Monthly Archives: May 2018

German Health Insurer Issues First Look at Impact of Medical Cannabis

If anyone (read Auslanders) had any illusions that the German take on medical cannabis was going to be casual or unscientific if not painstakingly documented, think again.

Techniker Krankenkasse (or TK as it is referred to by the locals) is one of Germany’s largest public health insurance companies. In other words, it is a private company that is required to provide so called “statutory” health insurance which covers 90% of Germans.

As such, they are also on the front lines now of the medical cannabis debate. Approximately one year after the new law requiring public health insurance companies like TK to reimburse cannabis claims went into effect, the company has just issued what would surely be a best-seller if it were being sold.All of the medical cannabis now being prescribed and reimbursed is coming from abroad.

The Cannabis Report, as it is titled, produced with the help of professors at the University of Bremen, is also the first of its kind. In its pages, along with the corporate summary produced for the recent press conference in Berlin, are several fascinating snapshots of what is going on.

By the numbers.

The Cannabis Report

For those who cannot understand German, this summary by Business Insider is quite educational. Here are the major takeaways: There are now almost 16,000 German patients who are receiving some kind of medical cannabis by prescription. From a doctor. These patients are also paying about …

Five Cannabis Innovations in Northern California

Green Mountain Ranch in Mendocino County, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Flow Kana)

In the past 21 years, ever since medical marijuana was legalized in California, the Golden State has developed a significant cannabis industry. However, the lack of state regulations kept its size and growth rate in check. Now that recreational marijuana is finally available, many are wondering what the cannabis market in the world’s sixth-largest economy will eventually look like.

Northern California has taken a more active approach to cannabis regulations than its southern counterpart. This is partly due to necessity, since so much of the cannabis grown in California comes from the Emerald Triangle, the northwestern region made up of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties.

It was also due to culture. The Bay Area has the reputation of being one of the most progressive metropolitan areas in the world, from the Summer of Love in San Francisco to the liberal mecca of the University of California at Berkeley to the social-justice warriors of Oakland.

Here are five exciting things to look forward to in Northern California regarding cannabis:

Legal weed advocates believe victory is near in Washington

By Jonathan D. Salant for NJ.Com

“Public opinion is changing on this issue,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. “Congress is behind. We need to catch up.
“Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/legal_weed_advocates_believe_victory_is_near_in_washington…

On Bans and Taxes: California Hits a Few Speed Bumps

Among the nine states that have legalized the adult use of cannabis, California has the largest population and agricultural base. Adding recreational-marijuana sales to the state’s long-legal medical-use industry is expected to generate $3.7 billion in sales by the end of 2018.

Under the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the law enacted by the Proposition 64 ballot initiative in 2016, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Departments of Public Health and Food and Agriculture issued more than 400 temporary licenses to retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing labs and event organizers, so cannabis businesses could be ready for commercial sales on January 1.

Five months later, the number of jobs in cannabis-related businesses and government agencies has increased exponentially. California has been issuing an average of 50 cannabis licenses per day, according to Cannabiz Media License Database. The initial licenses went to cultivators, dispensaries, retailers and manufacturers, and 15 companies hold 10% of the total licenses.f the first 1,000 issued. Most of these companies had already been conducting business and were looking to expand.

California State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) wants to allow cannabis deliveries in cities where retail shops are banned.

There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. Prop 64 gave local governments the authority to regulate or ban commercial cannabis, and more than 20% of California communities have chosen the latter option, including the Central Coast between San Luis …

Utah: Medical Access Initiative Certified For 2018 Ballot

State regulators today certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

Voters in two other states — Michigan and Missouri — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/05/29/utah-medical-access-initiative-certified-for-2018-ballot/…

California NORML and Americans for Safe Access to Host Lobby Day

California NORML is once again teaming up with Americans for Safe Access to co-sponsor a Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento on June 4, 2018.

Lobby day begins with sign-in and a continental breakfast at 8:00 AM in the Metropolitan Terrace on the 7th Floor of the Citizen Hotel located at 926 J Street, Sacramento. If you have signed up in advance for lobby day, you will then receive your appointment times and locations for your representatives’ offices. If you haven’t signed up, you can visit a station where you can find out who your legislators are for drop-in appointments.

The morning program starts at 9:00 AM, where we will present an overview of the bills on which we’ll be lobbying, along with tips for effective lobbying. You will then be armed with fact sheets on all the bills for your afternoon meetings with lawmakers, along with forms to report on your meetings. Bring the forms with you to the evening VIP reception for lawmakers and attendees in the Scandal Lounge back at the Citizen Hotel starting at 5:30 PM.

Last year’s event was a success, with more than 200 patients, advocates, providers, industry workers, and others attending and lobbying their elected officials for marijuana reform bills. Lobby day efforts have resulted in a bill to protect employment rights for medical marijuana users, AB 2069, being introduced by Rep. Rob Bonta (Oakland).

Other bills currently on the legislative agenda include:…

Freedom Leaf Interview: BiotrackTHC’s Patrick Vo

Seed-to-sale tracking is in the news. MJ Freeway has had numerous calamitous hacks to its systems. But MJ Freeway’s chief competitor, BioTrackTHC, which operates in seven states and Puerto Rico, has not. Credit goes to the Fort Lauderdale-based company’s CEO Patrick Vo and his team of software engineers. He received degrees from the University of Arizona and Indiana University before beginning his corporate career at Price Waterhouse Coopers. After moving to Colorado in 2011, Vo dove into the marijuana industry, and soon was hired by BioTrackTHC. This interview was conducted in March.

On Mar. 8, BioTrack announced it was merging with Helix TCS. Why the merger and why with Helix?

Both companies provide ancillary support products and services to the cannabis licensees, and the shareholders and management of both companies believe that the merger will position both teams to excel. Both organizations will remain distinct business units, and leadership will not change for either team. However, we plan to rationalize common business functions and have each team leverage the knowledge, operational and economic resources of the other to create even more value to the customers that rely on us. All in all, we’re very excited for the potential this merger holds for both companies and look forward to what the future holds.

Where you born and raised?

I was born in Muncie, Indiana. I’m a child of Vietnamese immigrants. That starting point shaped who I am. Woven through …

Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking

A Florida Circuit Court judge ruled today that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

Lawmakers in 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A — which sought to amend provisions in Amendment 2, a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, SB 8A prohibited the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and barred the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016.

Backers of Amendment 2, including the group Florida for Care and longtime medical activist Cathy Jordan, challenged the ‘no smoking’ ban — arguing that lawmakers improperly sought to overrule the will of the electorate. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers today ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

“Section 381.986, Florida Statutes (2017) unconstitutionally restricts rights that are protected in the Constitution, and so the statutory prohibition against the use of smokeable marijuana permitted by [a] qualifying patient is declared invalid and unenforceable,” the judge ruled. “Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients …

Georgia Legislators Out Of Touch With Constituency

What’s A Straw Poll?

For those that don’t know, a straw poll is an unofficial ballot conducted as a test of opinion.  On 5/22/2018 the question above appeared as the first local question on the Democratic ballot for Forsyth County, Georgia.  “Should Georgia amend the state Constitution to legalize the use of cannabis/marijuana for those 21 years old and older, allow a retail dispensary base, tax said products, and allocate revenue received equally to state education and transportation infrastructure?”

The results are non-binding in any way.  It was just a question to “test the opinion” of the voters.  Well, the voters spoke, and the results are pretty amazing, though not all that surprising.

4996 (a whopping 77%) answered YES
Only 1471 answered NO

Did I mention that a whopping 77% answered YES?

Marijuana On An Official Ballot in Georgia?

How’d that happen?  I reached out to Melissa Clink, who currently chairs the Forsyth Democratic Party and asked that question.  She told me, “Our election board officials asked about a month ahead of elections if we wanted questions on our ballot. These questions take the temperature of voters and in my opinion alert elected officials how their constituents want them to vote on such matters.  I believed marijuana legalization was a high priority question in Georgia”.

Clink said that there was some initial resistance from within the party, although support for medical usage was unequivocal.  As is the case with …

Oklahoma: Polling Shows Strong Voter Support For Upcoming Medical Marijuana Vote

By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 — a voter-initiated measure to permit patients access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Oklahomans will decide on the measure in a special election on Tuesday, June 26.

According to polling data compiled by SoonerPoll.com and released today, 58 percent of likely voters endorse the measure, while 30 percent oppose it. Public support for the patient-centric initiative — which empowers physicians to use their discretion when determining cannabis therapy — has largely held steady, even in the face of growing, organized opposition from members of law enforcement and certain business leaders.

Under the plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and obtain personal use quantities of marijuana flower, edibles, or infused concentrates from regulated dispensaries. NORML formally endorsed the measure in January.

Initiative proponents gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016. However, the vote was postponed because when the state attorney general attempted to reword the initiative’s ballot title in a misleading manner. Initiative proponents sued to restore the title’s original wording. This year, proponents fought back legislation which sought to preemptively amend the initiative in a manner that would have curtailed the rights of both patients and their physicians.

Voters in three other states — Michigan, Missouri, and Utah — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform …

Weekly Legislative Roundup 5/25

Legalize marijuanaWelcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

Federally, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

At the state level, NORML PAC announced the endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning medical cannabis on college campuses violates the state Constitution. And Nevada retailers sold more than $41 million worth of recreational marijuana in March, a new monthly record.

At a more local level, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is directing the NYPD to stop arresting people smoking marijuana in public, and is moving to draft a plan to prepare the city for eventual legalization. The Los Angeles County, California Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting state legislation to expunge marijuana convictions, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania City Council’s Public Safety Committee gave unanimous initial approval to a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin County Board voted to place an advisory marijuana legalization question on the November ballot.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and …

Condo Boards Move to Ban Pot Smoking

Andre Rocher’s first thought upon hearing that his condo building would ban the smoking of marijuana after it’s legalized was that the move would be “very unfair” for homeowners. But Rocher has since changed his mind, after thinking “of those homeowners who bought, say, a million-dollar condo or a $2-million condo, and now their rightful enjoyment of their property is going to be affected.” Bracing for impending legalization of marijuana, condominium properties are starting to…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2018/05/25/condo-boards-move-to-ban-pot-smoking…

13 Questions with Tommy Chong on His 80th Birthday

Stoner icon Tommy Chong turns 80 today, May 24. Here are highlights from interviews Freedom Leaf has conducted with Chong in which he talks about his long partnership with Richard “Cheech” Marin, the ending of Up in Smoke and other subjects from his 65-year-career in entertainment.

When was the first time you smoked pot?

I was 17 years old at a jazz club in Calgary. A Chinese jazz musician brought back a Lenny Bruce album and a couple of joints from California. He gave me the Lenny Bruce record and the joint. We lit his joint up, because I saved mine, and I got high for the first time. It was the first time I ever smoked. It changed my life. The next day I quit school.

How did you meet Cheech?

Cheech & Chong at New York’s Bitter End in 1972 (Photo by Allen Green)

He was a draft dodger from the States. He was the first Mexican I ever met, so I just wanted to touch him. When he met me, he’d never seen anything like me before either. I had real long hair, a Genghis Khan kind of look. He had real short hair, because he was dodging the draft from America in Canada and was trying to blend in. His name was Richard Marin. He never did a Mexican accent.

How did you get the name Cheech & Chong?

We won a battle of the bands …

Aurora Expands Canadian (And Global) Footprint

With the summer season (and recreational reform) fast approaching and the continued growth of the European medical market, Canadian LP Aurora has continued to power forward with another stock acquisition. This time, the firm is medical cannabis firm MedReleaf (TSE:LEAF). The price? $3.2 billion in stock.

Aurora shareholders will now own 61% of MedReleaf.

The firm has also, of course, solidified its place as a global leader in the cannabis space with production capacity of over 570,000 kilos of cannabis a year.This purchase will absolutely ensure that the company is in a strong position

According to a statement by chief executive Terry Booth, “Our complementary assets, strategic synergies and strong market positioning will provide us with critical mass and an excellent product portfolio in preparation for the adult consumer use market in Canada.”

It also does a bit more than that.

With the German cultivation bid in what appears to be at least a three to six month delay, exports, including from Canada, are the only real way into Europe’s largest cannabis market. And Aurora, with it’s on the ground partner, Pedianos, isright in the middle of it. This purchase will absolutely ensure that the company is in a strong position as the next level of cannabis reform begins to unfold particularly in Europe.

Cannabis Is SO Expensive!

In fact, per this report, Aurora, via Pedianos, and MedCann (the company that became both Spektrum Cannabis and bought out by …

Arizona: Supreme Court Affirms That Lawmakers Cannot Ban Medical Cannabis Access on College Campuses

In a ruling issued today by the Arizona Supreme Court, justices upheld an appellate court decision striking down a 2012 law that sought to forbid medical cannabis access on college campuses.

Lifetime NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono, and called the decision a “victory for democracy.”

Justices opined that the 2012 law was unconstitutional because it impermissibly sought to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which voters passed in 2010. State law limits the legislature’s ability to amend, repeal, or supersede voter-initiated laws.

“Because the AMMA sets forth a list of locations where the legislature may impose ‘civil, criminal or other penalties’ when a person possesses or uses marijuana, § 36-2802, and because that list does not include college and university campuses (unlike pre-, primary-, and secondary-school grounds), we assume that the voters did not intend to criminalize AMMA-compliant possession or use of marijuana on public college and university campuses,” the court ruled. It further rejected the state’s claim that a campus-wide ban was necessary in order to preserve universities’ federal funding.

“If the State had prevailed, they could then have tampered with any and all ballot initiatives, past, present, and future,” said Dean. “This is a victory for all Arizona voters and especially for medical marijuana patients.”

The ruling sets aside the felony conviction of defendant Andrew Lee Maestas, who was initially charged and found guilty of the possession …

Senator Jeff Merkley Cosponsors The Marijuana Justice Act

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today became the fourth Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, joining the bill’s author, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The Marijuana Justice Act is the first ever companion legislation that has been introduced in both chambers of Congress remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The bills, S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

The House companion legislation is being sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and has 37 additional cosponsors.

Click here to send a message to your federal officials to tell them to follow suit and cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/05/23/senator-jeff-merkley-cosponsors-the-marijuana-justice-act/…

Freedom Leaf Recipes: Mexican-Fusion Cuisine, Baja Med-Style

When I visited Mexico’s Baja California peninsula in my youth, the most notable “cuisine” consisted of fish tacos and cerveza. No more. Baja Mediterranean is now a hot culinary trend that’s gaining worldwide recognition.

The explosion in popularity of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine country has undoubtedly helped put “Baja Med” on the map. Besides wines that are racking up international medals, visitors will find world-class olive oils and farm-to-table fare all the way from casual to haute cuisine.

Three elements define the Baja Med diet:

• Mexican influences such as cheeses, chicharrones, chilies and masa
• Mediterranean influences such as olives and olive oil, and herbs and spices.
• Parts of Baja have large Asian populations, so their ingredients and culinary styles have been assimilated into the local cooking.

DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Fell Nearly 40 Percent in 2017

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops in the United States fell nearly 40 percent between the years 2016 and 2017, according to annual data compiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated an estimated 3.38 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2017. This total represents a 37 percent decrease from the agency’s 2016 totals, when it eradicated some 5.34 million plants.

As in past years, the majority of seizures nationwide (72 percent) took place in California, where law enforcement seized and estimated 2.45 million plants. That total was 35 percent lower than in 2016, when law enforcement confiscated an estimated 3.78 million plants. California voters in November 2016 legalized adult use marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales.

Law enforcement seized 472,927 plants in Kentucky (down 15 percent from 2016), 74,599 plants in West Virginia (down 40 percent), 62,323 plants in Arkansas (up 93 percent), 60,658 plants in Indiana (up five percent), and 34,646 plants in Tennessee (down 73 percent).

The agency and its partners reported making 4,502 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a 20 percent decline from 2016.

The DEA also reported seizing some $20.5 million in assets during their confiscation efforts – a 60 percent reduction from the previous year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2017 report, as well as past years’ reports, are available online

NORML PAC Endorses Jared Polis for Colorado Governor

NORML PAC is pleased to announce our endorsement of Jared Polis for Governor of Colorado.

During his tenure in Congress, Rep. Polis has been the preeminent champion for ending our failed federal prohibition on marijuana and an unrelenting force in standing up for state legalization and medical marijuana laws. At this crucial time in the fight for sensible marijuana policy, Coloradans need an outspoken defender of their state’s right to legalize and regulate marijuana.

Congressman Polis is the only choice for Colorado governor who will truly stand up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his prohibitionist agenda and aggressively defend the will of the majority of Coloradans who voted to regulate the adult use of marijuana.

Colorado deserves a leader who will stand up and fight for the Colorado’s legalization law and serve as an advocate to encourage other states to follow in the Rocky Mountain State’s footsteps, Colorado deserves a leader like Jared Polis. Help us make that a reality.

Commenting on the endorsement, Jared Polis stated:  “I’ve been proud to lead the fight for cannabis reform in Congress, and NORML has been an incredibly valuable partner in that effort, Here in Colorado, we’ve proven that legal cannabis creates jobs; funds schools, not cartels; and boosts our economy, not our prison population, and I look forward to growing this industry. It’s an honor to have NORML’s endorsement, and I will proudly stand with them against Jeff Sessions or anyone