• University Researchers To Study Effects of Medical Cannabis On Chronic Pain
    Researchers at the University of Georgia will study the effects of legalized medical cannabis on those suffering from chronic pain thanks to a multi-million dollar grant. The project, announced this week, will seek clarity on whether medical marijuana laws alter the health behaviors of people living with chronic pain and whether they substitute or reduce traditional pain treatments while using medical cannabis. “We are thrilled to get started on this work,” said Grace Bagwell Adams, assistant professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. “Much of the policy change has happened quickly in a landscape that is not well understood at the patient level. This work is going to contribute to our understanding about the intersectionality of medical cannabis policy and the behavior of chronic pain patients.” Researchers will have access to years of data on five million Medicare and five million Medicaid enrollees’ complete medical claims history, which will include all inpatient, outpatient and prescription drug use, as well as some information about socioeconomic status. In addition, the research team will also examine comparable data on individuals with private insurance. “For all three types of individuals—Medicare, Medicaid and HCCI/private insured—they will follow the same people over time and see how their pain management health care decisions change as they gain access to medical cannabis via changes in state laws,” the school said in its announcement. The project could help illustrate the real world policy effects in more than 30 states across the country that have legalized medical cannabis. It is also the latest in a flowering of academic research on marijuana, as governments, institutions and companies reconsider prohibitions on pot as concerns over prescription painkillers continue to mount. The National Football League said in May that it would participate in a study on the effects of cannabis on pain management, a response to the growing number of players who have become addicted to prescription drugs. In April, the cannabis investor Charles R. Broderick made a $9 million donation that was split between Harvard and MIT to support research into how marijuana affects the brain and behavior. Broderick said the gift was driven by a desire “to fill the research void that currently exists in the science of cannabis.” David Bradford, the public policy chair at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, said that the research announced this week will also fill a gap. “Researchers have been able to document reductions in aggregate prescription use, especially opioids, after states implement [medical cannabis ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Hundreds Of Cannabis Businesses Working With Banks In Colorado
    DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s cannabis industry has had a chief request since marijuana was legalized: Give us access to banks. But it turns out that hundreds of the state’s pot businesses are already working with financial institutions under the close watch of federal regulators, even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. As many as 35 banks and credit unions offer services to the industry that has made $6.5 billion in sales in Colorado since 2014, according to the Colorado Bankers Association. Most financial institutions are secretive about their business relationships with companies that grow and sell marijuana legally, limiting the number of customers they will take on and asking their clients to sign nondisclosure agreements, said Amanda Averch, a spokeswoman for the bankers association. “They’re serving this business, effectively, anonymously,” she said. Legislation that passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support last week, and championed by Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, aims to bring marijuana banking into the mainstream, providing permanent federal protections for financial institutions that choose to work with the pot industry. Cannabis business now are almost exclusively cash enterprises. The so-called SAFE Banking Act would allow them to accept credit cards from customers and apply for and receive loans. It also could make the cannabis banking market more competitive, potentially driving down the higher fees marijuana businesses now are charged. “There are a couple institutions doing a lot, but not a lot of institutions doing much,” Perlmutter, of Arvada, told The Colorado Sun on Monday. Here’s how things work now: Banks that want to work with legal marijuana businesses and meet regulatory compliance do so under guidance provided in 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network. What the guidance doesn’t do is shield banks from criminal liability. Since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, they are technically laundering any money deposited by pot businesses. If the guidance was rescinded, the bank or credit union could be subject to fines. “If the guidance was revoked, just like the Cole Memo was revoked, there would be nothing,” Perlmutter said. “Part of the purpose of the legislation is to put it into place, into law, so it can’t be revoked from one administration to the other.” Sundie Seefried, CEO and president of Partner Colorado Credit Union and a pioneer in marijuana banking, has been working with legal cannabis businesses since January 2015. The credit union now has about 400 clients in the industry, including companies that grow and sell cannabis, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Over Two Dozen Medical Cannabis Growers in Pennsylvania Unionize
    The employees of a Pennsylvania medical marijuana company have signed a labor contract with their employer, making them the first cannabis workers in the state to unionize. The three-year agreement between employees and management of Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions was recently ratified, making about 30 production and laboratory operations workers in a Scranton manufacturing facility members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State. Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions is a subsidiary of Vireo Health, a cannabis company licensed to operate in 11 markets with legal cannabis. Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Vireo Health, said in a press release that the firm supports its employees’ right to unionize. “As a socially responsible business, Vireo is deeply committed to its employees and is proud to be a union employer,” Kingsley said. “We believe that a unionized workforce is key to our company’s success and look forward to partnering with UFCW to support legislation, such as legalizing adult-use cannabis, that will help create thousands of new middle-class jobs across the Keystone State.” Vireo Health also has plans to open three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state by the end of the year, which will create up to 20 more union jobs for retail workers. “This is a fantastic contract for our members and a great win for the future of all workers in the cannabis industry,” said UFCW 1776KS president Wendell Young IV. “I am very proud of the role that UFCW has played in helping to bring collective bargaining to the cannabis industry and help create good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania. I want to thank our union bargaining committee and Vireo Health for their hard work on this contract.” “The UFCW offers cannabis workers and business owners, along with patients and coalition allies, the opportunity to work together to accomplish shared goals,” the union writes on its website. “By crafting and supporting targeted legislative efforts, along with negotiating the best contracts for workers, we are giving workers a voice in the workplace and beyond!” Unionization a National Trend Vireo Health also has subsidiaries in New York and Minnesota with workers who have unionized. Nationwide, about 10,000 workers in the cannabis industry are covered by a union contract, mostly on the West Coast, where cannabis has been legal the longest. “We looked at the cannabis industry and said the union could use its political power to bring forward the good players out of the black market, and bring some credibility and establish a legitimate industry,” Jim Araby, of Northern California’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • University In Houston Testing Psilocybin For Treatment-Resistant Depression
    On the heels of its decriminalization in a handful of US cities, psilocybin is being explored by the scientific establishment for evidence of therapeutic effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Texas Science Health Center in Houston (UTHealth) have announced that they are studying psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. The study is inspired by past scientific investigations that suggest that psilocybin works to create new mental circuitry. One 2012 study concluded that the substance can enable “a state of unconstrained cognition.” Another study conducted at Johns Hopkins University and published in 2016 found a link between psilocybin use and decreases in depression and anxiety. “It is a medication that can change or alter perceptions, cognition, thinking, and how minds see the environment,” Sudhakar Selvaraj, MD, PhD, assistant professor at UTHealth, said in a statement. “This therapy, if it works, could help at least a portion of people get relief from their depression and get back to day-to-day life.” The UTHealth study will rely on a double-blind method, meaning neither patients nor study physicians will know what dosage of psilocybin is taken by study participants. After ingesting 25, ten, or one milligrams of psilocybin, patients will hang out in a comfortable treatment room for eight hours, supervised by therapists. Before and after they trip, participants will fill out questionnaires regarding their symptoms of depression. They’ll record their mental state again one, three, six, nine, and 12 weeks later. Sound nice? If you’re between the ages of 18 and 55 and have treatment-resistant depression, you can still apply to be in the study. Psilocybin and Mental Health It is thought that psilocybin affects depression by the interaction between a chemical produced by the body upon its ingestion, called psilocin, and the body’s serotonin system. In recent months, other breakthroughs have taken place in the realm of psilocybin. Last week, Miami University researchers announced that they have discovered a method of producing the compound that relies not on the cultivation of mushrooms, but via splicing their DNA into the E. coli bacteria. Last year, a team at Johns Hopkins University concluded that mushrooms could actually aid people in quitting cigarettes. That educational institution, led by psychopharmacologist Roland R. Griffiths, has conducted psychedelics research since 2000 and was the first research group to be approved by the US federal government to conduct such tests. Griffith holds that psychedelics can accomplish mental shifts in one session that years of counseling and pharmaceuticals cannot achieve. The school has since proven to be one of the leaders in the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Utah School District Installs Vape Detectors in Bathrooms
    Vaping continues to make headlines around the country. Most recently, this attention has come from a string of health crises—including multiple deaths—all of which have been linked to vaping. Now, vaping is once again at the heart of controversy. This time, in public schools located in Utah. Specifically, a number of school districts around the state are purchasing and installing vape detectors inside bathrooms. Vape Detectors Showing Up in Utah Schools As reported by local Utah media outlet 2 KUTV, a number of school districts in the state are trying to crack down on student vaping. To do so, these districts are buying and installing specialized detectors inside bathrooms. These detectors are capable of sensing both cigarette smoke and vapor coming from vapes. Additionally, they can also reportedly detect escalated noise, in indicator of potential bullying or fighting. Administrators at some of these districts said the detectors are there to protect students. Specifically, they said that vapes are almost exclusively the product of choice for high school students. In fact, the principal at one high school with the new detectors said the has not confiscated cigarettes or smokeless tobacco from students for almost three years. Additionally, many administrators at the school point to the ongoing epidemic of lung injury, illness, and death linked to vaping. “This was driven by our parent groups coming to us wanting us to do something,” Wasatch High School Assistant Principal Adam Hagen told 2 KUTV. “We were seeing an escalation in the number of vape cases.” School Districts Spend Thousands on Detectors To date, at least nine school districts have purchased the detectors. And in some cases, these detectors carry a hefty price tag. According to 2 KUTV, here’s a rundown of some of the districts that have purchased the detectors: Wasatch School District spent nearly $40,000 to install 40 sensors. They installed them in every bathroom of the district’s one high school and two middle schools. So far, at least 20 students have been suspended after getting caught vaping.Nebo School District purchased two detectors to use in a pilot program. So far, the sensors have not picked anything up.Grand School District spent more than $7,000 on sensors that were installed in April. So far, the district reports that the sensors have not actually worked. Administrators also said that two vapes were found at a school, both of which reportedly contained meth. Given the timeline of when these detectors started being installed in schools, it is unclear if the sensors came before or in response to the current ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Comedian Ben Gleib Seeks Democratic Nomination for President
    With his history as a stand-up comedian, mercilessly mocking game show host, and designated day-drinking companion to the Today Show’s Kathie Lee and Hoda, Ben Gleib’s presence among the slew of candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president has many wondering if his campaign is some sort of elaborate joke. But he insists that’s not the reason he’s running for the highest office in the land. “If being funny was my goal, you would be laughing a lot more,” Gleib deadpans in a telephone interview with High Times. “But we have a lot of serious things to tackle.” Those important issues include ending corruption and the influence of big money in politics,  healthcare for everyone (“because obviously,” proclaims his campaign website), legalizing cannabis, and prison reform. And while some of those topics have been familiar themes for many of his contenders, too, Ben Gleib says that he doesn’t believe the group of politicians leading the pack have what it takes to succeed in 2020. “I’m running because I don’t think that any of the current candidates running for the Democratic nomination are offering a sure-fire way to beat Trump. I’m not convinced that any of them has a strategy that can take down the anomaly that is the orange monster who’s trying to erode everything that we hold dear in this country. He’s not a politician and so trying to beat him with politics makes no sense. It’s like trying to bring policy papers to a wrestling match.”   Take Him Down with Comedy But if Gleib were to get the nod from the party, his experience on the comedy club circuit would help him take the president down. “Trump is the biggest heckler in political history,” he says. “The way you take down a heckler every time is with a comedian. And that’s what I plan to do.” Gleib says that he wants his campaign to be about giving a voice to marginalized communities, prompting his campaign trail to run not only through Iowa and New Hampshire but Puerto Rico as well, where he visited recently to view the continuing recovery from Hurricane Maria, two years after the storm battered the Carribbean island. “I’m the only candidate in the race who is a working person and the only union member the race,” says Gleib. “I’m the only one who’s not a career politician or multimillionaire. I’m tired of continually electing the same types of people into office and then being surprised when we don’t get change.” Ben Gleib: ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Maryland Judge Rules To Extend Prohibition Of Medical Cannabis Licenses
    A prohibition on licenses for growing and processing medical marijuana has been extended in Maryland after a ruling last week by a judge in the state. The prohibition stems from a temporary restraining order issued last month by Judge Ronald B. Rubin after a company called Remileaf filed a complaint arguing that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission bungled its application for a growing and processing license. The restraining order was set to expire on Monday, but late last week, Rubin extended it until October 17. In its complaint, Remileaf asserted that it submitted its application by the deadline of May 24, but that due to problems with the online system, the commission extended the deadline, which in turn required Remileaf to re-submit the application. The company contends that it deployed a representative to the commission’s office on the date of the new deadline to submit a physical application, but that the representative was denied admission into the office. Restraining Order Drawing Criticism Under the restraining order, the state is prohibited from issuing additional cannabis licenses. In his decision last month, Rubin said that Remileaf “has shown a fair chance of prevailing on the merits of its claims, having raised serious and substantial problems regarding the bidding process and its administration by the [Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission], and the seeming irregularity of the procedures employed.” “If relief is not granted, [Remileaf] will not receive pre-approval for, much less an actual license, to grow or to sell medical cannabis in Maryland,” Rubin wrote in his ruling. “The public may very well be deprived of the best possible provider.” The restraining order precluded the awarding of four licenses to growers and 10 licenses to processors that were set to be doled out by the commission on September 26. In addition to the lawsuit from Remileaf, the commission is also drawing scrutiny from the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, which had also sought the postponement of awarding new licenses over concerns about whether minority-owned cannabis firms were getting a fair shake. A law passed last year mandated the commission to give out more licenses with the aim of enhancing diversity within the state’s cannabis program. In a letter last month to the commission, the caucus said there were “significant issues and concerns raised about the process being used to determine winners and losers for these new licenses.”  The post Maryland Judge Rules To Extend Prohibition Of Medical Cannabis Licenses appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • First HempWood Factory Opening In Murray, Kentucky Thanks To A New Startup
    A new hemp factory has opened that will specialize in producing a sustainably sourced wood substitute. HempWood, operated by a company called Fibonacci LLC, is the brainchild of owner Greg Wilson and his experience working with Chinese bamboo technology. His process purports to mimic the growth algorithm of oak trees to get a durable hemp product by mixing it with a soybean-based glue for a long-lasting building material. For the moment, the factory is focused on manufacturing flooring materials, but a representative from the company says that in the future, the sky’s the limit on what they’ll be able to make with the substance.  HempWood decided to set up shop in Murray, a Kentucky town that could offer a partnership with Murray State University’s Hutson School of Agriculture. Wilson has told the media that the school not only helped to link him with nearby hemp farmers to ensure a consistent supply of raw materials, but also assisted in the application for his processing license. The school sees the benefit in having a partner in the state’s growing hemp industry “from internships to future jobs,” Murray State president Bob Jackson said at the plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Teaching and learning from an agricultural standpoint, business standpoint, chemistry standpoint, and I could go on and on.” Company founder Greg Wilson has a background in materials science, and worked for nearly a decade in China in sustainable material factories. He says that when the 2014 US Farm Bill made it legal to use hemp for scientific research, he built a home laboratory and started exploring the possibilities of hemp. He came up with a process that creates a product 20 percent denser than oak. “Hemp is a lot like strand-woven bamboo, except it’s less coarse,” explained John Crye, who handles direct sales and marketing for HempWood. “Bamboo is kind of a rough material and it will kind of chip, which makes it harder to work with. Hemp is much more woody so that gives it advantages over bamboo.” Factory in the Works for Months HempWood announced the new factory in March, but officially kicked off operations at the end of August, when the 11,230 square foot plant held a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The factory currently employs eight people. Owners intend to double staffing by the end of the year, as they expand facilities to produce more hemp. The company hopes to open eight more factories in the United States, and are aiming for the second facility to open by 2021. The Murray location cost ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Melania Trump Joins Others in Urging E-Cig Companies to Stop Advertising to Teens
    First lady Melania Trump called on e-cigarette companies to stop advertising to teenagers on Monday while urging youth to avoid the perils of addiction. Appearing at a U.S. Drug Enforcement rally to kick off a drug abuse prevention awareness event, Trump said that young people should be warned about the risks of using e-cigarettes. “It is important to me that we all work to educate children and families about the dangers associated with this habit,” said the first lady. The president and Mrs. Trump have a teenaged son, 13-year-old Barron. She also called on manufacturers to end the marketing of e-cigarettes to young people. “Marketing this addictive product to children must stop,” said Trump. In September, the Trump administration announced that it was developing plans to issue a federal ban on all flavored e-cigarettes in part as a response to the rash of serious lung injuries linked to vaping that continues to plague the United States. “The vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” the president said. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” he added. First Lady Warns of Perils of Drug Addiction The first lady’s remarks came during a DEA rally to promote the October 23 beginning of Red Ribbon Week, an event that encourages young people to take a pledge to not use drugs. At the rally, Trump also warned the audience of the dangers of drug addiction. “In my time as first lady, I have traveled to hospital and visited rehabilitation centers where I have seen first-hand the horrible results of drug abuse,” she said. “Our administration will continue working hard in fighting the opioid crisis.” Trump also said that young people struggling with drug use should be urged to face their addiction and seek treatment. “We need to continue encouraging teenagers and young adults who have fallen into drug addiction to be brave enough to admit it, to talk about it, and to get help,” urged the first lady. “Illegal use of drugs destroys too many families in our country. Drugs are taking a toll on our most vulnerable,” she added. Trump vowed to continue working through her Be Best initiative to help young people avoid drug abuse. “I will continue to address addiction as long as it affects our children, our youth, and our schools,” she said. The post Melania ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Lawsuit Against Washington, D.C. Alleges Discrimination Against Cannabis Users
    In September, Washington D.C. mayor Murial Bowser brought an end to months of anxious waiting on the part of city workers who lawfully consume cannabis. The new mayoral order clarified that the use of cannabis for any reason cannot prevent a person from getting or maintaining a government job. The order also blocked any city agencies from setting their own workplace marijuana policies. But even though most city employees were okayed to consume medical or recreational cannabis off the clock, Mayor Bowser’s order carved out a key exception: workers in “safety-sensitive” positions. Now, some city workers are fighting to overturn the ban. And one worker, Doretha Barber, is suing the city, alleging its workplace drug policies discriminate against medical cannabis patients. Lawsuit Targets D.C. Ban on Cannabis Use by City Workers Doretha Barber is a sanitation worker for Washington, D.C.’s Department of Public Works (DPW). For ten years, Barber has helped keep D.C. streets clean, mostly by raking and collecting trash and leaves. It’s a tough gig for Barber, who was born with scoliosis and diagnosed with a serious disease in her spine in 2014. Bending and raking, Barber believes, makes her back condition worse. And recently, the pain, spasms and migraines she gets are causing her to miss work. To treat her back pain, Barber came to medical cannabis like many other patients. The prescription and over-the-counter medications she was taking weren’t cutting it. Plus, the side effects were sometimes as debilitating as the pain itself. So it was with her doctor’s recommendation that she became a registered patient with D.C.’s medical cannabis program in 2018. Barber says cannabis was “life changing.” Her migraines were less intense, her spasms were less frequent and she was able to go to work more. Barber says she only took medical cannabis off the clock and never clocked in under the influence of THC. But in May, Barber was among a number of DPW employees who received a memo ordering them to seek alternatives to medical cannabis treatments. The department, the memo explained, would begin testing workers in “safety-sensitive” positions. And anyone who failed the urine drug test would be at risk of losing their job or facing disciplinary measures. Workplace Marijuana Policy Impacts Blue-Collar and Black Workers Most All of a sudden, a mid-2018 reclassification of all DPW jobs as “safety sensitive” regardless of whether they involved operating heavy machinery or other dangerous tasks meant that workers like Barber could no longer use medical cannabis. When DPW started ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Maine May Finally Have Legal Cannabis Retail by March 2020
    Officials in Maine are projecting that cannabis will be on sale in stores by March 2020. A crucial piece of the state’s law has taken effect, which has enabled the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy to finalize the rules governing the sale of cannabis. The Associated Press reported that the legislature “made tweaks to Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act that were necessary for the marijuana office to adopt the rules, which it is expected to do within two months,” and that a state spokesperson said applications for retail marijuana sales will be accepted by the end of this year. The AP reported that the “state will need time to process the applications, and retailers will also need local approvals, but the state is projecting revenue from marijuana sales by March 15” of 2020. Marijuana’s Long Journey in Maine It’s been a long, fitful rollout for Maine’s cannabis law. Voters there approved a referendum in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use by a razor-thin margin that prompted calls for a recount. The result stood after a partial recount was suspended in January of 2017, but Paul LePage, the state’s Republican governor at the time, defied voters and remained steadfast in his opposition to the measure. He vetoed a bill to move ahead with legalization in November of 2017, saying he remained “concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in Maine.” “The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated,” LePage said in his veto letter. “Maine is now battling a horrific drug epidemic that claims more than one life a day due to overdoses caused by deadly opiates. Sending a message, especially to our young people, that some drugs that are still illegal under federal law are now sanctioned by the state may have unintended and grave consequences.” In April of last year, LePage again vetoed a bill to regulate marijuana in the state, but Maine lawmakers eventually overrode his veto. Maine’s current governor, Democrat Janet Mills, has sang a very different tune. Elected last year, Mills made it clear throughout the campaign that she supported the implementation of the new law. In June, Mills signed a law that established rules over the sale of recreational marijuana that permitted licenses to sell marijuana to individuals 21 and over, while providing cities with the discretion over whether to allow sales or not. The post Maine May Finally Have Legal Cannabis Retail by March 2020 appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Pennsylvania Representative Proposes Bill To Allow Cannabis In State-Run Liquor Stores
    A Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legalize the recreational sale of cannabis and make state-run liquor stores the only authorized retailer of marijuana products. The measure, House Bill 1899, was introduced by Democratic state Rep. David Delloso of Delaware County. Delloso said in a statement that restricting sales of cannabis to the state’s network of liquor stores would ensure that local businesses benefit the most from legalization. “What I’m afraid of is, without this bill, if we don’t sell cannabis in the state stores, big corporate interests throughout the United States are going to come to Pennsylvania and they’re going to put corner stores up,” he said. “They aren’t going to provide family sustaining jobs, and all the profits are going to leave Pennsylvania.” Under the bill, adults 21 and older would be permitted to legally possess and consume marijuana. Adults would be allowed to give away small amounts of cannabis, but sales would be restricted to businesses licensed by the state. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would be responsible for licensing businesses to produce marijuana for sale at the state-controlled stores. The measure also contains provisions that would expunge the records of those convicted of marijuana possession and inmates currently incarcerated for such offenses would be released. Also, employers would be prohibited from firing or disciplining employees if a drug screening indicates the “presence of a nonintoxicating level of cannabis.” Legalizing recreational cannabis would be an economic boon for the state, according to Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center, which estimates that doing so would create 18,000 jobs and result in $581 million in tax revenues to the state each year. “It is time for us to not just have a conversation but sit down and really look at details on how we can do this in Pennsylvania understanding that the support is there, the revenue will be there for us and we could do a lot of good things with those resources,” said Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia County, also a Democrat. Republicans Not On Board House Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations about the bill, issuing a statement that the move would conflict with federal law and create legal issues. They also fear that legalizing recreational cannabis would interfere with the state’s medical marijuana businesses and pose a risk of harm to young people. “Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana,” the statement said. Shawn Kelly, the press secretary for the Liquor Control Board, said ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • In The US, 18 People Have Died And More Than 1000 Have Become Sick From Vaping
    NEW YORK (AP) — The number of vaping-related illnesses has surpassed 1,000, and there’s no sign the outbreak is fading, U.S. health officials said Thursday. Doctors say the illnesses, which first appeared in March, resemble an inhalation injury. Symptoms include severe, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the marijuana ingredient that causes a high, but some said they vaped only nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 48 states and one U.S. territory as of Tuesday afternoon. The count includes 18 deaths in 15 states. More than a third of patients are under age 21, but the deaths have been older adults who apparently had more difficulty recovering. Recently, 275 cases have been added to the tally each week, and about half of the newest batch were people hospitalized in the last two weeks. “Unfortunately, the outbreak … is continuing at a brisk pace” and there’s no sign of it slowing, the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a Thursday call with reporters. What Kind of Vapes are Causing the Illnesses? The Food and Drug Administration is analyzing products from 18 states, but neither that agency nor the CDC has pinpointed an electronic cigarette, vaping device, liquid or ingredient as the root cause. The investigation has increasingly focused on THC vaping products. But until a cause is found, the CDC continues to advise Americans to refrain from using any vaping products. Complicating the investigation are apparently conflicting medical reports about what’s been seen in the lungs of different patients. Some doctors suggested patients’ lungs are being clogged and inflamed by oils from vaping liquids, but a report published this week by the New England Journal of Medicine pointed to the kind of chemical burns that might come from poisonous gases. “There may be a lot of different nasty things in e-cigarette or vaping products, and they may cause different harms in the lung,” Schuchat said. “We hope over the months ahead that we’ll learn more about the spectrum of lung conditions that these exposures are having.” Only Alaska and New Hampshire have not reported any illnesses. The post In The US, 18 People Have Died And More Than 1000 Have Become Sick From Vaping appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • Oklahoma Public School District Rejects Donation From Local Medical Cannabis Dispensary
    Even as the press reports on Oklahoma’s public education budgetary woes, it appears that not all schools are open to accepting all donations. A marijuana dispensary chain was surprised to have their monetary gift to Ponca City Public Schools rejected. The district’s superintendent Shelly Arrott released a media statement that said the rejection was due to nervousness over how the donation would affect federal funding. “Accepting donations from a medical marijuana dispensary is uncharted territory for Oklahoma school districts in relation to federal funding sources,” she said. “At this time, the district cannot risk compromising these funding sources which are relied on heavily for the education of students.” The company in question is Flippin Farms, which currently operates four dispensaries in the state and is planning to open four more. One of the company’s owners expressed his surprise over the situation to a local news site. “If it’s OK for them to take tax money from this industry, why not be able to take money straight from this industry?” asked Corey Fisher. “We were just kind of confused and alarmed that in a school district that is constantly underfunded, we’re willing to walk in there, and [say], ‘Hey, I can write you a personal check,’ […] and they just declined.” Fisher was referring to the fact that in Oklahoma, 75 percent of surplus medical cannabis tax revenue is received by the public school system. He rightly asked why, then, wouldn’t they take the cash directly from a dispensary? Oklahoma Schools Are Struggling The news dropped a day before a media report came out about how Oklahoma schools in struggling districts have been forced to make funding tradeoffs when it comes to much-needed school security measures like security guards. Across the country, many states have tied school funding to cannabis sales. In Colorado, cannabis revenues that have gone to K-12 education via the 2014 passage of the state’s Amendment 64 have topped $283 million. The state has chosen to prioritize the construction of new schools, and sends the first $40 million raised each year towards that purpose. The plan has proven so popular that legislators have pushed for an increase in the amount of pot money that is shunted to schools. For their part, the Flippin Farms team seems confident that they will be able to put their money towards the state’s public education in the future. “Hopefully we can strike a good chord with the school district and we can come to an understanding,” Fisher continued. “And if nothing else, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • California University Develops New Breath Test That Detects Opioids
    Engineers and physicians at the University of California, Davis have developed a breath test to detect possible opioid use. Here’s how it works: subjects of the test breathe normally into a specialized collection device, generating droplets in the breaths that condense and are then stored in a freezer until the testing is completed. Researchers at the university developed the technique among a small group of patients receiving infusions of pain medications including morphine and hydromorphone, or oral doses of oxycodone, enabling them to compare opioid metabolites with both blood samples and the doses given to patients. “We can see both the original drug and metabolites in exhaled breath,” said Professor Cristina Davis, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis. Davis said there “are a few ways we think this could impact society,” one of which is the ability to detect illegal drug use. Another way could be enabling doctors to make sure patients are taking their drugs correctly. “We’ve developed a sampler that is appropriate in the best way to collect the exhaled breath to detect the opioids, which are present at really small concentrations inside the breath,” Davis told the Sacramento Bee. “We right now sample for about 10 minutes and then we store that sample in the freezer until we can analyze it, and we use a technology called a mass spectrometer to analyze the opioids or any drugs that we see.” The Future of the Test Researchers will need a larger data sample to validate the test, meaning that they will continue to experiment on other subjects. But the university envisions real-time testing, providing a less invasive way to test for drugs than collecting a blood sample. Davis told the Sacramento Bee that her team ultimately hopes to create a device that is as small as the breathalyzer devices used by law enforcement.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 50 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, while Johns Hopkins Medicine said that all opioid deaths—including those stemming from street drugs like heroin—account for the deaths of 115 Americans every day. The CDC said in 2017 that prescription opioids were involved in more than 35 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. The post California University Develops New Breath Test That Detects Opioids appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
 
  • University Researchers To Study Effects of Medical Cannabis On Chronic Pain
    Researchers at the University of Georgia will study the effects of legalized medical cannabis on those suffering from chronic pain thanks to a multi-million dollar grant. The project, announced this week, will seek clarity on whether medical marijuana laws alter the health behaviors of people living with chronic pain and whether they substitute or reduce traditional pain treatments while using medical cannabis. “We are thrilled to get started on this work,” said Grace Bagwell Adams, assistant professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. “Much of the policy change has happened quickly in a landscape that is not well understood at the patient level. This work is going to contribute to our understanding about the intersectionality of medical cannabis policy and the behavior of chronic pain patients.” Researchers will have access to years of data on five million Medicare and five million Medicaid enrollees’ complete medical claims history, which will include all inpatient, outpatient and prescription drug use, as well as some information about socioeconomic status. In addition, the research team will also examine comparable data on individuals with private insurance. “For all three types of individuals—Medicare, Medicaid and HCCI/private insured—they will follow the same people over time and see how their pain management health care decisions change as they gain access to medical cannabis via changes in state laws,” the school said in its announcement. The project could help illustrate the real world policy effects in more than 30 states across the country that have legalized medical cannabis. It is also the latest in a flowering of academic research on marijuana, as governments, institutions and companies reconsider prohibitions on pot as concerns over prescription painkillers continue to mount. The National Football League said in May that it would participate in a study on the effects of cannabis on pain management, a response to the growing number of players who have become addicted to prescription drugs. In April, the cannabis investor Charles R. Broderick made a $9 million donation that was split between Harvard and MIT to support research into how marijuana affects the brain and behavior. Broderick said the gift was driven by a desire “to fill the research void that currently exists in the science of cannabis.” David Bradford, the public policy chair at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, said that the research announced this week will also fill a gap. “Researchers have been able to document reductions in aggregate prescription use, especially opioids, after states implement [medical cannabis ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Hundreds Of Cannabis Businesses Working With Banks In Colorado
    DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s cannabis industry has had a chief request since marijuana was legalized: Give us access to banks. But it turns out that hundreds of the state’s pot businesses are already working with financial institutions under the close watch of federal regulators, even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. As many as 35 banks and credit unions offer services to the industry that has made $6.5 billion in sales in Colorado since 2014, according to the Colorado Bankers Association. Most financial institutions are secretive about their business relationships with companies that grow and sell marijuana legally, limiting the number of customers they will take on and asking their clients to sign nondisclosure agreements, said Amanda Averch, a spokeswoman for the bankers association. “They’re serving this business, effectively, anonymously,” she said. Legislation that passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support last week, and championed by Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, aims to bring marijuana banking into the mainstream, providing permanent federal protections for financial institutions that choose to work with the pot industry. Cannabis business now are almost exclusively cash enterprises. The so-called SAFE Banking Act would allow them to accept credit cards from customers and apply for and receive loans. It also could make the cannabis banking market more competitive, potentially driving down the higher fees marijuana businesses now are charged. “There are a couple institutions doing a lot, but not a lot of institutions doing much,” Perlmutter, of Arvada, told The Colorado Sun on Monday. Here’s how things work now: Banks that want to work with legal marijuana businesses and meet regulatory compliance do so under guidance provided in 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network. What the guidance doesn’t do is shield banks from criminal liability. Since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, they are technically laundering any money deposited by pot businesses. If the guidance was rescinded, the bank or credit union could be subject to fines. “If the guidance was revoked, just like the Cole Memo was revoked, there would be nothing,” Perlmutter said. “Part of the purpose of the legislation is to put it into place, into law, so it can’t be revoked from one administration to the other.” Sundie Seefried, CEO and president of Partner Colorado Credit Union and a pioneer in marijuana banking, has been working with legal cannabis businesses since January 2015. The credit union now has about 400 clients in the industry, including companies that grow and sell cannabis, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-09
  • Over Two Dozen Medical Cannabis Growers in Pennsylvania Unionize
    The employees of a Pennsylvania medical marijuana company have signed a labor contract with their employer, making them the first cannabis workers in the state to unionize. The three-year agreement between employees and management of Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions was recently ratified, making about 30 production and laboratory operations workers in a Scranton manufacturing facility members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State. Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions is a subsidiary of Vireo Health, a cannabis company licensed to operate in 11 markets with legal cannabis. Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Vireo Health, said in a press release that the firm supports its employees’ right to unionize. “As a socially responsible business, Vireo is deeply committed to its employees and is proud to be a union employer,” Kingsley said. “We believe that a unionized workforce is key to our company’s success and look forward to partnering with UFCW to support legislation, such as legalizing adult-use cannabis, that will help create thousands of new middle-class jobs across the Keystone State.” Vireo Health also has plans to open three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state by the end of the year, which will create up to 20 more union jobs for retail workers. “This is a fantastic contract for our members and a great win for the future of all workers in the cannabis industry,” said UFCW 1776KS president Wendell Young IV. “I am very proud of the role that UFCW has played in helping to bring collective bargaining to the cannabis industry and help create good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania. I want to thank our union bargaining committee and Vireo Health for their hard work on this contract.” “The UFCW offers cannabis workers and business owners, along with patients and coalition allies, the opportunity to work together to accomplish shared goals,” the union writes on its website. “By crafting and supporting targeted legislative efforts, along with negotiating the best contracts for workers, we are giving workers a voice in the workplace and beyond!” Unionization a National Trend Vireo Health also has subsidiaries in New York and Minnesota with workers who have unionized. Nationwide, about 10,000 workers in the cannabis industry are covered by a union contract, mostly on the West Coast, where cannabis has been legal the longest. “We looked at the cannabis industry and said the union could use its political power to bring forward the good players out of the black market, and bring some credibility and establish a legitimate industry,” Jim Araby, of Northern California’s ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • University In Houston Testing Psilocybin For Treatment-Resistant Depression
    On the heels of its decriminalization in a handful of US cities, psilocybin is being explored by the scientific establishment for evidence of therapeutic effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Texas Science Health Center in Houston (UTHealth) have announced that they are studying psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. The study is inspired by past scientific investigations that suggest that psilocybin works to create new mental circuitry. One 2012 study concluded that the substance can enable “a state of unconstrained cognition.” Another study conducted at Johns Hopkins University and published in 2016 found a link between psilocybin use and decreases in depression and anxiety. “It is a medication that can change or alter perceptions, cognition, thinking, and how minds see the environment,” Sudhakar Selvaraj, MD, PhD, assistant professor at UTHealth, said in a statement. “This therapy, if it works, could help at least a portion of people get relief from their depression and get back to day-to-day life.” The UTHealth study will rely on a double-blind method, meaning neither patients nor study physicians will know what dosage of psilocybin is taken by study participants. After ingesting 25, ten, or one milligrams of psilocybin, patients will hang out in a comfortable treatment room for eight hours, supervised by therapists. Before and after they trip, participants will fill out questionnaires regarding their symptoms of depression. They’ll record their mental state again one, three, six, nine, and 12 weeks later. Sound nice? If you’re between the ages of 18 and 55 and have treatment-resistant depression, you can still apply to be in the study. Psilocybin and Mental Health It is thought that psilocybin affects depression by the interaction between a chemical produced by the body upon its ingestion, called psilocin, and the body’s serotonin system. In recent months, other breakthroughs have taken place in the realm of psilocybin. Last week, Miami University researchers announced that they have discovered a method of producing the compound that relies not on the cultivation of mushrooms, but via splicing their DNA into the E. coli bacteria. Last year, a team at Johns Hopkins University concluded that mushrooms could actually aid people in quitting cigarettes. That educational institution, led by psychopharmacologist Roland R. Griffiths, has conducted psychedelics research since 2000 and was the first research group to be approved by the US federal government to conduct such tests. Griffith holds that psychedelics can accomplish mental shifts in one session that years of counseling and pharmaceuticals cannot achieve. The school has since proven to be one of the leaders in the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Utah School District Installs Vape Detectors in Bathrooms
    Vaping continues to make headlines around the country. Most recently, this attention has come from a string of health crises—including multiple deaths—all of which have been linked to vaping. Now, vaping is once again at the heart of controversy. This time, in public schools located in Utah. Specifically, a number of school districts around the state are purchasing and installing vape detectors inside bathrooms. Vape Detectors Showing Up in Utah Schools As reported by local Utah media outlet 2 KUTV, a number of school districts in the state are trying to crack down on student vaping. To do so, these districts are buying and installing specialized detectors inside bathrooms. These detectors are capable of sensing both cigarette smoke and vapor coming from vapes. Additionally, they can also reportedly detect escalated noise, in indicator of potential bullying or fighting. Administrators at some of these districts said the detectors are there to protect students. Specifically, they said that vapes are almost exclusively the product of choice for high school students. In fact, the principal at one high school with the new detectors said the has not confiscated cigarettes or smokeless tobacco from students for almost three years. Additionally, many administrators at the school point to the ongoing epidemic of lung injury, illness, and death linked to vaping. “This was driven by our parent groups coming to us wanting us to do something,” Wasatch High School Assistant Principal Adam Hagen told 2 KUTV. “We were seeing an escalation in the number of vape cases.” School Districts Spend Thousands on Detectors To date, at least nine school districts have purchased the detectors. And in some cases, these detectors carry a hefty price tag. According to 2 KUTV, here’s a rundown of some of the districts that have purchased the detectors: Wasatch School District spent nearly $40,000 to install 40 sensors. They installed them in every bathroom of the district’s one high school and two middle schools. So far, at least 20 students have been suspended after getting caught vaping.Nebo School District purchased two detectors to use in a pilot program. So far, the sensors have not picked anything up.Grand School District spent more than $7,000 on sensors that were installed in April. So far, the district reports that the sensors have not actually worked. Administrators also said that two vapes were found at a school, both of which reportedly contained meth. Given the timeline of when these detectors started being installed in schools, it is unclear if the sensors came before or in response to the current ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Comedian Ben Gleib Seeks Democratic Nomination for President
    With his history as a stand-up comedian, mercilessly mocking game show host, and designated day-drinking companion to the Today Show’s Kathie Lee and Hoda, Ben Gleib’s presence among the slew of candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president has many wondering if his campaign is some sort of elaborate joke. But he insists that’s not the reason he’s running for the highest office in the land. “If being funny was my goal, you would be laughing a lot more,” Gleib deadpans in a telephone interview with High Times. “But we have a lot of serious things to tackle.” Those important issues include ending corruption and the influence of big money in politics,  healthcare for everyone (“because obviously,” proclaims his campaign website), legalizing cannabis, and prison reform. And while some of those topics have been familiar themes for many of his contenders, too, Ben Gleib says that he doesn’t believe the group of politicians leading the pack have what it takes to succeed in 2020. “I’m running because I don’t think that any of the current candidates running for the Democratic nomination are offering a sure-fire way to beat Trump. I’m not convinced that any of them has a strategy that can take down the anomaly that is the orange monster who’s trying to erode everything that we hold dear in this country. He’s not a politician and so trying to beat him with politics makes no sense. It’s like trying to bring policy papers to a wrestling match.”   Take Him Down with Comedy But if Gleib were to get the nod from the party, his experience on the comedy club circuit would help him take the president down. “Trump is the biggest heckler in political history,” he says. “The way you take down a heckler every time is with a comedian. And that’s what I plan to do.” Gleib says that he wants his campaign to be about giving a voice to marginalized communities, prompting his campaign trail to run not only through Iowa and New Hampshire but Puerto Rico as well, where he visited recently to view the continuing recovery from Hurricane Maria, two years after the storm battered the Carribbean island. “I’m the only candidate in the race who is a working person and the only union member the race,” says Gleib. “I’m the only one who’s not a career politician or multimillionaire. I’m tired of continually electing the same types of people into office and then being surprised when we don’t get change.” Ben Gleib: ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • Maryland Judge Rules To Extend Prohibition Of Medical Cannabis Licenses
    A prohibition on licenses for growing and processing medical marijuana has been extended in Maryland after a ruling last week by a judge in the state. The prohibition stems from a temporary restraining order issued last month by Judge Ronald B. Rubin after a company called Remileaf filed a complaint arguing that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission bungled its application for a growing and processing license. The restraining order was set to expire on Monday, but late last week, Rubin extended it until October 17. In its complaint, Remileaf asserted that it submitted its application by the deadline of May 24, but that due to problems with the online system, the commission extended the deadline, which in turn required Remileaf to re-submit the application. The company contends that it deployed a representative to the commission’s office on the date of the new deadline to submit a physical application, but that the representative was denied admission into the office. Restraining Order Drawing Criticism Under the restraining order, the state is prohibited from issuing additional cannabis licenses. In his decision last month, Rubin said that Remileaf “has shown a fair chance of prevailing on the merits of its claims, having raised serious and substantial problems regarding the bidding process and its administration by the [Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission], and the seeming irregularity of the procedures employed.” “If relief is not granted, [Remileaf] will not receive pre-approval for, much less an actual license, to grow or to sell medical cannabis in Maryland,” Rubin wrote in his ruling. “The public may very well be deprived of the best possible provider.” The restraining order precluded the awarding of four licenses to growers and 10 licenses to processors that were set to be doled out by the commission on September 26. In addition to the lawsuit from Remileaf, the commission is also drawing scrutiny from the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, which had also sought the postponement of awarding new licenses over concerns about whether minority-owned cannabis firms were getting a fair shake. A law passed last year mandated the commission to give out more licenses with the aim of enhancing diversity within the state’s cannabis program. In a letter last month to the commission, the caucus said there were “significant issues and concerns raised about the process being used to determine winners and losers for these new licenses.”  The post Maryland Judge Rules To Extend Prohibition Of Medical Cannabis Licenses appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-08
  • First HempWood Factory Opening In Murray, Kentucky Thanks To A New Startup
    A new hemp factory has opened that will specialize in producing a sustainably sourced wood substitute. HempWood, operated by a company called Fibonacci LLC, is the brainchild of owner Greg Wilson and his experience working with Chinese bamboo technology. His process purports to mimic the growth algorithm of oak trees to get a durable hemp product by mixing it with a soybean-based glue for a long-lasting building material. For the moment, the factory is focused on manufacturing flooring materials, but a representative from the company says that in the future, the sky’s the limit on what they’ll be able to make with the substance.  HempWood decided to set up shop in Murray, a Kentucky town that could offer a partnership with Murray State University’s Hutson School of Agriculture. Wilson has told the media that the school not only helped to link him with nearby hemp farmers to ensure a consistent supply of raw materials, but also assisted in the application for his processing license. The school sees the benefit in having a partner in the state’s growing hemp industry “from internships to future jobs,” Murray State president Bob Jackson said at the plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Teaching and learning from an agricultural standpoint, business standpoint, chemistry standpoint, and I could go on and on.” Company founder Greg Wilson has a background in materials science, and worked for nearly a decade in China in sustainable material factories. He says that when the 2014 US Farm Bill made it legal to use hemp for scientific research, he built a home laboratory and started exploring the possibilities of hemp. He came up with a process that creates a product 20 percent denser than oak. “Hemp is a lot like strand-woven bamboo, except it’s less coarse,” explained John Crye, who handles direct sales and marketing for HempWood. “Bamboo is kind of a rough material and it will kind of chip, which makes it harder to work with. Hemp is much more woody so that gives it advantages over bamboo.” Factory in the Works for Months HempWood announced the new factory in March, but officially kicked off operations at the end of August, when the 11,230 square foot plant held a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The factory currently employs eight people. Owners intend to double staffing by the end of the year, as they expand facilities to produce more hemp. The company hopes to open eight more factories in the United States, and are aiming for the second facility to open by 2021. The Murray location cost ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Melania Trump Joins Others in Urging E-Cig Companies to Stop Advertising to Teens
    First lady Melania Trump called on e-cigarette companies to stop advertising to teenagers on Monday while urging youth to avoid the perils of addiction. Appearing at a U.S. Drug Enforcement rally to kick off a drug abuse prevention awareness event, Trump said that young people should be warned about the risks of using e-cigarettes. “It is important to me that we all work to educate children and families about the dangers associated with this habit,” said the first lady. The president and Mrs. Trump have a teenaged son, 13-year-old Barron. She also called on manufacturers to end the marketing of e-cigarettes to young people. “Marketing this addictive product to children must stop,” said Trump. In September, the Trump administration announced that it was developing plans to issue a federal ban on all flavored e-cigarettes in part as a response to the rash of serious lung injuries linked to vaping that continues to plague the United States. “The vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” the president said. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” he added. First Lady Warns of Perils of Drug Addiction The first lady’s remarks came during a DEA rally to promote the October 23 beginning of Red Ribbon Week, an event that encourages young people to take a pledge to not use drugs. At the rally, Trump also warned the audience of the dangers of drug addiction. “In my time as first lady, I have traveled to hospital and visited rehabilitation centers where I have seen first-hand the horrible results of drug abuse,” she said. “Our administration will continue working hard in fighting the opioid crisis.” Trump also said that young people struggling with drug use should be urged to face their addiction and seek treatment. “We need to continue encouraging teenagers and young adults who have fallen into drug addiction to be brave enough to admit it, to talk about it, and to get help,” urged the first lady. “Illegal use of drugs destroys too many families in our country. Drugs are taking a toll on our most vulnerable,” she added. Trump vowed to continue working through her Be Best initiative to help young people avoid drug abuse. “I will continue to address addiction as long as it affects our children, our youth, and our schools,” she said. The post Melania ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Lawsuit Against Washington, D.C. Alleges Discrimination Against Cannabis Users
    In September, Washington D.C. mayor Murial Bowser brought an end to months of anxious waiting on the part of city workers who lawfully consume cannabis. The new mayoral order clarified that the use of cannabis for any reason cannot prevent a person from getting or maintaining a government job. The order also blocked any city agencies from setting their own workplace marijuana policies. But even though most city employees were okayed to consume medical or recreational cannabis off the clock, Mayor Bowser’s order carved out a key exception: workers in “safety-sensitive” positions. Now, some city workers are fighting to overturn the ban. And one worker, Doretha Barber, is suing the city, alleging its workplace drug policies discriminate against medical cannabis patients. Lawsuit Targets D.C. Ban on Cannabis Use by City Workers Doretha Barber is a sanitation worker for Washington, D.C.’s Department of Public Works (DPW). For ten years, Barber has helped keep D.C. streets clean, mostly by raking and collecting trash and leaves. It’s a tough gig for Barber, who was born with scoliosis and diagnosed with a serious disease in her spine in 2014. Bending and raking, Barber believes, makes her back condition worse. And recently, the pain, spasms and migraines she gets are causing her to miss work. To treat her back pain, Barber came to medical cannabis like many other patients. The prescription and over-the-counter medications she was taking weren’t cutting it. Plus, the side effects were sometimes as debilitating as the pain itself. So it was with her doctor’s recommendation that she became a registered patient with D.C.’s medical cannabis program in 2018. Barber says cannabis was “life changing.” Her migraines were less intense, her spasms were less frequent and she was able to go to work more. Barber says she only took medical cannabis off the clock and never clocked in under the influence of THC. But in May, Barber was among a number of DPW employees who received a memo ordering them to seek alternatives to medical cannabis treatments. The department, the memo explained, would begin testing workers in “safety-sensitive” positions. And anyone who failed the urine drug test would be at risk of losing their job or facing disciplinary measures. Workplace Marijuana Policy Impacts Blue-Collar and Black Workers Most All of a sudden, a mid-2018 reclassification of all DPW jobs as “safety sensitive” regardless of whether they involved operating heavy machinery or other dangerous tasks meant that workers like Barber could no longer use medical cannabis. When DPW started ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Maine May Finally Have Legal Cannabis Retail by March 2020
    Officials in Maine are projecting that cannabis will be on sale in stores by March 2020. A crucial piece of the state’s law has taken effect, which has enabled the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy to finalize the rules governing the sale of cannabis. The Associated Press reported that the legislature “made tweaks to Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act that were necessary for the marijuana office to adopt the rules, which it is expected to do within two months,” and that a state spokesperson said applications for retail marijuana sales will be accepted by the end of this year. The AP reported that the “state will need time to process the applications, and retailers will also need local approvals, but the state is projecting revenue from marijuana sales by March 15” of 2020. Marijuana’s Long Journey in Maine It’s been a long, fitful rollout for Maine’s cannabis law. Voters there approved a referendum in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use by a razor-thin margin that prompted calls for a recount. The result stood after a partial recount was suspended in January of 2017, but Paul LePage, the state’s Republican governor at the time, defied voters and remained steadfast in his opposition to the measure. He vetoed a bill to move ahead with legalization in November of 2017, saying he remained “concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in Maine.” “The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated,” LePage said in his veto letter. “Maine is now battling a horrific drug epidemic that claims more than one life a day due to overdoses caused by deadly opiates. Sending a message, especially to our young people, that some drugs that are still illegal under federal law are now sanctioned by the state may have unintended and grave consequences.” In April of last year, LePage again vetoed a bill to regulate marijuana in the state, but Maine lawmakers eventually overrode his veto. Maine’s current governor, Democrat Janet Mills, has sang a very different tune. Elected last year, Mills made it clear throughout the campaign that she supported the implementation of the new law. In June, Mills signed a law that established rules over the sale of recreational marijuana that permitted licenses to sell marijuana to individuals 21 and over, while providing cities with the discretion over whether to allow sales or not. The post Maine May Finally Have Legal Cannabis Retail by March 2020 appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-07
  • Pennsylvania Representative Proposes Bill To Allow Cannabis In State-Run Liquor Stores
    A Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legalize the recreational sale of cannabis and make state-run liquor stores the only authorized retailer of marijuana products. The measure, House Bill 1899, was introduced by Democratic state Rep. David Delloso of Delaware County. Delloso said in a statement that restricting sales of cannabis to the state’s network of liquor stores would ensure that local businesses benefit the most from legalization. “What I’m afraid of is, without this bill, if we don’t sell cannabis in the state stores, big corporate interests throughout the United States are going to come to Pennsylvania and they’re going to put corner stores up,” he said. “They aren’t going to provide family sustaining jobs, and all the profits are going to leave Pennsylvania.” Under the bill, adults 21 and older would be permitted to legally possess and consume marijuana. Adults would be allowed to give away small amounts of cannabis, but sales would be restricted to businesses licensed by the state. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would be responsible for licensing businesses to produce marijuana for sale at the state-controlled stores. The measure also contains provisions that would expunge the records of those convicted of marijuana possession and inmates currently incarcerated for such offenses would be released. Also, employers would be prohibited from firing or disciplining employees if a drug screening indicates the “presence of a nonintoxicating level of cannabis.” Legalizing recreational cannabis would be an economic boon for the state, according to Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center, which estimates that doing so would create 18,000 jobs and result in $581 million in tax revenues to the state each year. “It is time for us to not just have a conversation but sit down and really look at details on how we can do this in Pennsylvania understanding that the support is there, the revenue will be there for us and we could do a lot of good things with those resources,” said Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia County, also a Democrat. Republicans Not On Board House Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations about the bill, issuing a statement that the move would conflict with federal law and create legal issues. They also fear that legalizing recreational cannabis would interfere with the state’s medical marijuana businesses and pose a risk of harm to young people. “Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana,” the statement said. Shawn Kelly, the press secretary for the Liquor Control Board, said ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • In The US, 18 People Have Died And More Than 1000 Have Become Sick From Vaping
    NEW YORK (AP) — The number of vaping-related illnesses has surpassed 1,000, and there’s no sign the outbreak is fading, U.S. health officials said Thursday. Doctors say the illnesses, which first appeared in March, resemble an inhalation injury. Symptoms include severe, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the marijuana ingredient that causes a high, but some said they vaped only nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 48 states and one U.S. territory as of Tuesday afternoon. The count includes 18 deaths in 15 states. More than a third of patients are under age 21, but the deaths have been older adults who apparently had more difficulty recovering. Recently, 275 cases have been added to the tally each week, and about half of the newest batch were people hospitalized in the last two weeks. “Unfortunately, the outbreak … is continuing at a brisk pace” and there’s no sign of it slowing, the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a Thursday call with reporters. What Kind of Vapes are Causing the Illnesses? The Food and Drug Administration is analyzing products from 18 states, but neither that agency nor the CDC has pinpointed an electronic cigarette, vaping device, liquid or ingredient as the root cause. The investigation has increasingly focused on THC vaping products. But until a cause is found, the CDC continues to advise Americans to refrain from using any vaping products. Complicating the investigation are apparently conflicting medical reports about what’s been seen in the lungs of different patients. Some doctors suggested patients’ lungs are being clogged and inflamed by oils from vaping liquids, but a report published this week by the New England Journal of Medicine pointed to the kind of chemical burns that might come from poisonous gases. “There may be a lot of different nasty things in e-cigarette or vaping products, and they may cause different harms in the lung,” Schuchat said. “We hope over the months ahead that we’ll learn more about the spectrum of lung conditions that these exposures are having.” Only Alaska and New Hampshire have not reported any illnesses. The post In The US, 18 People Have Died And More Than 1000 Have Become Sick From Vaping appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • Oklahoma Public School District Rejects Donation From Local Medical Cannabis Dispensary
    Even as the press reports on Oklahoma’s public education budgetary woes, it appears that not all schools are open to accepting all donations. A marijuana dispensary chain was surprised to have their monetary gift to Ponca City Public Schools rejected. The district’s superintendent Shelly Arrott released a media statement that said the rejection was due to nervousness over how the donation would affect federal funding. “Accepting donations from a medical marijuana dispensary is uncharted territory for Oklahoma school districts in relation to federal funding sources,” she said. “At this time, the district cannot risk compromising these funding sources which are relied on heavily for the education of students.” The company in question is Flippin Farms, which currently operates four dispensaries in the state and is planning to open four more. One of the company’s owners expressed his surprise over the situation to a local news site. “If it’s OK for them to take tax money from this industry, why not be able to take money straight from this industry?” asked Corey Fisher. “We were just kind of confused and alarmed that in a school district that is constantly underfunded, we’re willing to walk in there, and [say], ‘Hey, I can write you a personal check,’ […] and they just declined.” Fisher was referring to the fact that in Oklahoma, 75 percent of surplus medical cannabis tax revenue is received by the public school system. He rightly asked why, then, wouldn’t they take the cash directly from a dispensary? Oklahoma Schools Are Struggling The news dropped a day before a media report came out about how Oklahoma schools in struggling districts have been forced to make funding tradeoffs when it comes to much-needed school security measures like security guards. Across the country, many states have tied school funding to cannabis sales. In Colorado, cannabis revenues that have gone to K-12 education via the 2014 passage of the state’s Amendment 64 have topped $283 million. The state has chosen to prioritize the construction of new schools, and sends the first $40 million raised each year towards that purpose. The plan has proven so popular that legislators have pushed for an increase in the amount of pot money that is shunted to schools. For their part, the Flippin Farms team seems confident that they will be able to put their money towards the state’s public education in the future. “Hopefully we can strike a good chord with the school district and we can come to an understanding,” Fisher continued. “And if nothing else, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04
  • California University Develops New Breath Test That Detects Opioids
    Engineers and physicians at the University of California, Davis have developed a breath test to detect possible opioid use. Here’s how it works: subjects of the test breathe normally into a specialized collection device, generating droplets in the breaths that condense and are then stored in a freezer until the testing is completed. Researchers at the university developed the technique among a small group of patients receiving infusions of pain medications including morphine and hydromorphone, or oral doses of oxycodone, enabling them to compare opioid metabolites with both blood samples and the doses given to patients. “We can see both the original drug and metabolites in exhaled breath,” said Professor Cristina Davis, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis. Davis said there “are a few ways we think this could impact society,” one of which is the ability to detect illegal drug use. Another way could be enabling doctors to make sure patients are taking their drugs correctly. “We’ve developed a sampler that is appropriate in the best way to collect the exhaled breath to detect the opioids, which are present at really small concentrations inside the breath,” Davis told the Sacramento Bee. “We right now sample for about 10 minutes and then we store that sample in the freezer until we can analyze it, and we use a technology called a mass spectrometer to analyze the opioids or any drugs that we see.” The Future of the Test Researchers will need a larger data sample to validate the test, meaning that they will continue to experiment on other subjects. But the university envisions real-time testing, providing a less invasive way to test for drugs than collecting a blood sample. Davis told the Sacramento Bee that her team ultimately hopes to create a device that is as small as the breathalyzer devices used by law enforcement.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 50 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, while Johns Hopkins Medicine said that all opioid deaths—including those stemming from street drugs like heroin—account for the deaths of 115 Americans every day. The CDC said in 2017 that prescription opioids were involved in more than 35 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. The post California University Develops New Breath Test That Detects Opioids appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-10-04