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U.S.: Keurig-Like Device For Marijuana Set To Hit Market Next Year

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The mainstreaming of marijuana continues: Now, a Keurig-like device is set to hit the market early next year, and a former Keurig executive is one of the co-founders of the company which will manufacture them.

There are plenty of nascent businesses springing up to serve consumers who now have access to legal cannabis. Among the offerings are tools and gadgets to go along with the weed -- and because American consumers seem to love things in "pods," there's a weed vaporizer in development right now that's being called the Keurig for marijuana, reports Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist.

CannaKorp is the company behind the CannaCloud, the Keurig-like machine for pot, reports Curt Woodward at The Boston Globe. The device heats up the weed enough so that it releases vapor, but doesn't actually incinerate it. Consumers then inhale the vapor and get high.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Plan To Ban Home Cultivation If Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters haven't even legalized marijuana yet, and already state lawmakers are planning how to gut important parts of the law, in case it passes.

A sharply worded Senate report released on Tuesday says that if voters legalize recreational cannabis in the state, lawmakers should promptly cancel their wishes by outlawing home cultivation, imposing high taxes, and prohibiting most edible products, reports Joshua Miller at The Boston Globe.

While the report from the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana claims not to take an official stance on the proposed ballot question to legalize, it repeatedly, and even shrilly, warns of legalization's supposed dangers. The authors claim that legalization could make it easier for children to access marijuana -- despite the fact that it would be limited to adults 21 and older, and black market drug dealers certainly aren't asking for ID currently.

The bipartisan 118-page propaganda piece, I mean "analysis," comes the same week Gov. Charlie Baker, Atty. Gen. Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston published a scathing op-ed in The Boston Globe opp=osing legalization, and the Massachusetts Legislature's judiciary committee heard testimony on the ballot measure.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just four dispensaries sell medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts. With 18,476 active patients, a 50 percent increase from last August, that has led to shortages, and those four shops are struggling to keep up with patient demand.

According to Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe, 14,079 ounces of medicinal cannabis were sold in Massachusetts in 2015. The four operating dispensaries are Alternative Therapies Group, the first to open, in Salem; Central Ave Compassion Care in Ayer, In Good Health, Inc., in Brockton; and New England Treatment Access in Northampton, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.com.

His dispensary is struggling to keep up with the demand for marijuana, said In Good Health's David Noble. According to Noble, demand is running seven times what he expected when he opened the shop in early September. The dispensary has served 3,453 patients since opening, Noble said.

Noble said his dispensary is in the midst of "operational changes and is conducting longer-term strategic planning so that it can meet the higher demand for its products, and we thank those who depend on the dispensary for their patience."

Kansas: 80-Year-Old Marijuana Dealer Pleads Guilty In Federal Court

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The dramatic exploits of a lifetime of smuggling came to an end on Thursday when 80-year-old Marshall Herbert Dion entered his guilty plea in federal court to running a huge marijuana-dealing and money-laundering operation.

Dion, who owned houses in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Arizona, had $11 million hidden in a North Reading, Mass., storage facility, and once crawled away from a Wisconsin plane crash as thousands of dollars in cash -- suspected drug profits -- floated through the air around him, reports Milton J. Valencia at The Boston Globe.

Under his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Dion could serve 5 to 7 years in a federal penitentiary, ending a lucrative career that spanned decades until a chance traffic stop in, of all places, Kansas.

“Over the course of the conspiracy . . . he had sold approximately 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana,” Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley claimed during a brief court hearing.

"Mr. Dion has embraced his responsibility and is looking forward to the next chapter in his life," said his lawyer, Hank Brennan.

The end began for Dion's smuggling career with a June 2013 traffic stop in Junction City, Kansas. A police officer pulled him over for driving 80 mph in a 75 mph zone; during the stop, the officer searched Dion's old pickup and found nearly $850,000 in cash.

Massachusetts: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three years after the state overwhelmingly voted to allow legal marijuana, the first dispensary in Massachusetts opened on Thursday: Alternative Therapies Group, based in Salem. The dispensary will accept patients by appointment only.

Unlike many other states, no marijuana will be grown on site, and most uniquely, no products will be on display – patients will have to choose their products via a computer screen. So much for the old smell test!

“The highly coveted license was approved on Friday and the facility will be operating in the neighborhood of Downtown Crossing," reports Lynda Johnson CapitalWired.com. "Patriot Care Corp. had already been approved to open such a dispensary in Lowell although provisionally. The corporation won the permit for a location in Greenfield as well thus becoming the only company that has been authorized to run three marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts."

State officials also said they are willing to allow another company to open dispensaries in Northampton and Brookline. "The decision to award Patriot Care Corp. the license has drawn sharp condemnation from a number of critics who claim that the company was being given a special kind of treatment,” reports CapitalWired.com.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Rules Dramatically Overhauled

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts health authorities on Friday moved to dramatically overhaul the license granting process for medical marijuana dispensaries, hoping to streamline the process and remove subjectivity and politics.

Regulators from Governor Charlie Baker's administration said the new process gets rid of the secrecy they claimed was prevalent under former Governor Deval Patrick's administration, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. Controversay about the previous system of licensure inspired more than two dozen lawsuits.

Massachusetts patients still have no safe access at dispensaries, two and a half years after voters approved medicinal cannabis. Fifteen dispensaries have already been licensed, but none has opened.

“This change creates a more streamlined, efficient, and transparent process that allows the Commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner.

Under the new guidelines, dispensaries will be licensed similarly to other health care facilities such as pharmacies. Each application will be judged using clear guidelines and will move forward when the applying company meets the overhauled standards, according to officials. The old system involved scoring, essentially pitting applicants against each other.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Push Forward To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.

Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.

But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.

"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.

"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."

Massachusetts: Smell Of Marijuana Cannot Justify Search of Car

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police officers in Massachusetts can no longer rely on the odor of unburnt marijuana as probable cause to justify a vehicle search, the state's Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday -- even if the smell is "strong" or "very strong," the justices said.

The court had already ruled in the Commonwealth v. Cruz decision in 2011 that the smell of burnt marijuana was not, in itself, sufficient evidence to stop pedestrians or search vehicles, reports John R. Ellement at The Boston Globe. The court said in that ruling that it would be "legally inconsistent" to allow the cops the make warrantless searches after they smell burned marijuana, when citizens had decided through a statewide referendum that law enforcement should "focus their attention elsewhere."

The court on Wednesday said it is now extending that same reasoning to cases where the owner has not yet started smoking the marijuana. The justices acknowledged that cannabis has a pungent aroma, but said that odor, by itself, does not allow police to determine whether a person has more than an ounce with them. Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is not a crime in Massachusetts, where voters chose to decriminalize pot in 2008.

Massachusetts Cracks Down On Medical Marijuana Caregivers

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is cracking down on the state's booming cottage industry of medical marijuana caregivers who have been selling cannabis to meet the demand created by the state's medical marijuana law, adopted 18 months ago.

The state has sent letters to more than 1,300 patients, along with 17 caregivers, warning them that state regulations may prohibit any caregiver from selling marijuana to more than one patient, according to David Kibbe, spokesman for the Department of Health, report Shelley Murphy and Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

The caregivers are the only legal avenue for Massachusetts patients to buy medical marijuana until storefront dispensaries start to open -- and that won't happen before November at the earliest. Many of the caregivers advertise on the Internet.

The action angered many patients who rely on cannabis to relieve their symptoms.

"I have been put in a terrible situation," said David Tamarin, 41, a lawyer from North Andover whose doctor authorized him to use medical marijuana for chronic back pain and anxiety. Tamarin said he was outraged by the letter telling him he had to find another caregiver -- one who was not serving any other patients.

"The legalization of medical marijuana should make it easier, not more difficult, for a patient to get his medicine," Tamarind said.

Massachusetts: 7 Doctors Warned By DEA For Being Involved With Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Less than two weeks after the U.S. House passed a measure that would defund Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports have begun to surface of DEA agents intimidating physicians trying to work with state-legal dispensaries in Massachusetts.

At least four more Massachusetts doctors recently received visits from the DEA agents, bringing to seven the number who got an unexpected ultimatum from the DEA for authorizing patients to use medical marijuana.

Federal investigators told the doctors they would have to "sever ties" with medical marijuana dispensaries or risk losing their license to prescribe medications, reports Kay Lazar at MThe Boston Globe.

Already, some doctors have been forced to resign their advisory positions with dispensaries, which Massachusetts voters agreed in 2012 to allow.

A spokeswoman at the DEA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., refused requests for an interview. The agency on Friday released a terse statement.

Massachusetts: Boston Mayor Says He Will Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh this week moved to block the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, saying he's "dead set" against the shops at a forum in Dorchester and then sending a letter to state officials urging "swift action" if any problems are found with the companies' applications.

"I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the two registered marijuana dispensary applicants in the city of Boston," the mayor wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, and to Executive Director Karen Van Unen of the state's medical marijuana program, reports Meghan E. Irons at The Boston Globe.

Questions remain about the two companies, Mayor Walsh claimed. Green Heart Holistic Health & Pharmaceuticals Inc. wants to open a 3,000-square-foot dispensary at 70 Southampton Street, and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts Inc. plans a shop on Boylston Street.

The mayor urged "swift and uniform action" if inaccuracies are found in the applications, saying that would bolster confidence in the regulatory process.

"If any information provided in either application is confirmed to be inaccurate, I ask that the Department of Public Health immediately eliminate that application from being eligible for a final certification of registration," Mayor Walsh wrote.

Massachusetts: Advocates Lay Groundwork For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates are laying the groundwork for legalization in Massachusetts in 2016, the next presidential election year.

State voters approved decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis in 2008, and legalized its use for medicinal purposes in 2012, both with more than 63 percent support, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe. advocates have launched an effort to get legalization on the 2016 ballot, and to raise enough money to ensure victory.

But some say Massachusetts' strong traditions will make legal marijuana a tough sell.

"To make it available for recreational use, that's going over a very different barrier," said state Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), explaining it was easy for her to support decrim and medical marijuana, but not legalization. "I'm not sure people in the state are ready for that and I'm certainly not sure I'm ready for that."

But the tides of public opinion are shifting on cannabis.

"Opinion is changing very quickly on marijuana," said Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group. The rapid change, he said, "mirrors, in some ways, the same-sex marriage shift that's taken place over the last few years."

Massachusetts: Doctors Advised Not To Authorize Patients For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts has a new medical marijuana law, approved by a vast majority of voters last November. But doctors at community health centers have been advised not to authorize any more of their more than 638,000 patients for medical marijuana, because the centers are afraid they'll lose their federal funding.

The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers has advised its 36 federally funded facilities to stop issuing patient marijuana authorizations under state law because cannabis use remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

Health center physicians who authorize patients for medical marijuana could be committing a "potential violation of federal law and could result in legal and financial exposure for community health centers," according to a spineless statement from the League.

Voters approved a ballot initiative last November, making Massachusetts one of 20 medical marijuana states (plus the District of Columbia). Federally funded community health centers in other states have also advised doctors against authorizing patients to use marijuana.

Massachusetts: Most Marijuana Dispensary Applicants Approved In First Round

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Most of the 181 applications competing to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts were approved on Monday to go on to the second and final round, when the number will be whittled down to just 35 licenses.

The Massachusetts Public Health Department announced that 158 of the 181 applications are eligible to continue in the process, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. The initial applicants were reviewed for nonprofit status, financial viability and compliance with other requirements.

"This is a very competitive process and we required applicants to meet high standards to advance," said state Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett. "We are fortunate that Massachusetts has a large field of serious applicants, who are capable of making a significant investment to benefit qualified patients and safeguard communities."

"While no decision to deny an applicant was taken lightly, we wanted to ensure that those who advance could demonstrate the ability to operate a successful nonprofit Registered Marijuana Dispensary," Bartlett said.

Twenty-two applicants did not meet the criteria, and one applicant withdrew, according to state officials.

Applicants were denied for a variety of reasons, including failing to incorporate as a nonprofit, or a lack of demonstrated financial viability.

Massachusetts: Boston Public Health Commission Wants To Review Medical Marijuana Plans

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Boston Public Health Commission is asking for authority to permit and inspect medical marijuana dispensaries, as the state of Massachusetts begins vetting applications to open the shops.

With 21 of the 181 applications collected last week by the state Department of Health proposing to open dispensaries in Suffolk County, most of those are likely to be in Boston, according to Chelsea Conaboy of The Boston Globe.

Applicants are required to clear a screening of their criminal history and finances. State officials plan to start a more in-depth review of proposed locations and operations next month.

Those within Boston city limits should also be subject to a local review, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Boston Public Health Commission's executive director. The commission plans to ask the Boston Board of Health to grant it oversight authority over the dispensaries.

"We need to support patient access as well as ensure that neighborhood and public health interests are met, and we believe that an additional local regulation can help accomplish that balance," Ferrer said.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Patients Would Pay $50, Dispensaries $50,000 Annual Fee Under Plan

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Dispensary Licenses Would Cost $50,000 A Year Under Department of Health Plan

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is proposing to charge medical marijuana patients $50 a year, and dispensaries an annual fee of $50,000.

Patients with a "verified financial hardship" would be allowed to request a waiver of the registration fee, subject to review and approval by the state health department, reports Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe.

Patients who qualify for a hardship license to cultivate (most patients won't be allowed to grow at home; all except those who are mobility challenged will be required to buy from dispensaries) would have to pay an additional $100 fee for the privilege, reports WCVB.

The proposed rules call for marijuana dispensaries to pay an initial $1,500 application fee, followed by a $30,000 charge for the second phase of the licensing process; both fees are nonrefundable, even if the application is denied.

Licensed dispensaries will then be required to pay an annual fee of $50,000. Dispensaries would also be required to pay a $500 annual registration fee for each of their employees.

Massachusetts: Police Say Men Mailed $1 Million In Marijuana From California

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seven men were arrested after a six-month investigation into a cross-country operation in which $1 million in marijuana was mailed from California to Malden, Massachusetts, police announced on Thursday.

Seized in a series of raids at Malden homes were six pounds of marijuana, six guns, and thousands of dollars in cash, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, reports Jarret Bencks of the Boston Globe.

Cops say they started investigating the so-called "Maplewood Crew" after U.S. Postal Service employees intercepted several packages containing cannabis addressed to various homes in Malden.

Arrested were:

• Dat Tran, 23; possession of ammunition as an armed career criminal, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana, money laundering

• Reginald Miller, 20; breaking and entering, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, possession of a large-capacity weapon, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of ammunition, destruction of property, being an armed career criminal

• Joshua Joyner, 21; trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana more than 100 pounds

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