• Canadian Government to Approve Second Roadside Drug Testing Kit
    The Canadian government is set to approve a second roadside device authorized for use by law enforcement personnel to detect the presence of THC in drivers. In an order released on April 20, the Canadian Department of Justice announced a proposal to add the SoToxa drug screening device to the list of approved equipment for roadside tests. The proposal would add three pieces of equipment that are designed to be used together– the SoToxa analyzer, a device to collect a saliva sample, and a cartridge used to hold the sample in the machine– to the list of equipment that may be used by police in roadside drug screenings. The SoToxa equipment analyzes a saliva sample provided by a driver to detect the presence of THC. “Approval of the SoToxa, the Abbott SoToxa Test Cartridge and the Abbott SoToxa Oral Fluid Collection Device, when used together, as ‘approved drug screening equipment,’ would permit its use by law enforcement. A positive result would be a strong indication of recent use,” the order reads. Panel Recommends Approval The Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, an independent group of forensic toxicologists, evaluated the SoToxa system and recommended that Attorney General David Lametti approve the equipment for use by police in roadside screenings for THC. The device is currently undergoing a 30-day public consultation period pending approval. Police in Canada are currently limited to the sole approved device, the Drager Drug Test 5000, for roadside drug screenings. The Drager 5000 is approved for detecting the presence of THC and cocaine. The device is also used by numerous departments in the United States and other countries, although its functionality, particularly in cold weather, has been criticized. Canadian police gained the authority to conduct roadside drug screenings of drivers with the passage of Bill C-46, which was approved by Parliament last year along with Bill C-45, the measure that legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Bill C-46 also makes it illegal to drive within two hours of being over impairment limits. Although the failure of a roadside drug screening test is not by itself a crime and the results cannot be used in court, it can lead to further police action including a blood test to determine legal impairment. The post Canadian Government to Approve Second Roadside Drug Testing Kit appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Why is South Dakota’s Governor Still Against Legalizing Industrial Hemp?
    There was a four-year stretch in the 1980s when one state after another raised the drinking age to 21, a trend that was prompted by the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The law was a powerful and straightforward illustration of the federal government’s ability to influence action at the state-level. States would be required to raise the drinking age to 21, the measure said, or lose 10% of federal highway funds, an act of legislative coercion that forced the entire country to fall in line by 1988. But South Dakota did not accept the law so willingly, challenging its constitutionality in a case, South Dakota v. Dole, that eventually made it to the Supreme Court. The court upheld the bill, effectively forcing the state’s hand. South Dakota complied, becoming the 49th state to raise the drinking age to 21 (Wyoming has the distinction of being the last state). There is a similar air of inevitability on the subject of recreational marijuana prohibition, which has been abolished by a dozens of states and cities since 2012. Whereas Congress and the executive branch flexed their dominion over states in upping the drinking age more than 30 years ago, the feds have essentially allowed states control over their marijuana laws through relative passivity. The question doesn’t seem to be if pot will ultimately be legalized nationwide, but when.   Pursue the hypothetical a bit further, and the question might well become where – as in where will be the last place to embrace legalization. Consider this a vote for South Dakota, where the latest legislative session was headlined, unexpectedly, by a debate over whether to legalize industrial hemp. The bill, which had bipartisan support, was ultimately stymied by the state’s newly elected Republican governor, Kristi Noem, whose opposition centered around one argument: legalized hemp, she argued, was a gateway to legalized pot. Noem’s bout of Reefer Madness bewildered farmers and advocates within her own party. Jordan Youngberg, a Republican state senator, was frustrated with the Noem administration’s objections, saying the reasons offered were “getting a little old.” And in February, the editorial board of Agweek called on Noem to back the bill, saying she had “taken a public position that clearly works against South Dakota agriculture.” “It’s widely understood in ag circles that industrial hemp, which is very different from marijuana, is well suited for marginal land,” the editorial said. “It’s widely understood in ag circles that industrial hemp potentially could generate profits for the hard-pressed South Dakota ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Louisiana’s Cajun Cannabis CBD Store Raided, Owner Facing Felony Charges
    Less than a week after the 4/20 grand opening of Louisiana’s newest CBD store and cafe, Cajun Cannabis, owner Travis DeYoung is facing multiple felony drug charges. Late Wednesday night, police stopped DeYoung in his vehicle for an alleged traffic violation. After searching DeYoung’s car and finding a gun and various forms of cannabidiol products, police obtained a warrant to raid his Cajun Cannabis storefront. The raid early Thursday morning turned up another firearm and a number of different CBD and CBD-THC products, according to police. DeYoung now faces multiple felony and misdemeanor drug charges, chief among them possession with intent of a “controlled dangerous substance:” completely non-psychoactive, medicinal, therapeutic, and widely legal cannabidiol (CBD). CBD Retailer Charged With Multiple Felonies for “Controlled Dangerous Substance” In Lafayette, Louisiana, Travis DeYoung wanted to change the perception around cannabis. So he founded Cajun Cannabis, a cafe and retail shop specializing in hemp CBD oils, edibles, topicals, and other products, from drinks to bath products and even candles. The coffee at Cajun Cannabis doesn’t have CBD in it; DeYoung just wanted to give the establishment a cafe vibe. None of the CBD in the products on offer at Cajun Cannabis came from hemp’s psychoactive cousin, and none of the products contained THC. Under Louisiana law, retailers like DeYoung can only sell two types of CBD, either full-spectrum oils with the THC removed, or pure CBD isolates. DeYoung told reporters he wanted “something Lafayette can be proud of.” He was planning to offer educational events at Cajun Cannabis to teach residents of the “family-oriented town” about the differences between marijuana and hemp. In hindsight, DeYoung probably should have started with the police. Officers arrested DeYoung and raided his store because of hemp-derived CBD. These are products that have nothing to do with marijuana or THC. But law enforcement officials commonly mistake hemp for marijuana. One company is even developing a handheld DNA tester to help cops identify cannabis plants. Why Is Louisiana Going After CBD? In January, Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law, which among other things legalized hemp and hemp derivatives at the federal level. With the stroke of pen, hemp, and thus hemp CBD, became legal across the United States. But in the same way that legal-weed states contravene the federal prohibition on marijuana (THC), some states have prohibitions on CBD that now contradict federal law. Case in point, Louisiana. Where despite the end of the federal ban regulatory authorities say the sale of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup
    This past 420 weekend was filled with fun, friends, laughter, and an abundance of our fave plant. It was also the weekend of our Central Valley Cannabis Cup. While all of the competitors performed admirably, there were a few entries that stood out to us. Here are the winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup: Best Edible 1st Place: Gem Guice by Space Gem 2nd Place: Tropic Twist Gummies by Dixie 3rd Place: Sour Watermelon Fruit Chews by Smokiez Best Sativa Flower 1st Place: Orange Soda by Team Elite Genetics 2nd Place: Gelonade by Connected 3rd Place: Candyland by Top-Shelf Cultivation Best Indica Flower 1st Place: Whoa Si Whoa by Top-Shelf Cultivation 2nd Place: Cherry Meringue by Lumpy’s Flowers 3rd Place: Bacio by Scoopz Best Hybrid Flower 1st Place: Lemon Trill by Lumpy’s Flowers 2nd Place: Nova Cane by Team Elite Genetics 3rd Place: Orange Cookies by Talking Trees Farms Best Sun-Grown Flower 1st Place: Venom OG by Honeydew Farms 2nd Place: Orange Creamsicle by LoudPack 3rd Place: Galactic Gas by Alien Labs Best Preroll 1st Place: Super Sour D by Nug & Amplified 2nd Place: Originals OG by 22 Red 3rd Place: Fruit Punch by Fire AF Best Indica Concentrate 1st Place: Papaya Sauce by Apex 2nd Place: Triangle Kush Sauce by Raw Garden 3rd Place: N’Ice Cream Sauce by Connected Best Hybrid Concentrate 1st Place: Bacio Sauce by Apex 2nd Place: Pink Lemonaid Live Resin by Talking Trees Farms 3rd Place: Gelato Punch by LoudPack Best Vape Cartridge 1st Place: Dosi Punch Cartridge by Raw Garden 2nd Place: Banana OG Cartridge by Raw Garden 3rd Place: Wedding Cake by Uptown Canna Co Best Topical 1st Place: Sugar High Body Creme by High Gorgeous 2nd Place: Mimosa Cream by CAD 3rd Place: Synergy Bath by Dixie The post Winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • American Arrested For Growing 20 Acres of Cannabis in Myanmar
    An American and two others have been arrested by police after a raid of a 20-acre cannabis plantation in Myanmar, according to a report in The New York Times. The Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control announced on Wednesday that John Fredric Todoroki, 63, an American, and two citizens of Myanmar, U Shein Latt, 37, and Ma Shun Le Myat Noe, 23 had been detained in the township of Ngazun on Monday. All have been charged with offenses that could lead to the death penalty. Police are still searching for a second American, Alexander Skemp Todoroki, 49. The relationship between the two Todorokis is not clear at this time. The raid occurred after photos of the site, which was referred to as an “industrial hemp plantation,” were posted on social media by cannabis activist group the Mahar Legalization Movement Myanmar. The group praised the operation, saying it was the kind of foreign investment in agriculture needed by the Southeast Asian nation of more than 53 million people. The post garnered thousands of views including some by Myanmar law enforcement. “We took action as soon as we saw the post on Facebook,” said police officer San Win in a phone interview. Defendants Face the Death Penalty The Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control announced that 350,000 cannabis plants, 600 pounds of cultivated marijuana, 840 pounds of seeds, and chemicals had been confiscated in the raid of the plantation, known as the Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development. The three people arrested at the farm are facing charges including the production or distribution of psychotropic substances for sale, an offense subject to a 15-year minimum sentence, lifetime imprisonment, or the death penalty, according to government sentencing guidelines. The group has also been charged with the cultivation of narcotic or psychotropic substances, punishable with a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, and drug trafficking, which carries a 10-year minimum prison term. In August, the Mandalay regional government granted permission to III M Nutritional Medicine to grow medicinal hemp. An official with the Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development has said that the three arrested people worked for the company. Aung Say Toe, the founder of the Mahar Legalization Movement Myanmar, said that both marijuana and hemp are illegal in the country but called on the government to allow research into the medicinal use of cannabis. “They are not cultivating secretly,” he said of the farm site. “Everyone could see it, and that’s why we could take photos and video of the plantation.” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Alabama Health Officials Report Spike in Synthetic Cannabis Overdoses
    Synthetic marijuana is back in the headlines. And this time it’s hitting northern Alabama. Specifically, public health and law enforcement agencies are reporting a sharp uptick in overdoses related to synthetic marijuana. Now, officials are trying to warn the public of the dangers of smoking synthetic weed. Synthetic Cannabis Use is Spiking in Northern Alabama As reported by local news source Al.com, multiple public agencies are warning the public to watch out for and avoid synthetic cannabis. The warnings come as health officials and law enforcement in Alabama have begun noticing an increase in the number of people experiencing medical problems after smoking the drug. For now, exact numbers have not been made public. But according to local reports, there is a distinct uptick in the number of overdoses and hospitalizations linked to synthetic cannabis. Currently, the spike is being seen primarily in the northern part of Alabama. Responding to the trend, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Clay Morris, and Northern District U.S. Attorney, Jay Town, issued a statement yesterday. “We have begun to notice a disturbing trend through our crime intelligence networks of overdoses related to synthetic marijuana in our district,” Town said. “Today we are joining together with our law enforcement partners to warn the public that the use of any synthetic illicit narcotic, such as synthetic marijuana, fentanyl, and other opioids, could result in fatal overdose by the user.” In particular, officials in Alabama are trying to avoid a crisis like the one the state experienced in 2015. That year, synthetic cannabis swept through the state. In fact, in a roughly two month period that year, more than 900 people showed up in the emergency room after consuming synthetic weed. And out of those patients, 196 were hospitalized. Even worse, five of them died. “Clearly the public has forgotten about that,” DEA Agent Morris told Al.com. “We can’t go back there.” Now, to avoid a similar epidemic, authorities are trying to spread the word. In particular, they are trying to reach out to young people to educate them about the dangers of synthetic cannabis. Synthetic Cannabis is Dangerous Typically, synthetic cannabis goes by a number of names. Specifically, these include names like spice, K2, Black Mamba, Smoke, Genie, and others. And to be clear, synthetic cannabis is not weed. Instead, it’s essentially a cocktail of synthetically-manufactured cannabinoids. Usually, these chemicals are sprayed onto some sort of shredded plant material. And in many cases, other chemicals are added to the mix. This can even include things ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Canadian Police Still Aren’t Seeing Any Spike In Stoned Driving Post-Legalization
    One of the major critiques of plans to legalize marijuana is related to people driving under the influence of weed, and the difficulties in policing such behavior. But in Canada, the largest country to regulate marijuana yet — and a nation with some of the highest rates of drunk driving in the world — law enforcement agencies are reporting that there has been no noticeable spike in such arrests since federal legalization. A survey by the Canadian Press of the country’s police forces echoed early post-legalization reports, finding that most had seen no rise in DUI cannabis arrests. “But most police departments are still really focusing on the drugs that we know that are killing people, the opiates and methamphetamines that are causing major concerns across the country,” said Chief Constable Mike Serr, co-chairperson of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s drug advisory committee. Many departments queried via the survey said they had actually recommended less charges for driving while stoned, although Alberta police did report 58 such charges since federal legalization, in comparison to 32 charges levied during the same six months last year. As they did in November, many agencies are reporting the prioritization of driver education around proper storage of cannabis while driving, emphasizing that it should be kept safely in the trunk as one would with alcohol containers. The news comes at the same time as the Canadian government’s announcement that it may approve a roadside THC saliva testing system for use by roadside officers. The Abbot SoToxa costs $6,000 Canadian dollars per device, but yields results in five minutes as opposed to other, considerably more delayed methods of testing for the presence of THC in a driver’s body. As is usually the case with these things, it does not test impairment in a driver. It wouldn’t be admissible as the basis for criminal charges — only for grounds to to arrest an individual. Some Canadian law enforcement officials have questioned its efficacy in cold weather. Canada’s federal government has prioritized education about driving under the influence — public awareness campaigns started on a variety of media platforms as far back as 2017, and a $62.5 million five year plan was announced in July of last year to train officers in new cannabis legislation. Some law firms specializing in impaired driving defense have even distributed air fresheners printed with their contact info to publicize the new federal driving laws related to marijuana. Across the U.S. and Canada, governments have been ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Former Pharmaceutical Company CEO Indicted for Role in Opioid Crisis
    A pharmaceutical distribution company, its former CEO, and another top executive have been criminally charged for their role in the opioid crisis that continues to plague the United States. The indictments for conspiracy to violate narcotics laws mark the first time a major drug distributor or executive has been indicted on drug trafficking charges, according to prosecutors. Charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York against the Rochester Drug Co-Operative, the company’s former CEO Laurence Doud III, and William Pietruszewski, the former chief compliance officer for the firm. The company was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to violate narcotics laws, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and willfully failing to file suspicious order reports. Doud has been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and was taken into custody on Tuesday for a court appearance. Doud plans to fight the charges, according to his attorney. Pietruszewski has entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to defraud the U.S., as well as a charge of willfully failing to file suspicious order reports with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Both men face prison sentences of life in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office also filed a civil lawsuit against Rochester Drug Co-Operative seeking “penalties and injunctive relief” on Tuesday. The company announced that it has entered into a plea agreement in the criminal case and a settlement of the civil suit. The drug distributor has agreed to admit to the charges of wrongdoing, pay a fine of $20 million, overhaul its compliance program, and submit to monitoring by a third-party observer. “This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Our office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.” Millions of Opioid Doses Illegally Distributed According to prosecutors, between 2012 and 2016, Rochester Drug Co-Operative illegally distributed tens of millions of doses of oxycodone, fentanyl, and other opioids to fill orders its own compliance department had flagged as suspicious. It is alleged that the company ignored DEA regulations and its own policies by selling opioids to pharmacies ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill
    HB 243, better known as the CARE Act, has cleared the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee and will now head to the full Senate just one month after Republican State Rep. and former Alabama Bureau of Investigation agent Mike Ball introduced the bill. Advancing out of committee represents a crucial step for the key medical marijuana legislation, bringing Alabama that much closer to a legal and regulated medical cannabis program. CARE Act Clears Key Alabama Senate Committee After a 6-2 vote (with 3 abstentions) advancing the CARE Act out of Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee, Alabama is decidedly on the path toward giving patients access to medical cannabis alternatives. The Compassion, Access, Research and Expansion (CARE) Act both extends Alabama’s existing medical cannabis programs and creates a new agency, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, tasked with implementing the legislation and regulating the medical industry. It also sets aside resources for furthering research into medical marijuana. With the exception of some law enforcement officials, legalizing medical cannabis enjoys broad support among lawmakers, health experts and the general public. Without it, “there will be unauthorized use,” said Dr. Szaflarski, professor of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and supporter of legal medical cannabis. “Many patients have run out of options.” Szaflarski is talking about the thousands of Alabama patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease and dozens of other severe and debilitating conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatments under the CARE Act. The bill also provides a process for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to approve additional qualifying conditions. Alabama Health Practitioners Take the Lead For Alabama State Rep. Mike Ball, a crucial component of the CARE Act is the control it gives to doctors. Rep. Ball said he received input from doctors who wanted Alabama to adopt a medical card approach, while also ensuring health practitioners play a key role in the patient registration process. “We want to give doctors latitude on this,” Ball said in March. The CARE Act says licensed physicians, licensed physician assistants, and certified nurse practitioners would all be able to diagnose someone with a qualifying condition. But a last-minute amendment upped that requirement. To obtain a medical cannabis card, patients would have to see two doctors, one of whom has to be a specialist, to receive a card. However, given the high costs of healthcare in the United States, and the fact that CARE Act does not require insurers to cover medical cannabis-related costs, the amendment could pose access issues ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Texas House Approves Bill to Legalize Hemp Farming
    The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill on Tuesday to legalize hemp agriculture in the state. The measure, House Bill 1325 (HB1325), also removes hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and legalizes cannabidiol, or CBD, and products made with the cannabinoid. The bill was passed without opposition via a voice vote and will have to be approved by the House in a second vote that is usually only a formality. The bill will then head to the Texas Senate for consideration. Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said that legalizing hemp will give the state’s farmers a new option for their operations. “There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” said Hall. “I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.” HB1325 has the support of many lawmakers and government officials in Texas’ majority Republican Party, including state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who has pledged to “support any bill that helps Texas agriculture.” If the bill is successful, Miller and the Department of Agriculture would be tasked with creating a hemp agriculture regulatory program including a system to license farmers who wish to grow the crop. The plan would then have to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval. “Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive — and that’s something everyone should get behind,” Miller said. “It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper.” Farming Green Gold Jeff Lake of Elemental Processing, a hemp processing company operating under Kentucky’s hemp research pilot program, told members of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee at hearings for HB1325 that his firm pays $3,000 to $5,000 per acre of hemp plus bonuses, in contrast to the $350 to $400 per acre of corn farmers receive in a good year. HB 1325 was introduced in the Texas House in February by Democratic Rep. Tracy King, following the legalization of hemp agriculture by the federal government with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December of last year. King told his colleagues in the House that legalizing hemp could help farmers be successful. “HB 1325 is right-to-farm legislation that will allow Texas farmers the opportunity to cultivate a drought-resistant cash crop — ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Lawmakers Push to Send More of Colorado’s Weed Revenues to Kindergarteners
    Since Colorado’s first legal sales at the start of 2014 until the end of 2018, $160 million has gone to school construction, courtesy of the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund. But now, lawmakers are making a push to increase that number, and to expand the kinds of support schools can expect from the state’s large recreational marijuana industry. Last year’s legislation increased the $40 million a year that Colorado sends from marijuana taxes into BEST to the 90 percent of all excise tax revenues. But with Governor Jared Polis’ legislative goal to fund full-day kindergarten, that amount may need to go higher. The funds needed to support such a program were a hot topic of discussion during state legislature budget talks last month. Right now about 80 percent of the state’s 61,749 kindergarteners have access to full-day programs. Some programs require a monthly tuition fee from families of $300 to $400, while others have access to federal funds for economically depressed districts. Funding for the program requires a shift in budget priorities because at the moment, the state provides half the amount of funds for kindergarten age kids as compared to the resources it funnels to school districts for older students. But some state legislators have identified where at least part of that money could come from marijuana. They say that when voters approved Amendment 64 in 2014, making recreational cannabis legal statewide, they were sold on the plan by its intended support of public education. An expansion of the percentage of the state’s weed revenue would further honor those voters’ intention, say supporters of the bill, and would widen access lanes between schools and cannabis funds. Their new plan, HB 1055, would destine all excise tax revenue to BEST, an increase of $5.8 million this year. Among other allowances, it would also transfer $25 million to the construction of full-day kindergarten facilities. According to the Denver Post, the state has collected over $740 million in marijuana tax revenue — a number that from the beginning of legal sales bested revenues taken in from alcohol retail. The sum exceeds many of the state’s prior predictions for cannabis sales, which has left open questions as to how the windfall should be spent.   “People frequently ask, ‘Where’s all that marijuana money?’ ” Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction for Jefferson County Schools told the Post in December. “I can’t tell you how many community meetings I’ve been to where this comes up.” Currently, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Maine Unveils Draft of Recreational Marijuana Regulatory Structure
    Maine voters approved a legal adult-use cannabis market back in 2016. But the state has struggled to actually get the industry up and running. While state lawmakers have fought to override vetoes on adult-use sales and a medical marijuana program expansion, Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy has been crafting the regulatory structure the retail industry will follow. And in response to significant public interest and mounting pressure from lawmakers, Maine regulators have just unveiled the draft rules for the adult use industry. The rulebook gives Maine residents their first real glimpse at what their legal cannabis marketplace might look like. And if they don’t like what they see, they can provide feedback at an upcoming public hearing or online. Maine is Giving the Public a Chance to Weigh in On Industry Rulebook From licenses, tracking, and advertising to testing, waste management and fees (and everything in between), Maine just made a draft of its 74-page rulebook for the cannabis industry available to the public. The text represents roughly ten weeks of work by Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy, an agency created in February to establish the regulatory framework for legal adult-use cannabis. The Office of Marijuana Policy is partnering with a pair of firms, California-based BOTEC Analysis and Colorado-based Freedman & Koski, to help craft and review its rules. Both BOTEC and Freedman & Koski have been vying for the competitive state contracts. Maine has even faced legal scrutiny over the scoring process for the contract awards. License and Fee Requirements Could Attract Public Criticism The full text of the draft rulebook is available online. But some major takeaways address the state’s proposed fee and licensing structure for cultivators and retailers. Maine is proposing a tiered annual licensing fee structure. For the smallest, “Tier 1” growers, application fees vary based on indoor/outdoor grows and the number of plants and canopy space from about $100 to $500. For the largest, “Tier 4” cultivators, however, fees can reach as high as $30,000. On the retail side, annual store licenses and product manufacturing facilities would cost $2,500. Testing facilities would cost $1,000. The draft rules indicate that anyone working in the legal industry would need to pay for a special state-issued ID. That rule would apply to workers whether they touch the plant or not. The ID rule specifies that individuals would have to pay a fee of $50 for the card plus the cost of fingerprinting and a background check. Workers would have to pay an additional ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • New Hampshire Senate Considering Recreational Cannabis Legalization Bill
    Lawmakers in New Hampshire are continuing to work on a new piece of legislation that could legalize recreational weed. Earlier this month, the bill cleared the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Now, it’s working its way through the Senate. Most recently, the bill moved to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. That group is now considering whether or not to continue advancing the bill. Will New Hampshire Legalize Recreational Cannabis? The bill currently being looked at by the Senate Judiciary Committee would introduce a number of big changes to New Hampshire’s cannabis laws. Most immediately, it would make it legal for adults to possess and consume cannabis for recreational purposes. More specifically, it would be legal for adults 21 and up to possess up to an ounce of weed. Similarly, adults would be allowed to possess up to five grams of hash or concentrates. Additionally, the bill would let adults grow their own weed at home. If it passes into law, adults could start growing up to six plants at a time. And finally, the bill would also pave the way for a full scale retail system in the state. This would include infrastructure for regulating and monitoring the legal cannabis industry in New Hampshire. At the same time, the bill is also written with a number of safeguards in place. This includes prohibiting the consumption of weed in vehicles. Similarly, it will still be illegal to smoke weed in public. If the bill clears the Senate, it will still need to be signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu. And unfortunately for weed advocates in New Hampshire, Gov. Sununu has already said he would veto the bill. In that scenario, the bill would need to receive a certain number of votes by other lawmakers to survive. According to local news source WMUR9, it seems unlikely that there would be enough votes to override a veto from Gov. Sununu. The Debate Continues With the bill now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the debate over legalization in New Hampshire seems to be heating up. As reported by WMUR9, 40 people have already signed up to speak to the Committee about the issue. And from the sounds of things, lawmakers are divided on the issue. For those in favor of the bill, it represents a chance to fix the social harms caused by the war on drugs, and the war on cannabis in particular. “One of the things this bill does is recognize that our 85-year-old war against cannabis has ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Michigan Officials Advise Testing Vape Cartridges for Heavy Metals
    State officials in Michigan are encouraging medicinal cannabis retailers to have their vape cartridges tested for heavy metals after lead was detected in some products. In a public health and safety bulletin issued on April 12, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reported that the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) had identified the contaminated vape cartridges when lab test results were entered into the statewide monitoring system. The tainted products were subsequently destroyed, according to state regulators. The bureau also urged medical marijuana dispensaries to have their product on hand tested and noted that consumers could do the same. “BMR encourages all licensed provisioning centers to have their vape cartridges tested. Patients and Caregivers who would like to have cartridges tested, at their own expense, can take them to a licensed safety compliance facility,” the bulletin advises. The bureau has updated regulations to require samples of vape cartridges to undergo lab testing after they are filled. Previous rules only mandated testing for the cannabis oil used to fill cartridges. Research Finds Heavy Metals in E-Cigarettes The advisory noted that a Johns Hopkins University study released last year found that lead and other toxic metals including chromium, manganese, and nickel had been detected in the vapors produced by some e-cigarette devices. Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, told Forbes that “the metals detected in this study have been associated with multiple adverse health effects under chronic conditions of exposure. Neurotoxins such as lead are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. The other metals listed are even more nefarious to human organs.” Able called for government regulation of e-cigarette devices to help ensure their safety. “It is critical for manufacturers of these delivery systems to design, engineer and manufacture these devices to FDA medical device quality standards,” he says. “To continue manufacturing and marketing these devices to the smoking population without further diligence and clinical review is unethical and unconscionable.” The BMR noted that Michigan is one of the few states with legal pot that mandates heavy metals testing for cannabis products. When stricter standards for cannabis including testing for heavy metals went into effect in California at the beginning of the year, some vape cartridges were also found to be contaminated with lead. Michigan regulators noted that no vape cartridges with ceramic heating elements had been found to be tainted with lead. Michigan legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in a 2008 election. In last year’s midterm elections, voters in the state legalized the recreational use ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Alabama’s Jefferson County Will No Longer Prosecute Marijuana Misdemeanors
    If you needed any more proof that law enforcement agencies across the United States are going in on cannabis decriminalization, how’s this? On Monday, Alabama’s Jefferson County — where more people live than any other county in the state — announced that it not be making arrests for nonviolent misdemeanors anymore. A driving force appears to the county’s determination to spend less resources persecuting those with small-time marijuana charges. “I think this is going to help a lot of people and get a lot of people back on track,” said county sheriff Mark Pettway, who ran for the position with a campaign promising that he’d cut back on marijuana arrests. “Those who want help will be able to get help,” “People are always talking about criminal justice reform,” sheriff spokesperson Capt. David Aggee said while announcing the shift in policy. “Well this is more than talk, this is action. This is big.'” The state has been in the news a lot recently regarding the steps that it’s been taking towards changing the way that cannabis is dealt with by the law enforcement system. Alabama legislature also has a bill in front of it that would cut back punishments for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis, taking jail time off the table for those charged with such an offense. Those caught with more than two ounces, under the proposed legislation, would be subject to a fine up to $250 for their first offense. The bill would also establish a retroactive justice system that would allow people who have racked up possession charges for small amounts of marijuana to get their records expunged. Representative Mike Ball, a Republican, has also filed bill HB 243 in March, also called the Compassion, Access, Research and Expansion (CARE) Act. It would expand Alabama’s medical marijuana program to a list of three dozen qualifying medical conditions — in addition to establishing a commission to oversee the program and provide licenses for cultivation, distribution, and sale. HB 243 has as one of its co-sponsors Rep. Mac McCutcheon, speaker of the Alabama House. The decriminalization deliberations may well be a response to publicly voiced concerns over the current system of cannabis law. The mayor of Tuscaloosa Walt Maddox suggested that tickets rather than jail time be the result of low level marijuana possession arrests. “We need to deal with this in a different pattern besides throwing somebody in jail,” he said at a city council event in December. His words seem to ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
 
  • Canadian Government to Approve Second Roadside Drug Testing Kit
    The Canadian government is set to approve a second roadside device authorized for use by law enforcement personnel to detect the presence of THC in drivers. In an order released on April 20, the Canadian Department of Justice announced a proposal to add the SoToxa drug screening device to the list of approved equipment for roadside tests. The proposal would add three pieces of equipment that are designed to be used together– the SoToxa analyzer, a device to collect a saliva sample, and a cartridge used to hold the sample in the machine– to the list of equipment that may be used by police in roadside drug screenings. The SoToxa equipment analyzes a saliva sample provided by a driver to detect the presence of THC. “Approval of the SoToxa, the Abbott SoToxa Test Cartridge and the Abbott SoToxa Oral Fluid Collection Device, when used together, as ‘approved drug screening equipment,’ would permit its use by law enforcement. A positive result would be a strong indication of recent use,” the order reads. Panel Recommends Approval The Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, an independent group of forensic toxicologists, evaluated the SoToxa system and recommended that Attorney General David Lametti approve the equipment for use by police in roadside screenings for THC. The device is currently undergoing a 30-day public consultation period pending approval. Police in Canada are currently limited to the sole approved device, the Drager Drug Test 5000, for roadside drug screenings. The Drager 5000 is approved for detecting the presence of THC and cocaine. The device is also used by numerous departments in the United States and other countries, although its functionality, particularly in cold weather, has been criticized. Canadian police gained the authority to conduct roadside drug screenings of drivers with the passage of Bill C-46, which was approved by Parliament last year along with Bill C-45, the measure that legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Bill C-46 also makes it illegal to drive within two hours of being over impairment limits. Although the failure of a roadside drug screening test is not by itself a crime and the results cannot be used in court, it can lead to further police action including a blood test to determine legal impairment. The post Canadian Government to Approve Second Roadside Drug Testing Kit appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Why is South Dakota’s Governor Still Against Legalizing Industrial Hemp?
    There was a four-year stretch in the 1980s when one state after another raised the drinking age to 21, a trend that was prompted by the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The law was a powerful and straightforward illustration of the federal government’s ability to influence action at the state-level. States would be required to raise the drinking age to 21, the measure said, or lose 10% of federal highway funds, an act of legislative coercion that forced the entire country to fall in line by 1988. But South Dakota did not accept the law so willingly, challenging its constitutionality in a case, South Dakota v. Dole, that eventually made it to the Supreme Court. The court upheld the bill, effectively forcing the state’s hand. South Dakota complied, becoming the 49th state to raise the drinking age to 21 (Wyoming has the distinction of being the last state). There is a similar air of inevitability on the subject of recreational marijuana prohibition, which has been abolished by a dozens of states and cities since 2012. Whereas Congress and the executive branch flexed their dominion over states in upping the drinking age more than 30 years ago, the feds have essentially allowed states control over their marijuana laws through relative passivity. The question doesn’t seem to be if pot will ultimately be legalized nationwide, but when.   Pursue the hypothetical a bit further, and the question might well become where – as in where will be the last place to embrace legalization. Consider this a vote for South Dakota, where the latest legislative session was headlined, unexpectedly, by a debate over whether to legalize industrial hemp. The bill, which had bipartisan support, was ultimately stymied by the state’s newly elected Republican governor, Kristi Noem, whose opposition centered around one argument: legalized hemp, she argued, was a gateway to legalized pot. Noem’s bout of Reefer Madness bewildered farmers and advocates within her own party. Jordan Youngberg, a Republican state senator, was frustrated with the Noem administration’s objections, saying the reasons offered were “getting a little old.” And in February, the editorial board of Agweek called on Noem to back the bill, saying she had “taken a public position that clearly works against South Dakota agriculture.” “It’s widely understood in ag circles that industrial hemp, which is very different from marijuana, is well suited for marginal land,” the editorial said. “It’s widely understood in ag circles that industrial hemp potentially could generate profits for the hard-pressed South Dakota ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Louisiana’s Cajun Cannabis CBD Store Raided, Owner Facing Felony Charges
    Less than a week after the 4/20 grand opening of Louisiana’s newest CBD store and cafe, Cajun Cannabis, owner Travis DeYoung is facing multiple felony drug charges. Late Wednesday night, police stopped DeYoung in his vehicle for an alleged traffic violation. After searching DeYoung’s car and finding a gun and various forms of cannabidiol products, police obtained a warrant to raid his Cajun Cannabis storefront. The raid early Thursday morning turned up another firearm and a number of different CBD and CBD-THC products, according to police. DeYoung now faces multiple felony and misdemeanor drug charges, chief among them possession with intent of a “controlled dangerous substance:” completely non-psychoactive, medicinal, therapeutic, and widely legal cannabidiol (CBD). CBD Retailer Charged With Multiple Felonies for “Controlled Dangerous Substance” In Lafayette, Louisiana, Travis DeYoung wanted to change the perception around cannabis. So he founded Cajun Cannabis, a cafe and retail shop specializing in hemp CBD oils, edibles, topicals, and other products, from drinks to bath products and even candles. The coffee at Cajun Cannabis doesn’t have CBD in it; DeYoung just wanted to give the establishment a cafe vibe. None of the CBD in the products on offer at Cajun Cannabis came from hemp’s psychoactive cousin, and none of the products contained THC. Under Louisiana law, retailers like DeYoung can only sell two types of CBD, either full-spectrum oils with the THC removed, or pure CBD isolates. DeYoung told reporters he wanted “something Lafayette can be proud of.” He was planning to offer educational events at Cajun Cannabis to teach residents of the “family-oriented town” about the differences between marijuana and hemp. In hindsight, DeYoung probably should have started with the police. Officers arrested DeYoung and raided his store because of hemp-derived CBD. These are products that have nothing to do with marijuana or THC. But law enforcement officials commonly mistake hemp for marijuana. One company is even developing a handheld DNA tester to help cops identify cannabis plants. Why Is Louisiana Going After CBD? In January, Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law, which among other things legalized hemp and hemp derivatives at the federal level. With the stroke of pen, hemp, and thus hemp CBD, became legal across the United States. But in the same way that legal-weed states contravene the federal prohibition on marijuana (THC), some states have prohibitions on CBD that now contradict federal law. Case in point, Louisiana. Where despite the end of the federal ban regulatory authorities say the sale of ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup
    This past 420 weekend was filled with fun, friends, laughter, and an abundance of our fave plant. It was also the weekend of our Central Valley Cannabis Cup. While all of the competitors performed admirably, there were a few entries that stood out to us. Here are the winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup: Best Edible 1st Place: Gem Guice by Space Gem 2nd Place: Tropic Twist Gummies by Dixie 3rd Place: Sour Watermelon Fruit Chews by Smokiez Best Sativa Flower 1st Place: Orange Soda by Team Elite Genetics 2nd Place: Gelonade by Connected 3rd Place: Candyland by Top-Shelf Cultivation Best Indica Flower 1st Place: Whoa Si Whoa by Top-Shelf Cultivation 2nd Place: Cherry Meringue by Lumpy’s Flowers 3rd Place: Bacio by Scoopz Best Hybrid Flower 1st Place: Lemon Trill by Lumpy’s Flowers 2nd Place: Nova Cane by Team Elite Genetics 3rd Place: Orange Cookies by Talking Trees Farms Best Sun-Grown Flower 1st Place: Venom OG by Honeydew Farms 2nd Place: Orange Creamsicle by LoudPack 3rd Place: Galactic Gas by Alien Labs Best Preroll 1st Place: Super Sour D by Nug & Amplified 2nd Place: Originals OG by 22 Red 3rd Place: Fruit Punch by Fire AF Best Indica Concentrate 1st Place: Papaya Sauce by Apex 2nd Place: Triangle Kush Sauce by Raw Garden 3rd Place: N’Ice Cream Sauce by Connected Best Hybrid Concentrate 1st Place: Bacio Sauce by Apex 2nd Place: Pink Lemonaid Live Resin by Talking Trees Farms 3rd Place: Gelato Punch by LoudPack Best Vape Cartridge 1st Place: Dosi Punch Cartridge by Raw Garden 2nd Place: Banana OG Cartridge by Raw Garden 3rd Place: Wedding Cake by Uptown Canna Co Best Topical 1st Place: Sugar High Body Creme by High Gorgeous 2nd Place: Mimosa Cream by CAD 3rd Place: Synergy Bath by Dixie The post Winners of the 2019 Central Valley Cannabis Cup appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • American Arrested For Growing 20 Acres of Cannabis in Myanmar
    An American and two others have been arrested by police after a raid of a 20-acre cannabis plantation in Myanmar, according to a report in The New York Times. The Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control announced on Wednesday that John Fredric Todoroki, 63, an American, and two citizens of Myanmar, U Shein Latt, 37, and Ma Shun Le Myat Noe, 23 had been detained in the township of Ngazun on Monday. All have been charged with offenses that could lead to the death penalty. Police are still searching for a second American, Alexander Skemp Todoroki, 49. The relationship between the two Todorokis is not clear at this time. The raid occurred after photos of the site, which was referred to as an “industrial hemp plantation,” were posted on social media by cannabis activist group the Mahar Legalization Movement Myanmar. The group praised the operation, saying it was the kind of foreign investment in agriculture needed by the Southeast Asian nation of more than 53 million people. The post garnered thousands of views including some by Myanmar law enforcement. “We took action as soon as we saw the post on Facebook,” said police officer San Win in a phone interview. Defendants Face the Death Penalty The Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control announced that 350,000 cannabis plants, 600 pounds of cultivated marijuana, 840 pounds of seeds, and chemicals had been confiscated in the raid of the plantation, known as the Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development. The three people arrested at the farm are facing charges including the production or distribution of psychotropic substances for sale, an offense subject to a 15-year minimum sentence, lifetime imprisonment, or the death penalty, according to government sentencing guidelines. The group has also been charged with the cultivation of narcotic or psychotropic substances, punishable with a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, and drug trafficking, which carries a 10-year minimum prison term. In August, the Mandalay regional government granted permission to III M Nutritional Medicine to grow medicinal hemp. An official with the Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development has said that the three arrested people worked for the company. Aung Say Toe, the founder of the Mahar Legalization Movement Myanmar, said that both marijuana and hemp are illegal in the country but called on the government to allow research into the medicinal use of cannabis. “They are not cultivating secretly,” he said of the farm site. “Everyone could see it, and that’s why we could take photos and video of the plantation.” ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-25
  • Alabama Health Officials Report Spike in Synthetic Cannabis Overdoses
    Synthetic marijuana is back in the headlines. And this time it’s hitting northern Alabama. Specifically, public health and law enforcement agencies are reporting a sharp uptick in overdoses related to synthetic marijuana. Now, officials are trying to warn the public of the dangers of smoking synthetic weed. Synthetic Cannabis Use is Spiking in Northern Alabama As reported by local news source Al.com, multiple public agencies are warning the public to watch out for and avoid synthetic cannabis. The warnings come as health officials and law enforcement in Alabama have begun noticing an increase in the number of people experiencing medical problems after smoking the drug. For now, exact numbers have not been made public. But according to local reports, there is a distinct uptick in the number of overdoses and hospitalizations linked to synthetic cannabis. Currently, the spike is being seen primarily in the northern part of Alabama. Responding to the trend, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Clay Morris, and Northern District U.S. Attorney, Jay Town, issued a statement yesterday. “We have begun to notice a disturbing trend through our crime intelligence networks of overdoses related to synthetic marijuana in our district,” Town said. “Today we are joining together with our law enforcement partners to warn the public that the use of any synthetic illicit narcotic, such as synthetic marijuana, fentanyl, and other opioids, could result in fatal overdose by the user.” In particular, officials in Alabama are trying to avoid a crisis like the one the state experienced in 2015. That year, synthetic cannabis swept through the state. In fact, in a roughly two month period that year, more than 900 people showed up in the emergency room after consuming synthetic weed. And out of those patients, 196 were hospitalized. Even worse, five of them died. “Clearly the public has forgotten about that,” DEA Agent Morris told Al.com. “We can’t go back there.” Now, to avoid a similar epidemic, authorities are trying to spread the word. In particular, they are trying to reach out to young people to educate them about the dangers of synthetic cannabis. Synthetic Cannabis is Dangerous Typically, synthetic cannabis goes by a number of names. Specifically, these include names like spice, K2, Black Mamba, Smoke, Genie, and others. And to be clear, synthetic cannabis is not weed. Instead, it’s essentially a cocktail of synthetically-manufactured cannabinoids. Usually, these chemicals are sprayed onto some sort of shredded plant material. And in many cases, other chemicals are added to the mix. This can even include things ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Canadian Police Still Aren’t Seeing Any Spike In Stoned Driving Post-Legalization
    One of the major critiques of plans to legalize marijuana is related to people driving under the influence of weed, and the difficulties in policing such behavior. But in Canada, the largest country to regulate marijuana yet — and a nation with some of the highest rates of drunk driving in the world — law enforcement agencies are reporting that there has been no noticeable spike in such arrests since federal legalization. A survey by the Canadian Press of the country’s police forces echoed early post-legalization reports, finding that most had seen no rise in DUI cannabis arrests. “But most police departments are still really focusing on the drugs that we know that are killing people, the opiates and methamphetamines that are causing major concerns across the country,” said Chief Constable Mike Serr, co-chairperson of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s drug advisory committee. Many departments queried via the survey said they had actually recommended less charges for driving while stoned, although Alberta police did report 58 such charges since federal legalization, in comparison to 32 charges levied during the same six months last year. As they did in November, many agencies are reporting the prioritization of driver education around proper storage of cannabis while driving, emphasizing that it should be kept safely in the trunk as one would with alcohol containers. The news comes at the same time as the Canadian government’s announcement that it may approve a roadside THC saliva testing system for use by roadside officers. The Abbot SoToxa costs $6,000 Canadian dollars per device, but yields results in five minutes as opposed to other, considerably more delayed methods of testing for the presence of THC in a driver’s body. As is usually the case with these things, it does not test impairment in a driver. It wouldn’t be admissible as the basis for criminal charges — only for grounds to to arrest an individual. Some Canadian law enforcement officials have questioned its efficacy in cold weather. Canada’s federal government has prioritized education about driving under the influence — public awareness campaigns started on a variety of media platforms as far back as 2017, and a $62.5 million five year plan was announced in July of last year to train officers in new cannabis legislation. Some law firms specializing in impaired driving defense have even distributed air fresheners printed with their contact info to publicize the new federal driving laws related to marijuana. Across the U.S. and Canada, governments have been ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Former Pharmaceutical Company CEO Indicted for Role in Opioid Crisis
    A pharmaceutical distribution company, its former CEO, and another top executive have been criminally charged for their role in the opioid crisis that continues to plague the United States. The indictments for conspiracy to violate narcotics laws mark the first time a major drug distributor or executive has been indicted on drug trafficking charges, according to prosecutors. Charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York against the Rochester Drug Co-Operative, the company’s former CEO Laurence Doud III, and William Pietruszewski, the former chief compliance officer for the firm. The company was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to violate narcotics laws, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and willfully failing to file suspicious order reports. Doud has been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and was taken into custody on Tuesday for a court appearance. Doud plans to fight the charges, according to his attorney. Pietruszewski has entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to defraud the U.S., as well as a charge of willfully failing to file suspicious order reports with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Both men face prison sentences of life in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office also filed a civil lawsuit against Rochester Drug Co-Operative seeking “penalties and injunctive relief” on Tuesday. The company announced that it has entered into a plea agreement in the criminal case and a settlement of the civil suit. The drug distributor has agreed to admit to the charges of wrongdoing, pay a fine of $20 million, overhaul its compliance program, and submit to monitoring by a third-party observer. “This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Our office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.” Millions of Opioid Doses Illegally Distributed According to prosecutors, between 2012 and 2016, Rochester Drug Co-Operative illegally distributed tens of millions of doses of oxycodone, fentanyl, and other opioids to fill orders its own compliance department had flagged as suspicious. It is alleged that the company ignored DEA regulations and its own policies by selling opioids to pharmacies ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill
    HB 243, better known as the CARE Act, has cleared the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee and will now head to the full Senate just one month after Republican State Rep. and former Alabama Bureau of Investigation agent Mike Ball introduced the bill. Advancing out of committee represents a crucial step for the key medical marijuana legislation, bringing Alabama that much closer to a legal and regulated medical cannabis program. CARE Act Clears Key Alabama Senate Committee After a 6-2 vote (with 3 abstentions) advancing the CARE Act out of Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee, Alabama is decidedly on the path toward giving patients access to medical cannabis alternatives. The Compassion, Access, Research and Expansion (CARE) Act both extends Alabama’s existing medical cannabis programs and creates a new agency, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, tasked with implementing the legislation and regulating the medical industry. It also sets aside resources for furthering research into medical marijuana. With the exception of some law enforcement officials, legalizing medical cannabis enjoys broad support among lawmakers, health experts and the general public. Without it, “there will be unauthorized use,” said Dr. Szaflarski, professor of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and supporter of legal medical cannabis. “Many patients have run out of options.” Szaflarski is talking about the thousands of Alabama patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease and dozens of other severe and debilitating conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatments under the CARE Act. The bill also provides a process for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to approve additional qualifying conditions. Alabama Health Practitioners Take the Lead For Alabama State Rep. Mike Ball, a crucial component of the CARE Act is the control it gives to doctors. Rep. Ball said he received input from doctors who wanted Alabama to adopt a medical card approach, while also ensuring health practitioners play a key role in the patient registration process. “We want to give doctors latitude on this,” Ball said in March. The CARE Act says licensed physicians, licensed physician assistants, and certified nurse practitioners would all be able to diagnose someone with a qualifying condition. But a last-minute amendment upped that requirement. To obtain a medical cannabis card, patients would have to see two doctors, one of whom has to be a specialist, to receive a card. However, given the high costs of healthcare in the United States, and the fact that CARE Act does not require insurers to cover medical cannabis-related costs, the amendment could pose access issues ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Texas House Approves Bill to Legalize Hemp Farming
    The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill on Tuesday to legalize hemp agriculture in the state. The measure, House Bill 1325 (HB1325), also removes hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and legalizes cannabidiol, or CBD, and products made with the cannabinoid. The bill was passed without opposition via a voice vote and will have to be approved by the House in a second vote that is usually only a formality. The bill will then head to the Texas Senate for consideration. Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said that legalizing hemp will give the state’s farmers a new option for their operations. “There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” said Hall. “I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.” HB1325 has the support of many lawmakers and government officials in Texas’ majority Republican Party, including state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who has pledged to “support any bill that helps Texas agriculture.” If the bill is successful, Miller and the Department of Agriculture would be tasked with creating a hemp agriculture regulatory program including a system to license farmers who wish to grow the crop. The plan would then have to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval. “Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive — and that’s something everyone should get behind,” Miller said. “It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper.” Farming Green Gold Jeff Lake of Elemental Processing, a hemp processing company operating under Kentucky’s hemp research pilot program, told members of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee at hearings for HB1325 that his firm pays $3,000 to $5,000 per acre of hemp plus bonuses, in contrast to the $350 to $400 per acre of corn farmers receive in a good year. HB 1325 was introduced in the Texas House in February by Democratic Rep. Tracy King, following the legalization of hemp agriculture by the federal government with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December of last year. King told his colleagues in the House that legalizing hemp could help farmers be successful. “HB 1325 is right-to-farm legislation that will allow Texas farmers the opportunity to cultivate a drought-resistant cash crop — ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-24
  • Lawmakers Push to Send More of Colorado’s Weed Revenues to Kindergarteners
    Since Colorado’s first legal sales at the start of 2014 until the end of 2018, $160 million has gone to school construction, courtesy of the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund. But now, lawmakers are making a push to increase that number, and to expand the kinds of support schools can expect from the state’s large recreational marijuana industry. Last year’s legislation increased the $40 million a year that Colorado sends from marijuana taxes into BEST to the 90 percent of all excise tax revenues. But with Governor Jared Polis’ legislative goal to fund full-day kindergarten, that amount may need to go higher. The funds needed to support such a program were a hot topic of discussion during state legislature budget talks last month. Right now about 80 percent of the state’s 61,749 kindergarteners have access to full-day programs. Some programs require a monthly tuition fee from families of $300 to $400, while others have access to federal funds for economically depressed districts. Funding for the program requires a shift in budget priorities because at the moment, the state provides half the amount of funds for kindergarten age kids as compared to the resources it funnels to school districts for older students. But some state legislators have identified where at least part of that money could come from marijuana. They say that when voters approved Amendment 64 in 2014, making recreational cannabis legal statewide, they were sold on the plan by its intended support of public education. An expansion of the percentage of the state’s weed revenue would further honor those voters’ intention, say supporters of the bill, and would widen access lanes between schools and cannabis funds. Their new plan, HB 1055, would destine all excise tax revenue to BEST, an increase of $5.8 million this year. Among other allowances, it would also transfer $25 million to the construction of full-day kindergarten facilities. According to the Denver Post, the state has collected over $740 million in marijuana tax revenue — a number that from the beginning of legal sales bested revenues taken in from alcohol retail. The sum exceeds many of the state’s prior predictions for cannabis sales, which has left open questions as to how the windfall should be spent.   “People frequently ask, ‘Where’s all that marijuana money?’ ” Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction for Jefferson County Schools told the Post in December. “I can’t tell you how many community meetings I’ve been to where this comes up.” Currently, ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Maine Unveils Draft of Recreational Marijuana Regulatory Structure
    Maine voters approved a legal adult-use cannabis market back in 2016. But the state has struggled to actually get the industry up and running. While state lawmakers have fought to override vetoes on adult-use sales and a medical marijuana program expansion, Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy has been crafting the regulatory structure the retail industry will follow. And in response to significant public interest and mounting pressure from lawmakers, Maine regulators have just unveiled the draft rules for the adult use industry. The rulebook gives Maine residents their first real glimpse at what their legal cannabis marketplace might look like. And if they don’t like what they see, they can provide feedback at an upcoming public hearing or online. Maine is Giving the Public a Chance to Weigh in On Industry Rulebook From licenses, tracking, and advertising to testing, waste management and fees (and everything in between), Maine just made a draft of its 74-page rulebook for the cannabis industry available to the public. The text represents roughly ten weeks of work by Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy, an agency created in February to establish the regulatory framework for legal adult-use cannabis. The Office of Marijuana Policy is partnering with a pair of firms, California-based BOTEC Analysis and Colorado-based Freedman & Koski, to help craft and review its rules. Both BOTEC and Freedman & Koski have been vying for the competitive state contracts. Maine has even faced legal scrutiny over the scoring process for the contract awards. License and Fee Requirements Could Attract Public Criticism The full text of the draft rulebook is available online. But some major takeaways address the state’s proposed fee and licensing structure for cultivators and retailers. Maine is proposing a tiered annual licensing fee structure. For the smallest, “Tier 1” growers, application fees vary based on indoor/outdoor grows and the number of plants and canopy space from about $100 to $500. For the largest, “Tier 4” cultivators, however, fees can reach as high as $30,000. On the retail side, annual store licenses and product manufacturing facilities would cost $2,500. Testing facilities would cost $1,000. The draft rules indicate that anyone working in the legal industry would need to pay for a special state-issued ID. That rule would apply to workers whether they touch the plant or not. The ID rule specifies that individuals would have to pay a fee of $50 for the card plus the cost of fingerprinting and a background check. Workers would have to pay an additional ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • New Hampshire Senate Considering Recreational Cannabis Legalization Bill
    Lawmakers in New Hampshire are continuing to work on a new piece of legislation that could legalize recreational weed. Earlier this month, the bill cleared the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Now, it’s working its way through the Senate. Most recently, the bill moved to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. That group is now considering whether or not to continue advancing the bill. Will New Hampshire Legalize Recreational Cannabis? The bill currently being looked at by the Senate Judiciary Committee would introduce a number of big changes to New Hampshire’s cannabis laws. Most immediately, it would make it legal for adults to possess and consume cannabis for recreational purposes. More specifically, it would be legal for adults 21 and up to possess up to an ounce of weed. Similarly, adults would be allowed to possess up to five grams of hash or concentrates. Additionally, the bill would let adults grow their own weed at home. If it passes into law, adults could start growing up to six plants at a time. And finally, the bill would also pave the way for a full scale retail system in the state. This would include infrastructure for regulating and monitoring the legal cannabis industry in New Hampshire. At the same time, the bill is also written with a number of safeguards in place. This includes prohibiting the consumption of weed in vehicles. Similarly, it will still be illegal to smoke weed in public. If the bill clears the Senate, it will still need to be signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu. And unfortunately for weed advocates in New Hampshire, Gov. Sununu has already said he would veto the bill. In that scenario, the bill would need to receive a certain number of votes by other lawmakers to survive. According to local news source WMUR9, it seems unlikely that there would be enough votes to override a veto from Gov. Sununu. The Debate Continues With the bill now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the debate over legalization in New Hampshire seems to be heating up. As reported by WMUR9, 40 people have already signed up to speak to the Committee about the issue. And from the sounds of things, lawmakers are divided on the issue. For those in favor of the bill, it represents a chance to fix the social harms caused by the war on drugs, and the war on cannabis in particular. “One of the things this bill does is recognize that our 85-year-old war against cannabis has ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Michigan Officials Advise Testing Vape Cartridges for Heavy Metals
    State officials in Michigan are encouraging medicinal cannabis retailers to have their vape cartridges tested for heavy metals after lead was detected in some products. In a public health and safety bulletin issued on April 12, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reported that the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) had identified the contaminated vape cartridges when lab test results were entered into the statewide monitoring system. The tainted products were subsequently destroyed, according to state regulators. The bureau also urged medical marijuana dispensaries to have their product on hand tested and noted that consumers could do the same. “BMR encourages all licensed provisioning centers to have their vape cartridges tested. Patients and Caregivers who would like to have cartridges tested, at their own expense, can take them to a licensed safety compliance facility,” the bulletin advises. The bureau has updated regulations to require samples of vape cartridges to undergo lab testing after they are filled. Previous rules only mandated testing for the cannabis oil used to fill cartridges. Research Finds Heavy Metals in E-Cigarettes The advisory noted that a Johns Hopkins University study released last year found that lead and other toxic metals including chromium, manganese, and nickel had been detected in the vapors produced by some e-cigarette devices. Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, told Forbes that “the metals detected in this study have been associated with multiple adverse health effects under chronic conditions of exposure. Neurotoxins such as lead are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. The other metals listed are even more nefarious to human organs.” Able called for government regulation of e-cigarette devices to help ensure their safety. “It is critical for manufacturers of these delivery systems to design, engineer and manufacture these devices to FDA medical device quality standards,” he says. “To continue manufacturing and marketing these devices to the smoking population without further diligence and clinical review is unethical and unconscionable.” The BMR noted that Michigan is one of the few states with legal pot that mandates heavy metals testing for cannabis products. When stricter standards for cannabis including testing for heavy metals went into effect in California at the beginning of the year, some vape cartridges were also found to be contaminated with lead. Michigan regulators noted that no vape cartridges with ceramic heating elements had been found to be tainted with lead. Michigan legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in a 2008 election. In last year’s midterm elections, voters in the state legalized the recreational use ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23
  • Alabama’s Jefferson County Will No Longer Prosecute Marijuana Misdemeanors
    If you needed any more proof that law enforcement agencies across the United States are going in on cannabis decriminalization, how’s this? On Monday, Alabama’s Jefferson County — where more people live than any other county in the state — announced that it not be making arrests for nonviolent misdemeanors anymore. A driving force appears to the county’s determination to spend less resources persecuting those with small-time marijuana charges. “I think this is going to help a lot of people and get a lot of people back on track,” said county sheriff Mark Pettway, who ran for the position with a campaign promising that he’d cut back on marijuana arrests. “Those who want help will be able to get help,” “People are always talking about criminal justice reform,” sheriff spokesperson Capt. David Aggee said while announcing the shift in policy. “Well this is more than talk, this is action. This is big.'” The state has been in the news a lot recently regarding the steps that it’s been taking towards changing the way that cannabis is dealt with by the law enforcement system. Alabama legislature also has a bill in front of it that would cut back punishments for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis, taking jail time off the table for those charged with such an offense. Those caught with more than two ounces, under the proposed legislation, would be subject to a fine up to $250 for their first offense. The bill would also establish a retroactive justice system that would allow people who have racked up possession charges for small amounts of marijuana to get their records expunged. Representative Mike Ball, a Republican, has also filed bill HB 243 in March, also called the Compassion, Access, Research and Expansion (CARE) Act. It would expand Alabama’s medical marijuana program to a list of three dozen qualifying medical conditions — in addition to establishing a commission to oversee the program and provide licenses for cultivation, distribution, and sale. HB 243 has as one of its co-sponsors Rep. Mac McCutcheon, speaker of the Alabama House. The decriminalization deliberations may well be a response to publicly voiced concerns over the current system of cannabis law. The mayor of Tuscaloosa Walt Maddox suggested that tickets rather than jail time be the result of low level marijuana possession arrests. “We need to deal with this in a different pattern besides throwing somebody in jail,” he said at a city council event in December. His words seem to ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-23