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More veterans parlaying their military skills into cannabis careers

More veterans parlaying their military skills into cannabis careers

Chad Drew considers himself a veteran of not only the Air Force but also the cannabis industry. The 41-year-old is sales manager at the Colorado Harvest Company, a chain of dispensaries in metro Denver.

And he believes his decision to get into legal cannabis as a profession eight years ago, after leaving the service and then finishing college, was helped by his time in the armed forces.

“The military totally played a part in it,” he told The Cannabist, when asked how he got hired. “When you serve, you come from a different cut of cloth. It instills a lot of discipline within you.”

According to a recent American Legion survey, an overwhelming number of veterans support both medical marijuana legalization and further research – as a treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and other ailments, and as an alternative to prescription pharmaceuticals that have potentially harmful side-effects and addiction risks.

But that support of cannabis by veterans extends beyond politics and into the workplace, especially when it comes to job creation.

A growing number of veterans are finding positions in the legal cannabis sector once they leave the service – and many are finding the skills they developed in the military are welcome within the industry.

Why weed jobs are a good fit

One of the more obvious job positions for veterans is to work within the armed security side of the cannabis market. Due to federal prohibitions, many banks and financial institutions refuse to set up accounts for cannabis companies, leading them to operate on a primarily cash basis. So there’s an established network of security firms that are hiring hundreds of veterans to literally ride shotgun on shipments of marijuana and cash, as well as protect dispensaries and grow operations.

A large number of vets are also finding cannabis cultivation, production and retail operations to be a good fit for both their skill-set and temperament when it comes to work.

Chris Driessen is president of OrganaBrands, the Denver-based parent company for some well-known vaping, edibles and concentrate brands such as O.penVape, Bakked and District Edibles. The company currently has licensees in 11 states, employing 250 people nationwide. And about 10 percent of those employees are veterans, according to Driessen.

Veterans working in marijuana industry
Air Force veteran Chad Drew has been working for Colorado Harvest Company since January 2014. He’s currently a sales manager. (Courtesy of Chad Drew)

“The veteran community pairs so well (with our business), regardless of the branch of armed forces you’re in,” he told The Cannabist.

And veterans can be ideal employees, he observed, for the detail-oriented work found in many cannabis grow operations or in jobs such as monitoring dispensary inventory.

“(As a veteran) you learned systems, you learned processes, you learned chain of command,” he said. “The fact that we don’t have to train people on some of those things — about work ethic and respect and doing what you say you’re going to do… is a huge benefit for any company, and of course ours as well.”

Cannabis job training for veterans

At least one cannabis company, meanwhile, has set up a training program specifically for veterans. This past summer THC Design, a California-based cannabis breeding and cultivation firm, launched a paid internship and mentoring program for veterans.

The program includes a 12-week course that gives vets hands-on experience while learning from growers, strain breeders, trimmers, engineers and others directly involved with the cultivation of cannabis.

“In that 12 weeks, they’re able to track a plant from start to finish,” THC Design co-founder Ryan Jennemann told The Cannabist. “They do everything from cutting clones to drying, following the plants through the entire cycle.”

Jennemann said none of his current crop of interns has any real background in agriculture. But that kind of know-how wasn’t expected, or necessary, for them to take part in the program.

“What I was hiring for was not experience,” he said. “I was hiring for a work ethic, an ability to handle adversity, an ability to solve problems.”

THC Design has hired several of the veterans it trained, but Jennemann said the program — which is open source and available online — has benefits for the wider cannabis industry as well.

“After those 12 weeks they should have a very good grasp on what cultivation is,” he added, “and they should be able to run a small operation on their own or be very much a value-add to wherever they move.”

Former Navy machinist Michael Garcia, 35, found his calling with THC Design.

“I don’t have to hide who I am. I can just be myself,” Garcia told The Cannifornian, a sister site of The Cannabist.

Veterans marijuana jobs
A group of veterans in THC Design’s training program get their first looks at the cultivation room for the California company. (Courtesy of THC Designs)

OrganaBrands’ Driessen, meanwhile, said his company is in the process of formalizing a hiring program for veterans; a program he expects to be up and running by January.

Veterans, he said, “set themselves apart in the interview. A lot of these folks are, on their own merit, heads and shoulders above their competition.”

There’s another, important factor that is drawing veterans to this career path: interest in medicinal cannabis. An estimated 2.7 million veterans have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters since those conflicts began. And the Veterans Administration reports that up to 20 percent of those Afghanistan and Iraq veterans suffer from PTSD.

Roger Martin is a veteran who founded Grow for Vets USA, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that educates veterans about medical cannabis and also gives away donated cannabis to veterans. And he believes that it can be mutually beneficial to have veterans working in the cannabis industry.

“No one understands the importance of reliability better than men and women whose very lives often depended upon being able to count on the person next to them getting the job done,” Martin said in a statement to The Cannabist.

At the same time, he noted, “the healing properties of cannabis are but one factor that makes the cannabis industry so suitable for Veterans. Medical cannabis provides a safe alternative to the deadly prescription drugs that kill more than 18,000 veterans each year. For vets suffering from PTSD, being involved in the cultivation side of the industry can often ease symptoms by providing a point of focus, something other than the negativity that many PTSD sufferers deal with.”

The Colorado Harvest Company’s Drew has also seen how working in cannabis has helped veterans return to the civilian world.

“I think other vets could definitely benefit from working within (the cannabis industry),” he said. “I think the stigma (surrounding marijuana)…is wearing off and I think it’s an accepted medium these days. People are starting to understand that we’re working just as much as anybody else is.”

Veterans and the cannabis industry
L-R: Chris Driessen of Colorado cannabis company OrganaBrands presents a donation check to Roger Martin, founder of Grow for Vets, a nonprofit that provides resources and donated cannabis to veterans. (Courtesy of OrganaBrands)

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Published at Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:00:05 +0000

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New Brunswick to treat Cannabis like guns: Must be locked up at home

New Brunswick to treat Cannabis like guns: Must be locked up at home

Photo courtesy of Slate

And we thought Ontario’s LCBO-controlled monopoly was bad.

On Nov. 7, New Brunswick introduced its proposed Cannabis Control Act, which among other things, requires you to store your cannabis in a locked container or room when at home, treating cannabis the same way as firearms!

As New Brunswick’s justice and public safety minister told Global, “For people here in New Brunswick who have guns in their houses, it’s locked. It’s their responsibility. This will be the same thing”.

There’s no word yet on whether New Brunswick will force you to lock up your liquor or medicine cabinets, too.

Michael Spratt, an Ottawa-based criminal defence lawyer, called NB’s proposal “completely absurd”, telling CBC, “It represents a myopic and outdated thinking that has characterized the war on drugs that has been unsuccessful for the last 100 years”.

What else is in New Brunswick’s Cannabis Control Act?

Other measures in New Brunswick’s Cannabis Control Act include a minimum age of 19 to possess, cultivate, and consume cannabis. Those under 19 are not only prohibited from purchasing cannabis smoking and vaping supplies, they aren’t allowed in any establishment that sells cannabis- even if they are accompanied by their parents.

Public consumption is also banned, and the provincial government hasn’t said whether consumption spaces will be allowed yet. Also, if you decide to do a little personal cultivation, you’re going to have to secure it somehow, regardless if you’re growing indoors or outdoors.

Three-step test for impaired driving gets criticized  

The province is also amending its Motor Vehicle Act to establish drug-impaired driving sanctions such as immediate short-term roadside suspensions and zero tolerance for novice drivers and those under 21.

The amendments also include a “three-step test” consisting of:

  • Saliva test
  • Field sobriety test such as walking in a straight line
  • Blood test

It’s worth noting that saliva and blood tests have been criticized and may not even prove impairment because THC can remain in the body for months depending on what’s being tested (saliva, blood, hair, etc.) and frequency of use. That means testing for cannabis impairment is not like testing for alcohol because the presence of THC doesn’t automatically mean you’re intoxicated.

As NB-based criminal defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux told CBC, “Just simple pot in the system, I don’t think is anywhere near the evidentiary criteria to convict somebody [of impaired driving] under the Criminal Code.”

In other news…

Today, NB Liquor, the Crown Corporation that controls New Brunswick’s liquor system and will soon be in charge of the province’s cannabis stores, received a “D” on its liquor policy report card from Restaurants Canada for its outdated policies and lack of action- not an encouraging sign at all.

Sources

CBC: ‘Completely absurd’: Lawyers doubt clout of pending pot regulations.

CBC: Forget using pot in public when drug is legal, says province in strict new rules.

Global: New Brunswickers will have to keep marijuana locked up under proposed legislation.

Vice: New Brunswick wants to force people to lock up their weed at home.

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Published at Thu, 09 Nov 2017 20:57:25 +0000

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California Initiative Would Legalize Magic Mushrooms

California Initiative Would Legalize Magic Mushrooms

Proponents of a California initiative to legalize psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms have been cleared by Secretary of State Alex Padilla to begin collecting signatures.

Psilocybin mushrooms.

Advocates of the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative (Initiative 17-0024) are aiming to place the initiative on the 2018 general election. To do so, they must collect signatures from 365,880 registered California voters by the end of April.

If placed on the ballot and passed into law by voters, the initiative – introduced by Marina mayoral candidate Kevin Saunders – would eliminate all criminal penalties associated with magic mushrooms for those 21 and older. This includes removing penalties for “possessioin, sale, transport and cultivation of psilocybin”. If approved, California would become the first state in the U.S. to legalize magic mushrooms.

Under current law, those caught possessing magic mushrooms – even a small amount for personal use – can be charged with a misdemeanor and imprisoned for up to a year.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

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Published at Mon, 06 Nov 2017 19:44:00 +0000

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Honest Blunts: Honestly Great Pre Rolled Blunts!

Honest Blunts: Honestly Great Pre Rolled Blunts!

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

honest blunts

From Honest Marijuana Co.

Honest Blunts are the world’s first organic, hemp-wrapped, whole-flower, machine-rolled blunts. Yeah, we know, that’s a lot of hyphens. But what it boils down to is that Honest Blunts provide the highest quality cannabis and the most consistent smoking experience available on the market today. Sound like a bold claim? It is! But we’re ready to stand behind each and every Honest Blunt we sell. What gives us so much confidence? We grow every piece of the Honest Blunt—from seed to sealed product—and we know everything that goes into our blunts…and everything that doesn’t.

My Expierience With These Honestly Great Organic Blunts

Blunts

What do you get?

My first expierience with Honest Blunts was a great one for sure. First, they come packed in nitrogen for freshness. A very nice touch indeed. The blunts come in a very nice and compact tin. The tin is about the size of a can of mints. These blunts are %100 cannabis. Thats Right! At first glance the blunts look like they are wrapped in cigar paper. However they are wrapped in organic hemp paper. Six come in a tin and depending on your tolorance to THC and the amount you smoke, they can last you the day or the week.

How Was The Flavor?

Awesome! Very Smooth blunts with a subtle sweetness. I enjoyed every puff. I feel the nitrogen packaging really played a roll in the flavor department for sure!

How Was The Wrap?

The blunts where wrapped well. However half of them would begin to unwrap as I would smoke them. This was not a big deal however it was kind of  bothersome. I prefer the organic hemp wrap to traditional tobacco blunt wraps. They had a very smooth enjoyable quality. The wrap burned evenly with no runs.

Wrapping Thing Up

Overall I would recommend Honest Blunts to anyone looking for a quality enjoyable smoking experience. I honestly loved my time spent with the Honest Blunt And I look forward to the day we meet again!

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Published at Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:45:06 +0000

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New pot degree not for stoners

New pot degree not for stoners

The Columbian / Associated Press

New pot degree not for stoners

When Alex Roth’s mother sent him an article announcing a new degree program being offered at Northern Michigan University, the sophomore immediately switched his major. Roth is now majoring in cannabis.

The program, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, is the first program to offer a 4-year undergraduate degree focusing on marijuana, according to Brandon Canfield, the associate professor of chemistry who started the program.

“When my friends hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who laugh and say, ‘Wow. Cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana,” Roth told The Washington Post. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”

The former environmental studies major won’t be getting high in class or growing his own plants. Instead, his required courses include tough subjects such as organic chemistry, plant physiology, botany, accounting, genetics, physical geography and financial management.

Twenty-nine states, including Michigan, have legalized medical marijuana. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Forbes projects the sale of recreational marijuana to jump to $11.2 billion by 2020. “I want to be on the forefront of this industry and be a part of the normalization of marijuana,” Roth said.

Several accredited colleges and universities offer credit and noncredit courses in marijuana. The University of California at Davis has an undergraduate course on the Physiology of Cannabis, the University of Denver offers a course on the Business of Marijuana and Vanderbilt’s law school has Marijuana Law and Policy course. Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., calls itself America’s first cannabis college, but offers a certificate rather than a college diploma, according to its website.

But Northern Michigan University in Marquette is the first to offer a degree in the sprouting field.

“The historical stigma associated with cannabis is quickly vanishing,” says the school’s website, “and although there is a surge in businesses related to the marijuana economy, there is a major gap in educational opportunities available to prepare people for this field.”

Canfield told The Post to think of it as getting a science degree with a minor in business. He said he got the idea to start the major last year after attending the National Conference of the American Chemical Society where there was an official cannabis chemistry division.

During the conference, he learned about the increasing need for trained professionals in the medical cannabis industry and developed the curriculum with a group of his colleagues.

Once university officials learned that the program would focus primarily on laboratory analysis and chemistry of cannabis, he said there was really no backlash. The school began publicizing the program in March. Since then, about a dozen students have officially declared in the major. Canfield said some students heard about the program and transferred to NMU over the summer.

“We’re receiving all sorts of calls and emails expressing interest in the program from retirees all the way down to your traditional first-time freshman,” Canfield said.

One required course, appropriately titled Chemistry 420 (in honor of the unofficial so-called “pot holiday,”) is an advanced analytical course where students study various classes of bioactive compounds and their plant origins and metabolite chemistry. The syllabus includes the history of medicinal plant use and cannabis chemistry, along with a lab in which students will perform plant tissue extraction for alkaloids and terpenoids and study purification procedures of different plants.

Next semester a 50-minute seminar series course will be offered for the first time for students in the major to come together to discuss current issues or trends in the cannabis industry, including legal issues and economic trends.

Students will be required to choose a recent article on medicinal plant chemistry and lead a discussion on it. In week six a guest speaker will talk to the class on entrepreneurial opportunities in the field.

Roth said he was attracted to the major after seeing a family friend with a two-year-old daughter suffer from a rare genetic mutation. Once the child started using nonintoxicating cannabinoid (CBD) her seizures decreased and quality of life increased. He said he wants to “be part of a whole new side of science and normalize marijuana.”

Roth’s roommate, Benjamin Ritter, also switched his major to Medicinal Plant Chemistry. He said his mother has multiple sclerosis and also takes CBD to manage her symptoms.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of work but I definitely think it’ll be worth it. I really want to help patients,” Ritter said.

Canfield said he thinks more programs like this will be popping up around the country soon. “It’s kind of a taboo subject and the response we’re getting is that a lot of people are interested in actually pursuing legitimate educational programs focused on (cannabis) … As the legality increases there will be more opportunities for peer-reviewed research.”

Canfield said upon graduating from the program students will be qualified to work in a number of different laboratory positions. They could choose to open their own dispensaries or go on to work with the medicinal and therapeutic properties of marijuana.

Despite not being able to handle actual marijuana on campus, there are still opportunities for NMU students to handle the plant off-site.

“We’ve got a long list of licensed Michigan businesses who want to take our students for internship programs,” Canfield said.

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Published at Sun, 29 Oct 2017 12:00:54 +0000

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Michigan Seeks Comment on Tax Treatment of Marijuana Sales

Michigan Seeks Comment on Tax Treatment of Marijuana Sales

Michigan Seeks Comment on Tax Treatment of Marijuana Sales

The Michigan Department of Treasury (the “Department”) recently released a draft Revenue Administrative Bulletin (“RAB”) entitled Marihuana Provisioning Center Tax and Sales and Use Tax Treatment of Marihuana. An RAB is a directive issued by the Bureau of Tax Policy. The following is an excerpt from the Department’s website describing RABs, generally:

Its purpose is to promote uniform application of tax laws throughout the State by the Bureau of Tax Policy personnel and provide information and guidance to taxpayers. A Revenue Administrative Bulletin states the official position of the Department, has the status of precedent in the disposition of cases unless and until revoked or modified, and may be relied on by taxpayers in situations where the facts, circumstances and issues presented are substantially similar to those set forth in the Bulletin. A taxpayer must consider the effects of subsequent legislation, regulations, court decisions and Bulletins when relying on a Revenue Administrative Bulletin. See RAB 1989-34 for further information.

The draft RAB explains the marihuana provisioning center tax imposed by the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (the “MMFLA”) and the sales and use tax treatment of marihuana and marihuana-derived products under both the MMFLA and the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”). While the draft RAB makes conclusions (discussed below) regarding significant marihuana tax issues, it has not been finalized and thus should not yet be relied upon by taxpayers. The draft RAB is open for review and comment to the general public until November 6, 2017.     

The draft RAB makes conclusions on the following three issues: (i) a provisioning center tax, (ii) return and remittance requirements, and (iii) sales and use tax.

Provisioning Center Tax

The MMFLA imposes a tax on gross retail receipts of a provisioning center (dispensary) at a rate of 3 percent. Because the tax applies to all gross receipts, the Department concludes that the provisioning center tax is not limited to marihuana-derived products. Rather, the tax also includes non-marihuana sales such as paraphernalia, clothing, food and other tangible personal property or service. In essence, under the Department’s interpretation, all retail sales made by licensed provisioning centers are subject to the provisioning center tax.

Return and Remittance Requirements and Procedures

The MMFLA requires provisioning centers to remit the provisioning center tax to the Department by 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter for the preceding calendar quarter. The draft RAB states that the remittance must be accompanied by a form prescribed by the Department. The form will require a disclosure of the provisioning center’s gross quarterly retail receipts as well as the amount of provisioning center tax due.

The Department is proposing that the return and remittance of tax will be required to be submitted electronically through Michigan Treasury Online. One significant issue not addressed in the draft RAB is how unbanked businesses are supposed to make payments if the only means the State allows is an online system.

Sales and Use Tax

Under current law, the General Sales Tax Act (the “GSTA”) imposes a 6 percent sales tax on the gross proceeds of all persons engaged in the business of making sales at retail. Similarly, the Use Tax Act (the “UTA”) imposes a 6 percent tax for the privilege of using, storing or consuming tangible personal property in Michigan, if no sales tax has been paid on that property.

The draft RAB states that all retail sales of marihuana and marihuana derived products by a provisioning center will be subject to sales tax. Further, a registered caregiver under the MMMA “may receive compensation for costs associated with assisting a registered qualifying patient in the medical use of marihuana.” Under the MMMA, the compensation received by the caregiver does not constitute the sale of controlled substances. Accordingly, a caregiver’s service is a non-taxable service and not subject to sales tax. The Department, however, is taking the position that a patient who receives marihuana from a caregiver will be subject to a use tax at a rate of 6 percent of the purchase price of the marihuana. The use tax is supposed to be remitted and reported annually on the patient’s Michigan Individual Income Tax Return.

Finally, the draft RAB states that marihuana-infused products (i.e., edible substances, beverages, etc.) are not eligible for the sale/use of food exemptions under the GSTA and the UTA because they are consumed for their medicinal value rather than nutritional purposes.

When it comes to calculating the amount of sales and use tax, the draft RAB states that the sales and use tax bases include the 3 percent provisioning center tax. By way of example, the draft RAB sets forth the following illustration:

“ABC, Inc. is a provisioning center. ABC sells marihuana to Customer for a sales price of $100. ABC is liable for $3 in tax under the MMFLA (i.e., provisioning center tax). ABC also is liable for sales tax based on 6 percent of $103, which amounts to a sales tax liability of $6.18.”

As noted above, the draft RAB is open for review and comment to the public until November 6, 2017. Anyone wishing to offer comments to the Department should email the Department’s tax policy division at treas_tax_policy@michigan.gov .       

As always, check back with Dykema’s Cannabis Law Blog for further updates.

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Published at Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:00:00 +0000

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Confusion coming with California’s legal marijuana

Confusion coming with California’s legal marijuana

The Columbian / Associated Press

Confusion coming with California’s legal marijuana

LOS ANGELES — Ready or not, California kicks off recreational marijuana sales on Jan. 1. And, mostly, it’s not.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among many cities still struggling to fashion local rules for pot shops and growers. Without the regulations, there could be limited options in many places for consumers eager to ring in the new year with a legal pot purchase.

“The bulk of folks probably are not going to be ready Jan. 1,” conceded Cara Martinson of the California State Association of Counties.

In general, California will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home.

Come January, the newly legalized recreational sales will be merged with the state’s two-decade-old medical marijuana market, which is also coming under much stronger regulation.

But big gaps loom in the system intended to move cannabis from the field to distribution centers, then to testing labs and eventually retail shops.

The state intends to issue only temporary licenses starting in January, and it has yet to release its plan to govern the estimated $7 billion marketplace, the nation’s largest legal pot economy.

If businesses aren’t licensed and operating in the legal market, governments aren’t collecting their slice of revenue from sales. The state alone estimates it could see as much as $1 billion roll in within several years.

Operators have complained about what they see as potential conflicts in various laws and rules, or seemingly contradictory plans.

The state expects businesses that receive licenses will only work with others that hold them. But that has alarmed operators who wonder what will happen if their supplier, for example, decides not to join the new legal market.

Others say it’s not clear what could happen in cities that don’t enact pot laws, which they warn could open a loophole for businesses to set up shop. Some communities have banned recreational sales completely.

Most banks continue to refuse to do business with marijuana operators – pot remains illegal under federal law – and there are also problems obtaining insurance.

With recreational legalization fast approaching, “we don’t have enough of anything,” lamented Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, a marijuana industry group.

The route to legalization began last year when voters approved Proposition 64, which opened the way for recreational pot sales to adults in the nation’s most populous state.

Unlike the state, cities and counties face no deadline to act. However, the concern is that confusion and a patchwork of local rules could discourage operators from entering the legal economy, feeding a black market that could undercut the legitimate one.

Local regulation is a foundation block of the emerging pot economy: A grower or retailer needs a local permit first, which is a steppingstone to obtaining a state license to operate.

But those rules remain in limbo in many places.

San Jose, the state’s third-largest city, has a temporary ban on sales other than medical pot but officials this week proposed hearings to take another look at how to regulate the local industry.

Kern County, home to nearly 900,000 people, has banned the sale of marijuana even as California legalizes it. Supervisors said they see it as a danger to citizens and also voted to phase out more than two dozen medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Los Angeles, which by some estimates could be a $1 billion marketplace, voters have been strongly supportive of legal pot.

But its proposed regulations hit snags, including a dispute over a proposal for so-called certificates of compliance, which operators feared would not meet qualification requirements for state licenses.

Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, an industry group, warned last month that L.A.’s draft rules could upend the emerging industry by failing to provide a prompt way to license suppliers, potentially forcing then to shut down. And he’s dubious that the city will be ready to begin issuing licenses on Jan. 1.

“There’s not a lot of calendar days left in the year,” he said.

San Francisco, another city that strongly supports legalization, still is debating local rules. Again, it’s uncertain what will be ready, or when.

“What we want to do is bring everything into the daylight, regulate it, get fees for the cost of regulation and collect taxes as appropriate,” said county Supervisor Jeff Sheehy.

San Diego is among the cities ready to get the recreational market going.

Phil Rath, executive director of the United Medical Marijuana Coalition, a San Diego trade group, said years of disorder in the medical market led to increased black market business. That provided a ready example of how not to manage recreational sales.

San Diego moved promptly, setting up a system that will allow recreational sales at dispensaries permitted under the medical system, once they qualify for a state license.

Industry experts say the distribution system – a sort of main artery where pot will be received from growers, sent out for testing, taxed, and eventually shipped to retail stores – is not robust enough to support the vast new market.

The distributor model “was the subject of most of the political wrangling over the last two years,” Allen said.

“That’s the control point,” he said, but “we don’t have enough of them.”

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Published at Sun, 29 Oct 2017 21:48:52 +0000

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Alcohol industry targets pot with Constellation-Canopy deal

Alcohol industry targets pot with Constellation-Canopy deal

The Columbian / Associated Press

Alcohol industry targets pot with Constellation-Canopy deal

Alcohol giant Constellation Brands is making a foray into marijuana, a precedent-setting move for an industry that has mostly stayed on the sidelines during the cannabis boom.

Constellation will pay about $191 million (C$245 million) for a 9.9 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian seller of medicinal-marijuana products. The deal kicked off the biggest rally in nearly a year for Canopy, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker WEED.

The legalization of marijuana in Canada and a growing number of U.S. states is opening up a huge potential market — just as demand for alcohol is slowing. Still, pot remains prohibited at the U.S. federal level, meaning American companies have to tread carefully.

Constellation, based in Victor, New York, said it has no plans to sell cannabis in the U.S. or other markets until it’s legal “at all government levels.” For now, it’s more a matter of identifying markets with growth potential, said Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands, whose company sells Corona beer, Svedka vodka and other brands.

“Our company’s success is the result of our focus on identifying early-stage consumer trends, and this is another step in that direction,” he said in a statement.

The deal values Canopy at roughly C$2.5 billion, catapulting the business into the highest echelons of the marijuana industry. Constellation would become the company’s biggest shareholder.

As part of the Constellation agreement, the two companies will collaborate on cannabis-based beverages that can be sold as adult products — but only in places where the products are legal at the federal level.

Canada plans to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018, but the initial product offerings such as edibles and cannabis-infused beverages will be limited, Canopy CEO Bruce Linton said. Such products will be phased in as Canada moves to extinguish the black market in the coming years.

“This looks a lot like the new normal,” Linton said by phone, noting that Canopy and Constellation have a “blank sheet” to create cannabis-infused beverages. “There’s no need to include alcohol, nor is there an intent to include alcohol in how we follow through with things.”

In the U.S., 64 percent of the population now wants to lift the ban on cannabis, according to a Gallup poll released last week. That’s the widest margin since the firm began asking about the topic in 1969, when only 12 percent of the population approved.

Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for adult use. That means one in five Americans over 21 are allowed to eat, drink, smoke or vape cannabis — even though it remains illegal at the federal level. The states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Twenty-one additional states allow it for medicinal purposes. The legal cannabis market was $6 billion last year and is expected to reach $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.

The Constellation deal includes warrants that will let it eventually double its stake. The purchase is expected to close during the company’s third fiscal quarter.

Constellation is paying C$12.98 a share, 1.5 percent above Canopy’s closing price of C$12.79 at the end of last week. Shares of the marijuana seller, which is based in an old Hershey chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, Ontario, had already surged 40 percent this year.

“We see this transaction as a game-changer for Canopy, as well as the industry at large,” Beacon Securities analyst Vahan Ajamian said in a note. He recommends buying Canopy shares and raised his target price to C$16.50 from C$14.

The Constellation transaction could be the first of many, Ajamian said.

“We suspect more alcohol companies may look to accelerate plans to enter the industry — as well as pharmaceutical and tobacco companies,” he said.

— Jennifer Kaplan and Jen Skerritt contributed to this story.

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Published at Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:00:30 +0000

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Richmond, one of Canada’s most anti-cannabis cities

Richmond, one of Canada’s most anti-cannabis cities

Richmond, BC, may be Canada’s most anti-cannabis city after its city council voted unanimously to oppose legalization on Oct. 25th, and the city is sending a letter outlining their reasons why to the provincial and federal governments.

Richmond also stands out for not having any cannabis dispensaries within its limits and if the city gets its way, it would stay like that. The city has asked for increased powers to regulate cannabis that, if granted, would allow them to ban cannabis sales outright, but that is not guaranteed yet.

Richmond City Council calls cannabis a gateway drug

As Coun. Derek Dang told the Richmond News, “If you became an alcoholic, I don’t think you would start drinking the hard stuff first. You drink a beer then work your way up. We’ve already got drug problems with fentanyl, and it could be problematic.”

Ignoring how misinformed it is to compare cannabis with fentanyl, everyone can agree that the opioid epidemic is a crisis. But legalizing cannabis will not make it worse, as some are suggesting. It could actually make things better- since legalizing cannabis two years ago, Colorado’s opioid-related deaths have dropped by 6.5%.

But Richmond is also standing against popular opinion in BC with 70% of the province supporting  legalization in a recent Insights West survey.

A petition to suspend legalization

The Richmond-based July 2018 Marijuana Legalization Concern Group also opposes legalization completely, and they want the federal government to postpone or suspend the July 2018 deadline.

As stated in their petition, “if the federal government insists on legalizing marijuana in 2018”, they have a number of recommendations, including:

  • Minimum age of 21
  • No edibles
  • No personal cultivation allowed
  • Setting stricter rules related to marijuana use than those on smoking and drinking
  • Being strict on illegal marijuana operations
  • Delegating municipalities with the authority to make stricter bylaws according to the wishes of their residents
richmond

The July 2018 Marijuana Legalization Concer Group at their Oct. 13 press conference. Photo credit: Richmond News

At the group’s press conference on Oct. 13th, their leader, Councillor Chak Au, said “Once the gate of legalization is opened, it cannot be reverted back. We need to work together now to prevent the social problems that may be caused by legalization later.”

The group is asking for a higher minimum age than what BC is proposing, and also wants a ban on edibles and personal cultivation- all in the name of protecting children. But with tobacco and alcohol allowed at 18 and 19, respectively, at least it’s in line with their recommendation that cannabis be treated more strictly than alcohol or tobacco, but at the same time, they also offer no justifications for why cannabis should be treated more strictly.

They contradict themselves in their recommendation to be strict on illegal cannabis operations while opposing legalization entirely because their position only encourages a thriving illegal market. If they have their way, either people will continue to illegally buy cannabis in Richmond, or drive to a city that allows sales.

Also, banning edibles and personal cultivation in the name of protecting the children is conflating two separate issues.

With edibles, there is a chance that kids could accidentally eat them and that’s why they need to be clearly labelled and kept out of their hands- but that also applies to anything in our medicine or liquor cabinet. Besides, edibles have many benefits such as being less harmful on the lungs, for one. To ban edibles gives cannabis users less freedom because not everybody likes to, or even can, smoke cannabis.

If a child was nibbling on a cannabis plant they won’t get high because you need to prepare the leaves and decarboxylate it in order to activate the THC. Many do this by smoking it.

As we can clearly see, many of the group’s recommendations suggest a fundamental lack of understanding of cannabis and the good it can do.

Is Richmond too conservative for cannabis?

As Coun. Carol Day told CBC, “This is a suburb. We’re not the heavy duty nightlife of Downtown Vancouver and the action-packed thrill of adventure of Surrey. In Richmond, we tend to live a more conservative lifestyle”.

Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang shared similar sentiments to the Globe and Mail saying, “You’ve got a place like Richmond that has a huge Chinese population – which is very anti-drug, period – I’d be surprised to see [a store selling legal cannabis] in Richmond. That’s got nothing to do with cost or legislation – it’s just the community saying, ‘We want nothing to do with it.”

Sources

Change.org: Delay the legalization of Cannabis.

The Georgia Straight: New data continues to support the idea that legal cannabis access leads to fewer opioid-related deaths.

Globe and Mail:

Globe and Mail: Richmond, B.C., pushes back against sale of legal cannabis.

Richmond News: City council sticks by anti-pot position.

Richmond News: Crusade launched in Richmond to postpone marijuana legalization.

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Published at Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:22:23 +0000

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Stanford Study: Marijuana Use Linked to More Sex

Stanford Study: Marijuana Use Linked to More Sex

A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine has found that “despite concerns among physicians and scientists that frequent marijuana use may impair sexual desire or performance, the opposite appears more likely to be the case.”

(Photo: THC Finder).

The study, published online Oct. 27 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, are based on an analysis of more than 50,000 Americans ages 25-45. Researchers call the results “unambiguous”.

“Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance. If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency,” said the study’s senior author, Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor of urology. The lead author is Andrew Sun, MD, a resident in urology.

The study does not establish a causal connection between marijuana use and sexual activity, Eisenberg noted. But the results hint at it, he added. “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” According to Eisenber, the study is the first to examine the relationship between marijuana use and frequency of sexual intercourse at the population level in the United States.

“Marijuana use is very common, but its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way,” Eisenberg said.

To arrive at an accurate determination of marijuana’s effect on intercourse frequency, Eisenberg and Sun turned to the National Survey of Family Growth, sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey, which provides data pertaining to family structures, sexual practices and childbearing, reflects the overall demographic features of the U.S. population. Originally conducted at regular intervals, the survey is now carried out on an annual basis. It explicitly queries respondents on how many times they’ve had intercourse with a member of the opposite sex in the past four weeks, and how frequently they’ve smoked marijuana over the past 12 months.

The investigators compiled answers to those questions for all years since 2002, when the survey first began collecting data on men as well as women. They included data from respondents ages 25-45 and excluded a small percentage (fewer than 3 percent) of respondents who had failed to answer one or more relevant questions.

In all, Eisenberg and Sun obtained data on 28,176 women averaging 29.9 years of age and 22,943 men whose average age was 29.5. They assessed these individuals’ self-reported patterns of marijuana use over the previous year and their self-reported frequency of heterosexual intercourse over the previous four weeks.

Some 24.5 percent of men and 14.5 percent of women in the analysis reported having used marijuana, and there was a positive association between the frequency of marijuana use and the frequency of sexual intercourse. This relationship applied to both sexes: Women denying marijuana use in the past year, for example, had sex on average 6.0 times during the previous four weeks, whereas that number was 7.1 for daily pot users. Among men, the corresponding figure was 5.6 for nonusers and 6.9 for daily users.

In other words, pot users are having about 20 percent more sex than pot abstainers, Eisenberg noted.

Positive association is universal

Moreover, Eisenberg said, the positive association between marijuana use and coital frequency was independent of demographic, health, marital or parental status.

In addition, the trend remained even after accounting for subjects’ use of other drugs, such as cocaine or alcohol. This, Eisenberg said, suggests that marijuana’s positive correlation with sexual activity doesn’t merely reflect some general tendency of less-inhibited types, who may be more inclined to use drugs, to also be more likely to have sex. In addition, coital frequency rose steadily with increasing marijuana use, a dose-dependent relationship supporting a possible active role for marijuana in fostering sexual activity.

Nevertheless, Eisenberg cautioned, the study shouldn’t be misinterpreted as having proven a causal link. “It doesn’t say if you smoke more marijuana, you’ll have more sex,” he said.

Stanford’s Department of Urology supported the work.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

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Published at Sat, 28 Oct 2017 22:02:17 +0000

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