• New Study Examines Why THC Produces Negative Effects in Some Users
    It’s a scene all-too familiar to stoners. A joint is passed around at a party, shuffling from hand to hand amid a plume of smoke, until it arrives in the possession of a friend who—come to think of it, you’ve actually never gotten high with. And then your learn why: weed, he says, makes me anxious, paranoid. For him, unlike the rest of the party-goers, this is not an escape.  It can be a confounding mystery to those for whom cannabis elicits pleasure, ecstasy, munchies, non-stop giggles. But now, new research released this month offers crucial insight on those differences. The research, conducted by Western University in Ontario, Canada and published in Scientific Reports, offers a unique window into the disparate effects of cannabis—and more specifically, its chief psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—has on the brain. The researchers used rats to learn how THC can more acutely affect different parts of the brain, discovering that if the front is more sensitive, the results of consuming cannabis will yield more pleasurable effects, be they relaxation or euphoria. But if the back part of your brain is more affected, you’ll likely experience more adverse reactions, such as paranoia or fear. One of the study’s researchers, Steven R. Laviolette, told Yahoo that the study offers a “very new finding.”  “There is not too much known about why there is such differences in response to THC,” he says. “We know a lot about the long-term and short-term effects…But there is very little known about the specific areas in the brain that are responsible for independently controlling those effects.” Laviolette and his colleagues will now begin exploring the possibility of testing the hypothesis on an actual human brain. “Be aware that we’re starting to unravel some of the more intricate details of how cannabis is affecting the brain,” he explains. “Monitor your use and if you’re experiencing negative side effects, talk to your physician.” The findings can be seen as one of a litany of attempts to fill the void in credible cannabis research. While states across America and countries around the world continue to move toward lifting the longstanding prohibitions on recreational pot use, there remains a remarkable lack in studies on the actual effects of cannabis. That gap is being closed in part thanks to the research pouring out of Canada. A study released last month out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, for example, found a correlation between cannabis use among pregnant women and preterm birth. In May, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10
  • New Study Finds Decreased Rates of Teen Pot Use in States With Legal Cannabis
    A new study has found that the rate of cannabis use by teens has gone down in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Results of the research were published online on Monday by JAMA Pediatrics. To conduct the study, researchers analyzed survey data on marijuana use by 1.4 million teenagers from 1993 to 2017. During that time period, 27 states and Washington, D.C. legalized medical marijuana, while seven states legalized the recreational use of cannabis. The study found that states with laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis saw an 8 percent drop in the rate of teens who reported using marijuana during the previous 30 days and a decrease of 9 percent in the rate of frequent cannabis use. Frequent use was defined as the use of marijuana at least 10 times during the previous 30 days. Mark Anderson, an associate professor in agricultural economics at Montana State University in Bozeman and lead author of the study, noted that states that had only legalized medical marijuana did not see an associated drop in teen use. “Just to be clear we found no effect on teen use following legalization for medical purposes, but evidence of a possible reduction in use following legalization for recreational purposes,” said Anderson. The researcher theorized in an email to Reuters that the drop in teen use in states with legal recreational cannabis could be caused by a decline in the number of people selling marijuana on the black market. “It may actually be more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age,” wrote Anderson. “Selling to minors becomes a relatively more risky proposition after the passage of these laws.” Helping Teens Make Informed Decisions Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor of developmental and educational psychology at Boston College who wasn’t involved in the research, said that legalization may lead to “increased parental supervision or discussions between parents and adolescents regarding the dangers of marijuana use in reaction to legalization and the resultant increases in political and news attention and perceived availability.” Dr. Ellen Rome, head of the Center for Adolescent Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s in Ohio, who also did not participate in the research, said that for conversations between parents and teens to be effective, two-way communication is key. “Have frank discussions with your teen, where you ask first what they believe about teens and marijuana use before and after legalization,” Rome said. “Then share your own beliefs, and encourage dialogue – ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Arkansas Group to File Ballot Petitions to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
    A group in Arkansas will take an early but meaningful step this week toward ultimately making recreational marijuana use legal in the state.  The Drug Policy Education Group, a nonprofit based in Arkansas, said it plans to file a pair of ballot petitions with the secretary of state on Wednesday with the intention of getting two proposals on the ballot next year. One proposal, called the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, or AAUCA, would give authority to a state agency, the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, to issue licenses to would-be dispensaries and to establish a set of rules pertaining to the number of licenses awarded and limits on cannabis cultivation.  Under the amendment, dispensaries would be permitted to sell marijuana to those over the age of 21 beginning in December of 2020. The other proposal, known as the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment, or AMEA, would be aimed at rectifying previous pot convictions by permitting those who were busted for paraphernalia or possession of fewer than 16 ounces to petition a court for release from prison or expungement of the conviction.  Melissa Fults, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Education Group, told local ABC affiliate KATV that “[o]ther states have seen better, safer outcomes by removing the black-market elements created by the illegal sale of cannabis.” “The truth is that cannabis is safer than alcohol while prohibition is ineffective and racially biased. It has done far more harm in our community than cannabis,” Fults told the station. The group will begin circulating the petitions for signatures once the proposals are filed on Wednesday. In order to qualify for the 2020 ballot, the group must round up signatures equivalent to at least 10% of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.  If approved, the amendments would upend what the Marijuana Policy Project calls “some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation.” Possession of fewer than four ounces of marijuana can land you in jail for up to a year; in 2012, according to the MPP, there were at least 5,700 marijuana arrests, 90% of which were for posssesion.  While recreational pot may be illegal in the state, Arkansas’ fledgling medical cannabis program is off to a booming start. Voters in the state approved an amendment legalizing the treatment in 2016, although the law’s implementation was delayed considerably by disagreements among Arkansas lawmakers. But after fits and starts, the first dispensary opened in May and, since then, sales of medical marijuana have ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Jay-Z Announces Partnership With Top Cannabis Company Caliva
    Jay-Z is one of the most dynamic figures in contemporary culture. He is a master of transformation, a modern-day alchemist who seems capable of turning virtually anything he touches into part of an ever-growing cultural, artistic, business, and financial empire. Now, he’s turning his attention to the legal cannabis space. And in typical Jay-Z form, his entry into the legal industry is promising to be transformative—not only for the artist but for the industry as a whole. Jay-Z Announces New Partnership with Caliva High Times has just learned that Jay-Z has formally entered a partnership with Caliva, a leading cannabis company based in California. Founded in 2015, Caliva currently owns 14 cannabis licenses and is one of California’s largest producers of cannabis and cannabis products, cultivating nearly 11,000 pounds of cannabis annually. Under the terms of the new partnership, Jay-Z will take over as Caliva’s Chief Brand Strategist. In this role, he will spearhead the development of the company’s industry-facing and customer-facing brand. At this time, it is unclear exactly when Jay-Z will take over his new post. Similarly, the company has not yet disclosed any financial details regarding the partnership. An Industry-Wide Milestone? For many in the cannabis space, Jay-Z’s formal entry into the legal industry has implications that extend far beyond his work with Caliva. Specifically, many see Jay-Z’s presence in the industry as a strong indicator of just how much cannabis’ cultural, legal, and economic status has evolved. His entry is also being hailed as a marker of where the legal industry is today and how big it’s becoming. “Jay is one of the most successful businessmen of our time, and one of the largest brands in entertainment himself,” said High Times CEO and President Kraig Fox. “As we’ve said before, 2019 is the year of the brand for cannabis. Jay-Z entering the space is clear evidence of that.” Transforming the Cannabis Industry Given Jay-Z’s natural ability to transform, the Brooklyn pusher-turned worldwide musical phenom-turned business mogul-turned cannabis industry leader is already focusing on transforming the industry. Specifically, he’s taking aim at social inequities that continue to plague cannabis both under the War on Drugs and within the legal industry. This is familiar territory for the rapper, who released a short film in 2016 in which he called the War on Drugs an “epic fail.” According to Caliva, Jay-Z will focus on creating programs to enable formerly incarcerated folks to enter the legal ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • New Subscription Service Ships Concentrates Directly to Consumers
    California cannabis manufacturer Apex Extractions announced on Tuesday that it is launching a new subscription program that will deliver top-quality cannabis concentrates directly to California consumers. The Apex Fresh Club, as the program is known, will send a selection of three concentrates with cannabis sourced from some of California’s finest cultivators to a discerning clientele. The Fresh Club Scott Benson and Ted Hicks, who share the reigns as co-chief executive officers at the company, said in a press release that the new service will allow consumers who have come to trust the quality of Apex Extractions a regular opportunity to enjoy its premier offerings. “The response to our products has been overwhelming, and optimizing our clients’ experience is our biggest priority,” they said. “Introducing this subscription service will help us get our product in the hands of cannabis connoisseurs quickly providing the best possible experience.” Benson said in an interview with High Times that The Apex Fresh Club will be a way to connect artisan growers in California with consumers who have an affinity for top-shelf cannabis concentrates, allowing them to realize the full potential of each strain offered. “I think this subscription program is really important for people who want great products and we really want to serve that market,” said Benson. Each month, subscribers will receive a curated selection of three of the finest concentrates currently available from Apex for $139, including state excise tax. Offerings will feature some of the best concentrates available from California’s small-crop cultivators, including winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup.  The club will be the best opportunity to acquire the concentrates that are most in demand, Benson noted, saying that “some of them are going to be really rare because it’s going to be really small boutique batches.” Cutting Out the Middle Man The key to bringing cannabis connoisseurs the finest quality concentrates, he explained, is getting them into the hands of customers as quickly as possible. To do this, the Apex Fresh Club avoids the usual retail supply chain, allowing it’s delivery partners to deliver each month’s selections at the peak of freshness, giving them the opportunity to enjoy each concentrate while terpene and flavor profiles are at their best.  “And if you love it as a subscriber,” Benson added, “then it will be at the stores afterward and it’ll still have a great taste profile, but you will have gotten to experience it first, at it’s prime.” When customers sign up for the Apex Fresh Club on the company’s website, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Israeli College Offers Medical Cannabis Degrees
    A college in Israel will soon offer an undergraduate degree in medical cannabis, becoming the first institution in the country to offer such a program.  The school, Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, made the announcement Monday, saying that incoming students will be able to earn a bachelor of arts degree in behavioral sciences with a specialization in medicinal marijuana. Medical cannabis, the school said, represents one of Israel’s “most prosperous industries.”  Cannabis in Israel Israel has a long, meaningful history with cannabis. The Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam is recognized as one of the first individuals to both isolate the psychoactive property of marijuana and realize its potential therapeutic benefit. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since the 1990s, and in the spring, the Israeli government decriminalized pot, though it remains illegal. And with its hospitable climate, Israel is poised to emerge as one of the leaders in the burgeoning cannabis industry; the Los Angeles Times reported in May that the country has “ dedicated thousands of acres and millions of dollars to cultivating the plant under controlled conditions” and “nearly 100 start-ups producing cannabis-based medicines and other products.” Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, which is located in the Jezreel Valley of Israel and boasts an enrollment of a little more than 5,000 students, said its newly established program will be open in the next academic year.  “The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while academizing the field,” said the head of the program, Dr. Efrat Barel, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “The extensive educational base will enable graduates to understand all required aspects, and their integration into the workforce will bring added value to the sector.” Making Medical Cannabis Specialists Itzhak Harpaz, the president of Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, said that the “cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago.” “Israel needs and can lead this industry, too,” Harpaz said. “This industry is already characterized by many new ventures and technologies, and it is already clear that its economic potential can reach tens of billions of dollars. We are proud to be the first to develop an academic specialization in the field of medical cannabis.” Such degrees are likely to become more common, as the number of countries, cities and states in America with legal marijuana — be it recreational or medicinal — continues to multiply. Last month, the University of Maryland announced that it would introduce a new masters degree ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-08
  • Ontario to Issue Eight New Cannabis Licenses to First Nations Communities
    Brick-and-mortar cannabis stores have so far been hard to come by in Ontario. But come October, Canada’s most populous province should have 50 more marijuana shops, and eight of them will be on First Nations reserves. On July 3, the Government of Ontario announced plans for a second round of retail store authorizations. But the process of applying for retail licenses will be different for First Nations communities. Unlike the “expression of interest” lottery the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will use to award 42 other private cannabis retail store licenses, it will award the eight licenses to First Nations communities on a first come, first served basis. Eight of 50 New Ontario Pot Shop Licenses Will Go to First Nations Businesses Unlike other Canadian provinces, Ontario has been slow to establish a private retail cannabis market. 25 privately operated retail locations were slated to open across the province on April 1, but some have yet to open their doors. The reason for the 25-shop cap, according to the AGCO, was a shortage in the national supply of cannabis. At the same time, limited access to licensed retail stores helped to re-entrench the unregulated cannabis market Ontario officials are keen to dismantle. And now that the national supply issue is easing, the AGCO is authorizing an additional 50 dispensary permits, in hopes improved accessibility will combat the unlicensed market. “Our government is continuing to take a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market,” Finance Minister Rod Philips said in a statement. Philips’ statements echo the interests of First Nations officials and community leaders who are likewise interested in ensuring safe and secure access to legal cannabis. And the AGCO is moving toward that goal with a separate licensing process for First Nations communities that want to open retail marijuana businesses. The AGCO will award retail permits for First Nations applicants on a first come, first served basis, and will begin accepting applications on July 31 at 9:00 am. Prior to participating in the licensing process, First Nations applicants must first obtain approval from the First Nations Band Council to operate a store on their reserve. Detailed application instructions are available on the AGCO website. Ontario First Nations Struggle for Cannabis Sovereignty As Canada’s public and private recreational marijuana markets have flourished after last October’s historic nationwide legalization, First Nations communities have struggled to enter the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • New Emergency Rules Lay Out Recreational Industry in Michigan
    The people of Michigan are one step closer to the development of their recreational marijuana industry. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a set of emergency rules into effect on Wednesday that detail licensing applications and the difference between the state’s recreational and medicinal systems. Voters approved a ballot measure authorizing the legalization of recreational marijuana last November. Licenses for the recreational industry are expected to be on offer in the state before year’s end.  Key among the changes offered is the elimination of a requirement that medical marijuana entrepreneurs have between $150,000 and $500,000 in capital, a requirement that has proven prohibitive to many hoping to enter the industry. A three tier system will establish higher fees for larger businesses, instead of the flat rate for all companies that before stood at $66,000. Under the new rules, growers who plan to raise under 150 plants will be able to process and sell cannabis from the same address.  Also among the regulations are provisions for the establishment of smoking lounges at special events and retailers, provided that such venues do not sell food and alcoholic beverages. This will open the door to legal Cannabis Cup-type contests, and cafe-like gathering spaces (sans other refreshments.) That pleased business owner associations like the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, whose spokesperson Josh Hovey told the Detroit Free Press; “We particularly like that there are no capitalization requirements, which should help make licenses more accessible to small-business owners, and there is a strong demand for on-site consumption and cannabis-friendly special events, so we also are thankful that there will be licensing available for businesses that cater to this need.” Other rules included in the new package include the prioritization of recreational license applications for medical marijuana license holders, and the ability of growers and processors to offer free samples to employees.  By the end of the month, the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency also plans on releasing information on its social equity plan, the government’s program to level the playing field for disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. Also TBD are potency restrictions for recreational cannabis products. Regulations will not take effect for months — and the expiration date on the emergency rules is in half a year — but the rules were released primarily so that local jurisdictions will be able to make an informed decision on whether they will be the site of recreational marijuana businesses. The director of the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency took a call with reporters to speak about ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • Congressional Subcommittee Schedules Hearing for Federal Marijuana Law Reform
    A congressional subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for next week to explore reforming federal marijuana laws. The hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will be held at the Rayburn House Office Building at the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, July 10. The hearing, dubbed “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” will discuss potential pathways to a major overhaul of federal cannabis law. Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that the hearing is a milestone in American cannabis policy. “For the first time in recent memory, there will be a candid conversation in the Judiciary Committee about the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States and how people have been impacted,” said Strekal. “We look forward to working with the subcommittee to best inform the conversation in committee next week and the public at large on the implications of how Congress should move forward.” Witnesses Ready to Testify House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, has been a proponent of the reform of marijuana laws since he served in the Empire State’s legislature. On Tuesday, Nadler sent a letter to David Levine, the CEO of industry group the Cannabis Trade Federation, informing him that he had been invited to appear at the hearing at the request of members of the Republican minority. “It is an honor to be invited to represent the cannabis industry at this historic hearing,” Levine said in a press release. “I intend to use this opportunity to educate members of the committee about the challenges associated with having inconsistent federal and state cannabis laws. This inconsistency creates an unfair and inequitable situation for those working in, supplying, or desiring to be a part of the emerging cannabis industry. I am confident that the combined testimony of the witnesses will make a strong and compelling case for ending cannabis prohibition at the federal level.” Other witnesses scheduled to appear at the hearing include States Attorney Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore, Dr. Malik Burnett of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, all of whom were invited to testify by the committee’s Democratic caucus. The full Judiciary Committee is expected to consider legislation to reform federal cannabis policy later this year, although it is not yet known if they will be acting on existing bills or creating new proposals. Several pieces of marijuana ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • Governor of New Jersey Signs Bill to Expand State Medical Cannabis Program
    Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed a bill on Tuesday that expands the state’s medical cannabis program. Under the measure, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, the state will add more licenses for providers in the medicinal cannabis program, patients will be allowed to legally possess more medicine, and registered medical marijuana patients from other states will be permitted to possess cannabis. Law Named for Young Patient The law is named for Jake Honig, a young boy from Howell, New Jersey who died last year of brain cancer. Jake’s parents used cannabis oil to ease his pain near the end of his five-year battle with the disease. But when the monthly supply allowed by the state ran out, Jake had to be given morphine and powerful opioids instead. After the boy passed away, his parents began advocating for improvements in New Jersey’s medical cannabis program, lobbying Murphy and legislators for change. Under Jake’s Law, as the bill is also known, terminally ill patients will have expanded access to medical marijuana and the limit on the amount of cannabis that can be possessed by all patients will be increased from two ounces to three ounces. Access to the program will also be made easier for patients by allowing physician assistants and some nurse practitioners to write recommendations for medical cannabis. Currently, only physicians are permitted to issue such recommendations. The law also adds 24 new licenses for medical marijuana providers in the state, to be distributed on a regional basis. Three new vertically integrated licenses will be added and for the first time in New Jersey, separate licenses for cannabis retailers and growers will also be issued. Fifteen dispensaries licenses will be available and five marijuana cultivators will also be licensed. Until now, only twelve vertically integrated medical cannabis providers have served the state. Visiting Patients Protected, Sort of Another provision of the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act would allow registered medical marijuana patients from other states to possess cannabis while in New Jersey. But the law does not allow visiting patients to purchase cannabis at dispensaries licensed by the state, which some cannabis activists including Carly Wolf, a state policies coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, say is a flaw in the legislation. It’s illegal to purchase cannabis from an unlicensed source in New Jersey and under federal law, patients who bring cannabis into the state from elsewhere are technically drug trafficking. “It would be kind of a catch-22 ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Three New Medical Cannabis Laws Have Taken Effect in Virginia
    On July 1, a trio of medical marijuana bills signed in March by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam went into effect. Each expands Virginia’s medical marijuana program in important ways, from increasing access for students and people with disabilities to giving doctors more control to recommend medical cannabis. After an unsuccessful bid to legalize recreational marijuana earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers turned their attention toward expanding access to medical marijuana under the state’s 2015 “affirmative defense” law. Their efforts resulted in the passage of three new medical marijuana laws, including one of the most progressive school-use bills in the United States. Now that those three new medical cannabis laws have taken effect in Virginia, more patients than ever will be able to access the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. “Let Doctor Decide” Bill Will Put More Products in Dispensaries Medical marijuana in Virginia isn’t technically legal. Instead, medical marijuana patients have a kind of legal exemption, known as “affirmative defense,” that protects them from criminal charges for possessing and consuming cannabis. The affirmative defense law for medical marijuana took effect in 2015, allowing patients to register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy with a doctor’s recommendation certifying they can obtain medical cannabis products from Virginia’s five licensed processors. But while a 2018 update to the law allows approved doctors to register patients for any condition they see fit, the “affirmative defense” protection applies to CBD oil and THC-A oil only. And that means those are the only forms of cannabis that processors can produce and sell. The “Let Doctors Decide” bill changes that. Now, Virginia’s medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to produce and sell a wider range of products. Instead of only oils, patients will be able to obtain capsules, topicals, lozenges, edible candy and suppositories. Individual servings or doses, as in many other states, will be capped at 10 mg THC each. In addition to approving more forms of medical cannabis, Virginia Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant’s “Let Doctors Decide” bill allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just doctors, to register with the Board of Pharmacy and issue medical cannabis certifications. “The historic passage of my Let Doctors Decide bill allows practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for their patients as they see fit,” said Sen. Dunnavant. Virginia Becomes Fourth State to Allow Medical Cannabis in Schools Virginia’s second new medical marijuana law addresses the administration of medical marijuana to students while they’re attending school. In-school medical marijuana use has been a contentious ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Oklahoma Reports Over 140,000 Patients Approved for Medical Marijuana
    Oklahomans overwhelmingly approved a measure last summer to legalize medical marijuana. Now the treatment is in overwhelming demand. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) said this week that, as of Monday, it has approved 146,381 licenses for patients to receive medicinal cannabis, along with 958 licenses granted to caregivers. In addition, the agency has approved 3,397 licenses for growers, 1,605 licenses for dispensaries and 905 licenses for processors.   To put those numbers in a slightly different perspective: OMMA has enrolled more than 3.5% of the state’s entire population as patients. According to the Tulsa World, the state’s participation rate places it near the top among the 33 states in the country that have legalized medical cannabis.  It’s also significantly higher than what state officials anticipated for the first year of the program. After the ballot measure was passed last June, the World reported, officials expected that roughly 80,000 patients would be registered in the opening year. Karen O’Keefe, the director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the newspaper that she believes Oklahoma “has among the best medical marijuana programs in the country in terms of patients having relief quickly without a bunch of hurdles they and their physicians have to jump through.” “I think it helped there was a noncompetitive application process,” O’Keefe said. “You don’t have the government deciding how many pharmacies can operate. For the most part, we let the free market decide.” Oklahoma voters greenlit the program a year ago when they approved State Question 788 by a 57%-43% margin. But significant disagreements in the legislature followed, and threatened the breadth of the state’s medical cannabis program. Weeks after the vote, the Oklahoma Board of Health approved rules that would have forbade the sale of smokable marijuana products at dispensaries, and would have also required a licensed pharmacist to be present at the dispensaries.  Proponents of State Question 788 protested, arguing that voters supported the measure with the understanding that smokable pot would be available for prescription. Jason Lowe, a Democrat in the Oklahoma state house, said that the Department of Health had “enacted law that undermines one of the most participated in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state.”  The criticism and specter of lawsuits may have been what prompted Mary Fallin, then the state’s Republican governor, to ultimately sign a revised set of rules that did not ban smokable products or require an on-site pharmacist. The law allows Oklahomans aged 18 and older to apply ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Founder of Indianapolis’ First Church of Cannabis Running for Governor of Indiana
    Bill Levin, the founder of the Indianapolis First Church of Cannabis, announced on Monday that he is running for governor of Indiana. Levin will seek the nomination of the state’s Libertarian Party in his bid for the statehouse, according to a report in local media. The legalization of cannabis will be a central theme of Levin’s campaign for governor. Currently, all cannabis products with the exception of CBD, which was legalized last year, are illegal under Indiana State law. Levin said in a phone interview with High Times that he is running for governor because he believes that he can win. “It’s real simple,” he said. “It’s love and human compassion versus greed and selfishness. It’s an easy win. Our state needs love, compassion, and good health right now.” Politics As Usual Thwarts Legalization According to Levin, the people of Indiana support cannabis legalization. Prohibition would have ended long ago if the question had been put to the voters, he believes. If elected, he plans to seek a path to cannabis legalization, either through the legislature or by giving the people the power to make the decision through a statewide election. “If we were a ballot initiative state we would’ve had cannabis legal 10 years ago,” he said. “But unfortunately, the GOP controls the state and nobody is talking about ballot initiatives. When I’m elected governor, ballot initiative is one of the things I am going to put on point. We will have it so the people of this state can decide what their future is, rather than the corporations who buy our politicians.” Levin said he will also make industrial pollution and Indiana’s environment an issue in the race for governor. “We’re the bottom of the barrel when it comes to polluted states,” said Levin. “We’re number 48. We’re poisoning our people. Our rivers, our air quality are poisoning people here and our state is letting these companies run.” Church Challenged Prohibition with Lawsuit Levin founded the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis in 2015 in response to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill widely seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights that was signed into law by Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor of Indiana at the time. After registering with the I.R.S. as a nonprofit organization, the First Church of Cannabis sued for the legalization of cannabis under the RFRA, claiming that the prohibition of marijuana violated the religious freedom of the church’s members to use cannabis sacramentally. The suit was unsuccessful, however, and ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01
  • Cannabis Oil With Low THC Now Legal to Possess in Kansas
    It’s no plan for legalization, but it’s something; as of July 1, qualified patients will be able to use low THC cannabis oil in Kansas. Claire and Lola’s Law a.k.a. House Bill 2244 does not allow for legal sale or production of the oil, but individuals and families who meet requirements will be able to leave the state to purchase it, then come back home to administer the medicine.  Prior to the law’s passage, Kansas was one of only four states without a comprehensive recreational or medical marijuana program — despite the fact that 18 pieces of medical marijuana legislation have been introduced since 2006.  The bill technically gives patients an affirmative defense, to be utilized should they be charged with a drug-related crime for taking the CBD oil. Additionally, HB 2244 bars the state’s Department of Children and Families from removing a kid from a family that uses CBD oil.  Claire and Lola’s Law was named for two sisters with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and dwarfism. Older sister Claire Hartley died in December, and her parents were convinced that low THC cannabis oil was a must-try to save little sis Lola from a similar fate. “I know it would have helped her with some of the struggles in her life,” the Hartley father Scott testified to a House committee in March. The Hartley family will now be able to make the seven-hour trip to Colorado in order to obtain the medicine for Lola.  The law was passed by the House of Representatives in March by a vote of 89-35, and got the go-ahead from the state’s Senate on Monday. It stipulates that patients need a doctor’s letter from the last 15 months that states that they have a debilitating medical condition. Testing of the product — limited to cannabis oil with a THC content of 5 percent or lower — will be required.  HB 2244 met resistance from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations, as well as some lawmakers who voted against it because the law simply did not go far enough. “Why wouldn’t we have done something that’s actually a solution to the problem instead of something that’s just a band-aid or something?” asked House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins.  Indeed, the state has been actually regressing on some marijuana issues, raising the chances of arrest and conviction for drug offenses. In 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that it was unnecessary for police to seek a warrant to enter a house if they could smell marijuana from outside the domicile. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01
  • Minnesota Alzheimer’s Patients Can Now Register for Medical Marijuana
    Starting July 1, people with Alzheimer’s disease can register for medical marijuana in Minnesota. And once registered, they’ll be able to obtain medical cannabis from the state’s two manufacturers beginning August 1. The Minnesota Department of Health first announced plans to add Alzheimer’s disease as a qualifying condition in December 2018. Alzheimer’s disease is the only qualifying condition Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm approved after a citizen’s review panel proposed adding seven new conditions, including opioid use disorder and traumatic brain injury. Minnesota now has 14 conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana. And with the addition of Alzheimer’s disease, Minnesota joins a trend of U.S. states moving to expand their medical cannabis programs to include the neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts nearly 6 million Americans. Minnesota Alzheimer’s Patients Can Purchase Medical Marijuana in August Over the next 30 days, the Minnesota Department of Health will be working to register Alzheimer’s patients to the state’s five-year-old medical marijuana program. The health department requires patients to advance certify before they can obtain medical cannabis, and details on the process are available on its medical cannabis website. The addition of Alzheimer’s disease could grow Minnesota’s medical marijuana program substantially. According to Department of Health data, there were 15,687 patients actively registered as of March 31. But there are more than 94,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. And access to legal, regulated medical cannabis products won’t just benefit them. There are more than 254,000 family and friends proving care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s in the state. And researchers say cannabis can make taking care of people with Alzheimer’s easier. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in elderly people. It’s a neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive impairments, delusion, depression and agitation, and there is no known cure. But studies show that cannabis, in particular the CBD and THC cannabinoids it contains, could help manage the behavioral symptoms that reduce quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. More States Recognizing Cannabis as a Safe Treatment for Alzheimer’s Symptoms And while no studies prove that cannabis or cannabis products can stop, slow, reverse or prevent Alzheimer’s, there are some exciting studies that suggest it is a possibility. One recent study found that micro-doses of THC slowed the production of the protein plaques scientists believe is a leading cause of dementia. Still, large, long-term studies on cannabis as an Alzheimer’s treatment are lacking. But the absence of conclusive research on cannabis and Alzheimer’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01
 
  • New Study Examines Why THC Produces Negative Effects in Some Users
    It’s a scene all-too familiar to stoners. A joint is passed around at a party, shuffling from hand to hand amid a plume of smoke, until it arrives in the possession of a friend who—come to think of it, you’ve actually never gotten high with. And then your learn why: weed, he says, makes me anxious, paranoid. For him, unlike the rest of the party-goers, this is not an escape.  It can be a confounding mystery to those for whom cannabis elicits pleasure, ecstasy, munchies, non-stop giggles. But now, new research released this month offers crucial insight on those differences. The research, conducted by Western University in Ontario, Canada and published in Scientific Reports, offers a unique window into the disparate effects of cannabis—and more specifically, its chief psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—has on the brain. The researchers used rats to learn how THC can more acutely affect different parts of the brain, discovering that if the front is more sensitive, the results of consuming cannabis will yield more pleasurable effects, be they relaxation or euphoria. But if the back part of your brain is more affected, you’ll likely experience more adverse reactions, such as paranoia or fear. One of the study’s researchers, Steven R. Laviolette, told Yahoo that the study offers a “very new finding.”  “There is not too much known about why there is such differences in response to THC,” he says. “We know a lot about the long-term and short-term effects…But there is very little known about the specific areas in the brain that are responsible for independently controlling those effects.” Laviolette and his colleagues will now begin exploring the possibility of testing the hypothesis on an actual human brain. “Be aware that we’re starting to unravel some of the more intricate details of how cannabis is affecting the brain,” he explains. “Monitor your use and if you’re experiencing negative side effects, talk to your physician.” The findings can be seen as one of a litany of attempts to fill the void in credible cannabis research. While states across America and countries around the world continue to move toward lifting the longstanding prohibitions on recreational pot use, there remains a remarkable lack in studies on the actual effects of cannabis. That gap is being closed in part thanks to the research pouring out of Canada. A study released last month out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, for example, found a correlation between cannabis use among pregnant women and preterm birth. In May, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-10
  • New Study Finds Decreased Rates of Teen Pot Use in States With Legal Cannabis
    A new study has found that the rate of cannabis use by teens has gone down in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Results of the research were published online on Monday by JAMA Pediatrics. To conduct the study, researchers analyzed survey data on marijuana use by 1.4 million teenagers from 1993 to 2017. During that time period, 27 states and Washington, D.C. legalized medical marijuana, while seven states legalized the recreational use of cannabis. The study found that states with laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis saw an 8 percent drop in the rate of teens who reported using marijuana during the previous 30 days and a decrease of 9 percent in the rate of frequent cannabis use. Frequent use was defined as the use of marijuana at least 10 times during the previous 30 days. Mark Anderson, an associate professor in agricultural economics at Montana State University in Bozeman and lead author of the study, noted that states that had only legalized medical marijuana did not see an associated drop in teen use. “Just to be clear we found no effect on teen use following legalization for medical purposes, but evidence of a possible reduction in use following legalization for recreational purposes,” said Anderson. The researcher theorized in an email to Reuters that the drop in teen use in states with legal recreational cannabis could be caused by a decline in the number of people selling marijuana on the black market. “It may actually be more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age,” wrote Anderson. “Selling to minors becomes a relatively more risky proposition after the passage of these laws.” Helping Teens Make Informed Decisions Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor of developmental and educational psychology at Boston College who wasn’t involved in the research, said that legalization may lead to “increased parental supervision or discussions between parents and adolescents regarding the dangers of marijuana use in reaction to legalization and the resultant increases in political and news attention and perceived availability.” Dr. Ellen Rome, head of the Center for Adolescent Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s in Ohio, who also did not participate in the research, said that for conversations between parents and teens to be effective, two-way communication is key. “Have frank discussions with your teen, where you ask first what they believe about teens and marijuana use before and after legalization,” Rome said. “Then share your own beliefs, and encourage dialogue – ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Arkansas Group to File Ballot Petitions to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
    A group in Arkansas will take an early but meaningful step this week toward ultimately making recreational marijuana use legal in the state.  The Drug Policy Education Group, a nonprofit based in Arkansas, said it plans to file a pair of ballot petitions with the secretary of state on Wednesday with the intention of getting two proposals on the ballot next year. One proposal, called the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, or AAUCA, would give authority to a state agency, the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, to issue licenses to would-be dispensaries and to establish a set of rules pertaining to the number of licenses awarded and limits on cannabis cultivation.  Under the amendment, dispensaries would be permitted to sell marijuana to those over the age of 21 beginning in December of 2020. The other proposal, known as the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment, or AMEA, would be aimed at rectifying previous pot convictions by permitting those who were busted for paraphernalia or possession of fewer than 16 ounces to petition a court for release from prison or expungement of the conviction.  Melissa Fults, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Education Group, told local ABC affiliate KATV that “[o]ther states have seen better, safer outcomes by removing the black-market elements created by the illegal sale of cannabis.” “The truth is that cannabis is safer than alcohol while prohibition is ineffective and racially biased. It has done far more harm in our community than cannabis,” Fults told the station. The group will begin circulating the petitions for signatures once the proposals are filed on Wednesday. In order to qualify for the 2020 ballot, the group must round up signatures equivalent to at least 10% of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.  If approved, the amendments would upend what the Marijuana Policy Project calls “some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation.” Possession of fewer than four ounces of marijuana can land you in jail for up to a year; in 2012, according to the MPP, there were at least 5,700 marijuana arrests, 90% of which were for posssesion.  While recreational pot may be illegal in the state, Arkansas’ fledgling medical cannabis program is off to a booming start. Voters in the state approved an amendment legalizing the treatment in 2016, although the law’s implementation was delayed considerably by disagreements among Arkansas lawmakers. But after fits and starts, the first dispensary opened in May and, since then, sales of medical marijuana have ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Jay-Z Announces Partnership With Top Cannabis Company Caliva
    Jay-Z is one of the most dynamic figures in contemporary culture. He is a master of transformation, a modern-day alchemist who seems capable of turning virtually anything he touches into part of an ever-growing cultural, artistic, business, and financial empire. Now, he’s turning his attention to the legal cannabis space. And in typical Jay-Z form, his entry into the legal industry is promising to be transformative—not only for the artist but for the industry as a whole. Jay-Z Announces New Partnership with Caliva High Times has just learned that Jay-Z has formally entered a partnership with Caliva, a leading cannabis company based in California. Founded in 2015, Caliva currently owns 14 cannabis licenses and is one of California’s largest producers of cannabis and cannabis products, cultivating nearly 11,000 pounds of cannabis annually. Under the terms of the new partnership, Jay-Z will take over as Caliva’s Chief Brand Strategist. In this role, he will spearhead the development of the company’s industry-facing and customer-facing brand. At this time, it is unclear exactly when Jay-Z will take over his new post. Similarly, the company has not yet disclosed any financial details regarding the partnership. An Industry-Wide Milestone? For many in the cannabis space, Jay-Z’s formal entry into the legal industry has implications that extend far beyond his work with Caliva. Specifically, many see Jay-Z’s presence in the industry as a strong indicator of just how much cannabis’ cultural, legal, and economic status has evolved. His entry is also being hailed as a marker of where the legal industry is today and how big it’s becoming. “Jay is one of the most successful businessmen of our time, and one of the largest brands in entertainment himself,” said High Times CEO and President Kraig Fox. “As we’ve said before, 2019 is the year of the brand for cannabis. Jay-Z entering the space is clear evidence of that.” Transforming the Cannabis Industry Given Jay-Z’s natural ability to transform, the Brooklyn pusher-turned worldwide musical phenom-turned business mogul-turned cannabis industry leader is already focusing on transforming the industry. Specifically, he’s taking aim at social inequities that continue to plague cannabis both under the War on Drugs and within the legal industry. This is familiar territory for the rapper, who released a short film in 2016 in which he called the War on Drugs an “epic fail.” According to Caliva, Jay-Z will focus on creating programs to enable formerly incarcerated folks to enter the legal ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • New Subscription Service Ships Concentrates Directly to Consumers
    California cannabis manufacturer Apex Extractions announced on Tuesday that it is launching a new subscription program that will deliver top-quality cannabis concentrates directly to California consumers. The Apex Fresh Club, as the program is known, will send a selection of three concentrates with cannabis sourced from some of California’s finest cultivators to a discerning clientele. The Fresh Club Scott Benson and Ted Hicks, who share the reigns as co-chief executive officers at the company, said in a press release that the new service will allow consumers who have come to trust the quality of Apex Extractions a regular opportunity to enjoy its premier offerings. “The response to our products has been overwhelming, and optimizing our clients’ experience is our biggest priority,” they said. “Introducing this subscription service will help us get our product in the hands of cannabis connoisseurs quickly providing the best possible experience.” Benson said in an interview with High Times that The Apex Fresh Club will be a way to connect artisan growers in California with consumers who have an affinity for top-shelf cannabis concentrates, allowing them to realize the full potential of each strain offered. “I think this subscription program is really important for people who want great products and we really want to serve that market,” said Benson. Each month, subscribers will receive a curated selection of three of the finest concentrates currently available from Apex for $139, including state excise tax. Offerings will feature some of the best concentrates available from California’s small-crop cultivators, including winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup.  The club will be the best opportunity to acquire the concentrates that are most in demand, Benson noted, saying that “some of them are going to be really rare because it’s going to be really small boutique batches.” Cutting Out the Middle Man The key to bringing cannabis connoisseurs the finest quality concentrates, he explained, is getting them into the hands of customers as quickly as possible. To do this, the Apex Fresh Club avoids the usual retail supply chain, allowing it’s delivery partners to deliver each month’s selections at the peak of freshness, giving them the opportunity to enjoy each concentrate while terpene and flavor profiles are at their best.  “And if you love it as a subscriber,” Benson added, “then it will be at the stores afterward and it’ll still have a great taste profile, but you will have gotten to experience it first, at it’s prime.” When customers sign up for the Apex Fresh Club on the company’s website, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-09
  • Israeli College Offers Medical Cannabis Degrees
    A college in Israel will soon offer an undergraduate degree in medical cannabis, becoming the first institution in the country to offer such a program.  The school, Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, made the announcement Monday, saying that incoming students will be able to earn a bachelor of arts degree in behavioral sciences with a specialization in medicinal marijuana. Medical cannabis, the school said, represents one of Israel’s “most prosperous industries.”  Cannabis in Israel Israel has a long, meaningful history with cannabis. The Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam is recognized as one of the first individuals to both isolate the psychoactive property of marijuana and realize its potential therapeutic benefit. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since the 1990s, and in the spring, the Israeli government decriminalized pot, though it remains illegal. And with its hospitable climate, Israel is poised to emerge as one of the leaders in the burgeoning cannabis industry; the Los Angeles Times reported in May that the country has “ dedicated thousands of acres and millions of dollars to cultivating the plant under controlled conditions” and “nearly 100 start-ups producing cannabis-based medicines and other products.” Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, which is located in the Jezreel Valley of Israel and boasts an enrollment of a little more than 5,000 students, said its newly established program will be open in the next academic year.  “The goal of the program is to train graduates in new professions in the field of medical cannabis, while academizing the field,” said the head of the program, Dr. Efrat Barel, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “The extensive educational base will enable graduates to understand all required aspects, and their integration into the workforce will bring added value to the sector.” Making Medical Cannabis Specialists Itzhak Harpaz, the president of Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, said that the “cannabis industry today is what the cyber industry was 10 years ago.” “Israel needs and can lead this industry, too,” Harpaz said. “This industry is already characterized by many new ventures and technologies, and it is already clear that its economic potential can reach tens of billions of dollars. We are proud to be the first to develop an academic specialization in the field of medical cannabis.” Such degrees are likely to become more common, as the number of countries, cities and states in America with legal marijuana — be it recreational or medicinal — continues to multiply. Last month, the University of Maryland announced that it would introduce a new masters degree ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-08
  • Ontario to Issue Eight New Cannabis Licenses to First Nations Communities
    Brick-and-mortar cannabis stores have so far been hard to come by in Ontario. But come October, Canada’s most populous province should have 50 more marijuana shops, and eight of them will be on First Nations reserves. On July 3, the Government of Ontario announced plans for a second round of retail store authorizations. But the process of applying for retail licenses will be different for First Nations communities. Unlike the “expression of interest” lottery the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will use to award 42 other private cannabis retail store licenses, it will award the eight licenses to First Nations communities on a first come, first served basis. Eight of 50 New Ontario Pot Shop Licenses Will Go to First Nations Businesses Unlike other Canadian provinces, Ontario has been slow to establish a private retail cannabis market. 25 privately operated retail locations were slated to open across the province on April 1, but some have yet to open their doors. The reason for the 25-shop cap, according to the AGCO, was a shortage in the national supply of cannabis. At the same time, limited access to licensed retail stores helped to re-entrench the unregulated cannabis market Ontario officials are keen to dismantle. And now that the national supply issue is easing, the AGCO is authorizing an additional 50 dispensary permits, in hopes improved accessibility will combat the unlicensed market. “Our government is continuing to take a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market,” Finance Minister Rod Philips said in a statement. Philips’ statements echo the interests of First Nations officials and community leaders who are likewise interested in ensuring safe and secure access to legal cannabis. And the AGCO is moving toward that goal with a separate licensing process for First Nations communities that want to open retail marijuana businesses. The AGCO will award retail permits for First Nations applicants on a first come, first served basis, and will begin accepting applications on July 31 at 9:00 am. Prior to participating in the licensing process, First Nations applicants must first obtain approval from the First Nations Band Council to operate a store on their reserve. Detailed application instructions are available on the AGCO website. Ontario First Nations Struggle for Cannabis Sovereignty As Canada’s public and private recreational marijuana markets have flourished after last October’s historic nationwide legalization, First Nations communities have struggled to enter the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • New Emergency Rules Lay Out Recreational Industry in Michigan
    The people of Michigan are one step closer to the development of their recreational marijuana industry. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a set of emergency rules into effect on Wednesday that detail licensing applications and the difference between the state’s recreational and medicinal systems. Voters approved a ballot measure authorizing the legalization of recreational marijuana last November. Licenses for the recreational industry are expected to be on offer in the state before year’s end.  Key among the changes offered is the elimination of a requirement that medical marijuana entrepreneurs have between $150,000 and $500,000 in capital, a requirement that has proven prohibitive to many hoping to enter the industry. A three tier system will establish higher fees for larger businesses, instead of the flat rate for all companies that before stood at $66,000. Under the new rules, growers who plan to raise under 150 plants will be able to process and sell cannabis from the same address.  Also among the regulations are provisions for the establishment of smoking lounges at special events and retailers, provided that such venues do not sell food and alcoholic beverages. This will open the door to legal Cannabis Cup-type contests, and cafe-like gathering spaces (sans other refreshments.) That pleased business owner associations like the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, whose spokesperson Josh Hovey told the Detroit Free Press; “We particularly like that there are no capitalization requirements, which should help make licenses more accessible to small-business owners, and there is a strong demand for on-site consumption and cannabis-friendly special events, so we also are thankful that there will be licensing available for businesses that cater to this need.” Other rules included in the new package include the prioritization of recreational license applications for medical marijuana license holders, and the ability of growers and processors to offer free samples to employees.  By the end of the month, the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency also plans on releasing information on its social equity plan, the government’s program to level the playing field for disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. Also TBD are potency restrictions for recreational cannabis products. Regulations will not take effect for months — and the expiration date on the emergency rules is in half a year — but the rules were released primarily so that local jurisdictions will be able to make an informed decision on whether they will be the site of recreational marijuana businesses. The director of the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency took a call with reporters to speak about ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • Congressional Subcommittee Schedules Hearing for Federal Marijuana Law Reform
    A congressional subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for next week to explore reforming federal marijuana laws. The hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will be held at the Rayburn House Office Building at the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, July 10. The hearing, dubbed “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” will discuss potential pathways to a major overhaul of federal cannabis law. Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that the hearing is a milestone in American cannabis policy. “For the first time in recent memory, there will be a candid conversation in the Judiciary Committee about the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States and how people have been impacted,” said Strekal. “We look forward to working with the subcommittee to best inform the conversation in committee next week and the public at large on the implications of how Congress should move forward.” Witnesses Ready to Testify House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, has been a proponent of the reform of marijuana laws since he served in the Empire State’s legislature. On Tuesday, Nadler sent a letter to David Levine, the CEO of industry group the Cannabis Trade Federation, informing him that he had been invited to appear at the hearing at the request of members of the Republican minority. “It is an honor to be invited to represent the cannabis industry at this historic hearing,” Levine said in a press release. “I intend to use this opportunity to educate members of the committee about the challenges associated with having inconsistent federal and state cannabis laws. This inconsistency creates an unfair and inequitable situation for those working in, supplying, or desiring to be a part of the emerging cannabis industry. I am confident that the combined testimony of the witnesses will make a strong and compelling case for ending cannabis prohibition at the federal level.” Other witnesses scheduled to appear at the hearing include States Attorney Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore, Dr. Malik Burnett of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, all of whom were invited to testify by the committee’s Democratic caucus. The full Judiciary Committee is expected to consider legislation to reform federal cannabis policy later this year, although it is not yet known if they will be acting on existing bills or creating new proposals. Several pieces of marijuana ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-03
  • Governor of New Jersey Signs Bill to Expand State Medical Cannabis Program
    Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed a bill on Tuesday that expands the state’s medical cannabis program. Under the measure, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, the state will add more licenses for providers in the medicinal cannabis program, patients will be allowed to legally possess more medicine, and registered medical marijuana patients from other states will be permitted to possess cannabis. Law Named for Young Patient The law is named for Jake Honig, a young boy from Howell, New Jersey who died last year of brain cancer. Jake’s parents used cannabis oil to ease his pain near the end of his five-year battle with the disease. But when the monthly supply allowed by the state ran out, Jake had to be given morphine and powerful opioids instead. After the boy passed away, his parents began advocating for improvements in New Jersey’s medical cannabis program, lobbying Murphy and legislators for change. Under Jake’s Law, as the bill is also known, terminally ill patients will have expanded access to medical marijuana and the limit on the amount of cannabis that can be possessed by all patients will be increased from two ounces to three ounces. Access to the program will also be made easier for patients by allowing physician assistants and some nurse practitioners to write recommendations for medical cannabis. Currently, only physicians are permitted to issue such recommendations. The law also adds 24 new licenses for medical marijuana providers in the state, to be distributed on a regional basis. Three new vertically integrated licenses will be added and for the first time in New Jersey, separate licenses for cannabis retailers and growers will also be issued. Fifteen dispensaries licenses will be available and five marijuana cultivators will also be licensed. Until now, only twelve vertically integrated medical cannabis providers have served the state. Visiting Patients Protected, Sort of Another provision of the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act would allow registered medical marijuana patients from other states to possess cannabis while in New Jersey. But the law does not allow visiting patients to purchase cannabis at dispensaries licensed by the state, which some cannabis activists including Carly Wolf, a state policies coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, say is a flaw in the legislation. It’s illegal to purchase cannabis from an unlicensed source in New Jersey and under federal law, patients who bring cannabis into the state from elsewhere are technically drug trafficking. “It would be kind of a catch-22 ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Three New Medical Cannabis Laws Have Taken Effect in Virginia
    On July 1, a trio of medical marijuana bills signed in March by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam went into effect. Each expands Virginia’s medical marijuana program in important ways, from increasing access for students and people with disabilities to giving doctors more control to recommend medical cannabis. After an unsuccessful bid to legalize recreational marijuana earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers turned their attention toward expanding access to medical marijuana under the state’s 2015 “affirmative defense” law. Their efforts resulted in the passage of three new medical marijuana laws, including one of the most progressive school-use bills in the United States. Now that those three new medical cannabis laws have taken effect in Virginia, more patients than ever will be able to access the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. “Let Doctor Decide” Bill Will Put More Products in Dispensaries Medical marijuana in Virginia isn’t technically legal. Instead, medical marijuana patients have a kind of legal exemption, known as “affirmative defense,” that protects them from criminal charges for possessing and consuming cannabis. The affirmative defense law for medical marijuana took effect in 2015, allowing patients to register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy with a doctor’s recommendation certifying they can obtain medical cannabis products from Virginia’s five licensed processors. But while a 2018 update to the law allows approved doctors to register patients for any condition they see fit, the “affirmative defense” protection applies to CBD oil and THC-A oil only. And that means those are the only forms of cannabis that processors can produce and sell. The “Let Doctors Decide” bill changes that. Now, Virginia’s medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to produce and sell a wider range of products. Instead of only oils, patients will be able to obtain capsules, topicals, lozenges, edible candy and suppositories. Individual servings or doses, as in many other states, will be capped at 10 mg THC each. In addition to approving more forms of medical cannabis, Virginia Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant’s “Let Doctors Decide” bill allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just doctors, to register with the Board of Pharmacy and issue medical cannabis certifications. “The historic passage of my Let Doctors Decide bill allows practitioners to recommend medical cannabis for their patients as they see fit,” said Sen. Dunnavant. Virginia Becomes Fourth State to Allow Medical Cannabis in Schools Virginia’s second new medical marijuana law addresses the administration of medical marijuana to students while they’re attending school. In-school medical marijuana use has been a contentious ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Oklahoma Reports Over 140,000 Patients Approved for Medical Marijuana
    Oklahomans overwhelmingly approved a measure last summer to legalize medical marijuana. Now the treatment is in overwhelming demand. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) said this week that, as of Monday, it has approved 146,381 licenses for patients to receive medicinal cannabis, along with 958 licenses granted to caregivers. In addition, the agency has approved 3,397 licenses for growers, 1,605 licenses for dispensaries and 905 licenses for processors.   To put those numbers in a slightly different perspective: OMMA has enrolled more than 3.5% of the state’s entire population as patients. According to the Tulsa World, the state’s participation rate places it near the top among the 33 states in the country that have legalized medical cannabis.  It’s also significantly higher than what state officials anticipated for the first year of the program. After the ballot measure was passed last June, the World reported, officials expected that roughly 80,000 patients would be registered in the opening year. Karen O’Keefe, the director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the newspaper that she believes Oklahoma “has among the best medical marijuana programs in the country in terms of patients having relief quickly without a bunch of hurdles they and their physicians have to jump through.” “I think it helped there was a noncompetitive application process,” O’Keefe said. “You don’t have the government deciding how many pharmacies can operate. For the most part, we let the free market decide.” Oklahoma voters greenlit the program a year ago when they approved State Question 788 by a 57%-43% margin. But significant disagreements in the legislature followed, and threatened the breadth of the state’s medical cannabis program. Weeks after the vote, the Oklahoma Board of Health approved rules that would have forbade the sale of smokable marijuana products at dispensaries, and would have also required a licensed pharmacist to be present at the dispensaries.  Proponents of State Question 788 protested, arguing that voters supported the measure with the understanding that smokable pot would be available for prescription. Jason Lowe, a Democrat in the Oklahoma state house, said that the Department of Health had “enacted law that undermines one of the most participated in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state.”  The criticism and specter of lawsuits may have been what prompted Mary Fallin, then the state’s Republican governor, to ultimately sign a revised set of rules that did not ban smokable products or require an on-site pharmacist. The law allows Oklahomans aged 18 and older to apply ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-02
  • Founder of Indianapolis’ First Church of Cannabis Running for Governor of Indiana
    Bill Levin, the founder of the Indianapolis First Church of Cannabis, announced on Monday that he is running for governor of Indiana. Levin will seek the nomination of the state’s Libertarian Party in his bid for the statehouse, according to a report in local media. The legalization of cannabis will be a central theme of Levin’s campaign for governor. Currently, all cannabis products with the exception of CBD, which was legalized last year, are illegal under Indiana State law. Levin said in a phone interview with High Times that he is running for governor because he believes that he can win. “It’s real simple,” he said. “It’s love and human compassion versus greed and selfishness. It’s an easy win. Our state needs love, compassion, and good health right now.” Politics As Usual Thwarts Legalization According to Levin, the people of Indiana support cannabis legalization. Prohibition would have ended long ago if the question had been put to the voters, he believes. If elected, he plans to seek a path to cannabis legalization, either through the legislature or by giving the people the power to make the decision through a statewide election. “If we were a ballot initiative state we would’ve had cannabis legal 10 years ago,” he said. “But unfortunately, the GOP controls the state and nobody is talking about ballot initiatives. When I’m elected governor, ballot initiative is one of the things I am going to put on point. We will have it so the people of this state can decide what their future is, rather than the corporations who buy our politicians.” Levin said he will also make industrial pollution and Indiana’s environment an issue in the race for governor. “We’re the bottom of the barrel when it comes to polluted states,” said Levin. “We’re number 48. We’re poisoning our people. Our rivers, our air quality are poisoning people here and our state is letting these companies run.” Church Challenged Prohibition with Lawsuit Levin founded the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis in 2015 in response to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill widely seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights that was signed into law by Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor of Indiana at the time. After registering with the I.R.S. as a nonprofit organization, the First Church of Cannabis sued for the legalization of cannabis under the RFRA, claiming that the prohibition of marijuana violated the religious freedom of the church’s members to use cannabis sacramentally. The suit was unsuccessful, however, and ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01
  • Cannabis Oil With Low THC Now Legal to Possess in Kansas
    It’s no plan for legalization, but it’s something; as of July 1, qualified patients will be able to use low THC cannabis oil in Kansas. Claire and Lola’s Law a.k.a. House Bill 2244 does not allow for legal sale or production of the oil, but individuals and families who meet requirements will be able to leave the state to purchase it, then come back home to administer the medicine.  Prior to the law’s passage, Kansas was one of only four states without a comprehensive recreational or medical marijuana program — despite the fact that 18 pieces of medical marijuana legislation have been introduced since 2006.  The bill technically gives patients an affirmative defense, to be utilized should they be charged with a drug-related crime for taking the CBD oil. Additionally, HB 2244 bars the state’s Department of Children and Families from removing a kid from a family that uses CBD oil.  Claire and Lola’s Law was named for two sisters with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and dwarfism. Older sister Claire Hartley died in December, and her parents were convinced that low THC cannabis oil was a must-try to save little sis Lola from a similar fate. “I know it would have helped her with some of the struggles in her life,” the Hartley father Scott testified to a House committee in March. The Hartley family will now be able to make the seven-hour trip to Colorado in order to obtain the medicine for Lola.  The law was passed by the House of Representatives in March by a vote of 89-35, and got the go-ahead from the state’s Senate on Monday. It stipulates that patients need a doctor’s letter from the last 15 months that states that they have a debilitating medical condition. Testing of the product — limited to cannabis oil with a THC content of 5 percent or lower — will be required.  HB 2244 met resistance from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations, as well as some lawmakers who voted against it because the law simply did not go far enough. “Why wouldn’t we have done something that’s actually a solution to the problem instead of something that’s just a band-aid or something?” asked House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins.  Indeed, the state has been actually regressing on some marijuana issues, raising the chances of arrest and conviction for drug offenses. In 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that it was unnecessary for police to seek a warrant to enter a house if they could smell marijuana from outside the domicile. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01
  • Minnesota Alzheimer’s Patients Can Now Register for Medical Marijuana
    Starting July 1, people with Alzheimer’s disease can register for medical marijuana in Minnesota. And once registered, they’ll be able to obtain medical cannabis from the state’s two manufacturers beginning August 1. The Minnesota Department of Health first announced plans to add Alzheimer’s disease as a qualifying condition in December 2018. Alzheimer’s disease is the only qualifying condition Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm approved after a citizen’s review panel proposed adding seven new conditions, including opioid use disorder and traumatic brain injury. Minnesota now has 14 conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana. And with the addition of Alzheimer’s disease, Minnesota joins a trend of U.S. states moving to expand their medical cannabis programs to include the neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts nearly 6 million Americans. Minnesota Alzheimer’s Patients Can Purchase Medical Marijuana in August Over the next 30 days, the Minnesota Department of Health will be working to register Alzheimer’s patients to the state’s five-year-old medical marijuana program. The health department requires patients to advance certify before they can obtain medical cannabis, and details on the process are available on its medical cannabis website. The addition of Alzheimer’s disease could grow Minnesota’s medical marijuana program substantially. According to Department of Health data, there were 15,687 patients actively registered as of March 31. But there are more than 94,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. And access to legal, regulated medical cannabis products won’t just benefit them. There are more than 254,000 family and friends proving care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s in the state. And researchers say cannabis can make taking care of people with Alzheimer’s easier. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in elderly people. It’s a neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive impairments, delusion, depression and agitation, and there is no known cure. But studies show that cannabis, in particular the CBD and THC cannabinoids it contains, could help manage the behavioral symptoms that reduce quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. More States Recognizing Cannabis as a Safe Treatment for Alzheimer’s Symptoms And while no studies prove that cannabis or cannabis products can stop, slow, reverse or prevent Alzheimer’s, there are some exciting studies that suggest it is a possibility. One recent study found that micro-doses of THC slowed the production of the protein plaques scientists believe is a leading cause of dementia. Still, large, long-term studies on cannabis as an Alzheimer’s treatment are lacking. But the absence of conclusive research on cannabis and Alzheimer’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-07-01