Releaf Magazine
29Mar/150

WEED DELIVERY APP FIGHTS FOR YOUR RIGHT TO ORDER TAKE-OUT MARIJUANA

File photo by Cannabis Culture/Flickr

 

As city law stands, weed delivery is, in most cases, illegal.

That, at least, is the stance of the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, which says there's nothing in voter-approved Proposition D from 2013 that says you can treat pot like pizza and have it delivered by a college student in a crappy car in 30 minutes or less.

That law clearly defines what marijuana businesses are immune from local prosecution, namely about 135 brick-and-mortar stores that have existed previous to a 2007 City Hall "moratorium" on pot shops. It does say that vehicles can be used by those legit businesses to deliver pot to a "qualified patient."

However, predominant delivery services in Los Angeles are third-party businesses that act as go-betweens among legit "caregivers" and patients. Or they're just straight-up college students in crappy cars selling weed.

Late last year the City Attorney's office shut down delivery app Nestdrop by scoring a preliminary injunction in court.

Back then City Attorney Mike Feuer said that Nestdrop was "a flagrant attempt to circumvent the will of the voters who passed Prop D."

He added that "Prop D also provides that caregivers are able to transport medical marijuana to legitimate patients." Nestdrop is not a caregiver.

Nestdrop this week said it would fight City Hall. It launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money in its appeal of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruling.

The firm previously said that "we are simply a technology company that connects patients in need with their medicine in a safe, secure manner."

Nestdrop said in a statement that its legal battle will be costly:

After sending a letter to the City Attorney’s office offering to work with them on sensible medical marijuana enforcement, which went unanswered, Nestdrop has moved forward with appealing the injunction.
... As you may know, the City Attorney’s injunction has done absolutely nothing to stop medical marijuana deliveries in LA. A quick search online search will bring up dozens, if not hundreds, of medical marijuana delivery services that are still operating to this day in Los Angeles. Nestdrop was targeted simply for being a technology company that received national attention.
The firm wants to raise $70,000. It says its court challenge could "set a precedent for the industry."
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VIA LA Weekly

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29Mar/150

States Urge Supreme Court to Consider Legal Marijuana Use

The states that made use of recreational marijuana legal urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider their rights and reject a lawsuit from other states trying to ban pot sales. Oklahoma and Nebraska have filed a suit directly with the Supreme Court that contends that Colorado’s marijuana legalization violates federal drug regulations.

Colorado law enforcement officials, backed by Washington state officials, have argued that the court should reject the suit. They are defending their states’ rights to regulatory oversight of legal marijuana sales in their states. In their briefs, both states’ law enforcement officials argued that the Supreme Court should adhere to its long-standing policy of not getting involved in policy disputes between states.

The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma contend that the easy access to pot in their neighboring state (Colorado) has resulted in their residents travelling to Colorado to purchase legal marijuana. They then come home and sell the pot illegally to others.

Colorado’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has publicly criticized Oklahoma and Nebraska for blaming Colorado for its efforts to regulate marijuana within their borders. She pointed out that Colorado’s sovereignty is at stake. she accused the neighboring state of trying “to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree.” She pointed out that the federal government has chosen to generally ignore Colorado’s pot sales system despite having the power to do something about it under the Controlled Substances Act.

A spokesperson for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt noted in a statement that their state does not want to impose drug enforcement on Colorado. They maintain they are simply challenging regulations that have made Colorado a large-scale hub for the commercial marijuana growing and selling, which they say has created a tide of drugs flowing into Oklahoma, Nebraska and other states that are illegal in those jurisdictions.

Coffman noted that the neighboring states did not object to Colorado’s medical marijuana sales, which could also have resulting in drugs going across borders. That would be a tougher argument to win since 22 states have legalized medical marijuana, which is also something that the federal government choses to ignore.

“My office remains committed to defending Colorado’s law,” according to a statement from Coffman. “At the same time, I share our border states’ concerns regarding illegal marijuana activity.” She pointed out, “This lawsuit, however, even if successful, won’t fix America’s national drug policy.”

A friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday by Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson asks the high court to dump the lawsuit, which would also threaten laws in his state. Ferguson said he filed the brief to protect his state’s interests and to protect the desire of Washington’s voters from other states’ interference.

Many experts have criticized the lawsuit. Even within Oklahoma, a group of conservative legislators asked Pruitt to drop the suit. They felt, like Colorado and Washington, that it infringed on states’ rights to pass and enforce their own laws.

The states that allow legal recreational marijuana use urge the Supreme Court to consider their voters’ preferences and to support their sovereignty. The high court has yet to indicate whether it will take on the Nebraska-Oklahoma case.

By Dyanne Weiss
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VIA Guardian LV

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28Mar/150

Thousands show up for marijuana seed share in DC

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

WASHINGTON: The first of two seed shares in D.C. this week was held Thursday in an effort to help residents grow pot inside their homes.

Under Initiative 71, it's officially legal to grow and possess marijuana in the District.

Since it passed, the D.C. cannabis campaign says they've received many requests for cannabis seeds for home cultivation.

To help out, the group is hosting two seed shares to give D.C. residents access to seeds. Thousands of people showed up to the first seed share Thursday at Libertine on 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

Here's what you need to know: They're free and open to D.C. residents, 21 and over, with a government issued ID.

Keep in mind; you cannot bring more than two ounces of seeds to share with others.

The second seed share is on Saturday at the D.C. Cannabis campaign headquarters.

Initiative 71 allows possession of up to two ounces of pot and permits users to grow up to three plants.

Residents, however, can only smoke marijuana at home. They cannot smoke marijuana in public, nor can they buy or sell the drug.-

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VIA MyFoxDC

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25Mar/150

Corporal Ron Francis – More than a pot smoking mountie.

by 420Jes

page1sm

In November of 2013, the month's top-trending video shocked many Canadians.  It contained the digital, yet blurry, image of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer, in his red serge.  We seldom see the RCMP do much in their red dress other than show off their marching skills, saluting the queen, or in a circle on the back of the old fifty dollar bill.  Here was Corporal Ron Francis of J Division, enthusiastically smoking a healthy joint during his lunch break.

Across the entire country, the usual media suspects went wild.  Before anyone knew the slightest details, news agencies scrambled to report on the taboo video uploaded to the net.  They simply reported; Canada had a pot smoking Mountie.

Yes, with twenty-one years of service and many accreditation, this cop was defending his right to use cannabis.  This was his current, physician-monitored, therapy, just like any other person with a chronic illness who needs to medicate.  Shockingly, even on the job, yes, but that was not his actual focus.  Cpl. Francis was a resident of Kingsclear First Nation, who not only suffered from PTSD, but also from the harassment that naturally comes from being a cop in the community.  Goodness knows; he didn't need the stigma of being a medical pot user as well.  Yet, Francis bravely sacrificed his health care anonymity in order to bring the issue of Canadian officers and their family members suffering from PTSD to light.

In response to the question of where his PTSD stemmed, "I had to shovel a childhood friend into a body bag" said Francis in a television interview.  "In twenty years I haven't relaxed and neither do the (RCMP) members that work on the front lines because the RCMP studies themselves show that their systems are never at rest, just because of the nature of the shift work...  I started to self-medicate with alcohol.  And I said no, this is not me.  Why am I doing this?  And I was going through treatment for PTSD at the time, and the RCMP did provide treatment, and I thank the RCMP for that.  Then he began researching alternative therapies, switched doctors and got a license for cannabis.  Pot was giving the officer great relief.  He often found find he needed less than the physician recommended dose of three grams a day.

Francis, himself, said he knew the laws on cannabis and driving were vague.  He felt like he was articulate, able to recite policy, and since his job was limited to desk duty without a weapon, he could do his job well.  He said one joint was fine, but five were too many.  Francis knew his limits, like alcohol, and would never drive intoxicated.  Luckily for all medical patients, cannabis does not make you delusional about one's intoxication levels, unlike alcohol.  "It just calms you down totally," said the officer.

The C. O. of J Division, Roger Brown, was advised of two things.  Francis had a Health Canada issued Authorization to Possess Marihuana (Medical Cannabis License) on November 4th by a physician.  He wanted issues addressed regarding PTSD.

It seems Ron Francis was concerned about an RCMP family member who had begged the Mounties for help with dozens of letters while her husband was alive and got none what so ever.  In fact, Linda Perlachuk said she feels the RCMP are most concerned about their image of power and control.

After serving six years with the RCMP, Perchaluk's husband, Constable Adrian Gulay, was called to a Christmas house party and came into contact with hepatitis C infected blood.  Soon after he became controlling and withdrawn.  Perchaluk said, "He could never get the image out of his head that he was covered in blood all the time.   He was always scared of going to another call."

Gulay began drinking heavily, using prescription pills, tried to commit suicide twice while seeing a doctor.  Even though Perchaluk still loved him, their marriage fell apart.  Constable Gulay killed himself in August of 2013 and Linda says people try to blame her.

Perchaluk and Cpl. Ron Francis both wanted an RCMP department dedicated to helping families cope with living with stress of living with a member.  They began their campaign in early that year but felt they didn't come out looking very well in the media.

Francis was very upfront with his commissioner about his intentions.  He had a meeting with J division media team.  He advised the commissioner to talk to Perchaluk and himself about the issue at hand.  He informed the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and his political opponent Justin Trudeau, of their concerns and intentions as well.  Although, Francis mentioned he didn't have much faith in the system.   The organization as a whole is broken. The management is broken. The structure is broken, he said. "

It was clear all levels of government wanted Francis out of the media.  Francis felt that they don't make the laws only enforce them and hiding from the public was inappropriate.  He also felt the commissioner had no business in politics that that was for the Prime Minister.

Definitely a member that has been prescribed medicinal marijuana should not be in red serge taking his medication, said RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Moreau.  It would not be advisable for that member, it would not portray the right message to the general public, its definitely not something we would support or condone.

Theres no policy in the RCMP that prevents me from smoking marijuana. Theres no policy in the RCMP that says I cannot smoke in public. I have the right to smoke it in my red serge.  Francis said he felt his career with the Mounties may end because of his outspokenness, and he would surely sue if fired.

Commissioner Moreau stated, Because this is relatively new for active members of the RCMP, we are looking at the internal policies to see, how do we set it up?  To say, OK, if somebody is prescribed medical marijuana and they have to take it two or three times a day and have to take it at work, where is this going to take place?  If it takes place outside, it has to respect the individual but also their co-workers, and it has to respect the Canadian population at large by taking it in a respectful way.  Again, furthering Perchaluk's accusation of their concern about their image.

Francis researched many alternative treatments, just as any of us with a chronic condition would.  He explains, When I explored it as a treatment for my PTSD, I had to really make a moral decision about it. Because the RCMP and law enforcement, they seem so anti-marijuana, and that's a hard thing to overcome, so I had to make that decision for my own health. It wasnt based on my career or anything...  It was for my own health.  In doing that I realized that I have to come first.  The organization doesn't come first, Ron Francis comes first.  For my own health.  And I'm glad I did that, he said.  So, how theyre going to play this out, I dont know.  If they plan to fire me, I will sue them.  Theres no doubt about that.

Later that month, in November, Francis was called and ordered not to speak to the media and told two officers will appear at his door to retrieve his uniforms.  Francis immediately did an interview with CBC's, As it Happens.  After the interview, during the retrieval, Francis broke down in tears and his sister had to assist the Mounties.  He was a dedicated officer with many years of service he was very proud of.  This news simply broke his heart.

Not all Mounties agreed.  Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown said he felt too much attention was being placed on the wrong topic.  He believed the focus should on creating support for people with PTSD and how to remove the stigma surrounding it.  I've taken some criticism from some people, I mean, outside, saying, 'You know what, its part of their job, grow a skin, suck it up,'" Brown told CBC Information Morning Fredericton.  "No, I will stand up and say that members, anyone in the general public that needs some assistance with respect to those suffering from PTSD and we need to break that culture and I will do my part to do it," he said.

Brown said Mounties with PTSD should not be embarrassed to ask for help.  "One of the things Ron said himself, which I found to be very telling, he said, 'It is not a weakness to stand up and ask for help, and in fact, it's a strength.'"

In a tearful video released by The Canadian Press on November 29th, 2013, we see the pain Francis suffered.  With a cracking voice, he cried, pinning on award that was not stripped of him, still holding a ceremonial feather, This is my medal.  I earned this.  Earned with my blood, my sweat, my tears.  With twenty years of exemplary service and not one flaw in my service record.

Unfortunately, the media was not kind to Francis.  A few editorial cartoon slags later, including a cocaine trafficking Mountie and the story of Mr. Francis had become somewhat of a public joke.  The media simply refused to pay attention to the PTSD issue and would not let go of the pot topic.  These insults, on top of all else, probably didn't help in the matter that led to an assault charge being placed on Francis on December 6th, 2013.  The headlines read, Pot Smoking Mountie charged with assault.

The New Brunswick Public Safety Department made a public statement the following December 10th.  A Mountie who publicly complained about not being able to smoke medicinal marijuana while on the job was subdued with a stun gun and charged with assaulting another RCMP officer.  Alycia Morehouse, a spokeswoman for the RCMP department, continued, Cpl. Ron Francis was undergoing a psychiatric assessment at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in northern New Brunswick after he was arrested last week...  Officers were concerned about Franciss well-being when they found him Friday on a street in downtown Fredericton...  The RCMP called Fredericton police for help because the city is not within RCMP jurisdiction.

After this event, Francis had been ordered to undergo a thirty-day psychiatric assessment at the Restigouche Hospital Center in Campbellton, New Brunswick to ascertain if he can be held accountable for the charges held against him.  He was also ordered to return to court January 6th to plea on the charges.

What The RCMP spokeswoman didn't tell us is the Mounties were searching for him on Friday.  Oddly enough there was no public request or missing person report.  They were apparently trying to conduct a "wellness check," due to concerns about his medical condition.  Whose concerns, we are not sure.  When officers were not able to locate him, they asked Fredericton cops to help.  RCMP said they had a legal right to detain him under the Mental Health Act for up to 72 hours.

Canadians, especially member of THC Club in Halifax, NS, immediately became suspicious and assumed the Francis was likely defending his right to self-medicate and lost the argument, unfortunately, to a fellow officer.

In an attempt to further Francis' suffering, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who appeared before the Senate National Security and Defense Committee in Ottawa, Monday, June 3, 2013 said he's very embarrassed for a New Brunswick Mountie, who breached policy by smoking medicinal marijuana in uniform.

Conversely, Chief Gabriel Atwin from Kingsclear, said he was stunned regarding the matter of Francis being tasered, arrested, and charged Fredericton.  Atwin, a former U.S. Marine, said he is very familiar with PTSD and problems it causes.  "I just hope that the RCMP understands that with people that are suffering this illness, that they find a way to treat these guys, not just, `I don't know.  Not just, ``Lock them up,' or whatever," he said.  "I am not sure, kinda lost for words with the process...[That's] completely uncharacteristic of Ron," said Atwin. "He's a law-abiding citizen and a great guy."

Francis was scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 6 following his 30-day psychiatric assessment.  As a result of Francis accusing the RCMP of forcing him to quit, the organization attempted to disprove that fact by sending him for treatment for three months.  Francis was shipped off to the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, in Powell River, B.C.  Francis did not stay the entire time stating he felt unsafe there.

Regardless, Francis passed his psychiatric assessment.  He was found fit to stand trial.  The case was adjourned until February 4th once T.J. Burke, Francis' defense lawyer asked for the period of time to assess the disclosure ahead of entering any plea.  Outside court his lawyer, Burke said, "My client has instructed us, regardless of what's in the disclosure, to enter a plea of not guilty."

"The Mounties knew he was going to be released today and yet they have no action plan put in place for treatment for Ron Francis," Burke said. "That in itself speaks volumes about the RCMP."

In February, on to two counts of assaulting an officer and one count of resisting arrest, stemming from the alleged confrontation in Fredericton on Dec. 6Th, 2013 Francis plead not guilty.  A three-day trial was scheduled for Sept. 3.

Raising further suspicion of harassment, Cpl Ron Francis make the headlines again, Pot-smoking Mountie Ron Francis faces three more charges.  It seems he was arrested again at his home, and the exact details are withheld from the Canadian public again and this time Francis swears he will sue for damages.  This new court date was set for July.  Francis Lawyer seemed determined leaving the courthouse and eager to get back in the courtroom and get right down to the bottom of why Mr. Francis is facing three charges."

Then, surprisingly, Cpl Ron Francis goes to court and pleads guilty to all charges that were not dropped by the crown on both instances.  Cpl Francis plead guilty to breaching a judges order not to consume or possess alcohol or non-prescription illicit drugs as well.   

Afterward, outside, he stated Cpl Francis said he remained hopeful about raising awareness to the issue of PTSD.  Soldiers, police, people who do this kind of work, over time its going to affect them, said Francis, on leave from the Mounties. I want to help other members.

The facts were read in court: - RCMP said Francis called them and said things were not going well for him.  RCMP assumed Francis was under the influence and went to Francis home.  He was arrested for breaching the judges order not to consume or possess alcohol.  - RCMP  took Francis department in Oromocto where a disagreement started. Francis was said to have pushed an officer and grabbed another by the shirt and pushed him. Both the crown and the defense agreed those statements were factual.  Nov. 3Rd, 2014, was the date Judge William McCarroll set for sentencing.  Francis seemed defeated.

On October 3rd, 2014, less than a month away from his sentencing, Canadians received their third and final shock in the stunning Ron Francis case.  Cpl Ron Francis, a proud First Nations member, a well decorated RCMP officer, a man deeply loved by his family, had died around 4 o'clock Monday afternoon, in his home.

Later that Monday, his lawyer remembered Francis as more than a client.  Burke mourned, He was a childhood friend.  I am saddened by his death.

"The investigation is ongoing, but at this point, it appears no one else was involved in his death," Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown said morning.

  

Kingsclear First Nation Chief Gabriel Atwin appeared greatly shaken by the news.  "It's a tragic, tragic event, tragic loss to our community.  Ron was not only a good friend of mine, and a great community member, but also a family member of mine.  It's a tragic event...  Most importantly, to the youth in our community, Ron was a role model.  He proved that it was not impossible to rise above the challenges and roadblocks that face our youth," Atwin said.

"It's unfortunate the incidents that became very public, by his own doing -- that was a very small snippet of who he was," Brown said. "This is a person who struggled with a very real mental health issue...but unfortunately we did not reach the goal we had all hoped for."  Perhaps a little too late, Commissioner Brown notes, "One of the things Ron said himself, which I found to be very telling, he said, 'It is not a weakness to stand up and ask for help, and in fact, it's a strength.'"

On November 3rd, the date that was destined for Francis sentencing Judge McCarroll stopped the court proceedings to make a statement.  Of the many cases, he has dealt with in the criminal court system, "few, if any, have impacted me the way that this one has.  I think what bothers me most, other than the tragic passing of a fine police officer, is that Cpl. Francis was not a person who should have been in a criminal court," said McCarroll.  "He was ill. And it was his illness that ultimately led to where we are today."  McCarroll continued, "The uncharacteristic actions, that resulted in his appearance before the court, were in my opinion...  A cry for help from someone desperately trying to deal with the ravages of post-traumatic stress syndrome.  If Cpl. Francis were here with us today to be sentenced, he would have walked out of this courtroom with my respect, and with no conviction having been recorded and no criminal record.  There should be no shadow cast over the fine reputation he attained as a fine member of the RCMP."

Let's not forget Cpl. Ron Francis was a witness to several murders and fatal collisions, People are dying, theyre committing suicide because theres no proper backup, he said.  Unfortunately, adults often live lives that are almost impossible to rise above.  Cpl. Ron Francis attempted to stand up for many adults seeking help in this aspect.  Perhaps in the end his vices or his illness got the better of him.  Many feel it's more likely, illness, vices, or not, he was disparaged by his fellow brothers in blue and his countrymen.  He was pushed, beyond extreme limits, to the most unfortunate point, which no man could withstand.  The best we can hope for is to relay his message to those in need so we may be able to others like Francis in the future.

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25Mar/150

New Report Provides Comprehensive Data on Marijuana Arrests and Charges in Colorado After Legal Regulation for Adult Use

Marijuana Possession Charges Decrease From 30,000+ in 2010 to Less Than 2,000 in 2014

More Good News for Colorado as Marijuana Legalization Continues to Gain National Momentum

All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, while Denver has experienced a decrease in crime rates.

Now, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance brings another jolt of good news by providing comprehensive data on marijuana arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The report compiles and analyzes data from the county judicial districts, as well as various law enforcement agencies via the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

The report’s key findings include:

  • Since 2010, marijuana possession charges are down by more than 90%, marijuana cultivation charges are down by 96%, and marijuana distribution charges are down by 99%.
    The number of marijuana possession charges in Colorado courts has decreased by more than 25,000 since 2010 – from 30,428 in 2010 to just 1,922 in 2014.
  • According to raw data from the NIBRS, drug-related incidents are down 23% since 2010, based on a 53% drop in marijuana-related incidents.
    In 2010 the top five counties for marijuana possession cases in Colorado were El Paso, Jefferson, Adams, Larimer, and Boulder. Marijuana possession cases in these counties all dropped by at least 83% from 2010 to 2014.
  • Marijuana distribution charges for young men of color did not increase, to the relief of racial justice advocates wary of a ‘net-widening’ effect following legalization. The black rate for distribution incidents dropped from 87 per 100,000 in 2012 to 25 per 100,000 in 2014.
  • Racial disparities for still-illegal and mostly petty charges persist for black people when compared to white people, primarily due to the specific increase of charges for public use combined with the disproportionate rates of police contact in communities of color. The marijuana arrest rate for black people in 2014 was 2.4 times higher than the arrest rates for white people, just as it was in 2010.

The report also reveals a decline in synthetic marijuana arrests, presumably because people are less likely to use synthetic marijuana when marijuana itself is no longer criminalized.
“It’s heartening to see that tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Coloradans have been spared the travesty of getting handcuffed or being charged for small amounts of marijuana,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “By focusing on public health rather than criminalization, Colorado is better positioned to address the potential harms of marijuana use, while diminishing many of the worst aspects of the war on drugs.”

“The overall decrease in arrests, charges and cases is enormously beneficial to communities of color who bore the brunt of marijuana prohibition prior to the passage of Amendment 64,” said Rosemary Harris Lytle, Regional Chair of the NAACP. “However, we are concerned with the rise in disparity for the charge of public consumption and challenge law enforcement to ensure this reality is not discriminatory in any manner.”

“What is often overlooked concerning marijuana legalization is that it is first and foremost a criminal justice reform,” said Denise Maes, Public Policy Director for the ACLU of Colorado. “This report reminds us of how law enforcement and our judiciary are now able to better allocate time and energy for more pressing concerns.”

In January, DPA released Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report. It found that since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, Denver has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, and the state has shown a decrease in traffic fatalities while increasing tax revenue, economic output and employment opportunities. Updated data reveals that the first year of legal retail marijuana sales resulted in $52.5 million in tax revenue excluding revenue from licenses, fees and medical marijuana. Millions are allocated to fund youth education, drug prevention efforts and the improvement of public school infrastructures. In addition, the state is enjoying economic growth and the lowest unemployment rate in years.

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VIA Drug Policy

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23Mar/150

Marijuana and Tech: Colorado is Now Ground Zero

My oh my, what Colorado has done to turn the tables on America's "war" on drugs.

Having approved marijuana for legal sale, distribution, and cultivation, Colorado is leading the way in attracting all kinds of investors and luminaries who seek to cash in on this nascent industry, not just with dollars but also with disruptive technology that's being developed by professionals of all stripes and colors.

Think of agricultural engineers, technicians, food and science specialists; the marijuana industry casts a wide net, capturing different types who can contribute their expertise on the growing of a cash crop for which the sky's the limit. Marijuana remains a Scheduled 1 drug, of course, but that hasn't stopped the industry from developing in all sorts of new directions thanks to the majority voters who have approved medical and/or recreational pot in their respective states.

Since retail sales began in January, the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) estimates about 10,000 people are employed in Colorado's marijuana industry, with thousands more being added each month. Behind marijuana production lies technology. Companies like Boulder-based Surna, a manufacturer of disruptive equipment for the cannabis industry, are developing patents to facilitate the aggregation of the industry, leading the way with their own proprietary services.

"The approach is more synchronistic than people would imagine, and, as a result of that, we've been able to get some provisional patents filed that we think are incredibly disruptive and will be the technology that drives the growth of this industry," said Tae Darnell, VP and General Council of Surna.

Led by CEO Tom Bollich, a robotics engineer and co-founder of online gaming company Zynga, Surna has developed its own patented water-chilled climate control system designed for large marijuana production facilities. Darnell told me that Surna's ultimate goal is to push the boundaries of the industry itself, maximizing yield and experimenting with different potencies and their health benefits.

Cultivation of cannabis in the 21st century just might take off the way industrial hemp did before its production was shut down by the federal government. The times are a-changing, indeed. With more states on track to legalize cannabis for medical use, companies like Surna are looking to take advantage of this expansion and set the standard on such key issues as consistency, including food safety and the burgeoning edibles marketplace.

If the federal government continues to take a hands-off approach towards states that choose to legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana, this could very well go global, creating new business opportunities for U.S. firms. Uruguay stepped up to the plate having recently become the first country to legalize marijuana possession, use, and sales. Canada recently opened up its medical marijuana market to improve upon the production of quality-controlled marijuana.

"There is no doubt that the international and domestic markets are exploding, " said Darnell. "Surna plans to do for cannabis what General Electric has done for the medical industry and other sectors." Colorado wants to serve as a beacon for other states interested in embracing both marijuana regulation and the technology that is being developed to manage it.

The U.S. is still fragmented in its policies towards marijuana with 23 states now openly challenging federal laws that have approved it for medical use. But the potential remains huge, hence the excitement surrounding this fledgling industry. I have no doubt that if and when the federal government finally comes down on the side of regulating marijuana that we will one day see commercially available cannabis products nationwide.

Some of these brands will assuredly begin trading on the stock exchange, and before you know it, you'll be standing in line waiting to order your Blackberry Kush-infused latte, or Purple Urkle smoothie.

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VIA Huff Post

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23Mar/150

Bill allows landlords to ban marijuana smoking, growing

A bill headed to the House this week would give landlords a say in whether their tenants can grow or smoke medical marijuana in a rental. Senate Bill 72 passed out of the Senate 34-3 about two weeks ago. It makes it possible for landlords to ban marijuana smoking and growing in their rental units. The legislation excludes edible marijuana, or “medibles.” (Photo: Ed Andrieski / AP)

A bill headed to the House this week would give landlords a say in whether their tenants can grow or smoke medical marijuana in a rental.

Senate Bill 72 passed out of the Senate 34-3 about two weeks ago. It makes it possible for landlords to ban marijuana smoking and growing in their rental units.

The legislation excludes edible marijuana, or “medibles.”

“I totally agree with it, especially in the multi-units,” said Mike Bodeis, president for the Port Huron Area Landlords Association.

“If you’re allowed to have a smoke free building, you should be allowed to have a marijuana free building.”

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he proposed the legislation when he received complaints from people in his district about rental houses damaged by grow operations.

“I’m simply clarifying the medical marijuana law,” Jones said.

“This will make sure it is very clear for everyone — from a judge to police to the property owner to the renter.”

Bodeis said he has heard of occurrences where grow operations have lead to mold, water damage, or fires started by a grow light.

“You can tell right away if someone’s growing marijuana,” Bodeis said. “Your electric bill is outrageous.

“But some of our members with multi-units can’t pinpoint where the problem is.”

Laura Rigby is director of the Coalition for a Safer Port Huron, the group that was instrumental in putting a petition on the November ballot changing the city ordinance to allow usage of small amounts of recreational marijuana within the city.

Rigby said she believes Jones’ legislation is unnecessary as it relates to smoking marijuana.

“The landlords already have that power to be able to say no smoking in their building,” Rigby said. “In that case, I think it’s more of a token legislation.”

But Rigby said she understands the need to control growers in rentals.

“I do understand the need because there are some bad growers,” Rigby said.

“It can mold, it can leak, it can do damage to the building. They already have issues with bad tenants, let alone bad growers.”

Jones said the bill likely will go to committee in the House sometime this week.

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VIA The Times Herald

 

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21Mar/150

Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds

Ben Holmes gently lowers the turntable needle onto the album, and Traffic’s “Medicated Goo,” begins to play.

Steve Winwood’s wistful tenor sweeps through the Centennial Seeds laboratory: “My own homegrown recipe’ll see you through.”

“Everyone stole from Stevie Winwood,” Holmes says, his foot tapping as he injects a syringe of dark, syrupy liquid into his gas chromatograph.

No one is stealing from Holmes, a self-taught scientist, engineer, farmer and cannabis seed geek who next month will take a rare step to apply for a patent on a laboriously created cannabis superstrain.

Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds
Cannabis seed developer Ben Holmes uses THC to calibrate a gas chromatograph before conducting tests at his Centennial Seeds lab in Lafayette. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

If it is awarded, the U.S. patent on Holmes’ medical-grade Otto II strain will be the first to protect a cannabis plant and a first step in establishing plant-breeder rights for growers who only a few years ago were considered criminals.

“This industry came up in stealth, born in basements and crawl spaces,” Holmes said. “But now, with companies forming and making larger investments, the desire to protect intellectual property is becoming paramount. Bleeding-edge stuff, right here.”

Indeed. Gone are the days when pie-eyed longhairs haphazardly hurled pollen into jungles of pot plants, hoping to meld two strains.

Today’s top breeders are geneticists, taking years to weed through carefully engineered generations of cannabis to elevate the most desired traits.

Some of these new superstrains are high in cannabidiol, or CBD, one of several dozen cannabinoid chemical compounds in cannabis and the plant’s major non-psychoactive ingredient. CBD has been credited with relieving some epileptic seizures, prompting widespread calls for additional research.

Other more utilitarian superstrains are resistant to mites or the crop-killing powdery mildew that plagues grow operations across Colorado.

Some superstrains are simply super stony, with sky-high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

 


Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds
Colorado seed developer Ben Holmes displays Carmagnola hemp seeds at his Centennial Seeds lab in Lafayette. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

The gas chromatograph is Holmes’ key tool in shaping Otto II, a high-CBD, low-THC strain he hopes can fuel medical therapies. The 50-year-old gizmo separates molecules and converts them into an electrical impulse. A green line tracking across a screen reveals the level of THC in the substance. That line will be the baseline for a measurement of Otto II.

Holmes produces a well-worn legal tablet laden with acronyms and millivolt values from the gas chromatograph. Those figures reveal his painstaking progress toward breeding the THC out of, and the CBD into, his treasured varietal.

It is, in many ways, the result of a lifelong career dedicated to breeding, growing, cloning, engineering and charting the most useful cannabis plants.

As Winwood sings the oft-covered “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Holmes shares his plans to protect Otto II, which ranks among the most valuable of his collection of 400 varieties of cannabis seeds, both marijuana and hemp, most of which are stored in an industrial freezer in his Lafayette lab. In addition to the patent, he hopes to be the first cannabis breeder to secure protection under the Plant Variety Protection Act, the seminal plant breeders’ rights legislation from 1970.

“The value of that seed, long-term, could be very, very valuable — an annuity,” said Holmes, a father of two who serves on the state’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee and is collaborating on the University of Colorado’s groundbreaking Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative.

“Everyone who does this wants to produce something with durability,” he said. “A seed with good utility that produces well can have longevity for generations.”

Holmes is a sort of modern-day Luther Burbank, the pioneering American botanist and horticulturist who developed more than 800 varieties and strains of plants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Burbank faced intellectual property challenges in his career, as he created still-heralded peaches, plums, daisies and the world-dominant Burbank russet potato.

Holmes follows Burbank’s lead, offering a few types of seeds to a single, large distributor who can flood the market in the first year, before anyone can take it as their own by cloning the young seedlings.

By the time the copycats have cloned Holmes’ strains, he already has made his money. He also licenses the use of his heirloom seeds, but not the extra-special seeds he doesn’t want copied.

“Really the focus, minus any patent protection, is on licensing and careful selection of distributors,” Holmes said.

State trademark protection can safeguard the name of an innovation within a state’s borders. But protecting intellectual property through state laws is a bandage.

Patents are exclusively federal. Marijuana is illegal under federal law. And federal law trumps state law.

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VIA The Cannabist

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19Mar/150

Poll: 61 Percent Of Americans Want Marijuana Legalization, Smashing Previous Records

A new poll has found that 61 percent of American voters agree with legalizing recreational marijuana, shattering previous records. The poll was released by the Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), while the old record of 58 percent supporting was done by Gallup in 2013.

Republicans still haven’t crossed the halfway point. According to the BSG survey, 48 percent agree with legalization, while 52 percent still oppose. A slightly wider gap exists for conservatives, with 45 percent supporting legalization and 55 percent opposing.

A total of 72 percent of voters think that jail time for marijuana possession doesn’t make sense. Instead, these voters believe that the punishment should be reduced down to as low as $25 dollars and as high as $100 dollars. Although Republicans are traditionally opposed to marijuana legalization, this is a measure they’re friendlier towards, as 68 percent agree with the proposal. Of conservatives, 63 percent agree with reduced penalties.

BSG relied on a sample size of 1,032 registered voters to create a nationally representative survey. The survey was conducted from Feb. 26 to 27. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 points, meaning that results could actually be as high as 64.5 or 57.5. The latter, 57.5, is is 0.5 lower than that previous peak results recorded by the Gallup poll in 2013.

Republican voters have previously been blamed for legalization failing to pass in Florida. Amendment 2 needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, and exit polling established that Republicans and conservatives stopped the measure in its tracks.

In Florida, exactly 60 percent of Republicans opposed legalization, and 63 percent of conservatives also opposed the measure. Voters over the age of 65 also opposed Amendment 2, with 62 percent voting “no,” and only 38 percent voting in support.

In early March, the General Social Survey, an authoritative study of public opinion, determined that 52 percent of American support marijuana legalization– up 9 points since 2012.

The General Social Survey confirmed previously results from a Pew survey in October 2014, which found essentially the same rate of support, at 52 percent.

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VIA The DC

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17Mar/150

Marijuana Keeps the Brain Young

by Mike Adams

While modern medicine has not yet managed to develop successful treatments for the aging brain, there is new research pointing towards the use of marijuana as a gateway to remedies for brain degeneration diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from the University of Dublin claim the answer to slowing down or even curing these progressive disorders could lie in the way marijuana targets the body’s endocannabinoid system. In a recent study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, doctors Veronica Campbell and Steve Fagen write, “The endocannabinoid system has been identified as a possible therapeutic target against neurodegeneration as a number of alterations in the endocannabinoid system have been noted in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.”

Both researchers concur that THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, has already been shown to have benefits for Alzheimer’s patients, adding that prescription forms of the stoner compound have been studied to some extent to draw these conclusions.

“Dronabinol, derived from the phytocannabinoid THC, is beneficial in reducing anorexia, increasing body weight and improving behaviour in elderly Alzheimer’s disease patients. Dronabinol has more recently been assessed in a pilot study with Alzheimer’s patients where it improved nocturnal motor activity and reduced agitation and aggression, without undesired side effects,” according to the doctors.

Doctors Campbell and Fagen say that while cannabis-based research for the development of treatments for brain degenerative diseases is limited, the research currently underway at GW Pharmaceuticals in regards to their drug, Sativex, is the perfect example of how cannabis-based medicine holds healing potential.

Sativex, which is approved in 25 countries as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, recently received fast track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for cancer patients.

Yet, the same federal government promoting cannabis-based medicine still considers marijuana to be a dangerous substance with “no medicinal benefit.”

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.

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VIA High Times

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