• San Francisco Events May Soon Allow Marijuana Sale and Consumption
    On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman announced that the city would soon be accepting applications for city permits to allow legal cannabis sales and consumption at public events. That means parades, festivals, concerts, fairs, farmers markets and more could all soon have legal weed available for attendees. And the best part is, those attendees will be able to smoke, vape or otherwise consume that cannabis at the event itself. San Francisco Board of Supervisors Set To Approve Permits for Marijuana Ahead of Annual 420 Event Every year, San Francisco hosts a 420 event in Golden Gate Park. Dubbed “420 in the Park,” the festival is a gigantic gathering at Hippie Hill. Historically, 420 in the Park has eschewed licenses and permits. But the totally unofficial festival has become massively popular in recent years, thanks to legalization, and thus, more of an issue for city residents. The larger crowds have attracted some violent attendees, harshing everyone’s vibe. And the trash left behind has reportedly been outrageous; as in, 11-tons-of-garbage outrageous. To attempt to get a handle on things, San Francisco actually permitted the event in 2018. It brought in sponsors, set up fencing around the Sharon Meadows site, beefed up security, and, most importantly, provided an adequate number of wastebaskets and portable toilets. With more food vendors and trucks, a real sound system and paid DJs, 420 in the Park finally looked like an official party. No doubt, this year’s crowd will be even bigger. And to head off any potential problems, San Francisco is planning to allow cannabis vendors to obtain permits to sell at the Hippie Hill event. Cannabis is legal for adults to buy, possess and (privately) consume in California. But in many ways, events like these break all the rules. Ironically, that wasn’t such a big deal when it was illegal to buy and consume weed. The authorities tended to just look the other way. But now that there’s a legal industry, with rules and regulations to follow, events like 420 in the Park are more difficult to pull off. City Officials Say Permits Will Keep Fentanyl-Laced Weed Out of the Event Events like San Francisco’s annual 420 bash now have a more complicated legal landscape to follow. They need permits from the state and they need permits from the city. But first, the city needs to implement the state law that lets cities permit cannabis events. Only if, however, those events meet certain criteria, criteria that will change in 2022—you get the picture. But all ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-31
  • Israel’s Cabinet Approves Export of Medical Cannabis
    In a decision that thrilled the country’s cannabis industry, Israel’s cabinet gave a final OK on January 27 to regulations permitting the export of medical marijuana. The law was unanimously passed in the country’s parliamentary body the Knesset in December. News of the legalization of exportation is a long time coming in the eyes of many Israeli cannabis professionals. A government committee approved a plan to move towards legal exportation in 2017, but the process dragged over concerns about exported cannabis getting into the hands of entities in areas where marijuana is not yet legal. The decision makes Israel the third participant in the global legal cannabis market. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada also allow for exportation. The global cannabis market, according to a report by Energias Market Research, was projected in 2017 at $8.3 billion, and stands to rise to $28 billion by 2024. On Monday, Ehud Barak, chairman of Israeli company InterCure, announced plans to launch operations in 10 countries over the next two years. “I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” Israel’s finance minister Moshe Kahlon commented to the Jerusalem Post. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.” Licenses for exportation will be granted by the country’s health ministry. Israel’s medical marijuana system has been overseen by the country’s agricultural branch since 2017. Agriculture minister Uri Ariel told the Jerusalem Post that the cabinet’s decision sends a “historic message to farmers of Israel, young farmers, to patients and the Israeli economy.” Of course, this is far from the first time that Israeli companies could be expanding beyond the borders of the country. Israel’s Tikun Olam, founded in 2007 and still the country’s largest marijuana company, expanded into Canada back in 2014 when it partnered with MedReleaf. Among its various forays overseas, the company founded Tikun Olam USA in 2016, co-founded a cannabis developer in Australia in 2017, and opened a division in the UK last year. Israeli cannabis companies are not the country’s only entities getting involved in the worldwide weed industry. In August, plans were announced for an Israeli genome analysis firm to partner with a Swiss cannabis corporation in mapping cannabis genomes in the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Patients Left in Limbo as Louisiana Experiences Medical Cannabis Delays
    Now approaching the fourth year since Louisiana lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation, patients have been stuck in a frustrating and painstaking wait as treatment remains unavailable. On Monday, patients and medical cannabis advocates received another disappointing update on the lengthy regulatory and testing process, potentially leaving the recently purported summer 2019 start date in jeopardy. Still unable to obtain treatment from regional pharmacies, there is still no definite timeline for when medical-grade cannabis products will finally come to the Bayou State.   Gathered at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s public stakeholders meeting patients, regulators, state-sanctioned growers, and the universities overseeing the process convened to discuss the current state of the stymied medical cannabis program. Louisiana Patients Grow Weary of More Delays to Medical Cannabis Access Katie Corkern, a mother and medical cannabis advocate, has pleaded for years with Louisiana lawmakers to make treatment available for her 12-year-old son, Connor, who’s been suffering from debilitating seizures. At the most recent meeting, she said her son has been to the hospital 15 times since lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation. Despite Connor’s neurologist recommending that he use medical pot to help control his seizures, Corkern has been unable to get him treatment.     “We’re waiting, and Connor doesn’t deserve this,” she said at the meeting. “Neither do the citizens that you all don’t get to see.” Passed back in 2015, these frustrating delays are due in part to the particularly restrictive medical cannabis framework that Louisiana lawmakers have implemented. For instance, medical-grade marijuana is only allowed to be grown at the agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University, leaving the entire system in the hands of only a couple of cultivators. Over 1,300 days have passed since the law was put into place. So, the frustration expressed by patients is certainly warranted. Several attendees at Monday’s meeting pointed fingers at the regulatory hurdles that the agricultural department must follow, particularly regarding the decision that all medical cannabis products must be tested in-house.  Louisiana’s Restrictive Medical Cannabis Framework Leaves Patients in Limbo Despite the repeated pleas from Corkern and other patients in need, lawmakers don’t seem to be searching for an immediate solution to this dire impediment. Ilera Holistic Healthcare, the grower operating at Southern University, hasn’t started growing its product yet. And the initial estimate of having medical pot available by summer or early fall is now being questioned as too optimistic by state agriculture officials.   While GB Sciences, the research and biotechnical development company growing out of LSU, has ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • K9 Unit Discovers 21 lbs of Cannabis in Suitcases at Nashville Airport
    A total prohibition state nestled among a number of other total prohibition states, Tennessee is nevertheless a crossroads for U.S. marijuana traffickers. Indeed, today’s bust at the Nashville International Airport is the second there this month. But the 21 pounds of cannabis a police K9 unit discovered in two suitcases pales in comparison to the 160 pounds police dogs found in four suitcases two weeks ago. Despite Trend Toward Training K9s to Ignore Marijuana, Nashville Police Still Rely on Them for Weed Busts Since at least 2017, police departments around the U.S. have been phasing out their use of drug-sniffing dogs to detect cannabis. As legalization and decriminalization expand around the country, police are training K9 units to ignore the telltale smells of marijuana. And it’s not just because laws are changing. The fact is that police K9 units don’t always have the most accurate sense of smell. Plenty of charges and false convictions have been thrown out due to the use of drug-detecting animals. Smells linger, trigger false alerts and implicate innocent bystanders. The evidence dogs provide is often inadmissible. Criticism of drug-sniffing dogs goes back as long as officers have been using them to catch people in possession of narcotics. And a few major exposés have revealed the many problems with relying on them. Police K9s, it goes without saying, can’t read anyone their rights; they don’t know the laws. And that means police can effectively use K9s to conduct searches without a warrant or probably cause. Furthermore, dogs are sensitive to the way their humans act. Studies show that police K9s pick up the biases and prejudices of their handlers, a huge problem when it comes to drug enforcement. Nashville Police Dogs are Putting Up Big Numbers This Month But in Tennessee, where cannabis is completely and totally illegal, drug dogs are still out in full force, especially in sensitive locations like airports. The K9 who has racked up more than 180 pounds of marijuana busts this month goes by the name Boston. Boston indicated to Nashville Airport police and local DEA agents the possible presence of cannabis inside two roller bags. When those bags reached the carousel, police looked to see who picked them up. That person was one Kenisy Adair Jr. Adair Jr. is currently on probation for possessing marijuana with intent to distribute in Georgia. As a result, Nashville Police booked Adair Jr. with a $78,000 bond. The suspect faces felony drug charges and evading arrest. Police say the man “made a quick movement” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Maine Supreme Court Upholds Eviction of Man Growing His Own Medical Marijuana
    Underlining the role that economic class plays in one’s experience of the cannabis legalization movement, Maine resident Olanian Jackson saw his eviction upheld by the state’s Supreme Court after his landlord discovered that Jackson was using state-legal medical marijuana in his home. The court’s decision highlights the fact that for anyone who lives in federally subsidized housing, the progress that has been made in state-by-state cannabis legalization in the US is simply not enough to ensure one’s safety. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made it clear that recipients of Section 8 vouchers, or anyone who lives in public housing can be evicted or denied a home based on marijuana usage, regardless of state and local laws. The injustice led Rolling Stone to ask “If you can’t legally use cannabis in your own home, is weed really legal for you?” in an article profiling Washington DC resident and fibromyalgia patient Sondra Battle. Battle was shocked when her apartment manager posted a notice informing residents that they would be evicted with no appeal should they be found using marijuana, regardless of whether they had a doctor’s recommendation. In Jackson’s case, the Supreme Court was able to avoid addressing the conflict in state and federal laws by focusing on the related criteria for his eviction. As reported by Bangor Daily News, these included “intimidating behavior, denying access to his apartment, and illegally installing a lock”. The feds say that the weed alone was grounds for him to be shut out of his home in the Fairfield Family Apartments. A 2014 HUD memo states that “Regardless of the purpose for which legalized under state law, the use of marijuana in any form is illegal under the [Controlled Substances Act] and therefore is an illegal controlled substance.” The memo also states that landlords are required to deny federally assisted housing to applicants known to be using federally banned substances, and must “establish policies which allow the termination of tenancy of any household with a member who is illegally using marijuana.” Last year, Washington DC member of Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would have made it legal for residents to consume cannabis in federal housing located in states and districts which allowed for their usage. The bill went nowhere. In the United States, over five million people live in federally subsidized housing. In large part due to the country’s history of racist redlining bank policies that curtail housing choices, half of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • California Lawmakers Consider Reducing Pot Tax to Compete with Illicit Markets
    California’s legal cannabis industry still can’t compete with the state’s entrenched illicit market. The reason: fairly simple economics. It just costs too much to go legit. So for the second year in a row, California Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is backing a bill to give the legal industry a tax reprieve. By temporarily lowering costs for businesses, Bonta hopes the bill will draw more companies, cultivators and consumers (back) into the legal market. California Lawmakers Take Up Bill to Give Legal Industry a Temporary Tax Break On Monday, Assemblyman Rob Bonta introduced Assembly Bill 286, the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill. The proposal, if it passes, would drop California’s excise tax for cannabis retailers down to 11 percent from 15. It would also completely eliminate all cultivation taxes through 2022. In many ways, Bonta’s new bill resembles the bill he introduced in March 2018, which did not pass. The ultimate goal is to reduce the price at the point of sale for consumers. Bonta’s proposal could cut consumer prices 10 percent or more. From the start of legal retail sales in the state, Bonta and other lawmakers recognized that high taxes would prevent the industry from displacing the illicit market. With plentiful, cheaper alternatives, consumers have been staying with their unlicensed, unregulated sellers. Without tax relief to make cannabis more affordable and the industry more profitable, California risks empowering the illicit market further. Some cities in California have already taken the initiative themselves, slashing local taxes. Super-High Tax Rates Aren’t Generating the Revenue Officials Wanted Besides doing little to challenge the dominance of California’s unlicensed cannabis retailers, the high tax rates aren’t generating the cash windfall California officials had hoped it would. Last year, total tax revenue from California’s legal marijuana market came in dramatically underweight. According to state Treasurer Fiona Ma, who supports Bonta’s new bill, Q1 and Q2 tax revenue in 2018 fell more than $100 million below estimates. “We don’t tax start-up businesses from other industries when they start,” Ma told CNBC. “We need to do better.” Responding to the shortfall, State Assemblyperson Evan Low called the gap between the tax revenue voters got and the revenue they were promised when they voted to pass Prop. 64, “staggering.” Now, California regulators are struggling to come up with the solutions to rescue lawful operators from their illicit competitors. But the competition isn’t fair, and that’s exactly Assemblyman Bonta’s and Treasurer Ma’s point. A temporary tax break would help level the playing field. But California’s legal retail industry faces ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Former Trump Aide Announces Involvement in Medical Marijuana Startup
    Last September, biopharmaceutical company C3 International quietly announced the launch of the company’s flagship pain management pill, Idrasil. Idrasil is a medical cannabis pill and C3 claims it’s the first standardized form of the drug. And to help develop policy and a marketing strategy for the pill, C3 International has enlisted the counsel of George Papadopoulos, fresh off his 14-day stint in the clink for lying to the FBI during their investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. On Tuesday, Papadopoulos announced he had joined the Board of Advisors of C3 International, Inc. on Twitter. Disgraced Trump Campaign Aide Will Advise Medical Cannabis Startup on Product Marketing It would take a long memory (by today’s standards) to remember that George Papadopoulos was one of the first of President Trump’s campaign advisors to go down as a result of the Mueller investigation. In fact, the same month C3 International announced the launch of Idrasil, September 2018, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for lying to investigators in January 2017. Papadopoulos served his time in December. Currently, he is on a 12-month supervised release, aka parole. But parole doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from starring in a docuseries about his and his wife’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Nor does it prevent him from touring to promote his new book, Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. And it doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from serving on the advisory board of a medical cannabis startup. George Papadopoulos Joins C3 International Board of Advisors to Market Medical Cannabis Pill Despite a return to public life determined to capitalize on his exile from political life, Papadopoulos kept his announcement about C3 International and Idrasil focused on the medicine. Idrasil “is a revolutionary product that will assist in weaning Americans off the deleterious opioid epidemic that is affecting thousands, and killing hundreds, of Americans every single day,” Papadopoulos wrote in a tweet published Tuesday. He also described C3’s approach to pain medication as “new thinking.” C3 International says Idrasil consists of a proprietary blend of concentrated cannabis extract. The company says its approach is all about exact, consistent dosing. Idrasil comes in three doses, 12.5 mg, 25 mg and 100 mg. But press releases don’t specify the specific cannabinoids in the concentration, or the ratio of THC to CBD. It’s likely, however, that Idrasil contains low amounts of THC, a principle cannabinoid responsible for psychoactive effects. The pill form, C3 says, “eliminates the unwanted ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Russia May Authorize Cannabis Imports for Scientific Research
    Russia may be en route to more scientific studies on marijuana. Last week, Russia’s health ministry proposed a bill that would raise the amount of cannabis that’s legal to import into the country— for the study of the plant’s “addiction-causing capacities,” RT.com reports. The proposed legislation would make it legal for the ministry to import 1.1 kilograms of cannabis, 300 grams of hashish, and 50 grams of hash oil. The amount of THC the ministry is legally allowed to import would rise from 10 grams to 50 grams per year. No other usage besides scientific purposes would be allowed under the proposed regulations. The regulation draft cited recent studies that have compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct its first review of cannabis’ scheduling since the 1961 and ’71 International Drug Conventions. The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence released a report last year underlining its belief that CBD is a low-risk substance that has documented health benefits, and called marijuana a “relatively safe drug.” The report also gave credence to scientific data that’s been published suggesting cannabis can play a role in fighting cancer. In recent years, Russia has taken a hard line on the legalization of cannabis, even going so far as to chastise other countries for regulating the plant. When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances. Russian press also takes an active role in demonizing the drug. In 2017, Russian news network Rossiya 24 aired coverage pinning actor Morgan Freeman’s statements against Russia’s tampering with the US election on Freeman’s marijuana-use. In 2015, Russian governmental agencies responsible for regulating the country’s media ordered a Wikipedia page to be restricted that contained references to marijuana. Wikipedia acquiesced to the demands so that Russia would not block its population from accessing the rest of the site. Reddit has also come under fire from the Russian government when it discovered a thread “on the cultivation of growing a narcotic plant” in 2015. As recently as last December, Putin has gone on the record with some rather off-the-mark views about cannabis consumption. Marijuana Moment reports that at a meeting with cultural leaders, Putin agreed with a music producer that hip-hop’s presence on the radio in the U.S. promoted drug use. “I am most worried about drugs,” the president reportedly said. “This is the way towards the degradation of a nation.” Putin stopped ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee
    Two marijuana decriminalization bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature, according to media reports. One would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of pot, while the other would protect holders of medical marijuana identification cards from other states. Both bills were sponsored in the Tennessee Senate by Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle and in the House of Representatives by fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson. The first measure, SB256/HB235, would amend state statute to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. The second bill, SB260/HB234, would permit holders of medical marijuana program identification cards from other states to possess up to one-half an ounce of cannabis. The bill also removes criminal penalties for medical marijuana cardholders who transfer cannabis to other cardholders. Johnson told local media that she decided to sponsor the bills, which were written by Kyle, partly due to the personal experience of her father, who had multiple sclerosis. “I still believe he would have benefited from medical marijuana in treating the tremendous pain he was in,” Johnson said. “And if we have something who can benefit folks visiting family in Tennessee, they shouldn’t be punished for taking their medication.” Johnson also believes that decriminalizing marijuana is a matter of criminal justice reform and treating simple possession appropriately. MMJ Bill Also Pending The bills from Kyle and Johnson come less than three weeks after two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis, announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. After introducing the measures, Bowling said in a press release that she believes cannabis can be part of the solution to the nationwide epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. “I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans,” Bowling said. “Our constituents can use a natural and effective option for pain relief that is not controlled or pushed by Big Pharma. When I see medical studies showing that states with medical cannabis programs had an average 23 percent drop in opioid prescription use and overdoses, I see a real option we can use.” If the bill succeeds, patients with certain qualifying health conditions would be able to obtain a medical marijuana identification card to allow them to legally purchase cannabis. A commission would be created to regulate patient access and license cultivators and retailers. Bowling said the experience of other states was called upon to draft this medical cannabis solution for Tennessee. “I wanted a new bill that is Tennessee-specific and takes the best of what worked in other ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Lawmakers Want to Expand VA Medical Cannabis Research, Can’t Agree on How to Do it
    Lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced two bills last week that would call on the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand research into the medicinal use of cannabis. One of the measures would closely dictate the direction research at the VA should take, while the other would allow the agency more discretion. House Bill 712 was introduced on January 23 by Democratic Rep. Lou Correa of California and Rep. Clay Higgins, a Louisiana Republican. Under their bill, the VA would, among other things, be directed to conduct a clinical trial of the effects of cannabis on adults with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Correa said in a statement that the VA needs to develop new approaches to treating those who have answered the nation’s call to military service. “With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries,” Correa said. “It’s time the VA did a formal study.” Competing Measure Gives VA More Latitude A second measure, House Bill 747, was introduced the following day by Rep. Phil Roe, a Republican from Tennessee. His bill would also call on the VA to conduct research into medicinal cannabis, but would permit the agency to decide how to proceed. “We should require VA to do this research, but also should let the scientists have the freedom to do their job,” Roe said in a statement. But backers of Correa’s bill believe that approach could allow the VA, which has long resisted the medicinal use of cannabis for veterans, to waste more time. Correa said in a statement that the agency could have already begun to study medical cannabis under current law. “The department has had the authority to do this research for a long time, and has continually avoided it,” Correa said. “Our legislation denies them the opportunity to push the buck any longer.” Tom Porter, the director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has come out in support of Correa’s bill. He said that a majority of the vets in his organization approve of the use of medical marijuana. “Our members have spoken loud and clear on this issue,” said Porter. “In our latest member survey, 63 percent supported and only 15 percent opposed legalization for the medical use of cannabis. This bill takes a giant and necessary step forward to determine the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis.” Both H.B. 712 and H.B. 747 have been referred to the House Committee ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Two Medical Marijuana Bills in the Drafting Stage in Kansas
    In Kansas (and thirteen other states) cannabis is still fully illegal. The state has no measures to decriminalize use or possession, no authorizations for medical use, and harsh mandatory minimums that include a year of imprisonment for first-time possession offenses. When Colorado legalized adult-use in 2014, 10 sheriffs from Kansas even sued their neighboring state because of it. In short, Kansas is not a cannabis-friendly state. But two state legislators are aiming to change that this year. Rep. Gail Finney and Sen. Tom Holland have announced their plans to introduce bills to legalize cannabis for medical use. Patient Advocacy Group “Bleeding Kansas” Behind Efforts to Legalize Medical Cannabis While both bills propose to legalize cannabis for medical use in Kansas, they each adopt a different approach. The first bill, sponsored by Rep. Gail Finney (D-84th), is the best for patients and their families. The second bill, to be introduced by Sen. Tom Holland (D-3rd), adopts a more conservative approach. A patient advocacy group that has previously introduced medical marijuana legislation, Bleeding Kansas, is the organization helping to draft Rep. Finney’s bill. Lisa Ash Sublett, founder of Bleeding Kansas, began fighting for legal medical cannabis after her daughter began experiencing seizures due to a traumatic brain injury. Last year, Sublett’s group succeeded in introducing the Kansas Safe Access Act. Safe Access would have legalized medical marijuana for serious conditions, but House lawmakers rejected it. Now, Bleeding Kansas is working with Rep. Finney to introduce another, similar bill this year. “We don’t want families to suffer here. We don’t want kids taken away from their parents. And we don’t want parents and patients in jail,” Sublett told KSNT. “The law needs to change, but it needs to be done correctly. We’ve seen failures in other states.” Lawmaker Says Only a Conservative Approach to Legalization Stands a Chance in Kansas State Sen. Tom Holland (D-8th), however, says conservative is better than correct, at least in Kansas. Sen. Holland will also introduce legislation to legalize medical marijuana. But he calls his version “simpler,” pointing out that a pared down, more conservative approach to medical legalization stands a better chance in the Republican-controlled state legislature. For example, Holland’s bill does not include a provision for home cannabis cultivation, but Finney’s bill does. “When you look at some of the things in my bill, it’s probably a more screwed down conservative approach to actually get this into the public sphere,” Holland said. Sen. Holland told reports that it’s necessary to keep in mind that the Kansas ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Marijuana Possession Will No Longer Be Prosecuted in Baltimore, Maryland
    Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Tuesday that marijuana possession cases in the city will no longer be prosecuted. The city’s lead prosecutor also said that she plans to vacate as many as 5,000 previous convictions, according to media reports. Mosby said that the change in policy is in part a reaction to the racial disparity prevalent in the prosecution of cannabis offenses. “The statistics are damning when it comes to the disproportionate impact that the ‘War on Drugs’ has had on communities of color,” Mosby said. “As your state’s attorney, I pledged to institute change and I refuse to stand by and be a facilitator of injustice and inequity when it is clear that we can be so much smarter and do so much more on behalf of the people we serve.” More than 90 percent of the citations for minor marijuana possession were issued to black people in Baltimore between 2015 and 2017. “Even though white and black residents use marijuana at the same rate, the laws disproportionately impact communities of color,” Mosby added. Under the new policy, Mosby’s office will not prosecute marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity, unless there is evidence of intent to distribute. Olivia Naugle, legislative coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, applauded Mosby’s decision in a press release. “Decades of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession did not make Baltimore any safer, and it had a dramatically disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Naugle said. “Countless individuals have been branded with convictions and subjected to life-altering collateral consequences that cause them more harm than marijuana ever could. Unfortunately, this has continued to be the case in Baltimore City even after decriminalization in 2014.” Naugle also called for cannabis policy reform for all of Maryland. “We hope the rest of the state will follow the lead of State’s Attorney Mosby and strongly consider a more sensible and evenhanded approach to marijuana,” she said. “The General Assembly can and should put a stop to marijuana possession arrests and their harmful fallout by ending marijuana prohibition once and for all. It is time for Maryland to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older and expunge criminal records for past possession convictions. The sooner lawmakers act, the sooner these needless possession arrests will come to an end, not just in Baltimore City but across the state.” Higher Priorities for Law Enforcement Mosby told the New York Times that the new policy is intended to make Baltimore, which has the highest murder rate among ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Colleges are Launching Cannabis Degrees and Certificate Programs
    Cannabis is coming to the classroom. The first degrees in cannabis chemistry will be offered beginning this fall at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., according to the university’s website. The soon-to-be-launched program will offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees, and will equip students “with the knowledge necessary to gain employment in emergent cannabis markets.” “We are training students to become leaders in the emerging field of cannabis analysis,” chemistry professor Steven Johnson said on the university’s website. “In this unique program, students handle and analyze actual cannabis plant material and not surrogate material. Graduates will be chemists, first and foremost, trained in industry standards of cannabis analysis.” In 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis. In 2018, it became legal for recreational use as well, and the state has until December 2019 to establish a licensing program for recreational dispensaries. Over in Vermont, higher education institutions have launched certificate programs that aim to provide students with pathways into the industry. According to VTDigger, Vermont Technical College plans to introduce a CBD and greenhouse cash crop certificate program that will be offered beginning this fall. An entire session will take place over the course of nine days and will cost $1,350. “This training series will introduce participants to common techniques for the production of hemp, and CBD, as well as a basic understanding of the chemistry and current regulations as they relate to cannabis cultivation,” says the college’s website. The University of Vermont, meanwhile, launched a professional certificate in cannabis science and medicine back in 2016. The school’s website states that UVM “is the first medical school in the nation to offer a professional certificate in cannabis and medicine.” The seven-week, online program is designed for a wide range of working professionals, including physicians, dispensary personnel, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, edible creators, regulators, and budtenders. The curriculum covers cannabis history, business, law and policy, plant biology, biological effects on humans, production and safety, pharmacology, and clinical research. Cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use in Vermont, although the state has yet to establish a tax-and-regulate system. In Maryland, one professor is trying to get his own cannabis certificate off the ground. Shad Ewart, chair of the Department of Business Management at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, is in the process of proposing a 16-credit multidisciplinary program that would effectively prepare students for entry-level careers in the cannabis space. He first began teaching a course called ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Support Legal Weed
    In the lead up to the 2020 Presidential election, there are a lot of important issues that warrant debate. Everything from healthcare to net neutrality will be discussed during campaign season, but there’s one issue of particular importance: the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis. Legal weed isn’t really a wedge issue that causes people to shift their party allegiance. But it’s still important to know what major politicians think about its status, as we buildup to the next election. This look into ten Democratic contenders (only some have announced their exploratory committees while the rest have coyly voiced their interest in running) will explore how their views have changed and how they interacted with the so-called War on Drugs in the past.   Elizabeth Warren (Katherine Taylor/Wikimedia Commons) Sen. Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren is the first major Democrat to announce her intentions of running for president. A fierce advocate for consumer protections, the Harvard-professor-turned-Massachusetts-senator is now a supporter of federal legalization. Back in 2016, Warren refused to endorse the issue when it hit her home state’s ballot. But, as public opinion in the Democratic party shifted, Warren has followed the wind and earned an A-rating from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).   With Cory Gardner, a Republican Senator from Colorado, Warren introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act in June during the previous Congress. If passed, the bill would have amended the Controlled Substance Act to block federal interference in state-legal marijuana-related activities. She was also a co-sponsor of the Carers Act that would protect medical pot patients from federal punishment; and the Marijuana Justice Act, legislation that would have ended federal prohibition and directed the courts to expunge people’s records. Wikimedia Commons Sen. Cory Booker While he hasn’t formally announced whether he’s running for president, Senator Cory Booker’s name has been thrown around as a potential candidate since he served as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.   In the last Congress, Senator Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that other senators on this list co-sponsored. While the bill wasn’t signed into law, it would have removed cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, ended federal prohibition, and set up a structure that reduces law-enforcement funds for states that disproportionately target low-income residents or people of color for cannabis-related charges. In addition to having some good ideas, Booker also knows how to maximize his message around legalization. On the most recent 4/20, Booker released a video on Mic that laid ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Lab Testing Reveals There’s Lead in Most Vape Cartridges
    With new lab testing requirements for cannabis products that went into effect in California at the beginning of this year, licensed manufacturers have new hurdles to clear to bring safe and compliant merchandise to market in 2019. And many industry insiders are concerned about the addition of analytic testing for heavy metals, a new requirement included in the Phase-3 testing implemented by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. Jacqueline McGowan, the director of local licensing and business development at Sacramento lobbying firm K Street Consulting, told High Times that many in the business expected the new standards could be a challenge. “We knew this was going to be an issue back in July of last year when we saw phase-2 testing standards go into effect and how that affected the marketplace,” says McGowan. Of the more than fifty licensed cannabis testing labs in California, only a fraction are ready to perform the new tests, which also include screening for mycotoxins—poisons created by molds and fungi. McGowan says that one her clients, Rebecca Kirk of CWG Botanicals in Oakland, was concerned about the possibility of vape cartridges not passing the new tests. Although her company, a cannabis cultivator, manufacturer, and distributor, had not yet produced any cannabis oil cartridges, she was in the process of product development. After obtaining eight different samples of cartridges, she sent them to a laboratory for independent analysis. “What we do know, is that just about every cartridge out there has lead in it,” says McGowan. McGowan said that it is difficult to find empty vape carts that are produced domestically. “They all come from China,” she says. “There are a few that say that they are manufactured in the U.S., but in reality, they’re assembled in the U.S. The parts are still from China.” McGowan adds that there are no BCC requirements ensuring that the hardware used for cannabis products be tested for safety. “We’re going above and beyond the regulations in this project because we’re seeing failures for oil we know is clean,” said McGowan. Josh Myers, the director of sales at the cannabis ancillary products supplier the Calico Group, said that “it’s absolutely true” that some vape cartridges on the market are contaminated with lead. He said that the Chinese manufacturers are “already well aware of this. Most of the manufacturers have already got on board, but there’s still a tremendous amount of product … that still has lead in it.” Myers added that some California cannabis companies are having empty cartridges independently ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
 
  • San Francisco Events May Soon Allow Marijuana Sale and Consumption
    On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman announced that the city would soon be accepting applications for city permits to allow legal cannabis sales and consumption at public events. That means parades, festivals, concerts, fairs, farmers markets and more could all soon have legal weed available for attendees. And the best part is, those attendees will be able to smoke, vape or otherwise consume that cannabis at the event itself. San Francisco Board of Supervisors Set To Approve Permits for Marijuana Ahead of Annual 420 Event Every year, San Francisco hosts a 420 event in Golden Gate Park. Dubbed “420 in the Park,” the festival is a gigantic gathering at Hippie Hill. Historically, 420 in the Park has eschewed licenses and permits. But the totally unofficial festival has become massively popular in recent years, thanks to legalization, and thus, more of an issue for city residents. The larger crowds have attracted some violent attendees, harshing everyone’s vibe. And the trash left behind has reportedly been outrageous; as in, 11-tons-of-garbage outrageous. To attempt to get a handle on things, San Francisco actually permitted the event in 2018. It brought in sponsors, set up fencing around the Sharon Meadows site, beefed up security, and, most importantly, provided an adequate number of wastebaskets and portable toilets. With more food vendors and trucks, a real sound system and paid DJs, 420 in the Park finally looked like an official party. No doubt, this year’s crowd will be even bigger. And to head off any potential problems, San Francisco is planning to allow cannabis vendors to obtain permits to sell at the Hippie Hill event. Cannabis is legal for adults to buy, possess and (privately) consume in California. But in many ways, events like these break all the rules. Ironically, that wasn’t such a big deal when it was illegal to buy and consume weed. The authorities tended to just look the other way. But now that there’s a legal industry, with rules and regulations to follow, events like 420 in the Park are more difficult to pull off. City Officials Say Permits Will Keep Fentanyl-Laced Weed Out of the Event Events like San Francisco’s annual 420 bash now have a more complicated legal landscape to follow. They need permits from the state and they need permits from the city. But first, the city needs to implement the state law that lets cities permit cannabis events. Only if, however, those events meet certain criteria, criteria that will change in 2022—you get the picture. But all ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-31
  • Israel’s Cabinet Approves Export of Medical Cannabis
    In a decision that thrilled the country’s cannabis industry, Israel’s cabinet gave a final OK on January 27 to regulations permitting the export of medical marijuana. The law was unanimously passed in the country’s parliamentary body the Knesset in December. News of the legalization of exportation is a long time coming in the eyes of many Israeli cannabis professionals. A government committee approved a plan to move towards legal exportation in 2017, but the process dragged over concerns about exported cannabis getting into the hands of entities in areas where marijuana is not yet legal. The decision makes Israel the third participant in the global legal cannabis market. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada also allow for exportation. The global cannabis market, according to a report by Energias Market Research, was projected in 2017 at $8.3 billion, and stands to rise to $28 billion by 2024. On Monday, Ehud Barak, chairman of Israeli company InterCure, announced plans to launch operations in 10 countries over the next two years. “I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” Israel’s finance minister Moshe Kahlon commented to the Jerusalem Post. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.” Licenses for exportation will be granted by the country’s health ministry. Israel’s medical marijuana system has been overseen by the country’s agricultural branch since 2017. Agriculture minister Uri Ariel told the Jerusalem Post that the cabinet’s decision sends a “historic message to farmers of Israel, young farmers, to patients and the Israeli economy.” Of course, this is far from the first time that Israeli companies could be expanding beyond the borders of the country. Israel’s Tikun Olam, founded in 2007 and still the country’s largest marijuana company, expanded into Canada back in 2014 when it partnered with MedReleaf. Among its various forays overseas, the company founded Tikun Olam USA in 2016, co-founded a cannabis developer in Australia in 2017, and opened a division in the UK last year. Israeli cannabis companies are not the country’s only entities getting involved in the worldwide weed industry. In August, plans were announced for an Israeli genome analysis firm to partner with a Swiss cannabis corporation in mapping cannabis genomes in the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Patients Left in Limbo as Louisiana Experiences Medical Cannabis Delays
    Now approaching the fourth year since Louisiana lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation, patients have been stuck in a frustrating and painstaking wait as treatment remains unavailable. On Monday, patients and medical cannabis advocates received another disappointing update on the lengthy regulatory and testing process, potentially leaving the recently purported summer 2019 start date in jeopardy. Still unable to obtain treatment from regional pharmacies, there is still no definite timeline for when medical-grade cannabis products will finally come to the Bayou State.   Gathered at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s public stakeholders meeting patients, regulators, state-sanctioned growers, and the universities overseeing the process convened to discuss the current state of the stymied medical cannabis program. Louisiana Patients Grow Weary of More Delays to Medical Cannabis Access Katie Corkern, a mother and medical cannabis advocate, has pleaded for years with Louisiana lawmakers to make treatment available for her 12-year-old son, Connor, who’s been suffering from debilitating seizures. At the most recent meeting, she said her son has been to the hospital 15 times since lawmakers passed medical cannabis legislation. Despite Connor’s neurologist recommending that he use medical pot to help control his seizures, Corkern has been unable to get him treatment.     “We’re waiting, and Connor doesn’t deserve this,” she said at the meeting. “Neither do the citizens that you all don’t get to see.” Passed back in 2015, these frustrating delays are due in part to the particularly restrictive medical cannabis framework that Louisiana lawmakers have implemented. For instance, medical-grade marijuana is only allowed to be grown at the agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University, leaving the entire system in the hands of only a couple of cultivators. Over 1,300 days have passed since the law was put into place. So, the frustration expressed by patients is certainly warranted. Several attendees at Monday’s meeting pointed fingers at the regulatory hurdles that the agricultural department must follow, particularly regarding the decision that all medical cannabis products must be tested in-house.  Louisiana’s Restrictive Medical Cannabis Framework Leaves Patients in Limbo Despite the repeated pleas from Corkern and other patients in need, lawmakers don’t seem to be searching for an immediate solution to this dire impediment. Ilera Holistic Healthcare, the grower operating at Southern University, hasn’t started growing its product yet. And the initial estimate of having medical pot available by summer or early fall is now being questioned as too optimistic by state agriculture officials.   While GB Sciences, the research and biotechnical development company growing out of LSU, has ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • K9 Unit Discovers 21 lbs of Cannabis in Suitcases at Nashville Airport
    A total prohibition state nestled among a number of other total prohibition states, Tennessee is nevertheless a crossroads for U.S. marijuana traffickers. Indeed, today’s bust at the Nashville International Airport is the second there this month. But the 21 pounds of cannabis a police K9 unit discovered in two suitcases pales in comparison to the 160 pounds police dogs found in four suitcases two weeks ago. Despite Trend Toward Training K9s to Ignore Marijuana, Nashville Police Still Rely on Them for Weed Busts Since at least 2017, police departments around the U.S. have been phasing out their use of drug-sniffing dogs to detect cannabis. As legalization and decriminalization expand around the country, police are training K9 units to ignore the telltale smells of marijuana. And it’s not just because laws are changing. The fact is that police K9 units don’t always have the most accurate sense of smell. Plenty of charges and false convictions have been thrown out due to the use of drug-detecting animals. Smells linger, trigger false alerts and implicate innocent bystanders. The evidence dogs provide is often inadmissible. Criticism of drug-sniffing dogs goes back as long as officers have been using them to catch people in possession of narcotics. And a few major exposés have revealed the many problems with relying on them. Police K9s, it goes without saying, can’t read anyone their rights; they don’t know the laws. And that means police can effectively use K9s to conduct searches without a warrant or probably cause. Furthermore, dogs are sensitive to the way their humans act. Studies show that police K9s pick up the biases and prejudices of their handlers, a huge problem when it comes to drug enforcement. Nashville Police Dogs are Putting Up Big Numbers This Month But in Tennessee, where cannabis is completely and totally illegal, drug dogs are still out in full force, especially in sensitive locations like airports. The K9 who has racked up more than 180 pounds of marijuana busts this month goes by the name Boston. Boston indicated to Nashville Airport police and local DEA agents the possible presence of cannabis inside two roller bags. When those bags reached the carousel, police looked to see who picked them up. That person was one Kenisy Adair Jr. Adair Jr. is currently on probation for possessing marijuana with intent to distribute in Georgia. As a result, Nashville Police booked Adair Jr. with a $78,000 bond. The suspect faces felony drug charges and evading arrest. Police say the man “made a quick movement” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Maine Supreme Court Upholds Eviction of Man Growing His Own Medical Marijuana
    Underlining the role that economic class plays in one’s experience of the cannabis legalization movement, Maine resident Olanian Jackson saw his eviction upheld by the state’s Supreme Court after his landlord discovered that Jackson was using state-legal medical marijuana in his home. The court’s decision highlights the fact that for anyone who lives in federally subsidized housing, the progress that has been made in state-by-state cannabis legalization in the US is simply not enough to ensure one’s safety. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made it clear that recipients of Section 8 vouchers, or anyone who lives in public housing can be evicted or denied a home based on marijuana usage, regardless of state and local laws. The injustice led Rolling Stone to ask “If you can’t legally use cannabis in your own home, is weed really legal for you?” in an article profiling Washington DC resident and fibromyalgia patient Sondra Battle. Battle was shocked when her apartment manager posted a notice informing residents that they would be evicted with no appeal should they be found using marijuana, regardless of whether they had a doctor’s recommendation. In Jackson’s case, the Supreme Court was able to avoid addressing the conflict in state and federal laws by focusing on the related criteria for his eviction. As reported by Bangor Daily News, these included “intimidating behavior, denying access to his apartment, and illegally installing a lock”. The feds say that the weed alone was grounds for him to be shut out of his home in the Fairfield Family Apartments. A 2014 HUD memo states that “Regardless of the purpose for which legalized under state law, the use of marijuana in any form is illegal under the [Controlled Substances Act] and therefore is an illegal controlled substance.” The memo also states that landlords are required to deny federally assisted housing to applicants known to be using federally banned substances, and must “establish policies which allow the termination of tenancy of any household with a member who is illegally using marijuana.” Last year, Washington DC member of Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would have made it legal for residents to consume cannabis in federal housing located in states and districts which allowed for their usage. The bill went nowhere. In the United States, over five million people live in federally subsidized housing. In large part due to the country’s history of racist redlining bank policies that curtail housing choices, half of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • California Lawmakers Consider Reducing Pot Tax to Compete with Illicit Markets
    California’s legal cannabis industry still can’t compete with the state’s entrenched illicit market. The reason: fairly simple economics. It just costs too much to go legit. So for the second year in a row, California Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is backing a bill to give the legal industry a tax reprieve. By temporarily lowering costs for businesses, Bonta hopes the bill will draw more companies, cultivators and consumers (back) into the legal market. California Lawmakers Take Up Bill to Give Legal Industry a Temporary Tax Break On Monday, Assemblyman Rob Bonta introduced Assembly Bill 286, the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill. The proposal, if it passes, would drop California’s excise tax for cannabis retailers down to 11 percent from 15. It would also completely eliminate all cultivation taxes through 2022. In many ways, Bonta’s new bill resembles the bill he introduced in March 2018, which did not pass. The ultimate goal is to reduce the price at the point of sale for consumers. Bonta’s proposal could cut consumer prices 10 percent or more. From the start of legal retail sales in the state, Bonta and other lawmakers recognized that high taxes would prevent the industry from displacing the illicit market. With plentiful, cheaper alternatives, consumers have been staying with their unlicensed, unregulated sellers. Without tax relief to make cannabis more affordable and the industry more profitable, California risks empowering the illicit market further. Some cities in California have already taken the initiative themselves, slashing local taxes. Super-High Tax Rates Aren’t Generating the Revenue Officials Wanted Besides doing little to challenge the dominance of California’s unlicensed cannabis retailers, the high tax rates aren’t generating the cash windfall California officials had hoped it would. Last year, total tax revenue from California’s legal marijuana market came in dramatically underweight. According to state Treasurer Fiona Ma, who supports Bonta’s new bill, Q1 and Q2 tax revenue in 2018 fell more than $100 million below estimates. “We don’t tax start-up businesses from other industries when they start,” Ma told CNBC. “We need to do better.” Responding to the shortfall, State Assemblyperson Evan Low called the gap between the tax revenue voters got and the revenue they were promised when they voted to pass Prop. 64, “staggering.” Now, California regulators are struggling to come up with the solutions to rescue lawful operators from their illicit competitors. But the competition isn’t fair, and that’s exactly Assemblyman Bonta’s and Treasurer Ma’s point. A temporary tax break would help level the playing field. But California’s legal retail industry faces ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Former Trump Aide Announces Involvement in Medical Marijuana Startup
    Last September, biopharmaceutical company C3 International quietly announced the launch of the company’s flagship pain management pill, Idrasil. Idrasil is a medical cannabis pill and C3 claims it’s the first standardized form of the drug. And to help develop policy and a marketing strategy for the pill, C3 International has enlisted the counsel of George Papadopoulos, fresh off his 14-day stint in the clink for lying to the FBI during their investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. On Tuesday, Papadopoulos announced he had joined the Board of Advisors of C3 International, Inc. on Twitter. Disgraced Trump Campaign Aide Will Advise Medical Cannabis Startup on Product Marketing It would take a long memory (by today’s standards) to remember that George Papadopoulos was one of the first of President Trump’s campaign advisors to go down as a result of the Mueller investigation. In fact, the same month C3 International announced the launch of Idrasil, September 2018, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for lying to investigators in January 2017. Papadopoulos served his time in December. Currently, he is on a 12-month supervised release, aka parole. But parole doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from starring in a docuseries about his and his wife’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Nor does it prevent him from touring to promote his new book, Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. And it doesn’t prevent Papadopoulos from serving on the advisory board of a medical cannabis startup. George Papadopoulos Joins C3 International Board of Advisors to Market Medical Cannabis Pill Despite a return to public life determined to capitalize on his exile from political life, Papadopoulos kept his announcement about C3 International and Idrasil focused on the medicine. Idrasil “is a revolutionary product that will assist in weaning Americans off the deleterious opioid epidemic that is affecting thousands, and killing hundreds, of Americans every single day,” Papadopoulos wrote in a tweet published Tuesday. He also described C3’s approach to pain medication as “new thinking.” C3 International says Idrasil consists of a proprietary blend of concentrated cannabis extract. The company says its approach is all about exact, consistent dosing. Idrasil comes in three doses, 12.5 mg, 25 mg and 100 mg. But press releases don’t specify the specific cannabinoids in the concentration, or the ratio of THC to CBD. It’s likely, however, that Idrasil contains low amounts of THC, a principle cannabinoid responsible for psychoactive effects. The pill form, C3 says, “eliminates the unwanted ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Russia May Authorize Cannabis Imports for Scientific Research
    Russia may be en route to more scientific studies on marijuana. Last week, Russia’s health ministry proposed a bill that would raise the amount of cannabis that’s legal to import into the country— for the study of the plant’s “addiction-causing capacities,” RT.com reports. The proposed legislation would make it legal for the ministry to import 1.1 kilograms of cannabis, 300 grams of hashish, and 50 grams of hash oil. The amount of THC the ministry is legally allowed to import would rise from 10 grams to 50 grams per year. No other usage besides scientific purposes would be allowed under the proposed regulations. The regulation draft cited recent studies that have compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct its first review of cannabis’ scheduling since the 1961 and ’71 International Drug Conventions. The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence released a report last year underlining its belief that CBD is a low-risk substance that has documented health benefits, and called marijuana a “relatively safe drug.” The report also gave credence to scientific data that’s been published suggesting cannabis can play a role in fighting cancer. In recent years, Russia has taken a hard line on the legalization of cannabis, even going so far as to chastise other countries for regulating the plant. When the Canadian government decided to federally legalize cannabis last year, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that Canada had “deliberately decided to breach” international agreements on fighting drug trade and limiting the misuse of certain substances. Russian press also takes an active role in demonizing the drug. In 2017, Russian news network Rossiya 24 aired coverage pinning actor Morgan Freeman’s statements against Russia’s tampering with the US election on Freeman’s marijuana-use. In 2015, Russian governmental agencies responsible for regulating the country’s media ordered a Wikipedia page to be restricted that contained references to marijuana. Wikipedia acquiesced to the demands so that Russia would not block its population from accessing the rest of the site. Reddit has also come under fire from the Russian government when it discovered a thread “on the cultivation of growing a narcotic plant” in 2015. As recently as last December, Putin has gone on the record with some rather off-the-mark views about cannabis consumption. Marijuana Moment reports that at a meeting with cultural leaders, Putin agreed with a music producer that hip-hop’s presence on the radio in the U.S. promoted drug use. “I am most worried about drugs,” the president reportedly said. “This is the way towards the degradation of a nation.” Putin stopped ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-30
  • Two Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Introduced in Tennessee
    Two marijuana decriminalization bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature, according to media reports. One would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of pot, while the other would protect holders of medical marijuana identification cards from other states. Both bills were sponsored in the Tennessee Senate by Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle and in the House of Representatives by fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson. The first measure, SB256/HB235, would amend state statute to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. The second bill, SB260/HB234, would permit holders of medical marijuana program identification cards from other states to possess up to one-half an ounce of cannabis. The bill also removes criminal penalties for medical marijuana cardholders who transfer cannabis to other cardholders. Johnson told local media that she decided to sponsor the bills, which were written by Kyle, partly due to the personal experience of her father, who had multiple sclerosis. “I still believe he would have benefited from medical marijuana in treating the tremendous pain he was in,” Johnson said. “And if we have something who can benefit folks visiting family in Tennessee, they shouldn’t be punished for taking their medication.” Johnson also believes that decriminalizing marijuana is a matter of criminal justice reform and treating simple possession appropriately. MMJ Bill Also Pending The bills from Kyle and Johnson come less than three weeks after two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis, announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. After introducing the measures, Bowling said in a press release that she believes cannabis can be part of the solution to the nationwide epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. “I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans,” Bowling said. “Our constituents can use a natural and effective option for pain relief that is not controlled or pushed by Big Pharma. When I see medical studies showing that states with medical cannabis programs had an average 23 percent drop in opioid prescription use and overdoses, I see a real option we can use.” If the bill succeeds, patients with certain qualifying health conditions would be able to obtain a medical marijuana identification card to allow them to legally purchase cannabis. A commission would be created to regulate patient access and license cultivators and retailers. Bowling said the experience of other states was called upon to draft this medical cannabis solution for Tennessee. “I wanted a new bill that is Tennessee-specific and takes the best of what worked in other ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Lawmakers Want to Expand VA Medical Cannabis Research, Can’t Agree on How to Do it
    Lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced two bills last week that would call on the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand research into the medicinal use of cannabis. One of the measures would closely dictate the direction research at the VA should take, while the other would allow the agency more discretion. House Bill 712 was introduced on January 23 by Democratic Rep. Lou Correa of California and Rep. Clay Higgins, a Louisiana Republican. Under their bill, the VA would, among other things, be directed to conduct a clinical trial of the effects of cannabis on adults with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Correa said in a statement that the VA needs to develop new approaches to treating those who have answered the nation’s call to military service. “With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries,” Correa said. “It’s time the VA did a formal study.” Competing Measure Gives VA More Latitude A second measure, House Bill 747, was introduced the following day by Rep. Phil Roe, a Republican from Tennessee. His bill would also call on the VA to conduct research into medicinal cannabis, but would permit the agency to decide how to proceed. “We should require VA to do this research, but also should let the scientists have the freedom to do their job,” Roe said in a statement. But backers of Correa’s bill believe that approach could allow the VA, which has long resisted the medicinal use of cannabis for veterans, to waste more time. Correa said in a statement that the agency could have already begun to study medical cannabis under current law. “The department has had the authority to do this research for a long time, and has continually avoided it,” Correa said. “Our legislation denies them the opportunity to push the buck any longer.” Tom Porter, the director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has come out in support of Correa’s bill. He said that a majority of the vets in his organization approve of the use of medical marijuana. “Our members have spoken loud and clear on this issue,” said Porter. “In our latest member survey, 63 percent supported and only 15 percent opposed legalization for the medical use of cannabis. This bill takes a giant and necessary step forward to determine the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis.” Both H.B. 712 and H.B. 747 have been referred to the House Committee ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Two Medical Marijuana Bills in the Drafting Stage in Kansas
    In Kansas (and thirteen other states) cannabis is still fully illegal. The state has no measures to decriminalize use or possession, no authorizations for medical use, and harsh mandatory minimums that include a year of imprisonment for first-time possession offenses. When Colorado legalized adult-use in 2014, 10 sheriffs from Kansas even sued their neighboring state because of it. In short, Kansas is not a cannabis-friendly state. But two state legislators are aiming to change that this year. Rep. Gail Finney and Sen. Tom Holland have announced their plans to introduce bills to legalize cannabis for medical use. Patient Advocacy Group “Bleeding Kansas” Behind Efforts to Legalize Medical Cannabis While both bills propose to legalize cannabis for medical use in Kansas, they each adopt a different approach. The first bill, sponsored by Rep. Gail Finney (D-84th), is the best for patients and their families. The second bill, to be introduced by Sen. Tom Holland (D-3rd), adopts a more conservative approach. A patient advocacy group that has previously introduced medical marijuana legislation, Bleeding Kansas, is the organization helping to draft Rep. Finney’s bill. Lisa Ash Sublett, founder of Bleeding Kansas, began fighting for legal medical cannabis after her daughter began experiencing seizures due to a traumatic brain injury. Last year, Sublett’s group succeeded in introducing the Kansas Safe Access Act. Safe Access would have legalized medical marijuana for serious conditions, but House lawmakers rejected it. Now, Bleeding Kansas is working with Rep. Finney to introduce another, similar bill this year. “We don’t want families to suffer here. We don’t want kids taken away from their parents. And we don’t want parents and patients in jail,” Sublett told KSNT. “The law needs to change, but it needs to be done correctly. We’ve seen failures in other states.” Lawmaker Says Only a Conservative Approach to Legalization Stands a Chance in Kansas State Sen. Tom Holland (D-8th), however, says conservative is better than correct, at least in Kansas. Sen. Holland will also introduce legislation to legalize medical marijuana. But he calls his version “simpler,” pointing out that a pared down, more conservative approach to medical legalization stands a better chance in the Republican-controlled state legislature. For example, Holland’s bill does not include a provision for home cannabis cultivation, but Finney’s bill does. “When you look at some of the things in my bill, it’s probably a more screwed down conservative approach to actually get this into the public sphere,” Holland said. Sen. Holland told reports that it’s necessary to keep in mind that the Kansas ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Marijuana Possession Will No Longer Be Prosecuted in Baltimore, Maryland
    Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Tuesday that marijuana possession cases in the city will no longer be prosecuted. The city’s lead prosecutor also said that she plans to vacate as many as 5,000 previous convictions, according to media reports. Mosby said that the change in policy is in part a reaction to the racial disparity prevalent in the prosecution of cannabis offenses. “The statistics are damning when it comes to the disproportionate impact that the ‘War on Drugs’ has had on communities of color,” Mosby said. “As your state’s attorney, I pledged to institute change and I refuse to stand by and be a facilitator of injustice and inequity when it is clear that we can be so much smarter and do so much more on behalf of the people we serve.” More than 90 percent of the citations for minor marijuana possession were issued to black people in Baltimore between 2015 and 2017. “Even though white and black residents use marijuana at the same rate, the laws disproportionately impact communities of color,” Mosby added. Under the new policy, Mosby’s office will not prosecute marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity, unless there is evidence of intent to distribute. Olivia Naugle, legislative coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, applauded Mosby’s decision in a press release. “Decades of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession did not make Baltimore any safer, and it had a dramatically disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Naugle said. “Countless individuals have been branded with convictions and subjected to life-altering collateral consequences that cause them more harm than marijuana ever could. Unfortunately, this has continued to be the case in Baltimore City even after decriminalization in 2014.” Naugle also called for cannabis policy reform for all of Maryland. “We hope the rest of the state will follow the lead of State’s Attorney Mosby and strongly consider a more sensible and evenhanded approach to marijuana,” she said. “The General Assembly can and should put a stop to marijuana possession arrests and their harmful fallout by ending marijuana prohibition once and for all. It is time for Maryland to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older and expunge criminal records for past possession convictions. The sooner lawmakers act, the sooner these needless possession arrests will come to an end, not just in Baltimore City but across the state.” Higher Priorities for Law Enforcement Mosby told the New York Times that the new policy is intended to make Baltimore, which has the highest murder rate among ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Colleges are Launching Cannabis Degrees and Certificate Programs
    Cannabis is coming to the classroom. The first degrees in cannabis chemistry will be offered beginning this fall at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., according to the university’s website. The soon-to-be-launched program will offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees, and will equip students “with the knowledge necessary to gain employment in emergent cannabis markets.” “We are training students to become leaders in the emerging field of cannabis analysis,” chemistry professor Steven Johnson said on the university’s website. “In this unique program, students handle and analyze actual cannabis plant material and not surrogate material. Graduates will be chemists, first and foremost, trained in industry standards of cannabis analysis.” In 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis. In 2018, it became legal for recreational use as well, and the state has until December 2019 to establish a licensing program for recreational dispensaries. Over in Vermont, higher education institutions have launched certificate programs that aim to provide students with pathways into the industry. According to VTDigger, Vermont Technical College plans to introduce a CBD and greenhouse cash crop certificate program that will be offered beginning this fall. An entire session will take place over the course of nine days and will cost $1,350. “This training series will introduce participants to common techniques for the production of hemp, and CBD, as well as a basic understanding of the chemistry and current regulations as they relate to cannabis cultivation,” says the college’s website. The University of Vermont, meanwhile, launched a professional certificate in cannabis science and medicine back in 2016. The school’s website states that UVM “is the first medical school in the nation to offer a professional certificate in cannabis and medicine.” The seven-week, online program is designed for a wide range of working professionals, including physicians, dispensary personnel, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, edible creators, regulators, and budtenders. The curriculum covers cannabis history, business, law and policy, plant biology, biological effects on humans, production and safety, pharmacology, and clinical research. Cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use in Vermont, although the state has yet to establish a tax-and-regulate system. In Maryland, one professor is trying to get his own cannabis certificate off the ground. Shad Ewart, chair of the Department of Business Management at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, is in the process of proposing a 16-credit multidisciplinary program that would effectively prepare students for entry-level careers in the cannabis space. He first began teaching a course called ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • The Top 10 Democratic Contenders of 2020 Who Support Legal Weed
    In the lead up to the 2020 Presidential election, there are a lot of important issues that warrant debate. Everything from healthcare to net neutrality will be discussed during campaign season, but there’s one issue of particular importance: the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis. Legal weed isn’t really a wedge issue that causes people to shift their party allegiance. But it’s still important to know what major politicians think about its status, as we buildup to the next election. This look into ten Democratic contenders (only some have announced their exploratory committees while the rest have coyly voiced their interest in running) will explore how their views have changed and how they interacted with the so-called War on Drugs in the past.   Elizabeth Warren (Katherine Taylor/Wikimedia Commons) Sen. Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren is the first major Democrat to announce her intentions of running for president. A fierce advocate for consumer protections, the Harvard-professor-turned-Massachusetts-senator is now a supporter of federal legalization. Back in 2016, Warren refused to endorse the issue when it hit her home state’s ballot. But, as public opinion in the Democratic party shifted, Warren has followed the wind and earned an A-rating from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).   With Cory Gardner, a Republican Senator from Colorado, Warren introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act in June during the previous Congress. If passed, the bill would have amended the Controlled Substance Act to block federal interference in state-legal marijuana-related activities. She was also a co-sponsor of the Carers Act that would protect medical pot patients from federal punishment; and the Marijuana Justice Act, legislation that would have ended federal prohibition and directed the courts to expunge people’s records. Wikimedia Commons Sen. Cory Booker While he hasn’t formally announced whether he’s running for president, Senator Cory Booker’s name has been thrown around as a potential candidate since he served as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.   In the last Congress, Senator Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that other senators on this list co-sponsored. While the bill wasn’t signed into law, it would have removed cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, ended federal prohibition, and set up a structure that reduces law-enforcement funds for states that disproportionately target low-income residents or people of color for cannabis-related charges. In addition to having some good ideas, Booker also knows how to maximize his message around legalization. On the most recent 4/20, Booker released a video on Mic that laid ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29
  • Lab Testing Reveals There’s Lead in Most Vape Cartridges
    With new lab testing requirements for cannabis products that went into effect in California at the beginning of this year, licensed manufacturers have new hurdles to clear to bring safe and compliant merchandise to market in 2019. And many industry insiders are concerned about the addition of analytic testing for heavy metals, a new requirement included in the Phase-3 testing implemented by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. Jacqueline McGowan, the director of local licensing and business development at Sacramento lobbying firm K Street Consulting, told High Times that many in the business expected the new standards could be a challenge. “We knew this was going to be an issue back in July of last year when we saw phase-2 testing standards go into effect and how that affected the marketplace,” says McGowan. Of the more than fifty licensed cannabis testing labs in California, only a fraction are ready to perform the new tests, which also include screening for mycotoxins—poisons created by molds and fungi. McGowan says that one her clients, Rebecca Kirk of CWG Botanicals in Oakland, was concerned about the possibility of vape cartridges not passing the new tests. Although her company, a cannabis cultivator, manufacturer, and distributor, had not yet produced any cannabis oil cartridges, she was in the process of product development. After obtaining eight different samples of cartridges, she sent them to a laboratory for independent analysis. “What we do know, is that just about every cartridge out there has lead in it,” says McGowan. McGowan said that it is difficult to find empty vape carts that are produced domestically. “They all come from China,” she says. “There are a few that say that they are manufactured in the U.S., but in reality, they’re assembled in the U.S. The parts are still from China.” McGowan adds that there are no BCC requirements ensuring that the hardware used for cannabis products be tested for safety. “We’re going above and beyond the regulations in this project because we’re seeing failures for oil we know is clean,” said McGowan. Josh Myers, the director of sales at the cannabis ancillary products supplier the Calico Group, said that “it’s absolutely true” that some vape cartridges on the market are contaminated with lead. He said that the Chinese manufacturers are “already well aware of this. Most of the manufacturers have already got on board, but there’s still a tremendous amount of product … that still has lead in it.” Myers added that some California cannabis companies are having empty cartridges independently ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-01-29