Top Experts in Policy, Science and Regulation Discuss the Public Health, Social Justice and Environmental Issues Related to Marijuana Legalization
In an effort to educate the public and discuss pressing issues related to the legalization of marijuana in California in 2016, the Drug Policy Alliance held three symposia, each focusing on a different aspect of marijuana regulation. Videos from those symposia are now available online to view for free.
The first symposia, held in Los Angeles, addressed issues related to marijuana use and public health. Speakers included Alison Holcomb from the ACLU, Tista Ghosh from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the environment, and Rep. Jonathan Singer from Colorado. The goal of this symposium was to address concerns related to how marijuana legalization might impact road safety, teen drug use and criminal activity. This symposium can be viewed in its entirety or by individual speaker here.
GreenRush, an on-demand medicinal cannabis marketing and technology platform, on Thursday announced the launch of its mobile-optimized web service with delivery and express pickup options to the San Francisco Bay area market.
Designed as a dispensary-focused platform, GreenRush works with eCann Inc, one of the largest investors in the cannabis industry, to equip businesses with the foundation necessary for market growth. GreenRush provides access to a new patient acquisition channel by developing brand loyalty through a simplified, one-time patient verification and streamlined order/reorder process. GreenRush also provides comprehensive delivery and logistics tracking for customer care.
“The cannabis industry lacks the comprehensive comparison tools needed for patients,” says GreenRush founder and CEO Paul Warshaw. “We designed our platform with convenience in mind, with services that increase patient satisfaction and showcase innovative dispensaries.”
"Many companies are competing for a share of the cannabis delivery market," said Steve DeAngelo, executive director at Harborside Health Center. "So far, we feel most comfortable with the GreenRush business model. It allows dispensaries to retain full control over the fulfillment process and maintain the quality of the medicine, and is more reasonably priced than other competitors."
By Steve Elliott
Most labels on edible marijuana products are inaccurate when it comes to levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, researchers reported on Tuesday.
An analysis of 75 products sold to patients in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles found that just 17 percent of the labels accurately described THC levels, reports Catherine Saint Louis at The New York Times. Sixty percent of the products had less THC than claimed on the packaging, and 23 percent of them had more THC than advertised.
"We need a more accurate picture of what's being offered to patients," said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Abrams wasn't involved in the study, which was published in JAMA.
Products with too little THC may fail to deliver symptom relief, and those with too much may make users feel uncomfortable or anxious.
Cannabis candy, drinks and baked goods from 47 brands were tested in the new study by the Werc Shop, a laboratory with branches in Washington state and California. The study was paid for by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine except for the cost of the testing, which was covered by the Werc Shop; the company's CEO, Jeffrey Raber, is listed as a study author.
Bill Headed To Governor Jerry Brown's Desk
The California Senate on Monday approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, by an overwhelming margin of 33-1. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.
Medical cannabis patients in California are routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical cannabis. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
“AB 258 is about fundamental fairness and compassion,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “Legal medical cannabis patients should never face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.
"AB 258 will help the law catch up with science, which has shown that medical cannabis patients are just as likely to benefit from an organ transplant as other patients,” Duncan said.
On June 15, more than 200 patients and advocates participated in the ASA California Citizen Lobby Day, which focused on educating lawmakers about AB 258 and other medical cannabis legislation. During the lobby day, ASA began a postcard campaign to encourage Governor Jerry Brown to support AB 258.
The Green Exchange, Inc., the developers of "Loud Cannabis," which the company calls "the world's first online portal and HIPPA compliant mobile app that connects growers to patients," on Tuesday announced the launch of their Patient Delivery Application.
"Loud Cannabis" is a free app that is now available for Android phones. The app uses patented technologies to allow patients to sign up with a farm collective, browse available inventory, purchase products, and arrange for immediate home delivery.
"This new app will empower farmers and give patients a direct connection to the source of their cannabis," said Joshua Artman, founder and CEO of The Green Exchange. "When people buy food, they want to know its origin, freshness and quality. Now this 'farm-to-table' distribution model is available to help farmers connect with more people, and provide patients with fresh cannabis with integrity and transparency."
Unlike other "delivery-service" apps that are hitting the market, Loud Cannabis was developed by farmers - for farmers, as well as for cannabis users who care about quality, according to The Green Exchange.
When a grower adds inventory into the Loud Cannabis app, it is simultaneously loaded into an Integrated Social Media (ISM) push platform, so that consumers can instantly see the latest product offerings via Twitter. This feature helps growers build their brand, increase the value of their products, and drive sales, according to the company.
Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin on Wednesday verified the signatures gathered for a referendum, and suspended an ordinance adopted on April 14 by the Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial medical marijuana cultivation in the county.
The county clerk rreleased a “Certificate of Examination of Referendum Petition” to Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC), a network of citizens dedicated to protecting medical cannabis patients' rights, to preserving the environment and to guarding the health and safety of the Santa Cruz community. The certificate states, “The result of the examination is that the petition is sufficient.”
RCSC circulated the referendum, and after 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county, on May 7. Required were 7,248 valid signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
The ban ordinance will remain suspended until the County Supervisors decide to either repeal the law or let the county voters vote at the June 2016 primary election whether to approve or reject it.
The ordinance would have allowed a patient/caregiver to cultivate on only a space 10 feet by 10 feet, and required the garden to be on the property where the patient/caregiver resides. The ordinance also would have allowed only a single collective to operate in the entire county.
Report Recommends Sweeping Reforms, Including Decriminalizing All Drugs
Momentum for Reform Accelerates as California Introduces Bills to Aid Non-Citizen Defendants Arrested for Drug Possession
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday released a first-of-its-kind report showing that tens of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year for minor drug law violations.
The report, "A Price Too High: U.S. Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses," documents how deportations of non-citizens for minor drug possession offenses have spiked in recent years, increasing by 43 percent from 2007 to 2012. In total, more than a quarter of a million people (roughly 266,000) have been deported for drug offenses since 2007, most commonly for minor drug possession offenses.
Under current immigration laws that focus on targeting “threats to public safety and national security,” decades-old offenses and/or pardoned drug convictions can lead to mandatory detention and deportation. However, Human Rights Watch found that most non-citizens deported for criminal convictions had only committed minor, nonviolent offenses.
The damning new report provides another example of how the war on drugs has become a war against migrant communities, fueling racism, violence, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 40,000 people (or more) have been deported every year since 2008 due to drug law violations.
Thousands of families in the United States have been torn apart in recent years by detention and deportation for drug offenses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday. Disproportionately harsh laws and policies relating to drug offenses can lead to deportation for lawful permanent residents and unauthorized immigrants alike.
The 93-page report, “A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses,” documents how the United States regularly places legal residents and other immigrants with strong ties to American families into deportation proceedings for drug offenses. Often, those offenses are decades old or so minor they resulted in little or no prison time.
Deportations after convictions for drug possession in particular have spiked, increasing 43 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to U.S. government data obtained by Human Rights Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Even as many U.S. states are legalizing and decriminalizing some drugs, or reducing sentences for drug offenses, federal immigration policy too often imposes exile for the same offenses,” said Grace Meng, senior U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Americans believe the punishment should fit the crime, but that is not what is happening to immigrants convicted of what are often relatively minor drug offenses.”
By Steve Elliott
It's apparently not enough for California police to simply raid medical marijuana dispensaries. Security camera footage from a police raid on a Santa Ana dispensary shows officers eating cannabis edibles and joking about abusing an amputee.
Footage posted to YouTube from the May 27 raid at Sky High Collective shows officers disabling security cameras and video monitors in the business -- but the dumb cops missed some equipment that continued to record their bad behavior inside the medical pot shop, reports Ben Hooper at UPI.
An officer can be seen in the video consuming something from a bag and sharing it with another cop, who asks him, "What flavor?" The officers then laugh.
Sky High workers said the officers were snacking on the store's medical marijuana edibles. The officers were sure they'd get away with their churlish behavior, unaware they hadn't located some secret cameras.
The video shows store volunteer Maria James -- an amputee who uses a wheelchair and is legally blind -- being escorted out the back of the dispensary by officers.
After James is out of the store, an officer asks a female colleague, "Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?"
"I was about to kick her in the fucking nub," the female officer replies.
By Steve Elliott
U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) is backing legislation to end funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's wasteful marijuana eradication program.
“This is a ridiculous waste of precious federal resources, especially when multiple states and jurisdictions have already legalized marijuana,” Lieu said in a statement on Wednesday, reports Fox News. “It is time for the federal government to stop making marijuana use or possession a federal crime.”
Lieu's proposed amendment to a 2016 fiscal spending bill would cut in half the DEA's $18 million budget for eradicating cannabis grows, according to the report.
The $9 million in savings would fund domestic and sexual abuse support programs for children, reports Mark Hensch at The Hill.
Rep. Lieu on Wednesday said he intends to completely end the DEA's marijuana eradication program by fiscal 2017.
"Next year, I will bring another amendment to eliminate the program completely," he said.
Lieu called the program wasteful, given growing support for cannabis legalization nationwide.
Under the eradication program, DEA provides your tax dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies to confiscate and destroy growing marijuana plants. The program goes after both outdoor and indoor operations.
New Global Energy, Inc. on Tuesday announced that it has signed an exclusive 20- year agreement with Alternate Health Group's CanaCard, a regulatory and compliance software system that will enable all U.S. states with legal medical marijuana laws in place to utilize and monitor the physician prescribed protocol.
According to CanaCard, its proprietary, patented platforms provide a private and secure system for HIPAA compliant interactions and monitoring. A unique patient identification code allows users to access a database designed to securely store personal data, transactional volume, research data and patient management tools.
The database is accessible only by the patient, certified doctors and licensed nutraceutical providers. The patient receives an actual card that monitors the prescription and tracks the balance so the patient knows how much medical marijuana is available on a daily basis and physicians can control the patient's access and limit consumption.
An important benefit to the U.S. states, according to the company, is CanaCard's ability to calculate and track tax revenue that is due based on each individual state's tax code.
"We are also ICD10 compliant in that CanaCard requires a code that corresponds with the disease in order to satisfy Drug Enforcement Agency requirements," said Howard W. Mann, CEO and president of Alternate Health (www.alternatehealth.ca), and a member of the New Global Energy Advisory Board. "We are currently the only one with this patented technology, which will be required by law as of September, 2015."
Sipp Industries, Inc., a diversified conglomerate corporation specializing in technology and distribution of consumer products, on Tuesday announced the formation of a new business unit dedicated to serving the growing hemp industry.
The new Sipp Industries Hemp unit will have large-volume hemp ingredients available including: Toasted Hemp Seeds, Hulled Hemp Seeds, Hemp Protein Powder, Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil, and Purely Refined Hemp Oil, according to the company. Each ingredient will be available in both Organic and Natural.
"These Hemp ingredients can be used in various applications from packaged Hemp products, nutritional bars, smoothies, salad dressings, body creams and moisturizers," Sipp Industries' prepared statement reads.
"Hemp is in high demand especially in market segments such as Food and Beverage and Nutritional Supplements," said CEO Syman Vong. "We have witnessed many new hemp infused products coming to market such as hemp-infused energy drinks, hemp meal replacements and hemp body creams. We anticipate this trend to continue and intend be the one-stop shop for U.S.-based high-volume commercial consumers and manufacturers of hemp products."
Current estimates of retail hemp sales in the U.S. exceeds $300 million per year and growing. As of today and for the foreseeable future, due to federal restrictions, there is little current commercial production of hemp in the U.S. and the market is dependent upon imports.
By Steve Elliott
A record-breaking 13 bills are in the California Legislature this year dealing with marijuana, and most of them deal specifically with medicinal cannabis. Some of the bills would be quite damaging, including legislation that would criminalize some types of cultivation and concentrate manufacturing.
The bill with the most far-reaching consequences is AB 266, according to activist Lanny Swerdlow of the BlogTalkRadio.com show "Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense." According to Swerdlow, this bill is an attempt to put some state controls on California's patchwork of local regulations.
The bill would create a new Governor's Office of MMJ Regulation to oversee and coordinate three new MMJ regulatory divisions:
1) The Department of Food and Agriculture for cultivation;
2) Public Health for product safety and labeling; and
3) The Board of Equalization for licensing.
The major action, according to Swerdlow, would be by the Board of Equalization acting in coordination with other state agencies to write and enforce regulations for commercial medical marijuana distribution, and to issue provisional licenses for medicinal cannabis organizations, contingent on local licensing approval.
AB 266 also would prioritize enforcement against doctors accused of writing inappropriate medical marijuana recommendations, would create an apprenticeship program for the medicinal cannabis industry, would authorize additional local taxation, and more.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday announced support for AB 266, which would create a "regulatory structure" for California’s landmark medical cannabis program. Earlier on Thursday AB 266 passed the California Assembly by a margin of 60-8-12.
Last week AB 266 was merged with AB 34 and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was made lead author of the bill. AB 266 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles).
In addition to supporting AB 266 in its present form, ASA announced it will be working with the General Assembly, California State Senate, patients, and providers to find ways to further improve the bill to optimize the ultimate program that would be created.
“AB 266 works to fix a system that has been broken for almost two decades,” said Assemblymember Bonta, buying into the popular narrative that free market distribution of medicinal cannabis is somehow unacceptable. "California was the first state in the nation to approve medical cannabis with the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, but since then we as a state have stagnated, and it is time that the Legislature takes definitive action on this important issue.
"As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee I feel it is imperative that we create a viable framework for medical cannabis that preserves our core priorities and provides strong patient protections and access to their medicine,” Bonta said.
Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Nationwide Gains Momentum with Sacramento Vote
Civil asset forfeiture reform legislation, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), on Wednesday won nearly unanimous approval in the California State Senate with a 38-1 vote.
Co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU and the Institute for Justice, SB 443 will require law enforcement agencies in the State of California to adhere to state laws regarding civil asset forfeiture, rather than transferring cases to federal prosecutors and courts where property rights and evidentiary standards are much lower.
SB 443 also calls for appointing counsel for indigent property owners and allows the recovery of attorney’s fees for successful challenges. Additionally, the bill will protect guiltless spouses and family members from loss of property, and result in increased investment in the General Fund, in courts, and in public defense for the indigent, as well as funding for law enforcement and prosecutors.
“Asset forfeiture inflicts the harsh punishments associated with criminal proceedings without the constitutional protections guaranteed by a trial," said Lynne Lyman, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "In practice, this means encouraging law enforcement to engage in questionable and unethical practices under the banner of the war on drugs.
"Today’s vote is a tremendous step in the right direction,” Lyman said.