Thursday, November 1, 2018
According to the CDC, opioids are currently the most common cause of accidental death in the United States. With this drug taking so many American lives every day, measures need to be taken to lessen opioid use. Experts have proposed that medical marijuana may be a solution to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction.
In a recent student conducted by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that states with legalized medical marijuana (MMJ) report 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without MMJ. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.
David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the JAMA study, notes the study's significant findings.
"We found that there was about a 14.5% reduction in any opiate use when dispensaries were turned on -- and that was statistically significant -- and about a 7% reduction in any opiate use when home cultivation only was turned on," Bradford said. "So dispensaries are much more powerful in terms of shifting people away from the use of opiates.
Further, the recent JAMA study is not the first set of research indicating a link between marijuana legalization and decreased opioid use. Another JAMA conducted study from 2014 revealed that states with MMJ had 24.8% fewer opioid overdose deaths between 1999 and 2010. And perhaps even more convincing evidence was set forth in a 2017 study published by the American Public Health Association, which found that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2012 reversed the state's upward trend in opioid-related deaths.
Even with the evidence provide by numerous studies and epidemiologic research, medical marijuana still has its skeptics, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently commented, "we think a lot of this [opioid use] is starting with marijuana and other drugs."
If marijuana were actually a dangerous gateway drug, as Sessions suggested, it would be at least somewhat evident across the data gathered. We would find that states with MMJ laws have an increase of opiate drug use and overdose deaths, when in fact just the opposite has been evidenced.
Despite the relatively minimal side-effects associated with marijuana use, such as cognitive impairment, these risks are nearly obsolete when compared to the often-deadly impact resulting from opioid abuse.
Again according to Bradford, unlike opioids, marijuana has little addiction potential.
"No one has ever died of cannabis, so it has many safety advantages over opiates," Bradford said. "And to the extent that we're trying to manage the opiate crisis, cannabis is a potential tool."
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Most people view marijuana legalization as a floodgates moment where long-time black-market marijuana users can finally go to the corner
store to buy ultra-potent strains of the drug in large quantities, and spend their free time testing the hypothesis that it is impossible to overdose on marijuana.
This may be true, but according to a recent report by Deloitte, widespread marijuana legalization may also create a large market of first-time users trying legal marijuana products out of curiosity. According to the report, these consumers are expected to seek out a less potent, more socially acceptable method of ingesting the substance. Forbes.com has the story:
It seems the American CBD craze has invaded Canada. Now, more of those customers, presumably the ones with less experience with hard-hitting pot like GG#4, or these things called dabs are requesting products heavy in the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant. These people are the focus of the latest market report that suggests new, legal users (typically older folks) are more intrigued these days by the stress relieving powers of the plant than they are in getting wrecked.
"CBD is becoming kind of an 'it' word in cannabis. We see a real trend there," Andrew Pollock, vice-president of marketing for The Green Organic Dutchman, told CBC News.
Due to the forecasted demand for low-THC pot products, dispensaries may want to consider advising customers on the advantages of micro-dosing. Some are already making this part of the plan. After all, this low-key method for consuming cannabis, which is geared toward the person wanting to maintain a functional high without drooling all over themselves and dreaming of tacos all day, is already catching on in parts of the United States.
"(They say) two milligrams or three milligrams just has a mild relaxing effect and doesn't interfere with you going about your day," said Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics in Colorado.
It's not totally surprising that this new consumer segment seems to be emerging. After all, the purpose of legalization is to make marijuana safer through regulation, and more accessible to the public. The Deloitte report describes current black-market marijuana users as young "risk takers" indicating that their use of marijuana is driven by a desire to "live life to the fullest", and that its illegal status does not curb that desire–if anything it amplifies it.
However, the report goes on to project that the marijuana consumer of the future will be more interested in a less frequent, more relaxing or therapeutic marijuana experience. In other words, once the drug is legalized it will no longer be a ritualistic and taboo exercise in hedonism, but instead will become more akin to the occasional glass of wine or scotch. Further, the report projects that marijuana users in the future will be willing to pay a premium for their products, and will place a high value on knowledgeable staff and diverse product selection. These insights further the parallel between marijuana and alcohol, as recent years have seen a growing demand for high-quality craft beers and locally distilled liquors sold by knowledgeable bartenders and similar connoisseurs.
Government regulators are sure to be happy to hear this information, as there have historically been some concerns that marijuana legalization would result in increased habitual drug use, leading to a host of other societal problems. At least for now, it sounds like cannabis consumers of the future will approach the drug with caution and treat it as an occasional indulgence, rather than instantly succumbing to the "Reefer Madness" that many used to fear.
October 31, 2018 in Business, Drug Policy, Edibles, Federal Regulation, International Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (1)
This is a continuation of Q&A: The "Dopest" Lawyer in Town (Part 1 of 2).
Every U.S. state that shares a border with Texas has passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana -- so what does that mean for the Lone Star State?
I recently had a chance to talk to one of the lawyers on the front lines of that issue, Daniel Mehler, of Dallas's Roper & Mehler. Here, the self-proclaimed "dopest lawyer in town" talks about his front-row seat to what's happening.
It is no secret that "canna-cations" (tourism for legal cannabis use) have become more popular as its become easier to access legal cannabis in other states. Pair the travel trend with the huge black market in Texas and it’s safe to say that a lot of employees have cannabis in their system. Mehler shared some information on the relationship between marijuana and employment law.
AG: Are you aware of any trends that Texas employers are creating to manage potential risks posed by employees obtaining and using “legal” pot out of state?
DM: As far as Texas-based companies, I haven't really seen any change. We have seen a change on the national level. A lot of national companies have started to exempt marijuana smoking from their pre-employment drug testing. In Colorado, most employers don't drug test, but the issue has been litigated and determined that employers can punish you up to and including dismissing you from employment for legal use, off the clock, of medical cannabis, never mind recreational cannabis. So it has become an employment minefield. You also see things like for car salesmen, because of insurance requirements, employers, even though it's legal, not allowing [off the clock use] at all. On the flip side of it, getting away from just the domestic market, Vancouver, British Columbia just announced that it's police officers will be allowed to smoke legal, Canadian cannabis once their market is live beginning October 17th, as long as they're off duty.
AG: It just seems like it's going to be so hard to police for the out of office conduct stuff because of the drug testing issues. How can an employer tell if someone engaged on vacation or right before their shift?
DM: No, that's just it, in Colorado, it doesn't matter. The employer can just fire you regardless of where it actually occurred. You don't actually have a right to consume cannabis, even though it is legal in the state.
Moving into family law, Mehler pointed out a few points of contention that will continue to grow as more people begin to access and use marijuana both medically and recreationally.
AG: Are you aware of any effect either the compassionate use act or the legalization of marijuana in nearby states on family law matters in Texas?
DM: Google Christy and Mark Zartler. They have a profoundly disabled daughter named Kira. She has autism and is extremely self-injurious. They started administering cannabis smoke and discovered that it relieved all of herself injurious symptoms. CPS tried to intervene. It went to court and this past year a Judge ruled that the State would not take custody of their daughter; that nothing that they had done was dangerous to their daughter. So, they actually beat CPS in court, despite having published a YouTube video that got several million views of them administering cannabis to their daughter. So yeah, the impact is there. You see that CPS removes children when parents consume cannabis, but then we've also seen a highly publicized case where a judge, an impartial arbiter, says no, no, no, CPS was out of line on this. So, we’ll see how that plays out as we go forward. Another problem with family laws circles back to the THC concentrate problem, where those people are getting charged with felonies [rather than simple possession]. As more time passes, you're going to see more of their kids in CPS investigations.
AG: What about in divorce or child custody matters? Are parents able to use examples of the other using cannabis in a legal state against one another?
DM: Absolutely. We see it all the time. I have buddies that do divorces, and obviously, some of our criminal defendant clients also have marital issues. We see “drug use” arise in those matters all the time, even if it's strictly cannabis. Parties take and use those facts as a hammer and just club each other with it.
Last, we moved in to talk more about Mehler’s other practice area. I was interested to know about the presence of and risks to Texans in out-of-state, legal cannabis business.
AG: Have you seen any changes in business law in Texas in response to marijuana legalization in the surrounding states?
DM: In Texas, we don't have a lot of business law on it because there's not new jurisprudence and, obviously, you can't contract to do things that are illegal. Originally in Colorado, there was no contract enforcement. Everything was basically done with handshake deals–an understanding that all of this is illegal and there was no contract enforcement because it's all in violation of federal law. It took an act of the Colorado state legislature; they revised the statutes and specifically made cannabis contracts enforceable in state court. This built the foundation for the business to flourish because without contractual security it's very tough to draw in investors. Everybody wants security and defined rules. Eliminating the risks and making contracts enforceable in state court allowed the cannabis business very much to flourish in Colorado as a result.
AG: Should Texas residents seeking to invest in or open a cannabis business across state lines (but do not carry the product into Texas) be aware of any potential punishment in Texas for trafficking, money laundering, conspiracy, etc.?
DM: I don't think there are any problems with it at this point. We assist clients in moving money around the country in the legal markets and in trying to find the proper vehicles to do so. There is, theoretically, federal exposure to conspiracy charges, but I don't think it will become a problem as long as the cannabis is being produced and distributed in compliance with state laws where it's legal and no products are crossing state lines. I've never had any clients implicated in any sort of conspiracy like that. It doesn't happen from a functional standpoint. The feds have been up in the panhandle since the cannabis industry picked up and have started prosecuting cannabis being transferred across borders into Texas. The northern district hadn’t prosecuted this stuff for the previous 20 years. All of the charges went into state court. Now they (the feds) have decided to make that a priority. But, as far as legit business people just moving their funds in the legit markets, there's effectively no barriers at this point. The biggest investors from DFW to have money in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado at this point.
AG: That’s interesting. This is sort of an inexperienced question, but how do these prosecutions end up in federal court? Aren’t these people being stopped by local police officers?
DM: So, generally it is your local police stopping and making an arrest. Unless it starts with a DEA investigation. That's one way, you know, the DEA does its own investigation. But in most of these, loads the weigh 30, 50, 100, 250 pounds, whatever it may be, it’s that the local police have busted some courier moving it around, and the arrest triggers a federal investigator. Usually, it’s a local cop that makes the stop and the arrest and then DEA will pick it up and then the U.S. Attorney will then prosecute it in federal courts plan. Generally, after that happens, State charges will get dropped. They’re not going to spend their time pursuing you once you land in the federal pen.
AG: So it's just a handover process. It's not like there are FBI or DEA agents driving around pulling people over…
DM: No. No. You never see that. You absolutely will never see a federal agent conducting a traffic stop. They form drug task forces and work with local law enforcement. So you'll see like a DEA agent and two sheriff's deputies working together as federally funded task forces. If the DEA wants to stop a vehicle, that's how they'll do. They will put a call into local law enforcement to stop them.
AG: Do you know of any other interesting or surprising effects that have happened in Texas or have any anecdotal stories to share?
DM: I can't really tell you the specific stories because I'll be trampling on my client confidentiality. But I will say, Texas has always been the most business-friendly place in the country–has always had a lot of people that are interested in making a lot of money– but the state of Texas doesn't want to move towards legalization. There's a lot of Texans’ money that's out there chasing [cannabis] profit and, frankly, I think it's kind of a shame that it's chasing it outside of the state of Texas. You know, a lot of Texan money is making a lot of tax revenue for a lot of other states. That's both in the black market [buying the “legal” stuff and bringing it to Texas] and the legal market [investment and tourism outside the state]. It's kind of ridiculous. And it’s just going to get easier the more concentrated marijuana businesses are surrounding Texas. Once it gets to be a two-hour drive rather than a 12-hour drive from DFW… let's just keep the money at home. Look at what they did in Colorado the first year it was legalized. The first 40 million in tax revenue every year goes straight to the public schools capital campaign. So they are able to start building schools, giving teachers raises, doing all of this without raising anybody's taxes. If that's not the most Texas shit in the world, I don't know what is. The reality is, the people are smoking pot [in Texas] whether you’re taxing them or not.
- Ashley Goldman
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Every U.S. state that shares a border with Texas has passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana -- so what does that mean for the Lone Star State?
I recently had a chance to talk to one of the lawyers on the front lines of that issue, Daniel Mehler, of Dallas's Roper & Mehler. Mehler, a former Coloradan, decided to become a lawyer when Colorado began moving towards legalizing medical marijuana. He planned to help companies start up in the industry. At graduation, Mehler found that the Colorado legal market had plenty of big names focusing on marijuana. So, not wanting to work long hours for little pay with one of those law offices, he moved to Texas, a business-friendly state, and here he waits, gaining cannabis expertise, ready for the day that Texas jumps on to the legal marijuana train trudging through the country.
Here, the self-proclaimed "dopest lawyer in town" talks about his front-row seat to what's happening.
Ashley Goldman: Have the numbers of citations and arrests for possession of marijuana increased as the bordering states have legalized medical marijuana?
Daniel Mehler: I'll tell you, in the Panhandle, there's been an absolute explosion of felonies, penalty group two felonies, involving THC concentrates and edibles. Those have just rapidly multiplied. While down in Austin, and obviously you’ve seen it in Dallas, as well San Antonio and Houston, they've moved in the complete opposite direction with small cannabis offenses–decriminalization. A Houston district attorney ran on a legalization platform and got elected. They don't even prosecute misdemeanor pot anymore.
AG: So, it is more the state-border cities that are having problems?
DM: You see it in West Texas. I wouldn't say they're having a problem. I think cannabis has always been there, there's just a massive flood of concentrates moving in through all of the [state] border towns. The border counties–those poor, rural districts–and those out in West Texas jump all over it as a profit center. They see an opportunity to arrest people for a felony and get them on several years of probation or to charge them a steep fine for an alternative offer, some $5,000–7000 for a pre-trial diversion program. And people are scared to go into the penitentiary. I'm sure you know from your class, but lots of people don’t realize that 4 to 400 grams is a second-degree felony, so all of a sudden, those gummy bears are really serious crimes.
AG: So, Colorado’s legalization of recreational correlates to additional arrests here in Texas, versus other border states that require a medical card or other identification?
DM: Absolutely. It'd be purely speculative, but I would say that with Oklahoma’s move into the medical marijuana space, the arrests will continue to rise. Oklahoma will have one of the most wide-open medical policies in the country, a very unregulated market. They've granted 1100 business licenses and I would expect that the amount of felonies in the DFW area is about skyrocket. I think that you're going to see massive federal prosecutors in the Metroplex. You know, they’re 45 minutes from the border. People will be able to buy that shit easily. I would expect that you'll see people that have been involved and moving cannabis into Texas relocating just across the border in Oklahoma and Oklahoma become a massive source whenever it's in the game.
AG: You mentioned decriminalization of marijuana in most of the major urban areas in Texas. Do you think that with the other two border states’ [Oklahoma and Louisiana] medical markets opening up in the next few months that the decriminalization might shift a little and they may not be as lenient, especially in the DFW area?
DM: No. I think everyone recognizes that with flower, nobody gives a shit in 2018. It’s become increasingly difficult to seat the jury anywhere in the state and actually convict people on simple pot charges. In December 2016, in a San Antonio, Bexar County court, we got the first low-THC cannabis jury instruction for a Texas case. We got a not guilty in about five minutes, and not because it was about low-THC cannabis, but the jury just didn’t care. We gave them a way to acquit and they did. So, I don't think we're going to see any shift. Where the problem is, is that people don't realize that a cookie is a second-degree felony; that vape pen is a state jail felony. These aren’t simple possession charges. People don't understand that cannabis products are treated differently than cannabis flower.
AG: Maybe you could explain that a little further, it is because the charge is based on the weight of the product?
DM: When THC is separate from the flower, it’s a charge under a separate code section. It starts as a penalty group two controlled substance. So as a result, adulterant dilutants, that is, the cookie, the entire weight of the cookie, not just the cannabis, get weighed for the charge. The actual gummy bears become the entire weight, not just the amount of the THC. Where it's really bad actually is in the cannabis-infused drinks. That 12-ounce soda only has 30 milligrams of cannabinoids, but the person ends up getting charged for 12 ounces of THC concentrate–that gets you to 400+ grams, so a first-degree felony.
AG: So that's definitely something that people who are wanting to risk it and bring it across the border need to keep in mind.
DM: It's something they need to keep in mind, but let's not kid ourselves, I don’t how attuned you are to the black market in Dallas, but that’s the risk premium. That makes that $8 gram of shatter (aka wax, dabs) in Denver worth $50.00 on the street in Dallas.
AG: So, there is a large black market for some of the other products, besides the flower?
DM: There’s a massive black market. It would it be purely speculative, but I would say hundreds of millions of dollars just in DFW alone in the concentrate market. I mean you can get an ounce in Colorado recreationally for about $300, take it to Dallas, and sell it for $1,400 if you sell it as 28 individual grams. With that profit gradient, you’re never going to stop people from doing that. And the reality of it is, an ounce of concentrate is small and relatively easy to conceal.
AG: Is Texas fighting a losing battle in trying to keep “legal” marijuana out?
DM: Absolutely. The reality of it is, the cannabis is already here but the Texas money is going out of state. Unfortunately, it's going out of state for black market channels. Texas consumers statistically consume more weed than anybody else and that's not going to change. What we see is quality continues to increase. South Texas used to be dominated by imported Mexican brick schwag weed [i.e., low-quality marijuana usually dry and brown]; it effectively doesn't even exist anymore. As prices have plummeted in Colorado, you see commensurate price declines in Texas on the flower side. With the concentrates, because of the risk premium with the felony prosecution, those prices have really stayed pretty steady. But as prices of flower have plummeted to where you can buy it at $90.00 an ounce in Denver, where it used to be $350.00 an ounce for good flower in Dallas, you can now pay for airfare and go buy your own for that price. Now prices have plummeted and Texas is awash with California, Colorado, and Oregon grown cannabis.
AG: What about DWI or DUI Charges? Are you seeing increased prosecution for individuals accused of driving high? Is there any difference based on region?
DM: There are pockets in the state with increased prosecutions, like up in Wise County. They seem to ask everybody that they arrest with marijuana coming down [Highway] 287 when the last time they smoked was. We're seeing a spike in prosecutions for DWI for marijuana. The problem with DWI on marijuana is there's no science to back any of it up, whereas, there's actually validated science that alcohol impacts everybody the same way. Everybody will exhibit the same physical manifestations of intoxication at a given level of alcohol in their system. Marijuana doesn't work the same. A casual smoker, consuming the same amount of THC, will get a lot more intoxicated than an everyday smoker, smoking the exact same product. Also, when you get into measuring intoxication there is a problem in that physical manifestations are different based level of metabolites. The only thing we can test in the blood to get an actual [measurement of cannabinoids in someone’s system] are metabolites that are pharmacologically inactive. The science of THC shows that peak intoxication happens literally just minutes after your last hit if you're smoking it.
AG: So, before it does get metabolized and stored in fat cells or whatever else?
DM: Yeah. In Colorado, they have started studying the link between metabolites and impairment, for instance, a five nanogram per liter of blood per se limit. Well, the vast majority of your medical cannabis users in Colorado are already above that when they wake up in the morning before they even spark their first flame.
AG: That seems like one of the major downfalls of trying to have any enforcement, but a really good opportunity for scientists to get in there and figure out a way to measure it.
DM: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has already funded studies. You're seeing a move in that direction. They want to validate [the science] so they can prosecute. But then, there's actually a study that said marijuana smokers are less of a threat than alcohol users because marijuana smokers are actually cognizant of their impairment and take compensatory measures. As a result. Generally, stoners don't get emboldened by being stoned.
Continued at [link to part 2]
A recent study out of Israel provides evidence that cannnabis oil significantly improves symptoms of Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Common symptoms associated with Crohn's disease include: diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stool, mouth sores, and reduced appetite and weight loss.
Researchers from Israel recruited 46 people with moderately severe Crohn's disease, and randomized the participants to receive 8 weeks of treatment with either a cannabis oil containing 15% cannabidiol and 4% tetrahydrocannabinol or a placebo. Severity of symptoms and quality of life were measured before, during, and after treatment.
The results show that the group receiving the cannabis oil had significant reduction in their Crohn's disease symptoms compared with the placebo group, with 65% of the cannabis oil group meeting criteria for clinical remission. The cannabis oil group also had significant improvements in their quality of life when compared to the placebo group.
Interestingly, the study's authors say it seems to disprove the idea that the improvement of Crohn's disease symptoms is a result of reduction of inflammation in the digestive tract:
Speaking at UEG Week 2018 in Vienna, lead researcher, Dr. Timna Naftali explained, "Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and studies have shown that many people with Crohn's disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms. It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this."
"We have previously demonstrated that cannabis can produce measurable improvements in Crohn's disease symptoms but, to our surprise, we saw no statistically significant improvements in endoscopic scores or in the inflammatory markers we measured in the cannabis oil group compared with the placebo group," said Dr. Naftali. "We know that cannabinoids can have profound anti-inflammatory effects but this study indicates that the improvement in symptoms may not be related to these anti-inflammatory properties."
Going forward, the research group plans to further study the potential anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis in the treatment of Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases:
"There are very good grounds to believe that the endocannabinoid system is a potential therapeutic target in Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal diseases," said Dr. Naftali. "For now, however, we can only consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative or additional intervention that provides temporary symptom relief for some people with Crohn's disease."
Sunday, October 21, 2018
There are typically two camps that exist when people argue for legalization. You have those who would want to set up a store and begin selling cannabis like the cash crop that it is, and those who couldn't care less what the strain is called as long as it stops their seizures, anxiety, opioid addiction, or whatever illness they have that is being treated by medical marijuana.
Does it matter what camp you're in? Is one more persuasive than the other? Medical marijuana seems to be the stronger camp when it comes to the act of actual legislation and implementation. That doesn't mean legislators aren't thinking about the profits, but it is easier to argue economics once you have a template thanks to medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana began its path to legalization in the 1990's when five states, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Maine put into place their own versions of laws that legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Since then, medical marijuana has appeared to be the baby step before recreational legalization. It wasn't until 2012 that recreational marijuana became legal, and even then it was only Colorado and Washington.
Now, in 2018, we have 9 states and the District of Columbia with fully legal recreational marijuana and we seem to be on the path of increasing that number, but how?
One obvious argument for recreational legalization is the economic boom that comes with it. Colorado boasts a $506 million dollar profit from sales since recreational stores opened in 2014, according to CNN. In this current economic climate, that number should surely convince the public that marijuana is an incredibly profitable market and states should be running to legalize it. But why aren't they?
Fear. Marijuana is still a drug and drugs can be scary. Drugs lead to addiction, addiction leads to a downward spiral, and nobody wants their family or friends to go down that path. This argument comes in the form of driving while high. a recent Gallup pole shows that about 47% of the participants believe that driving will be less safe if there is legal marijuana. There hasn't been a scientifically proven way to determine if the driver themselves is high. We can test if there is THC present in the body but how long has it been there, is it enough to intoxicate this specific driver, and many more questions come in to play when assessing impaired driving.
Law enforcement in states with legalization have been trying to find a system that works together to maintain safety without assuming guilt. Certain states, like Colorado have implemented a legal limit of THC allowed to be present in the driver's system. Their officers have received special training, according to the state's website, that allow them to detect if a person is impaired due to drug use. This limit applies to MMJ and recreational users. The Washington Post compared two studies on the increase of auto accidents in states with legalization. The first was by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the second by The American Journal of Public Health. The American Journal found no increase in fatal car crashed but the Highway Safety found a 3% increase in auto accidents.
This is the part where people against legalization say that public safety and wellbeing is more important than money and the argument gets shut down. There is one thing that the states with recreational marijuana all have in common; they all had medical marijuana legalized before legalizing recreational use. This is how the state can test the waters for marijuana, the public reaction, the drawbacks, what the overhead costs really are, different methods that could be used in terms of patients picking up the marijuana. And when the fear of impaired driving comes out then advocates bring out a study done by the American Journal of Public Health that claimed there was a decrease in traffic fatality rates.
With what seems to be a movement towards legalization of marijuana across the United States, the best options for states that have not created medical marijuana laws, to do so before attempting to legalize recreational marijuana. It can placate certain fears of the general public, give the legislators a template, and it opens doors to those who really need it sooner rather than later.
--Loren D. Elkins
Friday, October 19, 2018
Two prominent Oklahoma hospitals have instructed their physicians to not make recommendations for medical cannabis under the state's new MMJ law, according to a recent article in Tulsa World. The private Tulsa-based Saint Francis Health System and the public Oklahoma State University Medical Center are turning away requests for cannabis recommendations from their primary care providers.
These hospitals are doing a disservice to their patients and should reconsider their decisions. Patients should not be blocked from using these treatments because of antiquated laws and outdated perceptions of the substance.
Cannabis Illegal and of No Therapeutic Value, Health Systems Say
A Saint Francis spokeswoman has said that hospital rules require physicians to follow federal law, which considers marijuana a prohibited Schedule 1 drug. She explained in a statement:
Warren Clinic’s provider contracts and our hospitals’ bylaws require that physicians follow both state and federal laws governing the practice of medicine … To this end, Warren Clinic physicians and providers are not able to endorse or promote the use of cannabis with their patients.
For its part, OSU Medical Center pointed out that its decision was based on the lack of evidence that any of the Schedule 1 drugs on the federal list have therapeutic value.
“Schedule I drugs lack clinical evidence for therapeutic purposes,” a statement from OSU Medical Center reads. “To this end, OSUMC physicians and providers are not able to endorse or promote the use of cannabis with their patients.”
True, marijuana is still illegal under federal law as a Schedule I drug. However, there is a move in many states to approve recreational marijuana (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada), as well as and medical marijuana use (Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas). There are now eight states where individuals can purchase marijuana for recreational use and 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is legal under state law.
Hospitals are exposed to a significant risk for allowing cannabis use by patients as cannabis continues to be illegal under federal law. This is because hospitals receive their accreditation from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These facilities also receive federal funds which may be vital to their ability to operate and provide services.
This threat may be perceived as real—especially since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he will enforce federal law as it pertains to marijuana. Sessions rescinded a 2013 memo by the Obama administration that instructed federal attorneys not to hinder states’ ability to legalize marijuana, provided state officials prevented the drug from migrating to places where it remained outlawed, such as federal property, and kept it away from criminal gangs and children. This will allow U.S. attorneys throughout the country to decide whether to devote federal resources to marijuana enforcement based on their district’s priorities. Hospitals are reticent to risk penalties and the loss of federal funding by prescribing or providing the drug in their facilities.
But with more states approving the use of marijuana, hospitals are frequently being asked to allow patients to bring in their own supply for their own use. These hospitals have created their own inpatient medical marijuana policies. To help standardize this, the Minnesota Hospital Association has created a set of policy templates. These policies may help to insulate the hospital and its staff from the threat of federal prosecution, and permit patients to use a drug that has proven to be effective in their treatment.
Healthcare providers such as Saint Francis should implement similar policies that help to reduce liability without sacrificing patient care. Yes, there are potential legal implications for such an approach -- but the likelihood they will be targeted for prosecution is low, while the likely improved patient outcomes are high.
The benefits of medical marijuana have been proven. Patients report many benefits of CBD or cannabidiol—the chemical found in marijuana plants. This includes relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain, as well as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and the side effects of chemotherapy. In fact, one form of childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, is nearly impossible to control; however, it has been found to respond dramatically to a CBD-dominant strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web.
Those suffering from debilitating illnesses should not be denied access to treatments that can help them, whether it is to ease their pain or to find a cure. Medical research in the past 20 years has uncovered substantial data about the benefits of medical marijuana and the chemicals found in cannabis. Further, hospitals are warranted in putting their federal funding at risk in order to prescribe marijuana in the interest of improved patient care and outcomes.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has released a list of close to 40 physicians across the state who have registered as providers willing to recommend medical marijuana for patients. The agency said it released the list “as a courtesy” to potential applicants whose own physicians may be unwilling to sign a recommendation. But patients of St. Francis and OSU deserve to get this badly needed medicine from their own providers.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Doctors in Britain can start writing cannabis prescriptions in less than a month. The motivation for the government to quickly legalize medical use came from two cases of sick children whose suffering was eased by cannabis. Both kids have life-threatening epileptic seizures and are successfully managing their diseases with cannabis. The New York Times reports:
The change was announced on Thursday by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, after he called for an urgent review of cannabis-based medicinal products over the summer, and his office said in July it had decided that “senior clinicians will be able to prescribe the medicines to patients with an exceptional clinical need.”
Mr. Javid said on Thursday, “Having been moved by heartbreaking cases involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis.”
The home secretary commissioned the review after the cannabis-based medicine of Billy Caldwell, 12, who has life-threatening epileptic seizures, was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on June 11. The case was publicized in the British news media and prompted a national discussion on the legalization of medicinal cannabis products.
Ms. Caldwell, the young boy's mother, spoke praise of the Home Secretary for the "swift movements" on behalf of her son and others. The whole process, from Mr. Caldwell's case to approval of medicinal cannabis took about four months. The Home Secretary clarified that general practitioners will not be authorized to write cannabis scripts, but specialized doctors will have discretion to give patients who have exhausted other options access to medical cannabis. This change adds the U.K. to a growing list of states and countries that have legalized medical cannabis use.
--Manda Mosley Maier
New research suggests that marijuana usage may damage sperm count, according to a story in the Daily Mail. Researcher Omer Raheem compared the findings of marijuana users, former marijuana users, and men who never used marijuana. His results found that,
[T]hose who had ever used the drug had poorer semen quality than those who hadn’t.
The team saw damage on all fronts – decreased volume, morphology (the shape), and total progressive motile count (how many sperm can actually move).
Men who had smoked marijuana also had higher risks of abnormally shaped sperm, which can hamper its attempts to enter an egg.
Cannabis use is booming both in recreational use and in medical use which is exciting but also reason to be skeptical. The drug is now legal in more than half of the United States for medical use, and nine for recreational use. And yet, science is still racing to catch up with legalization, and the true benefits and down sides are still coming to light.
Cannabis is understudied so a lot of the effects of long-term and heavy usage are unknown in the scientific community. Dr. Raheem think that doctors should use studies such as these to warn their patients about possible "negative' effects".
-Fernando Lira Gomez
Saturday, October 13, 2018
With a flash of a Medical Marijuana Card, people could be bringing home lasagna infused with cannabis oil or bringing infused blueberry muffins to breakfast thanks to the very first cannabis kitchen, Mint Kitchen.
With shows on Netflix like Bong Appetit, edibles are moving from the space brownie to your grandmother's lasagna. This idea will debut in Tempe, Arizona on Oct. 5th and it will be the trial run for any kitchens in the future. In order for Mint Kitchen to run, it had to obtain a dispensary license, and then it had to go through an inspection run by the Arizona Department of Health Services. This is unchartered territory. Dispensaries have been selling pre-packaged edibles but this kitchen aims to elevate the standard of edibles to beyond baked goods and gummy bears. They were given a 9 month approval after the inspection.
The food will not be one dose across the board, the customer can pick the dosage in their food to go best with their treatment plan with doses starting at 10mg. The food will also have to be consumed off premises and will all be packaged for to-go. This type of access could beg the question of safety and the dangers of people taking this cannabis infused food and doing with it what they will. Those fears have existed with cigarettes and alcohol and maybe we will see similar measures taken, but this is the first kitchen of its kind and there will be bumps on the road.
The owners and chefs want to reach out the public and open the door to exploring cannabis and how it can interact with food. They are going to offer free cooking classes to those with medical marijuana cards, but they will have to register ahead of time. Mint Kitchen will offer a variety of foods from burgers to gelato, enough to satisfy anyone's cravings.
Australian medical technology company Rhinomed has signed a 12-year cannabis licensing agreement with Columbia Care, the largest provider of cannabis-based products in the United States. Rhinomed specializes in anti-snoring nasal delivery technology, but according to the agreement, its nasal platform will now be used by Columbia Care to manufacture a range of products that delivers medical cannabis and other cannabinoid compounds for patients suffering from sleep apnea and PTSD.
Speaking about the future of Rhinomed products in light of the company’s newly-founded relationship with Columbia Care, Rhinomed CEO Michael Johnson said:
“We believe that there is clear medical research support for, and a very real and significant commercial opportunity for nasal stents with medical cannabis formulations. Nasal delivery of cannabinoids opens up a new and exciting market opportunity and has the potential to set a new standard by providing a better and more reliable and repeatable dosing experience.
“This exciting new range of products will sit alongside and complement our existing portfolio – it is an important step in ensuring that Rhinomed technologies deliver on our mission of radically improving the way people breathe, sleep, take medication and maintain their health and wellness.”
By licensing its technology, Rhinomed has removed a key barrier to entry into the still-restricted U.S. medical cannabis market—that is, it’s not actually dealing in pot. In fact, its deal with Columbia Care actually makes Rhinomed the first listed Australian pot stock to open a direct, revenue generating pathway into the U.S. medical cannabis market.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Nevada is the latest state to feel the economic boom of legalized cannabis, and so far it is smooth sailing for state regulators. The state fully legalized the drug beginning in January 2017 and total industry sales soared over $500 million, $425 million of which came from recreational sales alone. These numbers drastically outperformed both state projections, and first year sales of other states. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has the story:
Including recreational and medical marijuana as well as marijuana-related goods and accessories, Nevada stores
eclipsed a half-billion dollars in sales, just under $530 million, according to figures released Tuesday by the Nevada Department of Taxation.
Bill Anderson, executive director of the Tax Department, said that the industry “has not only exceeded revenue expectations, but proven to be a largely successful one from a regulatory standpoint.”
“We have not experienced any major hiccups or compliance issues,” he added. “As we move into fiscal year 2019, we expect to see continued growth in the industry by way of additional businesses opening up, and we expect revenues to continue to be strong.”
This stunning performance translated into $70 million in tax revenue for the state. To give some context to these metrics, state regulators projected $265 million in sales and $50 million in tax revenue, according to the Review-Journal. Furthermore, the states of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon–largely considered to be trailblazing states in the cannabis industry, and all with larger populations than Nevada by at least 1 million citizens–recorded first-year cannabis sales of $303 million, $259 million, and $241 million, respectively, putting them far behind Nevada's first year numbers. Perhaps most surprisingly, despite being home to Las Vegas, Nevada only collected $49 million in intoxicating beverage taxes from 2016-2017, signaling that marijuana may be a greater source of revenue for the state than alcohol moving forward.
Nevada's "sinful" tourist economy can likely be thanked for such astounding numbers, although the state's casinos have come out against marijuana use in their facilities, out of fear of losing their gaming licenses. Additionally, the state's marijuana law prohibits consumption anywhere but in private residences. State Senator Tick Segerblom told the Las Vegas Sun: “The numbers are kind of leveling off, and we need to reach the tourist market a little more. We need a venue where people can come and enjoy marijuana properly."
These results suggest a few things: first, that tourism economies can drive marijuana sales even in states with lower populations and where marijuana use is not widely supported by dominant businesses. Second, that as more states legalize cannabis they may take cues from states that have previously approved legalization in order to more efficiently bring the drug to market. Finally, that there is still much progress to be made with respect to laws surrounding marijuana consumption in states where it has been made legal. Perhaps as more states begin venturing into legalization, they will use Nevada as a model of how best to regulate, tax, and sell cannabis.
September 29, 2018 in Business, Commercial Law, Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Legislation, Medical Marijuana, News, Politics, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Taxation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)
Friday, September 28, 2018
Charlotte Gill, the owner Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, contemplated that very idea when thinking about how lobsters are cooked. It is fair to say that no reasonable person would want to be thrown into boiling water while still alive (or dead for that matter) so Charlotte, a self-proclaimed animal lover, decided to use the recently legalized recreational marijuana use for more than her own satisfaction.
She decided to get the lobsters high before cooking them in order to ease their pain and suffering. While, scientifically, questions still remain as to whether lobsters can even feel pain or get high, Charlotte contends that,
it is undeniable that the marijuana is having the intended effect. In a series of tests, restaurant employees put a lobster in a small container and added a few inches of water. They channeled marijuana smoke through a tube until the container was filled with it, and kept the lobster there for about three minutes.
Before the lobster went into the container, it would flap its tail and click and wave its claws. After being exposed to the smoke, the lobster was docile and serene.
It’s still a very alert lobster, but there’s no sign of agitation, no flailing of legs, no trying to pinch you. So calm, in fact, that you’re able to freely touch the lobster all over without them trying to strike at you or to be aggressive in any way.
This method is preferable, she said, to dropping a live crustacean into boiling water without the marijuana.
A more important question, to the Maine government at least, is whether getting lobsters high before cooking them leads to the consumer getting high; essentially, whether a high lobster turns into an edible post-cooking. Charlotte and her employees conducted their own experiments to find out those results,
staff members have tested their urine after eating the marijuana-treated lobsters, she said, and no trace of the drug has been found. In the latest experiment, Ms. Gill’s 82-year-old father has been eating copious amounts of marijuana-sedated lobster every day; he will soon take a blood test.
She said she hoped her tests could prove to the state that the lobsters were not absorbing the marijuana.
It is a unique and creative way of utilizing the legalization of marijuana, undoubtedly. While questions to remain as the effects on humans; whether lobsters feel pain; and whether lobsters can even get high; this use has garnered plenty of publicity for the restaurant -- yet another way marijuana legalization has helped boost business.
For now the Maine government is still skeptical as to whether this use should be allowed.
-Fernando Lira Gomez
A California judge ruled that a kindergartner can continue bringing her cannabis-based drug to school. The 5-year old at the center of this ruling is Brooke Adams, a Santa Rosa student who is living with a rare form of epilepsy, treatable with an ointment that contains the same active ingredient found in marijuana. The oil is applied three times a day by a nurse who accompanies Adams to school.
FoxNews.com reporter Christopher Carbone provides the full story:
The Rincon Valley Union School District had sought to ban the ointment from the school because it contains the active ingredient in marijuana.
Officials said allowing Adams to use the drug at school would violate state and federal laws barring medical marijuana on school grounds.
. . .
The judge's temporary order permitted the young girl to start school in August while the district's objections were considered. . .
Judge Charles Marson made the order permanent on Friday.
California law currently allows for the use of medical marijuana in private spaces with a doctor's recommendation. Additionally, California's Medical Marijuana Law provides, "Patients should avoid possession of marijuana in school zones, as there are typically additional penalties for the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana near schools, whether it is for medical or recreational use."
Adams' situation demonstrates the need for guidance in regards to cases similar to hers, as medical marijuana is proving to be a viable solution for numerous illnesses and diseases.
Joe Rogoway, attorney for the Adams family, stated he "hopes the ruling opens the door for other students who say they need to use a cannabis-based drug on campus for medical reasons."
Assistant Superintendent, Cathy Myhers shared a similar sentiment stating, "We are happy to have a decision that supports our ability to educate and serve this student in our public schools."
-- Gianna Redeemer
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Medical marijuana users in Connecticut now receive extended employment-related protections under the state’s medical marijuana law as a federal court rejects an argument that the state laws conflict with federal laws and are therefore preempted. Dale L. Deitchler and Elizabeth R. McKenna, employment lawyers with national firm Littler Mendelson, report:
A Connecticut federal court has issued another decision in the case of Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC, further expanding protections to individuals who are qualified under Connecticut's Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA) to use marijuana. . . . [T]he parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. These motions presented the court with another opportunity to address the extent to which PUMA protects qualified medicinal marijuana users—even though marijuana remains illegal as a matter of federal law. On September 5, 2018, the court granted partial summary judgment in the plaintiff's favor and concluded that she had successfully asserted a PUMA discrimination claim, and discussed the damages available. Significantly, the court considered and rejected additional arguments that federal/state law conflicts preempted enforcement of the Connecticut law, concluding that state law can co-exist with federal laws criminalizing marijuana use.
In an earlier decision, known as Noffsinger I, the Connecticut federal court held, “that various federal laws prohibiting use and sale of marijuana do not prohibit employers from hiring individuals who use marijuana in compliance with state law.” According to Deitchler and McKenna,
The case involves claims brought by an applicant who accepted a job offer contingent on passing a drug test. Before taking the test, the plaintiff informed her potential employer she was qualified under PUMA to use marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The plaintiff reportedly used marijuana "in the evenings" and provided current dosage information.
The employer rescinded the job offer after the plaintiff tested positive for cannabis. The plaintiff sued, alleging that the employer violated PUMA's anti-discrimination provision, claiming her rejection was discriminatory because she was qualified to use marijuana under PUMA.
The Noffsinger II court concluded the employer violated PUMA by rescinding the plaintiff's job offer on the basis of a positive pre-employment drug test when it knew she was using marijuana as permitted under Connecticut law.
The employer bases its position on, among other authority, the federal Drug Free Workplace Act and the federal False Claims Act.
Reading the DFWA narrowly to prohibit only the possession and use of illegal drugs at work, the court concluded that the DFWA did not require the defendant to rescind the plaintiff's job offer because she reportedly used marijuana for medicinal use after work during off-hours.
The court reached the same conclusion in response to the employer's argument that the federal False Claims Act barred it from hiring the plaintiff. . . .[T]he court concluded that "there is no federal law that bars defendant from hiring plaintiff on account of her medicinal use of marijuana outside work hours.
The court also found the employer’s argument that the employment decision was based on the positive drug test result, not on the employee’s status of a PUMA-qualified medical marijuana user unpersuasive. The authors explain:
The court disagreed, in effect finding action based on a positive workplace drug test for marijuana constitutes status-based discrimination when an employer knows the result was caused by marijuana use lawful under Connecticut law. The court explained, "[there] would be no reason for a patient to seek PUMA status if not to use medical marijuana as permitted under PUMA.
According to Deitchler and McKenna, “[t]he takeaway is that the DFWA is not a "free pass" to justify or defend the application of a "zero tolerance" policy in jurisdictions that have adopted protections for medical marijuana users.”
As 30 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana use, it is likely worthwhile to follow the development of this case as it could have a lasting effect on the relationship between state and federal laws in the labor and employment arena.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Marijuana is not just popular for the "young people" anymore. In Orange County, California, the Bud & Bloom dispensary in Santa Ana has partnered with a bus company to allow senior citizens easier access to dispensaries, according to an article by Stephanie O'Neill for NPR's Morning Edition. The bus drives the patrons thirty minutes from the Laguna Woods Village retirement community to the nearest Bud and Bloom location.
Though the idea of reliving Woodstock in retirement communities may be an entertaining one, the article notes that many senior citizens are visiting the dispensary to learn about the pain relieving properties of marijuana and "fear of getting high is the biggest concern expressed by senior consumers . . . What they don't realize is there's so many different ways to medicate now that you don't have to actually get high to relieve all your aches and pains."
Bud and Bloom tries to bridge the education gap by providing food and drinks to the elderly customers as the dispensaries' community outreach advisor gives a presentation on the "potential benefits of cannabis as a reliever of anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain and the various ways people can consume it. . . Then, the seniors are invited into the dispensary where they're able to buy."
The "Canna-bus" may be a response to a growing problem Caitlin Morgan Insurance recognized June of last year regarding nursing home and retirement community liability for marijuana. The article notes,
Marijuana . . . is banned by federal law even while legally approved for medical use in 29 states . . . This presents senior living facilities with the need to address what some call the elephant in the room: safety and accessibility. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, older people who stand to benefit often cannot get it. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not openly sanction its use, and many physicians are reluctant to endorse pot use, saying not enough is known about the risks in the oldest age groups.
Though research on how marijuana effects specific age groups is still scarce, "Some assisted living facilities have developed formal medical marijuana policies in response to demands from their residents. The Washington Health Care Association, an industry group, has posted a sample medical marijuana policy on its website, for example."
The article notes that "This is an issue that all facilities should weigh carefully, including any liability they may have as a result of marijuana use by their patients or residents."
Saturday, September 22, 2018
It's no secret that recreational marijuana is a cash cow, but until recently, retailers have had no piggy bank in which to deposit all their earnings. However, thanks to the efforts of Gardner Federal Credit Union, marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts may have found a home for their earnings. The Boston Business Journal has the story:
The bank said Friday afternoon that it would begin banking for the industry, working with Safe Harbor Services, a
wholly-owned affiliate of Partner Colorado Credit Union that is the leader in compliance-based cannabis banking services.
“As a credit union committed to helping people and serving the underserved, we found in Safe Harbor a partner who offered a viable and proven compliant-based cannabis banking option and a way to keep our communities safe. Our board of directors recognizes the need to provide banking services for the safety of our citizens in reducing the ‘cash on the streets’ and I applaud them for their vision and commitment to providing public safety," said GFA Federal Credit Union’s CEO, Tina Sbrega.
Banking has long been a thorn in the side of recreational marijuana retailers. Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, if a bank were to accept funds derived from marijuana sales, that would constitute money laundering. The resulting friction between state legalization and federal drug policy has created an business ecosystem where cash is king. Colorado marijuana entrepreneur Babak Behzadzadeh told The New York Times: "If we had bank accounts, it'd be much easier."
Safe Harbor Services began helping local banks and credit unions in Colorado accept marijuana money in 2014, serving a vital–and very profitable–role in the cannabis industry. The company has expanded its reach outside of Colorado, now offering its services to credit unions like Gardner Credit Union in Massachusetts. The company is able to help its customers deposit their cannabis profits "legally" by ensuring that none of the money is derived from activities specifically prohibited by the Cole memorandum, and that the banks who accepted cannabis cash were careful about what they did with it–specifically ensuring that it did not migrate outside of states in which marijuana was legal. However, with the recent rescission of the Cole memorandum by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it is not clear that Safe Harbor will be able to continue offering their services to financial institutions.
Polls show that the majority of Americans favor legalization of marijuana, and 30 states have legalized the drug in some form. With this increasing momentum in favor of legalization, states have expressed an interest in allowing banks to accept money derived from marijuana sales in order to quell threats of violence and robbery to marijuana businesses, who generally carry large amounts of cash on hand. Whether the current administration will crack down on organizations like Safe Harbor and their partners like Gardner Credit Union in Massachusetts remains to be seen, but something will have to be done with all of the cash currently being generated by the marijuana industry.
September 22, 2018 in Banking, Business, Commercial Law, Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Finance, Law Enforcement, Local Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)
A public event supporting legal medical marijuana organized by the Utah Patient Coalition has attracted hundreds of supporters. The bill being considered, Proposition 2, would allow patients with doctor recommendations to legally obtain medical marijuana from privately owned dispensaries.
According to an article by Kathy Stephenson of the Salt Lake Tribune, the event included music, food trucks, bounce houses, T-shirts and lawn signs.
Not all Utahns are in favor of the bill in its current form, though. The article explains that despite empathy for suffering children, some groups don't support Proposition 2 due to a perceived lack of sufficient procedural safeguards.
A Dan Jones and Associates poll, conducted for UtahPolicy.com, found 64 percent of likely voters to be “somewhat” or “strongly” in support of the measure.
However, several groups, including the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Drug Safe Utah Coalition — made up of medical experts, clergy, law enforcement, educators and business leaders — are opposed and say the initiative as written lacks procedural safeguards.
“We are aware of many in our neighborhoods who seek relief from pain and suffering and are moved with empathy by stories of children who endure debilitating seizures and other medical conditions," said Marty Stephens, the church’s director of community and government relations. “The church supports medicinal use of marijuana, so long as proper controls and safeguards are in place.
“In the spirit of compromise,” he added, "we urge a timely, safe and compassionate approach to providing medical marijuana for those in need without the harmful effects that will come if Proposition 2 becomes law.”
The upcoming elections in November will show whether events like this are enough to sway the voters of Utah to become the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana.
Friday, September 21, 2018
Canada’s budding cannabis industry is poised to create over 150,000 jobs over the next several years. However, the newly legalized industry has found a shortage of skilled workers, leaving companies there scrambling for help, according to a story in Newsweek magazine.
Max Simon, the founder and CEO of Green Flower, told Newsweek that marijuana legalization of marijuana in Canada has ushered in a new industry and with the new industry, jobs. Specifically, legalization has seen a boom in retail and procurement positions such as “retail needs managers, products specialists, purchasing managers, etc.”
But, with the jobs available, Simon continued, “finding skilled people in cannabis is an enormous problem for the industry right now, and it's affecting every sector.”
One of the biggest issues causing the shortage in skilled workers is the lack of knowledge regarding the industry. “Most people don't really know what actually happens in a legal cannabis business because it's all so new,” Simon told Newsweek. Adding an additional wrinkle is the fact that cannabis industry workers must also be knowledgeable about the many regulations that govern the business.
Companies are desperately looking to fill vacancies, but cannot find the right talent. In order to become the type of worker this industry is looking for Simon told Newsweek he recommends people “learn about the plant, the science, the products, the license types, and how people actually use cannabis today,” he said. “It sounds simple, yet most people don't actually have this fundamental knowledge.”
As more states legalize adult marijuana use (recreational use), the medical marijuana industry may begin losing revenue. Iris Dorbian for Forbes reports that:
According to estimates by leading cannabis researchers ArcView Market Research in partnership with BDS Analytics, the latest revenue projections for the U.S. medical cannabis industry in 2018 is $4.3 billion versus $6.7 billion for adult use. Last year, medical racked up $5.9 billion while adult use snagged $2.6 billion.
Much of the steep drop in the medical market and surge in recreational use has to do with users gaining wider access to the substance, says Tom Adams, managing director of industry intelligence at BDS Analytics.
Adult use is currently legal in nine states and D.C., while medical use is legal in 30 states. While some analysts believe that the surge in adult use sales over medical sales is due in part to being in its “honeymoon stage” and predict that both markets should see double-digit compounded annual growth rates across the next seven years, others predict that the two systems (medical and recreational) will merge into one comprehensive system in the coming years. Dorbian quotes Diane Czarkowski, a founding partner of Canna Advisors in Colorado:
It is too burdensome for businesses--whether cultivation, processing, or dispensary--to maintain two separate business structures . . . [and] as long as medical programs specify which conditions are recognized, there will always be patients who are excluded from access.
The article also quotes Ryan Kocot, a cannabis lawyer/consultant from Sacramento, California, who offers another theory on the challenges for growing the medical marijuana industry and implications that big business investments have on the market:
Even if we hypothetically put aside the countless legal hurdles companies face due to cannabis’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, it’s much more expensive to bring a medicinal product to market when it comes to clinical testing and dealing with the FDA--not to mention patents. . .
Bigger companies getting involved translates into more lobbying dollars being spent on federal legalization[.] When federal legalization inevitably occurs, the question becomes: Will larger companies be interested in targeting the medicinal market? One may also argue that the medical market could be the next frontier for Big Pharma, particularly since federal law changing will open the intellectual property floodgates, with patents, for example. Reasonable minds could certainly disagree, but my guess is that the recreational market will be the main target of big business.
It will be interesting to see which of these theories reign supreme as more states open the gates for adult use.