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There was a time not very long ago that property owners were extremely wary of renting space to any type of marijuana business, for fear of running afoul of the federal government. Specifically, 18 U.S. Code Section 981 details the government’s authority to assert civil asset forfeiture. The law was drafted to allow the government to seize the massive assets acquired by drug kingpins. However, it was rarely used until marijuana became legal as medicine in California. At that point, federal prosecutors began going after property owners who allowed their site to be used by any marijuana operation – even if it complied with state law – because marijuana was (and still is) unlawful per federal statutes. warehouse

Today, it’s a much different legal landscape. Technically, prosecutors still have the authority to assert civil forfeiture, but the U.S. Justice Department under the previous presidential administration altered its policy in 2013, with a memo indicating that so long as operations were compliant with state laws, the federal government wouldn’t pursue them unless it had some special reason to do so (i.e., distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing sales revenue from being funneled to criminal enterprises and cartels and preventing dissemination of the drug to states where it isn’t legal).

This has motivated a growing number of real estate investors to dip their toes into the waters. The Portland Press-Herald in Maine recently reported real estate brokers are encountering increasing demand for industrial spaces that could be converted to indoor marijuana farms. News of this comes as Maine is on the verge of being yet another state to approve of recreational marijuana. California is in that same boat.  Continue reading

Recreational marijuana is now legal in California. But that doesn’t mean it’s Ok for teens to use it for recreation, as there is evidence it can have negative health effects – and of course there is the risk of impaired driving. Although some marijuana advocates downplay these concerns as “Reefer Madness” ridiculousness, the reality is that if the marijuana industry is going to garner legitimacy, there needs to be a concerted effort to keep cannabis away from children who don’t have a medical reason to be taking it. teen

Part of the concern is that teens do not view marijuana as harmful as they once did. Research at the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program indicated that the harmfulness perception of marijuana among eighth-graders fell by 14 percent in Washington state since the drug was legalized. It fell by 16 percent among those in 10th grade. In states where marijuana has not (yet) been legalized, perceptions of the plant’s harmfulness fell at much lower rates, between 5 and 7 percent.

Still, there is competing evidence about whether this translates to more teens actually using the drug for fun. For example, the U.C. Davis study indicated marijuana use by Washington’s eighth-graders spiked 2 percent since legalization, while increasing 4 percent among 10th-graders. In non-legal states, marijuana use fell by about 1 percent. However, a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicated the percentage of high school students there who used marijuana was actually smaller than the national average – 21.2 percent in the previous 30 days (down a percentage point since before legalization) while the nationwide rate of teen marijuana use was a bit higher at 21.7 percent. The department concluded that “marijuana use (among teens) has not increased since legalization.”  Continue reading

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been a common sight in L.A. for years – more than two decades, to be exact. So it’s tough to remember that in many parts of the country, these facilities are still having to wade gingerly into their new markets, even as the public has shown overwhelming support for them at the polls.bud

One example is Florida.

Recently, media in The Sunshine State have been exploring the way in which marijuana businesses are carefully entering the market after the approval of Amendment 2, which took effect this month. As reported by one outlet, one 2,000-square-foot storefront in Tampa does not, the reporter noted, “evoke images of the seedy bong-filled pot shops of popular imagination.” Again, we have to remember that it’s still “imagination” to those who haven’t lived in or traveled to a state where this substance has been widely available for years. The writer describes a clean, spacious dispensary with a brightly-lit showroom and materials to help educate buyers on the drug’s merits. One customer, there to purchase products for her son with epilepsy, comments to the writer that in truth, she “didn’t know what to expect,” but was pleasantly surprised.  Continue reading

The cannabis licensing process in Portland is reportedly so bogged down with problems, entrepreneurs and businesses are taking a major financial hit every month. Some have even been forced out of business.cannabis

That’s according to a new report released by the city of Portland and Office of Neighborhood Involvement. A chief economist who works closely with marijuana businesses hoping to forge a legal path into local industry says the complicated bureaucracy of the process has forced some applicants to go belly-up. As of last month, only 19 out of 355 applicants had received their licenses. Another 30 cleared the process, but were waiting to pay their respective fees.

The economist noted that if the city fails to license a significant number of more cannabis businesses soon, the effect on the marijuana market in Oregon overall is going to be greatly adverse. Continue reading

California was the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana as medicine, and currently has the largest legal market for marijuana in the nation. However, it does not yet have a system in place for the government to track the drug. This is standard protocol for other types of pharmaceuticals and other states with legal marijuana have adopted similar protocols. computer

For example, in Colorado, there is a system in place called the Radio-Frequency Identification, which uses microchips to follow plants from the time they are grown to the dispensary and sale. It is noted whether the plant is processed into an oil or edible or whether it is distributed as medicine. Having this type of a system ensures plants are legally grown and sold according to the law.

Beginning in February, a number of software companies will begin submitting proposals to the state, vying to be chosen as the company tapped to track California marijuana.  Continue reading

Part of legitimizing the marijuana industry in California involves making sure the storefront operations are inviting, secure and professional. That’s why, as The Los Angeles Times recently reported, an increasing number of marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are modeling their operations after one of California’s most successful companies: Apple.customerservice

One example noted was in Santa Monica, where salespeople don bright red t-shirts and cheerfully greet patrons. The merchandise is lined up carefully on chic wooden tables adorned by iPads. The reporter couldn’t help but draw parallels to the successful technology firm. But the gadgets laid out for display weren’t iPods – they were vape pens, for consumption of marijuana and derivatives.

This is a stark departure from the days of burglar bars and bullet-proof glass. Some are calling it a “makeover,” but it’s part of a strategic plan by marijuana dispensaries in California to establish some legitimacy in the market. This mirrors the advancing power and presence of the industry on the national stage. Continue reading

Every year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conducts a survey of the country’s law enforcement departments to determine which drugs are of top concern in local communities. What they found in 2016 was that heroin was far and away the drug that created the greatest worry. Marijuana, meanwhile, was generally of negligible concern. Less than 5 percent of all police agencies indicated cannabis was their biggest concern, which was down 1 percent from 2015. marijuana buds

Marijuana remains illegal for all reasons per federal law, which the DEA staunchly defended over the summer. The agency spent a full 22 pages of its Drug Threat Assessment report on marijuana. Compare this to the 16 pages it spent going over the risk of prescription painkillers, which claims 14,000 lives annually. Many of the pages on marijuana wove through the state-level differences in law for medicinal and recreational pot, as well as some of the legalization trends of the U.S. For anyone who has been following the changing landscape of marijuana laws in California, none of this is really new information.

However, one of the more interesting claims made by the DEA in that report is that media attention on marijuana-related issues has made it tougher to enforce existing marijuana laws and to prosecute those who violate these statutes. The agency also seems to be blaming “the media” for providing the public with information that is not accurate on the effects and legality of using marijuana.  Continue reading

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. One would think the social stigma, not to mention the legal entanglements, endured by medical marijuana patients by now would have lifted. But as a heartbreaking story out of Orange County reveals, this still isn’t so. father

The story, chronicled in The Orange County Register, details the ordeal of a new father fighting for custody of his infant son, currently in foster care, because the courts refused to grant him custody due to his status as a medical marijuana patient.

The 31-year-old reportedly did not find out about his son until the day a woman he’d dated nine moths earlier contacted him from a hospital bed to tell him she was giving birth. He drove to the hospital the following day and met his son. A social worker told him the baby’s mother would not be allowed to leave with the child. He immediately started to petition for custody of the boy. In order to do so, however, he had to take a drug test. Prior to undergoing the test, he revealed to the social worker that he used marijuana with a doctor’s prescription to treat for pain he suffered due to a car accident years earlier. The test results were inconclusive. However, his admission of his status as a medical marijuana patient was enough, the court held, to deny his request to bring his son home with him. Continue reading

When voters approved Proposition 64 in November, the promise was that by Jan. 1, 2018, recreational cannabis users could walk into a licensed store to purchase their favorite strain of marijuana. Meanwhile, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which involves a number of new regulations for medical cannabis sales, is slated to roll out around the same time. However, there is evidence to suggest that the actual timeline for legal marijuana commercialization is going to be pushed back to 2019.marijuana

A recent report published in The Cannifornian indicated that government leaders and industry insiders have posited that difficult regulatory challenges have to be hammered out before recreational marijuana becomes legal. Speaking at the recent Emerald Cup, held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, government regulators noted that prohibition on cannabis lasted so long and was so complicated, that the process of ending it is not going to happen overnight – even with this vote.

For example, Lori Ajax, chief of the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, noted there are a number of challenges created by the different structures of the two new marijuana laws, and there may be conflicts between the two that need to be resolved. Each take very different approaches to things like residence requirements, timelines, license categories and ownership. One of the primary questions, says Assemblyman Jim Wood, is whether this will result in two parallel marijuana regulatory systems or a single system that somehow combines the two.  Continue reading

One of the primary arguments given by federal drug regulators about why it would be unwise to lower the Schedule I classification of marijuana is that the drug has not been well enough studied to know whether it has legitimate medical benefits. Of course, there are many people who use it as medicine who would beg to differ. Beyond that, it’s something of a Catch-22 because the Schedule I listing makes it next to impossible for scientists to get a hold of it, let alone conduct clinical trials. That means researchers must explore other ways of examining the drug’s risks and benefits.hospital hall

Recently, an analysis published in the journal Cancer Medicine revealed that a history of marijuana use among patients admitted to the hospital was correlated with lower rates of heart failure, cardiac disease and cancer deaths. This conclusion was based on analysis conducted by researchers at Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Alabama, who looked at the health outcomes of nearly 4 million hospitalized patients.

Patients who tested positive for marijuana were more likely than those who didn’t have a history of using the drug to be admitted for a stroke. However, they had much lower odds of suffering from cardiac disease or heart failure. They had especially good survival rates when it came to various types of cancer, and their survival rates overall were better than non-users. Continue reading