Posts Tagged ‘legal marijuana’

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.”

 

Coloradoans Increasingly Turn to Marijuana for Relief

medical-cannabisSometimes it feels like people don’t agree on anything these days, so it’s reassuring to find that, in Colorado at least, there’s still one thing that can bring people together: weed.

At least according to a new survey released by Consumer Research Around Cannabis.

Consumer Research compiled data from Denver and Colorado Springs, the state’s two largest cannabis markets. They found that despite differences in city size, demographic makeup, and overall political affiliation, more than half of the respondents approved of recreational and medical marijuana use.

Jeff Stein, Vice President of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, said the survey results show that “Denver leads Colorado Springs, 58% to 52%, in acceptance of medical and/or recreational marijuana, but the two regions reflect each other almost identically when looked at through a political lens. In both areas, nearly 75% of liberals, about 60% of independents, and roughly 35% of conservatives approve of legal usage.”

Colorado Springs is home to 725,00 adults and was rated the fourth-most conservative major city in the country in 2014, while Denver, with at population of 3.2 million adults, was rated the 19th most liberal city.

On top of high marijuana approval rates, respondents from both cities reported having similar reasons for using cannabis. More than 40% of respondents said that they used marijuana to help them sleep, followed closely by those who use it to treat chronic and recurring pain.

One notable difference in the data was the percentage of people who used cannabis to treat “temporary or minor pain” in Colorado Springs at 17.2%, making it the city’s third most important reason for using cannabis. Lumping together chronic and temporary or minor pain means that about 67% of cannabis use in Colorado is as a painkiller.

“Over the long run, It will be interesting to see how marijuana use affects sales of traditional pharmaceuticals for these kinds of ailments,” said Stein.

The survey didn’t identify how respondents consumed cannabis: whether flower, concentrate, or edible.

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.

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!

 

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.”

Vermont Governor Vetoes Marijuana Bill

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have legalized recreational marijuana.

The bill would have made it legal for anyone over 21 to possess and grow cannabis.

Scott cited concerns about public safety, seeking changes to the bill that would include more aggressive penalties for driving while impaired or in the presence of children. The governor is also calling for an expansion of a commission that would develop a proposal to tax and regulate marijuana. He wants it to include representatives from the Vermont departments of Public Safety, Health and Taxes as well as the substance abuse prevention and treatment community.

“We must get this right,” said Scott during a press conference, adding, “I’m not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana.”

Matt Simon, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project responded to the governor’s decision, “We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.” A new bill could be introduced as early as July.

Studies by the Vermont Department of Health have found that Vermont has among the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the country and the second-highest use among people ages 12 to 25.

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. Vermont would have been the ninth state to legalize recreational cannabis, but the first state to legalize marijuana through a state legislature rather than by public referendum.

Nearly 20 states have bills pending that would legalize adult-use marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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