Is psilocybin next for drug reformers after cannabis legalization?

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, delivered fired up comments about marijuana, Botham Jean’s killing by police and the racially discriminatory drug war.

Activists in Denver, Colorado and Oregon took steps this month toward qualifying ballot measures allowing psilocybin use.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has a history of saying mean-spirited and inaccurate things about people who use cannabis, took a dig at marijuana consumers in an unrelated comment about fighting back against climate change.

  • “We either do nothing and smoke marijuana because it’s legalized, or we put our shoulder to the plow and do everything we can.”


The Trump administration is organizing a drug policy event outside of this month’s United Nations General Assembly, according to leaked documents.

The Department of Justice convened a meeting in Denver for U.S. attorneys to discuss marijuana policy.

Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) said she’s undecided on the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure, while her Democratic challenger supports it.

Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and his Democratic opponent are taking differing positions on rescheduling marijuana.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) discussed marijuana policy while sampling CBD-infused beer.

The U.S. Senate bill to encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got one new cosponsor, for a total of five.

The U.S. House bill to protect federal employees from getting fired for state-legal marijuana use got two new cosponsors, for a total of three.


Here’s an advance look at the details of New Jersey’s soon-to-be-filed marijuana legalization billGov. Phil Murphy (D) supports a higher tax rate than is proposed in the bill, but said he’s “not ruling anything out.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) spoke about his support for expanding marijuana research.

Utah’s lieutenant governor asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove a medical cannabis initiative from the state’s ballot.

California’s treasurer tweeted, “We’re exploring a public cannabis bank so biz don’t have to operate purely in cash. Carrying around thousands of dollars paints a target on legal biz & increases violence in communities. Until DC takes action, CA will lead on legalized cannabis.”

Missouri appeals court affirmed a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit that one medical cannabis campaign filed seeking to remove a competing measure from the ballot.

Here’s a look at where Minnesota gubernatorial candidates stand on legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Democratic attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul said he supports legalizing marijuana but wants to regulate edibles.

Alaska regulators certified changes to rules on marijuana advertising and promotions.

Massachusetts regulators will consider granting marijuana retail, cultivation and manufacturing licenses on Thursday.

Here’s a look at where New York is on the path to legalizing marijuana.


Manhattan’s district attorney spoke at a marijuana industry event, saying he wants cannabis entrepreneurs to “be successful and legal.”

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City Council adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis businesses.


The South African government and lawmakers reacted to a court ruling overturning the prohibition on using and growing marijuana for personal use.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the death sentence of a man convicted of selling medical cannabis oil should be reviewed.


A study “demonstrated rapid and durable improvement in social anxiety symptoms in autistic adults following MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.”

A majority of participants in a trial on CBD’s effects on severe epilepsy are seeing improvement in seizures.


A poll found that Maryland residents support legalizing marijuana, 62% – 33%.


Aurora Cannabis Inc. addressed reports that it is in talks with the Coca-Cola Company about making CBD beverages together.


Actress Kristen Bell said she likes to vaporize marijuana and watch 60 Minutes.

Comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted, “Coca-Cola is supposedly considering cannabis-infused drinks. Just a reminder: there are still people in prison because of marijuana. Let’s address that first.”

Maine restaurant Charlotte Grill thinks it’s more “humane” to blow marijuana smoke into a box of lobsters before boiling them to death.

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Canada: How will the legalization of cannabis affect athletes? It’s hard to say

While there’s been plenty of discussion around the pending legalization of cannabis, its effect on athletes hasn’t been part of the conversation. One of the reasons for the absence of dialogue is marijuana’s reputation for impairing, not improving athletic performance, which makes cannabis a poor workout partner.

The other reason that athletes have been left out of the discourse is the inclusion of marijuana on the World Anti Doping Association’s (WADA) list of substances banned during the competitive season, thereby limiting its use among elite athletes. Yet despite these factors, marijuana is reported to be the second most popular drug among athletes, after alcohol. It replaces tobacco, which ranks No. 2 among the rest of the population.

Prohibited by WADA for in-season use since 2004, marijuana is considered a “risk to health” of athletes and “in violation of the spirit of sport.” Yet the legalization of cannabis in Canada may lead to a change in how our athletes, both recreational and elite, view marijuana.

“Changing social attitudes and cannabis policies around the world may play an important role in changing use patterns of cannabis among athletes,” said a team of Montreal researchers led by Mark Ware.

Ware, who recently took a leave from his role as associate professor of family medicine and anesthesia at Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre to accept the position of chief medical officer at a medical marijuana company, addressed with his team the issue of cannabis and the health and performance of the elite athlete in a review paper published this month in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

Getting a clear picture of how marijuana affects performance as well as the pattern of use among athletes isn’t easy. There are ethical issues around getting athletes to participate in studies given the existing laws concerning the use of marijuana as well as those instituted by sporting organizations. And given that the potency of cannabis varies depending on the strain and how it’s used and that much of the data compiled in studies as early as a decade ago may reflect a substance far different from the one sold today, there’s some question about the veracity of the information we do have.

In the meantime what we do know is that cannabis use increases heart rate and blood pressure while reducing physical work capacity, none of which are conditions consistent with winning gold.  As such, it’s unlikely that athletes use cannabis with the expectation that it’s going to result in an immediate boost in performance. Instead its use is likely related to its secondary affects. Marijuana has been used to ameliorate pain and concussion symptoms, improve sleep, spark appetite and reduce the stress associated with competing at the elite level.

“Self-reported use of cannabis for pain and concussion management among elite athletes is increasingly being reported,” said the Montreal research team.

Also reported by a separate team of researchers is that athletes involved in individual sports such as snowboarding, skiing, surfing, sailing and kayaking are more likely to use marijuana than team sport athletes.

Yet despite how athletes regard marijuana, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport is clear that it will continue to be prohibited during competition even after legalization. To help clear up any confusion, they have published a Cannabis in Sport information guide geared to elite athletes subject to drug testing and doping violations.

Still, Ware believes that legalization creates conditions that are ripe for more research on the use of marijuana within the athletic community. That said, there are safety considerations worthy of acknowledgement. Recreational users have been known to experience deficits in memory, coordination and judgment and chronic use in youth is thought to have long-term negative consequences. Episodes of paranoia and/or psychosis have also been linked to high doses of cannabis, hence WADA’s concerns regarding the safety of athletes who use the drug.

Ware hopes that given concerns about safety and the changing views and laws on marijuana, the opportunity to find out more about the real world use of cannabis within the athletic community shouldn’t be ignored.

“Legalization (of marijuana) allows us to have more honest and open conversations with athletes,” said Ware.

Those conversations, combined with more targeted research on how marijuana use impacts athletes, could lead to more evidence-based information so that athletes of all ages and abilities can make informed choices about how cannabis affects their training and performance. Athletes, like the rest of the country, need information based in science, not assumption, regarding the recreational and medical use of cannabis given its new legal status.

Until we know more about marijuana, athletes are warned that in-season use could lead to a doping violation. And for recreational athletes, the knowledge that cannabis impairs physical and mental capacity over the short term means that caution should be taken when it comes to use prior to training or a workout.

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Cannabis 101: A guide to CBD oil, what it is, how it works, who can use it

This is part of an on-going series of Sun-Times info guides about cannabis. Today, we look at CBD oil: what it is; how it works; what it treats plus the legal issues surrounding CBD use in Illinois.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicationg chemical compound that comes from the cannabis sativa plant.  CBD is one of over 100 such compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the plant.

Unlike THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabinoid — CBD doesn’t get users stoned. In recent years, CBD has grown increasingly popular, with patients and experts reporting that it can be used to treat a range of health conditions, including epilepsyCrohn’s disease and even anxiety in dogs.

Here’s everything you need to know about the trendy drug treatment:

What is the history of CBD?

CBD was first discovered in the 1940s by Roger Adams, the former head of the chemistry department at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In his research, Adams isolated CBD from hemp but couldn’t determine what exactly he’d found. In addition to CBD, Adams also synthesized analogs of THC and another cannabinoid, showing their relationship to CBD.

In the 1960s, Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam and his team took the research further, eventually synthesizing cannabinoids — including CBD, THC and others — and describing their chemical structures for future research. Mechoulam, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, still studies cannabis to this day.

Is CBD legal in Illinois?

Much of the confusion over CBD stems from its murky legal status.

Because the DEA still lists hemp and marijuana as dangerous Schedule I drugs, along with heroin and ecstasy, CBD remains illegal under federal law. Congress is now is considering the 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize industrial hemp across the country.

Despite some confusion, the Agriculture Act of 2014 didn’t legalize hemp-based CBD products nationwide, but only allowed for states and universities to grow hemp. Nevertheless, hemp-based CBD is already widely and freely available throughout most of the country.

Illinois is among 37 states that have legalized marijuana-based CBD for medical use, while nine other states have fully legalized pot and its derivatives. Four other states — Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota — still prohibit the medical use of pot-based CBD.

Last month, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed off on a bill that legalized industrial hempcultivation in Illinois and established rules to test crops’ THC levels. Like the bill being considered by federal lawmakers, the legislation in Illinois bars hemp-based CBD from containing more than 0.3 percent THC.

What is CBD used to treat?

In a study released last year, the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence said CBD may benefit people diagnosed with:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Pain
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Nausea
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infection
  • Inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetic complications

In the report, the committee noted that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” Other health care professionals are also using CBD to treat other medical issues, like autism, sleep problems and other mental health conditions.

CBD started gaining national exposure when media outlets began profiling Charlotte Figi, an 11-year-old girl from Colorado with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of intractable epilepsy.

At age 5, Figi’s parents, Matt and Paige Figi, had exhausted all traditional options in their quest to control the hundreds of grand mal seizures their young daughter was experiencing every day. They ultimately turned to the Stanleys, a group of brothers who grow pot in Colorado, who then developed a groundbreaking hemp-based CBD oil they dubbed “Charlotte’s Web.”

Since she began taking the oil, Figi has experienced far fewer seizures and is able to enjoy a more normal childhood. However, evidence from cases like Figi’s remains largely anecdotal as researchers continue to pin down CBD’s exact scientific effects. 

What are the effects of CBD?

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get users high, an important distinction that has helped drive the popularity of the drug compound.

Traditional medications tend to target the symptoms of a specific condition, but CBD goes after the cause of those symptoms, according to Ronald Aung-Din, M.D., a renowned Florida neurologist.

Pharmaceuticals generally stimulate or block receptors to provide their function, but CBD and other cannabis-based treatments interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which naturally binds to chemicals like CBD and THC. This biological effect reportedly enables CBD to treat such a wide range of medical conditions.

A European study published last year by the National Center for Biotechnical Information listed tiredness, diarrhea and changes in weight and appetite as possible side effects of CBD. Most of the research was conducted on patients with epilepsy or psychotic disorders.

Are there different types of CBD?

Yes, there are several different types including:

Marijuana-based CBD:

CBD products that come from the marijuana plant tend to have higher amounts of THC, a combination that some experts claim increases the CBD’s healing effects. As a result, CBD strains with higher amounts of THC can cause both euphoria and stony side effects, like anxiety, paranoia and dizziness, according to Leafly.

To buy marijuana-derived CBD from an Illinois dispensary, qualifying patients must first obtain a medical cannabis card by following the steps outlined in this Sun-Times guide to medical marijuana in Illinois.

Once a patient has been approved for the state’s medical program, they can go to the dispensary they selected during the application process to buy CBD and other cannabis products.

Hemp-Based CBD:

Hemp-based CBD products can be bought over-the-counter at wellness centers and bong shops in most of America, including Illinois.

There are a pair of options for hemp-based CBD users: Products that only contain CBD and others that contain a full range of hundreds of cannabinoids, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), as well as CBD and a minuscule amount of THC.

All the different chemicals found in the cannabis plant are said to have various healing effects. For example, non-intoxicating CDG apparently helps with sleep and inflammation and kills bacteria.

A new study predicts the market for hemp-derived CBD could eclipse the rest of the legal pot industry to reach $22 billion by 2022. 

Pharmaceutical CBD:

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first prescription CBD drug, a move that will almost undoubtedly spur more research into what else it can treat. 

The drug, a strawberry-flavored syrup called Epidiolex, is used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. During their research, FDA officials found that Epidiolex reduced seizures when it was combined with other epilepsy drugs.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency had supported research on cannabis-derived products for “many years,” but warned against the use of CBD products with “unproven medical claims.”

“The promotion and use of these unapproved products may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases,” Gottlieb said.

Before Epidiolex can go to market, the Drug Enforcement Administration must formally reclassify CBD into a federal drug category with medical approval. The FDA has previously approved synthetic cannabinoids to treat severe weight loss in patients with HIV.

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Want to buy legal pot on Oct. 17? Here’s what you need to know

With just a month left to go until recreational pot is legal across the country, here’s what you need to know if you want to partake.

Where can I get some of that legal weed?

On Oct. 17, there will be just one B.C. Cannabis Store in the entire province. The government shop will be located in Kamloops at the Columbia Place Shopping Centre. There will also be online sales through the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

What about all those private dispensaries in cities like Vancouver?

There’s no indication these will be shut down right away. The province’s new Community Safety Unit has pledged a crackdown, but only after more legal outlets are available.

The B.C. government says it’s received more than 100 applications for retail shops across the province. It’s possible some of those could be approved in time for Oct. 17.

In Vancouver, which began licensing illegal pot dispensaries in 2015, pot shops will need a development permit, a provincial retail licence and a new municipal business licence if they want to stay open.

Who’s allowed to partake?

Like alcohol, the minimum age for possession has been set at 19. But unlike liquor stores, anyone under the age of 19 is banned from entering a cannabis dispensary, even if they’re with an adult.

What can I buy?

For now, only dried cannabis, seeds and oils will be legally available, along with accessories like rolling papers, pipes and bongs.

What about edibles?

All those pot-infused brownies and cookies will still be illegal on Oct. 17. The plan is for legal edibles to be available within a year.

And vaping?

Cannabis concentrates and vape juice won’t be legal on Oct. 17, either. Health Canada says it needs more evidence about the risks.

How much pot am I allowed to have?

Adults can possess up to 30 grams of weed in public places, and grow as many as four plants per household — as long as the home isn’t being used as a daycare. Those plants must not be visible from public spaces.

Vaping is not just for tobacco. In California, nearly a quarter of sales from 2016 were for cannabis vape cartridges.

Where can I smoke up?

Toking will be banned everywhere that cigarette smoking is, as well as in vehicles, and places where children commonly gather, including school properties, playgrounds, sports fields and skate parks.

What are the potential penalties for breaking those rules?

Selling cannabis to minors will still be a federal crime, punishable by up to 14 years in jail. B.C. has also introduced some new cannabis offences, with fines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 and jail time of three to 12 months.

What are the restrictions around driving?

Anyone in the graduated licensing program won’t be allowed to have any THC in their system. For everyone else, the province says it’s giving police “specialized training” and tools to identify drugged drivers. Potential penalties include a 90-day driving ban.

Both drivers and passengers are prohibited from smoking inside vehicles.

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Xavier Jayakumar to push for reform of laws governing medical marijuana

PETALING JAYA: Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar is poised to take the issue of medical marijuana law reform to the Cabinet.

On Monday (Sept 17), Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said she would write to Attorney General Tommy Thomas and ask for a pardon for Muhamad Lukman who was sentenced to death for possession of medical marijuana.

On Tuesday (Sept 18), Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that he believes the case verdict should be reviewed.

Dr Xavier told the Star Online he would like the law to be amended so that medical marijuana and cannabis oil are decriminalised under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

“The Government should look at this law considering that many other countries have reviewed it.

“There is plenty of medical research to support the healing properties of medical marijuana and cannabis oil,” said Dr Xavier.

Lukman, a 29-year-old father of one, was arrested in December 2015 for the possession of 3.1 litres of cannabis oil, 279 grams of compressed cannabis, 1.4kg of substance containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

He was nabbed by the police along with his five-month pregnant wife, who was freed later, during a raid at his home.

Fast forward to Aug 30 this year, Lukman was handed a death sentence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 by the Shah Alam High Court.

Under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, any individuals caught with the possession of more than 200 grams of cannabis will be charged for drug trafficking, which carries the death penalty.

Lukman’s case, highlighted in a column by The Star news editor Martin Vengadesan on Sept 9, has brought about renewed discussions on Malaysia’s harsh laws against cannabis, with several academicians and activists crying foul of his sentence, describing it as a miscarriage of justice.

On Sept 9, his lawyer Farhan Maaruf told The Star that Lukman only wanted to assist patients who are suffering from ailments that can be treated by THC, an active ingredient in cannabis.

Lukman had no intention whatsoever to distribute or “push” cannabis on the streets, his lawyer Farhan said.

A petition calling for the release of Lukman is now making rounds in social media with over 45,000 signatures as of Tuesday.

Lukman’s case is not the only one of its kind as Amiruddin @ Nadarajan Abdullah, who is known as Dr Ganja, is facing 36 charges and the death sentence for similar offences. His advocates claim he has helped treat more than 800 people.

In many developed countries, the recent trend is to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana, particularly for medical purposes.

Apart from the Netherlands, Canada will legalise recreational marijuana in full on Oct 17, 2018.

In Argentina, the government has been providing medical marijuana since March 2017 while it has been legal in Australia for the last two years. In Uruguay, you can buy it from regular pharmacies.

Switzerland and Russia have also decriminalised marijuana in small amounts. Similarly, laws on it have been relaxed in 17 US states, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

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Coca-Cola eyes marijuana drinks business

Coca-Cola has unveiled plans to venture into the marijuana drinks business, apparently following after beer manufactures which have recorded gains in the trade.

Bloomberg says that the multi-national corporation is in talks with Aurora Cannabis to develop a beverage infused with CBD.

Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain but doesn’t get one high.

“Coca-Cola confirmed it is “closely watching” CBD as an ingredient in wellness beverages,” Bloomberg reported on Monday.

“The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

The development is viewed to cushion Coca-Cola from the adverse effects of its declining sales and also a move to further diversify beyond its traditional base of sugary beverages.

“While beer-makers have been betting on the marijuana industry, Coca-Cola’s interest indicates that CBD could soon break into the mainstream,” Bloomberg said.

Coca-Cola’s new venture follows in the wake of a wave of countries, especially in North America and Europe, legalising the use of cannabis products.

Canada is due to legalise recreational cannabis use on October 17. Many other countries, including Germany and Australia, have legalised weed for medical purposes.

Several others are evaluating decriminalisation.

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U.S. Medical Marijuana Market worth over USD 8 billion by 2024: Global Market Insights, Inc.

The U.S. Medical Marijuana Market is poised to surpass USD 8.0 billion by 2024; according to a new research study published by Global Market Insights, Inc. Growing prevalence of chronic pain associated with neurological disorders, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and arthritis will drive the U.S. medical marijuana market. The preference of marijuana over opioid medication is also boosting market revenue in the U.S. as opioids are associated with various side lethal side effects. Therefore, the demand for medical marijuana is continuously on an upsurge in various U.S. states, thereby accelerating market sales.

Medical marijuana programs in the U.S. have continued to develop, and most of the states have started to approach medical marijuana from the perspective of public health rather than from a recreational use prospective. Various states in the U.S. have demonstrated positive public health outcomes through the application of medical marijuana, hence boosting the market outlook.

The U.S. medical marijuana pain management market segment is forecasted to grow rapidly at 13.3% CAGR during the forecast period. Growing cases of chronic pain which is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States will drive the segment growth. In addition, the U.S. population has been using marijuana for pain management as compared to other traditional opioids which have lethal side-effects.

The U.S. topical medical marijuana market segment valued USD 179.3 million in 2017. Increased number of companies are manufacturing lotions and creams that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain and inflammation. Furthermore, topical route of administration is preferred by most of the patients as it results in maximum therapeutic benefits without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods.

The U.S. medical marijuana dispensaries market segment will expand at a robust 13.3% CAGR over the forecast period owing to presence of number of legal dispensaries operating in a most of the states. With each state legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, more and more dispensaries are being set up in the country, hence propelling the market growth of the segment.

California medical marijuana market is estimated to grow at 13.7% from 2018-2024. Medical marijuana is legalized in California since 1996. The manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and sales of medical marijuana is completely legal in California, thereby boosting the market growth in the coming years.

New Hampshire medical marijuana market is forecasted to expand at 24.1% CAGR during the forecast period. New Hampshire ranked second in the country for the highest opioid overdose rate. With the legalization of medical marijuana, it will result in improvement of health outcomes for individuals suffering from pain, thereby driving the segment growth in the long run.

Prominent industry players in U.S. medical marijuana market include Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Inc., Medical Marijuana, Inc., GW Pharmaceuticals, Aphria, Inc., CanniMed Ltd., Tilray, Emerald Health Therapeutics, and United Cannabis. These companies are opting for strategic mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships to expand their geographic reach, and product portfolio, hence resulting in improved position in the overall market.

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How Legal States Intend Tackling “High” Drivers

The issue of weed-intoxicated drivers is a serious and concerning one. Thousands of people die on the roads every year because people climb behind the wheel when impaired, whether “high” on pot, drunk on booze, or otherwise Non Compos Mentos. Until now, officers have not had any tools available to detect marijuana use in drivers, not accurately, not fairly, and not effectively. That is about to change.

Problems with Existing Intoxication Tests

Currently, officers can test those they suspect of driving under the influence of weed with those they use for drunk drivers. They only have field sobriety tests available to them, as well as breath, blood, and urine tests. Field sobriety tests are not effective for weed lovers, since weed does not affect people the same way alcohol does. They can still walk straight, stand on one leg, and pass these tests easily.

For this reason, field sobriety tests will not stand in court. Blood, urine, and breath tests are slightly more accurate, but not enough to provide concrete evidence of weed use. These tests can detect THC in the body, but they can only establish if drivers were “high” within the last week. They cannot determine if drivers are intoxicated now, as they are driving in that moment. This makes them legally irrelevant.

Statistics for Stoned Driving

Now that cannabis is legal medicinally in more than 30 states and recreationally in 9 states, the need to develop an accurate test for weed impairment is crucial. In fact, some states that are considering legalization, such as New York, are demanding that companies develop a breathalyzer that will suffice as evidence in court. Much of their impending legalization hinges on this.

Back in 2017, some frightening statistics emerged out of Colorado. Its Department of Transportation conducted a survey that found a dangerously high number of “high” drivers risking the lives of everybody on its roads. At least 70 percent of surveyed participants admitted to driving stoned within the last year, and at least 27 percent confessed to driving pot-impaired daily. That is shockingly high.

Although the effects of marijuana and alcohol differ enormously, and despite cannabis being much safer to consume, there is no denying its ability to alter a user’s state of mind. No matter what anybody says, driving “high” is irresponsible and can get you and others killed. People should not be able to drive around intoxicated on pot, and enforcement officers must have some way to stop them.

New Breathalyzer Technology

A company from California, Hound Labs Incorporated, has managed to develop a first-of-its-kind breathalyzer device. It is fully capable of determining if drivers are “high” behind the wheel. It is likely to rollout across the country this fall, holding drivers accountable, making roads safer, and giving law enforcement the tools they need to achieve this.

The new pot breathalyzer is hypersensitive, able to detect THC on a driver’s breath. It also works for alcohol. On the company’s website, it says, “The Hound Breathalyzer is one billion times more sensitive than today’s alcohol breathalyzers.” This is excellent for everybody in the United States, except for those who insist on driving stoned and endangering their and others’ lives.

In the United States, anybody with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is legally too intoxicated to drive. However, weed is more complex. For example, much scientific debate exists over what exactly qualifies someone as being under the influence of pot, particularly in the moment that he or she is behind the wheel.

How Pot Breathalyzers Work

According to Hound Labs, we now have the answer to that question. For its breathalyzers, timing marks that qualification. The company admits that its new technology is unable to determine just how much THC is in someone’s system, but it is able to detect its presence and how long ago that person consumed pot. THC remains on a person’s breath for up to two hours after consumption.

This time, called the “peak window of impairment,” is how officers will catch stoned drivers. After three hours, THC is no longer present on the breath and readings measure zero. Therefore, when a driver blows into a pot breathalyzer, it can detect the presence of THC, alcohol, even both, within minutes, but it also gives officers some compelling evidence to charge them with intoxicated driving

Because THC can only exist on someone’s breath during those two hours, the driver obviously consumed weed within that period if the breathalyzer tests positive. The driver must be guilty, since it will not detect THC after that time, and the effects of THC last much longer, sometimes several hours. If positive, the device will display “Warning.” If negative, it will display “Pass.”

Upholding Driver’s Rights

Louisa Ashford, marketing manager for Hound Lab, said this in a statement, “The device will help ensure safety on our roads and in the workplace, while also promoting fairness to people who use marijuana legally and responsibly.” What this means is that these tests will not infringe on anybody’s right to use cannabis or subject them to any whims and fancies. It is a scientific, accurate method of detecting THC.

Pot breathalyzers, such as the alcohol and weed device offered by Hound Labs, as well as the roadside saliva-testing device developed by Cannabix Technologies Incorporated, a Canadian-based company, are able to remain objective. They can determine with accuracy the impairment of a driver, without basing evidence on a police officer’s hunches or judgements, or forcing them to endure intrusive tests.

Author Bio

John Levy writes for Pot Valet, a leader of marijuana delivery Los Angeles. He shares his research with the world at large and hopes fervently for legalization to spread across the planet.

Cash Dilemma of California’s Pot Dispensaries

Weed may be legal in two-thirds of the United States for medical purposes, recreational use, or both, but any profits are still drug monies under federal law. Until the federal government changes its stance on marijuana, companies that operate legally, in states that allow cannabis sales, must work on a cash-only basis. This puts them at immense risk of theft, armed robbery, assault, and worse.

The Problem of Law

Under federal law, marijuana remains an illegal substance. According to the United States Department of Justice, weed is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, where it shares company with the likes of much, much harder drugs, including LSD, heroin, and ecstasy. The law considers drugs in this category to have no medicinal value whatsoever and a high likelihood of abuse.

Clearly, cannabis does not belong there. Science proves it possibly the most medicinally valuable plant on the planet, with researchers discovering new therapeutic uses for it near daily. It is also not dangerously addictive, as is the case with heroin and cocaine, although dependency is more common than one would think. Despite this, the federal government stubbornly refuses to reclassify weed.

The Problem of Banks

The banking industry will not do business with companies profiting from illegal trade, even if that trade is legal in the state they reside in. All monies made from the cannabis market are federally illegal. If the banks offer services to weed companies, they are themselves breaking the law by banking drug money. As a result, they could face an array of federal charges, along with consequent penalties.

Because of this, marijuana businesses work on a cash-only basis. Some will charge your debit card under a fabricated sale of another, federally legal item. However, most work solely with cash. Clients pay for buds in cash, and they use cash to pay suppliers, wages, distributors, and more. Even worse, they do not qualify for bank loans and other essential banking services.

The Problem of Cash

Since weed companies cannot access banking accounts, cannot make deposits, cannot withdraw monies from a safe place, cannot get loans, cannot do anything other businesses take for granted, their financial security is significantly compromised. They are at risk of all criminals, opportunistic or not. Carrying cash around makes them a target for anybody looking for a quick cash heist.

Not only does federal law put their financial safety at risk, but it directly puts their very lives in danger too. Criminals will steal what they can, but they are not shy to use physical violence if need be. Physical assault, assault with weapons, even murder, is not beyond the skills of those wanting to rob a weed store. Delivery drivers are under constant threat and owners need security guards just to close shop.

The Problem of Alternatives

Because pot shops cannot put their money safely into a bank, they must get creative to find solutions. Some stash cash under their mattresses, but most must break the law to protect themselves. Many deposit their weed earnings into different bank accounts, such as for property, construction, or other types of businesses. Yes, this is the very definition of money laundering, which is also a federal crime.

Few, if any, are honest about their earnings, despite the fact that there is no need for dishonesty since states are legalizing weed at a rapidly gaining momentum. Fortunately, some smaller banks and credit unions are offering a few basic banking services to marijuana companies, and as legalization spreads, more will join the fray. However, the issue will not resolve until the federal government legalizes too.

The Problem of Enforcement

Law enforcement is happy to have marijuana monies stay out of banks. Under federal “asset forfeiture” laws, officers get to seize cash and, astonishingly, use it to fund their departments, even if they just suspect it includes proceeds from a crime, such as selling weed. Under the same laws, they can even seize other property, including homes, cars, and other goods.

However, cash is better. It requires less paperwork and officers do not have to prove that cash comes from criminal activities. They do not even need to charge that a crime was committed. In Detroit, police have seized so much cash from Michigan’s weed dispensaries that the 500 stores of two years ago dwindled down to just 200 today.

Although it is maybe possible to recover seized monies, companies need a lot of money and time to fight it. They also need a judge amenable to victims in asset forfeiture cases. Weed companies are only legal at state levels, so federal officers can seize cash under federal law. Fortunately, most police departments respect state laws and do not routinely seize assets from legal, licensed pot dispensaries.

Final Thoughts

Until the federal government legalizes marijuana, or at the very least reschedules or decriminalizes it, legal cannabis companies have no option but to work on a cash-only basis. They have to face the risks bravely and find other ways to deposit their legally earned monies. Since states are legalizing at a domino pace, experts predict that the federal government will too. If not, its law will soon be irrelevant.

Author Bio

John Levy is a writer for Pot Valet, a leading weed delivery service in California. He spends his days researching the benefits of marijuana and sharing his findings with the world. As an advocate of legalization, he fights for everyone’s right to access it worldwide.



On August 30th new regulations requiring warning signs about Proposition 65 dangers, cannabis exposure and BPA in packaging come into effect.  It’s a trifecta of new compliance requirements, and it’s going to expose California alcohol and cannabis licensees to significant penalties for those that don’t pay attention.

The Proposition 65 warnings – not the warning you are used to!

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted new Proposition 65 warning requirements that take effect on August 30, 2018.[i]  The new regulations significantly change the current regulations and require all suppliers, importers and distributors to change the warnings they currently provide to their retail customers.

And, although the new regulations relieve retailers of some burdens in providing the warnings, retailers are still responsible for the actual posting of required warnings provided to them and could be held liable for failure to do so. All ABC licensed retailers, on-sale (of all sorts including bars, restaurants, tasting rooms, entertainment venues and hotels) and off-sale (of all sorts) must have the signage posted in their premises in a conspicuous manner where the signs will be seen by the consuming public.

Failure to understand and comply with the New California Proposition 65 Warning Requirements is a bonanza for the Proposition 65 Plaintiffs Bar

The mandated Proposition 65 warnings apply to all products sold in California regardless of where the products are manufactured and, the bottom line is, if you violate these detailed regulations, you could face significant monetary penalties and attorney’s fees from the plaintiff’s gathering to commence enforcement.

The state Attorney General rarely files actions for Proposition 65 violations.  However, the law allows any private individual to act “in the public interest” by serving any company with “notice” of some alleged violation. With few exceptions, the party serving the notice may file a civil suit any time after 60 days following the date the company receives the “notice” if the state Attorney General does not take the action over within those 60 days.

The penalties that are in the law may be imposed on a sliding scale ranging up to $2,500 per day per violation – – going back as far as one year. And, the penalty is not dependent on how much product is sold. Should the case go to trial, a defendant who loses must pay all attorney fees and costs to the private attorney and, trust us, these fees are always significant. However, should the defendant win, the private individual suing does not have to reimburse the defendant for his attorney fees and costs.

Nearly all actions by private individuals end up being settled out of court and most often for a significant sum primarily because:

(1) In these cases, the defendant must prove to prove a violation did not occur;

(2) Very few insurance policies will cover the costs of Proposition 65 litigation;

(3) Even if the defendant wins, the defendant cannot recover attorney fees from the other party; and

(4) The cost of litigation is generally too high for any benefit received.

To further illustrate: in the years 2016 and 2017, there were a total of 687 private party “notices” that were settled out of court for a total amount of nearly $18 million. Over $14 million of the $18 million was awarded directly to the private attorneys for “attorney fees and costs.”

Do we have your attention yet?

The New Rules

The California Code of Regulations implementing the Proposition 65 law has been restructured and many new provisions were added.  These new regulations will be effective on August 30th.  Some of the most significant changes in the rules include:

(1) Changes to the “safe harbor” text for the mandated warnings.

(2) New provisions addressing Internet sales warnings.

(3) And clarification of the roles and responsibilities of manufacturers and retailers in providing the warnings.

The OEHHA developed new text for alcoholic beverages warnings. You must use this exact wording for “safe harbor” from alleged violations. Although the new regulations allow businesses to use the existing Prop 65 warning statements until August 30th, companies may use the new warnings now, before August 30th.  After August 30th, the old warnings will no longer provide you with a “safe harbor.”

Important details in the new rules

Because it is critically important to pay close attention to the details in the regulations (to guard against alleged violations), this blog contains a great deal of detail on the new Proposition 65 rules.

Honest – the details matter!

New definitions added to the rules  

Important new or revised definitions include:

“Consumer product” means any article, or component part thereof, including food, that is produced, distributed, or sold for the personal use, consumption or enjoyment of a consumer.

“Consumer product exposure” means an exposure that results from a person’s acquisition, purchase, storage, consumption, or any reasonably foreseeable use of a consumer product, including consumption of a food. (This means simply purchasing the product creates “exposure”.)

“Retail seller” means a person or business that sells or otherwise provides consumer products directly to consumers by any means, including via the internet.

“Sign” means a physical presentation of a written, printed, graphic, or electronically provided communication, including shelf signs, other than a label or labeling, posted in a conspicuous manner that is associated with the exposure requiring a warning under the Act and is clearly visible under all lighting conditions normally encountered during business hours and under such circumstances as to make it likely to be seen, read, and understood by an ordinary person.

Responsibility for providing the mandatory warning

Every in-state and out-of-state manufacturer/distributor/importer/retailer who sells an alcoholic beverage to a California consumer must provide a “clear and reasonable” warning to the end consumer prior to the consumer purchasing the product.

Although companies with 9 or fewer employees are generally exempted from providing the required warning, know that if you sell products to a larger retailer who is not exempt, the large retailer may require you to comply with the Proposition 65 warning requirement regardless of your size or location. It is always a good practice to check your general retailer vendor agreements, and the terms of any retailer generated purchase order.

The same rules apply to an exempt small importer or distributor if the manufacturer of the product has over 9 employees. Even if you, as the distributor or importer, are exempt, the larger manufacturer is NOT exempt. Again, you must check your contracts regarding how they set forth the responsibilities and liabilities of each party related to providing the warnings.

Specific Warnings Required for Alcoholic Beverages

The old text and rules regarding alcoholic beverages warnings will be repealed on August 30, 2018 and the new regulations will be the only rules that apply and that will provide “safe harbor” from any allegation of a violation.

Below is a summary of the most important changes that affect the alcoholic beverage warnings. (Note: Specific warnings related to the sale/distribution of cannabis products in California are noted at the end of this blog.)

  • Alcoholic beverages manufacturers/distributors have primary responsibility to provide the warnings.
  • Unlike most manufacturers who may include the Proposition 65 warning directly on the label, alcoholic beverages manufacturers are precluded from putting the Proposition 65 warning on labels because all alcoholic beverages labels must be approved by the TTB (Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and contain the federal government warning which is not the same as, nor compliant with, the California Proposition 65 warning. The federal government warning on the label will not provide “safe harbor” under California law.
  • The manufacturer/distributor/importer’s warning signs must be provided to each retailer with a written notice provided directly to the retailer or its authorized agent and the information provided must also include text to be used for online product pages.
  • The manufacturer/distributor/importer must obtain and keep a written reply from the retailer. The reply may be sent either electronically or in writing but must confirm that the retailer has received the notice.
  • While the new rules state the manufacturer/distributor’s notice must be received by the retailer no later than February 28, 2019, failing to provide the notice at any time after the August 30th deadline will leave you open to a violation claim, so do it now.
  • The required notice to the retailers must be renewed annually.
  • The retailer is responsible for the placement and maintenance of warning materials, including warnings for products sold over the Internet.
  • The retailer can be found liable if he/she fails to adequately post the warnings provided by the manufacturer.
  • The regulations allow manufacturers/distributors/importers and retailers to contract with each other to specify which party must provide the required warnings. (Always check your contracts!)

The new text and content for the alcoholic beverages Proposition 65 warnings

  • The text of the new warning must include the word “WARNING” in all uppercase.
  • The mandatory text for alcoholic beverages must now include the Prop 65 warning website address.

The new rules provide two options for the warning signs:

(1) Posting an 8½ by 11-inch sign in no smaller than 22-point type, placed at eye level in a location that is readable and conspicuous to customers as they enter the area where alcoholic beverages are sold, or

(2) Posting a notice or sign no smaller than 5 by 5 inches placed at each retail point of sale or display to assure that it is readable and conspicuous.  This type of warning notice must be in a type size no smaller than 20-point type and be enclosed in a box (as shown below).

The manufacturer or distributor must provide these signs to retailers:

Warnings in a language other than English

All alcoholic beverages warnings must be in English.  In addition, if the product information, the label or the shelf tag is presented in another language, a second warning sign in that same language must also be provided.

Electronic Warnings on the Internet and Warnings in Catalogs

Alcoholic beverages Proposition 65 warnings for online sales must provide the full warning text in a text box as described above and the warning must be “clearly associated” with the item being purchased.  OEHHA states the warning “must be displayed with such conspicuousness as compared to other words” as to assure the warning is “likely to be seen, read, and understood by an ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase or use.” The warning must be always be provided to the consumer prior to the finalizing the purchase.

Placement of the Warning on the Internet

These three methods for providing the warning on the Internet are acceptable:

(1)   place the full text in a text box as described above directly on the product display page,

(2) put the word “WARNING” on the product display page with a hyperlink that provides one-click immediate access to the full text, or

(3) include the warning as part of the check-out process prior to the final purchase.  It is acceptable to provide the warning, for example, as a pop-up whenever a purchaser enters a California zip code.

A warning symbol alone without the hyperlink on a product display page is not compliant if the actual warning language is located elsewhere on the site and the purchaser must search for it in the general content of the website.

Alcoholic Beverages Customer Pick-up

When stores or tasting rooms allow customers to order by telephone or online and later pick up the order at the physical location, the Proposition 65 warning signs should be at the pick-up counter to assure the warning is seen before finalizing and picking up the purchased products.

Direct-To-Consumers Alcoholic Beverages Shipments

If an alcoholic beverage is being shipped directly to a consumer using a “package delivery service,” the alcoholic beverage warning must additionally be on or in the shipping container or package “in a type size no smaller than the largest type size used for other consumer information on the product.”  And in no case, may the type size be smaller than 8-point. The rule requires that the warning “be readable and conspicuous” to the consumer prior to consumption of the alcoholic beverages.

A quick word about BPA warnings 

Besides the alcoholic beverages warnings, effective August 30th, California is once again requiring a warning for any alcoholic beverages that contain any BPA (Bisphenol A) as part of the packaging.  California has put BPA on the list of chemicals requiring a warning.  Although the federal Food & Drug Administration determined that any possible migration of BPA into the food is at safe levels and disagrees with the California listing, under the new Proposition 65 rules, any manufacturer with packaging containing any BPA must provide the warning.

BPA is commonly used in linings for beverage cans and bottle caps and in some synthetic corks.  The only way to assure that your beverage packaging does not contain BPA is to obtain a letter of certification from the suppliers. If you are not sure, the safest way to proceed is to simply post the new BPA warning in tasting rooms, product catalogs and internet listings.

The warning requirements for BPA mirror the specifications for alcoholic beverages requiring the same size and sign placements described above.

The “safe harbor” text is:

Rules Applicable to Cannabis Producers

In 2009, the State of California added marijuana smoke to the list of substances known by the State to cause cancer.  The OEHHA Fact Sheet states that marijuana smoke contains several thousand different compounds and that at least 33 of them are also on the Proposition 65 list. These include the carcinogens arsenic, benzene, cadmium, hexavalent, chromium, formaldehyde, lead, mercury and nickel.  Additionally, there is also an issue regarding pesticides such as myclobutanil or carbaryl having been found in certain cannabis products.

The Attorney General’s database shows a recent increase in “notices of violations” being sent to California medical cannabis businesses for marijuana smoke exposure and/or edible cannabis products allegedly containing myclobutanil or carbaryl. Because of this, the OEHHA advises cannabis product cultivators, manufacturers and retailers to provide the Proposition 65 warnings.

The cannabis warnings must include the pictogram warning symbol (an exclamation point in a yellow triangle) and the “safe harbor” text:

And for areas where consumption is allowed:

Proposition 65, BPA and Cannabis. If you manufacture, distribute or sell any of these products we encourage you to pay expedited attention to the signage details.  It is far less expensive to take the time now than it will be after you get the visit from the inspector, or from the private attorney looking for a payday.

The magic word is “safe harbor.”  Know where the safe harbor is and dock there!

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