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We want to be able to trust our leaders to make the best decisions for our society. It’s difficult, though, when they medical marijuanademonstrate time and time again that they are not working with all of the facts, particularly when it comes to marijuana. Take Robert Patterson, chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency. He recently gave testimony during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the opioid abuse crisis. The topic of medical marijuana came up frequently, yet Patterson was embarrassingly unprepared to discuss cannabis and its ability to help free people from opioid addictions. In fact, he didn’t seem to have much of a grasp on information about marijuana in general, according to a report Dispensaries.com.

The committee is rightfully concerned about opioids. According to the committee chairman during the hearing, almost a third of drug overdoses in the United States in 2016 were from synthetic opioids, at more than 20,000 deaths. He went on to say that in 2018 more than 2 million people will suffer from opioid addiction, whether obtained by prescription or illicit means. Studies and anecdotal evidence are growing that show cannabis is an effective replacement for opioid prescriptions and, therefore, ultimately could prevent overdoses. However, Patterson claimed to be unaware of these studies, a rather shocking statement for the top drug enforcement official in the country. Continue reading

The fight for marijuana legalization is turning a corner in the U.S. Nowhere is the change more evident than inmarijuana business Michigan, where recently an anti-marijuana action committee has flipped its stance in an attempt to try to gain control of state regulations, according to a Detroit Free Press report. The group, The Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools, has been fighting a ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. However, as it is becoming more clear the initiative has growing support, the group is trying a different tactic: encouraging state legislators to fully legalize marijuana by passing an adult-use bill.

As our attorneys can explain, those opposing recreational cannabis in the state see the writing on the wall. They know if they allow the issue to appear on the November ballot, it has a strong chance of passing. However if group members can convince the Legislature to take up the initiative and amend it with strict regulations akin to the current medical marijuana guidelines, they are hoping to get a law on the books that is more restrictive than what voters might pass. One of the key differences would be how licenses are issued. Medical marijuana establishments currently obtain licenses through a board put in place by the governor, as well as House and Senate leaders. The ballot initiative would instead put licensing in the hands of the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department.  Continue reading

Technology is playing a big part in reclaiming the lives of California residents who were adversely affected by past marijuana arrestcannabis convictions. In San Francisco, for example, Code for America is assisting the District Attorney’s office in identifying people eligible to have their marijuana arrest records cleared, according to a report by Fast Company. The organization created an algorithm that could scan old case files for qualifying criteria. The system then takes it a step further by filling out the necessary paperwork, as well.

This is a huge victory for communities hit hardest by the politically motivated and often misguided “War on Drugs.” Minority communities and neighborhoods have historically been targeted the hardest when it came to convicting for marijuana use, while similar crimes in predominantly white communities were largely ignored. This has left a trail of destruction for predominantly black areas, with families broken apart by loved ones serving jail time and futures being damaged. It is more difficult for those with convictions on their records to find good work and obtain housing, meaning that even once people have fulfilled their punishment, they can be haunted by their records years later. Continue reading

The continued expansion of legalized marijuana in states is leading to one surprising result: overproduction of cannabis businesscannabis. Oregon in particular is reporting an excess in cannabis production, which is driving down the price of marijuana at dispensaries across the state, according to Associated PressAs a result, growers are exploring more options, including hemp (a low-THC strain of cannabis used in industrial goods) and CBD oil (made from the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, cannabidiol).

It’s hard not to recognize the irony in this latest advancement: while hemp is a benign, useful resource that makes excellent, durable fabric, paper products, and oils, it was marijuana that helped usher it back into the spotlight. Marijuana has now been legalized in 29 states and Washington, D.C., at least for medical use with a handful also allowing recreational. This is in defiance of federal regulations prohibiting the sale or use of marijuana. California was the first to allow medical use with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that the Agricultural Act, Sec. 7606 allowed agricultural departments and higher learning institutions to start cultivating hemp for research. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently spoke in favor of a bill that would give power over hemp regulation to the states. Continue reading

Marijuana laws in Ohio have experienced a bit of a failure to launch. In 2015 a legalization ballot measure was votedmarijuana regulations down, largely due to a scare campaign that positioned the 10 pre-designated cultivators as a monopoly.  In 2016, HB-523 was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich that set up a process for medical marijuana in the state. Since then, however, the initial phase has been a lumbering one. Advocates remain optimistic, though, pushing now for a state constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana.

On the medical front, Ohio’s program is under scrutiny in court, as a judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas is determining whether or not to delay licensing for cultivators, and potentially the launch of the program. According to Cleveland.com, one grower applied for a license and sued the Ohio Department of Commerce after it was denied, claiming there was no appeals process as promised. Reported errors in the scoring of applicants and complaints about officials not following their own rules in the selection process have led to other lawsuits. With only 12 initial promised licenses for large-scale cultivators, the spots are highly coveted. Continue reading

Spice, K2, synthetic marijuana: whatever you call it, we know these alleged cannabis knockoffs have about as muchcannabis business in common with the natural drug as a circle to a square. Lawmakers have long been chasing down these dangerous substances, to no avail. But the Illinois State Senate is taking steps to close loopholes that manufacturers have been manipulating once and for all, according to Chicago Tribune.

SB-2341 would expand the list of Schedule I controlled substances to include all synthetic cannabinoids not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is a departure from current methods to control the substance, which has largely involved outlawing by formula. As our cannabis business attorneys can attest, this has so far been a fruitless system of control because each time a formula or chemical is outlawed, manufacturers alter it enough that it qualifies as a new substance. Just like that, a new synthetic cannabinoid is back on the market, but not necessarily any safer. The new law, if passed, would put the onus of proof on the manufacturer that a synthetic cannabinoid is safe rather than government officials proving the substances to be dangerous after they have already hit the market.  Continue reading

Despite legalization of recreational marijuana sales earlier this year, Fresno remains one of the communities wherein marijuana businesscannabis-related activity is still banned: No recreational sales, no medical sales, no commercial growing, no testing, no distribution, no manufacturing. Residents can grow indoors for personal use or if they are a caretaker, but that’s it.

Still, officials know of more than 70 unlicensed sales operations in the city. Law enforcement agencies are stretched thin, however, so they have to prioritize their time and resources.

They recently focused their efforts on one specific dispensary, according to High Times, which was reported to be selling high-potency cannabis candy wrapped in packaging that was appealing to children. Agents seized 150 pounds of the candy and more than $200,000 after a two-month investigation of the dispensary. Six dispensary operators were given misdemeanor marijuana citations.

When it comes to sales of marijuana, which is still considered an illegal Schedule I narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812, it wouldn’t seem like packaging would be the top priority for law enforcement. However, keeping cannabis out of the hands of children has been a prevalent and important theme for everyone in the legalization process. No one on either side of the issue wants to see cannabis in the hands of children. Relevant restrictions have included keeping cannabis retailers a certain distance from parks, schools, and places where children regularly frequent, as well as making sure tax money is allocated for education and prevention programs geared at students. Further, regulations dictate that “packages and labels shall not be made to be attractive to children,” according to Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act Sec. 74. Continue reading

Some local governments have appeared hell-bent on banning or strangling the budding cannabis industry. It’s encouraging in this light to see some leaders embracing the change and making strides to make this a more cannabis-friendly community.marijuana business

The Napa Planning Commission recently endorsed reducing the distance a cannabis business can set up shop to 600 feet from a school or place where children congregate, and even recommended easing up on that rule in instances where a natural barrier would prevent direct access, such as a waterway, according to Napa Valley Register.

For many people, change can be a very scary thing. Often, though, such fears are rooted in lack of education and the feeling of losing control. Once we see new ideas in action, we sometimes wonder why it took us so long to change in the first place, and realize we wouldn’t want things to go back. We see the effects of this sentiment throughout California. Since the passing of Proposition 64, there has been a great deal of caution on the part of cities to slow down change as much as possible. Prop 64 and the follow-up Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act very thoughtfully laid out guidelines that would allow marijuana businesses to begin sales of recreational cannabis, and, in the case of MAUCRSA, brought medical marijuana sales under the same umbrella of rules. These guidelines painstakingly established regulations that would encourage cannabis businesses to operate legally while easing fears of residents. Continue reading

cannabis businessOnline media giant YouTube has enacted a host of more stringent enforcement guidelines, seemingly at random, restricting and even shutting down many channels its representatives claim violate its policies. Gun-related channels in particular have come under scrutiny. A bit more perplexing, however, is the site’s more aggressive stance against cannabis-related videos recently, sending warnings, flagging content, and shutting down entire channels, particularly those that seek to educate and advocate. Even after complying with warnings, channel owners said they were suspended. Many of the channels had been around for years, some almost since the beginning of YouTube, according to a Leafly article.

In the early days of legalization, before marijuana reached the popularity it is enjoying today, the Internet was the best place for cannabis advocates, business owners, and medical practitioners to learn and to share information. YouTube has always played a big part in that. The highly visual platform was an ideal way to show growing methods and techniques to people on the other side of the country. Today, a bounty of resources exists, but these ground floor YouTube channels still have a wealth of experience to offer. Continue reading

As of now, only one establishment has been given Drug Enforcement Administration clearance to manufacture medical marijuanamarijuana for research: University of Mississippi. This is in spite of a 2016 decision to allow DEA to approve medical marijuana manufacturers for research purposes and dozens of applications to join the pool, according to a McClatchy article. But a bipartisan bill aims to break down some of the barriers currently standing in the way of necessary and groundbreaking research. HR-5634 would force an increase in the number of registered manufacturers producing cannabis “for legitimate research purposes.”

It also would lift restrictions on medical practitioners at the Department of Veteran Affairs, who as of now must follow federal law and are therefore not allowed to recommend cannabis to any of their patients. If passed, the bill would open the door to federally approved clinical trials for veterans seeking help through the VA. This is a crucial next step in the fight for medical marijuana legalization nationwide. Veterans have long reported relief for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms through cannabis, but if they seek treatment through VA medical professionals, they cannot access medical marijuana, even if they live in one of the 29 states that have legalized medical use. Even Washington, D.C., has approved medical marijuana, despite being the epicenter of restricting marijuana nationwide. Continue reading