USA Today

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U.S.: Derrick Morgan Becomes 2nd Active NFL Player To Support Marijuana Research


Last week Derrick Morgan, starting outside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, became the second active NFL player to call on the league to support cannabis research in order to see how specific compounds in the plant can help treat or prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE.)

"If there's any evidence that this could help players, they owe it to us to explore it," Morgan told USA Today. "You hear about a lot of former players suffering from depression and dementia.

"Or the suicides," Morgan said. "[The NFL] could and should be a leader in this. If there's any evidence that this could help players, they owe it to us to explore it ... It's a legitimate ask."

Morgan went on to tell Katie Couric in an exclusive interview: "Given how much influence the NFL has on society, I think it would help the greater good. There's a lot of people suffering and a lot of people that can benefit from cannabis as a medical treatment."

Arizona: 28-Pound Brick of Marijuana Falls From The Sky, Smashes Doghouse


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what would likely have been a "Thank you, God!" moment for many of us, a 28-pound brick of marijuana fell from the sky in Arizona, crashing through a family's carport and crushing an empty doghouse.

Maya Donnelly said she and her husband Bill were awakened by what sounded like thunder on September 8, reports Murphy Woodhouse at Nogales International. Maya wasn't so sure it was thunder, but both soon fell back asleep.

But after the couple's children headed off to work and school the next morning, Maya looked out of her kitchen window toward the carport and saw splintered wood. She thought Hulk, the family's German Shepherd, had been up to some mischief.

“I went out to investigate, and sure enough, I looked up to see the hole, and then my eyes trailed down and the big dog’s house was destroyed," Maya said. "It made a hole in that hard plastic doghouse and the bundle was inside...” Good thing Hulk wasn't in there!

The bundle, worth an estimated $10,000, according to Detective Robert Ferros, was likely dropped by an ultralight aircraft by accident, reports CNN. "Normally they don't land on houses," Ferros said.

U.S.: Snoop Dogg Launches Merry Jane Media Platform For Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Music legend Snoop Dogg on Monday announced the upcoming launch of, a new digital media business dedicated to marijuana.

The rapper/investor said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference that the media platform, Merry Jane would be an online destination for cannabis users and the industry that serves them, reports Jessica Guynn at USA Today. will feature celebrity interviews, marijuana news coverage, and tips on subjects such as identifying the best strains. The platform will feature several different video series, including "Deflowered," which focuses on first-time cannabis experiences, and a cooking show on how to make pot-infused edibles.

"We're providing the industry with something that's void right now," Snoop said, reports Ryan Parker at The Hollywood Reporter. "We are the information hotline for cannabis. We are what's missing."

"There are few companies out there that have attempted to enter into the marketplace, and their download apps total and page views total are really numbers that we're going to crush within the first six months," said cofounder, media entrepreneur Ted Chung.

U.S.: 3 Super Bowl Champs Challenge NFL On Its Marijuana Policy


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's time for the National Football League to take a more modern approach to marijuana, according to three former Super Bowl champion players who wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post on Monday.

Marvin Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Scott Fujita wrote that "many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field," reports Cindy Boren at The Washington Post.

"There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries," the players wrote. They are asking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league to change policies on cannabis.

"First and foremost, the NFL should allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries," the players wrote. "In the case of trauma, a lot of inflammation occurs, which affects cognitive functioning and neural connectivity.

"A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain," the players wrote. "In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group Runs Ad In USA Today Announcing DC Conference


3rd Annual Conference in Washington DC, March 27-31

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) formally announced its third annual Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy," by running an ad in USA Today.

The conference, which is being held in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015, will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Tuesday, March 31st, ASA will host a press conference at 11am, followed by Congressional lobbying visits by hundreds of patient advocates.

What: National Unity Conference: "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy"
When: March 27-31, 2015, including a press conference at 11 am on March 31
Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 1177 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

The quarter-page USA Today ad, which ran all last week in the newspaper's NFL Super Bowl Preview publication, appeared on news stands across the country. This week, a digital version of the ad is running online for millions of Internet viewers.

Sponsors of the ad include the American Herbal Products Association, Cannabis Training Institute, Patient Focused Certification, and OrganiCann.

Colorado: Marijuana-Based Sex Spray Hitting Shops


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new marijuana-based spray which claims to help women have better sex is hitting the shelves in Colorado this week.

Foria, containing cannabis extract, claims the relaxing properties of weed will help women have better and more satisfying sex, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today. The spray has been available for a few months in California, but only to people with a medical marijuana authorization; the Colorado roll-out will be to the general public, since adults 21 and over are allowed to buy and use cannabis in the Rocky Mountain State.

The edible, coconut oil-based spray is designed to be sprayed onto the vagina about 30 minutes before sex. It's making its Colorado debut on Thursday at an Aspen marijuana boutique.

Foria originates from Aphrodite Group, a California medical marijuana collective. It's the latest in a growing line of cannabis-infused products, including lotions, candies and patches. The long history of marijuana use gives "significant credibility" to the concept, according to scientists.

"Cannabis is an aphrodisiac," said Genifer Murray, CEO of CannLabs, a leading marijuana-testing company. "And there's a lot of nerves down there."

Foria's slick marketing campaign is setting it apart from its competitors. The company is launching Foria at the X Games in Aspen, which begin January 22. A video on the Foria website features women speaking about how they use it and its effects.

Colorado Tries 'Good To Know' Education Campaign About Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado is launching a major, $5.7 million campaign to educate both residents and tourists on how to responsibly use marijuana.

The "Good To Know" campaign will begin hitting the airwaves, newspapers and the Net this month, one year after recreational marijuana sales began in the Rocky Mountain State, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.

The "bright, neighborly" approach is designed to educate without alienating, and is not an aversion campaign, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado's chief medical officer and director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

The friendly tone of the ad campaign is illustrated by the spot that points out you can't legally drive a car after smoking pot -- it adds what "walking, hopping and skipping are allowed," reports the Associated Press.

The campaign appears to be the first comprehensive effort by any state to educate consumers and marijuana use and regulations after legalization. "This is still uncharted territory for us, and really for everyone in the United States," Wolk said on Monday.

Colorado OKs Marijuana Credit Union


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana businesses in Colorado have plenty of cash flowing in, but are having a difficult time finding a legal place to put it.

Most banks still refuse to work with marijuana businesses, because they fear enforcement of federal banking laws, reports Alizeh Siddiqui at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Cannabis, is, of course, illegal at the federal level. Now, a new credit union designed specifically for the legal marijuana industry hopes to offer a solution, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.

The Fourth Corner Credit Union plans to open within two weeks in Denver, offering to accept cash deposits and to allow members to make electronic cash transfers for payroll and rent, and to buy supplies.

"We are on the one-yard line," said attorney Mark Mason, who is advising the credit union's nine founders.

Banking regulators in Colorado granted Fourth Corner a charter on November 19, and now the union is waiting for the Federal Reserve to issue it a master account number, which would give it access to the U.S. electronic banking system. The credit union's organizers believe it will get the number without a fight, because the Federal Reserve is required give out numbers to organizations that have already been granted state charters.

Global: Oxford Dictionary Names ‘Vape’ 2014 Word of the Year


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oxford Dictionary has named “vape” 2014’s Word of the Year.

Oxford defines the verb as “to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,” reports Lori Grisham at USA Today. It was added to the dictionary in August.

Vape can also be used as a noun for the e-cig, and for the act of inhaling itself, according to Oxford.

“You are 30 times more likely to come across the word vape that you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year,” Oxford said of the decision.

Runners-up for Word of the Year included “budtender,” a person whose job it is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.


Colorado: First Legal Marijuana Harvest Underway


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About four months after planting, Colorado's first modern legal outdoor marijuana crop is reaching maturity.

Much of the legal marijuana sold in the state is grown indoors under lights, but the niche occupied by outdoor sun-grown marijuana seems secure; some consumers prefer organic, outdoor cannabis. Outdoor growers usually can only harvest one crop a year, compared to three or four harvests indoors under lights, but outdoor plants typically have a higher yield.

Each plant in Colorado, even outdoors, is tagged with an RFID chip, allowing growers and state regulators to track its path from seed to sale, reports Live Trading News. The plants are weighed after being cut down, again after being trimmed, and again when packaged for sale.

Ryan Griego owns one of the largest outdoor grows in the state, based on a 40-acre compound patrolled by guards and watched by wireless security cameras, reports Trevor Hughes of USA Today. Each three-foot, bushy plant is worth $4,000 to $6,000, depending on yield.

Griego's 12-man crew will be harvesting at least $4 million worth of marijuana, and he's just one of hundreds of licensed growers across the state. He owns two marijuana stores, operating under the Cannasseur name, selling both recreational and medical marijuana in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocates Run Chronic Pain Ads In USA Today NFL Editions


Americans for Safe Access and Leafly team up to educate public on therapeutic effects of cannabis for chronic pain

Medical marijuana advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has teamed up with cannabis information resource Leafly to run advertisements starting Sunday in USA Today's NFL Special Edition, which will be read by football fans across the country.

The quarter-page ads will run for 30 days, followed by digital online ads, and will focus on the markets for the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles.

The USA Today advertisement depicts a football player with the captions "100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain," and "9 in 10 retired players suffer from pain on a daily basis." The ad then points readers to further information on the therapeutic effects of medical marijuana on chronic pain. "Medical marijuana works on pain even when opiates don't," reads the ad before directing readers to the website:

U.S.: Comparing Marijuana Prices Gets Easier, Thanks To Wikileaf


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A website known as the "Priceline of pot" allows medical marijuana patients to compare cannabis costs at 1,100 dispensaries in six states, according to Wikileaf founder Dan Nelson.

Nelson, a financial blogger, said based the site on the interest rate comparison model for banks, reports Jolie Lee of the USA TODAY Network. "I thought the same dynamic could be applied to the medical and legal marijuana businesses," Nelson said.

Users of the site can set how much they want to pay, and how many miles they can travel for marijuana. They have to actually travel to the listed dispensaries to complete the purchase. Favorite strains can also be located.

Sites such as Wikileaf, along with competitors Weedmaps, Leafly and THC Finder, give dispensaries the opportunity for exposure. Nelson said Wikileaf is different, because the other sites are focused on user ratings.

His site, Nelson said, is the first to offer price comparisons. "I'd go to a dispensary that offered me a strain for this amount of money, and I'd walk two blocks down, and a dispensary would offer me twice as much for the same amount of money," Nelson said.

Iowa: Man Claims McDonald's Burger Had Marijuana On It


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Iowa man claims the burger he got from a local McDonald's drive-through had marijuana on it.

"I've seen a lot of stuff, but never something like this," said Lt. Jason Bell of the Ottumwa Police Department, reports Shaina Humphries of KCCI. "I really haven't had a lot of investigations where I've focused so much on cheeseburgers."

Ottumwa police said they were investigating the case; they said a man bought the burger for his pregnant fiance. "They're alleging that they received some, an order from the McDonald's that had some suspected marijuana on the hamburgers," Bell explained.

A sample was sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation for analysis, according to police. If the substance is indeed cannabis, they say it's a mystery why someone would do this.

The cops are investigating everybody from the McDonald's employees to the couple who reported the bud-burger. The restaurant remains open, reports Katherine Klingseis at The Des Moines Register.

"We are exploring all possibilities at this point, and that factor is one thing we're considering with the investigation," Bell said. "It's more of a serious allegation against a business in the community. In any business, we want to make sure we come to the best possible conclusion on where it originated from."

U.S.: Marijuana Use Changes The Brain, New Study Says


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Young adults who smoke marijuana occasionally show changes in two key areas of their brains related to emotion, motivation and decision making, with the degree of changes related to the amount of cannabis used per week, according to a new study by researchers in Boston. Other scientists quickly pointed out that the research was partially sponsored by the federal agency charged with keeping marijuana illegal.

The study is believed to be the first which indicates such changes in the the brains of young, casual marijuana users, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

The scientists did not study whether the brain changes were related to any declines in brain function. Any speculation by the scientists themselves, therefore, or especially by journalists who sensationalize the findings, about declines in cognition or functionality is therefore completely unsupported by any evidence.

But the scientists, unfortunately including lead author Jodi Gilman, did exactly that.

U.S.: Here's The First Medical Marijuana Ad To Run On Major Networks


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new one-minute television commercial from is set to become the first medical marijuana ad to appear on major networks, according to the company.

In the ad, a stereotypical "dealer" pushes sushi in the street, opening up his coat to display a selection of raw fish, reports Katy Steinmetz at Time.

"This area's dry, man," the sketchy-looking dealer tells the camera. "You know that. I know that. Ain't nobody selling but me. You want sushi? I got sushi. I got the best sushi," he says. "You need me and I need you. Let's make this work."

"You wouldn't buy your sushi from this guy," a female voiceover eventually says. "So why would you buy your marijuana from him?" The narrator suggests an alternative: "The only website that links patients with real doctors" who authorize medical marijuana. "Book your appointment today!" the voiceover concludes.

"We felt the viewing public would agree that in the states providing safe access, continuing to obtain medicine illegally is as absurd as purchasing raw fish from a drug dealer," CEO Jason Draizin said in a press release. Of course, while 20 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal uses, the pot dealer down the street is the only choice for recreational users in 48 states -- that is, everywhere except Colorado and (possibly this summer) Washington state.

U.S.: NFL Commissioner Won't Rule Out Medical Marijuana Use By Players


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Despite marijuana now being legal in two states (Colorado and Washington) that host National Football League teams (the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks), and despite the fact that cannabis is now legal for medical use in 20 states and is extremely useful for sports injuries, it's still a violation of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement to use it.

Under that agreement, players who test positive for cannabis can be suspended, but that could change, reports John Breech at CBS Sports. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday left open the possibility that players could be allowed to use medical marijuana in the future.

Goodell was asked if there would ever be a time when players in states where medical marijuana is legal, would be allowed to use it. Instead of answering with a flat no, Goodell said, "I don't know what's going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine," reports

California: Martial Arts Referee Gets 37 Months In Federal Prison For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Veteran martial-arts referee Josh Rosenthal on Tuesday was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, three years' probation and a $100 fine for his role in a large-scale pot-growing operation in Oakland, California.

The sentence matches the prison time recommended for Rosenthal in a January plea deal with federal prosecutors, though it shaves two years off his probation time, reports Steven Marrocco at USA Today.

Before copping a plea, Rosenthal faced from 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and a minimum of five years' probation. Rosenthal had initially pleaded not guilty to drug charges.

Rosenthal was busted in April 2012 after federal agents busted an Oakland warehouse owned by Rosenthal and associate. Inside, agents found 1,356 marijuana plants they claimed were worth $6 million.

A regular at UFC events, Rosenthal oversaw several high-profile bouts. He officiated two MMA events in Utah and California over the past two months, despite his legal troubles. He earlier declined comment on his case.

Study: Smoking Lots of Marijuana Lowers Risk for Bladder Cancer

(Photo: Patient Advocacy Network)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Researchers have announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and significantly reduced risk of bladder cancer. The more pot you smoke, the lower your risk, according to the study.

The new study compared the risk of bladder cancer in more than 83,000 men who smoked cigarettes only, marijuana only, or both substances, reports Kathleen Doheny at USA Today.

The investigators found that men who smoked only cannabis were the least likely to develop bladder cancer over the course of the 11-year study.

"Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer," said Dr. Anil A. Thomas, study author and a fellow in urology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Smoking both tobacco and cannabis raised the risk of bladder cancer, but not as much as for those who smoked only tobacco, Thomas said. He presented the findings on Monday at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Gets First Hearing In Legislature

(Illustration: Where's Weed?)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization on Tuesday got its first hearing in the Oregon Legislature when the House Judiciary conducted a brief hearing on House Bill 3371, which would license producers, processors and sellers of cannabis.

Under HB 3371, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would have the authority to tax marijuana, but unlike Washington state's Initiative 502, home cultivation would still be permitted, reports Peter Wong of the Salem Statesman Journal.

"Marijuana legalization is coming to Oregon sooner rather than later," said activist Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon. "It makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol and for the Legislature to take the lead on the issue and make sure sensible regulations are in place."

A survey conducted last week by DHM Research of Portland showed that support for legalization is around the 50 percent mark in Oregon. "It sends a signal to where the voters' attitudes are heading," said John Horvick of DHM.

Predictably, the Oregon State Sheriffs Association is stuck in the past, and opposes legalization, preferring to keep the broad powers over otherwise law-abiding citizens given to law enforcement by the marijuana laws.

Nevada: UFC Exec Asks For More Tolerant Stance With Marijuana: 'Society is Changing'

(Photo of Marc Ratner: Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

UFC executive Marc Ratner on Thursday asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel to evaluate how it handles fighters who test positive for marijuana.

"Society is changing," Ratner told the panel, reports John Morgan at USA Today. "It's a different world now than when I was on the commission. States are legalizing marijuana, and it's becoming more and more of a problem with fighters testing positive (for marijuana) and the metabolites."

Ratner, who used to be executive director of the NSAC, is now UFC's vice president of regulatory affairs. His comments at Thursday's meeting were given during the public comment portion of the agenda.

The NSCA in 2012 suspended welterweight Nick Diaz for one year when his drug test was positive for cannabis metabolites. It was Diaz's second positive drug test in Nevada after also testing positive for marijuana metabolites in 2007.

More recently, the NSAC suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for nine months and fined him $900,000, 30 percent of his $3 millinon purse for a September 2012 fight with Sergio Martinez.

Ratner told the NSAC it needs to reconsider its position on marijuana cases.

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