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U.S.: Study Finds Marijuana Could Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new study shows that U.S. hospitals have not seen an influx of cannabis consumers in states that have legalized medical marijuana as was predicted, but instead have treated far fewer opioid users.

The number of patients admitted for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse decreased on average by 23 percent after states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The study also showed that hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

The report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that fears that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in marijuana-related turned out to be unfounded.

"Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego. "This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary."

An estimated 60 percent of Americans now live in the 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is now legal under state law.

The opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans per day; sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled since 1999.

South Dakota: Two Marijuana Measures Proposed For 2018 Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley recently announced that two marijuana measures have been proposed and filed with the Secretary of State.

The sponsor of the measures will circulate petitions with these statements. If the sponsor obtains the required number of signatures (13,871) on each petition by November 2017, as certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot for the November 2018 election.

The measures are titled:

1. “An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use.”
2. “An initiated measure to legalize certain amounts of marijuana, drugs made from marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments.”

Medical marijuana measures appeared on the South Dakota ballot in 2006 and 2010 but failed to pass both years.

Oregon: Study Shows Regular Marijuana Use Associated With Lower BMI

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

People who consume cannabis more than five times per month possess lower body mass index (BMI), on average, than those who do not use the substance, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Archives of Osteoporosis.

Researchers from Oregon's Health and Science University studied the relationship between marijuana use and various health issues in a sample of 4,743 participants nationally between the ages of 20 and 59.

Authors reported, "Heavy users of cannabis had a lower mean BMI compared to that of never users, with a mean BMI being 26.7 kg/m in heavy users and 28.4 kg/m in never users."

Cannabis consumers spent more time per day engaged in physical activity compared to those who occasionally or never use the substance.

60 percent of subjects in the study reported having used marijuana at some point in their lives. 47 percent described themselves as former users. Seven percent said they used cannabis regularly and seven percent said they were occasional users.

Oregon: State May Declare Emergency Over Sessions Cannabis Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon is considering declaring an emergency due to the threat of federal law enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have made the substance legal.

Senate Bill 863 passed last week; it would prohibit marijuana retailers from recording, retaining and transferring types of information that are contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears a picture of a person.

Dispensaries typically collect this type of information across the nation, but SB 863 requires marijuana retailers to destroy the type of information covered within 30 days of Governor Kate Brown signing off on the bill.

Section 4 of the bill states that on passage of the bill Oregon would declare an emergency in the face of threats of federal enforcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the intentions of the current administration are unclear, bit it's good to be prepared.

Vermont: Bill Would Legalize Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in the Vermont House are expected to vote soon on a measure that would legalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana for adults.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, passing the unscheduled vote 8-3.

The full House will vote on the measure in the upcoming days.

The bill would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of pot and two plants under the measure. However, it does not create a regulatory system for selling and taxing pot.

Canada: Marijuana To Be Legalized By 2018

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to reports from Bloomberg and CBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will introduce legislation to make recreational marijuana legal for adults by July 2018.

CBC expressed certainty that the government will make an official statement confirming the plan by April 10.

According to Bloomberg:

The federal government, which is following the recommendations of a government-appointed task force, will ensure the marijuana supply is "safe and secure," while Canada’s provinces will be allowed to determine how it is distributed and sold, according to CBC News. Ottawa will set a minimum purchasing age of 18 — in line with Trudeau’s comments that the legal age to purchase marijuana should be the same as alcohol — while the provinces could set a higher age, the report said.

Trudeau has made it clear, however, that current laws still apply, and that people found growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana before legalization occurs will be processed according to those laws.

Colorado: Proposed State Crackdown On Marijuana Home Grows Getting Weaker

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A plan to crack down on home marijuana grows in Colorado is heading to the governor's desk after lawmakers changed the bill to give medical cannabis patients more leeway.

A Senate committee voted 5-0 to limit the number of plants grown to 12 per residential property statewide. Current law allows up to 99 plants.

Lawmakers changed the bill to allow medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow up to 24 plants, if they register with state and local authorities. Registration is presently required only if the patient has more than 99 plants.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers from both parties have said the marijuana crackdown is a top priority as the state awaits word of how the new federal administration plans to treat marijuana states.

Among 28 states with legal medical marijuana, Colorado is the only one that allows patients to grow more than 16 plants at home.

“It is time that we fix this before someone comes in and fixes it for us,” said Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, speaking on behalf of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lawmakers amended the bill to make it a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, to be caught with too many plants until the third offense.

Connecticut: Marijuana Legalization Hearing Draws Conflicting Testimony

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing on legalizing marijuana for adults in Connecticut Wednesday produced plenty of conflicting testimony about risks and benefits associated with the plant. Topics of concern ranged from health concerns to the state's need for tax revenue.

Very different attitudes toward recreational marijuana were expressed by members of the General Assembly's judiciary committee. Some lawmakers opposed cannabis legalization, while some strongly supported it.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argued that the plant is less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and that millions of dollars of illegal cannabis is currently being sold in Connecticut every year. Marijuana legalization "would take control of the marijuana market out of the hands of drug dealers," said Joseph LaChance, a medical marijuana patient from Milford.

Martin M. Looney, the Senate's top Democratic leader, testified that prohibiting marijuana use in Connecticut has been as ineffective as alcohol Prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Looney and others argued that the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales could help solve Connecticut's fiscal crisis. Currently, medical marijuana can be sold to patients with a few certain qualifying conditions in Connecticut, but the sales are not taxed.

Massachusetts: State Expects To Make $300M From Marijuana Sales Tax By 2020

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts in July 2018, but the state expects to collect as much as $172 million each year just from sales taxes.

The number was calculated by the Department of Revenue, which assumes marijuana will be taxed at a rate of 12 percent. A 3.75 percent excise tax is expected to be added to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax, and another 2 percent cities and towns can impose if they host a cannabis shop.

If the 12% total remains, Massachusetts would have the lowest marijuana tax rate of any state that has legalized recreational marijuana, except for Maine, where the tax rate is 10%.

Washington has the highest tax at 37%. Colorado has a 29% tax on marijuana, followed by Alaska at 25% and Oregon at 17 percent. Oregon municipalities can enact an additional tax of up to 3 percent with the approval of voters.
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Illinois: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Identical legislation was introduced Wednesday to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in Illinois by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and would allow facilities to sell marijuana to adults over 21 years of age and tax those sales "in a manner similar to alcohol."

Steans said the taxes collected from marijuana sales would help solve the state budget recover.

"Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor's $5 billion budget gap," she said.

Steans pointed out that Oregon collected more than $60 million in new tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, and Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, collected more than $140 million in 2016 from legal marijuana sales.

Steans introduced legislation last year to decriminalize possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which is now the law. Illinois began its medical marijuana program in 2013.

U.S.: Jeff Sessions Makes New Controversial Statements About Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make statements that upset marijuana advocates and business investors, but it is remarks he recently didn't say that has mostly interested journalists covering the marijuana industry.

In prepared remarks, Sessions had planned to repeat a line he had used earlier when addressing a group in Virginia, saying that marijuana was only "slightly less awful" than heroin. He chose not to repeat the line, however.

He did question the current situation when it comes to abiding by the Cole memo, as the Obama administration had done.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions replied to a question as to whether his Department of Justice (DOJ) would sue states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

“I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that,” Sessions said, “but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are two main points to take away from Sessions' remarks for marijuana businesses.

U.S.: New Report Shows Marijuana Could Be Legal In All 50 States By 2021

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new report suggests that every state in the nation could have legal marijuana for medical or recreational use by 2021.

The latest research by GreenWave Advisors shows the marijuana legalization movement is expected to expand into a significant number of states in the next few years. There is already momentum to get marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballots in 2018 and 2020, which could lead to marijuana being legal in some form in all 50 states, the Motley Fool reports.

Last year should be noted as one of the biggest ever in the history of marijuana law reform with voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voting to legalize recreational cannabis. These states joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana and running a regulated and taxed cannabis trade.

Massachusetts: Hearings On Recreational Marijuana Begin In Statehouse

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hearings on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts began today, March 20, in the Statehouse in Boston, where lawmakers are considering changes in the voter-approved legislation legalizing marijuana.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a Democrat, supported legalization, and has said he intends to respect voters' wishes while considering changes, including a significant increase in the proposed 3.75 percent sales tax, decreasing the number of plants citizens are allowed to grow, and increasing the legal age for purchase past 21.

Governor Charlie Baker opposed legalization and signed a bill that will likely delay the opening date of marijuana shops from January to July 2018.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Democrat, also opposed legalization.

The joint House-Senate committee beginning its hearings in the Statehouse today was created by DeLeo and Rosenberg.

According to the Associated Press, members of the "Yes on 4" group that helped lead the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana are expected to testify.

The group has been defending its victory since Election Day, when 54 percent of state voters approved marijuana legalization, responding to lawmakers attempts to weaken, delay or substantially change the law.

Nova Scotia: Class-action Lawsuit Launched Against Canopy Growth Over Pesticide In Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia has launched a class-action lawsuit against Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) and its subsidiary Mettrum over recalls of medical marijuana that contained unauthorized pesticides.

Wagner's filed a statement of claim with Nova Scotia's Supreme Court alleging that Mettrum breached its contract with consumers and that its development, distribution and sale of medical marijuana was negligent.

Mettrum was purchased earlier this year by Canopy Growth, Canada's largest publicly traded medical marijuana producer.

Lawyer Ray Wagner says representative plaintiff Neal Partington, a house painter from Nova Scotia, says he suffered vomiting and severe nausea over the six months that he was taking Mettrum products to deal with symptoms of an injury.

Wagner said it could take six to eight months before the court decides whether to certify the class-action lawsuit.

Virginia: Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Is "Only Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement in Richmond today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "dependency" on marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions addressed the group: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."

He said he supports a renewed drug awareness campaign on the "terrible truth about drugs" much like the ones started decades ago.

He continued: "In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse."

Nevada: Senate Bill Would Allow Cities To License Public Consumption Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill being considered by the Nevada Senate would allow cities to license public consumption of marijuana.

Nevada Senate Bill 236, proposed by Senator Tick Segerblom, would legalize cannabis clubs and marijuana use at events in Nevada.

“If we’re going to attract people to Nevada to use marijuana, which I think we are, then we need to find a place to use it,” Segerblom said while speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “My concern is that given that fact, we’re going to have lots of people come here to Nevada and want to purchase it, and then we’re going to have to figure out where they can use it, or if they don’t have a place for them to use it. Then, they’re going to be walking up and down the strip or walking in downtown Reno, which I don’t think any of us want that.”

Currently, Nevadans can only use marijuana in their homes per state law. Many tourists stay in hotels, but because it’s still illegal under federal law, marijuana is not allowed in any building where gambling takes place.

When asked about the federal government and their policies on marijuana at the recent MJ Biz Con in Las Vegas, Senator Segerblom answered by saying, “We protect state rights. They aren’t going to tell us what to do.”

New Mexico: Bill Approved To Lower Marijuana Penalties

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill recently approved by the New Mexico State Senate would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a $50 fine if passed. The Senate voted to replace penalties which could include jail time for simple marijuana possession with a purely monetary penalty.

If the bill passes, possession of a half ounce of marijuana or less would be handled much like a traffic ticket with no court appearances required unless the fine is challenged. The passage of the bill through the Senate was only challenged by eight Republicans and one Democrat who voted against the bill. The proposed bill has now moved to the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces told the Associated Press the changes would free up resources for courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys to focus on pursuing violent crime cases amid a state budget crisis.

Ontario: Cannabis Culture Dispensary Back In Business One Day After Police raid

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Ottawa, Ontario reopened recently one day after a police raid had closed it down.

The shop had just opened about three weeks ago.

Police arrested five men at the shop Thursday morning and charged them with five counts of possessing a Schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking (marijuana, THC oil, THC shatter, hashish and CBD oil) and one count of possessing the proceeds of crime under $5,000.

A spokesman for Cannabis Culture said Thursday night that the shop would reopen as soon as possible.

Customers were visiting the shop again by 10:30 am Friday.

Activists Marc and Jodie Emery, the couple that founded Cannabis Culture, have been granted bail.

Marc Emery faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery is charged with five similar counts.

U.S.: Study Shows CBD-Dominant Cannabis Extracts Reduce Seizure Frequency

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to data published online ahead of print in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, the administration of whole-plant cannabis extracts rich in the cannabinoid cannabidol (CBD) is associated with reduced seizure frequency in patients with refractory epilepsy,

Researchers reviewed the charts of 272 patients who were taking whole-plant CBD extracts.

Eighty-six percent of those treated observed a reduction in seizure frequency, while ten percent experienced a complete clinical response.

Beneficial side effects were reported, such as better sleep quality, improved mood, and increased appetite.

"The cannabinoids' novel mechanisms of action are an attractive consideration for possible seizure control," authors concluded. "In patients with refractory epilepsy that have a low likelihood of responding to a subsequent AED (anti-epileptic drug), a trial of artisanal cannabis formulas may be indicated."

Colorado: Home Grow Bill Aims To Eradicate Black Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Colorado House committee voted 11-2 Tuesday in favor of House Bill 17-1220, a bill that would limit home growers to 12 marijuana plants per residential home in an effort to eradicate Colorado’s black market. Colorado residents would be restricted to growing six mature (flowering) plants and six immature (non-flowering) plants.

Under current Colorado law, residences are allowed to cultivate up to six plants per person per home. Many cities like Denver already cap flowering plants at 12.

A first-time offense would result in a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine while a subsequent offense results in a felony.

Should the law pass votes in the House and Senate, the new bill would go into effect January 2018 and put extended plant counts in serious jeopardy.

Medical marijuana patients with extended plant counts in Colorado operate under the safety of their medical marijuana cards. Marijuana co-cops and grows that affect residential areas have been put on clear notice:

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