Archive for the ‘Cheeky Monkey™ News’ Category

New Jersey Senator Introduces Bill to End Cannabis Prohibition

cory-booker-2New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act this week, a bill that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, as well as begin to address social justice issues that have resulted from the war on drugs.

“I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business,” Booker said. “You see what’s happening around this country right now. Eights states and the District of Columbia have moved to legalize marijuana. And these states are seeing decreases in violent crime in their states. They’re seeing increases in revenue to their states. They’re seeing their police forces being able to focus on serious crime. They’re seeing positive things come out of that experience.”

Booker argues that marijuana enforcement disproportionately targets poor and minority communities, creating what he calls a “poverty trap.”

“You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities — targeting our veterans,” Booker said in a Facebook Live session following the introduction of the bill. “We need to seek not just to change the law, but be agents of restorative justice.”

The bill would legalize marijuana at the federal level and withhold federal money from building prisons, along with other funds, from states whose cannabis laws disproportionately incarcerate minorities.

If the bill were signed into law, it would:

  • Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Encourage states to legalize cannabis locally through incentives
  • Retroactively expunge Federal convictions for marijuana use and possession
  • All individuals serving in federal prison for marijuana use or possession could petition the court for resentencing
  • Cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
  • Create a “Community Reinvestment Fund” of $500 million to provide grants to communities most effected by the war on drugs. The fund would support job training, reentry services, community centers, health education programs, and more.

Plus, cannabis legalization could actually help the current opioid epidemic and reduce overdose deaths, and Booker dismisses prohibitionists’ argument that cannabis is a gateway to heavier drug use.

“The evidence that it’s a gateway drug just is not compelling, and the reality is, as I said with the challenges of opioid addiction, there’s some great medical studies that have come out that have shown that actually having the availability of marijuana actually lessens the chances you’re going to have overdose deaths,” Booker said.

Massachusetts Court: Employees Can’t be Fired for Medical Cannabis

cannabis-lawsuitFollowing up on a hot button issue this week: In a first of its kind ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decreed on Monday that employers in the state cannot fire employees for medical cannabis use.

Cristina Barbuto was fired after her first day at Advantage Sales and Marketing after she testing positive for marijuana. Barbuto has a prescription for medical marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease, something she disclosed to the company after being told that she would need to take a mandatory drug test. Barbuto’s supervisor told her twice that her cannabis use shouldn’t be a problem, as long as she didn’t use it before or during work.

But after she’d completed her first day of work, an HR representative told her that her employment was terminated because, “We follow federal law, not state law.”

Barbuto filed suit against the employer, claiming that her termination violated state anti-discrimination laws. The case reached the state supreme court after being dismissed in 2015. Similar cases have been filed in the past, but have often ruled against the employee.

In this ruling, the state supreme court said that, “the use and possession of medically prescribed marijuana by a qualifying patient is as lawful as the use and possession of any other prescribed medication.”

Similar cases have been tried in Colorado, California, Washington, and Montana. In each, the court ruled that employers could fire workers for legal, off the clock, cannabis use because it is still illegal under federal law.

“I can’t stress this enough, it’s the first case of its kind in the country,” said Dale Deitchler, a shareholder at world’s largest labor and employment law firm and an expert on marijuana issues in the workplace.

“Massachusetts is not a state where such protections are written in the law so this is really significant,” Deitchler said. “The court created law.”

The ruling means that the case will be sent back to the Suffolk County Superior Court, the court that initially dismissed Barbuto’s suit.

The justices concluded that, “An employee’s use of medical marijuana under these circumstances is not facially unreasonable as an accommodation of her handicap.” However, “it does not necessarily mean that the employee will prevail in proving proof of handicap discrimination”, If accommodating an employee’s medical cannabis use, “would create undue hardship” on an employer.”

“Undue hardship” would apply, for example, in the transportation industry, where cannabis use would impair an employee’s ability to do their work or endanger public safety. Past cases have been with employees with less physically stressful jobs so this ruling has not yet applied. Let’s hope this means a step forward for cannabis patients’ rights!

 

Nevada Runs Low in Weed, Gov. Declares State of Emergency

nevada-cannabisThere’s a first for everything, especially when it comes to the cannabis industry, so perhaps it’s not surprising that a weed shortage has led the governor of Nevada to declare a state of emergency.

Less than two weeks after recreational marijuana sales began, dispensaries report that they’re running out of product to sell. The state of emergency will allow state officials to decide on new rules to help alleviate the shortage.

The problem is that when Nevada approved recreational marijuana last November, the ballot measure stipulated that for the first 18 months of recreational marijuana sales, wholesale alcohol distributors would be granted the exclusive right to transport cannabis from grows to dispensaries.

However, the Department of Taxation hasn’t approved a single distribution license–and dispensaries are unable to restock their shelves. The department says that they haven’t issued any licenses because of incomplete applications and zoning issues.

“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt. A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state’s school budget,” said Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

The Nevada Dispensary Association estimated that dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4. Over the next two years, Nevada tax officials expect cannabis sales to generate $100 million in revenue.

The Nevada Tax Commission will vote on regulation to expand the pool of eligible distributors on Thursday.

 

A Small Win for Cannabis Industry Banking

cannabis-bankingDenver-based credit union, Fourth Corner, has another shot at bringing banking to the cannabis industry. Since the beginning, banking has always been an issue for cannabis businesses since cannabis is still federally illegal, but this marks a small step forward in progress.

Fourth Corner opened in 2014, the same year recreational weed sales became legal in Colorado. The state gave the credit union a charter, but they were denied a master account from the Federal Reserve–something they need for basic banking transactions.

The credit union challenged the denial but a district court upheld the it, dismissing the case with prejudice in January 2016. The U.S. District judge overseeing the case ruled that granting access to the Federal Reserve would “facilitate criminal activity.”

Fourth Corner again appealed the decision, and this month they met with success when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated the 2016 ruling. The ruling means that the credit union can submit a new application to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Mark Goldfogel, the executive vice president of industry relations for Fourth Corner, said, “That really is, at its core, the same question: Does a cannabis- or marijuana-related business have rights to normal business protections and legal protections? And that’s changing literally right in front of us.”

The 10 Circuit’s ruling did come with a caveat, however: Fourth Corner’s member base would be limited to marijuana industry supporters such as nonprofits and advocates as long as marijuana remained illegal on the federal level.

Deirdra O’Gorman, Fourth Corner’s chief executive officer, said, “This really wasn’t a huge change to our business plan,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to give these directly licensed businesses legitimate (banking services).” She added that Fourth Corner would be reapplying for a master account “sooner rather than later.”

However, even if the credit union is approved for a master account from the Federal Reserve, they still have the additional hurdle of obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration. Fourth Corner’s application to the federal regulator of credit unions also met with denial in January 2016.

UN Report: Cannabis Still Hasn’t Caused One Overdose Death

legal cannabis salesCannabis is the most widely used, cultivated, and confiscated drug on the planet, according to a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). But despite its use, there hasn’t been a single report of fatal cannabis overdose.

The 2017 World Drug Report states that between 128 million to 238 million people used cannabis in 2015–that equates to an estimated 3.8 percent of the world’s adult population. Amphetamines were the second most commonly used drug used worldwide, while opioids were found to cause the highest negative health impact.

Prevalence of cannabis use varies by country, but it’s not surprising to see that cannabis use in the U.S. is on the rise.

“According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the past-month prevalence of cannabis use among the population aged 12 years and older in the United States increased from 6.2 per cent in 2002 to 8.3 per cent in 2015, with an estimated 22 million people aged 12 years and older being current (past-month) cannabis users in 2015,” the report states. “Since 2008 there has been a consistent year-on-year increase in cannabis use among the population aged 12 years and older, particularly in those states that currently allow the production and sale of cannabis for recreational use among adults.”

Cannabis cultivation was reported in 136 countries, while opium poppy cultivation was reported in 49 countries. Coca bush–the plant used to make cocaine was cultivated in 8 countries.

Globally, UNODC estimates that there were 190,900 drug-related deaths in 2015, although the report notes that “this is likely and underestimate.”

Approximately one quarter of global drug-related deaths are in the United States.

“Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths more than tripled in the period 1999-2015 and increased by 11.4 per cent in the past year alone, to reach the highest level ever recorded,” according the the report. “Of the 52,000 total drug-related deaths reported for the United States, those related to opioids accounted for more than 60 percent.”

Recreational Cannabis in Nevada Hits a Roadblock

vegas-cannabisExcited for recreational marijuana in Nevada on July 1? Hold that thought.

On Tuesday, a Carson City judge, James Wilson, issued an injunction that reverses the Tax Department’s decision to allow more than just alcohol wholesalers to transport recreational marijuana from growers to dispensaries. The move could delay a planned July start date for recreational cannabis sales.

When voters approved Question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana in November, the initiative included a requirement that distribution licenses would be issued only to alcohol wholesalers for the first 18 months of sales.

Representatives from the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada (IADON) and the state Department of Taxation gave testimony on Monday in an 8-hour hearing. In his 11-page ruling, Wilson said that a “brief filed on behalf of the liquor distributors corroborated evidence that the businesses would be shut out of the marijuana distribution business entirely if the tax department issues licenses to non-alcohol distributors…Once licenses are issued to others, it will be difficult if not impossible to revoke those licenses.

However, the Department of Taxation said in March that there was limited interest among alcohol wholesalers and that the requirement would result in an in insufficient number of distributors.

According to the spokesperson for the tax department, Stephanie Klapstein, at the end of the application deadline in May, only five of 93 applications for recreational cannabis distribution licenses were issued to alcohol wholesalers. And of those five, none have actually completed the application. The other 85 applications were from existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is reviewing the court’s decision with the attorney general’s office and “will explore all legal avenues to proceed with the program as provided in the regulations,” Klapstein said in a statement.

The approval of Question 2 tasked the state with creating a regulated marijuana sales structure by the start of 2018. But after visiting and studying other states that legalized marijuana, Nevada officials determined that waiting a full year after the drug became legal would risk growing the black market. Instead, they planned for an “early start” to get the program up and running by July.

Medical Marijuana in Dispensaries Hawaii are Open but Unable to Sell

hawaiiHawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens Thursday, but don’t expect to see any cannabis on the shelves.

The problem? The state labs tasked with testing medical marijuana prior to sale have yet to be certified. The state Department of Health says they must take the necessary time to ensure that testing is accurate.

“It has to be done in the right way and we think we’re going about a very deliberate path to make sure the law is followed,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the health department’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

So instead of selling medical cannabis on Thursday, Aloha Green will open its doors for patient outreach and education.

“Once they saw that it wasn’t this dingy, scary place, then they started to see it’s something legitimate that will provide relief for a lot of patients,” said Tai Cheng, Chief Operating Officer of Aloha Green.

Cheng says that they’ve harvested four times since last month, but instead of putting product out into the market, they’ve had to vacuum seal their flower and hope that testing is certified sooner rather than later.

“It’s frustrating for our team and our growers. You’re able to hold that product for an extended period of time between 6-12 months, but oxidization of the product does cause it to lose not only its flavor but its efficiency as well,” Cheng said.

The delay is putting dispensary owners in a tough spot: operating costs can exceed $100,000 per month, and without product to sell, there’s no money coming back in.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana 17 years ago, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015. Dispensaries were slated to open in July 2016, but the state had not approved software to track the product from seed-to-sale.

The health department plans to have labs up and running by summer.

Colorado Approves Medical Cannabis for PTSD

medical-cannabisOn Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17, enabling physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans and patient advocates in Colorado have been working for years to get PTSD included on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.

There hasn’t been an addition to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana since 2001. The state Board of Health had rejected inclusion of PTSD at least four times in the past, with the most recent rejection in 2015, despite support from physicians and scientists.

The 2015 rejection led to a lawsuit filed by a group of veterans with PTSD. One of the plaintiffs, Larisa Bolivar, has been petitioning the state since 2006 to include the condition as eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

“It’s always been mired in politics. It’s always been an uphill battle,” Bolivar said. “But this is relieving. I know this is going to save a lot of lives and have open relationships with medical practitioners. Patients can talk about using cannabis for PTSD with them. Now we can have documentation about what used to be assumed was anecdotal.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Irene Aguilar and Representative Jonathan Singer. Colorado legislators approved the bill in the Senate in early February and the House on April 20.

Prior to Hickenlooper signing the bill, the state had eight qualifying conditions: HIV or AIDS, seizures, cachexia, muscle spasms, cancer, glaucoma, severe pain, and severe nausea.

Although Colorado was an early adopter of medical marijuana, the state has been alone in its failure to include it as a treatment for PTSD. Colorado joins 20 other states, plus the District of Columbia, in its inclusion of PTSD in state medical pot laws.

“I hope it opens a door so that physicians recommending marijuana are no longer considered pseudo-scientific or quacks for recommending marijuana,” Singer says. “We aren’t really a trailblazer in this — a number of other states already allow it — but when the next issue comes along, maybe we have a template now.”

As soon as application forms are updated, patients can apply for doctor recommendations as early as next week.

Colorado Cannabis Tax Revenue Exceeds $105 Million

mjbizColorado governor John Hickenlooper signed a budget bill on Friday that earmarks how marijuana tax revenue will be spent. Marijuana is still big business in Colorado, and tax revenue from the 2016-2017 fiscal year brought more than $105 million to the state’s “Marijuana Cash Fund.”

The bill allocates funds to programs that support health programs in public schools, housing for at-risk populations, and treatment programs aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.

Housing for at-risk populations:
$15.3 million of the tax revenue will be used to pay for “permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing assistance for individuals with behavioral health needs, and for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. By providing stable housing, which includes rental assistance and supportive services, we expect to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Addressing Mental Health in Colorado’s Criminal Justice System:
The Department of Human Services will receive $7.1 million aimed at “ending the use of jails for holding people who are experiencing a mental health crisis, and to implement criminal justice diversion programs at the local level. These initiatives will help direct individuals with immediate mental health and substance needs to more appropriate services outside the criminal justice system.”

School Health Professionals Grant Program:
Colorado’s Department of Education will receive $9.7 million. The money will go towards hiring 150 health care workers  who will visit high schools statewide to provide “education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.”

Unregulated “Gray Market” Medical Marijuana Activity:
$5.9 million will be doled out to combat the gray market–marijuana diverted from the regulated medical and recreational markets and sold in the unregulated market. Funds will go towards reimbursing local governments for law enforcement and prosecutions costs. In addition, the governor signed legislation that places a new 12-plant cap on the number of plants that can be possessed or grown on a residential property.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Program for Opioid Addiction:
Finally, Hickenlooper signed a bill that allocates $500,000 per year for the next two years towards creating a pilot program to expand access to medication-assisted treatment in Pueblo and Routt, two Colorado counties hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

Cheeky Monkey™ Sponsors 2017 Industry Awards at Cannabis Classic

Cheeky Monkey™ had another amazing time at this 2017 Cannabis Classic last weekend! Great turnout from the Alaska cannabis community – we appreciate everyone coming out and showing support.

As a proud sponsor of this year’s Cannabis Classic Industry awards show, Cheeky Monkey™ was happy to see so many great new cannabis products in the mix, and provided medicated High Tai cocktails for the entire crowd. You could also see us handing out freebies and selling our great Cheeky Monkey™ merch – hats, shirts, pipes, Chi Sticks and product samples (where allowed).

This year our Chief Product Officer and owner of Alaska Thunder Skunk farms, Andrew Campbell, does it again!

Andrew came home with both 1st Place and 3rd Place awards in the Cannabis Classic competition. A first place award was given for Alaska Thunder Skunk’s new extract product Slim Hash – a unique strain of cannabis grown for its relaxing and medical purposes (THCV!) in a high grade concentrate form and 3rd place to Peanut Butter Cup Pie – a medicated dessert that was as delicious as it sounds. You can view the official judges results on the Cannabis Classic site.

Thanks to all who participated and congratulations to all the winners! We are so delighted to have such a supporting cannabis community and look forward to more in the future.

Check out this video of Andrew accepting his award below:
 

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