Posts Tagged ‘cannabis legalization’

The DARE Program Makes a Comeback

dareBring up DARE to people of a certain age, and they’re likely to remember the program as the butt of a joke. DARE, an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, was a nation-wide program that reached the height of its popularity in the late 1980s.

The curriculum brought local law enforcement into schools and sought to curb and prevent teen drug use. DARE warned kids to “Just Say No” and relied heavily on role-playing to get kids to avoid peer pressure.

During the era when DARE was popular, there was huge public consciousness and concern over drug use. There were PSAs on television that urged abstinence–like the one with an egg in a frying pan that admonished, “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.”

At its peak, 75 percent of the country’s schools participated in the DARE program. But that changed in the early 1990s, when a slew of studies came to the same conclusion: DARE wasn’t decreasing the rate of teen drug or alcohol use. One study even found that the program made teens more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol in a sort of “boomerang effect.” In this new era of cannabis legalization, the lucky stoners with the foresight to hang on to their DARE t-shirts are the kings and queens of irony.

But now, it seems, DARE is back, this time with a curriculum called “Keepin’ It REAL“. Maintaining their cheesy acronyms, REAL stands for refuse, explain, avoid, leave. DARE is pushing the curriculum as a prevention program for middle school students as part of its mission to “teach students good decision making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.”

One of the biggest changes the DARE organization has made is their claim that they no longer teach drug abuse resistance education. Now, they claim to “teach students good decision making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.”

However, the Washington Post reported that not everyone is behind the new program. A peer-reviewed study conducted last year concluded that “the systematic review revealed major shortfalls in the evidence basis for the KiR D.A.R.E. programme. Without empirical evidence, we cannot conclusively confirm or deny the effectiveness of the programme. However, we can conclude that the evidence basis for the D.A.R.E. version of KiR is weak, and that there is substantial reason to believe that KiR D.A.R.E. may not be suited for nationwide implementation.”

Gorilla Glue Settles in Trademark Suit vs. Cannabis Strain

illegal-growIn what may be a sign of things to come, the adhesive brand Gorilla Glue Co. has reached a settlement with the Las Vegas-based cannabis company behind Gorilla Glue #4 (as well as #1 and #5).

The Gorilla Glue Co. filed a trademark infringement suit against GG Strains back in March of this year. The glue company said that the cannabis company was infringing and diluting its “famous, valuable brand.”

The settlement comes after months of negotiations.

According to The Cannabist, under the agreement GG Strains will have to transition away from the Gorilla Glue name, imagery and any other similarities to Gorilla Glue Co.’s trademarks by September 19, 2018. The cannabis company will also shut down gorillaglue4.com and transfer the domain to Gorilla Glue Co. by January 1, 2020.

The marijuana company’s website says the strain names will change as follows:

  • Gorilla Glue 4 is now GG4 and or Original Glue
  • Gorilla Glue 5 is now GG5 and or New Glue
  • Gorilla Glue 1 is now GG1 and or Sister Glue
  • LVPK x GG4/Purple Glue & Gluchee remain the same

Don Peabody, the grower behind the sticky strain, was trimming his harvest when his phone rang. After the call, Peabody went to hang up the phone, but it was stuck to his hand. It reminded him of the super-strong adhesive, so he dubbed the strain Gorilla Glue.

Cannabis has a tradition of naming strains after things or people in pop culture. There’s Skywalker OG, Girl Scout Cookies, Bruce Banner, and Charlotte’s Web, just to name a few.

Before widespread legalization, cannabis breeders and growers didn’t need to worry about things like trademark infringement. But with more social acceptance also comes with more scrutiny, and as the market grows, more companies will want to protect their names.

The dispute and rebranding effort is estimated to cost the cannabis firm $250,000.

Ross Johnson, one of the founders of GG Strains, said about the settlement, “We’re going to survive; we’re going to overcome it. Is it a setback? Most definitely it is a setback. But it’s all behind us now, and it’s allowing us to move forward.”

 

Hawaii the First State to Require Debit-Only Cannabis Sales

touch-screenBeginning Oct. 1, Hawaii will be the first state in the U.S. to require cashless-only cannabis sales.

A Colorado-based credit union will permit dispensaries in Hawaii to open bank accounts, and a debit app called CanPay will enable patients to purchase cannabis with their smartphones. The app is currently in use in six states, but Hawaii will be the first to use it exclusively for medical marijuana transactions.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, most banks and credit card companies refuse to work with cannabis industry. As a result, marijuana businesses are forced into cash-only transactions, making day-to-day operations tedious and putting dispensaries and employees at risk for robberies and other crime.

To put the amount of cash floating around the marijuana market in perspective, consider that Colorado consistently makes $100 million in pot sales every month (with California expected to dwarf that number)–that’s a lot of physical money, and most businesses don’t to have anywhere to put it.

Having access to banking is a big deal in the cannabis industry–and widespread access probably won’t happen until Congress decides to deschedule marijuana.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015.

The state Department of Health delayed the roll-out of medical marijuana until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–putting dispensaries in the unenviable position of growing and harvesting plants that they weren’t allowed to sell.

So far, there are eight licensed dispensaries in the state: Three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island and two on Maui. The state’s first two medical marijuana dispensaries opened last month.

Alaska’s Expanding Cannabis Market Sets New Sales Record

alaska-cannabisCannabis sales are booming in Alaska: in July the state sold more weed in one month than the 3-month sales average.

The Alaska Department of Revenue reported that they collected nearly $600,000 in marijuana tax revenue during July–which equals about a third of the total marijuana tax revenue brought in last fiscal year. The figures are the highest to date in Alaska since recreational sales began last October.

During the last fiscal year that ended on June 30, the cannabis industry generated $1.7 million in marijuana tax revenue for the state. In Alaska, state taxes are collected from cannabis farms rather than retail dispensaries.

The Juneau Empire reported that Fairbanks had a total of 12 cannabis farms returning tax revenue, the most of any city in the state. Anchorage came in second with seven farms. Soldotna was third with four farms, and Juneau ended tied for fourth with multiple cities having three farms.

Kalley Mazzie, Alaska’s excise tax supervisor, reported that there was no revenue from outdoor marijuana farms in July, “but it shouldn’t be much longer before we start seeing those crops make their way to market.”

In July, 612 pounds (280 kilograms) of cannabis bud and 369 pounds (170 kilograms) of stems or leaves were sold. The state collects $50 per ounce of bud and $15 per ounce for trimmings.

Despite the record sales, the figures were lower than the state expected. In fiscal year 2017, the state expected $2 million in revenue, but failed to meet the mark. In fiscal year 2018, the state expects $10.6 million in marijuana tax revenue, or an average of $883,000 per month.

Mazzie expects similar numbers when August figures are published in October.

 

Denver to Issue Cannabis Social Use Licenses

smoking-clubThe problem of where to consume cannabis in Colorado has been an issue since recreational marijuana use was approved by voters in 2012. Now, five years later, the city of Denver is ready to become the first in the nation to launch a program allowing businesses to set up social marijuana consumption areas.

Initiative 300, the ballot proposal to create a four-year social cannabis pilot program was approved by Denver voters last November.

As of August 24, Denver’s department of Excise and Licenses began accepting applications from businesses interested in getting in on the growing cannabis industry. Private, invitation only cannabis clubs are already legal, but the new program allows more conventional businesses, like art galleries, coffee shops, concert venues or yoga studios, to wade into the cannabis industry.

A committee of 20 people from the marijuana industry, city council members, and community groups were responsible for hammering out the details of the program.

Some of the rules that the committee came up with were expected: Social use clubs or venues will be strictly 21-and older. Businesses with a social use license will not be allowed to sell cannabis on site, so expect to bring your own weed. Additional restrictions require social use licensees at least 1,000 feet from schools, as well as distance restrictions to keep them at least 1,000 feet away from daycares, public recreation — public parks and community pools — and alcohol and drug treatment facilities.

Additional rules require obtaining backing from a nearby neighborhood or business group, making sure the site isn’t within 1,000 feet of restricted sites, putting together extensive supporting documents and plans, and paying the $1,000 application fee.

However, not everyone is happy with the committee’s final rules. The drafters of the initiative have publicly criticized the results, arguing that the rules don’t reflect the will of voters and undermine existing cannabis laws in Colorado that regulate marijuana like alcohol–Emmett Reistroffer and Kayvan Khalatbari, the creators of the initiative are planning to sue the city.

“Nothing has changed,” Khalatbari says of a potential lawsuit. “All of my comments about this inequality between how they’re treating alcohol and cannabis are the same. We’ve even had a lot of conversations with the mayor’s office since then, and they continue to say there was consensus, and that’s bullshit.”

Many fear that the committee’s rules are so restrictive that businesses will be discouraged by the extensive requirements to obtain a social use license.

Adding to the difficulty, Khalatbari and Reistroffer explain that the distance requirements will make it extremely difficult for businesses to find a space suitable for a social cannabis use.

Reistroffer, who was on the Social Consumption Advisory Committee explains, “Now the pilot program is set up to fail, because there is such little space available in Denver where permits are eligible and none of the original businesses that supported our campaign are able to apply. This means the issue of private consumption clubs and events will continue to proliferate throughout the city without any oversight from the city or feedback from neighbors — and public consumption will continue to occur in public places like parks and sidewalks because there will be no safe access to permitted consumption areas.”

The FDA Wants Your Feedback on CBD!

FDA_BuildingThe U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) is asking for input from patients who have experience using Cannabidiol (CBD) to treat medical conditions.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that’s proven therapeutic for treating pain, seizures and epilepsy. The FDA is putting together a recommendation for the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) regarding CBD and several other substances, including ketamine.

The feedback will help WHO determine international drug restrictions under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The treaty seeks to curb drug trafficking and abuse by restricting imports/exports, limiting use to scientific and medical settings, and compelling member nations to punish infractions of the treaty.

Here’s what the FDA had to say about CBD (emphasis added):

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States. CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA. At the 37th (2015) meeting of the ECDD, the committee requested that the Secretariat prepare relevant documentation to conduct pre-reviews for several substances, including CBD.

Declaring CBD beneficial puts the FDA at odds with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which ruled CBD to have no medicinal value, categorizing it as a Schedule I drug.

The FDA is asking for “interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 17 drug substances.”

The deadline for public comment is September 13.

Want to submit your comments to the FDA? Click here to go the Regulations.gov web site and click on the blue “Comment Now!” button.

 

Justice Department Blocks DEA Cannabis Research

cannabis-researchA year after the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began accepting applications to grow cannabis for research it appears that the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the pressure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are blocking researchers from moving ahead with their proposals.

The DEA has received 25 research proposals, but so far none of them have been able to move forward. As part of the approval process, researchers must get final sign-off from the DOJ–and it’s no secret that Sessions is not a fan of weed.

“They’re sitting on it,” one law enforcement official told the Washington Post, “They just will not act on these things.”

A senior DEA official said that, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.”

The marijuana that researchers currently have access to is not what most people would consider weed. Since the late 1960s, all marijuana used in clinical research is required to come from a single government-run marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi. The problem is that the marijuana grown there doesn’t even really resemble the weed that’s sold at dispensaries, making it difficult for researchers to reach conclusions that are applicable to real-world use.

The quality of the government grown cannabis was so bad that Johns Hopkins University, which planned to begin a multiyear clinical trial studying cannabis and PTSD, backed out of the study.

One of the researchers who submitted a proposal to the DEA is Lyle Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Craker submitted his last application in February but hasn’t heard back on his yet. He’s hoping to do research into whether other parts of the cannabis plant have medicinal value.

“I’ve filled out the forms, but I haven’t heard back from them. I assume they don’t want to answer,” said Craker. “They need to think about why they are holding this up when there are products that could be used to improve people’s health. I think marijuana has some bad effects, but there can be some good and without investigation we really don’t know.”

Hawaii Opens First Medical Marijuana Dispensary After 17-Year Wait

hawaii_2After a 17-year wait, Hawaii’s 18,000 medical marijuana patients will finally have a place to shop.

Maui Grown Therapies is set to open next week, having been the first dispensary to receive approval from the Department of Health to begin selling medical cannabis.

“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii. This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited,” said Teri Freitas Gorman, Maui Grown’s director of community relations and patient affairs.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legal in the state until 2015. Eight other medical marijuana dispensaries have also been granted licenses (three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island, and two on Maui), but sales were delayed until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–meaning that dispensaries who had begun growing and harvesting plants were unable to sell it.

Maui Grown had a “soft opening” yesterday, limiting sales to pre-registered patients by appointment only. Freitas Gorman said that they made 22 transactions and encountered a few software glitches, but she said patients were very excited. Flower was sold for $20 per gram and $90 to $125 for a quarter-ounce, depending on the strain. Regular hours and walk-in sales will begin with the official opening on Tuesday, August 15.

Registered patients and caregivers can purchase up to 4 ounces of medical marijuana during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of 8 ounces over a 30 consecutive day period.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.”

Aloha Green in Honolulu will open on the heels of Maui Grown Therapies. They’ve received the go-ahead from the Department of Health and expect to open Wednesday.

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.

Colorado’s $100 Million/Month of Cannabis Sales the “New Norm”

mjbizAnother month, another record-breaking amount of cannabis sales in Colorado. The cannabis industry achieved a milestone in May, with $100 million in pot sales for the 12th consecutive month.

“I think that $100 million a month (in sales) are the new norm,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm.

Over 12 months, Colorado saw monthly sales reach $1.4 billion the state collected nearly $223 million in taxes and license fees. Since recreational marijuana was legalized four years ago, recreational sales have consistently counted for two-thirds of the monthly pot sales totals.

In May, recreational-use sales accounted for about $90.1 million and those from medical marijuana contributed just over $37.5 million. The industry’s 2017 cumulative sales through five months neared $620 million, generating close to $96 million in state revenue from taxes and fees.

However, Colorado is seeing a slow-down of growth in the industry as more states legalize recreational marijuana. Sales in Nevada–where dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4–prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency as marijuana supplies ran dry. Recreational marijuana sales launch in California in 2018.

In Colorado, the market is still growing, but Gomez said that the market is approaching maturity.

“What you’re seeing in Colorado is similar to other industries, we’re starting to see lower double-digit growth rates, rather than the triple-digit growth rates,” she said. “That time of massive growth expansion in Colorado, I think, is over.”

Signs of market maturity includes the increased demand for concentrates and edibles, as well as a decrease in overall number of medical marijuana patients. New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics firm, said that falling prices have reduced the incentive for patients to apply for medical marijuana prescription.

As of May 31, 2017, a total of 86,964 patients had an active medical marijuana registration, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. A year before, that figure was 106,066.

Since recreational use began in 2014, the products that cannabis users have evolved. Consumers have shifted from dried marijuana flower to infused products, edibles, and concentrates.

“There is increased innovation in the product category, and that’s continuing,” she said. “Consumption patterns haven’t really settled in the recreational market yet; people are still experimenting. There is still a lot of room for change there.”

 

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