January 28, 2015

Federal Judge Weighs in on Federal Marijuana Drug Classification

A 1970 federal law classified marijuana as a drug akin in seriousness to LSD and heroin. As such, criminal penalties for possession and sale have been extremely harsh. The move has long been criticized and is becoming even more problematic as states legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use.

One federal judge in Northern California has decided to rule on the whether the classification is constitutional, a decidedly extraordinary and rare move, especially as marijuana rights advocates have pressed Congress to change the classification for decades.

A five-day hearing was held in late 2014 and a judge is expected to hear final arguments in February. A ruling is expected later in 2015.


The Sacramento case is noteworthy, as it is the first time a judge has agreed to hold a fact-finding hearing on the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. According to the L.A. Times, the criminal defendants have argued the law is a violation of the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection of states under the law.

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January 25, 2015

Risk of Explosions and Home Cultivation of Hash Oil

Growing pot at home and in residential areas is posing serious health and property risks in Colorado.

According to lawmakers, firefighters, and industry experts, amateur growing of marijuana in kitchens and basements has resulted in the rise of home explosions. Laboratories use flammable chemicals to extract potent drops of concentrate called "hash oil," and can result in the accidental explosion of residences. Victims have also been caught in the flames, suffering serious injury. Though there have been no reported fatalities, the explosions have the potential to result in accidental death. This growing trend of home has also posed significant risk in Florida, California, and Illinois, as well as other states where pot is still illegal.


While cities are making efforts to shut down homemade hash oil productions, many state lawmakers are looking to specifically outlaw it. Despite these campaigns, home grown hash oil enthusiasts continue to advocate for their own rights to continue to safely create the product without using butane. Criminal defense lawyers are also arguing that the practice cannot be banned since Colorado voters made marijuana legal to grow, smoke, process and put on the market in 2012.

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January 23, 2015

Former Real Housewife Plans to Launch "Munchie Free" Marijuana

These days, it seems like everyone is trying to cash in on the growing marijuana business. While entrepreneurs may have to wait for Congress to loosen restrictions nationwide, piecemeal business plans are already shaping up where pot is legalized, both for recreational or medicinal use. Investors are positioning themselves to make it big in the pot industry, even though pay-outs have been difficult to predict in Colorado, Washington, and eventually other states where tax burdens will likely increase the cost of legal-market pot.


Still, entrepreneurs like Bethanny Frankel, best known for her role in the "Housewives" series, is going to reveal a "Skinnygirl" marijuana brand in states where cannabis is legal.

The Skinnygirl brand marketed low-calorie products to fit image of its founder. Now the new line of weed is allegedly supposed to curb the well-established "munchies effect" of pot smoking. According to US Weekly, plans are underway to launch the already successful brand in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington where recreational cannabis has been legalized. Promoters and other insiders are backing up the claim that the new strand of weed won't give users the munchies, a promising attribute for those who want to enjoy the benefits of pot use while maintaining their weight. The Skinnygirl brand has been wildly successful nationwide for its other products, including the low-calorie "Skinnygirl Margarita" mix.

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January 21, 2015

Illinois Medical Card Holders Face Political Hurdles

While Washington, Oregon and Colorado navigate the legalities of recreational pot, other states are trying to establish ground rules for medicinal use. Even though Illinois voters have approved medical cannabis in the state, there seems to be little government support and a lack of marijuana available. It has been almost a year and half since medical cannabis was legalized in Illinois, and not one patient has had access to use it.


According to reports, the line of patients waiting for access is up to 650 and growing longer. The state has authorized medical marijuana to treat any condition on the list of 34, ranging from glaucoma to cancer and HIV/AIDS. While these patients have the legal right to use marijuana, there isn't any available, and there doesn't seem to be any groundwork supporting access.

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January 19, 2015

Is Legal Marijuana More Difficult to Sell?

One of the problems with legal marijuana is it is more expensive than marijuana sold on the black market. Retailers in Colorado and Washington have complained that high taxes on legal marijuana still make black market marijuana appealing to many buyers.

Even though Washington's marijuana market opened last summer, many stores closed because there wasn't enough pot to sell and pot itself was more expensive than ever. Now that a new harvest of marijuana is making the legal crops more accessible to retailers, there have been additional problems with the legal pot industry.


In an unexpected twist, growers are having a hard time selling their crops. Many who entered the industry are now considering backing out because of the low rate of sales on the legal market. According to reports, licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of marijuana, but the pot shops have only been able to sell less than 20 percent of those crops. State users have stuck with buying on the black market or purchasing as medical users to avoid the significant taxes associated with recreational use marijuana. This means that the product is moving at a glacial pace off the shelves--if at all.

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January 17, 2015

The Lobby Against Medical Marijuana

Selling legal marijuana has different implications than selling marijuana on the black market. Similarly, distributing medical marijuana has different requirements than from selling recreational-use marijuana.

According to Business Week, pot sellers in Washington State are lobbying against a marijuana market. Though the state legalized recreational marijuana last year, a 1998 law also gave pot smokers legal protection if they had a note recommending marijuana for medical use. Under this provision, marijuana dispensaries were able to sell pot for medical use. Without setting up infrastructure for use, including patient registry or ID cards, the medical marijuana market thrived.

After marijuana was legalized for recreational use, everyone was able to buy and sell weed, even without a doctor's note. The 2012 initiative also established a tax system and licensing regime to be followed by pot growers and retailers registered with the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The agency is responsible for regulating and overseeing product testing and labeling. According to reports, recreational pot has become 50 percent more expensive than medical marijuana, which can still be purchased on the black market.

According to critics, those who buy pot legally for recreational use must pay significantly more than those who simply purchase medical marijuana.

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January 15, 2015

West Coast vs. East Coast Reform Advocacy in the U.S.

Patchwork marijuana laws have made the U.S. feel like two different countries--one where legalization has paved the way for recreational use, and another where local law enforcement agencies continue to invest in the investigation and prosecution of marijuana crimes.

A well-known and respected travel writer who is also a proponent of marijuana reform, has written extensively about legalization in regions such as the Netherlands and in countries like Portugal. Rick Steves is now applying his passions for travel and reform in the United States.

In a recent interview with SFGate, the writer and reform advocate explains how two polarized views of marijuana reform have made laws vary so greatly throughout the country. According to Steves, there are two coasts: One which has embraced reform and another that is trailing behind.

There is a huge distinction between laws, which is represented in all facets of society and business. Throughout Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, there are business seminars are seeking to attract marijuana entrepreneurs and investors. Like many reform advocates, Steves is focused on the civil rights issue of reform, rather than the business side. Rather than building a multi- billion dollar industry, he hopes one day people can simply grow their own pot, and won't be locked up.

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January 14, 2015

Court: Concentrated Cannabis Qualifies as Medical Marijuana in CA

Critics often claim newer strains of marijuana are much stronger and potentially more dangerous. In a recent case, a state appellate court in Sacramento recently ruled that "concentrated cannabis" qualifies as marijuana for purposes of medical use.

The decision was made unanimously by a three-justice panel. The Third District Court of Appeals disagreed with an earlier decision by an El Dorado Superior Court Judge, who found a medical marijuana patient violated probation by possessing concentrated cannabis. The new decision could potentially help future defendants who are caught in possession of highly concentrated cannabis.

According to court records, defendant was charged in 2013 with unlawful possession of concentrated cannabis. Though the charge was only a misdemeanor, defendant was on probation and the infraction amounted to a parole violation because he allegedly failed to "obey all laws." At the time of arrest, a probation officer searched defendant and found .16 grams of "honey oil," a concentrated form of cannabis, along with .05 grams of "dabs" and another 3.33 grams of marijuana. The defendant had a physician's recommendation for the use of marijuana and for the active ingredient THC to treat acid reflux and migraines.

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January 13, 2015

Beverly Hills Cannabis Club: The New Face of Marijuana

The face of marijuana is changing in California and nationwide. No more are the images of stoners smoking pot in dark college dorm rooms, or hippie drumming circles of the 1960s and 70s. Access and interest in pot is ranging from business types to stay-at-home moms.

The Beverly Hills Cannabis Club is a high-end marijuana dispensary that demonstrates this shift in pot buyers and a growing demand for pot at every social echelon. The dispensary displays an array of products ranging from edibles including marijuana-laced brownies, pretzels and candies to jars of the newly available cannabis strands which are arranged daily. Another case offers an exclusive line of products with "Beverly Hills Cannabis Club," clothing and products ranging from golf shirts, ashtrays, personal products, and hand-held vaporizers.

The Beverly Hills Cannabis Club is one of many California dispensaries that is changing the face of not only pot smoking, but pot distribution. The founder and owner of the BHCC has taken a strategic approach to the distribution and sale of marijuana. Rather than take a grass roots "pro-marijuana" activist approach, the owner has taken a traditional business model with a focus on market opportunities. To promote her club and reform, the owner has been known to make regular television appearances. While critics say that she may be only selling herself, no one can deny that she is making waves and inspiring a discussion on the debate.

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January 12, 2015

Is the War on Drugs Over?

Last year's legislative sessions and voter polls resulted in some of the most significant changes in marijuana law in decades. While California was the first to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996, it is now behind other states that have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use. Other trends have shown that even conservative states are joining in support of marijuana reform.

California voters did pass one of the broadest sentencing reforms in the nation, which "de-felonized" the possession of hard drugs. New York also announced an end to arrests for marijuana possession. But does this mean that the war on drugs is over or at least winding down?


Despite state action, the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal substance. The Justice Department issued a memo in 2013 stating that it would not intervene where states legalized marijuana but properly regulated distribution and use in compliance with guidelines. Recently, the Obama administration also OK'd cultivation of marijuana on tribal lands so long as it was regulated. The movement toward legalization is growing, and law enforcement officers at the state and federal level are taking a more lenient approach to prosecution of marijuana and other drug crimes.

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January 11, 2015

Study: Radiation Combined with Cannabis Makes Brain Cancer "Disappear"

Medical researchers are investing significant time and resources to study the advantages of marijuana treatments. In a recent study, two cannabis components have been found to have a significant effect on the size of cancerous tumors in the brain. The treatment is especially effective when combined with radiotherapy, according to researchers.

According to representatives from the study, the combination of marijuana treatment and radiation can effectively make tumor growths "disappear."

While the pronouncement may overstate the effects, it should raise hopes for medical researchers, doctors, patients and their families. The research was conducted by cancer specialists at St. Georges University of London. The study was published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Journal.

According to the findings, there are 85 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The two cannabinoids that have been shown to have a positive effect on tumors are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The researchers combined the two cannabinoids with radiotherapy treatment and published their results. According to the study, combining the cannabinoids with radiotherapy can have a "drastic" effect on tumors.

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January 9, 2015

"Good to Know" Marijuana Educational Campaign Launched in Colorado

With legalization trends taking hold in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, marijuana use has increased rapidly. According to some opponents of marijuana reform, legalization has led to an increase in the number of teens who have been treated for accidental pot consumption. To combat the potential risks of marijuana use and overdose, Colorado is launching its "Good to Know" campaign to inform residents and tourists about safe marijuana usage. The campaign has a $5.7 million budget and has already started to appear in newspapers, magazines, and on the air.

According to the director of the Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado, the priority of the campaign is to educate citizens and tourists on the responsible use of marijuana. Critics say that both Washington and Colorado failed to provide education about use and consumption of the drug since legalization. The campaign is a collaborative effort in Colorado to inform residents and tourists about the regulations as well as potential risks of consumption. The campaign targets teens, tourists, minorities, even fringe demographics, including breastfeeding women, who may not be aware of the potential risks of THC.

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January 7, 2015

First Tribal Grow Operation in Northern California

Native American tribal lands are not held to the same standards as state and even federal lands, but are they permissible to grow marijuana? According to reports, the first tribally-sanctioned marijuana cultivation operation in Northern California, and perhaps the nation, was announced this month. This follows the Obama administration's new permissive policy concerning marijuana grow operations on tribal lands, announced in December.


The U.S. Justice Department publicized an internal memo instructing U.S. attorneys not to intervene with tribes that want to grow and sell marijuana on sovereign lands. To prevent federal intervention, tribes are required to maintain "robust and effective regulatory systems." In effect, the policy is similar to the guidelines that preempt federal intervention where states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes or recreational use. According to analysts the memo could have significant impact on tribes that choose to pursue marijuana growing operations and sales. Some opine marijuana could replace casinos as a primary source of revenue on tribal lands. As many tribes are opposed to legalizing pot on their lands, the federal government has also agreed to continue to enforce anti-marijuana legislation if requested by the tribe.

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January 5, 2015

Who is Likely to Get Addicted to Marijuana?

One of the primary issues for marijuana legalization opponents is the potential public health risks, including addiction. While four states have now legalized pot for recreational use, others have decriminalized possession and paved the way for medical use. But is pot really addictive? Does it have chemically additive quality? Is it just a mental rather than a physical addiction?

According to one user who published his first-person account of marijuana addiction in the Chicago Tribune, the drug is highly addictive and can be very problematic for young persons and into adulthood.
joint marijuana.jpg

According to the 2013 Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders records, 17 percent of those who smoke pot as teenagers can become addicted to marijuana. National surveys show that up to half of marijuana users who smoke daily are addicted. This is an estimated 2.7 million users in the U.S. But, what are the real risks? Should medical marijuana users hesitate before deciding to follow doctors' orders? Should legislators take these statistics into consideration before passing laws? Will Congress weigh these statistics when deciding whether to legalize the drug?

The role addiction plays in marijuana use is a critical issue for opponents and a point of contention for reform advocates. There are a number of potentially problematic issues with long-term marijuana use, including distractions, mood disorders, loss of motivation or energy, even thoughts of suicide. Many addicts are the type of people who already suffer from mental or emotional disorders, making them more susceptible to addiction and self-medication. For those who have been addicted to marijuana, quitting can take therapy and years of struggle.

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January 3, 2015

Two States Sue Colorado for Legalization of Marijuana

Colorado has been criticized internally, by neighboring states, politicians, non-profits, the medical community, and individuals who only see the negative side of legalization. While there are potential medical and public health risks, there are also potential economic losses and other business damages related to the marijuana industry. Colorado's neighboring states and others allege that legalization has made it more difficult to enforce laws internally. It has also had severe economic costs on law enforcement agencies and related businesses. While not every state is joining the lawsuit, others have seen legalization cause harm, including economic losses that could make Colorado liable.


The federal lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs, Nebraska and Oklahoma, alleging the Colorado marijuana policy is a violation of the U.S Constitution and places and undue burden on neighboring states. Marijuana is legal under federal law, and the U.S. Constitution prevents certain kinds of competition between states. According to the complaint, the combination of these anti-drug laws and Constitutional protections make the Colorado legalization a violation of other states' rights.

Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers, has refused to back down and is taking an aggressive approach to defeat the claim. He has made public statements that he intends to defend the marijuana laws. In defense, the Attorney General explains the major grievance named by the other states is that the Colorado law is in violation of federal drug policy. Here, the attorney has explained that the other states do not have grounds to file a claim.

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Recent Entries

January 28, 2015 Federal Judge Weighs in on Federal Marijuana Drug Classification A 1970 federal law classified marijuana as a drug akin in seriousness to LSD and...

January 25, 2015 Risk of Explosions and Home Cultivation of Hash Oil Growing pot at home and in residential areas is posing serious health and property risks...

January 23, 2015 Former Real Housewife Plans to Launch "Munchie Free" Marijuana These days, it seems like everyone is trying to cash in on the growing marijuana...

January 21, 2015 Illinois Medical Card Holders Face Political Hurdles While Washington, Oregon and Colorado navigate the legalities of recreational pot, other states are trying...

January 19, 2015 Is Legal Marijuana More Difficult to Sell? One of the problems with legal marijuana is it is more expensive than marijuana sold...

January 17, 2015 The Lobby Against Medical Marijuana Selling legal marijuana has different implications than selling marijuana on the black market. Similarly, distributing...