Tag: News

Marijuana Becomes a Player in California Politics and It’s Putting Its Money on Gavin Newsom

Marijuana is already a multi-billion dollar a year business in California, and with recreational sales to adults coming online next year, it’s about to get even bigger.

Now, the legal pot industry is beginning to throw its weight around in state office-level politics, and it’s doing it the old-fashioned way: with a checkbook.

Fund-raising for the 2018 gubernatorial campaign is already well underway, and according to a recent Los Angeles Times analysis of campaign contributions, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is running away with the cannabis cash.

Pot growers, retailers, and others in the industry have donated more than $300,000, swamping industry contributions to his Democratic competitors, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ($5,000) and Treasurer John Chiang ($100).

That means that Newsom has hoovered up around 98% of pot industry contributions in the Democratic race for the nomination so far. There’s a reason for that—actually a couple of them.

First, the charismatic former San Francisco mayor has been a key player in the state’s path toward full legalization, just as he was an early supporter of gay marriage.

One of the first state-level officials to come out for freeing the weed, he has used his largely ceremonial position as lieutenant governor to champion the cause, creating a blue ribbon commission and holding public hearings to develop policy to support what would ultimately become Prop 64, the legalization initiative approved by voters last fall. He’s earned some political goodwill from the pot people.

Second, he’s actively courting the industry. The Times reports that Newsom has held four industry fundraisers so far, including this one in March, hosted by the Indus Holding Company, maker of such marijuana-infused treats as Toasted Rooster and Crispy Kraken chocolate bars:

The fundraising dinner for Gavin Newsom in Salinas was in most ways a typical night for a political candidate. Local business leaders paid up to $5,000 for a chance to talk with the man aiming to be California’s next governor over cauliflower bisque, strip steak and Meyer lemon pudding cake.

The hosts that March evening were in the agriculture business, in a region known for its lettuce, grapes and strawberries. But they left their signature dish off the menu: candy infused with marijuana…. Dinner gave way to a roundtable discussion among the 20 or so guests, who raised with Newsom some of the issues affecting their nascent businesses, according to interviews with multiple attendees.

Banking was a major topic that night, they said. Currently, the vast majority of banks and credit unions will not work with cannabis companies, because the federal government considers their revenue illegal. Some operate on an all-cash basis, and most lack the ability to find traditional financing.

There is a lot at stake for the marijuana industry. Regulatory and tax policies for the new legalization regime are being developed now. As both wielder of the veto pen over legislation and head of the executive branch that will implement legalization, whoever the next governor is, he or she will be a critical player making decisions that will help decide who makes a fortune and who doesn’t.

And that worries Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, which represents small growers in Northern California’s traditional pot-growing Emerald Triangle.

He told the Times the money to Newsom is coming from large enterprises and wealthy individuals seeking to cut out the ma-and-pa growers who paved the way.

“There are fierce and cutthroat business practices coming,” he said. “We’re pushing to keep craft growers in business.”

The $300,000 raised so far by the pot industry is only a small part of Newsom’s $14 million campaign war chest, but it’s more than raised by any agricultural sector in the state, and it’s a clear sign of pot’s increasing political clout.

But with legalization already won—at least on the state level—that clout is going to be focused on who benefits and how.


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization

BOSTON, MA — Members of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators have for the first time voted in favor of a resolution in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

The NHCSL is a non-partisan group that represents the interests of Hispanic state lawmakers from all fifty states.

The resolution states that federal cannabis criminalization is “unconstitutional” because it was initiated by “racist politicians” who explicitly wished to “target … Mexican-American culture.”

It calls on federal lawmakers to “enact and sign legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana.”

It urges state lawmakers to similarly enact decriminalization policies and to seal the records of those formerly convicted of marijuana-related crimes.

“NHCSL believes that our laws should focus on ending the current lawlessness of the black market and allow sound public policy based on scientific evidence to prevail on the issue of cannabis,” the group’s President stated in a press release.

The NHCSL’s actions come days after representatives of the National Conference of State Legislators resolved in favor of removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Patients Find Relief in Medical Marijuana

(Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance)

FORT COLLINS, CO — Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis report that cannabis effectively mitigates many of their symptoms, according to survey data published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

Five hundred and ninety-five subjects responded to an online questionnaire hosted on the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society webpages.

Respondents reported that cannabis was highly effective (6.4 on a scale from zero to 7) at providing symptom management, and 59 percent of participants said that they had reduced their use of prescription drugs since initiating medical marijuana treatment.

Those respondents who identified themselves as medical cannabis users reported lower overall levels of disability compared to non-users, specifically in the domains of memory, mood, and fatigue.

Placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the use of both whole-plant cannabis and/or cannabis-derived extracts in patients with MS have consistently shown efficacy in the mitigation of spasticity and other symptoms.

A plant cannabis-derived spray, Sativex, is available by prescription for the treatment of MS in Canada, the United Kingdom, and in several other countries.

Patients with PD consistently report subjective benefits from cannabis, particularly for the mitigation of tremors and bradykinsea (slowness of movement).

Full text of the study, “Cannabis use in people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis: A web-based investigation,” appears in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Utah Advocates Launch 2018 Medical Marijuana Signature Drive

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Advocates hoping to place an initiative on Utah’s midterm election ballot next year will officially launch their signature collection campaign on Thursday.

The Utah Patients Coalition, backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, will kick off the signature collection campaign at a Thursday morning event at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City.

Volunteers will begin collecting signatures in downtown Salt Lake City immediately following the event, which will include a press conference and speeches from campaign leaders, patients and suporters.

Last week, the group’s proposal, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, received approval from the state to begin collecting signatures.

The group needs to collect over 113,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

“We plan to gather the first signatures by next week and be finished prior to the 2018 legislative session in January,” said DJ Schanz, campaign co-director for Utah Patients Coalition. “Our volunteers—many of them patients or caregivers themselves—have been ready and eagerly waiting; it feels good to know we will have scheduled events in the coming weeks for those who have waited years for this.”

The proposed initiative would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to legally and safely access medical cannabis with the recommendation of their doctor.

It limits the number of dispensaries and cultivators, allows local zoning for medical cannabis facilities, prohibits using medical cannabis in public view, maintains the illegality of driving while intoxicated, and closely mirrors the legislation passed by the Utah Senate in 2016.

Home cultivation of cannabis and smoking marijuana by patients would not be permitted.

Recent polling has found that an overwhelming majority of Utah voters support the proposal.

Information for those wishing to donate or help gather signatures will be posted at UtahPatients.org.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Court: Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Does Not Justify Workplace Discrimination Against State-Qualified Patients

HARTFORD, CT — A federal district court judge has determined that marijuana’s illicit status under federal law does not preempt statewide protections explicitly prohibiting qualified medical cannabis patients from facing discrimination in the workplace.

The defendant in the case, Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, argued that marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug under the US Controlled Substances Act provided a legal basis for its decision to rescind a job offer to a would-be employee after she failed a drug screen.

United States District Court Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer disagreed. He wrote:

“This lawsuit calls upon me to decide if federal law preempts Connecticut law. In particular, I must decide if federal law precludes enforcement of a Connecticut law that prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire someone who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes. I conclude that the answer to that question is ‘no’ and that a plaintiff who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes in compliance with Connecticut law may maintain a cause of action against an employer who refuses to employ her for this reason.”

The ruling follows that of a similar decision in Massachusetts in July which determined that state-registered medical cannabis patients may sue a private employer for discrimination if they are fired for their off-the-job marijuana use.

The case is Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company, LLC.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

SMART Bill Reintroduced in Congress to Protect State Marijuana Laws

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) has reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534).

This bill prohibits state-sanctioned marijuana consumers and businesses from being prosecuted by the federal government.

By a margin of more than 6 to 1, Americans say that individual states should be able to make their own laws governing the use and sale of marijuana.

The SMART Enforcement Act acknowledges this voter sentiment while also ensuring states are operating in a safe and responsible manner.

In a prepared statement, Congresswoman DelBene says that her legislation “will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act. It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana within their own borders.”

Legislation similar to this is pending in California, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

As Congresswoman DelBene said, “People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.”

Click here to urge your Representatives to support this legislation.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

No One Has Applied to Grow or Sell Medical Marijuana in Arkansas (Yet)

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Arkansas is halfway through the application period for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries for their fledgling medical marijuana program, and so far the total number of applications received is zero.

While some naysayers could claim this shows little interest in the upcoming medical marijuana industry in Arkansas, a spokesperson for the state says they’re not concerned as applicants are most likely being diligent in navigating the complex application process.

“We are not concerned, as we understand the applications require detailed and specific information that will take time to complete,” Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin told The Associated Press.

“Applicants are likely performing their due diligence to provide quality applications,” Hardin says, noting that the applications are likely to be received closer to the September 18 deadline.

Meanwhile, over 400 completed patient applications have been approved to date, according to the Department of Health, who estimates approximately 30,000 residents will eventually participate in the program.

Medical marijuana identification cards will not be issued until 30 days prior to the first dispensaries opening.

Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, was approved by voters on November 8, garnering over 53 percent of the vote.

More information on the Arkansas medical marijuana program is available from the Arkansas Department of Health.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Herbal Cannabis Sales Still Dominate the Retail Marijuana Market

SANTA MONICA, CA — Herbal cannabis is far more popular among consumers than are plant-derived edibles or extracts, according to an analysis of retail sales data in Washington state.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica reviewed data from over 36 million separate retail cannabis transactions in Washington.

Sales occurred from July 2014 to September 2016.

Authors reported that “traditional cannabis flowers still account for the majority of spending (66.6 percent), though they acknowledged that sales of plant-derived extracts have increased significantly over the past two years.

Researchers also reported that prices on cannabis-related products fell sharply in the months following legalization “as new retailers entered the market and production expanded.”

Full text of the study, “Variation in cannabis potency and prices in a newly legal market: Evidence from 30 million cannabis sales in Washington state,” appears in Addiction.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York Medical Marijuana Program Could Expand Under DOH Proposal

New York, NY (WikiMedia Commons)

NEW YORK, NY — The New York State Department of Health has announced the issuance of new proposed regulations that would make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to improve access.

Among other things, they would reduce some of the onerous security requirements for registered organizations, shorten the length of the medical marijuana course certifying practitioners must take from four hours to two, and allow additional types of medical marijuana products to be sold.

“This is yet another positive step forward for New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “These regulations will continue to improve the program in several ways, including making new forms of medical marijuana available and improving the dispensing facility experience.”

New York’s medical marijuana program has been criticized by patient advocates as unnecessarily restrictive, and initial patient registration numbers were very low compared to other state medical marijuana programs.

The Department of Health has made several changes to the program since it issued a report in August 2016, including adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition and allowing registered nurses and physician’s assistants to recommended medical marijuana.

Lawmakers have also been working to improve the medical marijuana program this session. In June, the Legislature passed a bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must still sign the bill in order for it to become law.

“Many of the patients I worked with to help pass New York’s medical marijuana law have been unable to benefit from the program due to high prices and the inability to find a medical professional who is participating,” said patient advocate Kate Hintz in a statement. “I’m hopeful that the reduction in burdens on practitioners will encourage more of them to participate, and that these regulatory changes will help registered organizations reduce their costs, with those savings then being passed on to patients.

“We are grateful to the Department of Health for listening to what patients need and working to expand the program and increase access to medical marijuana,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project.  “Different patients benefit from different types of products, and we are glad that the new rules will allow a wider variety of choices. This is a great step toward reducing costs and improving patients’ options.”

Here are the proposed changes, as posed in a press release issued by the Department of Health:

Expanding the Variety of Medical Marijuana Products

Under the new regulations, registered organizations will be allowed to manufacture and distribute additional products including topicals such as lotions, ointments and patches, as well as solid and semi-solid products including chewable and effervescent tablets and lozenges. Certain non-smokable forms of ground plant material will also be permissible for manufacture and distribution. All products will be subject to rigorous testing and the Department will reserve the right to exclude inappropriate products or those which pose a threat to the public.

Improving the Dispensing Facility Experience

The new regulations will also allow prospective patients and practitioners to enter a dispensing facility to speak directly with an RO representative, learn about products, and get information about the medical marijuana program.In addition, these measures will allow people other than designated caregivers to accompany certified patients to the dispensing facility.

Refining the Training Program for Practitioners

Based on feedback from practitioners,the Department’s proposed regulations will allow for shortened versions of the practitioner’s course required to certify patients for medical marijuana, in addition to the currently available four-hour courses.The Department will work with course providers to offer a two-hour course, which is similar to other medical education courses.

Other Regulatory Actions

In addition, the proposed regulations also make a number of changes to help enhance the medical marijuana program. These changes include broadening the capability of registered organizations to advertise, streamlining the manufacturing requirements for medical marijuana products, amending security requirements, and clarifying laboratory testing methods, among other actions.

For more information on New York’s Medical Marijuana Program, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Utah 2018 Medical Marijuana Initiative Approved for Signature Gathering

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Utah Patients Coalition has received approval from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox to begin gathering signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

After holding 10 public hearings across the state and meeting with various state departments and stakeholders, Utah Patients Coalition will now proceed to collect the more than 113,000 required signatures to place doctor-approved access to medical cannabis on the ballot for Utah voters to approve.

In response to feedback from state officials, Utah Patients Coalition made two technical changes to the initiative language: (1) striking a short tax deduction provision that would have required federal tax law to be interpreted and implemented by state tax authorities, an issue that advocates plan to revisit with the State Tax Commission and the legislature after the initiative becomes law; and (2) establishing a limit on the amount of medical cannabis that a patient or caregiver can transport, bringing it in line with a common 30-day restriction on pharmacy drugs.

“We plan to gather the first signatures by next week and be finished prior to the 2018 legislative session in January,” said DJ Schanz, campaign co-director for Utah Patients Coalition. “Our volunteers—many of them patients or caregivers themselves—have been ready and eagerly waiting; it feels good to know we will have scheduled events in the coming weeks for those who have waited years for this.”

“Everyone involved worked efficiently and provided important input, helping us make sure that Utahns will vote on the best proposal possible,” said Schanz.

Utah Patients Coalition will now begin printing petition packets and organizing signature-gathering efforts. The campaign plans to announce volunteer training and petition events in the coming weeks.

Information for those wishing to donate or help gather signatures will be posted at UtahPatients.org.

Recent polling has found that an overwhelming majority of Utah voters support the proposal.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.