Businesses are gearing up as previously prohibited cannabis-infused drinks, cakes and candies are about to become a legal alternative to smoking marijuana
Melanie Sevcenko guardian.com
These days, the “pot brownie” is as outdated as Betty Crocker, with cannabis edibles reaching new highs in innovation and tastes. At Portland dispensary Oregon’s Finest, cannabis-infused root beer, artisan cake bites, chocolate truffles, gummy candies and even cold brew coffee are among the delicacies.
Recreational cannabis, in the form of flower (or “bud”), has been legal to purchase in Oregon since October 2015, but edibles have remained the forbidden fruit, available only to medical marijuana cardholders. From Thursday all that’s about to change.
Oregon has approved the sale of marijuana edibles to recreational consumers and sellers are preparing to unleash everything from cannabis-infused ice cream and frozen pizza to beef jerky on to the market.
Megan Marchetti of Oregon’s Finest said the shop is expecting a bump in sales, not least from customers who previously took the 10-mile pilgrimage across the bridge into Washington state – where edibles have been recreationally available since 2014.
It’s Marchetti’s opinion that Oregon will be the natural leader in cannabis snacky treats because, simply, it’s got better bud. “I lived in the Netherlands and all over the country, trying to figure out where the best weed in the world is. It’s in Oregon,” said Marchetti. “You combine that with Oregon’s need to have everything artisan and crafted, so you have really great products. Of everything I’ve seen our game is the tightest.”
As more US states move to legalization of cannabis, edibles have worried the authorities because they could potentially fall into the hands of children or prove worryingly strong for some users.
Oregon has arguably gone the furthest in its attempts to address these concerns. The temporary rules for 2 June – as determined by the Oregon health authority (OHA) – permit dispensaries to sell one cannabinoid edible containing a maximum of 15mg THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) per customer per day. “Fifteen mg can be too high for a lot of people who are new to THC edibles,” said David McNicoll, producer of Dave’s Space Cakes, a gluten-free cupcake. “You really need to start with 5mg and learn what your dosage level is.”
Oregon Responsible Edibles Council (Orec), of which McNicoll is a member, has launched a “Try Five” campaign, which encourages first-time users to consume edibles containing only 5mg THC – and avoid overindulgent freak-outs.
Protecting cannabis users also extends to their children, which is why the OHA requires all edibles, whether retail or medical, to be sealed in child-resistant safety packaging.
The number of reported marijuana exposures in children under the age of six in Oregon increased from 14 in 2014, to 25 in 2015 and already 10 cases have been reported in the first three months of this year. Rob Hendrickson, associate medical director at the Oregon Poison Center, said it’s possible that incidents will increase after 2 June, as edibles can be easily mistaken for regular baked goods or candy.
Packing rules will change again towards the end of 2016, when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) absorbs the recreational market, as will potency levels. An entire package (or edible) will be limited to 50mg THC, with each serving capped at 5mg. That’s half the strength of medical edibles, and half the dosage permitted in Washington and Colorado.
The shifting rules are causing confusion. Producers of ice cream or soda, which is difficult to divide or score into 15mg THC servings, might have to sit this round out.
Yet some vendors are fast to adapt, like the producers of Sour Bhotz, a robot-shaped gummy edible which is among the top sellers at Oregon’s Finest. The fat-free and gluten-free candy will morph into something closer to “sour bitz” – robot parts – to qualify for the provisional THC limits. But the rewards on offer are huge.
Marijuana millionaires cashing in on cannabis legalisation
Edibles will be a big market, says John Kagia, director of industry analytics at New Frontier, a cannabis data-collecting firm. The reason, he explained, is multifold: edibles are attractive to non-smokers, they offer a discreet way to consume cannabis, and their selection and quality is as appealing for taste as it is for psychoactive effects. In Washington, edibles make up 10% of sales in the recreational market, but that number is growing rapidly. Oregon is expected to follow suit.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Laurie Wolf, founder of Laurie & MaryJane, which produces both sweet and savory edibles. “I think it’s going to be crazy in the beginning,” said Wolf, a professional chef and food author.
“My dream was to become the Martha Stewart of edibles,” said Wolf, whose Nut Mix and Almond Cake Bites took first and second prize at the Seattle DOPE Cup last year. “Since marijuana became recreationally legal, the edibles sales have dropped considerably,” she said. “We’re looking forward to them being back on the market.”
Yet before it can reach watering mouths in food form, all marijuana sold in Oregon must be screened for about 60 pesticides commonly used in cannabis cultivation, along with potency levels. Edibles, like Wolf’s cake bites, will undergo various lab tests, first as bud then as butter.
But that’s where the protocol gets hazy. Most edible producers are operating with small teams, limited funds and under little oversight, contributing to discrepancies between labeling and actual dosage.
According to a 2015 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, of 75 edible products from 47 different brands across the country, 17% were accurately labeled, 23% were under-labeled, and 60% were over-labeled with respect to THC content.
“It’s complicated, because on a national level weed is illegal,” said Rodger Voelker, lab director at Oregon Grower’s (OG) Analytical, which tests cannabis for dispensary sales. “There is no level playing field in regards to quality, and no accountability. Until somebody tells them you can’t be deceiving customers, it’s going to continue to happen.”
A critical step in producing consistent edibles involves a finished product test. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Instead, labs have devised their own methods – none of which have been validated by any national regulatory body, like the FDA, which is yet to step into the edibles sector.
OG Analytical is working with other laboratories to devise a uniform set of tests that can shared among states where marijuana is legal. In the meantime, Voelker warns edible producers: “Study up on what you’re supposed to be doing as though the feds were already involved, because I guarantee you that’s the direction it’s going to go.”
The latest involves a backlash over words that have long been a part of the weed lexicon—"weed" being one of them.
"Can you stop using the word 'weed' and replace it with cannabis. Especially within the context of law and medicine. It sounds awful not edgy," wrote one commenter in reference to a recent story of mine about the Toronto dispensary raids in which I'd written, "In February, the MMPR program was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, who said patients should be able to grow their own weed." Another added, "It's cannabis people.. Let's be grown ups about this shit." I was informed that saying "weed" invokes a negative connotation.
Instinctively, it struck me as uptight that a word as banal as "weed"—akin, in my mind, to describing alcohol as "booze"—is now considered offensive. But a survey of activists in the cannabis community revealed there is a legitimate debate over the term, as well as words like "dope," "stoner," and "pothead."
"I say weed all the time and people are offended," said Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto. "Apparently words like 'weed' and 'pothead' have stigma associated with them. I like to reclaim them."
Medical cannabis patient advocate Tracy Curley, who goes by the moniker "Weed Woman Canada" said the concern over the term "weed" comes from the "Reefer Madness" prohibition era, when marijuana was dubbed "Mexican locoweed."
"That propaganda is part of our history, a long fought one," she said. Still, she personally embraces the term "stiletto stoner" and, as for pothead, "I don't find pothead to be any more derogatory than drinker... I know which one will get home safely at the end of the night."
Others feel much more strongly about it.
"My issue is your use of 'stoner' as a rather pejorative term, whether derogatory or not, like the words 'faggot' or 'queer,'" one reader wrote me in an email, while accusing me of "painting all enjoyers with the abuser paint brush" and setting back the legalization movement.
Vancouver-based advocate Dana Larsen, who recently gave away two million pot seeds on a cross-country tour, told VICE the media does often "denigrate" cannabis users with these terms.
"We don't see regular beer drinkers being called 'drunkards' or wine drinkers being called 'winos' in media stories, but cannabis users get called 'stoners' and 'potheads' regularly," he said, noting he'd prefer to be called a "cannabis enthusiast."
But he's admitted he gets heat from "purists" who object to the word "marijuana" over "cannabis." He uses both, but said the former is more widely recognized.
That sentiment was echoed by Cannabis Culture owner Jodie Emery, who recently opened two fully recreational dispensaries in Toronto. She pointed to a recent Toronto Star article, in which marijuana was referred to as "dope" as offensive.
"'Dope' is a term straight from the Reefer Madness era, equivalent in ridiculousness to calling cannabis 'the reefer'."
Emery herself has likely offended people with some of the analogies she's used to describe the plight of the cannabis community.
In a recent police press conference about the dispensary raids, she responded to a complaint about dispensaries breaking the law by referencing civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who refused to give her seat on a public bus to a white guy. Emery's husband, Marc, was later quoted in an article comparing the dispensary raids to Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when tens of thousands of Jews were moved to concentration camps. When asked by VICE if those comparisons were not insulting, Emery said, "I want to make it very clear that I'm not comparing the experience of the two oppressed groups, but I am comparing the strategy used—that of civil disobedience." She said her husband was likening the Toronto police's "smash-and-grab" tactics to the government-sanctioned strategies used during Kristallnacht.
On a personal level, she said she's been called a "pothead in pearls" and "weed princess," neither of which bother her.
A few years ago, when cannabis culture was still very much underground, this debate probably would have been laughable. But as the movement gains momentum, conversations we'd once dismiss as "stoner talk" are likely to become a part of the mainstream.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.
Medical marijuana legalized in Pa.
By Julia Terruso, Staff Writer philly.com
HARRISBURG - Hundreds of cheering families, legislators and patients watched Gov. Wolf sign a medical marijuana bill into law Sunday afternoon, many hopeful at last for relief from debilitating pain, seizures and other medical conditions.
Allie Delp watched from her mother's lap, purple sunglasses strapped around her wide blue eyes to protect them from the light. Large crowds are tough for Allie. The 4-year-old suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe seizure disorder, and most days she stays in the dimly lit, cool comforts of her home to avoid triggers. Today was too important not to make the drive from Ford City, said Allie's mother, Amanda Delp.
"It feels like a dream. It really does," Delp said. "If you would have asked me four years ago if I would be advocating for medical marijuana, I would have told you it's just people wanting to get high. It took my daughter for me to open my eyes and realize it can save people."
A row away from Allie, Robert Billhime Jr., 45, sat with his girlfriend and 6-week-old napping son, Aspen. Multiple back surgeries left Billhime addicted to painkillers three years ago. He lost his job, his home. Addiction nearly cost him his life, he said. "If it wasn't for the cannabis I wouldn't be here. I won't go back. I won't be an addict," he said wiping a tear from his eye and looking down at his son.
Billhime called the day a huge step in the right direction but said discrimination and misunderstanding persist. "It's still not going to change the bigotry already in the legal system. If you're a cannabis user, legal or not, you're prejudged simply because you refuse to be an addict."
Billhime said he almost lost custody of his children because the family court judge ordered he take a drug test while he was using cannabis for back pain. He had supervised visitations for six months.
In the packed rotunda Sunday there were hundreds of stories like these. People trying to make it through their pain, determined, loving parents doing whatever they could - and then some for their kids. Wearing green for cannabis - and purple, for epilepsy awareness - they erupted in cheers as Wolf signed the bill into law.
Wolf thanked the advocates, particularly the mothers who brought their kids to rally at the Capitol to give a face to the people the legalization would benefit.
"When you have people who represent a cause as eloquently and in as heartfelt a way as the advocates for this has done, it shows we can get something done that means something," Wolf said. "We're not responding to a special interest here; we're not responding to someone who makes campaign contributions - we're responding to people who are telling us there is a real human need here in Pennsylvania."
There was much congratulating among legislators for bipartisan work on the bill.
"We won!" Sen. Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon), who rallied Republicans, said to a roar as he took the podium. "This is your day!"
Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery Counties, recalled introducing a medical marijuana bill in 2010 and failing to find a single cosigner. "The pain of illness touches us all eventually and so we all united to defeat [pain] . . . We worked together, we studied, we begged, we cajoled and we argued - and we convinced our fellow legislators to join us."
The law allows people suffering from 17 specified conditions - including cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and seizures - to access medical marijuana in pill, oil, or ointment form at dispensaries statewide.
The Department of Health is expected to oversee what will become a new industry in Pennsylvania, with dozens of dispensaries, hundreds of workers and potentially thousands of patients. Patients would use identification cards, after receiving a doctor's prescription, to access marijuana from one of 150 dispensaries statewide. All dispensaries would be licensed by the state and face intense regulation.
Getting the system up and running could take more than 18 months before a patient can actually access medical marijuana. A provision in the bill allows families with children under 18 to obtain medical marijuana from other states where it is legal without fear of prosecution.
Temporary regulations are also expected to be written to permit adults access if they can demonstrate they suffer from one of the 17 conditions listed in the legislation.
Delp hopes to use that provision to get Allie cannabis oil in the near future. Her daughter has as many as 80 seizures a month, she said. One in five children with Dravet doesn't live to adulthood, Delp said. Many are mentally challenged and require care the rest of their lives.
"Cannabis not only gives us hope to help control the seizures, but there are children in legal states where it's been shown to help their cognition," Delp said. "Maybe she'll be able to catch up, lead a normal life."
Allie is an active tomboy (she did barefoot laps around the rotunda before the bill-signing got under way). She doesn't know to avoid triggers for the seizures that threaten her life.
"She loves riding her four-wheeler, chasing her sisters around, just being a kid," Delp said. "This - it won't solve everything - but it gives us hope, and we need hope."
NJ Weedman takes to the radio, blames raid of his joint on retaliation
TRENTON – It's been less than a week since Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion was arrested at his combination eatery-temple in Trenton, but the outspoken marijuana advocate has taken already taken to the airwaves to tell his story.
That "retaliation" came in the form of a raid, Forchion said on the radio station. He was arrested along with 10 other people at his "joint" on East State Street last Wednesday and charged with possession of paraphernalia and drug possession for 5 ounces of marijuana that he'd received as a donation, he said.
Forchion said that he believes the police and prosecutor's office is acting out against him for setting up security cameras to film police activity outside his establishment and for filing a lawsuit against the city earlier this year.
Ed Forchion, aka NJ Weedman, has been a protestor, candidate, restauranteur and defendant since the 1990s.
"I was told that this came down from high above," Forchion said Tuesday of the order to raid his joint. He went on to say that he thinks Lesniak may be behind the raid and that the senator is representing the police department.
"He's opposed to legalization," Forchion said.
At least part of the reason for his retaliation theory, Forchion said, is that he never had problems before February – and everyone knows he smokes marijuana.
"I have a bong sitting next to me right now," he said in the radio interview.
It wasn't until the February complaint, he said, that police and prosecutors started paying his establishment more attention.
Now, fresh out of jail, Forchion is inviting Mercer County Acting Prosecutor Angelo Onofri to personally handle the prosecution side of his case, while Forchion represents himself.
"I want you to do this... I want you to take this beating," he said in challenging Onofri.
May 2, 2016
But, but...weed is for the people, it's the people's weed.
On Friday, longtime weed enthusiast Woody Harrelson lost a Hawaii-wide bid for licensing a medical marijuana dispensary through his company Simple Organic Living LLC. The State of Hawaii Department of Health opened applications for "a total of eight dispensary licenses: three for the City & County of Honolulu, two for Hawaii County, two for Maui County and one for Kauai County." According to Reuters, the state "did not specifically say why the actor's application was denied." Sure, he's not too upset, though. He'll find something else to do with all that would-be dispensary money.
Proposed MA DPH regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Posted by MikeCann via MikeCann.net
To: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
From: Andy Gaus
Re: Proposed regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Thank you for providing this forum to comment on the proposed DPH regulations on medical marijuana.
Two provisions in particular appear to make it virtually impossible for caregivers to provide the marijuana patients need while dispensaries are slowly organizing themselves:
1) Each caregiver must provide marijuana for only one patient.
2) The caregiver is not supposed to receive any compensation whatever from the patient for providing the marijuana.
Put these two provisions together, and very few people can practically step forward and become caregivers.
Bear in mind that growing marijuana indoors requires investing several hundred dollars in equipment to get started, paying high electrical bills in the ensuing months as well as ongoing costs for soil and fertilizer, and putting in hours of very real physical labor. If a patient grows for herself, these costs are repaid by the marijuana harvested and the relief it brings. But if a patient cannot grow for herself, the very considerable costs and burdens of producing the marijuana fall totally on the caregiver, with all compensation prohibited. This isn't just unfair: it has the practical effect of making it virtually impossible to be a caregiver, which means no one can help the person who cannot grow for herself. If you wish to limit the ability of a caregiver to profit from their cottage industry, you could set a maximum number of patients (but not a maximum of one), or a maximum price per ouince, or both. A limit of, say, 20 patients per caregiver and $100 per ounce would keep caregivers and their homes from turning into for-profit dispensaries but would not leave patients with no one to turn to during a long period when cities and towns are enacting moratoriums and potential dispensary operators are clearing numerous legal hurdles.
The provision that a patient must have no more than two total sources of marijuana is also unnecessarily onerous. If all providers are supposed to use a common state database, any user of the database should be able to verify that the same patient isn't filling the same prescription multiple times at different locations. If a further check is needed, patients could be issued something like a ration book.
One senses in all these regulations the underlying assumption that a set of air-tight regulations is both necessary and sufficient to prevent medical marijuana from being diverted to healthy recreational users, and that without such air-tight regulations, large-scale diversion is inevitable, with disastrous social consequences, particularly the increased availability to minors.
Let's be realistic: recreational users, including minors, already have total access to marijuana if they want it. Kids themselves, when surveyed, report that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Those who get their dope from dealers needn't fear being rejected as too young, and most of them get it, not from dealers, but from each other, in a vast informal network where everyone is both a user and a distributor. Likewise, almost all Massachusetts adults who wish to consume marijuana recreationally have found or could find a connection: marijuana prices have actually come down in recent years due to market saturation.
As officials responsible for public health, your first priority must be to make sure that patients who need marijuana for relief of painful and debilitating conditions can get it.
Minimizing diversion cannot be the main goal: it will never be effective for its stated purpose and is certain to cause unnecessary stress and pain for patients who need relief now and for the caregivers who would like to provide it .
- Happenens again... Surprise Suprise...
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour dismissed the case against Dr. Manuel Aquino-Villaman following a hearing Friday. Samour said Aquino-Villaman's actions were lawful under the Colorado Constitution, according to a court summary of the hearing. He also said the charges should be dropped because officials failed to preserve key evidence. Aquino-Villaman had been charged with felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in addition to forgery and attempt to influence a public servant.
It is rare for a judge to dismiss charges before trial, but this is the second time it has happened for a medical-marijuana doctor this year in Arapahoe County. In May, a different judge dismissed the case against Dr. Toribio Robert Mestas, also saying that the doctor's actions were protected by the Colorado constitution.
The Arapahoe County district attorney's office declined to comment on the most recent dismissal, saying it has not yet decided whether to appeal.
Attorney Lauren Davis, who represented Aquino-Villaman, said both cases show a hostility toward medical marijuana by prosecutors in the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe County.
"Their bias against medical marijuana in Arapahoe and Douglas counties is an affront to the constitutional rights of patients and recommending physicians," Davis said.
Although the doctors — two of more than 1,000 physicians who have recommended medical marijuana in Colorado — are no longer facing criminal charges, neither is currently practicing medicine.
In March, Aquino-Villaman voluntarily surrendered his license in the midst of a state Medical Board investigation into a marijuana recommendation he wrote for a pregnant woman. Aquino-Villaman denied wrongdoing and said the woman never disclosed her pregnancy. But his attorney said Aquino-Villaman, now 71, could not afford to continue fighting for his license.
Last month, Mestas agreed to temporarily stop practicing while he is the subject of a Medical Board investigation. A public document about the investigation says only that a Medical Board inquiry panel "had significant concerns that (Mestas) provided substandard care to multiple patients."
In both Aquino-Villaman's and Mestas's criminal cases, undercover police officers posed as patients who complained of injuries or other aches in attempting to obtain a medical-marijuana recommendation. After brief exams, the doctors provided the recommendations.
Prosecutors argued that the exams were substandard and that the officers never complained of "severe pain" — the condition for which they were recommended marijuana. But the judges ruled the doctors' diagnoses were reasonable based on the officers' statements.
"The presumption is that doctors are entitled to rely on what patients tell them in the course of an examination," Davis said. "It's not the doctor's job to play policeman."
John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: Medical-marijuana case against Aurora doctor dismissed - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_19542409#ixzz1gUpCPTtT
A California medical marijuana advocacy group is taking the Obama administration to court in an effort to halt the Justice Department's assault on marijuana growers and dispensers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based in Oakland, Calif., has filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and northern California federal prosecutor Melinda Haag, claiming that the federal government's recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations is in violation of the Constitution's 10th Amendment.
Marijuana is a schedule 1 substance, deemed illegitimate for medicinal purposes and outlawed federally under the Controlled Substances Act, which the federal government is entitled to enforce. However, according to Americans for Safe Access, individual states are free to regulate substances as they see fit, and by virtue of the 10th Amendment the federal government cannot compel state authorities to contravene state law.
"Under the 10th Amendment, the government may not commandeer the law-making functions of the state or its subdivisions directly or indirectly through the selective enforcement of its drug laws," the suit claims.
"The federal government has instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the state of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries," the lawsuit says. "To this end, the government has pursued an increasingly punitive strategy, which has involved criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana providers with draconian penalties and letters threatening local officials if they implement state law."
The suit cites, among other notices, a federal missive to the city of Oakland, informing city authorities that failure to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws would make them subject to prosecution.
"I like this lawsuit," San Francisco attorney Kenneth Wine told the San Francisco Weekly.
"While the federal government and its agents can do what they like in enforcing the federal criminal laws, they cannot compel the state to assist them," Wine said. "I suspect this case will cause the federal government in California to be very careful in the way they address state and local officials. Certainly, the threats and coercion against state and local officials by the U.S. Attorneys must stop, and likely will. For the feds to do otherwise is to put their marijuana enforcement strategy in jeopardy."