Tag: Politics

Delivery, Diversity Top Concerns at LA City Council Hearing

At 6:30 p.m. this past Wednesday night, Los Angeles City Hall council chambers were packed with cannabis business owners, activists, and community leaders, all looking to voice their opinions about how the city should regulate the coming adult-use cannabis industry.

‘California has voted for it. We have to regulate it.’

Herb Wesson, LA City Council President

“California has voted for it. We have to regulate it. And that’s what we’re attempting to do,” said City Council President Herb Wesson.

Los Angeles voters passed Measure M earlier this month, which gave the City Council oversight control of recreational cannabis. The measure also implemented a system of taxation for its sales, transportation, and cultivation. Now the hard work begins. LA must build a regulatory system from the ground up, creating rules on everything from consumer safety to enforcement practices.

For guidance, LA called officials from other states who have already been through the process. Both Rick Garza, director of the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, and Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told the Council that they modeled many aspects of their cannabis regulations on existing alcohol laws.

In Washington, law enforcement agents conduct regular bar visits to ensure that underage drinkers aren’t being served. The state adopted this requirement for cannabis businesses as well, with all retailers subject to a premises check at least three times a year, said Garza. As a result, they’re seeing a similar compliance rate at dispensaries as they do at alcohol establishments, at about 92 percent.

While Garza and Marks detailed their states’ approach to cannabis marketing and criminal background checks, the LA industry officials in attendance on Wednesday night seemed most concerned with two things: delivery and diversity.

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Delivery: Patients Demand It

Cannabis delivery has long been a confusion and contentious issue in Los Angeles. Making home cannabis delivery legal and accessible can be critically important for medical marijuana patients. Two of the city’s most popular services, SpeedWeed and Nestdrop, were forced to cease services within the city limits late last year, bowing to court injunctions initiated by the LA City Attorney. Although some delivery operations continue to do business within the city (either under the radar or by exploiting legal loopholes), the LA industry showed up in force to demand more legal opportunities for delivery services.

Sky Siegel, a member of the LA Cannabis Task Force, shared a personal anecdote at Wednesday’s meeting. After being hospitalized with a severe spinal injury, he  was immobilized, in need of cannabis, and unable to access the medicine he needed. Delivery services were his only option. Allowing cannabis delivery under new City regulations, he said, would help others in similar situations.

‘We allow delivery of alcohol in Washington. I’m not sure why we shouldn’t allow cannabis.’

Rick Garza, Director, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

“I know there are many under-served communities in the Los Angeles area that would benefit from medicinal cannabis,” Siegel said, “and I would like that thought not to be an afterthought, but something that’s actually developed in league with both the cities and the legislative partners in the state,” he said.

While many spoke in favor of decriminalizing delivery, there were divergent views on whether that would be best accomplished through strategic regulations or simply by loosening the city’s regulatory grip.

“Many regulations besides zoning are determined at the state level,” said Zachary Pitts of Goddess Delivers, a medical cannabis delivery co-op that ships product throughout the state. Those city regulations, he said, end up “intervening too heavily, and might push jobs and taxes to other municipalities.”

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Delivery is legal in Oregon, but delivery services operate under structured, detailed regulations that require companies to track any product that’s removed from a dispensary without being sold. Delivery is outlawed in Washington state, due in large part to problems early on with illegal product being distributed in major cities like Seattle, Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board director Rick Garza explained. Now however, Garza is reconsidering this policy.

“We allow delivery of alcohol in Washington,” he said. “I’m not sure why we shouldn’t allow cannabis, especially when you put it in the context of medical patients.”

Access to Capital: Big Diversity Issue

In addition to delivery, many speakers stressed the importance of having LA’s cannabis industry reflect the diversity and demographics of the city. Tomer Grassiany, a member of the LA Cannabis Task Force, asked Garza and Marks if their states’ businesses reflected the communities in which they operated.

Not so much, they answered.

“I think the social justice and equity issues…[were areas] that I wish we had considered,” said Garza. “It became clear to us after we closed the door that many of the minority communities felt that they were not able to get into the system.”

‘Many of the minority communities felt they were not able to get into the system.’

Rick Garza, Washington LCB

Washington has no program to better incorporate women and minorities into the cannabis industry, said Garza. He stressed the need for Los Angeles to not follow his state’s lead in this regard. In Oregon, by contrast, Marks said state officials did extensive outreach to those groups and worked with the Minority Cannabis Business Association to try and diversify the ranks of the cannabis industry.

Both Garza and Marks emphasized that fairness in the cannabis industry has a lot to do with access: helping connect entrepreneurs with the education and financial resources they need to get their business up and running.

“That’s the biggest problem in this industry,” said Garza. Entrepreneurs “can’t go to a bank and get a loan.”

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Advice: Take Your Time

Garza and Marks warned Los Angeles council members to be patient when developing regulations. In Washington state, they spent about six months holding public forums and soliciting input from law enforcement, the cannabis industry, and the public before even starting to write cannabis regulations, said Garza. Those regulations then took another six months to actually complete.

“I would take the time you need, and I can share with you that it’s never going to be soon enough for the industry,” said Garza.

If Los Angeles sticks to the September 30, 2017, deadline outlined in Measure M, that only gives the city about six months total to settle on a course of action. City Council President Wesson argued, however, that Los Angeles has been gearing up for this process since early 2016.

“It’s almost a year that we’ve been having hearings, listening to the community, trying to adjust or take some of the recommendations that you make,” he said.

The LA City Council is now poised to establish a five-person Cannabis Licensing Commission, which will oversee the license and public hearing process, coordinate business inspections and audits, and work with the city to implement new regulations.


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.

State of the Leaf: Rhode Island to (Finally) Hold First MMJ Meeting

State of the Leaf is Leafly’s weekly roundup of legalization news from around the nation and the world. 

Connecticut

Will Connecticut become the next state to end prohibition? Maybe. A legislative hearing in Hartford to tax-and-regulate is the latest sign of momentum in New England.

Georgia

With this year’s legislative session rapidly winding down, a compromise on Georgia’s medical cannabis oil expansion appears likely. Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) introduced House Bill 65 to dramatically expand Georgia’s list of qualifying conditions. Rep. Peake’s expansion bill sailed through Georgia’s House of Representatives by a vote of 165-6.

The corresponding Senate bill comes with a twist however. In addition to expanding Georgia’s registry to incude more ailments, Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah) would arbitrarily reduce THC levels from an already low 5% to 3%. The Senate approved their stingier bill after a brief debate.

“We are working to find a resolution,” Peake said, referring to the disparity between the two versions for the bill.

Sadly, Rep. Peake’s bill to put a home-cultivation measure on Georgia’s ballot continues to languish in a sort of legislative no-man’s land. That bill (House Resolution 36) has not gotten a hearing. With this year’s legislative season ending on March 30th, the bill’s prospects are not looking good.

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Maine

Cannabis is legal in Maine for medical and adult recreational consumption. Until recently it’s been a cash-only businesses. That may soon change in Maine. One Maine legislator wants health insurance plans to cover medical cannabis.

Newly introduced legislation, LD 1064, sponsored by Benjamin Collins (D-Portland) “requires health insurance carriers to provide coverage for marijuana for medical use for a health plan enrollee who has received certification for the medical use of marijuana from an authorized medical provider.”

This Maine bill comes on the heels of a New Jersey court ruling in which a judge ordered an insurance carrier to reimburse a policyholder’s medical cannabis expenses, suggesting a possible trend.

In the meantime, Maine’s largest dispensary is now offering a cashless debit option for medical cannabis purchases, the second in the state to do so. It’s another baby step toward a frictionless, mainstreamed cannabis economy.

“Being able to offer an alternative payment method to cash legitimizes our company,” Patricia Rosi, Wellness Connection of Maine CEO told Leafly. “And most importantly, it offers increased convenience and safety for our patients and our staff. Wellness Connection is proud of meeting the high level of compliance required by our banking partner and Canpay for this new secure way of payment.”

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Montana

Legislators in the Big Sky State are considering adding a 6% excise tax on all medical cannabis sales in the state. Montana voters passed a medical cannabis referendum last November.

On the one hand, nothing confers legitimacy like taxes. If they tax-and-regulate something then it must be real, right? But on the other hand, taxing medicine is bad policy. That’s why we don’t tax insulin. Or Viagra.

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New Hampshire

A week after voting to decriminalize cannabis in New Hampshire, legislators in the Concord state house might soon include an additional chronic pain condition—Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes excruciating pain—in the state’s medical marijuana program. The bipartisan duo sponsoring the bill cited the state’s opioid addiction crisis as a reason to explore healthier chronic pain treatments like cannabis.

New Mexico

Should New Mexico allow the use of medical cannabis to treat opiate addiction? State Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Albuquerque) thinks so. He recently introduced a bill with that goal in mind.

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Pennsylvania

The application deadline for grower, processor, and dispensary licenses in Pennsylvania passed this week.

“We’ll evaluate the applications themselves, then issue permits,” Gov. Tom Wolfe’s office spokesperson told Leafly. “The next step is the application process for labs to test for purity and quality control. Pennsylvania is unique for its transparency. Our regulatory process is transparent, as it should be.”

What about the timeline for patients to get their meds? Hard to say.

“When Governor Wolfe signed Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law in April of last year,” the spokesperson added, “he said it would be an 18 to 24 month process. We remain on target.”

Gov. Wolfe, a Democrat, has increasingly broad bipartisan support in Harrisburg.

“We’re on the same page,” State Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) told Leafly. “We couldn’t ask for better collaborators than the Governor and his Department of Health. Our goal remains to deliver quality medicine to patients as safely and quickly as possible. Fear will abate and people will see the exciting research opportunities because we’re just scratching the surface.”

But what about Jeff Session, the US attorney general with a notoriously dim view of cannabis?

“Look, this is a freedom issue about states rights,” Sen. Folmer told Leafly. “And I’ll be on the front lines defending the rights of medical marijuana users in my state.”

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Rhode Island

It’s been eight long years since the Rhode Island General Assembly passed medical cannabis legislation over the veto pen of then-Gov. Donald Carcieri. And yet, astonishingly, the state’s medical marijuana Legislative Oversight Commission has yet to hold its first meeting. That ridiculous delay, rife with palace intrigue, is scheduled to end next week when the commission gavels in for the very first time. After eight years. Let that sink in for a moment.

In advance of the long-overdue oversight hearings, Regulate Rhode Island, a local cannabis advocacy group, issued a detailed report outlining why RI’s best bet is ending prohibition altogether.

“Rhode Island has a chance to get a foothold in an emerging regional economy by legalizing and regulating marijuana this year,” Regulate Rhode Island https://www.regulateri.com  leader Jared Moffat told Leafly. “We know that regulation is working in other states, so this would be a victory from a public policy perspective as well as an economic one.”

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Utah

Advocates in Utah are gearing up to place a medical cannabis referendum on the ballot. The multimillion dollar effort is a reaction to the failure of repeated efforts in the state house.

“We are really, honestly answering a demand,” Christine Stenquist of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) told local media. “The legislators have failed, so the people are taking this up. This is a movement by the people, for the people, without a doubt.”

Vermont

A bill (H-170) to end prohibition was on the agenda this week in the Montpelier state house. And then suddenly, it wasn’t. Is the move to legalize recreational cannabis stalling in VT? It is, if former Congressman/zealous prohibitionist Patrick Kennedy has his way. Kennedy personally lobbied to nix progress on the Vermont bill.

West Virginia

Despite a new democratic governor who’s open to progress, medical cannabis reform remains unlikely in the Mountaineer State. How bad is it?

“It’s awful,” Matt Simon of MPP told Leafly. “House Speaker Tim Armstead refuses to allow medical cannabis bills to be considered, and for that reason alone it has been next to impossible for advocates to make progress in Charleston.”

This, despite another medical cannabis bill, HB-3035, recently introduced in the House to do just that.

“As long as the House of Delegates is led by a powerful anti-marijuana Speaker, it’s a hard ‘no’ on reform”

Undaunted, two West Virginia state senators this week filed a resolution to amend the state’s constitution to permit medical cannabis use. It’s an extremely long shot, but as one legislator pointed out, just having the long-overdue discussion was a sign of progress.

“It was great to have the debate — that was step one,” Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Wheeling) said.

International News

Australia

Citing the costs of 80,000 annual drug-related arrests in Australia, a coalition of legal and law enforcement types has proposed decriminalizing drug use in Australia.

Israel

Does Israel lead the pack in cannabis research? Sure looks that way. So what makes Israel a world-beater? “Israel boasts by far the most progressive regulatory environment for medical cannabis use worldwide,” says the CEO of BOL Pharma, which supplies cannabinoid products to the pharma and biotech industry. That’ll do it, eh?

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Kenya

Fun fact: we call it cannabis. Kenyans commonly call it bhang. Cannabis is not legal in Kenya, but a panel heard testimony to remove it from Kenya’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994.

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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.

Colorado Crackdown on Homegrown Cannabis Advances

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado plan to crack down on homegrown cannabis is rapidly heading to the governor’s desk after lawmakers changed the bill to give medical marijuana patients more leeway.

‘We’re not respecting patients’ rights as well as pushing the industry forward.’

Jason Warf , Southern Colorado Cannabis Council

A Senate committee vote 5-0 to set a statewide limit of 12 plants per residential property. That’s down from 99 plants under current law.

The bill was changed to give medical marijuana patients and their caregivers up to 24 plants, if they register with the state and with local authorities. Currently, registration is required only if patients have more than 99 plants.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers from both parties have called the cannabis crackdown a top priority as the state awaits word of how the new federal administration plans to treat state-legal marijuana states.

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Of the 28 states that allow medical cannabis, none but Colorado allows patients to have more than 16 plants growing in their homes.

“It is time that we fix this before someone comes in and fixes it for us,” said Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, speaking on behalf of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Few testified against the bill, though it would effectively force some patients to shop from commercial cannabis retailers. One of the few who did complained that the measure is driven by the profit implications of forcing people to buy cannabis in stores instead of growing it outside the regulated market.

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“We’re not respecting patients’ rights as well as pushing the industry forward,” said Jason Warf of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council.

Colorado has some 19,000 medical marijuana patients whose doctors have recommended a high number of plants in order to produce cannabis oils and other medical treatments. Some treatments require a pound of marijuana to produce an ounce of cannabis oil.

Lawmakers amended the bill to make it a misdemeanor, not a felony, to be caught with too many plants until the third offense.

The bill now awaits a vote by the full House. It has already passed the House, though Senate changes will require the bill to return there before heading to the governor’s desk.


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 Group Begins Push to Legalize Medical Cannabis

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Medical marijuana advocates in Utah are planning to try to get an initiative on the November 2018 ballot that would allow the drug to be used for treatment.

Advocates say they’re done waiting for state lawmakers, who have rejected passing a broad medical cannabis law during the last three consecutive sessions. Medical marijuana advocate Christine Stenquist says the legislature’s decisions over the last few years have made it clear that lawmakers have no desire to move forward with legalizing the drug, so they’re going to do it themselves.

Here are things to know about the ballot initiative and the work over the last few years in Utah to get medical cannabis legalized:

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What Is the Ballot Initiative Process?

Medical marijuana advocates have already taken preliminary steps to get an initiative on next year’s ballot. Stenquist, who also leads a cannabis legalization group called Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, says she and other Utah residents have started meeting with donors and talking with signature gatherers. A ballot initiative requires thousands of signatures, a legal review and seven town hall meetings around the state. Stenquist says the entire process could cost as much as $800,000. The advocates want to legalize whole plant medical cannabis, but are still sorting out what the specific language of the initiative should look like.

What Did Lawmakers Pass in 2017?

Utah lawmakers have scaled back their push to expand the state’s very limited medical cannabis law during the recently completed legislative session. Republican Rep. Brad Daw introduced a bill that calls for additional research on the drug’s effects. It easily passed through the legislature and is now awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature. The other marijuana-related proposal would have outlined what rules the state would put in place to regulate the legalization of the drug if that ever happens in the future, but it never made it past the Senate.

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What Has the State Tried in the Past?

Utah already allows a marijuana extract, called cannabidiol, to be used by those with severe epilepsy, as long as they obtain it from other states. It has low levels of THC, the hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana. In 2015, lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have allowed those with chronic and debilitating diseases to consume marijuana-infused products such as brownies, candy and lozenges. Last year, lawmakers tried again, attempting to pass two competing proposals, but both died amid regulatory and budgetary concerns. One would have allowed those with certain debilitating conditions to use a cannabis extract with very low levels of the plant’s psychoactive components, while the more comprehensive bill would have made edibles and other marijuana products legal in Utah for those with chronic pain.

What Have Other States Done?

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but some states have started to allow its use, starting with California 20 years ago. Eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational cannabis and 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota were among some of the states that approved legislation legalizing medical marijuana.


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.

Meet the NFF: New Group to Lobby Trump, Congress on Cannabis

Several leading cannabis companies across the United States have banded together to form a political advocacy group aimed at protecting the legal cannabis trade. The group includes major mainstream cannabis players and a long-established brand that’s a newcomer to the cannabis space.

The new group, called the New Federalism Fund (NFF), is being backed by these companies:

The NFF will have three primary aims: continuing the smooth operation of a regulated industry in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana; maintaining the federal government’s hands-off approach toward cannabis when it comes to law enforcement; and reforming the 280E section of the federal tax code.

The NFF was created ‘to have positive engagement with Congress and the Trump administration.’

Neal Levine, Chairman, NFF

Leafly reached out to Medicine Man, Native Roots, Privateer Holdings, and Dixie Brands. They declined to comment on the story. We were able to reach NFF Chairman Neal Levine, however, who said the group plans to work with Congress and the Trump administration to achieve its goals.

“The organization was created to have positive engagement with Congress and the Trump administration,” said Levine, a board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and director of government affairs for LivWell Enlightened Health. “If you listen to some of the negative comments coming out of the Department of Justice and the White House, about who we are and what we’re doing, it’s pretty apparent that there’s a lot of misinformation.”

Sharing Similar Goals

“Our industry aligns with some of the administration’s goals,” Levine said. “They have clearly said they want to crack down on drug cartels. They want to engage in substantial infrastructure projects and do comprehensive tax reform.” The legal, state-regulated industry effectively eliminates most of the black market that supports the drug cartels. And on tax reform, “we have this terrible tax penalty, 280E, which effectively functions as an 80% or 90% tax rate on cannabis businesses.”

“We can all agree on one concept: Marijuana is here and it is popular,” Levine said. “We can all agree that someone is going to sell it. And therefore, our industry is the answer. Who do you want selling this product? Do you want transparent, regulated, legally compliant companies that don’t allow anyone under the age of 21 into their store? Who test all their products? Who work with their regulators and work with their state, and pay their taxes? Or do you want drug cartels that don’t test their product and will sell to anyone? Someone is going to sell this. It’s a binary choice: Do you want drug dealers to sell or do you want regulated businesses?

“We feel like we are the solution to [the issues that the Trump administration and Congress] are talking about.”


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.

In This Alabama Church, Cannabis Is Part of a Spiritual Journey

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — With a stained-glass window behind them, a lineup of speakers stepped to the front of the church and talked about the potential health benefits of legalizing plants that are currently outlawed in Alabama.

“I smoke cannabis on a daily basis for my pain,” said Janice Rushing, president of the Oklevueha Native American Church of Inner Light in Alabama. “If I did not, I’d be on pain pills.”

Her husband, Christopher Rushing, chief executive officer of Oklevueha Native American Church of Inner Light, says he also uses marijuana routinely.

The Rushings founded the Oklevueha Church in 2015 and claim that it has a legal exemption for its members to smoke marijuana and ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms and peyote cactus.

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At a January forum with an audience of about 30 gathered at Unity Church in Birmingham, which allowed the use of its facilities, speakers discussed the potential benefits of marijuana and other substances for medicinal purposes.

“I had an ungodly facial rash,” said Sherrie Saunders, a former U.S. Army medic who is now a member of Oklevueha Native American Church in Alabama.

“We made a cream that completely got rid of that rash,” Mrs. Rushing said.

Someone in the audience discussed a heart problem and sleep apnea.

“That could be something that cannabis could help,” Saunders said.

She also said marijuana can ease manic bipolar disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

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“The medical establishment took away cannabis so they could sell us pills,” Saunders said.

Before marijuana was stigmatized as an illegal drug, Native Americans valued it as a natural herbal treatment for more than 90 percent of sicknesses, she said. “A woman in Nicaragua showed me how to cure cancer with cannabis,” Saunders said.

The woman had a son who was cured, she said. “I know why,” Saunders said. “God and cannabis.”

The National Cancer Institute, in its overview of cannabis in treatment of cancer, makes no claims for curative powers, but acknowledges that cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and that it “may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.”

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Chris Rushing stood in the pulpit and preached a sermon that mixed theology and a belief in natural, hallucinogenic plants. “That is God’s way of turning our brain on,” Rushing said.

“These entheogens work like tools to open up spaces and pathways of the mind,” Rushing said. “Yet it’s illegal. We all walk around producing natural chemicals that do the same.”

Rushing said it does not make sense that pharmaceutical companies make large profits on harmful synthetic and dangerous drugs, while plant and herbal medicines are illegal.

Rushing said the health benefits of marijuana, mushrooms and cacti are enormous. They can combat depression and cure people of addictions, he said.

The Oklevueha Native American Church of Inner Light in Warrior has been licensed as a federally registered branch of the Oklevueha Lakota Sioux Nation Native American Church, Rushing said.

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The church has a religious exemption to use psylocibin mushrooms and peyote cactus, both of which have properties that augment traditional Native American spiritual beliefs and experiences, Rushing said. He calls their use in religious ceremonies a sacrament.

All 120 members in the Alabama church carry photo identification, similar to a driver’s license, that identifies them as members of a church that has a federal religious exemption to use natural drugs that are otherwise prohibited by law, he said.

He believes all natural plants should be legal for medicinal use, including marijuana, peyote cactus and psylocibin mushrooms.

Rushing carries around with him documentation of court rulings such as a unanimous ruling in United States v. Robert Boyll in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that a non-Native American who was arrested for possession and intent to distribute peyote had the same constitutional protections as Native American members of the church.

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Rushing said he was licensed in the church by James Warren “Flaming Eagle” Mooney of Utah, who won a court battle with the state of Utah. The Utah Supreme Court ruled in Mooney’s favor in 2004, in State of Utah vs. Mooney’s and Oklevueha Native American Church. The state had argued that Mooney was engaged in a criminal enterprise for distributing peyote and tried to seize the church property. The Supreme Court ruled that the Native American Church was entitled to the religious exemption.

After the Jan. 21 forum at Unity Church, some in attendance expressed hope Alabama might soon follow in the footsteps of other states that have legalized marijuana. More than half of the states have decriminalized marijuana for medical uses and eight states have decriminalized marijuana for recreational uses.

Some of them say the Oklevueha Native American Church of Inner Light in Alabama is helping raise awareness.

“I think Chris’ work is vital,” said Jonah Tobin, founder of the Alabama Mother Earth Sustenance Alliance, or MESA. “People like him are part of that movement.”


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.

Is CBD Oil Legal? Depends on Where You Are and Who You Ask

CBD oils are increasingly popular among medical patients, athletes, and consumers looking for muscle relaxation, general therapy, and anxiety reduction. But their legal status remains utterly confusing—especially since the US Drug Enforcement Administration published a rule regarding CBD last December.

In that rule, the DEA reiterated that all cannabis extracts, including CBD, are considered Schedule I substances. The agency said the clarifying rule was needed to bring US law into conformity with United Nations treaties governing controlled substances.

The DEA considers it illegal, and yet it remains available online and in retail stores around the country.

But the clarification only served to confuse both consumers, CBD manufacturers, and retailers. And it was almost immediately challenged in court by a consortium of hemp and CBD oil producers.

More recently, the DEA issued a clarification to the clarification. It clearly stated: “Cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), cannabinols (CBN) and cannabidiols (CBD), are found in the parts of the cannabis plant that fall within the CSA definition of marijuana, such as the flowering tops, resin, and leaves.”

Meanwhile, CBD laws vary from state to state, and while the DEA considers it illegal under federal law, CBD products remain available for sale in health supplement shops and organic food stores around the country — though some of them might not contain all that much CBD.

Confused enough?

We’ll try to sort through it all for you.

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CBD is legally allowed in 44 states

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is just one of over a hundred cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. THC is the cannabinoid most folks are after when looking for a high. In contrast, CBD is non-intoxicating. In the 28 states where medical marijuana is legal, CBD products are covered by those same medical marijuana legal protections.

In recent years, 16 states have passed CBD-only laws, which legalize the possession and use of CBD products for specific qualifying conditions—but not cannabis products containing higher levels of THC. Those CBD-only laws often limit the legal possession and use of CBD products to children with epilepsy, and some nerve and muscle afflictions.

Only 6 states completely outlaw CBD: Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia.

Even in those states with CBD legal protections, however, the substance is considered federally illegal by the DEA.

Only six states—Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia still consider every part of the cannabis plant, including CBD, to be illegal.

Most states with CBD-only laws allow possession, but do not allow licensed dispensaries, home cultivation, or any other supply infrastructure. In other words, registered patients can have it and use it but can’t legally obtain it.

In Georgia, for example, the legislature passed a law in 2015 that made legal possession of up to 20 ounces of CBD for patients with qualifying conditions like seizure disorders and multiple sclerosis. The law does not, however, set up any supply infrastructure — there are no licensed dispensaries or producers. Recently, the Georgia legislature passed a compromise law that includes Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome in the list of diseases that can be treated by CBD — as long as that CBD oil has no more than 5 percent THC.

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Alabama’s laws allow CBD possession for qualifying patients through a clinical trial program at the University of Alabama. But the state doesn’t carve out any legal protections for production or distribution.

In the six states without CBD laws or medical marijuana laws, CBD remains a drug that’s punishable, in theory, by arrest. But it seems to be an extremely low priority for most law enforcement agencies. We could find only a few instances of anyone being arrested for CBD oil sales, and no examples of arrest for simple possession.

In practice, selling CBD seems to be legally riskier than possessing it. The DEA’s priority seems mostly to concern commercial violations; most cases involved smoke shops and non-cannabis vape stores selling CBD cartridges. In 2015, police seized CBD cartridges at a vape store near Milwaukee, but the store owners were never arrested or charged. (A 2014 law made it legal for patients to possess and use CBD oil in Wisconsin, but the law did not make it legal to sell.) That same year, police in central Florida arrested the owner of a local smoke shop chain for selling CBD products. 

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Legal morass

Did the DEA’s recent rule on CBD destroy the market and end all access to the compound? In a word, no.

“The sky is not falling; however, this is a very concerning move by the DEA,” attorney Bob Hoban told the Denver Post the day the rule was posted. “What it purports to do is give the DEA control of all cannabinoids as a controlled substance.”

‘The DEA cannot create a statute. That can only be done by Congress.’

Bob Hoban, cannabis attorney

Hemp growers weren’t happy about the DEA’s rule. Hoban says the DEA skirted an established federal process: Only Congress can add a new substance to the Controlled Substances Act.

On Jan. 13, the Hemp Industries Association, RMH Holdings, and Centuria Natural Foods teamed up with Hoban Law Group, a Denver-based cannabis law firm, to challenge the DEA’s rule.

The Hemp Industries Association, or HIA, is a California-based international non-profit with 74 U.S. agricultural and commercial companies as members. RMH Holdings is a Colorado hemp producer. Centuria Natural Foods launched in 2014 as a hemp food producer. Since then, the company has entered many licensing agreements, including with Hi Brands International, Inc, a subsidiary of former presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s Nevada-based company, Cannabis Sativa, Inc.

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The companies challenge the method the DEA is using more than the impact.

“The DEA cannot create a statute,” Bob Hoban, the firm’s managing partner, told Leafly in an interview last month. “That can only be done by Congress.”

Opinions are divided on whether the DEA’s rule itself was legitimate. DEA officials contend that the inclusion of CBD in the Federal Register notice was almost an afterthought. According to DEA spokesperson Russ Baer, CBD has always been illegal. Cannabinoids, he told Leafly, are the controlled substances.

“The DEA’s view on what constitutes a controlled substance has never changed,” Baer said.

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Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, takes an uncharacteristic stance on this issue. He sides with the DEA.

“The DEA makes it clear they don’t have to explicitly list anything as a controlled substance as long as a substance is intended for human ingestion, not approved as a drug by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), or is structurally or pharmacologically similar to another controlled substance,” he told Leafly. “This DEA rulemaking change doesn’t make it any more illegal” than it previously was. The new rule “was an administrative change,” Armentano added. “It has nothing to do with law enforcement.”

Armentano pointed to several pieces of evidence as proof that CBD has always been treated as illegal at the federal level. Congress has tried and is currently trying to pass bills to remove CBD from the Controlled Substances Act—which would be unnecessary if the compound were already legal. Further, the Controlled Substances Act itself specifies that the government has the right to control substances that are chemically similar to the ones explicitly listed.

Rod Kight, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in business law and cannabis policy, has written a number of lengthy blog posts that get into the case law and legal technicalities of CBD. Those are available here, here, and here.

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Can CBD be derived from hemp?

The DEA’s controversial late-2016 rule sparked a conversation about the connection CBD has with hemp, the non-psychoactive form of cannabis from which many CBD manufacturers say they source their CBD.

According to DEA spokesperson Baer, a CBD product’s legality will depend on where it is sourced.

If the CBD was derived from the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, ‘then you’re talking a non-controlled substance.’

Russ Baer, DEA spokesperson

“If the products are derived from the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant,” he said, “then you’re talking a non-controlled substance.”

As a rule of thumb, this means whole hemp products that may contain CBD are legal, but CBD isolate products are not. So hempseed oil is federally legal. But hempseed oil is not legally the same thing as CBD oil.

What is hemp? Good question.

The 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp production if it takes place for research purposes under an approved agricultural pilot program. Hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight, by these laws. So hemp technically may contain some THC—but in such minute amounts that it’s not considered psychoactive at all.

The Farm Bill of 2014 makes no mention of CBD — just hemp fiber and seeds, which a U.S. Department of Agriculture guidance letter said must be for “exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed).” Does that mean CBD derived from hemp is legal?

Possibly. But there is disagreement over whether it’s even possible to extract CBD from hemp fiber and seed.

Martin Lee, co-founder of Project CBD, told Leafly that hemp fiber and seed contain no usable amounts of cannabinoids. “Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hempseed,” he writes. “CBD can be extracted from the flower, leaves, and, only to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp oil start-ups lack credibility when they say their CBD comes from hempseed and stalk.”

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Is there CBD in your CBD?

Probably. But not necessarily.

Ironically, the only four states where you can be absolutely sure that the CBD content claimed on the label is the CBD content in the bottle are Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, where adult-use cannabis is legal and regulated. That’s because the CBD products available in licensed retail cannabis stores must pass state-mandated lab tests to assure their purity and potency. In fact, if these products haven’t gone through state testing, they’re liable to be seized, as happened recently in Alaska.

In adult-use cannabis states, all CBD products are tested for purity and potency.

Outside of those four states, consumers must put their trust in the manufacturer. Sometimes that’s warranted, and sometimes it’s not. In 2016 and 2016, the FDA ran tests on several CBD products and found that many of the products had far less CBD than advertised, and in some cases none at all. You can find those test results here for 2015, and here for 2016. (These FDA tests were done as a one-off project. CBD products are not approved by the FDA for the prevention, mitigation, or treatment of any disease or condition.)

CBDRx markets itself as a premier source of CBD-rich hemp products. CBDRx agrees with Martin Lee to a point. Industrial-grade hemp imported from Europe or Canada might not contain enough cannabinoids to be effective, but CBDRx’s specifically engineered hemp strains do, company representatives said.

CEO Tim Gordon did agree with NORML’s Armentano that the DEA’s rule was largely administrative, and had nothing to do with enforcement.

CBDRx extracts its product from hemp flower, not from the industrial stalks and seeds.  Company officials say CBDRx grows specially engineered hemp with high CBD concentrations, and is cultivated differently than conventional industrial hemp.

Still on the shelves, mostly

Several CBD manufacturers would not speak on the record for fear of inviting federal retaliation, but said they’ve recently had trouble selling their products to non-cannabis retail stores. In January, the Seattle Central Co-op pulled CBD products from its shelves in reaction to the DEA rule. Meanwhile, CBD remains available online and at many retail health stores across the nation.

While some are having trouble, others say the fracas around CBD and hemp has backfired on the DEA. CBDRx’s director of sales, Preston Whitfield, said his company has actually seen an increase in CBD interest everywhere but Texas.

Still, he also said he expects the confusion to cause some CBD or hemp producers to be more careful about how they market their products.

“There is a distinct uptick right,” Whitfield said. “We’re seeing different whole industries coming and seeing it serves a specific interest and end.”

Sports are part of the new big draw, he said. “We’re seeing lots of interest from the professional sports industry, full contact sports, mixed martial arts, athletes wanting to prepare,” he said.


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.

Oregon Senate Approves Plan to Shield Cannabis Consumer Info From Feds

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A proposal to shield the names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers or any other identifying information of potentially thousands of recreational cannabis customers cleared its first major hurdle at the Oregon Legislature this week amid worries over a federal marijuana crackdown.

Senate Bill 863 — a proposal from the 10-member bipartisan committee that crafts Oregon’s marijuana policies— cleared the Senate on Tuesday and heads to the House for consideration.

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The bill’s bipartisan sponsors want to put a stop to what’s become a common practice within Oregon’s budding cannabis industry, where legal retailers often stockpile the names, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and other private information of each recreational customer that walks through their doors. Such activity is either prohibited or discouraged in Alaska, Colorado and Washington state.

“The loss of this information could be damaging for many different reasons.”

Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), Senate minority leader

Should the proposal become law, cannabis retailers would have 30 days to destroy their recreational customers’ data— derived from the driver’s licenses, passports or military IDs that are used to verify patrons are at least 21— and would be banned from such record-keeping moving forward. Medical marijuana cardholders’ data would be excluded from the provisions.

Cannabis businesses say the data is used mostly for marketing purposes, such as email lists for promoting products with special deals and birthday discounts, which the bill would still allow in some instances if the customer voluntarily shares their name and email.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, Republican minority leader and one of the bill’s sponsors, says it’s a major privacy concern for not only Oregon residents, but potentially federal employees, concealed-weapon permit holders and out-of-state visitors.

“I don’t have to tell you of the frequency of hacking incidents or inadvertent releases of data … the loss of this information could be damaging for many different reasons,” Ferrioli said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We’ve heard a lot of conflicting information about the (White House) administration’s approach to cannabis.”

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The mixed signals from Washington D.C. began late last month with White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who suggested a boost in enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws could be on the horizon, but only for recreational.

But last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cast doubt on the medical market by commenting that “medical marijuana has been hyped, perhaps too much.” Sessions also has said that his agency is reviewing an Obama-era memo giving states flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

Either way, any heightened enforcement of the federal marijuana prohibition would be complicated in Oregon, where most cannabis shops are licensed to serve both recreational and medical customers under one roof.

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The proposal underway in Salem was amended last week to exclude medical cannabis customers, whose buying activities are closely monitored for tax purposes, product quality and consistency of the state’s tracking program, said Jonathan Lockwood, spokesman for the Senate GOP caucus.

“When you’re a medical cardholder, you opt-in to your records being kept because you have a qualifying condition that requires higher limits and potencies and certain products … So, the bill went as far as it reasonably could to protect privacy,” Lockwood said.


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.

Vermont Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances; New Poll Shows Strong Public Support

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 8-3 Wednesday that would make personal possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older.

“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”

H. 170, sponsored by Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Vice Chair Charles Conquest (D-Wells River), and ranking Republican Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

The bill is expected to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives soon. If it passes, it will be considered by the Senate, which approved a measure to regulate marijuana for adult use in 2016.

A new statewide poll released this week finds a substantial majority of Vermont voters are in favor of the policy change proposed in H. 170. Fifty-seven percent said they support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Only 39% are opposed. The Public Policy Polling survey of 755 Vermont voters was conducted March 20-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.

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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.

Illinois General Assembly to Consider Ending Marijuana Prohibition, Regulating and Taxing Marijuana for Adult Use

SPRINGFIELD, IL — State lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would end marijuana prohibition in Illinois and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use.

The Senate bill, SB 316, is sponsored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago), while the House version, HB 2353, was presented by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). Each would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of marijuana. The state would license and regulate businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults, and it would create and enforce strict health and safety regulations, such as testing and labeling requirements and restrictions on marketing.

“Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Cassidy said. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.”

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce at the wholesale level, and retail sales would be subject to the state’s standard 6.25% sales tax. Based on current usage rates and the market price of marijuana being sold for adults’ use in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project estimates regulated marijuana sales could generate between $349 million and $699 million per year in new revenue for Illinois.

“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Steans said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”

Eight states have enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. A February Quinnipiac University poll found 59% of U.S. voters think marijuana should be made legal. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and Gallup last October found support at 57% and 60%, respectively.

“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”

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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.