Weed News Week Ending September 30, 2016


Monday, September 26, 2016

Kevin Sabet's Project SAM

If Project SAM leader Kevin Sabet is the so-called “quarterback of the anti-legalization movement”, then former police lieutenant Diane Goldstein is the “defensive end of the anti-prohibition movement” who just sacked Sabet for a ten-yard loss. Goldstein, a board member with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and proponent of California’s Prop 64 legalization initiative, filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The complaint alleges that the political arm of Project SAM, called SAM Action, violated campaign finance rules when it was late in disclosing its funding sources and not accounting for almost $150,000 in spending. FPPC Enforcement Chief Galena West informed Prop 64 campaign attorneys that her office “will investigate the allegation(s)” but hasn’t yet evaluated their validity.

Florida’s limited medical marijuana-oil program, estimated to approach $770 million when fully operational, may be forced to scrap the progress made so far and restart the process of licensing cannabis growers. Judge John Van Laningham is presiding over a challenge to the state’s awarding of licenses to just five nurseries to cultivate cannabis to produce medical oil. Numerous license applicants allege the Florida Department of Health stacked the deck and played favorites in awarding the grow licenses. DOH has until October 17 to sway Judge Laningham, who seems to indicate his contempt of DOH’s procedures and willingness to rule for the growers and start the licensing over again. Only one dispensary in the entire state is producing and distributing the medical oil that was made legal in 2014. Restarting the licensing will delay new dispensary openings for months.

Walnut Creek, California, is the latest municipality to signal their opposition to the upcoming vote to legalize marijuana. In a 4-1 vote, the city council said worries about the children and stoned drivers impelled their rejection of Prop 64. Councilman Rich Carlston said, “The negatives with this proposition vastly outweigh the positives.” Councilman Justin Wedel added, “It is about a criminal enterprise wanting to go into a more legitimate aspect of big business.” Walnut Creek joins about 30 cities and 3 counties listed by the website Noon64.net as opposing the Adult Use of Marijuana Act; however, the latest polls show 60 percent of the state’s voters disagree and will vote yes on legalization.

Reading, Pennsylvania, may join Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg in decriminalizing the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. Tonight the city council will discuss Bill No. 2016, which would make possession a summary offense – a non-arrestable citation usually payable as a $50 fine. More details, such as possession amounts deemed “personal, were not available at press time.

Though legal marijuana isn’t coming to Idaho anytime soon, legal marijuana is getting closer to the state. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that the newest Whitman County, Washington, marijuana store allowed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board plans to set up shop less than one mile from the Idaho border. Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent says he believes the store is opening so close to Idaho to target the Moscow market, where marijuana is still illegal. Moscow Police Chief James Fry says he may contact the shop’s owner, Premium Roast LLC, and see what they’re thinking.

Salt Lake City Police say they’re investigating after a sixth-grade student brought to school pot brownies that sent three kids to the hospital. Police and school officials said Friday the girl gave or sold the brownies to seven students on the playground before classes. Authorities say the kids knew the brownies contained the drug. At least two sixth-graders and a third older girl remained hospitalized after ingesting them on Thursday, though their conditions weren’t considered life-threatening. Police are investigating how the girl got the brownies she brought from home to Lincoln Elementary in Salt Lake City.

Marijuana tourism could join vineyards and pear orchards as Rogue Valley agricultural mainstays in southwest Oregon and draw in more tourists, pot growers say. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission says Jackson and adjacent Josephine counties have about half of the 258 indoor and outdoor grow sites in the state. And Jackson County has about a third of all the large commercial outdoor marijuana operations. Commission Chairman Rob Patridge said it’s not clear when supply might outpace demand for marijuana in Oregon. The state estimated that about 520,000 people in Oregon use pot, with the average weekend user consuming about 2 ounces a year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

EpidolexGW Pharmaceuticals has cleared another hurdle in gaining FDA approval for its drug called Epidiolex, boosting stock value for the British drug maker. Epidiolex is a cannabidiol tincture is designed for the treatment of childhood epilepsy. GW announced the findings from phase 3 clinical trials showing Epidiolex treatments led to a 42 percent reduction in seizure activity, compared to a 17 percent reduction for patients taking a placebo. “The good news is this is actually the third positive trial within the field of treatment resistant childhood onset epilepsy that we have reported results for in the last six months,” GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday. GW expects to submit Epidiolex for FDA approval in early 2017. If approved, the 16 states with limited CBD-only medical marijuana laws could conceivably repeal those laws in favor of Epidiolex, which would be legal in all 50 states.

Spanish researchers in Madrid have published data that suggest cannabis extracts are “promising tools” in the treatment of prostate and breast cancer. The University of Madrid scientists studied the role of cannabidiol – the non-psychoactive marijuana component called CBD – on preventing the spread of these cancers that kill 40,000 women and afflict 180,000 men annually. They noted that cannabidiol was found to have “direct antitumor effects” and helped conventional antitumor drugs to work more effectively. Their study adds to over four decades of research that finds cannabinoids to attack cancer cells without disrupting healthy ones.

Starting October 1, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection is accepting applications for researchers to study medical marijuana. Legislators modified the state’s four-year-old medical marijuana law to allow hospitals, universities, growers, and dispensaries to study cannabis and cannabinoids. Part of the reform was to move cannabis to Schedule II in the state’s controlled substance laws, which defines the herb as having recognized medical use in the state. The federal Schedule I designation still applies, which has impeded most cannabis research; however, an appropriations amendment currently forbids the federal government from prosecuting citizens and organizations acting in accordance with their state’s medical marijuana law. DCP Commissioner Jonathan Harris states that “Connecticut could become the focal point for medical cannabis research” thanks to the reforms.

A doctor who recommends medical marijuana for patients in Southern Illinois is facing a state and federal investigation. Dr. Bodo Schneider is responsible for writing the recommendations for nearly half of the state’s 4,400 registered patients. Illinois’ strict medical marijuana law requires a “bona-fide physician-patient relationship” that isn’t simply a patient walking in to get a medical marijuana recommendation. Investigators allege that the doctor’s sheer volume of recommendations bring into question the legitimacy of the recommendations that cost his patients over $300 a year. Schneider counters that he requires multiple visits of patients before writing a recommendation and six-month checkups to ensure continuation of a bona-fide relationship. Schneider could lose his license over the allegations if proven true. He believes the state’s governor is targeting his practice to thwart the expansion of Illinois’ medical marijuana program. A spokesman for Gov. Bruce Rauner denies the accusation.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, a judge has decided that a medical marijuana doctor should not have had his license suspended by the state. Dr. John C. Nadolny, the medical director of Canna Care Docs, was accused by Massachusetts’ Board of Registration in Medicine of improperly allowing nurse practitioners to write recommendations for thousands of patients at eight clinic locations throughout the Commonwealth. Administrative Magistrate Kenneth Bresler ruled Monday that Nadolny did no wrong in delegating the recommendation duties, since the nurse practitioners already had the “independent authority” to do so.

The rapid growth of marijuana reform is increasing indoor cannabis cultivation that may soon rival computer data centers in energy consumption. A 2012 study from Berkeley Lab found that indoor grows accounted for 1 percent of the nation’s energy use – about half what is consumed by the large server farms operated by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Officials in Colorado estimated that 0.5 percent of the state’s energy in 2014 went to growing cannabis and the figure is increasing by half each year. Washington officials estimate that in twenty years, cannabis cultivation will draw more energy than electric vehicles in the state. Cannabis growers also cannot benefit from certain energy efficiency programs run by the state and utilities to offset the environmental impact of the farms.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Massachusetts FlagA new WBZ-UMass poll shows increasing support among a majority of voters for legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts. Question 4 is “An initiative petition for a law relative to the regulation and taxation of marijuana” that is supported by 53 percent of the 700 voters surveyed, with just 40 percent opposed. All demographics support legalization, except voters over age 55. Voters were also asked about aspects of legalization that bother them. Toking in public would bother 61 percent of respondents, 52 percent worry about public pot advertising, and 41 percent are leery of a pot shop in their neighborhood. WBZ’s poll shows 3 points more support than a WBUR poll released two weeks ago that showed 50 percent support and 45 percent opposition.

A marijuana industry group is asking Oregon lawmakers to delay Oct. 1 deadlines for the state’s new pot regulations by at least 30 days. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the Oregon Cannabis Association last week asked the joint committee that oversees marijuana rules for extra time to meet regulations about how pot is tested, packaged and labeled. Association attorney Amy Margolis said many businesses simply aren’t ready to comply and can’t afford to shut down while they get everything in order. The Oct. 1 deadline for implementing new policies to address public health and safety concerns about recreational marijuana focus on testing and screening for pesticides at accredited and licensed labs. The new rules are far more extensive than what the state requires now. Delaying the rule would mean marijuana producers and processors could continue to take their product to labs that aren’t up to state standards.

An applicant for a license to grow medical marijuana in Maryland plans to sue a state commission for allegedly failing to consider racial diversity when the panel named the top 15 finalists, a lawyer for the applicant said Tuesday. John Pica, who represents Alternative Medicine Maryland, said the applicant plans to file the lawsuit next week against the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Pica said Alternative Medicine wants to stop the panel from taking further action on awarding licenses until it follows a provision in state law requiring diversity to be considered in the process. Alternative Medicine is led by Dr. Greg Daniels, a black physician and businessman. It will be the third lawsuit filed against the commission by would-be marijuana growers in a highly-competitive process. Green Thumb Industries and GTI Maryland filed lawsuits this month after they were bumped out of the top 15 by the commission and replaced by two other applicants in order to fulfill geographic diversity stipulations in the law. There were 146 applicants for the 15 licenses the law currently allows.

Some New Hampshire medical marijuana patients are waiting more than 40 days before they receive authorization to use cannabis dispensaries. The Concord Monitor reports a backlog of applications at the Department of Health and Human Services means more than 100 identification cards have been approved but haven’t been sent to patients. John Martin, chief of the HHS Bureau of Licensing and Certification, says the bureau isn’t complying with the statute that calls for approved patients to receive their cards within 20 days of applying. But Martin says he expects to eliminate the backlog by early October. The New Hampshire medical marijuana program started issuing cards in December and has sent out cards to more than 1,300 patients and approved 65 caregivers.

A retired judge appointed by the state Supreme Court to review an Arkansas medical marijuana initiative’s petitions as part of a lawsuit said Tuesday that more than enough valid signatures were submitted for the proposal. The lawsuit, filed by NORML Legal Committee lifetime member attorney Kara Benca of Little Rock, sought to disqualify Issue 7, a medical marijuana initiative that includes some cultivation rights for patients, from appearing on the November ballot due to violations of signature gathering regulations. Separately, the Supreme Court said it wouldn’t reconsider its decision to reject another lawsuit trying to block the proposal. Retired Judge John B. Robbins said in a report issued to the court that he only disqualified 2,087 of the signatures submitted and approved by election officials for the proposal, still leaving Issue 7 with over 7,500 more signatures than it needed to qualify.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

chelsea clinton cannabisHillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea has hit the campaign trail to shore up her support among Millennials – but may have lost some support with a gaffe on marijuana policy. At Youngstown State University in Ohio, an important swing state where Secretary Clinton trails Donald Trump, Chelsea Clinton was asked by a student about Hillary Clinton’s stance on rescheduling cannabis to facilitate more scientific research. Chelsea Clinton responded that her mother support research and regulatory reform, but then added this observation that marijuana-savvy Millennials know to be false:

“But we also have anecdotal evidence now from Colorado, where some of the people who were taking marijuana for those purposes, the coroner believes, after they died, there was drug interactions with other things they were taking.”

A spokesperson for Clinton has walked back the comments, telling the Washington Post in a statement that “Chelsea misspoke about marijuana’s interaction with other drugs contributing to specific deaths.”

One of Hawaii’s eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries says it plans to begin selling its products by early next year. The Maui News reports Maui Wellness Group LLC spokeswoman Teri Freitas Gorman says the business is in its final phase of permitting and will begin cultivating as soon as it receives final approval by the state Department of Health. She says she’s not sure when that will happen. The business has 11 employees but plans to have as many as 30 when cultivation begins to handle processing, packaging, selling and security. The group will grow marijuana on about 7 acres of privately owned agricultural land in central Maui. The state’s eight licensed dispensaries have been able to open for business since July but none have made the move.

The Oakland City Council has deadlocked on a controversial plan to cut the city in on all commercial marijuana operations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The plan by Council members Desley Brooks, Larry Reid and Noel Gallo would require all pot businesses — and anyone who leases property to a pot business — to give 25 percent of their profit and at least one seat on their board of directors to the city in exchange for permits to operate. Money reaped from the arrangement would fund council district activities, loans for aspiring entrepreneurs, community beautification and three job training programs run by politically connected people. The plan would also restrict cannabis operating permits to people who have lived in Oakland for at least five years. Opponents say the plan would choke off the city’s pot trade. Supporters claim it would generate vital revenue for the city and allow city officials to impose racial equity on the multibillion dollar industry, given that most of its top players are white.

A study in the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice finds that religious people who believe the Bible is the literal word of God are less likely to support marijuana legalization. Biblical literalists were 58 percent less likely to support legalization compared to religious folks who interpret the Bible as moral fables not to be taken literally. Frequency of church attendance also correlated to greater opposition to legalization, but how deeply-held one’s religious beliefs are did not predict opposition to legalization. Ironically for the Biblical literalists, page one of the Bible contains the command from God that “I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, the nation’s largest state organization of nurses, announced today that it has endorsed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will be on the statewide ballot in November. “California Nurses believe strongly that the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana has ruined generations of lives, wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer of dollars and failed to protect the public health and safety,” said Deborah Burger, President, California Nurses Association/NNU. The California Medical Association and the California Academy of Preventative Medicine have already endorsed Proposition 64. Other endorsers include: California League of Conservation Voters, California Council of Land Trusts, California State NAACP, California Democratic Party, Courage Campaign, Equality California, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, National Latino Officers Association, William C. Velasquez Institute and United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council. Proposition 64 has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay Times.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Colorado FlagTomorrow is the first of October, which means new regulations go into effect in Colorado for the packaging and design of marijuana-infused edibles. A new universal symbol must be displayed on the packages and, where possible, stamped onto every serving of the edible marijuana product, whether it is produced for the medical or recreational market. The symbol is a diamond with the characters “! THC” or “! THC M” enclosed. Edibles that can be stamped and separated must divide into serving sizes containing no greater than 10 milligrams of THC. Bulk or liquid edible products can only be sold in single serving packages. Packaging must also include the warning “Contains Marijuana. Keep out of the reach of children.” New rules also forbid the use of the word “candy” or “candies” for describing edibles. Potency and contamination information must be displayed. Regulations now also make 8 grams of concentrate or 80 servings of edibles equivalent to an ounce of flower for the purposes of limiting customer purchases to the legal one-ounce limit.

New regulations also go into effect in Oregon tomorrow as well, but industry advocates are pushing hard for a delay. New packaging, labeling, and testing rules go into effect October 1st, but it’s the testing requirements that are causing great concern for the state’s marijuana retailers. Legislators mandated that starting tomorrow, shops can only stock their shelves with cannabis products that have been tested at labs accredited by the state. But funding for the staff and resources needed by state officials to handle the sudden increase in demand has left the state with only one lab to handle the massive October harvest that is about to hit the Oregon market. State Senator Floyd Prozanski told the Oregonian he supports a 90-day extension of the deadline, during which the shops could continue to sell cannabis products as they are now, tested by labs that haven’t been properly accredited.

A former New Hampshire state lawmaker charged with trying to lure a 14-year-old girl into a sexual encounter also smoked marijuana in the Statehouse and sold the drug to several other legislators, but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge them with drug crimes, the attorney general said Friday. Former state Rep. Kyle Tasker, a 30-year-old Republican, resigned in March after his arrest on three unrelated drug charges and a charge of trying to lure a minor for sex. He and his lawyer haven’t commented on the charges, and his attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Friday. According to Attorney General Joseph Foster’s report, a state police review of Tasker’s iPad and Facebook activity led investigators to four state representatives: Democrat Amanda Bouldin and Republicans Joseph Lachance, Pamela Tucker and Ted Wright.

An Arizona state official forwarded an email against proposed marijuana legalization to thousands of state employees, but the governor’s office said it didn’t break state rules on propaganda. Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries sent the email to his department’s employees Sunday night, The Arizona Republic reported. It was primarily written by radio show host Seth Leibsohn, a member of the group spearheading a campaign against a ballot proposition to legalize recreational marijuana. State employees are not allowed to use public resources to influence the outcome of elections, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Ryan Anderson, a spokesman for the attorney general. Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said Jeffries was only sharing the email, which doesn’t “meet the description” of “electioneering using state resources”. The email had the subject line “Fwd: Alcohol “safer” than marijuana???????” with the comment “You be the judge” added.

A former Denver drug cop has been busted for two pounds of pot plus some methamphetamine found in a search of his home, according to the Denver Post. Hubert “Marty” Vanover, a former Denver Police narcotics sergeant, faces charges of possession with intent to manufacture or distribute marijuana or marijuana concentrate, possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of marijuana or marijuana concentrate. In 2014, Vanover was fired after he was charged with third-degree assault related to death threats against his girlfriend, then subsequently disobeyed orders to have no contact with the girlfriend and lied about it to Internal Affairs investigators. The judge who read his multiple felony charges and checkered past released Vanover on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.

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