Monthly Archives: July 2018

Pennsylvania: Dispensaries To Begin Selling Herbal Cannabis

Licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania are anticipated to begin providing herbal cannabis this week to registered patients.

Nearly half of all Pennsylvania dispensaries will begin selling medical marijuana in plant form on Aug. 1, with others following suit by Aug. 8, according to a Department of Health news release.

As initially enacted by lawmakers, state law mandated that patients only have access to non-herbal cannabis preparations, such as infused oils and pills. However, in April Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine approved a unanimous recommendation by the state’s 11-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to permit sales of cannabis flowers.

“The dry leaf form of medical marijuana provides a cost-effective option for patients, in addition to the other forms of medication already available at dispensaries,” Dr. Levine said in a prepared statement. Retail prices for medical cannabis products in Pennsylvania are among the highest in the nation.

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or arbitrarily restrict patients’ access to whole-plant herbal cannabis. (See NORML’s op-ed, “The case for whole-plant cannabis” here.) Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms experience fewer benefits from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects. Furthermore, isolated formulations of individual cannabinoids lack the so-called ‘entourage effect’ associated with the concurrent administration of the plants naturally occurring compounds, oils, and terpenes.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/31/pennsylvania-dispensaries-to-begin-selling-herbal-cannabis/…

Study: Patients Report Herbal Cannabis Provides Insomnia Relief

The use of herbal cannabis is associated with reductions in self-perceived insomnia severity, according to data published in the online, open-access journal Medicines.

University of New Mexico researchers assessed the influence of marijuana use on self-perceived insomnia severity levels in 409 subjects. Study participants recorded real-time ratings of their symptom severity on a zero to 10-point scale using a mobile software application.

Authors reported that subjects “experienced a statistically and clinically significant improvement (-4.5 points on a zero to 10-point scale) in perceived insomnia levels. However, products made with C. sativa were associated with less symptom relief and more negative side effects than products made from C. indica or hybrid plant subtypes.” They added, “CBD potency levels were associated with greater symptom relief than were THC levels.”

Researchers concluded: “[O]ur results show that consumption of cannabis flower is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia with differential effectiveness and side effect profiles. The widespread apparent use of cannabis as a sleep aid underscores the importance of further medical research regarding its risk-benefit profile and the effectiveness of cannabis as a substitute for other substances, including alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, and scheduled medications (e.g., opioids and sedatives), many of which are used in part as sleep aids.”

Full text of the study, “Effectiveness of raw, natural medical cannabis flower for treating insomnia under naturalistic conditions,” is available online here.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/31/study-patients-report-herbal-cannabis-provides-insomnia-relief/…

German Drugs Agency Issues New Cannabis Cultivation Bid

Lessthan a week after Cannabis Industry Journal reported that BfArM had finally cancelled the first German tender bid for cannabis cultivation, and after refusing to confirm the story to this outlet, the agency quietly posted the new one online, at 3.45pm Central European Time, July 19.

First Thing’s First

For those who have not seen it yet, here is a first look at the “new” bid auf Deutsch. It is basically identical to the last one. For the most part, Europe is shaping up to be a high volume ex-im market.For now, that is all that exists. However,a move is on in Europe to translate the bid into English. Why? To hold BfArM accountable. And to help educate all the foreign and for the most part, non-German speaking investors who want to know what is required to get the bid in the first place. The process last time left a great deal to be desired.

Bid Redux

Apart from this, however, very little seems to have changed from the last time. Notably,the amount to be grown domestically is the same. This means that the government is deliberately setting production below already established demand.

german flag
Photo: Ian McWilliams, Flickr

Why?

As has become increasingly clear, the German government at leastdoes not want to step into the cultivation ring. Further,because they are being forced to, the government wants to proceed slowly. That means that for at least the next couple of …

Legal Hemp Spurring Nascent Industry in Alaska

Denali Hemp’s Ember and Chris Haynes

The Denali Hemp Company in Talkeetna, Alaska is a family affair. Ember and Chris Haynes, along with their 18-year old daughter, have been making and selling hempseed-oil-based products like balms, oils, butters and soaps since 2014.

Denali Hemp grew out of their other business, Silverbear Sundries, a retail store in Willow where part of their Extreme Alaskan product line includes a handful of hempseed-oil items. Their customers loved those products so much that the Haynes’ decided to start a second business solely devoted to hemp.

The Haynes family got a boost on April 18 when Gov. Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 6 into law, which legalizes industrial hemp production separate from marijuana (0.3 THC threshold). It sets up regulations for hemp farming, and clarifying that adding hemp to food “does not create an adulterated food product.” The program should be up and running by the 2019 growing season.

Until now, they  sourced their hemp from Colorado. They make and package their hemp products by hand and use organic and fair-trade ingredients, most grown on their own land. “We make products with hemp seed oil and we’re proud of it,” Ember tells Freedom Leaf. “Cannabis is a safe product and there’s no reason for it to be a Schedule I drug.”

Denver Mayor Ignores Science in Opioid Response Strategic Plan

During Denver’s State of the City Address, Mayor Michael Hancock addressed many of the biggest issues facing residents of the Mile High City — including his plan to respond to the city’s opioid epidemic. With Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner reporting 110 overdose fatalities involving opioids in 2017 and data from Denver Needs Assessment on Opioid Use, Mayor Hancock’s response is not a moment too soon.

In the plan’s welcome letter, Mayor Hancock proudly states, “I present to you the Opioid Response Strategic Plan, the result of a collaborative effort among more than 100 government agencies and community organizations to address the opioid crisis in Denver. The work here represents a truly united effort by the Collective Impact Group, which was formed to combat opioid and other substance (mis)use in the city.”

If you’re in Denver, click here to urge Mayor Hancock to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Denver’s opioid epidemic

While we appreciate Mayor Hancock’s leadership, his decision to not highlight the role that  marijuana access can play as an alternative to opioids is concerning. Several observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic …

Colorado Reps Create First State Cannabis Caucus

Colorado Assembly and Cannabis Caucus members Leslie Herod and Chris Hansen

Inspired by Congress’ Cannabis Caucus, Colorado lawmakers have launched the first-ever cannabis caucus in a state legislature.

While Colorado voted to legalize marijuana in 2012 and implemented a tax-and-regulate program 14 months later, the debate over various aspects of the law and its impact has continued. From job creation to law-enforcement priorities and public education to health care, the Colorado Cannabis Caucus will facilitate discussions among lawmakers about how to address matters such as social consumption, product testing and the use of medical cannabis on public campuses.

The staff of Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) was the first to show interest in creating the caucus. They talked up the idea up with other lawmakers, while Denver NORML focused on recruiting and providing educational materials. The first six members, all Democrats in the state’s General Assembly, also include Leslie Herod and Chris Hansen of Denver, Matt Gray of Broomfield, Jonathan Singer of Longmont and Dylan Roberts of Steamboat Springs. Its first meeting took place at the state capitol in Denver on March 16. Discussion focused on leadership, taxation, regulations, enforcement and the need for consumer advocacy.

Letter from Colorado General Assembly members: “It’s time for members of Congress from Colorado and other states where marijuana has been legalized to step up and defend the rights of their constituents.”

Creating a formalized structure makes it easier for constituents and advocates to …

Harris Poll: Majority Of Americans Want Marijuana Legalized

Legalize marijuanaEighty-five percent of Americans believe that marijuana “should be legalized for medical use,” and 57 percent of respondents endorse regulating it for anyone over the age of 21, according to national survey data compiled Harris Insight & Analytics.

Among younger respondents (those ages 18 to 44), 68 percent agree that cannabis should be legal. Most respondents (57 percent) say that legalizing the plant would “help alleviate the opioid crisis.”

Data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs reports that chronic pain subjects frequently reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.

“Voters believe that ending America’s failed marijuana prohibition laws is a common-sense issue, not a partisan one,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told HealthDay, which commissioned the poll. “It’s time for their elected officials to take a similar posture, and to move expeditiously to amend federal law in a manner that comports with public and scientific consensus, as well as with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”

Reasons provided by those who opposed legalization included fear of diversion and concerns that legalization could negatively impact traffic safety.

The Harris polling data is largely consistent with those of prior surveys finding that a majority of Americans back adult use legalization and that a super-majority of voters support medicinal cannabis access.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/30/harris-poll-majority-of-americans-want-marijuana-legalized/…

Weekly Legislative Roundup 7/27/18

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

We’ve got a new piece of legislation at the federal level. In conjunction with NORML’s 2018 Lobby Day, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The act calls upon the National Academy of Sciences to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a formal report to Congress quantifying the impact of statewide marijuana legalization on matters specific to public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues. The report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data. Watch the press conference.

Earlier in the week, the US House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked two amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from the DOJ when it comes to cannabis. The amendments included allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales program, originally passed by voters in 2014, and protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

At the state level, New Jersey’s state Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend all marijuana-related prosecutions until early September. Also, a fiscal report issued by Pennsylvania’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would …

Oklahoma: Health Officials Reversing Course Regarding Medical Marijuana Rules

Oklahoma health officials on Wednesday will discuss a series of revised rules and regulations to govern the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis access program. The newly proposed changes eliminate several restrictive amendments enacted by the Department earlier this month. The proposed changes come just days after the state’s Attorney General warned health officials that they “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788.

Specifically, the newly proposed rules — which are available online here — remove the ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, eliminate the requirement that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and no longer mandate that women of childbearing age undergo a pregnancy test prior to receiving a medical cannabis recommendation. No such restrictions initially appeared in State Question 788.

Other proposed changes would remove arbitrary limits on the THC content of medical cannabis products, and permit dispensaries to sell cannabis plants and seedlings to qualified patients.

Fifty-seven percent of voters approved State Question 788 on June 28.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/27/oklahoma-health-officials-reversing-course-regarding-medical-marijuana-rules/…

Pot Smokers Now Favoring Edibles, Pills and Extracts Over Joints

Marijuana users across the country are setting down their bongs, putting away their joints and moving away from smoking pot. It’s not that people are giving up on cannabis – far from it. But retailers across the country report that consumers are increasingly switching from smokable marijuana to other forms, including pot-infused foods known as edibles and vaporizer cartridges. “The actual old-school smoking of cannabis is pretty much out the door,” said Jered DeCamp, co-owner…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2018/07/26/pot-smokers-now-favoring-edibles-pills-and-extracts-over-joints/…

SSDP Establishes International Activities Fund

In 2014, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy international chapter network consisted of Ireland, Mexico and Nigeria. Four years later, we’re in 30 countries on every habitable continent.

During that time, we’ve taken action on regional issues, such as the Ayotzinapa student massacre and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, co-hosted youth drug policy activists in Bangkok and organized dozens of workshops in West Africa, as well as four annual conferences in Ireland, the most recent of which in April included an announcement from the Green Party of Ireland that they would back cannabis legalization.

Juana Boateng founded the first SSDP chapter in Ghana—a country where defendants facing drug charges are stripped of due process. “We started advocating for the rights of people who use drugs by taking to the streets and talking to people about our cause,” Juana explains. “It’s been a tough road for us as we had minimal funds to accomplish this work. But the love, support and encouragement I received from amazing, intelligent SSDPers gave me a sense of belonging. I feel confident, bold and privileged because I know I belong to a family, a team of change makers and a group not scared to fight for what’s right.”

Marisa Morales’ sign reads: “Support. Do not punish.”

Estudiantes por una Política Sensata de Drogas México was founded in 2010 and has since grown to support students in 14 states. “The current prohibitionist drug policies in México only …

Attorney General Sessions Reiterates His Threats To Legalization

During a press conference in Boston earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his hostility to marijuana reform and doubled down yet again on his tired, fear-mongering talking point regarding it being sold at every street corner.

“Personally my view is that the American republic will not be better if there are marijuana sales on every street corner,” said Sessions.

He seems to tiptoe the line in a response to a reporter’s question, saying, “but states have a right to set their own laws and will do so,” but concluded his comments by stating “but we’ll follow the federal law,” – meaning complete prohibition and criminalization.

Send a message to your member of Congress and tell them to stop Jeff Sessions. 

Earlier this year, Sessions had rescinded an Obama-era guidance policy, known as The Cole Memo, which directed the Department of Justice’s hands-off policy towards state-legal cannabis regulatory programs, licensed businesses, and their consumers.

During a Q and A with reporters in Richmond, VA in March of 2017, Jeff Sessions said, “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,”

Additionally in 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. …

Kentucky: Cannabis Activists Schedule Educational Forum in Henderson

There will be an educational forum on the benefits that medicinal cannabis has to offer to Kentucky and its citizens. Featuring support from state cannabis activists including members from Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC), Kentucky affiliate for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML), Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana (KY4MM), the Alliance for Innovative Medicine (AIM), as well as Industry Expert, Ashly Taylor, and Matthew Daley, State Director for the Office of Secretary of State.

This will be a good opportunity for members of the community to come out and learn more about cannabis, how cannabis affects our bodies, how a regulated industry would look like in Kentucky, and how cannabis affects our communities.

What: Community Cannabis Educational Forum
Where: The Preston Art Center, 2660 South Green Street, Henderson, KY 42420
When: July 31st, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm. Doors Open at 6:30 pm

KY NORML‘s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to influence legislators for the expansion of our hemp industry, implementation of medicinal cannabis, and laying the foundation for responsible adult use.

To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5$10 or $20 to help us keep going?

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/26/kentucky-cannabis-activists-schedule-educational-forum-in-henderson/…

New Federal Legislation To Quantify The Health and Economic Impacts Of Regulated Marijuana

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) led a group of bipartisan lawmakers in introducing The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The act calls upon the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a formal report to Congress quantifying the impact of statewide marijuana legalization on matters specific to public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.

Numerous published peer-reviewed studies have assessed the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on these issues, but despite the publication of these reports, a lack of consensus and acceptance of this data continue, particularly amongst members of Congress and the Department of Justice.

Speaking about the new bill on the House floor, Congresswoman Gabbard stated, “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed war on drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned  everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously and torn families apart.”

You can watch the press conference announcing the legislation featuring the bill’s lead GOP cosponsor Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), lead Democrat cosponsor Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), we well as former U.S. Attorneys Barry Grissom (KS) and Bill Nettles (SC) below:

Commenting on the legislation, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “This report will ensure that federal discussions and policies specific to this issue are based upon the best and most reliable evidence …

Pennsylvania: Auditor’s Report Says Marijuana Legalization Would Yield Over $500 Million In New Annual Revenue

A fiscal report issued by the state’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would yield $581 million in new annual revenue.

The report estimates that just under 800,000 Pennsylvanians are currently using cannabis. Statewide polling finds that a majority of voters endorse legalizing and regulating its use by adults.

“The benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana are undeniable,” the report concludes. “As its neighbors weigh the issue, Pennsylvania must act to create its own marijuana market. Otherwise, it runs the risk of losing the revenue from potential customers to other states. It is time for Pennsylvania to stop imagining the benefits of marijuana and realize them.”

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has previously spoken in support of statewide legalization. Governor Tom Wolfe has expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses, but has been reluctant to endorse legalizing the marijuana market.

Full text of the report, “Regulating & Taxing Marijuana: A Special Report on the Potential Revenue & Financial Benefits for Pennsylvania,” appears online here.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/20/pennsylvania-auditors-report-says-marijuana-legalization-would-yield-over-500-million-in-new-annual-revenue/…

Pennsylvania: Auditor’s Report Says Marijuana Legalization Would Yield Over $500 Million In New Annual Revenue

A fiscal report issued by the state’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would yield $581 million in new annual revenue.

The report estimates that just under 800,000 Pennsylvanians are currently using cannabis. Statewide polling finds that a majority of voters endorse legalizing and regulating its use by adults.

“The benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana are undeniable,” the report concludes. “As its neighbors weigh the issue, Pennsylvania must act to create its own marijuana market. Otherwise, it runs the risk of losing the revenue from potential customers to other states. It is time for Pennsylvania to stop imagining the benefits of marijuana and realize them.”

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has previously spoken in support of statewide legalization. Governor Tom Wolfe has expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses, but has been reluctant to endorse legalizing the marijuana market.

Full text of the report, “Regulating & Taxing Marijuana: A Special Report on the Potential Revenue & Financial Benefits for Pennsylvania,” appears online here.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/20/pennsylvania-auditors-report-says-marijuana-legalization-would-yield-over-500-million-in-new-annual-revenue/…

One of Florida’s largest medical marijuana businesses forced to stop processing pot

By Elizabeth Koh for the Tampa Bay Times

“Surterra will comply with all of the regulations set forth by the Department of Health in order to ensure that Floridians continue to receive the safest, most naturally derived treatments to enable health and well-being, as recommended by a doctor,” said company spokeswoman Kim Hawkes in a statement. “We are going above and beyond simply ensuring good manufacturing practices and are pursuing American’s For Safe Access’ [ASA] Patient Focused Certification Program, which is a standard that is superior to what is currently required by Florida statute.”

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

North Dakota May Have Recreational Legalization on the November Ballot

Michigan and Utah already have marijuana-law reform initiatives on the ballot in November. North Dakota may just join them.

On July 9, Legalize ND submitted 18,000 signatures (4,500 more than required) to get the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the ballot.

The measure is purposefully vague; it doesn’t call for specific amounts that would be legal or how to create a commercial market for cultivation, processing, testing and sales. That’ll be up to the legislature, says Legalize ND’s Cole Haymond:

“This bill is by far the most progressive yet most conservative marijuana legalization bill that will be on any ballot across the country. We leave our bill wide open so the legislature can do their job—regulations, taxes, zoning, whatever.”

There’s a precedent for such an initiative in North Dakota: In 2016, voters passed Measure 5, which legalized medical marijuana by a 64% margin. That bodes well for recreational legalization in the Peace Garden State.