Cannabis

Washington: WSU Researchers Seeking Volunteers For Cannabis Study

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) are seeking volunteers for their study to develop a breathalyzer that detects social cannabis use.

Volunteers will be paid $30 an hour for the first hour and $10 for every additional hour.

To comply with Washington state law, test subjects must be at least 21-years of age to participate in the study.

The breathalyzer would need to accurately detect “acute exposure” to tetrahydrocannabinol, WSU Professor Emeritus Nicholas Lovrich, doctoral candidate Peyton Nosbusch and City Councilor and research assistant Nathan Weller told the Pullman League of Women Voters last Thursday.

Participants will receive a blood test and a mouth swab for the study. The volunteers will then pick a strain from a Washington state-licensed retail cannabis store, and consume it at their residence.

After consumption, a taxi will pick up the volunteers and take them to Pullman Regional Hospital to complete secondary testing for the study.

Additionally, the study will have participants submit to a standard sobriety test conducted by local law enforcement officials.

Minnesota: Medical Cannabis Patients Report Benefits In Department of Health Study

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Majority of Minnesota Medical Cannabis Patients Saw Benefit in Program’s First Year

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Based on patient surveys and other data, a significant number of patients who used medical cannabis during the first year of Minnesota’s marijuana program reported benefits, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Less than a quarter of patients who participated in the study experienced negative side effects from cannabis.

The MDH study draws on data from survey results as well as enrollment, purchasing, and related health information to describe the experience of patients using medical cannabis from the program’s start on July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

“Based on this evidence from the first year, Minnesota’s approach is providing many people with substantial benefits, minimal side effects, and no serious adverse events,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Washington, DC: Cannabis Legalization Bill Receives Bipartisan Support On Capitol Hill

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia held a press conference Wednesday urging Congress to pass H.R.1227, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. The legislators are renewing their efforts as the Trump administration pushes to go after non-violent drug crimes. The bill currently has 11 sponsors.

The bipartisan bill, if approved, would remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances and put cannabis in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

United States: Willie Nelson Tells U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Smoke Some Pot

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On May 17, singer-songwriter Willie Nelson had some advice for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions has also said in the past that "good people don't smoke marijuana." As the nation's top law enforcement officer, he has signaled a broad crackdown against both social and medicinal uses of the drug, which remains illegal federally.

Maryland: First Licensed Medical Marijuana Grow Operation Approved

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Wednesday, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the commission that oversees Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis program, voted to approve the state’s first full license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The Stage 2 license, which was awarded to ForwardGro LLC, is a final approval from regulators for the cultivation of plants. The approved business will have to wait for dispensaries to be inspected and licensed before it can sell cannabis products to approved patients to comply with state law.

Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, said: “The patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”

Rand, whose son suffers from epilepsy, became passionately involved in the Maryland legislature in 2013 as a parent advocate. She is the founder of a parental advocacy group for the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland for children with epilepsy.

“A new industry in Maryland has been officially launched,” said Patrick Jameson, Executive Director of the commission, "They can start to grow immediately. Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”

United Kingdom: Liberal Democrats Add Marijuana Legalization To Platform

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Liberal Democratic leaders in the United Kingdom announced Friday that they plan on pushing for marijuana regulation and taxation as part of their political platform. Research by the liberal Democrats revealed that 87,247 police caseloads related to cannabis were opened in 2015, equaling an estimated 1,044,180 police hours and £31 million (more than USD$40 million) in enforcement, the Independent reports.

“The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market,” the manifesto states. “Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.”

Marijuana is a Class B substance in the U.K. and possession carries a five-year jail term. Dealers can be sentenced to up to 14 years.

The party's plan would legalize cannabis use for adults 18 and over, would limit THC content, and would require that all marijuana products contain CBD. The party says that "skunk" (marijuana that has been bred to remove most, or all, CBD) is responsible for harming the “mental and physical health” of youth.

“The current approach is a disaster for young people…There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength,” the party contends. “‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.”

Israel: Medical Marijuana Restrictions Loosened, Public Use Of Cannabis Oil And Vapor Allowed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New medical marijuana rules in Israel will allow patients to consume cannabis as an oil or vapor in public and will reduce wait times for patients to receive authorization to use and possess medical marijuana, according to a report from Jerusalem Online. Israeli Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman

Israel is a leader in national marijuana policy reform, having decriminalized marijuana use in March. Non-medical users caught smoking cannabis in public are subject to a $271 fine for the first offense, and the fine is doubled on the second. A third offense leads to probation; criminal charges are imposed only on the fourth offense.

MK Tamar Zandbergm chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse said the policy “sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals.”

The Agriculture and Health Ministries plan to provide about $2.1 million in funding for 13 medical cannabis studies that will range from biochemical and medical research to improving crop yields.

The Multidisciplinary Center of Cannabinoid Research was launched last month at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will coordinate and conduct research on marijuana's biological effects in an effort to determine potential commercial applications.

Kansas: NASCAR Driver Carl Long Forced To Remove Marijuana Business Logo From Car

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Associated Press reported that NASCAR driver Carl Long showed up at the Kansas Motor Speedway Friday with the logo of a marijuana vaping company on his race car, and NASCAR officials forced him to remove it.

The logo for Veedverks, a Colorado-based medical marijuana dispensary, was on the hood of Long's No.66 car.

A spokesman for NASCAR said the logo was never vetted and approved, and that it violated rules governing sponsorship and paint schemes.

NASCAR officials said it will not adorn the car the rest of the weekend.

New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

Nevada: Retail Marijuana Sales Begin In July

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana dispensaries in good standing with the state of Nevada will be able to begin retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults on July 1. They will be able to apply for "early start" licenses on May 15. The rules were approved by the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday in a 6 to 1 vote.

Last November a majority of voters passed the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market.

Criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana were eliminated in Nevada effective on January 1, 2017. Initially, provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of marijuana were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Several other states which have passed laws to legalize adult-use marijuana, such as Maine and Massachusetts, have made moves to delay the implementation of legal adult-use marijuana laws.

Washington, DC: Congress Reauthorizes Protection For State Medical Marijuana Programs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs are safe for now as Congress has approved spending legislation which the President has signed into law that reauthorizes language protecting those programs. But the President issued a signing statement expressing his personal opposition to the measure, saying that those provisions could interfere with his constitutional authority. Signing statements are often issued by presidents, but they do not carry the weight of law.

Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to "prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." That language is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, passed in 2014.

State-sponsored hemp programs were also reauthorized, thanks to a similar amendment.

Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, 2017; at that time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire.

Forty-six states presently acknowledge the therapeutic use of marijuana and various marijuana-derived products. Thirty states recognize hemp as an industrial crop.

Colorado: New Cannabis Sales Record Set In March

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Colorado set a new record in cannabis sales in March, with a total in combined medical and recreational sales of $132 million, according to state Department of Revenue figures outlined by the Cannabist. March was the tenth consecutive month that had sales totaling more than $100 million.

Adult use sales made up $93.3 million of March’s record-breaking sales, while medical cannabis sales totaled $38.4 million.

Andrew Livingston, director of economics and research for the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, estimates that by the end of the year Colorado’s sales could reach $1.6 billion.

At ten months into the state’s fiscal year, licenses and application fees for medical cannabis businesses have fallen 8.5 percent, and 25.4 percent for retail businesses, according to the Department of Revenue. Miles Light, an economist with the Marijuana Policy Group, said the decline “shows that fewer new firms are entering and… sales should be tapering off or declining.” However, he was surprised that sales “continue to grow so quickly.”

“We are not surprised that almost all of the sales growth is in the retail marijuana space,” he said.

Delaware: Bill Approved By Legislative Committee For Legalized Adult-use Marijuana, Moves To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to create a taxed-and-regulated marijuana market in Delaware has passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee and will now move to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation would regulate and tax cannabis “in the same manner as alcohol,” allowing adults to purchase marijuana products, but makes no provisions for growing at home.

State Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said she believes the measure will pass the House, which will likely take up the legislation after the legislature’s June recess.

“The numbers that we’re getting, about $22 (million) and $25 million on the conservative side that’s just off the sale,” Keeley said in a WMDT report. “If we actually look at this as an economic driver it makes perfect sense.”

Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a supporter of the measure, spoke out about it recently at a Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting.

“Education is suffering," she said. "Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.”

The measure would allot 20 percent of tax revenues collected from legal cannabis sales to go to the Department of Education.

New Hampshire: Decriminalization Bill Passes In Senate, Moves Back To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a marijuana decriminalization bill, but the measure must now go back before the House after the Senate amended the measure to drop the cannabis possession limits from 1 ounce to three-quarters of an ounce. The bill would eliminate jail time for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis and up to five grams of "hashish" and reduce the fine from $350 to $100 for adults 18-and-older.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a decriminalization proponent, said he was confident that the House would agree with the measure amended by the Senate, and so make its way to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu, who has indicated that he would sign it.

“I want to thank the legislature for passing common sense marijuana reform,” Sununu said following the Senate vote. “I look forward to signing House Bill 640 into law.”

Fines will increase to $300 for a third offense and a fourth offense would result in a Class B misdemeanor charge under the measure. Minors convicted of possession of less than the law allows would be subject to a delinquency petition.

The bill forbids law enforcement officers from making arrests for marijuana possession violations.

California: Attorney General Becerra Vows To Fight Feds On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would “probably be the 1 millionth person in line” to fight Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tried to crackdown on California's legal marijuana industry in a recent interview with Politico.

“Cannabis is last century’s argument. We’re beyond that,” Becerra said in the interview. “I suspect if you took a real quick poll here, I bet if we took a poll, who has got cannabis, it’d be pretty — you don’t have to raise your hand, but you know what I’m saying.”

The former Democratic Congressman admitted that he had tried it “at a younger time” when asked by reporter David Siders about his own marijuana use.

“So then it was illegal?” Siders asked the Attorney General.

“I also drive over the speed limit periodically, so,” Becerra responded.

The federal budget includes an amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana regimes and hemp programs but it does not include language preventing a crackdown on recreational programs. Donald Trump recently included a statement in an omnibus spending bill that could allow him to ignore the amendment.

“I would love to see Jeff Sessions come to California and tell us we’re not going to move forward on cannabis,” Becerra said. “Something tells me that it’s not gonna happen.”

Washington, DC: Attorney General Sessions Orders Return To Harsher Drug Penalties

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo Wednesday to thousands of assistant U.S. attorneys throughout the country and all of the assistant district attorneys in Washington D.C. that will reverse some of the more lenient policies regarding drug convictions. The move could result in a spike of Drug War-era mandatory minimum sentences — even for nonviolent drug offenders.

Sessions orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in the memo.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said during a speech on Friday. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

Sessions is well known for being aggressive on drug crimes. He recently said that marijuana is only "slightly less awful than heroin", and said in 2016 that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

U.S. Trump Reserves Right To Ignore Medical Marijuana Protections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President Trump signed his first major piece of legislation last Friday -- a $1 trillion spending bill that prevented a federal government shutdown -- but with his signature he included the reservation that he may ignore medical cannabis protections found in the bill.

“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump wrote in his signing statement, according to a Summit Daily report.

Trump's statement has created confusion on how Trump is going to deal with marijuana. In one interview he said, “Legalized marijuana is always a very difficult question. For medicinal purposes and medical purposes, it’s fine.”

But since moving into the White House, he has seemed less open to the idea. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there could be “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions spoke out about cannabis in March, saying it is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. He also said that medical marijuana “had been hyped, maybe too much.”

However, Sessions suggested he would protect state’s rights to legalize medical marijuana.

Chile: Pharmacies Set To Dispense Medical Marijuana This Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pharmacies in Santiago, Chile will begin selling medical marijuana products this week, as the nation's legislature is considering allowing patients to grow small amounts at home, according to a report in Reuters. The products will be imported by Canadian licensed producer Tilray in partnership with Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

The Tilray products, T100 and TC100, will cost about $310 per month for individuals with a prescription. Medical marijuana was made legal in Chile in 2015, but mmj therapies were only available through a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity.

“By importing Tilray’s medical cannabis products to Chile we intend to ease the suffering of those in need by offering pure, precise and predictable medical cannabis products,” Roberto Roizman, Alef board president, said in a statement.

Chile's first medical marijuana crop was harvested in April by Australia’s AusCann Holdings and Chile’s Fundacion Daya. Those establishments must complete successful clinical trials before being registered with the Chilean Institute of Public Health and made available for patients, however.

Canada: Labor Union Adds Medical Marijuana To Health Benefits Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A labor union in Windsor, Ontario, Canada is now offering medical marijuana coverage options through its health benefit plans in an effort to fight the use of opioid-based pharmaceuticals by its members, according to a report by the CBC.

The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) 625 will expand their benefits plan to cover full-plant medical cannabis for its retired or permanently injured members but will only cover reduced THC cannabis oils for members still on the job.

Members will have to pay out-of-pocket for the products and will be reimbursed.

Rob Petroni, business manager for LiUNA, said the “most important part” of the new plan is to “reduce the opioid use and/or abuse” and that because they are able to track the supply chain, “there’s no chance of manipulating the system.”

“Now that we’ve added this, we’re hoping more doctors … will move towards prescribing the cannabis oil as opposed to the opioids,” Petroni said in the report. “We’re able to keep an eye on exactly who’s prescribing (cannabis), how much is being prescribed.”

The union plans to monitor opioid prescriptions to track reduction as the medical marijuana benefits are rolled out June 15. Their data might help convince other benefits plans to offer their own program.

Georgia: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Patients suffering from AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome, and those in hospice care are now able to possess low-THC cannabis oil. There is no legal way to obtain it in the state, however.

The bill would have initially dropped the allowable THC content from 5 percent to 3 percent, but the chamber agreed to keep the 5 percent threshold intact after law enforcement and public health officials reported that there were no issues with the THC content.

State Rep. Allen Peake said the expansion offers patients “a ray of hope for a better quality of life.”

“My hope is that in 2018 we can fill the gaping hole that still remains, and provide legal access to medical cannabis oil here in our state with a safe, lab tested product produced within our own borders,” Peake said in a statement. “The job will not be finished until we accomplish this task.”

Peake, a Republican, has been supplying cannabis oils to some of the state’s registered patients and is the author of the House version of the newly-signed bill.

Georgia has 1,738 patients and 354 physicians registered with the medical marijuana program.

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