• Oregon Enacts Temporary Six-Month Ban of Flavored Vape Products
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon regulators enacted a six-month ban Friday on the sale of flavored nicotine and cannabis vape products in stores and online statewide amid an outbreak of illnesses that has sickened nearly 1,300 people nationwide and killed 26, including two people in Oregon. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the recreational marijuana market, voted unanimously to approve the temporary sales ban on the same day that the Oregon Health Authority, which regulates tobacco sales statewide, filed the ban with the Oregon Secretary of State. Dozens of marijuana processors and vape manufacturers packed the commission room during the vote and some shouted out in frustration during a news conference when an official said the ban would only affect 10 percent of the cannabis vape market. “It’s going to kill immediately 70% of my company’s revenue. It’s based off of what we consider faulty logic and faulty understanding” of the science behind adding flavor to marijuana vape pens, Jason Thompson, the sales director for Eugene, Oregon-based Sublime Solutions, said after the vote. The ban applies to all nicotine and cannabis vapes that contain flavoring derived from anything except pure marijuana terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants and fruits their flavor or scent — for example, the citrusy smell from an orange or the aroma of lavender. Vape pen manufacturers add natural and artificial terpene mixes to nicotine- or cannabis-containing oil to give the products popular flavors, from cherry to mint to candy cane. Earlier this month Gov. Kate Brown ordered the temporary ban. Several other states, including Washington, New York Rhode Island and Michigan, have also imposed temporary bans. The illnesses first appeared in March, with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Federal investigators say that nearly 80 percent of people who have come down with the vaping illness reported using products containing THC, the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana. They have not traced the problem to any single product or ingredient. But investigators are increasingly focused on thickeners and additives found in illegal THC cartridges sold on the black market. The Oregon Health Authority, which is investigating nine cases of illness in Oregon and two deaths, had asked Brown for broader six-month ban on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine and cannabis. The agency also urged Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of the illnesses. TJ Sheehy, manager of the OLCC’s marijuana technical unit, told commissioners before Friday’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • California Will Ban Smoking On All Beaches And State Parks
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will ban smoking on state parks and beaches starting next year under legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law also bans disposing cigar and cigarette waste at parks and beaches. Violations of the law will be punishable by a fine of up to $25. Newsom, a Democrat, announced Friday he had signed the bill into law. It covers smoking traditional cigarettes as well as using electric smoking devices. Smoking will still be allowed in parking lots at beaches and parks. Film and television productions can still allow people to smoke on state property with the proper permits. Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer has been pushing such a ban for years, with lawmakers approving it several times. But former Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat, repeatedly vetoed it. “We have many rules telling us what we can and can’t do and these are wide open spaces,” he wrote last year. Glazer has argued such a rule will protect public health and curtail pollution. California already prohibits smoking at child care centers, within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of farmers’ markets, in government buildings and on public transportation. Cities and counties can also adopt their own smoking laws. California has roughly 280 state parks and 340 miles (547 kilometers) of coastline. A legislative analysis predicts it will cost the state parks system nearly $2 million to put up more than 5,000 signs alerting people to the ban and complying with various state regulations. The law is supported by many medical and environmental groups as well the cities of Huntington Beach and Santa Monica. Many Republicans in the Legislature voted against the measure. The post California Will Ban Smoking On All Beaches And State Parks appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Texas Suddenly Stops Issuing Permits For New Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
    Medical cannabis entrepreneurs are looking for answers after the Texas Department of Public Safety unexpectedly shut down its application process for new dispensary permits on Wednesday. The window was originally intended to last through November 1. No reason was given for the abrupt termination of the application window, which had been announced as a month-long period, and was pulled after only a week. “The department will continue to assess dispensing capacity requirements, along with the need for any additional licenses, as we work through recent legislative changes to the program,” a spokesperson from the department commented to a local news site. The closure of the application process is of particular concern because the geographically enormous state’s access to medical marijuana is fairly limited. Last year, only three dispensaries (Surterra Texas, Cansortium Texas, and Compassionate Cultivation) saw their applications approved—the minimum number that the state was required to authorize. 43 businesses submitted applications to the agency. The dearth of licensed dispensaries means that Texan patients have little options when it comes to where they can get their cannabis. Supply is so low that law enforcement officials have expressed concern that residents may cross state lines to get their meds illegally. That worry was multiplied when a New Mexico judge ruled that out of state individuals could qualify to buy medical cannabis at local dispensaries. Executive director of the Texas chapter of NORML, Jax Finkel was caught off guard by the news of the closure of the application process. “I find it concerning that a week into the application process it’s suspended with no notice and no clear communication with doctors, patients or the general public,” he said. Medical Marijuana in Texas In June, Governor Greg Abbot signed into effect House Bill 3703, which expanded qualifying conditions for the state medical cannabis program past its previous limitation to individuals with intractable epilepsy. Now, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, terminal cancer, autism, and certain seizure disorders are included as qualifiers. The state representative who sponsored that legislation, Republican Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth, told reporters that she expected the moratorium on applications to be lifted soon, and that its causes were due to the change in qualifying conditions spurred by the department’s fact-finding sessions on which incurable neurodegenerative disorders should qualify for medical cannabis treatment in the state. “Hang tight for now,” Klick commented. “This is likely just a temporary delay until we know which of the incurable neurodegenerative conditions are appropriate to be included on the list.” Though medical access has expanded ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • Vapers May No Longer Pay Less For Life Insurance Than Smokers
    A major U.S. insurance company is planning to increase life insurance premiums for its customers who vape. The move by Prudential will bring rates for customers who use e-cigarettes into alignment with those charged smokers, the company said in a statement on Thursday. “Prudential will reclassify users of e-cigarettes to treat them as smokers and in line with our cigarette smoking guidelines,” a company spokesman said. “Smokers typically will have higher-priced policies.” The change will go into effect for customers applying for individual life insurance policies. Smokers typically pay about 50% more per year than nonsmokers, according to quotes from online insurance sites. The difference could add up to an additional $350 to $800 per year, depending on the health of the applicant and other factors. The move by Prudential, a Fortune 500 company that provides insurance and other financial services in more than 40 countries, comes in the midst of the ongoing bout of serious lung injuries that have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. As of this week, at least 1,100 cases of the severe lung illnesses associated with vaping and 23 deaths have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Increased attention on vaping over the past few months and linkages to a few deaths and multiple illnesses, have resulted in warnings from the FDA, federal government and some states banning the use of flavored e-cigarettes,” the spokesman said. Risks of Vaping Unknown Loretta Worters, the vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, said that the risks of vaping are not yet known. “There hasn’t been enough statistical data to say whether or not they’re as bad as traditional cigarettes. Let’s not forget that it took 20 or 30 years before that connection was made,” said Worters.  “Before you pick up that e-cigarette, people should ask themselves, ‘Is it worth the risk?’ “she added. The federal government and several states have announced that they will ban flavored e-cigarettes while Massachusetts has gone even further, banning all vaping devices. But Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, an industry trade group, said that the rash of lung illnesses is being unfairly attributed to legal nicotine e-cigarettes, leading to headlines critical of the industry. “They are the result of so many governmental officials spreading misinformation and doubt about nicotine vaping products,” he said. “Those illnesses and deaths are almost exclusively caused by the use of illicit and contaminated THC (marijuana) cartridges.” Although the lung illnesses have ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • ACLU Sues Pennsylvania County To Allow Parolees, Probationers To Use Cannabis
    The American Civil Liberties Union is taking on a Pennsylvania county over a new policy that bars people with state medical marijuana cards to use the drug if they were on probation.  In a lawsuit filed this month on behalf of several petitioners, the state chapter of the ACLU asserts that those rules issued by the Lebanon County, Pennsylvania violate state law. Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and the state permits its use for patients suffering from roughly two dozen different medical conditions. The county’s court system and probation department announced last month that the new policy would take effect on October 1. One of the petitioners in the suit filed is Melissa Gass, a 41-year-old woman who uses medical cannabis to treat grand mal seizures from her epilepsy.  She is also on probation in Lebanon County stemming from a 2016 arrest for simple assault following an altercation she had with her husband. Gass says she stopped using marijuana upon learning of the county’s new policy, going a month without it and suffering a sharp uptick in seizures as a result. “Medical marijuana has made all of the difference in improving my quality of life,” she said in an ACLU press release. “When I started using cannabis to treat my epilepsy, I went from having multiple seizures a day to having one every few months. Medical marijuana has been a lifesaver for me. This policy is a cruel blow.” According to the suit, Gass “had for years been successfully self-medicating with marijuana to control her seizures,” and that marijuana had “allowed her to dispense with the prescriptions that caused adverse mental health symptoms.” But Gass stopped using marijuana after her probation began in 2018 and, according to the suit, immediately resumed suffering from seizures. She obtained a medical marijuana card in February, but was told by a probation officer last month that, due to the policy change, she would have to stop using medical marijuana.  Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that the county is “endangering our clients’ well-being.”  ““Medical marijuana gives our clients’ their lives back and helps them manage their daily challenges,” Shuford said. Federal Law vs State Law County officials have defended the policy change on the grounds that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director Witold Walczak disagrees. “The plain language in the medical marijuana law shows that the legislature intended to protect all patients, including those on probation,” Walczak said in the press release. “Judges may ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • Victims Of Opioid Abuse To Help Decide How Much Purdue Pharma Should Pay
    Victims of opioid addiction weren’t in the room when OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma persuaded half the state attorneys general to settle claims over the company’s role in the nationwide overdose epidemic. Now that Purdue is in federal bankruptcy court, four people whose lives were touched by addiction have important seats at the table — and could force fundamental changes to the tentative deal. They are part of a bankruptcy committee that will play a major role in deciding how much Purdue will pay and potentially how that money is to be spent. The committee can investigate Purdue’s operations and possibly even go after more money from the members of the Sackler family who own the company. They will play a central role in evaluating the tentative settlement reached by the attorneys general representing roughly half the states. The four are a mother and a grandfather of children born dependent on opioids, a man in recovery from addiction and a mother who lost a son to overdose. Together, they could be an emotionally persuasive minority on the nine-member Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed by the U.S. trustee overseeing the bankruptcy. “There’s not a shy person in the bunch,” said addiction treatment advocate and lobbyist Carol McDaid, who attended the hearing when the committee candidates were interviewed and chosen. The four victims know how to make their voices heard, she said. It’s unusual for a creditors committee to include private citizens. The other members are more typical: a medical center, a health insurer, a prescription benefit management company, the manufacturer of an addiction treatment drug and a pension insurer. The committee can hire lawyers and financial experts paid for by the debtor — in this case, Purdue, said Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. It can investigate issues such as the company’s value and even whether the Sackler family has improperly taken money out of it — something some state attorneys general are investigating. Opioids, including prescription drugs and illegal ones such as heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, have been linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. Thousands of infants have been born to mothers who were taking opioids while pregnant, and two committee members represent those children. Kara Trainor is a mother of a child born dependent on opioids. Walter Lee Salmons, a grandfather, is helping raise two affected children. Ryan Hampton is an activist in recovery from opioid addiction. Cheryl Juaire lost her 23-year-old son to a heroin ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Judge Says Police Seizure Of 900 Pounds Of Marijuana Was Illegal
    Months after two men were arrested for trying to transport large amounts of cannabis through Minnesota, a judge has set them free and dismissed the original charges. At issue in the case was whether or not the search of the vehicle that initially led cops to discover the weed was legal. And on Tuesday, the judge hearing the case ruled that the cops’ search was unconstitutional. Marijuana Bust in March The whole thing started back in March of this year. That’s when state trooper Aaron Myren pulled over two men from Montana who were driving through Minnesota. The men traveling inside the truck were identified as 31-year-old Jared Michael Desroches and 24-year-old Alexander Clifford Gordon. According to Myren, he became suspicious because the two men were towing a camper trailer behind their truck. Myren claimed that it is unusual to see a camper during that time of the year. Additionally, Myren also claimed that the vehicle was swerving and driving unsteadily. Finally, Myren decided to pull over the vehicle when he noticed a large crack in the windshield. After Myren pulled them over, the two men reportedly said they had some marijuana in the vehicle with them. At that point, Myren and the police dog he had with him apparently began searching the vehicle and the trailer. That’s when they discovered that the trailer was filled with weed. Specifically, the trailer contained 900 pounds of weed, 406 one-gram containers of concentrates, 112 containers of wax, and at least $15,000 in cash. Myren arrested the men and seized the weed. The two men were initially charged with two counts of first-degree controlled substances sale. Judge Rules Vehicle Search Was Unconstitutional Now, months later, District Judge Timothy Churchwell has dismissed the charges. He ruled that the vehicle search conducted by Myren was unconstitutional. As a result, it was illegal for cops to seize the marijuana, and without that, there is no evidence to bring against Desroches and Gordon. Judge Churchwell explained that it was allowable for Myren to pull over the vehicle because of the cracked windshield. But beyond that, the judge said, Myren had no probable cause to conduct any searches of the men’s truck or camper trailer. Interestingly, local media reported that Myren’s dashcam footage played a key role in the judge’s decision. Specifically, the footage threw much of Myren’s testimony into question. For example, Myren claimed that it is unusual for campers to be on the road in March. However, footage from the incident showed a number of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • School Districts Across The Country Are Filing A Lawsuit Against JUUL
    As investigations into the cause of a nationwide vape-linked health crisis continue amid widening bans on vaping products, school districts across the country are setting their sights on JUUL Laboratories, the company that makes the massively popular JUUL e-cigarette device. School districts say JUUL is primarily responsible for the dramatic uptick in vaping among young people and teens, and they’re moving to sue the e-cigarette company for damages. So far, four school districts have filed lawsuits against JUUL. School officials say responding to the widespread use of vaping among students has cost them considerable time and resources and caused record numbers of students to miss class due to disciplinary actions for nicotine violations. Three of the lawsuits also claim JUUL knowingly marketed its flavored e-cigarette products to minors. JUUL Labs has long-denied that it markets its products to teenagers. The company says its e-cigarettes are designed to help people quit using conventional tobacco products. So far, JUUL has not commented on the lawsuits from the school districts. School Districts Could Kick off Wave of Lawsuits Against Juul “As smart as our students are, they don’t understand the long-term ramifications of vaping and the amount of addictive chemicals they are dealing with,” said superintendent of Olathe Public Schools in Kansas City John Allison. Olathe serves roughly 30,0000 students, and it’s one of the first school districts in the country to sue JUUL over teen vaping. Three other districts, La Conner School District in Washington, Three Village Central School District in New York and Francis Howell School District in Missouri have also filed lawsuits against JUUL. Jonathan Kieffer, an attorney with the law firm Wagstaff & Cartmell in Kansas City, Missouri who’s representing three of the districts, expects the lawsuits to kick off a wave of similar legal actions against JUUL. “School districts have decided to go on the offensive to combat the epidemic of youth vaping in the nation’s schools,” said Kieffer. “The lawsuits that we filed were the first in what we fully anticipate will be many, many more to follow.” But school districts could have a tough go making their case, and it isn’t certain yet whether courts will permit the lawsuits to go to trial. In the past, school districts have sued gunmakers, opioid manufacturers and tobacco companies on the grounds that they can be held liable for failing to protect their students from known harms. Schools have also pursued litigation against lead paint manufacturers to recover the costs of removing the toxic material. Schools ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Mexican President Says Cannabis Legalization “Not On Our Agenda”
    With national expectations of impending cannabis legalization running high, Mexican President Andrés López Manuel Obrador dealt a blow to his country’s marijuana movement at his daily morning press conference on Thursday. The president told reporters that marijuana legalization “is not on our agenda.” AMLO’s words seemed at odds with the fact that members of his own Morena Party have indicated that a vote on marijuana legalization is imminent. Just yesterday, the president’s Secretary of Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero smiled and held aloft what sure looked like a joint on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies. The country’s Supreme Court has mandated that the Mexican legislature regulate marijuana by this month, and asked the Health Department to clarify regulations surrounding medical marijuana. Lawmakers have held a series of public sessions to solicit opinions on how legalization should look in Mexico. But AMLO’s words this morning suggested that he does not share the rest of his government’s dedication to marijuana regulation. “With all respect, we haven’t considered that,” he said at his daily early morning press event. “I’m not ruling it out, but it is not on our agenda. We are dealing with other important issues.” AMLO Clarifies Priorities AMLO mentioned health, labor issues, and problems affecting the nation’s young people as examples of his administration’s priorities that come before cannabis legalization. He also reminded reporters of an anti-drug addiction campaign that his administration launched this summer, in collaboration with various religious institutions. The president did indicate, however, that if lawmakers do approve a legalization plan, his administration will cooperate. Last year, Sánchez Cordero proposed the Morena Party’s first plan to legalize marijuana. Widely seen as one of the country’s leaders when it comes to cannabis legalization, she made headlines only yesterday when she accepted the gift of what looked like a joint on the floor of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. Sánchez Cordero was passed the unlit joint by independent legislator Ana Lucía Riojas Martínez, who was delivering a speech in favor of drug regulation as an alternative to the country’s creation of a new federal law enforcement branch. “One step towards building peace would be legalizing the consumption of drugs, a proposal that you yourself made,” Riojas Martínez said, addressing Sánchez Cordero. “And so, to conclude my presentation, I’ve brought you a gift as reminder of the proposal that you made.” She then handed Sánchez Cordero what appeared to be a joint, which the Minister of the Interior held aloft, smiling. When asked about the exchange, AMLO merely told ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • New Sesame Street Character Has a Mom Battling Addiction
    NEW YORK (AP) — “Sesame Street” is taking a new step to try to help kids navigate life in America — it’s tackling the opioid crisis. Sesame Workshop is exploring the backstory of Karli, a bright green, yellow-haired friend of Elmo’s whose mother is battling addiction. The initiative is part of the Sesame Street in Communities resources available online. “Sesame Street” creators said they turned to the issue of addiction since data shows 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. “There’s nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective,” said Kama Einhorn, a senior content manager with Sesame Workshop. It’s also a chance to model to adults a way to explain what they’re going through to kids and to offer simple strategies to cope. “Even a parent at their most vulnerable — at the worst of their struggle — can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose,” Einhorn said. This summer in Manhattan, The Associated Press looked on as puppeteers, producers and show creators crammed into a small studio in the nonprofit’s Manhattan headquarters to tape some of the upcoming segments. Karli, voiced and manipulated by puppeteer Haley Jenkins, was joined by a young girl — 10-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery. “Hi, it’s me, Karli. I’m here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem — addiction,” Karli told the camera. “My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness,” Salia said. “Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK. My mom was having a hard time with addiction and I felt like my family was the only one going through it. But now I’ve met so many other kids like us. It makes me feel like we’re not alone,” the puppet continued. “Right, we’re not alone,” Salia responded. “And it’s OK to open up to people about our feelings.” In the segment, Karli and Salia each hold up hand-drawn pictures of flowers, with multiple petals representing “big feelings” — like anger, sadness and happiness. They offer ways to feel better, including art and breathing exercises. The segment leans on carefully considered language. Creators prefer “addiction” to “substance abuse” and “recovery” to “sobriety” because those terms are clearer to children. Despite the subject, the mood was light in the room, largely thanks to Jenkins’ ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Alaska Doctor, Nurse Practitioner Face Charges For Mass Opioid Distribution
    An Alaska doctor and nurse practitioner are facing separate federal narcotics charges for allegedly distributing “large amounts of opioids and other powerful narcotics by writing prescriptions for ‘patients’ without medical examinations and lacking medical necessity,” the Department of Justice said Wednesday. Jessica Joyce Spayd, an Anchorage resident who owns a medical clinic in Eagle River, Alaska, and Dr. Lavern R. Davidhizar, a licensed osteopathic physician who owns a clinic of his own in Soldotna, Alaska, could each face prison time for up to 20 years for what U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder described as “the creation of addicts, crime, and sometimes death.” Both allegedly gave out prescriptions to individuals without medical examinations, or when it was unnecessary.  Serious Allegations of Overprescribing Pills Spayd, 48, is accused of prescribing more than four million dosage units of opioid narcotics between 2014 and 2019 to more than 450 supposed patients, which the Justice Department alleges resulted in the death of two individuals. The DOJ said it is continuing to investigate Spayd’s alleged unlawful distribution. She faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in federal prison for the most serious charges alleged in the complaint, the DOJ said. Davidhizar, 74, is accused of prescribing more than 700,000 narcotic pills between 2017 and 2019, activity that the DOJ says earned him the nickname the “Candy Man” because “it was common knowledge that people could obtain pain medication prescriptions from him even though they did not have a legitimate medical need.”  “During that time, the leading medications prescribed, but not limited to, were hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and tramadol,” the Justice Department said in the press release.  Hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone are the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like Spayd, law enforcement continues to investigate Davidhizar, who faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Search warrants for both Spayd and Davidhizar were executed on Tuesday. In a press release, Schroder said that law enforcement is “committed to prosecuting the illegal distribution of controlled substances, whether the crimes are committed by medical professionals or street dealers.” The arrests were made by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  “While facing a frightening opioid drug epidemic, it is truly sad that these two medical professionals would deliberately contribute to this on-going health crisis,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.The CDC estimates that 46 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids; in 2017, the CDC said that such prescriptions were ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • California Medical Marijuana Bills Await Governor’s Signature
    Two medical marijuana bills that were passed by the California legislature in September have been sent to Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom for his approval, but cannabis activists are concerned that he won’t sign the measures before an impending deadline. Senate Bill 305, also known as Ryan’s Law, would allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in California hospitals while Senate Bill 34, the Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, would permit licensed dispensaries to make donations of medical marijuana to patients. Senate Bill 305 was written by Southern California resident Jim Bartell after his experience caring for his son Ryan, who died in 2018 after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. To ease his pain during treatment at a hospital in Washington, Ryan was given high doses of opioids, causing him to sleep most of the time. After four weeks, he had had enough and asked for cannabis instead. “Dad, you need to get me off of this fentanyl, because I don’t want to spend my last few weeks sleeping,” Ryan Bartell told his father at the time. “I promised him I would,” remembers Jim Bartell. Many Hospitals Forbid Medical Marijuana Ryan was not permitted to use cannabis in the hospital he was in, so Jim found one in Seattle that would allow him to and had him transferred. The day after beginning treatment, Ryan awoke alert and without pain. He was then able to spend the last two-and-a-half weeks of his life visiting with family and friends, including his wife and young son, to say goodbye. Only seven weeks after his initial diagnosis, cancer took Ryan’s life at the age of 42. Jim went to work, researching and writing Ryan’s Law so terminally ill patients in California hospitals would be permitted to use medical cannabis. Even though California has approved medical marijuana use for adults and children, both state and federal law currently make it illegal for a patient to take medical cannabis onto hospital grounds. “Ryan’s Law will provide terminally ill patients with an alternative for treating their pain, which will allow them to be alert and conversant and pain-free; and able to interact with family and friends in a meaningful way,” Jim Bartell wrote in an email to High Times. “This is about treating dying patients with dignity and providing them with a quality of life in their final days and weeks.” Bill Would Allow Compassionate Cannabis Donations to Patients The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, Senate Bill 34, would allow licensed dispensaries to ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Flight Attendants Union Wants The FAA To Ban All E-Cigarettes From Airplanes
    As the fervor surrounding the potentially deadly risks of consuming e-cigarettes and other vape products subsides somewhat, another e-cig scare is entering the spotlight. This time, however, the concern isn’t what people are inhaling, but the device itself. Cheap, poorly-made vape pens and e-cigs typically use cheap, poorly-made lithium-ion batteries. And those batteries have a knack for catching on fire. Some have even blown up in people’s faces. That’s why the president of the Association of Flight Attendants wants the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban e-cigarettes from planes entirely. The FAA already bans travelers from putting portable devices with lithium-ion batteries in their checked luggage. But travelers can still carry them in their carry-on bags and personal items. Flight attendants want that rule to change. They say frequent battery-sparked fires are turning them into emergency firefighters. And they’re worried that the next fire could be catastrophic. E-Cig and Vape Batteries Are Catching Fire on Airplanes Flaming batteries have made it into the news before. Famously, the FAA banned travelers from carrying Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to a widespread issue with them catching on fire. But lithium-batteries are in everything these days, in virtually every device people use and carry. They also vary widely in terms of quality and reliability, with the cheapest ones prone to what technicians call “thermal runaway.” The battery starts to heat up, can’t stop, and eventually catches fire or explodes. Put otherwise, these batteries are each potential incendiary devices or explosives. Not what anyone wants to think about at 30,000 feet. The FAA does have policies and regulations in place to minimize the risks associated with cheap rechargeable batteries. In fact, if you ever ship an item with a lithium-ion battery, carriers are required to ship it via ground transportation. But passengers can still take batteries on the plane with them. It would be tough to implement a policy banning everyone’s phones, tablets, computers, headphones, etc. To put the concern in perspective, the FAA says it has received at least 265 reports of incidents involving batteries—since 1991. That data lists some 50 e-cigarette related smoke or fire incidents at airports or on planes. That number exceeds the number of reported incidents for laptops and tablets, battery chargers, spare batteries and cell phones. FAA Signals It Won’t Ban E-Cigarettes Despite Union Request The FAA requires flight attendants to receive firefighting training so they can handle battery fires on a flight. Typically, dealing with a fire means tossing a smoking or flaming ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • MedMen Backs Out Of Huge Deal To Buy PharmaCann
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marijuana stocks have come down hard from their highs a year ago, and the skid isn’t just spooking investors. On Tuesday, MedMen Enterprises Inc., which sells legal cannabis in California and 11 other states, backed out of a blockbuster deal to buy PharmaCann, a Chicago-based marijuana company with operations in eight states. In its announcement, Los Angeles-based MedMen cited the steep pullback in U.S. and Canadian cannabis stocks this year. It noted the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index, a Canadian exchange-traded fund that tracks cannabis stocks, is down 47% since March. “The underperformance has made it increasingly more critical to allocate capital efficiently, given the current industry headwinds,” MedMen said in a news release. The deal was announced in December and was seen as a forerunner of a wave of marijuana industry mergers and acquisitions promising big returns for investors. Billions poured into marijuana stocks last year as investors got on board with the big, multistate operators with the funds to acquire costly licenses in the 11 states where it is legal to sell cannabis products. A flurry of deals in late 2018 and early this year continued to entice investors. But hopes of mergers getting quick regulatory approval soon faded as the U.S. Justice Department began to review the deals for potential antitrust violations. That review process has yet to be completed, though some analysts expect the deals could begin closing as early as this month. “There’s been a delay in M&A activity and that’s prompted investors to step away from the sector until they know M&A activity is going to pick up again,” said Bobby Burleson, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity. “That’s kind of dampened enthusiasm for the sector, because that was one exit path that looked like it was closed temporarily.” Investors have had no shortage of reasons lately to sour on marijuana stocks, beyond the delay in deal approvals. Vaping-related deaths and illnesses have contributed to the slide in some cannabis stocks. States including Massachusetts and Montana have also temporarily banned sales of flavored electronic cigarettes and vaping products in a bid to reduce underage use. Vaping of marijuana products in states where it is legal for adults account for over a quarter of revenue for the sector and, in some cases, 30% or more of sales, Burleson said. “People are waiting to see whether or not there’s been a negative impact over all on industry revenue,” he said. Also weighing on marijuana stocks is a increase in stock market volatility brought ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Cannabis Advocacy Groups Bring 51-foot Inflated Joint To Congress
    Some cannabis advocates are so eager to see the SAFE Banking Act pass the Senate that they’re willing to go large—namely, in the form of a fake 51-foot joint. As Evan Sully reported for Bloomberg, the inflatable protest tool made its way to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, emblazoned with the message, “Congress, Pass the Joint.” Beyond the delicious optics of a fat marijuana cigarette parading its way around the nation’s capital, the legislation in question would protect the cannabis industry from discriminatory business practices on behalf of banks. The SAFE Act would prevent financial institutions from labeling state legal marijuana-related transactions as unlawful activity. It has seen unprecedented movement in Washington, compared to a passel of other legalization and decriminalization measures. The SAFE Act a.k.a. HR 1595 passed the House of Representatives last month with a vote of 321 to 103, and is now awaiting consideration from the Senate—admittedly a higher hurdle, given Republican reluctance to push forward pro-cannabis laws. Currently, activists are awaiting Idaho Republican and Senate Banking Committee Chairperson Mike Crapo, who needs to schedule a vote for HR 1595 to ensure its further movement. Some think it’s likely that the bill will be attached to other legislation, because despite his support for the hemp industry and the sale of CBD products, there is doubt that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will go for a floor vote on the issue.
    Cannabis advocacy and educational organization DCMJ (District of Columbia Marijuana Justice) and its sister organizations are displaying a 51-foot inflatable titled “Congress, Pass the Joint!” on Capitol Hill today. pic.twitter.com/qVuxUlkp7r— Evan Sully (@RealEvanSully) October 8, 2019 At the mega joint demonstration, which was organized by District of Columbia Marijuana Justice and other groups from Maryland, Virginia, and Colorado, activists said the bill could open the door to other kinds of laws to widen access to cannabis. The SAFE Act is “like the first domino for federal legalization,” founder of District of Columbia Marijuana Justice, Adam Eidinger, told Bloomberg. “We need federal regulations for that. We need to come up with a tax system for interstate commerce, but the Banking Act is the first step.” But the SAFE Act has also faced criticism as an opening act for federal cannabis legalization. Critics say that its focus on protecting industry, in a country where there are still people serving lifelong sentences for cannabis-related offenses, is inappropriate. A coalition of human rights groups including the ACLU sent a letter explaining that viewpoint to Speaker of the House ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
 
  • Oregon Enacts Temporary Six-Month Ban of Flavored Vape Products
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon regulators enacted a six-month ban Friday on the sale of flavored nicotine and cannabis vape products in stores and online statewide amid an outbreak of illnesses that has sickened nearly 1,300 people nationwide and killed 26, including two people in Oregon. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the recreational marijuana market, voted unanimously to approve the temporary sales ban on the same day that the Oregon Health Authority, which regulates tobacco sales statewide, filed the ban with the Oregon Secretary of State. Dozens of marijuana processors and vape manufacturers packed the commission room during the vote and some shouted out in frustration during a news conference when an official said the ban would only affect 10 percent of the cannabis vape market. “It’s going to kill immediately 70% of my company’s revenue. It’s based off of what we consider faulty logic and faulty understanding” of the science behind adding flavor to marijuana vape pens, Jason Thompson, the sales director for Eugene, Oregon-based Sublime Solutions, said after the vote. The ban applies to all nicotine and cannabis vapes that contain flavoring derived from anything except pure marijuana terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants and fruits their flavor or scent — for example, the citrusy smell from an orange or the aroma of lavender. Vape pen manufacturers add natural and artificial terpene mixes to nicotine- or cannabis-containing oil to give the products popular flavors, from cherry to mint to candy cane. Earlier this month Gov. Kate Brown ordered the temporary ban. Several other states, including Washington, New York Rhode Island and Michigan, have also imposed temporary bans. The illnesses first appeared in March, with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Federal investigators say that nearly 80 percent of people who have come down with the vaping illness reported using products containing THC, the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana. They have not traced the problem to any single product or ingredient. But investigators are increasingly focused on thickeners and additives found in illegal THC cartridges sold on the black market. The Oregon Health Authority, which is investigating nine cases of illness in Oregon and two deaths, had asked Brown for broader six-month ban on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine and cannabis. The agency also urged Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of the illnesses. TJ Sheehy, manager of the OLCC’s marijuana technical unit, told commissioners before Friday’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • California Will Ban Smoking On All Beaches And State Parks
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will ban smoking on state parks and beaches starting next year under legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law also bans disposing cigar and cigarette waste at parks and beaches. Violations of the law will be punishable by a fine of up to $25. Newsom, a Democrat, announced Friday he had signed the bill into law. It covers smoking traditional cigarettes as well as using electric smoking devices. Smoking will still be allowed in parking lots at beaches and parks. Film and television productions can still allow people to smoke on state property with the proper permits. Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer has been pushing such a ban for years, with lawmakers approving it several times. But former Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat, repeatedly vetoed it. “We have many rules telling us what we can and can’t do and these are wide open spaces,” he wrote last year. Glazer has argued such a rule will protect public health and curtail pollution. California already prohibits smoking at child care centers, within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of farmers’ markets, in government buildings and on public transportation. Cities and counties can also adopt their own smoking laws. California has roughly 280 state parks and 340 miles (547 kilometers) of coastline. A legislative analysis predicts it will cost the state parks system nearly $2 million to put up more than 5,000 signs alerting people to the ban and complying with various state regulations. The law is supported by many medical and environmental groups as well the cities of Huntington Beach and Santa Monica. Many Republicans in the Legislature voted against the measure. The post California Will Ban Smoking On All Beaches And State Parks appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-14
  • Texas Suddenly Stops Issuing Permits For New Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
    Medical cannabis entrepreneurs are looking for answers after the Texas Department of Public Safety unexpectedly shut down its application process for new dispensary permits on Wednesday. The window was originally intended to last through November 1. No reason was given for the abrupt termination of the application window, which had been announced as a month-long period, and was pulled after only a week. “The department will continue to assess dispensing capacity requirements, along with the need for any additional licenses, as we work through recent legislative changes to the program,” a spokesperson from the department commented to a local news site. The closure of the application process is of particular concern because the geographically enormous state’s access to medical marijuana is fairly limited. Last year, only three dispensaries (Surterra Texas, Cansortium Texas, and Compassionate Cultivation) saw their applications approved—the minimum number that the state was required to authorize. 43 businesses submitted applications to the agency. The dearth of licensed dispensaries means that Texan patients have little options when it comes to where they can get their cannabis. Supply is so low that law enforcement officials have expressed concern that residents may cross state lines to get their meds illegally. That worry was multiplied when a New Mexico judge ruled that out of state individuals could qualify to buy medical cannabis at local dispensaries. Executive director of the Texas chapter of NORML, Jax Finkel was caught off guard by the news of the closure of the application process. “I find it concerning that a week into the application process it’s suspended with no notice and no clear communication with doctors, patients or the general public,” he said. Medical Marijuana in Texas In June, Governor Greg Abbot signed into effect House Bill 3703, which expanded qualifying conditions for the state medical cannabis program past its previous limitation to individuals with intractable epilepsy. Now, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, terminal cancer, autism, and certain seizure disorders are included as qualifiers. The state representative who sponsored that legislation, Republican Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth, told reporters that she expected the moratorium on applications to be lifted soon, and that its causes were due to the change in qualifying conditions spurred by the department’s fact-finding sessions on which incurable neurodegenerative disorders should qualify for medical cannabis treatment in the state. “Hang tight for now,” Klick commented. “This is likely just a temporary delay until we know which of the incurable neurodegenerative conditions are appropriate to be included on the list.” Though medical access has expanded ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • Vapers May No Longer Pay Less For Life Insurance Than Smokers
    A major U.S. insurance company is planning to increase life insurance premiums for its customers who vape. The move by Prudential will bring rates for customers who use e-cigarettes into alignment with those charged smokers, the company said in a statement on Thursday. “Prudential will reclassify users of e-cigarettes to treat them as smokers and in line with our cigarette smoking guidelines,” a company spokesman said. “Smokers typically will have higher-priced policies.” The change will go into effect for customers applying for individual life insurance policies. Smokers typically pay about 50% more per year than nonsmokers, according to quotes from online insurance sites. The difference could add up to an additional $350 to $800 per year, depending on the health of the applicant and other factors. The move by Prudential, a Fortune 500 company that provides insurance and other financial services in more than 40 countries, comes in the midst of the ongoing bout of serious lung injuries that have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. As of this week, at least 1,100 cases of the severe lung illnesses associated with vaping and 23 deaths have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Increased attention on vaping over the past few months and linkages to a few deaths and multiple illnesses, have resulted in warnings from the FDA, federal government and some states banning the use of flavored e-cigarettes,” the spokesman said. Risks of Vaping Unknown Loretta Worters, the vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, said that the risks of vaping are not yet known. “There hasn’t been enough statistical data to say whether or not they’re as bad as traditional cigarettes. Let’s not forget that it took 20 or 30 years before that connection was made,” said Worters.  “Before you pick up that e-cigarette, people should ask themselves, ‘Is it worth the risk?’ “she added. The federal government and several states have announced that they will ban flavored e-cigarettes while Massachusetts has gone even further, banning all vaping devices. But Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, an industry trade group, said that the rash of lung illnesses is being unfairly attributed to legal nicotine e-cigarettes, leading to headlines critical of the industry. “They are the result of so many governmental officials spreading misinformation and doubt about nicotine vaping products,” he said. “Those illnesses and deaths are almost exclusively caused by the use of illicit and contaminated THC (marijuana) cartridges.” Although the lung illnesses have ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • ACLU Sues Pennsylvania County To Allow Parolees, Probationers To Use Cannabis
    The American Civil Liberties Union is taking on a Pennsylvania county over a new policy that bars people with state medical marijuana cards to use the drug if they were on probation.  In a lawsuit filed this month on behalf of several petitioners, the state chapter of the ACLU asserts that those rules issued by the Lebanon County, Pennsylvania violate state law. Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and the state permits its use for patients suffering from roughly two dozen different medical conditions. The county’s court system and probation department announced last month that the new policy would take effect on October 1. One of the petitioners in the suit filed is Melissa Gass, a 41-year-old woman who uses medical cannabis to treat grand mal seizures from her epilepsy.  She is also on probation in Lebanon County stemming from a 2016 arrest for simple assault following an altercation she had with her husband. Gass says she stopped using marijuana upon learning of the county’s new policy, going a month without it and suffering a sharp uptick in seizures as a result. “Medical marijuana has made all of the difference in improving my quality of life,” she said in an ACLU press release. “When I started using cannabis to treat my epilepsy, I went from having multiple seizures a day to having one every few months. Medical marijuana has been a lifesaver for me. This policy is a cruel blow.” According to the suit, Gass “had for years been successfully self-medicating with marijuana to control her seizures,” and that marijuana had “allowed her to dispense with the prescriptions that caused adverse mental health symptoms.” But Gass stopped using marijuana after her probation began in 2018 and, according to the suit, immediately resumed suffering from seizures. She obtained a medical marijuana card in February, but was told by a probation officer last month that, due to the policy change, she would have to stop using medical marijuana.  Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that the county is “endangering our clients’ well-being.”  ““Medical marijuana gives our clients’ their lives back and helps them manage their daily challenges,” Shuford said. Federal Law vs State Law County officials have defended the policy change on the grounds that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director Witold Walczak disagrees. “The plain language in the medical marijuana law shows that the legislature intended to protect all patients, including those on probation,” Walczak said in the press release. “Judges may ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-11
  • Victims Of Opioid Abuse To Help Decide How Much Purdue Pharma Should Pay
    Victims of opioid addiction weren’t in the room when OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma persuaded half the state attorneys general to settle claims over the company’s role in the nationwide overdose epidemic. Now that Purdue is in federal bankruptcy court, four people whose lives were touched by addiction have important seats at the table — and could force fundamental changes to the tentative deal. They are part of a bankruptcy committee that will play a major role in deciding how much Purdue will pay and potentially how that money is to be spent. The committee can investigate Purdue’s operations and possibly even go after more money from the members of the Sackler family who own the company. They will play a central role in evaluating the tentative settlement reached by the attorneys general representing roughly half the states. The four are a mother and a grandfather of children born dependent on opioids, a man in recovery from addiction and a mother who lost a son to overdose. Together, they could be an emotionally persuasive minority on the nine-member Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed by the U.S. trustee overseeing the bankruptcy. “There’s not a shy person in the bunch,” said addiction treatment advocate and lobbyist Carol McDaid, who attended the hearing when the committee candidates were interviewed and chosen. The four victims know how to make their voices heard, she said. It’s unusual for a creditors committee to include private citizens. The other members are more typical: a medical center, a health insurer, a prescription benefit management company, the manufacturer of an addiction treatment drug and a pension insurer. The committee can hire lawyers and financial experts paid for by the debtor — in this case, Purdue, said Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. It can investigate issues such as the company’s value and even whether the Sackler family has improperly taken money out of it — something some state attorneys general are investigating. Opioids, including prescription drugs and illegal ones such as heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, have been linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. Thousands of infants have been born to mothers who were taking opioids while pregnant, and two committee members represent those children. Kara Trainor is a mother of a child born dependent on opioids. Walter Lee Salmons, a grandfather, is helping raise two affected children. Ryan Hampton is an activist in recovery from opioid addiction. Cheryl Juaire lost her 23-year-old son to a heroin ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Judge Says Police Seizure Of 900 Pounds Of Marijuana Was Illegal
    Months after two men were arrested for trying to transport large amounts of cannabis through Minnesota, a judge has set them free and dismissed the original charges. At issue in the case was whether or not the search of the vehicle that initially led cops to discover the weed was legal. And on Tuesday, the judge hearing the case ruled that the cops’ search was unconstitutional. Marijuana Bust in March The whole thing started back in March of this year. That’s when state trooper Aaron Myren pulled over two men from Montana who were driving through Minnesota. The men traveling inside the truck were identified as 31-year-old Jared Michael Desroches and 24-year-old Alexander Clifford Gordon. According to Myren, he became suspicious because the two men were towing a camper trailer behind their truck. Myren claimed that it is unusual to see a camper during that time of the year. Additionally, Myren also claimed that the vehicle was swerving and driving unsteadily. Finally, Myren decided to pull over the vehicle when he noticed a large crack in the windshield. After Myren pulled them over, the two men reportedly said they had some marijuana in the vehicle with them. At that point, Myren and the police dog he had with him apparently began searching the vehicle and the trailer. That’s when they discovered that the trailer was filled with weed. Specifically, the trailer contained 900 pounds of weed, 406 one-gram containers of concentrates, 112 containers of wax, and at least $15,000 in cash. Myren arrested the men and seized the weed. The two men were initially charged with two counts of first-degree controlled substances sale. Judge Rules Vehicle Search Was Unconstitutional Now, months later, District Judge Timothy Churchwell has dismissed the charges. He ruled that the vehicle search conducted by Myren was unconstitutional. As a result, it was illegal for cops to seize the marijuana, and without that, there is no evidence to bring against Desroches and Gordon. Judge Churchwell explained that it was allowable for Myren to pull over the vehicle because of the cracked windshield. But beyond that, the judge said, Myren had no probable cause to conduct any searches of the men’s truck or camper trailer. Interestingly, local media reported that Myren’s dashcam footage played a key role in the judge’s decision. Specifically, the footage threw much of Myren’s testimony into question. For example, Myren claimed that it is unusual for campers to be on the road in March. However, footage from the incident showed a number of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • School Districts Across The Country Are Filing A Lawsuit Against JUUL
    As investigations into the cause of a nationwide vape-linked health crisis continue amid widening bans on vaping products, school districts across the country are setting their sights on JUUL Laboratories, the company that makes the massively popular JUUL e-cigarette device. School districts say JUUL is primarily responsible for the dramatic uptick in vaping among young people and teens, and they’re moving to sue the e-cigarette company for damages. So far, four school districts have filed lawsuits against JUUL. School officials say responding to the widespread use of vaping among students has cost them considerable time and resources and caused record numbers of students to miss class due to disciplinary actions for nicotine violations. Three of the lawsuits also claim JUUL knowingly marketed its flavored e-cigarette products to minors. JUUL Labs has long-denied that it markets its products to teenagers. The company says its e-cigarettes are designed to help people quit using conventional tobacco products. So far, JUUL has not commented on the lawsuits from the school districts. School Districts Could Kick off Wave of Lawsuits Against Juul “As smart as our students are, they don’t understand the long-term ramifications of vaping and the amount of addictive chemicals they are dealing with,” said superintendent of Olathe Public Schools in Kansas City John Allison. Olathe serves roughly 30,0000 students, and it’s one of the first school districts in the country to sue JUUL over teen vaping. Three other districts, La Conner School District in Washington, Three Village Central School District in New York and Francis Howell School District in Missouri have also filed lawsuits against JUUL. Jonathan Kieffer, an attorney with the law firm Wagstaff & Cartmell in Kansas City, Missouri who’s representing three of the districts, expects the lawsuits to kick off a wave of similar legal actions against JUUL. “School districts have decided to go on the offensive to combat the epidemic of youth vaping in the nation’s schools,” said Kieffer. “The lawsuits that we filed were the first in what we fully anticipate will be many, many more to follow.” But school districts could have a tough go making their case, and it isn’t certain yet whether courts will permit the lawsuits to go to trial. In the past, school districts have sued gunmakers, opioid manufacturers and tobacco companies on the grounds that they can be held liable for failing to protect their students from known harms. Schools have also pursued litigation against lead paint manufacturers to recover the costs of removing the toxic material. Schools ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Mexican President Says Cannabis Legalization “Not On Our Agenda”
    With national expectations of impending cannabis legalization running high, Mexican President Andrés López Manuel Obrador dealt a blow to his country’s marijuana movement at his daily morning press conference on Thursday. The president told reporters that marijuana legalization “is not on our agenda.” AMLO’s words seemed at odds with the fact that members of his own Morena Party have indicated that a vote on marijuana legalization is imminent. Just yesterday, the president’s Secretary of Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero smiled and held aloft what sure looked like a joint on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies. The country’s Supreme Court has mandated that the Mexican legislature regulate marijuana by this month, and asked the Health Department to clarify regulations surrounding medical marijuana. Lawmakers have held a series of public sessions to solicit opinions on how legalization should look in Mexico. But AMLO’s words this morning suggested that he does not share the rest of his government’s dedication to marijuana regulation. “With all respect, we haven’t considered that,” he said at his daily early morning press event. “I’m not ruling it out, but it is not on our agenda. We are dealing with other important issues.” AMLO Clarifies Priorities AMLO mentioned health, labor issues, and problems affecting the nation’s young people as examples of his administration’s priorities that come before cannabis legalization. He also reminded reporters of an anti-drug addiction campaign that his administration launched this summer, in collaboration with various religious institutions. The president did indicate, however, that if lawmakers do approve a legalization plan, his administration will cooperate. Last year, Sánchez Cordero proposed the Morena Party’s first plan to legalize marijuana. Widely seen as one of the country’s leaders when it comes to cannabis legalization, she made headlines only yesterday when she accepted the gift of what looked like a joint on the floor of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. Sánchez Cordero was passed the unlit joint by independent legislator Ana Lucía Riojas Martínez, who was delivering a speech in favor of drug regulation as an alternative to the country’s creation of a new federal law enforcement branch. “One step towards building peace would be legalizing the consumption of drugs, a proposal that you yourself made,” Riojas Martínez said, addressing Sánchez Cordero. “And so, to conclude my presentation, I’ve brought you a gift as reminder of the proposal that you made.” She then handed Sánchez Cordero what appeared to be a joint, which the Minister of the Interior held aloft, smiling. When asked about the exchange, AMLO merely told ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • New Sesame Street Character Has a Mom Battling Addiction
    NEW YORK (AP) — “Sesame Street” is taking a new step to try to help kids navigate life in America — it’s tackling the opioid crisis. Sesame Workshop is exploring the backstory of Karli, a bright green, yellow-haired friend of Elmo’s whose mother is battling addiction. The initiative is part of the Sesame Street in Communities resources available online. “Sesame Street” creators said they turned to the issue of addiction since data shows 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. “There’s nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective,” said Kama Einhorn, a senior content manager with Sesame Workshop. It’s also a chance to model to adults a way to explain what they’re going through to kids and to offer simple strategies to cope. “Even a parent at their most vulnerable — at the worst of their struggle — can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose,” Einhorn said. This summer in Manhattan, The Associated Press looked on as puppeteers, producers and show creators crammed into a small studio in the nonprofit’s Manhattan headquarters to tape some of the upcoming segments. Karli, voiced and manipulated by puppeteer Haley Jenkins, was joined by a young girl — 10-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery. “Hi, it’s me, Karli. I’m here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem — addiction,” Karli told the camera. “My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness,” Salia said. “Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK. My mom was having a hard time with addiction and I felt like my family was the only one going through it. But now I’ve met so many other kids like us. It makes me feel like we’re not alone,” the puppet continued. “Right, we’re not alone,” Salia responded. “And it’s OK to open up to people about our feelings.” In the segment, Karli and Salia each hold up hand-drawn pictures of flowers, with multiple petals representing “big feelings” — like anger, sadness and happiness. They offer ways to feel better, including art and breathing exercises. The segment leans on carefully considered language. Creators prefer “addiction” to “substance abuse” and “recovery” to “sobriety” because those terms are clearer to children. Despite the subject, the mood was light in the room, largely thanks to Jenkins’ ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • Alaska Doctor, Nurse Practitioner Face Charges For Mass Opioid Distribution
    An Alaska doctor and nurse practitioner are facing separate federal narcotics charges for allegedly distributing “large amounts of opioids and other powerful narcotics by writing prescriptions for ‘patients’ without medical examinations and lacking medical necessity,” the Department of Justice said Wednesday. Jessica Joyce Spayd, an Anchorage resident who owns a medical clinic in Eagle River, Alaska, and Dr. Lavern R. Davidhizar, a licensed osteopathic physician who owns a clinic of his own in Soldotna, Alaska, could each face prison time for up to 20 years for what U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder described as “the creation of addicts, crime, and sometimes death.” Both allegedly gave out prescriptions to individuals without medical examinations, or when it was unnecessary.  Serious Allegations of Overprescribing Pills Spayd, 48, is accused of prescribing more than four million dosage units of opioid narcotics between 2014 and 2019 to more than 450 supposed patients, which the Justice Department alleges resulted in the death of two individuals. The DOJ said it is continuing to investigate Spayd’s alleged unlawful distribution. She faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in federal prison for the most serious charges alleged in the complaint, the DOJ said. Davidhizar, 74, is accused of prescribing more than 700,000 narcotic pills between 2017 and 2019, activity that the DOJ says earned him the nickname the “Candy Man” because “it was common knowledge that people could obtain pain medication prescriptions from him even though they did not have a legitimate medical need.”  “During that time, the leading medications prescribed, but not limited to, were hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and tramadol,” the Justice Department said in the press release.  Hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone are the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like Spayd, law enforcement continues to investigate Davidhizar, who faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Search warrants for both Spayd and Davidhizar were executed on Tuesday. In a press release, Schroder said that law enforcement is “committed to prosecuting the illegal distribution of controlled substances, whether the crimes are committed by medical professionals or street dealers.” The arrests were made by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  “While facing a frightening opioid drug epidemic, it is truly sad that these two medical professionals would deliberately contribute to this on-going health crisis,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.The CDC estimates that 46 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids; in 2017, the CDC said that such prescriptions were ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-10
  • California Medical Marijuana Bills Await Governor’s Signature
    Two medical marijuana bills that were passed by the California legislature in September have been sent to Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom for his approval, but cannabis activists are concerned that he won’t sign the measures before an impending deadline. Senate Bill 305, also known as Ryan’s Law, would allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in California hospitals while Senate Bill 34, the Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, would permit licensed dispensaries to make donations of medical marijuana to patients. Senate Bill 305 was written by Southern California resident Jim Bartell after his experience caring for his son Ryan, who died in 2018 after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. To ease his pain during treatment at a hospital in Washington, Ryan was given high doses of opioids, causing him to sleep most of the time. After four weeks, he had had enough and asked for cannabis instead. “Dad, you need to get me off of this fentanyl, because I don’t want to spend my last few weeks sleeping,” Ryan Bartell told his father at the time. “I promised him I would,” remembers Jim Bartell. Many Hospitals Forbid Medical Marijuana Ryan was not permitted to use cannabis in the hospital he was in, so Jim found one in Seattle that would allow him to and had him transferred. The day after beginning treatment, Ryan awoke alert and without pain. He was then able to spend the last two-and-a-half weeks of his life visiting with family and friends, including his wife and young son, to say goodbye. Only seven weeks after his initial diagnosis, cancer took Ryan’s life at the age of 42. Jim went to work, researching and writing Ryan’s Law so terminally ill patients in California hospitals would be permitted to use medical cannabis. Even though California has approved medical marijuana use for adults and children, both state and federal law currently make it illegal for a patient to take medical cannabis onto hospital grounds. “Ryan’s Law will provide terminally ill patients with an alternative for treating their pain, which will allow them to be alert and conversant and pain-free; and able to interact with family and friends in a meaningful way,” Jim Bartell wrote in an email to High Times. “This is about treating dying patients with dignity and providing them with a quality of life in their final days and weeks.” Bill Would Allow Compassionate Cannabis Donations to Patients The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, Senate Bill 34, would allow licensed dispensaries to ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Flight Attendants Union Wants The FAA To Ban All E-Cigarettes From Airplanes
    As the fervor surrounding the potentially deadly risks of consuming e-cigarettes and other vape products subsides somewhat, another e-cig scare is entering the spotlight. This time, however, the concern isn’t what people are inhaling, but the device itself. Cheap, poorly-made vape pens and e-cigs typically use cheap, poorly-made lithium-ion batteries. And those batteries have a knack for catching on fire. Some have even blown up in people’s faces. That’s why the president of the Association of Flight Attendants wants the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban e-cigarettes from planes entirely. The FAA already bans travelers from putting portable devices with lithium-ion batteries in their checked luggage. But travelers can still carry them in their carry-on bags and personal items. Flight attendants want that rule to change. They say frequent battery-sparked fires are turning them into emergency firefighters. And they’re worried that the next fire could be catastrophic. E-Cig and Vape Batteries Are Catching Fire on Airplanes Flaming batteries have made it into the news before. Famously, the FAA banned travelers from carrying Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to a widespread issue with them catching on fire. But lithium-batteries are in everything these days, in virtually every device people use and carry. They also vary widely in terms of quality and reliability, with the cheapest ones prone to what technicians call “thermal runaway.” The battery starts to heat up, can’t stop, and eventually catches fire or explodes. Put otherwise, these batteries are each potential incendiary devices or explosives. Not what anyone wants to think about at 30,000 feet. The FAA does have policies and regulations in place to minimize the risks associated with cheap rechargeable batteries. In fact, if you ever ship an item with a lithium-ion battery, carriers are required to ship it via ground transportation. But passengers can still take batteries on the plane with them. It would be tough to implement a policy banning everyone’s phones, tablets, computers, headphones, etc. To put the concern in perspective, the FAA says it has received at least 265 reports of incidents involving batteries—since 1991. That data lists some 50 e-cigarette related smoke or fire incidents at airports or on planes. That number exceeds the number of reported incidents for laptops and tablets, battery chargers, spare batteries and cell phones. FAA Signals It Won’t Ban E-Cigarettes Despite Union Request The FAA requires flight attendants to receive firefighting training so they can handle battery fires on a flight. Typically, dealing with a fire means tossing a smoking or flaming ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • MedMen Backs Out Of Huge Deal To Buy PharmaCann
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marijuana stocks have come down hard from their highs a year ago, and the skid isn’t just spooking investors. On Tuesday, MedMen Enterprises Inc., which sells legal cannabis in California and 11 other states, backed out of a blockbuster deal to buy PharmaCann, a Chicago-based marijuana company with operations in eight states. In its announcement, Los Angeles-based MedMen cited the steep pullback in U.S. and Canadian cannabis stocks this year. It noted the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index, a Canadian exchange-traded fund that tracks cannabis stocks, is down 47% since March. “The underperformance has made it increasingly more critical to allocate capital efficiently, given the current industry headwinds,” MedMen said in a news release. The deal was announced in December and was seen as a forerunner of a wave of marijuana industry mergers and acquisitions promising big returns for investors. Billions poured into marijuana stocks last year as investors got on board with the big, multistate operators with the funds to acquire costly licenses in the 11 states where it is legal to sell cannabis products. A flurry of deals in late 2018 and early this year continued to entice investors. But hopes of mergers getting quick regulatory approval soon faded as the U.S. Justice Department began to review the deals for potential antitrust violations. That review process has yet to be completed, though some analysts expect the deals could begin closing as early as this month. “There’s been a delay in M&A activity and that’s prompted investors to step away from the sector until they know M&A activity is going to pick up again,” said Bobby Burleson, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity. “That’s kind of dampened enthusiasm for the sector, because that was one exit path that looked like it was closed temporarily.” Investors have had no shortage of reasons lately to sour on marijuana stocks, beyond the delay in deal approvals. Vaping-related deaths and illnesses have contributed to the slide in some cannabis stocks. States including Massachusetts and Montana have also temporarily banned sales of flavored electronic cigarettes and vaping products in a bid to reduce underage use. Vaping of marijuana products in states where it is legal for adults account for over a quarter of revenue for the sector and, in some cases, 30% or more of sales, Burleson said. “People are waiting to see whether or not there’s been a negative impact over all on industry revenue,” he said. Also weighing on marijuana stocks is a increase in stock market volatility brought ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Cannabis Advocacy Groups Bring 51-foot Inflated Joint To Congress
    Some cannabis advocates are so eager to see the SAFE Banking Act pass the Senate that they’re willing to go large—namely, in the form of a fake 51-foot joint. As Evan Sully reported for Bloomberg, the inflatable protest tool made its way to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, emblazoned with the message, “Congress, Pass the Joint.” Beyond the delicious optics of a fat marijuana cigarette parading its way around the nation’s capital, the legislation in question would protect the cannabis industry from discriminatory business practices on behalf of banks. The SAFE Act would prevent financial institutions from labeling state legal marijuana-related transactions as unlawful activity. It has seen unprecedented movement in Washington, compared to a passel of other legalization and decriminalization measures. The SAFE Act a.k.a. HR 1595 passed the House of Representatives last month with a vote of 321 to 103, and is now awaiting consideration from the Senate—admittedly a higher hurdle, given Republican reluctance to push forward pro-cannabis laws. Currently, activists are awaiting Idaho Republican and Senate Banking Committee Chairperson Mike Crapo, who needs to schedule a vote for HR 1595 to ensure its further movement. Some think it’s likely that the bill will be attached to other legislation, because despite his support for the hemp industry and the sale of CBD products, there is doubt that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will go for a floor vote on the issue.
    Cannabis advocacy and educational organization DCMJ (District of Columbia Marijuana Justice) and its sister organizations are displaying a 51-foot inflatable titled “Congress, Pass the Joint!” on Capitol Hill today. pic.twitter.com/qVuxUlkp7r— Evan Sully (@RealEvanSully) October 8, 2019 At the mega joint demonstration, which was organized by District of Columbia Marijuana Justice and other groups from Maryland, Virginia, and Colorado, activists said the bill could open the door to other kinds of laws to widen access to cannabis. The SAFE Act is “like the first domino for federal legalization,” founder of District of Columbia Marijuana Justice, Adam Eidinger, told Bloomberg. “We need federal regulations for that. We need to come up with a tax system for interstate commerce, but the Banking Act is the first step.” But the SAFE Act has also faced criticism as an opening act for federal cannabis legalization. Critics say that its focus on protecting industry, in a country where there are still people serving lifelong sentences for cannabis-related offenses, is inappropriate. A coalition of human rights groups including the ACLU sent a letter explaining that viewpoint to Speaker of the House ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09