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As it stands now following the most recent election, more than half the states in the U.S. – 28 – now have legalized marijuana use for those with certain medical conditions. marijuana

Still, this has yet to change the hard line stance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), where officials insist the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic is not going to budge. As a Schedule I drug, as defined in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, that means marijuana has not only a high risk of abuse, but also no accepted medical use. Other drugs in that same category include LSD, heroin and ecstasy. Consider that methamphetamine, which is known to be highly addictive and rapidly destructive to the lives of individuals and communities, is a classified as a lesser Schedule II narcotic, meaning there is a high risk of abuse that could lead to dependence, though there may be some accepted medical uses, though they are still tightly restricted.

The DEA has reasoned that only the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to make the determination of whether a drug has an accepted use as medicine. So far, that has not happened. That’s why even in states that allow medical marijuana, doctors don’t “write prescriptions” for marijuana. Technically, they can only recommend that it be filled at a local dispensary.  Continue reading

While a number of new states recently voted to expand marijuana rights, many did not realize that this could directly conflict with their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm. gun

That’s because federal law – specifically 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), which is part of the Gun Control Act – criminalizes the possession or receipt of a firearm by an unlawful drug user or person addicted to a controlled substance. Of course, many states have now legalized the drug, but it still remains outlawed by federal statute. Those purchasing a new firearm are asked to fill out federal background check forms that specifically ask whether the purchaser uses marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes. If they do, they are not allowed to purchase the gun.

This conflict was recently questioned by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who says she didn’t vote in favor of marijuana, but now she is worried about its impact on the Second Amendment rights of citizens. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Wilson v. Lynch that the Second Amendment rights of a Nevada woman were not infringed by the federal government’s ban on sales of guns to medical marijuana card holders. The ruling is applicable to nine other states, including California.  Continue reading

Over the last eight years, the federal government’s approach to marijuana prosecution and civil action evolved. Although it was never within President Obama’s power to legalize the drug nationally himself, he oversaw a Department of Justice that was initially dogged in its pursuit of marijuana entrepreneurs, and later much more relaxed. Still, the drug remains illegal under federal law. A provision of a federal spending measure passed in 2014 sapped the funds of federal prosecutions of medical marijuana operations complying with state law. However, this election raised a host of new questions about the protection that medical marijuana and now recreational marijuana would receive under the new administration.whitehouse

Election night turned out to be a clear success for the support of medical and recreational marijuana legalization. California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine legalized recreational use. Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved medical marijuana initiatives.

So now the question is, what type of approach will the Trump administration take? It’s a major question because, while Obama took a hands-off approach and we knew Clinton was expected to do the same, there is uncertainty about Trump’s stance.  Continue reading

While the marijuana laws in the U.S. are gradually becoming more relaxed, in the United Kingdom, the drug remains a Class B substance, which means simple possession can result in a five-year prison term. Those caught supplying the drug can face up to 14 years in prison. marijuana

Yet there are many people who are desperately ill and in need of the drug as medicine. This has created an underground medical marijuana scene, a snapshot of which was recently seen in a new documentary series called Viceland. Dealers reportedly give away tens of thousands of pounds of cannabis every year in an effort to help relief physical pain and suffering of those in need.

Similar to the arguments against legalization in the U.S., those against allowing medical marijuana in the U.K. argue that the drug is tough to dose, has been linked to mental health problems and serves as a “gateway” drug.  Continue reading

California was one of the first states to approve recreational marijuana and now, it will be the location of the first “social marijuana” allowances. That is, marijuana is going to be allowed in bars, restaurants and other venues, per Proposition 300. This was approved by voters in Denver the same day California and two other states legalized pot for all adults. (Five other states approved marijuana for sick patients.) restaurant

This measure will make Denver the first in the nation to allow bars and restaurants the option of offering patrons the chance to use marijuana while they’re drinking a cocktail or enjoying a meal. However, there is a big catch: Patrons will not be allowed to imbibe indoors. Only outdoor smoking will be allowed, and even then, businesses will have to first get the green light from their neighbors. Patrons could still use cannabis or derivative products inside the establishment, but only if it wasn’t smoked.

The measure is just one of an increasing number of indications that our society’s tolerance of the drug is growing. Supporters are calling the move “sensible,” and an effort to allow adults to enjoy – but responsibly. Continue reading

No matter how many states legalize recreational marijuana, the corporate policies of private companies can play a big role in whether people will actually imbibe. job

A recent study by the American Public Health Association, presented in Denver, delved into the issue of what mattered most to those in five state where voters were mulling legalization. The goal was to examine what regulatory approaches states might consider making if they wanted to influence usage.

Researchers surveyed some 535 adults in California, Florida, Arizona, Massachusetts and Michigan, weighing their responses in four different scenarios. What they discovered was:

  • 5 percent said state tracking of their marijuana purchases would deter use;
  • 5 percent said the threat of arrest for smoking in public would deter them;
  • A price increase of $20 per gram (through higher taxes and fees) would slash usage by 5 percent.

But the biggest potential influence? Employers.  Continue reading

Regardless of what the marijuana laws are in individual states, those who cultivate, process, store, package and distribute marijuana remain at risk for criminal penalties and civil forfeiture so long as federal statutes outlaw the drug. police

Case-in-point: In January, officials with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, alongside police officers from the San Diego Police Department, raided Med-West Distribution. This was a legal medical marijuana business that carved its niche refining cannabis oil for use in vaporizer pen devices. Officers decked out in helmets, tactical vests and heavily armed barged in, pointed guns at workers, handcuffed those inside and scoured the property for valuables. They seized a safe with $325,000 in cash. Officers high-fived one another as they left. Subsequent to that, in June, local police served to seizure warrants on the business’s cash as well as on the owner’s own family. The department pilfered nearly $100,000 from the family’s personal savings and checking accounts – funds that are totally unrelated to Med-West. Their two teen daughters lost their entire college savings – about $11,300.

The owner today says he is baffled. He was operating a marijuana business legally in compliance with state laws and local regulations. Neither the owner nor his wife has been charged with any crime. None of his employees, several of whom were arrested, were indicted in connection with that raid. And yet, the police department has refused the family’s repeated requests to return their money. Further, prosecutors have yet – more than 10 months after the fact – to file a civil forfeiture action against their bank accounts.  Continue reading

A series of cannabis-related health alerts was issued in Oregon recently, after health officials cited concerns over high levels of pesticide residue on some batches. marijuana

According to The Oregonian, the first alert in mid-October concerned two strains sold by a Portland-area dispensary called New Leave that had high levels of an insecticide called spinosad. The marijuana was sold to some 130 consumers over two days. The strains were dubbed, “Dr. Jack” and “Marion Berry.” The Oregon Health Authority reported the spinosad levels in the former batch were 42 parts per million while the latter had 22 parts per million. The maximum allowable by health regulations is 0.2 parts per million.

The second alert came earlier this month when it was determined that three strains of marijuana flowers sold from dispensaries in North Bend, Eugene and Salem also had unsafe levels of spinosad. One of those batches, “Dutch Treat,” sold in Eugene to about 30 people, had 0.9 parts per million of the chemical. Meanwhile, two other strains – Dryzle and Pleeze – were sold to approximately 340 people at two dispensaries between mid-to-late October. Those strains had high levels of a chemical called piperonyl butoxide, which in itself is not a pesticide, but is a powerful and potentially dangerous ingredient that is only allowed to have 2 parts per million. In the Pleeze and Dryzl strains, there were between 15.39 and 16.24 parts per million, based on independent lab tests.  Continue reading

We know that statewide medical marijuana legalization has been associated with numerous positive health outcomes. One of those was recently detailed in a new study just published by the Bureau of Economic Research.marijuana

The results, which stem from two decades of data, show in states where medical marijuana is legal and readily available, Americans over 50 have greater workforce participation. Is this link causative? The study participants offered compelling evidence to suggest just that.

Researchers with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (Baltimore) and Temple University (Maryland) found that the health improvements experienced by both older men and women revealed increased participation in the labor market. In states with pro-marijuana laws there was a 9.4 percent increase in the probability of employment for Americans over the age of 50. There was also an increase in hours worked – 4.6 to 4.9 percent – in the number of weekly hours worked.  Continue reading

Marijuana is likely only going to increase in price. The question for many becomes: Should I grow it myself or buy it in a dispensary? cannabis

There are pros and cons to each, of course. Understanding what those are can help you make an informed decision.

Traditionally, cannabis has been produced on a small scale for purposes of flying under the radar of law enforcement. That means a lot of people have some knowledge of how to grow the plant. However, with a burgeoning legal market, people now (or will soon) have the option of choosing an array of products with specific chemical make-up and purpose – similar to what we would find in a grocery store produce aisle. And just like grocery stores, marijuana dispensaries are going to receive their supply cultivated from farmers who carefully produce the product and make it available for a reasonable price.  Continue reading