Dry Leaf Medical Marijuana Coming to State Dispensaries

PENNSYLVANIA — Some medical marijuana patients will soon have a more cost-effective option available.

Dispensaries can start selling dry leaf marijuana on Wednesday, August 1.

Patients could only buy oil or pills before.

It goes on sale at dispensaries in Scranton and Williamsport on Wednesday.

It goes on sale in Edwardsville and State College can start selling it next week.

For more information from the Department of Health and the full list of dispensaries, click here.

To read more visit: https://wnep.com/2018/07/31/dry-leaf-medical-marijuana-coming-to-state-dispensaries/

Medical marijuana offers relief

Ron Boyles of Tyrone uses a wide range of substances derived from marijuana to combat many of his health issues. He is the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

In 1999, Ron Boyles injured his back, had surgery and was “thrown into” pain management, mostly relying on opioid medications.

“I spent the next 10 months in the doctor’s office two to three times a week,” he said. “I lost most of my adult life to my health and medications.”

In addition to opioid painkillers, antidepressants, heart medication and blood thinners became part of Boyles’ daily routine.

“I really thought if I got off the opiates, that would be it. I would be fine,” he said.

Then, in 2015, he heard about a possible alternative to treat his underlying pain — marijuana, an illegal drug in Pennsylvania that had found legitimacy elsewhere as medicine.

“And I did it the first time,” Boyles said, not shying away from the fact that he purchased the drug illegally. “It helped me immediately.”

The effects were great, he said, but Boyles admitted he was conflicted.

“I realized I didn’t want to be a criminal,” he said.

So he made a trip to Colorado — a trip he said lasted multiple months.

In Colorado, marijuana had already been approved as a legal medicine.

And since April 2016, the same is true in Pennsylvania, where residents suffering from a list of specified illnesses can be certified to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries.

And now, Boyles is back, living in Bald Eagle, where he operates as the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, helping to familiarize them with various products and potencies.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing between patients and doctors and news people,” he said of the attention his service is getting.

“I want this to work for people because it does work,” Boyles continued. “I see a time where everybody is going to have this in their medicine cabinet.”

21 specified conditions

For now, only those suffering from a list of 21 specified “serious medical conditions” can be certified by a qualified doctors to purchase the drug.

But before visiting a dispensary, patients must register a profile with the Department of Health, receive physician certification and pay a $50 fee to get a marijuana identification card, according to the state Department of Health.

Those cards, in addition to state ID, must be shown each time a marijuana product is purchased from a certified dispensary.

As of late June, 47,723 patients in Pennsylvania were registered to consume medical marijuana, 25,108 marijuana identification cards were purchased and 70,162 “patient dispensing activities”were recorded, said Nate Wardle, a Department of Health spokesman.

The term “patients” refers to both adults and children.

Most children participating in the state’s medical marijuana program suffer from serious illnesses like debilitating seizures and cancer, said April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health.

For children, medical marijuana is purchased and administered by caregivers — a person 21 or older, who is a parent, legal guardian or spouse of a patient. Caregivers must register with the Department of Health and complete a criminal history background check.

And caregivers can also be designated by adult patients who are homebound.

Use by children is somewhat complicated by their required attendance at schools, places where marijuana use has historically been prohibited, maligned and discouraged.

Schools on hold

But both the state departments of Health and Education support a “Safe Harbor Letter,” which calls for the allowance of a caregiver to administer medical marijuana to a child on school property, as long as it does not cause a distraction for other students.

“It’s a recommended policy,” Hutcheson said.

Under that recommendation, students themselves may not possess medical marijuana on school property, but visiting caregivers can administer the drug in a secure, private location.

That is only after a school principal is provided with a copy of the Safe Harbor Letter and is notified of “each instance in which the parent or caregiver will administer the medical marijuana,”according to the Department of Health.

A principal is then supposed to notify a school nurse about each of those instances.

Within Altoona Area School District, no medical marijuana policy is yet in place, said Paula Foreman, the district’s community relations director.

“I know it’s a topic of review,” she said. “We don’t have anything formal in place as of yet.”

In Hollidaysburg Area School District, the situation is much the same, Superintendent Robert Gildea said, noting no policy has been adopted.

“We’re prepared to follow the advice of the solicitor,” he said.

Officials at Ebensburg’s Central Cambria school district are waiting on the direction of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Superintendent Jason Moore said.

However, the district is in a unique situation because several medical professionals sit on the Central Cambria board, Moore said.

“We sort of defer to them on those medical issues,” he said.

Moore, who also sits on the Greater Johnstown School District Board, said he is unaware of existing medical marijuana policies in Ebensburg or Johnstown.

Pennsylvania School Boards Association officials did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

Similar complications may exist in cases where patients are prohibited from consuming marijuana as a stipulation of parole or probation or in cases when an employer disallows use of the drug, Hutcheson said.

“An employee can’t be fired for using medical marijuana, I know that,” she said.

Hutcheson shared language in existing regulations that backs her remark.

“No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee … solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana,” it reads.

However, employers are not required to offer special accommodations for on-site consumption, and they are permitted to discipline employees whose use of medical marijuana results in “conduct … below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.”

Despite its complicated beginning, Boyles said prospective patients should not be discouraged from pursuing the drug, which he said has vast health benefits.

“My life has completely changed,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.

Conditions that qualify

Serious medical conditions that qualify Pennsylvania residents for medical marijuana use, according to the state Department of Health:

– Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

– Autism

– Cancer, including remission therapy

– Crohn’s disease

– Damage to the nervous tissue

– Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

– Epilepsy

– Glaucoma

– HIV/AIDS

– Huntington’s disease

– Inflammatory bowel disease

– Intractable seizures

– Multiple sclerosis

– Neurodegenerative diseases

– Neuropathies

– Opioid use disorder

– Parkinson’s disease

– Post-traumatic stress disorder

– Severe, chronic or intractable pain

– Sickle cell anemia

– Terminal illness

To read more visit: http://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2018/07/medical-marijuana-offers-relief/

Federalism and marijuana

Early in the Reagan administration, legal advisers from all the agencies were brought into a meeting at the White House. Copies of an executive order from the new president were circulated to each.

They all assumed it was a first draft. So they all took out their pens and started marking it up, representing the interests of their agency concerning what a final draft should say. They were each shocked when they got to the end, and found that it was already signed by President Reagan.

The executive order addressed the issue of federalism, which refers to the doctrine that power, authority and funding should flow down to the 50 states. Previously, the trend in the 20th century had been the opposite, centralizing power, authority and money in Washington.

But federalism was so important to Mr. Reagan, that he was not interested in hearing what his executive branch agencies thought about it by circulating a draft to them first. His executive order commanded the agencies to follow the principles of federalism in every decision they made, favoring more power, authority and funding down to the states unless there was an overriding reason to the contrary.

That is the same position that candidate Trump took during the 2016 election. Federalism allows the 50 states to conduct 50 experiments on any issue, and political competition among the states will push them to all adopt what is proven to work best. Of course, the 50 states vary a lot on local conditions and preferences, so federalism allows each state to adopt what would work best for them.

That is why Mr. Reagan, and now President Trump, and the Founding Fathers of America, who designed the Constitution on the principles of federalism, all have favored it. Mr. Trump has emphasized federalism on the issue of medical marijuana in particular.

Mr. Trump said at a rally in Nevada as early as October 2015, “I know people who are very, very sick and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them — but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.” Marijuana has proven very effective medically especially for people suffering from chronic pain, particularly people whose pain cannot be relieved otherwise.

Even for recreational use, Mr. Trump favored the states to decide on complete legalization. In February 2017, Mr. Trump said on a Colorado TV station, “I think it’s up to the states. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”

On medical marijuana, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized it. In 2014, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher first inserted an amendment into a federal spending bill to prevent the Justice Dept. from prosecuting medical marijuana businesses that comply with their state’s laws, while outdated federal law still bans it. 

But in May, Mr. Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress demanding that Mr. Rohrabacher’s funding rider be eliminated. Mr. Sessions said it was his duty to enforce supreme federal law under the rule of law, even though the federal Controlled Substances Act is “a woefully out-of-date law that says marijuana is as addictive as heroin and has no medical value,” in the words of a Los Angeles Times editorial.

But Mr. Sessions is acting contrary to what is now Republican Party principle. The Party platform states, “Federalism is a cornerstone of our constitutional system. Every violation of state sovereignty by federal officials is an assault on the liberties of individual Americans. Hence, the promise of the Tenth Amendment.”

Indeed, in May House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Speaker Paul Ryan in a joint press release, “Federalism is not a Republican or a Democrat principle, but an American principle — and one that is integral to a thriving culture and economy. But in recent years, the principle of federalism has been slowly chipped away by an overzealous federal government.”

This is in accord today with bipartisan public opinion on medical marijuana. An August 2017 Quinnipiac poll found Americans favoring state control over medical marijuana laws by an overwhelming 94 percent to 4 percent, including 90 percent to 7 percent for Republicans.

Indeed, the poll found Americans favoring complete state legalization of marijuana 75 percent to 20 percent. An October Gallup poll found 64 percent favoring state legalization, up from 12 percent in 1969, when Gallup first started polling the question. Gallup found a majority of Republicans (51 percent) now favoring state legalization as well.

So Mr. Trump has both principle and public opinion behind him. Mr. Sessions should follow his boss’s lead.

To read more visit: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/23/why-the-states-must-decide-about-medical-marijuana/

Keep Calm and Live in New York City: The Promise of CBD, the Cannabis Chemical That Won’t Get You High

Cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical found in the marijuana and hemp plants, has become the latest ingredient to invade New York’s wellness space.

One morning, about a month ago, I walked out of my Brooklyn apartment on a quick mission to buy shampoo and ended up having six drops of CBD, the cannabis-based elixir, administered beneath my tongue by a Coloradan named Bodē. Such things are liable to happen in New York City these days. Bodē was in Zoë’s Beauty Products, my local cosmetics store in Greenpoint, talking up a line of CBD tinctures to the women behind the counter. It was obvious from his laid-back vibe, and his R.E.I.-inspired look, that he was not from the area. I might have ignored his pitch, and gone about my business browsing aisles of thirty-dollar conditioner and lilac hand creams, except that CBD—also known as cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical, found in marijuana and hemp plants, that has become the latest trendy ingredient among the wellness crowd—had been pursuing me around the city like the monster from “It Follows.”

It started earlier this year, when an acquaintance mentioned that she uses CBD to sleep. “It doesn’t get you high, it just chills you out,” she said. Later, I attended a crowded CBD yoga workshop, where an instructor named Brianna (who is now a field rep for a CBD-oil brand called Prime My Body) had us all ingest a dropperful of green goo from a communal bottle before settling into a series of restorative poses. After the class, one man proclaimed, to no one in particular, “I was so relaxed, I might have stopped breathing for a few minutes.” Then three coffee shops down the block from where I live started offering CBD-infused coffee. My local pharmacy hung a sign in the window proclaiming “Yes, We Have CBD!,” and 3 Roots, a juice bar in the neighborhood, put out a sandwich board with a laundry list of alleged CBD benefits scrawled in pink neon marker: “Anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, mood-boosting.”

So I approached Bodē, who told me that his line of products, Bodē Wellness, which he makes in a tiny town near Telluride, includes two strengths of concentrated oil and two body balms—one unscented and one lemongrass, “for the ladies.” All are derived from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC, making it legal to sell across state lines (though the legality of hemp is still somewhat murky). I told him that I had tried CBD in coffee, but that I hadn’t been able to feel its effects. He suggested that I try around 10mg of his strongest tincture, and that I hold the oil under my tongue for a minute before swallowing, to encourage “total absorption.” Then he offered to squeeze a dropperful into my mouth, right in the middle of the store. The oil was the brownish color of a stagnant pond, and tasted like old bong water with a hint of lemon. After ingesting it—perhaps, I will admit, because I really wanted to believe—I thought I felt something, a creeping sensation of serenity. I walked over to the East River and sat on a bench facing the water for almost an hour, feeling tranquil and unruffled, as if my nerves had been soaked in chamomile tea.

Later, in a phone call (which we scheduled around his farm’s “siesta schedule;” he returns to the fields at 4:21 p.m., “CBD Hemp time”), Bodē told me that his given name is Eric. He’d gotten into CBD after a girlfriend who was “working in the marijuana industry but really wanted to be a hempster” started dragging him along to hemp conferences. He had been working for more than a decade in natural foods, and had recently exited a marriage; he decided it was time for a change of scene, and a change of name. “I wanted my new name to feel like the tree of life, Bodhi, but also have this flair of body health and wellness,” he said. “And then I had seen someone else put the macron over a vowel in their name, so that’s how that happened.” After successfully peddling his wares to the beauty store, he told me, he’d continued through Brooklyn, like a hippie Harold Hill. The health-food devotees at the Park Slope Food Co-op, he said, had also agreed to carry Bodē Wellness. “They have seventeen thousand members,” he told me. “That’s more people than the town next to me in Colorado.”

Like many New Yorkers, I tend to be deeply wary of the nouveau-wellness movement that has crept into the city from L.A., with its Goopian buzzwords and mushroom tonics and colloidal silver—the idea that you can shop your way to an internal glow. New York’s CBD craze has already reached Dadaesque levels of consumerism—hundred-dollar tinctures to treat anxiety in pet cats and dogsCBD-laced room service at the NoMad location of the James hotel, in Manhattan. But CBD, with its potential to unclench tense muscles and pacify anxious thoughts, also promises to deliver something that many New Yorkers desperately need. Some of us will try anything that promises to soften the city’s edge, especially if it doesn’t require a prescription. Verena von Pfetten, a co-editor of the New York-based marijuana life-style magazine Gossamer, told me that her personal CBD regimen includes five to fifteen milligrams of tincture nightly, with an occasional extra daytime dose during mentally taxing periods. “With it, I can have an even amount of sleep, and avoid significant periods of stress,” she said. “This is about consistently keeping your body at a regular equilibrium.”

CBD also provides New Yorkers an alluring first whiff of mainstream cannabis culture at a time when the state’s leaders, having lagged behind other East Coast states in legalizing marijuana, seem to finally, maybe be coming around. (Mayor Bill De Blasio recently ordered the N.Y.P.D. to issue summonses instead of arresting people for smoking weed; Cynthia Nixon, in her campaign to challenge Andrew Cuomo for governor, has been outspoken about how marijuana’s criminalization disproportionately affects people of color.) Even if New Yorkers can’t yet enjoy carefully dosed artisanal weed gummies and attend multi-course marijuana dinners (at least not many), we can perhaps, with glugs of CBD in our matcha shakes, regulate and optimize our moods in the way we imagine West Coasters are doing every day. Better still, hemp-derived CBD, absent weed’s psychoactive effects, is palatable to the high-achieving New Yorker who still thinks of marijuana as a stoner’s drug, or at least a threat to productivity—you can swill a little at your local coffee shop in the morning, alongside your fellow-commuters, and still put in a ten-hour workday.

It’s worth noting, too, that many doctors believe that CBD has genuine medicinal value. Just last month, the F.D.A. approved a CBD-based drug for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a childhood epilepsy disorder. I spoke to Esther Blessing, a psychiatry professor at N.Y.U., who believes that cannabidiol “is unprecedented in the field of neuropsychiatry” because it appears to have the potential to treat a wide variety of disorders—its best-documented effect is its ability to increase levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that counteracts stress. But she says that the research is still preliminary, and the unregulated market for CBD means that consumers are left to sort out the hemp oil from the snake oil. Yasmin Hurd, a doctor at Mount Sinai who uses four-hundred- to eight-hundred-milligram doses to study CBD’s benefit in opioid-addiction treatment, told me that hoping for therapeutic effects from a dosage as low as what’s found in commercial products like CBD coffees, which tend to contain only around twenty-five milligrams, is “ridiculous.” Joshua Kaplan, a neuroscientist whose upcoming research on CBD’s effects on epilepsy, anxiety, and autism will involve “vaping with mice”—said that the research he’s seen indicates that taking small doses of five to twenty-five milligrams multiple times a day could, “in theory,” help reduce anxiety levels over time. “Does one dose of twenty-five-milligram CBD do much of anything for an adult with anxiety?” he said. “The data don’t support it.”

The practice of small, daily CBD dosing is what Ron Silver, the owner of Bubby’s, a comfort-food restaurant with two outposts in Manhattan, tells me he wants to popularize among New Yorkers. Silver recently started offering a CBD-infused sugar called Azuca on Bubby’s coffee menu. I sat with him recently on the patio of the restaurant’s West Village location, which had started to fill with overheated tourists who had spilled off of the High Line, looking to recharge with twenty-one-dollar banana nut pancakes. We sipped on ten-dollar Azuca-sweetened iced coffees, served in tall glasses with green-and-white swizzle straws. (The restaurant also serves Azuca pink lemonade, Azuca iced tea, and, for three dollars more, Azuca watermelon lemonade.) Each beverage, Silver told me, contains only around twenty-five milligrams of CBD, but he believes that drinking one a day can have profound anti-inflammatory and stress-relieving effects over time. “I introduced it here, because right now if someone wants a CBD coffee at Starbucks they can’t get one,” he said. “But they should serve them, and one day they will.”

Silver, a native of Utah, has been in New York for decades, but he has retained a vaguely Lebowskian air from years spent on the West Coast. He started developing Azuca five years ago, when he was looking to get further into the “cannabis space” and wanted to make a product that he could actually sell at Bubby’s, which he considers to be a kind of live-beta testing ground. (He is also developing a line of THC-based edibles based in Massachusetts.) He told the newspaper amNewYork that CBD was “the penicillin of the 21st century.” When I asked him if he meant that as cheeky hyperbole—penicillin, after all, has saved millions of lives—he said that he stands by the statement. “There’s two aspects to the whole CBD thing,” he said. “One is that it is trendy and could easily fall into the same trend as turmeric or coconut oil. The other, though, is that it actually works.”

Not long ago, I purchased a small bottle of “full spectrum hemp extract” from Bluebird Botanicals, another Colorado-based company, which is sold at a local drugstore. It cost twenty-five dollars and contained two hundred and fifty milligrams of CBD. If you consider this ten doses of twenty-five milligrams at $2.50 each, it sounds like a pretty good deal for an anti-anxiety supplement. It’s less than a latte; it’s cheaper than therapy. But investing in a multiple-times-a-day habit seems like a lot to wager on a product that is still so little understood. I kept the bottle in the fridge (apparently this keeps the oil fresh, though I do it because it dulls the taste) and used it only sporadically, which likely defeats the point. I took an emergency dose when I was in the throes of a migraine; I also took two extra-strength Tylenol and—why not—rubbed some eucalyptus essential oil on my temples. The next morning, I went into Littleneck Outpost, another coffee shop in my neighborhood. They had just put up a new sign next to the register advertising CBD coffee and five-hundred-and-twenty-milligram bottles of Plant People brand extract, priced at eighty dollars. When I asked the owner how it’s selling, he told me that it’s “flying.” “I think it’s a placebo effect,” he said. “But this is definitely the turmeric of 2018.”

To read more visit: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/keep-calm-and-live-in-new-york-city-the-promise-of-cbd

It’s halfway through July. Why aren’t any recreational marijuana dispensaries open yet?

July 1 always symbolized the starting gun for recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts, but that never meant the industry would be quick out of the gate.

Yet more than two weeks later, it’s still uncertain when the state’s first adult-use pot shop will actually open.

“I don’t want to put a date on it,” says Sam Barber, the president of Cultivate, a medical marijuana dispensary in Leicester that was issued the state’s first retail license for recreational sales earlier this month.

Cultivate obtained another license last Thursday, allowing the company to grow marijuana for recreational purposes at its existing Route 9 facility, where it already grows and sells the substance for medicinal purposes. Barber told Boston.com that the cultivation license is “another step,” but said it could be awhile until they open.

After initially giving an estimate of “a few weeks,” Barber told reporters earlier this month that it would likely be September before they could begin retail operations. And while the company does need to pass a few final state-required inspections, the reason for the delay is mostly out of their control, which is why Barber is now reluctant to give any estimate on an opening date.

“At this point, we’re just focusing on making sure we’ve done everything that they’ve asked from us,” he said.

For one, even once Cultivate does have that final go-ahead, all recreational marijuana products still must first be tested by an independent laboratory — and no such labs have been licensed yet by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

Steve Hoffman, the commission’s chairman, told reporters Thursday that the agency had received its first completed license application from a testing facility. Hoffman said the commission could vote to issue the lab a provisional license as early as its next meeting on July 26. With three labs already operating with the state’s medical marijuana program, Hoffman has said that once they get their licenses they should be “pretty much ready to go.”

But that still means it likely won’t be until at least August that any marijuana sales can begin.

What’s up with the overall delay?

As of Thursday, the commission had issued a total of five licenses to two companies, Cultivate and Sira Naturals, a Milford-based cultivation facility. They are in the process of reviewing 29 other applications and had 39 awaiting review. Hoffman says the commission is working as quickly as they can to approve licenses, but there’s a simple reason Cultivate still stands alone as the only provisionally licensed retail business in the state.

“[The commission] can’t act on applications that they don’t have,” said Jim Borghesani, the former spokesman for the 2016 legalization campaign and a cannabis industry consultant.

Nearly 200 communities in Massachusetts continue to have either outright bans or moratoriums on recreational marijuana businesses within their borders. Attorney General Maura Healey recently ruled that temporary moratoriums — designed to give towns time to set up local regulations, such as zoning — could be extended through June 2019.

And even cities and towns that do allow recreational marijuana shops are dragging their feet, according to Borghesani.

“The big hold up really is on the local level,” he said.

Prospective adult-use pot businesses — even ones already operating as medical marijuana companies — have to obtain a “host community agreement” form signed off on by local officials. And, under state law, communities aren’t held to any timetable for reviewing the permits, which Borghesani says has resulted in unreasonable delays in the licensing process.

Municipalities can also require so-called impact fees from prospective businesses, which are supposed to be “reasonably related to the costs imposed” by a marijuana establishment operating in town.

Two state senators recently wrote to state regulators concurring with Borghesani’s concern about the “widespread” practice of towns using the host community agreements, including excessive impact fees, as a “form of prohibition.”

The Massachusetts Municipal Association, which represents the state’s cities and towns, has pushed back against those criticisms, arguing that municipalities are trying to do their “due diligence” on how to approach a new industry that still conflicts with federal law. Borghesani thinks they’ve had more than enough time.

“As soon as this was passed in 2016, towns should have started the process of figuring out where they were going to zone,” he said, noting that zoning for controlled substances has been something local communities have governed “for decades.”

Massachusetts also experienced lags in the rollout of its medical marijuana industry, which now has a total of 36 registered dispensaries. And though for different reasons, those delays may now be having somewhat of a carryover effect, even when shops do begin getting online.

“It’s not like Colorado where they already had a hundred medical dispensaries,” Barber said. “Massachusetts is still growing into that medical market.”

Industry experts have said they expect a supply shortage in the early months of the state’s nascent recreational market, in part due to its relatively underdeveloped medical marijuana industry.

Barber is aware of the increasingly pent-up demand.

For that reason, he says his company is just focusing on ramping up their production for once the the labs and licensing are finally straightened out. And sorry eager pot-smokers, even when pressed, Barber still wouldn’t say when exactly that could be.

“I can’t give you the date,” he reiterated.

To read more visit: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2018/07/16/why-massachusetts-marijuana-dispensaries-not-open-yet

Oakland Struggles to Meet Goals for Social Equity in Cannabis Industry

“The purpose of the equity program is that we’re all starting off on a level playing field… And meanwhile, I’m sitting here with no income,” said one local ganjapreneur.

When Golden State voters legalized an adult-use marijuana industry in late 2016, cheers rang out across the cannabis mecca of Northern California. In Oakland, though, city leaders immediately began constructing a social justice-focused program to make sure that longtime residents and people prosecuted for past pot crimes would have a leg up on the deep-pocketed tech bros and CEOs looking to carve out a slice of the green rush. Now, half a year into the West Coast’s largest legal weed experiment yet, at least one Oakland ganjapreneur is calling foul on Oakland’s attempt at equity.

In a column for the San Francisco Chronicle, Otis Taylor told the story of Oakland-based cultivator and cannabis clone producer Alex Bronson. Through Oakland’s local equity program, Bronson, a lifetime East Bay resident with more than 30 years of growing experience, said that he was able to bring his once-illicit business into full state compliance.

To help small-scale entrepreneurs like Bronson compete in a market flooded by outside capital and giant firms, Oakland’s equity program allowed those larger businesses to skip to the front of the licensing line if they agreed to provide equity applicants with 1,000 square feet of business space, free of charge. Under a priority license “incubator” program, Bronson signed agreements with two larger cannabis companies, NUG and Joyous Recreation & Wellness Group, to give him a place to kickstart his clone sales operation.

But now, more than four months after Bronson expected to be growing compliant cannabis in an East Oakland warehouse, both NUG and Joyous have run into construction delays, leaving Bronson to run his business out of his small garage. According to the most recent timeline, Bronson will not have his promised space until November, a year after it was assured to him.

“The purpose of the equity program is that we’re all starting off on a level playing field. That’s why they got the priority license,” Bronson told the Chronicle. “That’s why they incubated us. And meanwhile, I’m sitting here with no income.”

Challenging the apparent bait and switch equity assistance promises, Bronson has challenged both NUG and Joyous’ local licenses, filing paperwork with the city to make sure they either follow through on their word in a more timely manner or shut down their own legal weed operations.

Upon hearing Bronson’s accusations, the Oakland City Council immediately revoked Joyous Wellness’ local authorization and called a hearing to hear the company’s side of the story. After an immediate appeal, the company was granted an extension before another hearing convenes later this month.

“There’s no enforcement of these agreements,” Bronson’s lawyer, Natalia Thurston, told theChronicle. “There’s no motivation for these people to follow through — unless the city does take action [to revoke permits].”

Before a separate hearing with attorneys from NUG scheduled for July 31st, a spokesman for that company’s lawyers admitted a slow churn in securing Bronson’s promised space, but placed blame on bureaucratic issues with Oakland’s construction authorities, and not NUG itself.

“What’s not to be expected is the city administrator’s office would not acknowledge that this delay, if anything, is the building department’s fault, not the general applicant’s fault,” Robert Selna, an attorney representing NUG, said. “The building department plays a significant role in the fact that Alexis Bronson doesn’t have his greenhouse space.”

If Bronson is made to wait until November before he can move his clone business into a larger space, as both NUG and Joyous Wellness are currently estimating, it may already be too late, with new licensing and upkeep fees due at the end of the year. After pouring thousands of dollars into turning his business legit and checking all of the boxes necessary for city-sponsored assistance, Bronson says that he is still waiting on the equity to arrive.

“Because I can’t deliver a consistent experience,” Bronson said to the Chronicle. “I don’t have enough room to produce clones week in, week out to compete with my competitors. This is allowing my competitors to get a leg up on me.”

To read more visit: https://merryjane.com/news/oakland-struggles-to-meet-goals-for-social-equity-in-cannabis-industry

German Authorities Will Issue New Cannabis Cultivation Bid

In shocking news out of Deutschland, BfArM, the federal agency responsible for the management of the first tender cultivation bid, has issued a notice that it is ditching the first tender bid and will start from scratch.

According to Kermit the Frog, it’s never easy being green. It is also tough to be “first” in the cannabis biz. Anywhere.

One of the most remarkable features of the first years of state-level legalization in the U.S. was the sheer number of mistakes by the authorities in issuing licenses and bids for state-sanctioned cultivation and dispensation once the voters had forced legalization. There were several state-level “redos” and lots of legal mumbo jumbo thrown around as the green-rush kicked off at the state level.

Fast-forward a couple of years and it is clear this is not just an issue of the confused state of legalization in the U.S.

Canada too, on a federal recreational level, has moved forward in fits and starts. And even though a fall start date to the market has now been enshrined into law, the continued moving target of the same has been a topic of fraught conversations and bargaining ever since the country decided to move ahead with full Monty recreational.

Across the pond, things are not going smoothly on the cannabis front. In the first week of July, the much stalled medical cultivation bid in Germany finally came to a limpid end. It remains to see if there will be any legal “bangs” as it whimpers away.

The real news? There is going to be a completely new one.

A Do-Over

According to documents obtained by Cannabis Industry Journal, the Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (or BfArM) issued letters to original bid respondents in the first week of July. The letters appear to have been sent to all parties who originally applied to the first bid – far from the final top runners.

The translation, from German reads:

“We hereby inform you that we have withdrawn the above-mentioned award procedure…and intend to initiate a new award in a timely manner.”

The letter cited the legal decision of March 28 this year by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court as the reason the agency cannot award the contract. Specifically, because of “necessary changes to the tender documents…inparticular with regard to time, we have decided to cancel the procedure altogether and initiate a new award procedure.”

Per the letter, the new procedure will be published in the Official Journal of the EU. No date was mentioned.

An Expensive Surprise and a Global Response

Conventional wisdom in the industry about the fate of the first bid has been mixed since last September when the first hint of lawsuits against the procedure began to circulate. Highly placed sources within the industry have long had their doubts about the bid’s survivability, although nobody will talk on the record. The bid process is supposed to be secret.

Furthermore, for the last 9 months, BfArM has maintained that the agency would go full-steam ahead with the original tender. None of the major firms contacted by CIJ about this notification would confirm that they had received a similar letter, nor would they comment.

However, it is clear that another bid will be issued. Further, this time, it is also obvious to the extent that it was not before, the applicants will indeed hail from all points of the globe. On top of that, those who are qualified to respond and who missed it last time are unlikely to sit the bid out this time around.

German Parliament Building

It remains unclear of course, what the response of the finalists to the first bid will be. Including, theoretically,legal action forpotential damages. BfArM was, technically, held at fault by the court. This means that all the companies who made it to the previous “final round” have now suffered at a minimum, an expensive time delay where other outlays of cash were also required. That includes the leasing and retrofitting of high security real estate, but of course,is not limited to the same. If any of these firms do not obtain the bid in the second go around, will they sue?

At press time, there were no cannabis industry companies willing to comment on the matter as this is still a “secret” process – even if it now apparently has come to an end for this round.

Who Is Likely To Be a Major Contender This Time?

German firms who were sleeping the last time this opportunity arose (or brushed it off as a “stigmatized” opportunity) are not likely to sit the second tender offer out. Especially given advancements in legalization if not the industry both in Europe and globally in the period of time the bid has stalled.

Add to that Canadians, Dutch, Israeli and Uruguayan firms, and the mix of applicants this time is likely to be the who’s who of the global cannabis industry. Americans are still not qualified to participate (with experience at least). Why? No federal reform.

It is also likely to be even more expensive. Not to mention require easy and quick access to European-based or at least easily confirmable pools of cash. It is conceivable that successful applications this time around will not only have to prove that they have a track record in a federally legal jurisdiction but will also have to be able to quickly access as much as 100 million euros. And there are not many cannabis companies, yet, who can do that, outside of the presumed top 10 finalists to the bid.

Will Bid Respondents Be Limited To “Just” the Cannabis Industry?

It is, however, absolutely possible that this time around the bid could include a more established pharmaceutical player or two who realizes that the medical market here has absolutely proved itself. Within the space of a year, according to the most recent “market report” on the industry (from the perspective of one of the country’s largest statutory insurance companies – Techniker Krankenkasse), there are now just over 15,000 patients.

Cannabis, in other words, is no longer an “orphan drug.” It is also still, however, considered a narcotic. For that reason, seasoned European and German players may upset the market even more with an entry via this tender bid.

Here is what is certain for now. Domestic cannabis will not be harvested in Germany until at least 2020. And until that time, it will be a growing, but import-based market.

To read more visit: https://www.cannabisindustryjournal.com/feature_article/german-authorities-will-issue-new-cannabis-cultivation-bid/

GOVERNOR MARY FALLIN SIGNS EMERGENCY RULES FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Governor Mary Fallin signed emergency emergency rules for medical marijuana that were adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Health.

In a press release Governor Fallin  said, “These rules are the best place to start in developing a proper regulatory framework for medical marijuana, with the highest priority given to the health and safety of Oklahomans. They are also the quickest and most cost-efficient way to get the process actually started as required by the law passed by the people. I expect modifications could occur in the future. I know some citizens are not pleased with these actions. But I encourage everyone to approach this effort in a constructive fashion in order to honor the will of the citizens of Oklahoma who want a balanced and responsible medical marijuana law.”

Oklahoma City Representative Jason Lowe released a statement saying in part, “the law undermines one of the most participated in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state. I am calling on the governor to immediately call for a special session so that the elected leaders of this state can implement the law as instructed by the citizens of Oklahoma.”

In regards to a special session, Mary Fallin said in her press release, “The Health Department has been working with 17 other agencies the past three months on crafting these emergency rules. Asking the Legislature to pass comprehensive legislation in a special session is not realistic.”

To read more visit: https://mfanews.net/governor-mary-fallin-signs-emergency-rules-for-medical-marijuana/

Israeli Committee Clears Path To Marijuana Decriminalization

A key committee in Israel gave the green light to votes on a bill that would partially decriminalize marijuana on Monday.

The bill would impose fines, rather than criminal penalties, on individuals who possess or consume cannabis. First-time offenders would be fined 1,000 shekels ($275), second-time offenders would face a 2,000 shekel ($550) fine and third-time offenders would be given an option of admitting fault and paying a higher fine or completing community service—or they could ask to be sentenced. Any additional violations would be considered criminal offenses.

There is a caveat to the three-strikes rule, however. There’s a five-year window after each offense—so if you’re caught possessing cannabis more than five years after your first offense, for example, it will count as a first offense again.

The bill will not apply to minors, soldiers, prisoners or individuals convicted of other criminal charges, Arutz Sheva 7 reported.

The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee unanimously approved votes on second and third readings of the bill on Monday. It will now head back for a full Knesset vote later this week. (The bill passed unanimously during its first reading in March).

According to a government press release, concerns laid out by lawmakers and law enforcement officials were rejected by the committee. Some lawmakers argued that the fines were too steep and the five-year window between offenses ought to be shortened. Others, including committee chair Elie Elalouf (Kulanu), voiced concerns about the lack of judicial discretion provided to courts when it comes to marijuana-related convictions.

“I fear that due to the fine amount and the lack of feasibility of exercising discretion, the judges will decide not to convict the defendant at all,” Elalouf said.

The head of Israel’s “Green Leaf” party, Oren Leibovitz, said that Israel was “on the way to complete legalization.” That message evoked a warning from Yoel Hadar, the legal advisor to the Ministry of the Public Security, who said that if the decriminalization bill was exploited and “transformed into a tool for legalization,” the government might not extend the law.

The way the bill is currently written, marijuana decriminalization would be treated as a three-year pilot program, after which the government will determine whether or not to continue the policy.

The current status of marijuana in Israel

Israel is known globally as a leader in cannabis research. It was one of the first countries to permit medical marijuana, with at least 30,000 registered patients currently enrolled in its program. While recreational marijuana use remains illegal, some like Leibovitz view the decriminalization bill as a step toward full legalization.

The country had a plan to export its medical cannabis—a plan that would have generated over $1 billion per year, according to one estimate—but it was derailed earlier this year. There have been several reports stating that opposition from the Trump administration was the deciding factor for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu told the heads of the ministries he ordered the freeze after receiving a call about the issue of exporting marijuana from Trump, who is against its legalization,” The Times of Israel reported in February.

To read more visit: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/israeli-committee-clears-path-to-marijuana-decriminalization/

Cannabis for kids? Almost half of Canadian pediatricians didn’t know they could prescribe: survey

WATCH BELOW: Is weed good or bad for you? Everything we know about the health effects of cannabis

Dr. Michael Rieder wants it made clear that cannabis is not a side-effect free, cure-all.

The London, Ont., pediatrician has had many children referred to him by doctors who know Rieder wrote the Canadian Paediatric Society’s position statement on cannabis use and aren’t sure whether to prescribe.


READ MORE: 
Doctors should think twice before prescribing medical marijuana: guideline

The conversations, Rieder says, are rather interesting.

“The families usually come in with a certain set of ideas,” he says.

“Medical cannabis is imbued with a certain mythological character … a panacea for all ills quite unlike most other drugs.”

But it is still a drug.

It just happens to be one that providers know less about, Rieder says. They don’t know when to prescribe or how much or for how long. Although there’s a list of authorized providers from Health Canada, he notes, there isn’t a product monograph outlining side effects or possible risks in the short and longer term.

A spokeswoman for Health Canada, says the government is in the process of updating five-year-old information about cannabis so that it is in a “format similar to that of a drug product monograph.”

WATCH: Doctor says Canada not prepared for marijuana legalization

In fact, 49 percent weren’t even aware they can prescribe cannabis to children, according to a survey of pediatricians released Thursday by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP), and 39 percent didn’t know they could prescribe to youth. More than three-quarters reported little to no knowledge about why cannabis might be used or what the correct dosage might be.

That’s not stopping minors from using marijuana for medical purposes. Half of the pediatricians who responded to the survey reported treating patients who were using medical marijuana in the year prior, for reasons both authorized and unauthorized. The vast majority, per the survey, saw five or less patients who used cannabis.

“We were amazed,” says Dr. Richard Bélanger, who helped conduct the survey for CPSP and who is also a pediatrician and researcher in Quebec. “It was a shock … but in the end, it really makes sense.”

Almost everywhere in Canada, Bélanger says, “pediatricians are treating complex diseases in children with sometimes fewer treatment possibilities than for adults.”


READ MORE: 
Parents encouraged to talk to their kids about the possible impact of marijuana use

Despite half saying they treated a patient who was using cannabis for medical reasons, only 34 said they personally had prescribed authorized cannabis use in the year prior. However, only a third of Canadian pediatricians and pediatric subspecialties responded to the 2017 survey (877 out of 2,816).

This survey is just one step toward untangling the confusion around how pediatricians can and should use medical marijuana, Bélanger says. With legalization coming Oct. 17, he says, there are still many health professionals saying they don’t have enough knowledge around prescribing cannabis.

“We have to continue producing knowledge around that and to inform pediatricians and health professionals working with kids,” he says.

WATCH: FDA approves first drug derived from marijuana to treat epilepsy

In particular, Bélanger wants to build a better picture of how cannabis is being used to treat minors in more rural areas. Most of the survey respondents were from major centers or university towns.

“We’re not exactly sure that it is a clear representation of what is taking place, let’s say, in northern Manitoba,” Bélanger says.

Regardless of where cannabis is being prescribed, Rieder says it’s important to make sure it’s being done so by a professional — especially as legalization prompts more people to inquire about medical marijuana.


READ MORE: 
Treating cancer in kids with cannabis

While there have been some studies pointing to its usefulness in treating children with epilepsy, he’s concerned around some children as young as five or six using cannabis to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Rieder says most inquiries he fields for cannabis are about calming children with ADHD.

“It’s a terrible idea,” he says.

“They may be a little bit more mellow and they may act up less in class but we know that cannabinoids have significant effects on some developing brains.”

As research continues and pediatricians arm themselves with the latest information ahead of legalization, Rieder says its important for parents to remember that cannabis is just like any other drug with “potentially good effects and potentially bad effects.”

“Like any drug, there are certain questions you should always ask,” he says. “What is the expected benefit? What’s the expected risk? How is it going to be followed up?”

To read more visit: https://boom997.com/news/4325665/medical-cannabis-for-kids/