Jersey Opens Major Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program
    On Monday, New Jersey’s Department of Health announced plans to accept applications for individuals and entities interested in opening operational and cultivation facilities. The agency said that it is seeking applicants to operate as many as 24 Alternative Treatment Centers, with the aim to place eight in the northern part of the state, eight in the central region and seven in the south. An additional facility will be placed in a yet-to-be-determined region, the department said.  Moreover, the department said it intends to grant licenses for an additional 15 dispensaries, five cultivation centers and four “vertically integrated permits,” which would involve a combination of cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary. The applications, which were made available on Monday, are due on August 22; it costs $20,000 to apply, though failed applicants will receive a reimbursement of $18,000.  All applicants “must submit a security plan and an environmental impact statement,” and demonstrate “experience in cultivating, manufacturing or retailing marijuana and provide quality control and assurance plans,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The permit expansion was put in motion earlier this month when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a bill to grant an additional 24 licenses. It’s part of an ongoing effort by Murphy to dramatically expand access to medical marijuana in the state.  Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since early 2010, when outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine signed the measure into law on his final day in office. But for years, the program suffered from low enrollment due to the law’s strict requirements. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who succeeded Corzine, was a vocal opponent to medical marijuana, calling it a “front for legalization.”  “What there’s a huge demand for is marijuana. Not medical marijuana,” Christie said in the summer of 2014. “Because when we run a medically based program, you don’t see the demand.” But under Murphy, who was elected governor in 2017, the state has made an effort to expand the medical cannabis program, with growing calls to also legalize recreational use. Earlier this month, Murphy signed bill A20, also known as “Jake’s Law” after seven-year-old Jake Honig who died last year from brain cancer. The law brings a number of changes and expansions to the medical marijuana program, including raising the monthly limit for patients from two ounces to three ounces, and allowing edibles to be prescribed to adults (previously, they were only available to minors).  “I am proud to stand with my legislative partners as we break down barriers to ensure this life-changing ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • Plan For Automatic Expungement of Cannabis Records Proposed in Michigan
    There continues to be some large gaps in justice when it comes to the state by state cannabis legalization movement. Among them is a key question; What happens to those individuals with cannabis offenses that took place before the laws changed? Believe it or not, many of them aren’t automatically, retroactively covered by new laws that decriminalize or legalize weed going forward. In Michigan, one senator is looking to right this wrong.  On Tuesday, Senator Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor presented a piece of legislation that would guarantee automatic expungement for those with past, low level cannabis misdemeanors on their records. Estimates project that the bill could affect around 235,000 people. That’s key, as criminal records can make a difference in people getting employment, or qualifying for state benefits. Automatic expungement would also dodge the high cost to the state of clearing cases individually in court.  “Automatic expungement for all of our lowest-level cannabis offenders allows people to move on with their lives and making it automatic is essential because many people can’t afford an attorney, or the legal fees associated with an application,” Irwin said, as reported by Click On Detroit. “Cannabis is now legal in Michigan and petty offenses in the past should be no barrier to getting back to work or school.”  In fact, only six percent of individuals with past marijuana crimes have participated in Michigan’s current expungement petition procedure.  “This is so important to a large number of people in Michigan, who when they’re applying for jobs or student loans, they’re put in a position where their record can affect their future,” said Irwin. The bill’s introduction follows this week’s passage of legislation in New Hampshire that establishes a petition process for individuals with low level possession offenses committed before the state’s decriminalization in 2017. That bill does not, however, allow for automatic expungement. Automatic expungement laws have also been passed in California and Illinois, where possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis is now automatically pardoned by the governor.  The processes dictated by many states to apply for such expungements involve attorney fees, and potentially taking time off from work to attend court dates. Such measures are prohibitive, especially when we’re talking about the low income communities that were disproportionately affected by Drug War policing during their states’ prohibition eras.  Fifty-six percent of Michigan voters opted for a recreational cannabis system last year, but the state is still hashing out what, exactly, that business will look like. Earlier this month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • Study Finds Legal Cannabis Reduces Illicit Grows in National Forests
    Conversations about the effects of legalizing cannabis frequently focus on a few key issues: economic opportunity, social justice, the potential for new medical treatments, and other health benefits. What’s less talked about, however, is how cannabis legalization impacts the environment. Researchers have long documented the ways unchecked outdoor cannabis cultivation can strain resources and negatively impact the environment. And data from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that a significant amount of illegally produced cannabis is grown on federal lands— especially, national forests. But what if legalization was making a difference? That’s exactly the question a new, first-of-its-kind study set out to answer. Do cannabis-related policies have any effect on illicit grow operations in U.S. national forests? The answer appears to be that yes, legalization does impact illegal grows. In fact, it reduces them significantly. Expanding Legalization Reduces Illicit Grows in National Forests by a Fifth or More, Study Concludes As the legal cannabis industry in the United States expands, demand for cannabis products is growing with it. But in the U.S. market, supply and demand have yet to find their equilibrium. So despite the major changes in the production and consumption of legal cannabis over the past decade, the unregulated, illicit market still dominates. As recently as 2018, experts estimated that legal sales accounted for over $10 billion of the $50 billion in total cannabis sales that year. Put simply, the illicit marijuana market isn’t going anywhere, at least in the short term. Of course, supplying that market requires a significant number of illicit grow operations. And based on data about law enforcement seizures of outdoor-grown plants, national forests appear to be prime real estate for unlicensed cultivators. Illicit grows in Oregon, Colorado and California feed the bulk of the illegal market’s supply. National forests cover 24 percent of land in Oregon and 21 percent in Colorado. California has more national forests, 20, than any other state. Not coincidentally, illicit grows are highly prevalent in national forests in those states (and other legal cannabis states) despite their shifts toward regulated commercial production. Even in an economic environment that continues to incentivize illicit cultivation, however, legalization is cutting down on the number of grows in national forests. “Recreational cannabis legalization is associated with decreased reports of illegal grow operations on national forests,” according to “Cannabis legalization by states reduces illegal growing on US national forests,” a study just published in Ecological Economics. And that’s good news, not just for the legal industry, but for the flora ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • Someone Planted 34 Cannabis Plants in the Vermont Statehouse Flower Beds
    At least 34 cannabis plants were removed from a flower bed at the Vermont State House last week after a visitor to the state capitol in Montpelier reported their presence to law enforcement. Capitol Police Chief Matt Romei said, after the plants were discovered, that he was unsure if the young plants were hemp or marijuana and that groundskeepers on the property may have found more plants after the initial discovery. The chief added that he was not surprised that the cannabis plants found a suitable home in the well-tended garden that lines a walkway in front of the statehouse. “You could plant a 2-by-4 piece of lumber in there, and it would grow into a palm tree,” Romei said. “So it is totally not surprising that if somebody would put some marijuana seeds in there, they would grow like weeds.” Growing at Home OK. The State House, Not So Much The Vermont legislature legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults last year, with provisions of the legalization bill also allowing for the home cultivation of cannabis. Adults in the state are permitted to grow up two mature and four immature cannabis per residence. Vermont has also legalized hemp agriculture and the chief said that he was unsure if the plants discovered in the capitol flower bed were marijuana or hemp. Either way, they weren’t being grown in accordance with state regulations. “The State House Lawn certainly does not meet those standards,” Romei said. Determining if the plants found were marijuana or hemp would require lab testing to analyze the amount of THC in them, a step Romei said would not be taken since prosecuting the case is unlikely. Plants must have less than 0.3 percent THC by weight to be considered hemp. Romei said he didn’t know why someone chose the flower bed as a cannabis cultivation site. “We also have no thoughts on why someone would plant it,” the chief added. “But if anyone wants to claim it and let us know why they planted it, we are happy to listen.” However, Romei noted that if anyone did take responsibility for cultivating the plants, they would be subject to prosecution. “The only way we can make a criminal case is if someone comes down and claims it,” Romei said. Romei said that Capitol Police have discovered cannabis plants growing on the State House grounds on previous occasions as well, although this was the first time it has happened since ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • New Bill Ensures Some Retroactive Drug War Justice for New Hampshire
    Governor of New Hampshire Chris Sununu has played a key role in the crafting of the state’s medical cannabis legislation. On Friday, in the latest of a series of cannabis vetoes, he struck down a bill that would have eliminated a requirement that patients have at least a three month relationship with their marijuana provider. But on the same day, he did sign into effect HB 399, which will have positive repercussions for those with past cannabis convictions.  The latter will make it possible for those with past offenses concerning quantities of up to three-quarters of an ounce to have their conviction annulled. The legislation will apply to those whose offenses happened before September 16, 2017, the date when the state enacted sweeping decriminalization measures (becoming the last New England state to do so) that did not enact retroactive measures for past victims of Drug War policing. Such annulments, however, will not be automatic. Individuals will still need to petition the court to have the offense erased from their criminal record. Prosecutors will have 10 days after the petition to object to the crime’s annulment. “[This legislation is] going to affect hundreds, if not thousands of people,” the bill’s sponsor, Representative Renny Cushing, told Vermont Public Radio. “This is a good step forward to repairing some of the collateral damage of the war on marijuana.” “HB 399 will allow these Granite Staters to have their records annulled so they can move forward in life with a clean slate,” commented New England’s Marijuana Policy Project political director Matt Simon in a statement. “Governor Sununu should be applauded for signing this important bill into law.” Last year a bill similar to HB 399 was proposed, but it was tabled by New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled state Senate.  The state legalized medical marijuana back in 2013, when Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 a.k.a. Use of Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes into law, but has since been concerned with hammering out the logistics of its system. The state began taking applications for non-profit “alternative treatment centers” or ATCs in 2014.  Currently, 7,000 registered patients and their caregivers must obtain their cannabis from one of the state’s four licensed ATCs. That could change soon; in May, the state Senate approved House Bill 364, which would let patients grow up to three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants, and possess 12 seedlings. That bill was passed to the legislature in a packet that contained the two bills considered by Governor Sununu on Friday.  Governor Sununu has shown a ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • Coast Guard Busts Submarine Carrying Over $500 Million Worth of Cocaine, Weed
    A video of a drug bust released Thursday by the United States Coast Guard looks like a scene out of a Hollywood action movie.  The footage shows members of the Coast Guard in pursuit of a semi-submarine—a vessel that was partially underwater, and partially exposed—that had been barreling through the eastern Pacific Ocean while carrying more than 17,000 pounds of cocaine. “Stop your ship!” a member of the coast guard can be heard yelling in the minute-long footage, as his vessel bears down on the semi-submarine. Midway through the video is when things get particularly dramatic. With the Coast Guard ship practically touching the target, a member of the crew eventually leaps atop the semi-submersible vessel, which is known as a “narco-sub.” As waves crash against him, the coast guardsman pounds on the top of the vessel before an individual, whose face was obscured by the Coast Guard, emerges from the submarine’s hatch. The events documented in the video occurred on June 18. It was just one of 14 drug raids over the two months by the Coast Guard, as the U.S. ramps up its efforts to stop smugglers traversing from Central and South America. Since May, the Coast Guard says that it has confiscated roughly $569 million worth of cocaine and marijuana. Vice President Mike Pence was at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado on Thursday as 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana were taken off the island. In addition, 55 accused smugglers were taken into custody.  Cracking down on drugs brought into the United States has been a top priority for the Trump administration, which has advocated hardline immigration and border security policies. On Thursday, Pence saluted the Coast Guard for seizing $3.6 billion worth of illegal drugs and detaining more than 400 smugglers already this year. “The courageous service of the [U.S. Coast Guard] is saving lives!” Pence said on Twitter. He added in a subsequent tweet: “The drugs that are brought across our border bring billions in healthcare expenses, crime & the loss of thousands of Americans lives. The challenges & threats the [U.S. Coast Guard] face underscore why President [Trump] & our administration are determined to SECURE our border!” The vessel shown in the footage released on Thursday was carrying five individuals, according to CNN. Such semi-submersible vessels are far from commonplace in the world of smugglers, due to their exorbitant costs. But when they are deployed, they can be exceedingly difficult for the Coast Guard ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Leading Cannabis Brand Bhang Corporation Goes Public
    Florida-based cannabis company Bhang went public on Thursday, with shares in the company beginning trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange. Shares in the company are listed under the ticker symbol BHNG and were up more than 70 percent in Friday morning trading. Bhang currently owns a family of eight active brands with more than 100 cannabis and hemp products including cannabis edibles, beverages, oral sprays, pre-rolls, terpenes, and hemp-derived CBD consumer goods. The brand’s products are manufactured, sold, and distributed by the company directly and through licensing agreements with partners in jurisdictions with legal cannabis. Bhang Expanding Its Reach Bhang’s licensing arrangements include partnerships with Origin House/Crescp in California, Trulieve in Florida, and a 50/50 joint venture with Indiva for distribution in Canada and other international markets. The company’s plans for 2019 include launching eight new brands, offering more products, and expanding its availability to 2,000 stores from the current count of approximately 1,000. Scott Van Rixel, the CEO of Bhang and a 2018 selectee for the High Times 100, said in a press release that going public will help fuel the company’s expansion goals. “We’re proud to announce this major milestone for Bhang and the industry, as we see a national cannabis brand begin trading on the CSE. This public listing fuels our strategy to meet the growing demand for today’s most innovative cannabis products,” Van Rixel said. “While our model is not reliant upon accessing the capital markets, our going public transaction will allow us to evaluate new opportunities to accelerate our growth, build our industry-leading house of brands and increase shareholder value.” He added in an interview that going public now will poise the firm to react quickly once cannabis is legalized in the U.S. nationwide. “When [federal] legalization happens, I’d rather have the long, arduous process of going public out of the way and establish Bhang’s rightful place as a cannabis industry pioneer,” Van Rixel said. Tasty Beginnings Van Rixel, who is a trained chef and chocolatier, said that he started Bhang after visiting a friend’s cannabis facility nine years ago. “Back in 2010, edibles were still coming in basic ziplock bags – no nutritional information, no serving size, no ingredient list. I brought my food industry knowledge in and we changed packaging to include that information and meet [U.S Food and Drug Administration] standards, even though obviously cannabis isn’t an FDA-approved product,” he said. Bhang’s award-winning chocolates primed the company’s early growth and expansion into other product lines. Van Rixel said continuing cannabis ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Florida Court Rules Medical Marijuana Licensing Law Unconstitutional
    A Florida appellate court ruled on Tuesday that a law enacted to license cannabis providers in the state does not comply with the amendment that legalized medical marijuana and is therefore unconstitutional. The ruling by the 1st Court of Appeals in Tallahassee held that the law requiring cannabis businesses to be vertically integrated and handle all aspects of cannabis production from seed to sale created an oligopoly and should be struck down. The court also upheld the lower court’s ruling that provisions of the medical marijuana regulations enacted by the state legislature that capped the number of licenses for providers also did not conform with the amendment passed by voters in 2016. The decision by a panel of three judges is expected to be further appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, according to media reports. Suit Challenges Vertical Integration Requirements A suit challenging the requirement that cannabis providers in the state be vertically integrated was filed by Florigrown, a company based in Tampa. Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who heard the case, ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the regulations passed by lawmakers in a 2017 legislative special session did not properly carry out the amendment. Dodson then issued a temporary injunction requiring the state health department to begin issuing licenses to Florigrown and other applicants for medical marijuana licenses, but that order was put on hold pending appeal. Upholding the original court’s decision, appeals court judges Scott Makar, James Wolf, and T. Kent Wetherell wrote that the regulations create “a vertically integrated business model which amends the constitutional definition of MMTC (medical marijuana treatment centers) by requiring an entity to undertake several of the activities described in the amendment before the department can license it.” Plaintiffs Pleased with Ruling Joe Redner, one of the owners of Florigrown, said that Tuesday’s appeals court ruling is “a good thing for the state of Florida.” “If the Legislature can create oligarchies in any field, it’s crony capitalism,” Redner said. “They’re picking winners and losers. And that’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not constitutional.” Adam Elend, the CEO of Florigrown, said that the appeals court ruling has the potential to shake up Florida’s medical marijuana program and the industry. “It drops a bomb on the current licensing scheme. It’s just changing the whole regime,” Elend said. “People are not getting medicine. The dispensaries are out of stock all the time. The products are limited, and the prices are high. That’s what happens in an oligopoly and that’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Pennsylvania Adds Anxiety and Tourette Syndrome to Medical Marijuana Program
    Later this July, Pennsylvania’s list of 21 conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatments will grow to 23. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health approved the addition of two new qualifying conditions: anxiety and Tourette Syndrome. According to Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the decision to add the two conditions wasn’t an easy one. But ultimately, Levine approved the conditions in light of growing evidence that cannabis can be an affective adjunct to traditional anxiety and Tourette Syndrome treatments. The addition of the two conditions could transform Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say it’s difficult to know exactly how many people have Tourette Syndrome, studies estimate that 1 of every 162 (0.6 percent) of children in the U.S. lives with the condition. Furthermore, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 18 percent of the adult population. PA Health Secretary: Cannabis Should Accompany Anxiety, Tourette Treatments, Not Replace Them Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act became law in April 2016. But it would take until early 2018 for the program to be fully up and running. The law mandates that the state’s medical marijuana program be run by a Director of Medical Marijuana and a 15-member Advisory Board. The board’s goals are to monitor the program, evaluate feedback from the public and industry stakeholders and importantly, propose changes to program’s rules and requirements. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board has already increased the number of conditions that qualify for cannabis treatments under the law. In 2016, the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program listed 17 qualifying conditions. In 2018, the board and Health Department upped the number to 21. During a meeting in early 2019, the Advisory Board voted to approve the addition of anxiety and Tourette Syndrome. And at a May 15 meeting, the Board discussed the issue with Dr. Levine. The board had already approved the addition of the two conditions. But the decision required final approval from the Department of Health. That decision came on July 11, when Dr. Levine announced that she had approved anxiety and Tourette Syndrome as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. But the Health Secretary qualified her approval by saying that cannabis should not be viewed as replacement for traditional treatments. “For both conditions, medical marijuana is not first line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician,” Levine said during a press conference. Research Supports Treating ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • American Eagle Becomes Latest Major Retailer to Sell CBD-Infused Products
    American Eagle Outfitters will begin selling CBD personal care and wellness products at nearly 500 of its stores and online, according to a release from Green Growth Brands (GGB), the clothing retailer’s partner in the new venture. The move by American Eagle marks the latest foray into the burgeoning CBD market by a major U.S. retailer. Under the partnership, GGB, an Ohio-based cannabis and CBD company with a family of brands including Seventh Sense Botanical Therapy and Meri + Jane, will create exclusive personal care products for American Eagle. The line will include CBD-infused lotions, muscle balms, and aromatherapy products, with sales expected to launch in October of this year. “We are very pleased to be partnering with American Eagle, a leader in the specialty retail space,” said Peter Horvath, the CEO of Green Growth Brands. “GGB provided the expertise necessary to develop the product formulations and packaging to create a really special line of products.” GGB products are sourced from licensed U.S. hemp farmers and produced in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, according to the company. GGB sells and distributes its CBD products only in jurisdictions that permit such sales. Other Retailers Already Onboard GGB has already announced deals to provide CBD products with two other major retailers since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December that legalized hemp agriculture and products made from hemp, including CBD. The company will also be distributing CBD products to American Eagle’s competing apparel retailer Abercrombie and Fitch and GGB also recently announced a deal with Designer Brands, Inc. to provide a line of cannabidiol products for DSW shoe stores. GGB is also planning to open stores at shopping malls owned by Simon and Brookfield. Simon has plans to host 107 GGB shops, while Brookfield will be opening about 70 locations at its shopping centers. Other national retailers including CVS, Rite Aid, and the Vitamin Shoppe have also entered the new market for CBD products. Even burger chains and regional gas stations are getting in on the action, despite the fact that the FDA is still in the process of developing regulations for the CBD products industry. GGB Extends Its Reach On Tuesday, GGB announced that it had entered into a securities acquisition and partnership agreement with Moxie, a U.S. cannabis company with operations in several states including California, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Its products, including the High Times Cannabis Cup winning DART vaporizer, are available at more than 250 cannabis dispensaries. The $310 million deal with ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • North Dakota Offers Path to Pardons for Low-Level Marijuana Convictions
    With support from the state’s Republican governor, North Dakota moved on Wednesday to allow thousands of individuals to potentially wipe their slate clean of low-level marijuana convictions. The state’s pardon advisory board unanimously approved the policy change, clearing the way for those residents to apply for a pardon for such convictions and emerge with a clear record if they avoid committing a crime for the next five years. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, both Republicans, support the move. “By destigmatizing these minor and, in many cases, distant offenses, we can give individuals a second chance at a successful, healthy and productive life,” Burgum said in a statement on Wednesday. Burgum, who is in his first term after winning election in 2016, added that the new policy could “address our state’s workforce shortage and grow the economy,” given that such convictions have proven problematic for many individuals applying for jobs.  “There are a lot of North Dakotans who have this issue,” Stenehjem said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “The burden shouldn’t be something that person has to carry around forever.” Stenehjem said that, should the pardon get approved, the policy “totally removes a conviction; totally removes guilt.” As many as 175,000 North Dakotans who were dealt such convictions could be eligible under the new policy. The new policy makes the process more streamlined and less burdensome than it is currently. Individuals seeking a pardon will now be able to fill out a one-and-a-half page application online completely free of charge. The deadline for the first round of applications is August 10.  Stenehjem supports decriminalization for pot, but remains opposed to legalization for recreational use. In May, Burgum quietly signed a bill into law that relaxed penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession. Under the new law, those busted for the first time for possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana or paraphernalia will face a criminal infraction, rather than a misdemeanor. The punishment carries a fine of as much as $1000, but crucially, no jail time.  Those facing subsequent charges could face up to a year of jail time, however. Those new provisions take effect on August 1. The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, said the reclassification was “ far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction.” North Dakota opened its first medical marijuana dispensary earlier this year, and there are plans for more to open soon. The changes could represent a demarcation point ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • What Was Said at Today’s Congressional Hearing on Federal Marijuana Law Reform
    The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing today on the impact of marijuana laws in America. Despite the wave of cannabis progress, and products, sweeping the country coast to coast, marijuana arrests rose in America last year for the second year in a row. Are we generally down from the most horrifying arrest numbers seen when prohibition was at full blast? Yes. Are communities of color still impacted the most by cannabis enforcement? That’s going to be a big yes. The committee noted in announcing the hearing that of the 660,000 arrests for marijuana last year, 600,000 were for simple possession. The Committee leadership was hoping to give the reps taking part an opportunity to consider the wider issues around the importance of reforming marijuana laws in America. The subcommittee was chaired by congresswoman Karen Bass. Bass noted that since the time President Nixon declared a war on drugs, people of color have been hit the hardest. African Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people. “Part of the has devastation has been we criminalized a health problem.” Chairwoman Bass noted,  “While we poured millions of dollars into incarceration, we did not put adequate resources into drug treatment. Bass noted while legalization is the direction many places are going, we need to make sure there is a plan to use a piece of the money to help folks with substance abuse issues. She doesn’t automatically believe that legalization will result in a decrease in the disproportionate arrests of people of color, especially African Americans. “But I do hope those who use the disproportionate arrests as part of their campaign for legalization are just and concerned and active if the disproportionate arrests continue after legalization,” Bass noted. Bass called the hearing a moment to address the urgent reforms so obviously needed around cannabis. Rep. Tom McClintock from California served as the acting ranking member for the republicans. He immediately called marijuana one of the few issues they might be able to get everyone in Congress to agree on. “It doesn’t require endorsing cannabis, quite the contrary,” McClintock said noting the psychological issues some are prone to and urged all to make sure kids aren’t getting their hands on it, “But it ought to be crystal clear to everyone that our laws have not accomplished their goals.” McClintock told a tale he heard from a police officer. The officer said if he gave any two kids from any town across ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10
  • Hawaii Officially Decriminalizes Small Quantities of Cannabis
    The State of Hawaii decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis on Tuesday after an attempt by lawmakers to legalize the recreational use of marijuana failed earlier this year. Under the measure, House Bill 1383, possession of up to three grams of cannabis will no longer be subject to punishment with time in jail but would instead carry a fine of up to $130. Currently, possession of any amount of cannabis in Hawaii is punishable with up to 30 days behind bars and a fine of up to $1,000. The new law is scheduled to go into effect on January 11, 2020. Bill Becomes Law Without Governor’s Support The bill was passed by the Hawaii legislature in May of this year but did not have the support of the state’s governor, Democrat David Ige. At a press conference in June, Ige said that deciding to sign or veto the bill would be a “very tough call.” He eventually did neither, and the bill became law when a deadline to act on the legislation expired on Tuesday. The governor explained that he believes that the bill could lead to further legislative efforts to decriminalize cannabis “and other mechanisms to make marijuana more available.” Ige said that he eventually decided to let the bill become law without his signature because of the quantity of cannabis involved. Hawaii’s limit on the amount of cannabis that can be possessed without incurring criminal penalties is the smallest of all 26 states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana so far. “The amount is very small, when you talk with law enforcement personnel,” Ige said. “Essentially they will proceed the way they always have.” House Bill 1383 also allows for the expungement of prior criminal convictions for possession of less than three grams of marijuana and establishes a task force to further explore the reform of the state’s penalties and outcomes for marijuana use. Legalization Bill Fails Without a process for voter ballot initiatives in the state, any attempts to legalize cannabis in Hawaii must be passed by the legislature. In March, a bill that would have allowed adults 21 and older to legally possess, cultivate, and use marijuana was passed unanimously by Hawaii’s Senate Judiciary Committee. But the bill was killed when the Senate Health Committee failed to act on the measure before a legislative deadline. Lawmakers in Hawaii legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2000, but medical marijuana dispensaries did not open in the state until 2017. The ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10
 
  • West Hollywood Set To Get “First of Its Kind” Cannabis Café
    On Tuesday, West Hollywood stepped out in front of the cannabis dining and entertainment market by approving the country’s first licensed restaurant featuring THC and CBD-infused food. Lowell Farms — a project of marijuana company Lowell Herb Co. — will also offer an open-air smoking area. While cannabis industry types and users rejoiced over the decision, not all neighbors were pleased.   Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and Elevation VIP Coop founder Andrea Drummer has been tapped to put together a menu for Lowell Farms that features CBD, THC, or both in every dish, with an emphasis on highlighting cannabis’ benefits for personal wellness. Customers will not be able to order alcoholic beverages (which aren’t allowed at sites selling cannabis comestibles per California law), but will be able to snag tea, coffee, juice, and smoothies with their meal.  “Anyone who has one of those licenses should feel an enormous sense of responsibility—and there should be—not only to the city of West Hollywood but to the country,” Drummer told a local website in April. “There are eyes on us in doing this and executing it.” The location will offer the first brick and mortar cannabis restaurant in the United States, but this will not be the country’s first cannabis café. That would be Portland, Oregon’s World Famous Cannabis Café (now NW Cannabis Club), which offered a space for members to consume marijuana products bought elsewhere, and a food and drink menu. In the UK, The Canna Kitchen has been showing its Brighton customers how to make a meal with weed, and specializes in meat and animal product-free fare infused with CBD and other cannabinoids.  But Lowell Farms will be the current high water mark of the cannabis fine dining trend, which has largely cropped up in the United States in the form of private dinners and pop up events organized by chefs who specialize in marijuana edibles.  Aesthetically, the business plan appears to be anything but out of the norm for the area. The Lowell Farms design showcases a recognizable Hollywood brunch chic. The outdoor dining areas feature walls of dangling succulents and cushioned lawn-type furniture that would not look out of place in a passive aggressive lunch scene on Real Housewives.  West Hollywood started accepting applications for eight consumption lounges permits in April.  Not everyone was thrilled about Lowell Farms’ approval. The synagogue Congregation Kol Ami is located 300 feet away from the site of the future restaurant, and made its disapproval of the plans known early on. The synagogue fears that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-17
  • Columbus, Ohio May Significantly Reduce Penalties for Marijuana Possession
    The city council in Columbus, Ohio is considering cannabis policy reforms that would significantly reduce the penalties imposed for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The council has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed city ordinance to enact the reforms for Thursday evening. Under the proposed ordinance, possession of up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of marijuana would be subject to a fine of up to $10. Those caught possessing between 100 and 200 grams (approximately seven ounces) of cannabis could be fined up to $25. Possession of more than 200 grams would still be a felony. The fine for possession of marijuana paraphernalia would be reduced to $10. The ordinance would also increase funding to help those with previous convictions for marijuana possession offenses have their criminal records sealed. The fines for cannabis possession would not apply to “any person who obtained the marihuana pursuant to a lawful prescription issued by a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs,” according to the ordinance. Punishments More Severe Under State Law Under Ohio state law, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis can be punished with a fine of up to $150 while possessing 100 to 200 grams of pot could set you back $250 and land you in jail for up to 30 days. Council President Shannon G. Hardin said in a written statement that the council has scheduled Thursday’s public hearing in an effort to receive feedback on the proposal from the community. “We want to know what residents think about on proposed reforms,” said Hardin. “We are having serious conversations about inequalities in the criminal justice system. “There are two key elements to the proposal: lowering fines for small amounts of marijuana possession and increasing funds for Legal Aid attorneys to help seal records for minor convictions so Columbus residents can get good-paying jobs.” Racial Inequality of Cannabis Enforcement Cited In a background paper attached to the proposed ordinance, it is noted that the racial inequality prevalent in the enforcement of marijuana laws has already led other Ohio cities to enact their own ordinances with more lenient penalties for possessing cannabis. The Columbus ordinance “will further the city’s efforts to address criminal penalties that have disproportionate effects on communities of color,” reads the background paper. “Given the racial inequities that exist with enforcement of marihuana laws locally and nationwide, the recent legalization of medical marihuana in the state of Ohio, and the number of recent ballot initiatives and ordinances liberalizing marihuana laws in municipalities ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • New Jersey Opens Major Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program
    On Monday, New Jersey’s Department of Health announced plans to accept applications for individuals and entities interested in opening operational and cultivation facilities. The agency said that it is seeking applicants to operate as many as 24 Alternative Treatment Centers, with the aim to place eight in the northern part of the state, eight in the central region and seven in the south. An additional facility will be placed in a yet-to-be-determined region, the department said.  Moreover, the department said it intends to grant licenses for an additional 15 dispensaries, five cultivation centers and four “vertically integrated permits,” which would involve a combination of cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary. The applications, which were made available on Monday, are due on August 22; it costs $20,000 to apply, though failed applicants will receive a reimbursement of $18,000.  All applicants “must submit a security plan and an environmental impact statement,” and demonstrate “experience in cultivating, manufacturing or retailing marijuana and provide quality control and assurance plans,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The permit expansion was put in motion earlier this month when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a bill to grant an additional 24 licenses. It’s part of an ongoing effort by Murphy to dramatically expand access to medical marijuana in the state.  Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since early 2010, when outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine signed the measure into law on his final day in office. But for years, the program suffered from low enrollment due to the law’s strict requirements. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who succeeded Corzine, was a vocal opponent to medical marijuana, calling it a “front for legalization.”  “What there’s a huge demand for is marijuana. Not medical marijuana,” Christie said in the summer of 2014. “Because when we run a medically based program, you don’t see the demand.” But under Murphy, who was elected governor in 2017, the state has made an effort to expand the medical cannabis program, with growing calls to also legalize recreational use. Earlier this month, Murphy signed bill A20, also known as “Jake’s Law” after seven-year-old Jake Honig who died last year from brain cancer. The law brings a number of changes and expansions to the medical marijuana program, including raising the monthly limit for patients from two ounces to three ounces, and allowing edibles to be prescribed to adults (previously, they were only available to minors).  “I am proud to stand with my legislative partners as we break down barriers to ensure this life-changing ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • Plan For Automatic Expungement of Cannabis Records Proposed in Michigan
    There continues to be some large gaps in justice when it comes to the state by state cannabis legalization movement. Among them is a key question; What happens to those individuals with cannabis offenses that took place before the laws changed? Believe it or not, many of them aren’t automatically, retroactively covered by new laws that decriminalize or legalize weed going forward. In Michigan, one senator is looking to right this wrong.  On Tuesday, Senator Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor presented a piece of legislation that would guarantee automatic expungement for those with past, low level cannabis misdemeanors on their records. Estimates project that the bill could affect around 235,000 people. That’s key, as criminal records can make a difference in people getting employment, or qualifying for state benefits. Automatic expungement would also dodge the high cost to the state of clearing cases individually in court.  “Automatic expungement for all of our lowest-level cannabis offenders allows people to move on with their lives and making it automatic is essential because many people can’t afford an attorney, or the legal fees associated with an application,” Irwin said, as reported by Click On Detroit. “Cannabis is now legal in Michigan and petty offenses in the past should be no barrier to getting back to work or school.”  In fact, only six percent of individuals with past marijuana crimes have participated in Michigan’s current expungement petition procedure.  “This is so important to a large number of people in Michigan, who when they’re applying for jobs or student loans, they’re put in a position where their record can affect their future,” said Irwin. The bill’s introduction follows this week’s passage of legislation in New Hampshire that establishes a petition process for individuals with low level possession offenses committed before the state’s decriminalization in 2017. That bill does not, however, allow for automatic expungement. Automatic expungement laws have also been passed in California and Illinois, where possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis is now automatically pardoned by the governor.  The processes dictated by many states to apply for such expungements involve attorney fees, and potentially taking time off from work to attend court dates. Such measures are prohibitive, especially when we’re talking about the low income communities that were disproportionately affected by Drug War policing during their states’ prohibition eras.  Fifty-six percent of Michigan voters opted for a recreational cannabis system last year, but the state is still hashing out what, exactly, that business will look like. Earlier this month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-16
  • Study Finds Legal Cannabis Reduces Illicit Grows in National Forests
    Conversations about the effects of legalizing cannabis frequently focus on a few key issues: economic opportunity, social justice, the potential for new medical treatments, and other health benefits. What’s less talked about, however, is how cannabis legalization impacts the environment. Researchers have long documented the ways unchecked outdoor cannabis cultivation can strain resources and negatively impact the environment. And data from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that a significant amount of illegally produced cannabis is grown on federal lands— especially, national forests. But what if legalization was making a difference? That’s exactly the question a new, first-of-its-kind study set out to answer. Do cannabis-related policies have any effect on illicit grow operations in U.S. national forests? The answer appears to be that yes, legalization does impact illegal grows. In fact, it reduces them significantly. Expanding Legalization Reduces Illicit Grows in National Forests by a Fifth or More, Study Concludes As the legal cannabis industry in the United States expands, demand for cannabis products is growing with it. But in the U.S. market, supply and demand have yet to find their equilibrium. So despite the major changes in the production and consumption of legal cannabis over the past decade, the unregulated, illicit market still dominates. As recently as 2018, experts estimated that legal sales accounted for over $10 billion of the $50 billion in total cannabis sales that year. Put simply, the illicit marijuana market isn’t going anywhere, at least in the short term. Of course, supplying that market requires a significant number of illicit grow operations. And based on data about law enforcement seizures of outdoor-grown plants, national forests appear to be prime real estate for unlicensed cultivators. Illicit grows in Oregon, Colorado and California feed the bulk of the illegal market’s supply. National forests cover 24 percent of land in Oregon and 21 percent in Colorado. California has more national forests, 20, than any other state. Not coincidentally, illicit grows are highly prevalent in national forests in those states (and other legal cannabis states) despite their shifts toward regulated commercial production. Even in an economic environment that continues to incentivize illicit cultivation, however, legalization is cutting down on the number of grows in national forests. “Recreational cannabis legalization is associated with decreased reports of illegal grow operations on national forests,” according to “Cannabis legalization by states reduces illegal growing on US national forests,” a study just published in Ecological Economics. And that’s good news, not just for the legal industry, but for the flora ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • Someone Planted 34 Cannabis Plants in the Vermont Statehouse Flower Beds
    At least 34 cannabis plants were removed from a flower bed at the Vermont State House last week after a visitor to the state capitol in Montpelier reported their presence to law enforcement. Capitol Police Chief Matt Romei said, after the plants were discovered, that he was unsure if the young plants were hemp or marijuana and that groundskeepers on the property may have found more plants after the initial discovery. The chief added that he was not surprised that the cannabis plants found a suitable home in the well-tended garden that lines a walkway in front of the statehouse. “You could plant a 2-by-4 piece of lumber in there, and it would grow into a palm tree,” Romei said. “So it is totally not surprising that if somebody would put some marijuana seeds in there, they would grow like weeds.” Growing at Home OK. The State House, Not So Much The Vermont legislature legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults last year, with provisions of the legalization bill also allowing for the home cultivation of cannabis. Adults in the state are permitted to grow up two mature and four immature cannabis per residence. Vermont has also legalized hemp agriculture and the chief said that he was unsure if the plants discovered in the capitol flower bed were marijuana or hemp. Either way, they weren’t being grown in accordance with state regulations. “The State House Lawn certainly does not meet those standards,” Romei said. Determining if the plants found were marijuana or hemp would require lab testing to analyze the amount of THC in them, a step Romei said would not be taken since prosecuting the case is unlikely. Plants must have less than 0.3 percent THC by weight to be considered hemp. Romei said he didn’t know why someone chose the flower bed as a cannabis cultivation site. “We also have no thoughts on why someone would plant it,” the chief added. “But if anyone wants to claim it and let us know why they planted it, we are happy to listen.” However, Romei noted that if anyone did take responsibility for cultivating the plants, they would be subject to prosecution. “The only way we can make a criminal case is if someone comes down and claims it,” Romei said. Romei said that Capitol Police have discovered cannabis plants growing on the State House grounds on previous occasions as well, although this was the first time it has happened since ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • New Bill Ensures Some Retroactive Drug War Justice for New Hampshire
    Governor of New Hampshire Chris Sununu has played a key role in the crafting of the state’s medical cannabis legislation. On Friday, in the latest of a series of cannabis vetoes, he struck down a bill that would have eliminated a requirement that patients have at least a three month relationship with their marijuana provider. But on the same day, he did sign into effect HB 399, which will have positive repercussions for those with past cannabis convictions.  The latter will make it possible for those with past offenses concerning quantities of up to three-quarters of an ounce to have their conviction annulled. The legislation will apply to those whose offenses happened before September 16, 2017, the date when the state enacted sweeping decriminalization measures (becoming the last New England state to do so) that did not enact retroactive measures for past victims of Drug War policing. Such annulments, however, will not be automatic. Individuals will still need to petition the court to have the offense erased from their criminal record. Prosecutors will have 10 days after the petition to object to the crime’s annulment. “[This legislation is] going to affect hundreds, if not thousands of people,” the bill’s sponsor, Representative Renny Cushing, told Vermont Public Radio. “This is a good step forward to repairing some of the collateral damage of the war on marijuana.” “HB 399 will allow these Granite Staters to have their records annulled so they can move forward in life with a clean slate,” commented New England’s Marijuana Policy Project political director Matt Simon in a statement. “Governor Sununu should be applauded for signing this important bill into law.” Last year a bill similar to HB 399 was proposed, but it was tabled by New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled state Senate.  The state legalized medical marijuana back in 2013, when Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 a.k.a. Use of Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes into law, but has since been concerned with hammering out the logistics of its system. The state began taking applications for non-profit “alternative treatment centers” or ATCs in 2014.  Currently, 7,000 registered patients and their caregivers must obtain their cannabis from one of the state’s four licensed ATCs. That could change soon; in May, the state Senate approved House Bill 364, which would let patients grow up to three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants, and possess 12 seedlings. That bill was passed to the legislature in a packet that contained the two bills considered by Governor Sununu on Friday.  Governor Sununu has shown a ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-15
  • Coast Guard Busts Submarine Carrying Over $500 Million Worth of Cocaine, Weed
    A video of a drug bust released Thursday by the United States Coast Guard looks like a scene out of a Hollywood action movie.  The footage shows members of the Coast Guard in pursuit of a semi-submarine—a vessel that was partially underwater, and partially exposed—that had been barreling through the eastern Pacific Ocean while carrying more than 17,000 pounds of cocaine. “Stop your ship!” a member of the coast guard can be heard yelling in the minute-long footage, as his vessel bears down on the semi-submarine. Midway through the video is when things get particularly dramatic. With the Coast Guard ship practically touching the target, a member of the crew eventually leaps atop the semi-submersible vessel, which is known as a “narco-sub.” As waves crash against him, the coast guardsman pounds on the top of the vessel before an individual, whose face was obscured by the Coast Guard, emerges from the submarine’s hatch. The events documented in the video occurred on June 18. It was just one of 14 drug raids over the two months by the Coast Guard, as the U.S. ramps up its efforts to stop smugglers traversing from Central and South America. Since May, the Coast Guard says that it has confiscated roughly $569 million worth of cocaine and marijuana. Vice President Mike Pence was at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado on Thursday as 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana were taken off the island. In addition, 55 accused smugglers were taken into custody.  Cracking down on drugs brought into the United States has been a top priority for the Trump administration, which has advocated hardline immigration and border security policies. On Thursday, Pence saluted the Coast Guard for seizing $3.6 billion worth of illegal drugs and detaining more than 400 smugglers already this year. “The courageous service of the [U.S. Coast Guard] is saving lives!” Pence said on Twitter. He added in a subsequent tweet: “The drugs that are brought across our border bring billions in healthcare expenses, crime & the loss of thousands of Americans lives. The challenges & threats the [U.S. Coast Guard] face underscore why President [Trump] & our administration are determined to SECURE our border!” The vessel shown in the footage released on Thursday was carrying five individuals, according to CNN. Such semi-submersible vessels are far from commonplace in the world of smugglers, due to their exorbitant costs. But when they are deployed, they can be exceedingly difficult for the Coast Guard ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Leading Cannabis Brand Bhang Corporation Goes Public
    Florida-based cannabis company Bhang went public on Thursday, with shares in the company beginning trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange. Shares in the company are listed under the ticker symbol BHNG and were up more than 70 percent in Friday morning trading. Bhang currently owns a family of eight active brands with more than 100 cannabis and hemp products including cannabis edibles, beverages, oral sprays, pre-rolls, terpenes, and hemp-derived CBD consumer goods. The brand’s products are manufactured, sold, and distributed by the company directly and through licensing agreements with partners in jurisdictions with legal cannabis. Bhang Expanding Its Reach Bhang’s licensing arrangements include partnerships with Origin House/Crescp in California, Trulieve in Florida, and a 50/50 joint venture with Indiva for distribution in Canada and other international markets. The company’s plans for 2019 include launching eight new brands, offering more products, and expanding its availability to 2,000 stores from the current count of approximately 1,000. Scott Van Rixel, the CEO of Bhang and a 2018 selectee for the High Times 100, said in a press release that going public will help fuel the company’s expansion goals. “We’re proud to announce this major milestone for Bhang and the industry, as we see a national cannabis brand begin trading on the CSE. This public listing fuels our strategy to meet the growing demand for today’s most innovative cannabis products,” Van Rixel said. “While our model is not reliant upon accessing the capital markets, our going public transaction will allow us to evaluate new opportunities to accelerate our growth, build our industry-leading house of brands and increase shareholder value.” He added in an interview that going public now will poise the firm to react quickly once cannabis is legalized in the U.S. nationwide. “When [federal] legalization happens, I’d rather have the long, arduous process of going public out of the way and establish Bhang’s rightful place as a cannabis industry pioneer,” Van Rixel said. Tasty Beginnings Van Rixel, who is a trained chef and chocolatier, said that he started Bhang after visiting a friend’s cannabis facility nine years ago. “Back in 2010, edibles were still coming in basic ziplock bags – no nutritional information, no serving size, no ingredient list. I brought my food industry knowledge in and we changed packaging to include that information and meet [U.S Food and Drug Administration] standards, even though obviously cannabis isn’t an FDA-approved product,” he said. Bhang’s award-winning chocolates primed the company’s early growth and expansion into other product lines. Van Rixel said continuing cannabis ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Florida Court Rules Medical Marijuana Licensing Law Unconstitutional
    A Florida appellate court ruled on Tuesday that a law enacted to license cannabis providers in the state does not comply with the amendment that legalized medical marijuana and is therefore unconstitutional. The ruling by the 1st Court of Appeals in Tallahassee held that the law requiring cannabis businesses to be vertically integrated and handle all aspects of cannabis production from seed to sale created an oligopoly and should be struck down. The court also upheld the lower court’s ruling that provisions of the medical marijuana regulations enacted by the state legislature that capped the number of licenses for providers also did not conform with the amendment passed by voters in 2016. The decision by a panel of three judges is expected to be further appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, according to media reports. Suit Challenges Vertical Integration Requirements A suit challenging the requirement that cannabis providers in the state be vertically integrated was filed by Florigrown, a company based in Tampa. Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who heard the case, ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the regulations passed by lawmakers in a 2017 legislative special session did not properly carry out the amendment. Dodson then issued a temporary injunction requiring the state health department to begin issuing licenses to Florigrown and other applicants for medical marijuana licenses, but that order was put on hold pending appeal. Upholding the original court’s decision, appeals court judges Scott Makar, James Wolf, and T. Kent Wetherell wrote that the regulations create “a vertically integrated business model which amends the constitutional definition of MMTC (medical marijuana treatment centers) by requiring an entity to undertake several of the activities described in the amendment before the department can license it.” Plaintiffs Pleased with Ruling Joe Redner, one of the owners of Florigrown, said that Tuesday’s appeals court ruling is “a good thing for the state of Florida.” “If the Legislature can create oligarchies in any field, it’s crony capitalism,” Redner said. “They’re picking winners and losers. And that’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not constitutional.” Adam Elend, the CEO of Florigrown, said that the appeals court ruling has the potential to shake up Florida’s medical marijuana program and the industry. “It drops a bomb on the current licensing scheme. It’s just changing the whole regime,” Elend said. “People are not getting medicine. The dispensaries are out of stock all the time. The products are limited, and the prices are high. That’s what happens in an oligopoly and that’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-12
  • Pennsylvania Adds Anxiety and Tourette Syndrome to Medical Marijuana Program
    Later this July, Pennsylvania’s list of 21 conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatments will grow to 23. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health approved the addition of two new qualifying conditions: anxiety and Tourette Syndrome. According to Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the decision to add the two conditions wasn’t an easy one. But ultimately, Levine approved the conditions in light of growing evidence that cannabis can be an affective adjunct to traditional anxiety and Tourette Syndrome treatments. The addition of the two conditions could transform Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say it’s difficult to know exactly how many people have Tourette Syndrome, studies estimate that 1 of every 162 (0.6 percent) of children in the U.S. lives with the condition. Furthermore, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 18 percent of the adult population. PA Health Secretary: Cannabis Should Accompany Anxiety, Tourette Treatments, Not Replace Them Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act became law in April 2016. But it would take until early 2018 for the program to be fully up and running. The law mandates that the state’s medical marijuana program be run by a Director of Medical Marijuana and a 15-member Advisory Board. The board’s goals are to monitor the program, evaluate feedback from the public and industry stakeholders and importantly, propose changes to program’s rules and requirements. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board has already increased the number of conditions that qualify for cannabis treatments under the law. In 2016, the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program listed 17 qualifying conditions. In 2018, the board and Health Department upped the number to 21. During a meeting in early 2019, the Advisory Board voted to approve the addition of anxiety and Tourette Syndrome. And at a May 15 meeting, the Board discussed the issue with Dr. Levine. The board had already approved the addition of the two conditions. But the decision required final approval from the Department of Health. That decision came on July 11, when Dr. Levine announced that she had approved anxiety and Tourette Syndrome as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. But the Health Secretary qualified her approval by saying that cannabis should not be viewed as replacement for traditional treatments. “For both conditions, medical marijuana is not first line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician,” Levine said during a press conference. Research Supports Treating ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • American Eagle Becomes Latest Major Retailer to Sell CBD-Infused Products
    American Eagle Outfitters will begin selling CBD personal care and wellness products at nearly 500 of its stores and online, according to a release from Green Growth Brands (GGB), the clothing retailer’s partner in the new venture. The move by American Eagle marks the latest foray into the burgeoning CBD market by a major U.S. retailer. Under the partnership, GGB, an Ohio-based cannabis and CBD company with a family of brands including Seventh Sense Botanical Therapy and Meri + Jane, will create exclusive personal care products for American Eagle. The line will include CBD-infused lotions, muscle balms, and aromatherapy products, with sales expected to launch in October of this year. “We are very pleased to be partnering with American Eagle, a leader in the specialty retail space,” said Peter Horvath, the CEO of Green Growth Brands. “GGB provided the expertise necessary to develop the product formulations and packaging to create a really special line of products.” GGB products are sourced from licensed U.S. hemp farmers and produced in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, according to the company. GGB sells and distributes its CBD products only in jurisdictions that permit such sales. Other Retailers Already Onboard GGB has already announced deals to provide CBD products with two other major retailers since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December that legalized hemp agriculture and products made from hemp, including CBD. The company will also be distributing CBD products to American Eagle’s competing apparel retailer Abercrombie and Fitch and GGB also recently announced a deal with Designer Brands, Inc. to provide a line of cannabidiol products for DSW shoe stores. GGB is also planning to open stores at shopping malls owned by Simon and Brookfield. Simon has plans to host 107 GGB shops, while Brookfield will be opening about 70 locations at its shopping centers. Other national retailers including CVS, Rite Aid, and the Vitamin Shoppe have also entered the new market for CBD products. Even burger chains and regional gas stations are getting in on the action, despite the fact that the FDA is still in the process of developing regulations for the CBD products industry. GGB Extends Its Reach On Tuesday, GGB announced that it had entered into a securities acquisition and partnership agreement with Moxie, a U.S. cannabis company with operations in several states including California, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Its products, including the High Times Cannabis Cup winning DART vaporizer, are available at more than 250 cannabis dispensaries. The $310 million deal with ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • North Dakota Offers Path to Pardons for Low-Level Marijuana Convictions
    With support from the state’s Republican governor, North Dakota moved on Wednesday to allow thousands of individuals to potentially wipe their slate clean of low-level marijuana convictions. The state’s pardon advisory board unanimously approved the policy change, clearing the way for those residents to apply for a pardon for such convictions and emerge with a clear record if they avoid committing a crime for the next five years. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, both Republicans, support the move. “By destigmatizing these minor and, in many cases, distant offenses, we can give individuals a second chance at a successful, healthy and productive life,” Burgum said in a statement on Wednesday. Burgum, who is in his first term after winning election in 2016, added that the new policy could “address our state’s workforce shortage and grow the economy,” given that such convictions have proven problematic for many individuals applying for jobs.  “There are a lot of North Dakotans who have this issue,” Stenehjem said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “The burden shouldn’t be something that person has to carry around forever.” Stenehjem said that, should the pardon get approved, the policy “totally removes a conviction; totally removes guilt.” As many as 175,000 North Dakotans who were dealt such convictions could be eligible under the new policy. The new policy makes the process more streamlined and less burdensome than it is currently. Individuals seeking a pardon will now be able to fill out a one-and-a-half page application online completely free of charge. The deadline for the first round of applications is August 10.  Stenehjem supports decriminalization for pot, but remains opposed to legalization for recreational use. In May, Burgum quietly signed a bill into law that relaxed penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession. Under the new law, those busted for the first time for possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana or paraphernalia will face a criminal infraction, rather than a misdemeanor. The punishment carries a fine of as much as $1000, but crucially, no jail time.  Those facing subsequent charges could face up to a year of jail time, however. Those new provisions take effect on August 1. The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, said the reclassification was “ far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction.” North Dakota opened its first medical marijuana dispensary earlier this year, and there are plans for more to open soon. The changes could represent a demarcation point ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-11
  • What Was Said at Today’s Congressional Hearing on Federal Marijuana Law Reform
    The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing today on the impact of marijuana laws in America. Despite the wave of cannabis progress, and products, sweeping the country coast to coast, marijuana arrests rose in America last year for the second year in a row. Are we generally down from the most horrifying arrest numbers seen when prohibition was at full blast? Yes. Are communities of color still impacted the most by cannabis enforcement? That’s going to be a big yes. The committee noted in announcing the hearing that of the 660,000 arrests for marijuana last year, 600,000 were for simple possession. The Committee leadership was hoping to give the reps taking part an opportunity to consider the wider issues around the importance of reforming marijuana laws in America. The subcommittee was chaired by congresswoman Karen Bass. Bass noted that since the time President Nixon declared a war on drugs, people of color have been hit the hardest. African Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people. “Part of the has devastation has been we criminalized a health problem.” Chairwoman Bass noted,  “While we poured millions of dollars into incarceration, we did not put adequate resources into drug treatment. Bass noted while legalization is the direction many places are going, we need to make sure there is a plan to use a piece of the money to help folks with substance abuse issues. She doesn’t automatically believe that legalization will result in a decrease in the disproportionate arrests of people of color, especially African Americans. “But I do hope those who use the disproportionate arrests as part of their campaign for legalization are just and concerned and active if the disproportionate arrests continue after legalization,” Bass noted. Bass called the hearing a moment to address the urgent reforms so obviously needed around cannabis. Rep. Tom McClintock from California served as the acting ranking member for the republicans. He immediately called marijuana one of the few issues they might be able to get everyone in Congress to agree on. “It doesn’t require endorsing cannabis, quite the contrary,” McClintock said noting the psychological issues some are prone to and urged all to make sure kids aren’t getting their hands on it, “But it ought to be crystal clear to everyone that our laws have not accomplished their goals.” McClintock told a tale he heard from a police officer. The officer said if he gave any two kids from any town across ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10
  • Hawaii Officially Decriminalizes Small Quantities of Cannabis
    The State of Hawaii decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis on Tuesday after an attempt by lawmakers to legalize the recreational use of marijuana failed earlier this year. Under the measure, House Bill 1383, possession of up to three grams of cannabis will no longer be subject to punishment with time in jail but would instead carry a fine of up to $130. Currently, possession of any amount of cannabis in Hawaii is punishable with up to 30 days behind bars and a fine of up to $1,000. The new law is scheduled to go into effect on January 11, 2020. Bill Becomes Law Without Governor’s Support The bill was passed by the Hawaii legislature in May of this year but did not have the support of the state’s governor, Democrat David Ige. At a press conference in June, Ige said that deciding to sign or veto the bill would be a “very tough call.” He eventually did neither, and the bill became law when a deadline to act on the legislation expired on Tuesday. The governor explained that he believes that the bill could lead to further legislative efforts to decriminalize cannabis “and other mechanisms to make marijuana more available.” Ige said that he eventually decided to let the bill become law without his signature because of the quantity of cannabis involved. Hawaii’s limit on the amount of cannabis that can be possessed without incurring criminal penalties is the smallest of all 26 states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana so far. “The amount is very small, when you talk with law enforcement personnel,” Ige said. “Essentially they will proceed the way they always have.” House Bill 1383 also allows for the expungement of prior criminal convictions for possession of less than three grams of marijuana and establishes a task force to further explore the reform of the state’s penalties and outcomes for marijuana use. Legalization Bill Fails Without a process for voter ballot initiatives in the state, any attempts to legalize cannabis in Hawaii must be passed by the legislature. In March, a bill that would have allowed adults 21 and older to legally possess, cultivate, and use marijuana was passed unanimously by Hawaii’s Senate Judiciary Committee. But the bill was killed when the Senate Health Committee failed to act on the measure before a legislative deadline. Lawmakers in Hawaii legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2000, but medical marijuana dispensaries did not open in the state until 2017. The ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10