By Steve Elliott
Former medical marijuana dispensary owner Charles Lynch has for years waged a legal battle against federal prosecutors who want to send him to prison. Last week, he finally got help from some unexpected and influential allies: U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Sam Farr (D-Carmel).
Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr filed a strongly worded brief with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals accusing prosecutors of flouting federal law as they go after Lynch, reports Joel Rubin at The Los Angeles Times. The Congressmen called on the court to end the case against Lynch.
Rohrabacher and Farr were late last year the authors of an amendment to federal law meant to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states where medical marijuana is legal. The amendment, receiving unusually broad bipartisan support in December, was written into a government spending bill.
The amendment prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds in a way that hinders states "from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."
It was assumed federal prosecutors would have no choice but to abandon cases such as the one against Lynch. But Justice Department officials have persisted in their war on marijuana. In general, they've argued the spending ban forbids them from interfering with officials carrying out state law, but doesn't stop them from going after sellers.
Popular Festival Has Track Record of Success in Keeping Attendees Safe
The California-based Lightning in a Bottle festival is breaking new ground in the United States by taking a comprehensive harm reduction approach to drug use at its event. It is the only festival in the U.S. to offer both peer-led drug education and mental health services onsite, communicate about those services to its attendees, and evaluate their effectiveness post-event.
The festival, set to take place this Memorial Day weekend (May 21-25) at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, California, offers harm reduction services through the organizations DanceSafe and the Zendo Project.
DanceSafe is a public health organization working since 1998 mostly within the electronic dance music community to promote non-judgmental health and safety information, ranging from safer sex and “protect your hearing” resources to straightforward drug education that explains drug effects and safer use practices honestly. The Zendo Project is a group of trained therapists and volunteers who assist festivalgoers undergoing a difficult psychological experience, whether drug-related or not. They set up a separate “safe space” apart from main festival areas, and often work in tandem with onsite medical teams.
The first successful Santa Cruz County voter referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15.
Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county, with 7,248 valid signatures required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
The ordinance was suspended when the Santa Cruz County Clerk Elections Department confirmed on May 11 that the referendum petitions contained more than the minimum number of signatures. The county has 30 calendar days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from the date the petition was filed, May 7, to verify the validity of the signatures.
As provided in the California Elections Code, 500 randomly selected petition signatures will be verified initially. For this referendum, 71.1 percent of the randomly selected signatures must be valid to qualify the referendum for the ballot based on the random sample count alone.
As of 4 pm on Friday, May 15, the Clerk's office had processed 266 signatures and found 73.6 percent of them to be valid. Based on this trend, the referendum will most likely qualify for the ballot when the remaining 234 randomly selected signatures have been checked.
If the validity rate at that point is below 71.1 percent, all of the signatures must be verified. To reach the minimum 7,248 required, an overall validity rate above 64.7 percent must be maintained in a full count.
Kush Bottles, a North American supplier of customizable child-resistant packaging solutions and accessories for the marijuana industry, on Tuesday announced that they have acquired Dank Bottles, LLC, dba Kush Bottles Colorado.
The acquisition comes one year after an agreement was struck between the two companies, granting Dank Bottles an exclusive distributorship of Kush Bottles products in the state of Colorado.
Greg Gamet, Justin Jones and Bryan Sullivan, the founders of Dank Bottles, will remain active leaders in the Colorado operations and will take on additional business development responsibilities nationally, according to the company.
"Greg and group have done a phenomenal job in taking over the market and making Kush Bottles Colorado the state's premier marijuana packaging provider," said Nicholas Kovacevich, cofounder and CEO of Kush Bottles, Inc. "Through this acquisition, we are able to fully integrate the Dank Bottles team and resources into our company, including their warehouse and extensive distribution network."
Ben Wu, president of Kush Bottles, said the real winners will be the company's customers. "We are now the only cannabis packaging company with full service distribution centers in the three largest marijuana markets: California, Colorado and Washington," he said.
Project CBD, a California educational nonprofit that focuses on cannabis science and therapeutics, has filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking dismissal of a lawsuit by Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA) on First Amendment grounds.
"This is precisely the type of lawsuit that California's anti-SLAPP statue was enacted to prevent," said Project CBD attorney Tyler R. Andrews of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in the motion. "Medical Marijuana Inc. is trying to bury any public criticism of its business practices and quash any debate over the health and safety of its products.
"The claims [against Project CBD] represent an abuse of the legal process and must be stricken," Andrews' motion reads.
The lawsuit followed the October 2014 publication of Project CBD's Special Report, "Hemp Oil Hustlers," which documented Medical Marijuana Inc.'s questionable financial practices and the presence of toxic solvent residue in two samples of MJNA's "Real Scientific Hemp Oil" (RSHO).
"Unable to challenge the factual accuracy of Project CBD's Report, Medical Marijuana Inc. has embarked on a campaign of harassment, intimidation and disinformation to deflect attention from legitimate questions about its business practices and the quality of its products," reads a May 4 press release from Project CBD.
By Steve Elliott
What's so scary about a free market? Almost two decades after California voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana, the state's cannabis trade is being described as a "Wild West," even as it has reached the status of a $2 billion industry.
Legislators, of course, are doing what lawmakers do. They want to bring "law and order" to the business, reports Anita Chabria at The Guardian.
There are currently three bills in the Legislature which would codify how medicinal cannabis is grown and sold in the Golden State, including whether the state or local municipalities have control, and what environmental and health issues should be addressed.
"There are no rules or regulations in California," claimed state Senator Mike McGuire. "For two decades now, the Golden State has allowed the cannabis industry to grow unchecked."
McGuire is sponsoring the Medical Marijuana Public Safety and Environmental Protection Act (SB 643), which focuses on the impact of growing on the environment. He said illegal grows are deforesting government lands, polluting waterways and "affecting the health of those who use medical marijuana," whatever that means, since most medical marijuana is grown legally in the state, not in national forests.
Created for creating a personalized, therapeutic blend of liquid Cannabidiol and THC, the makes of Twyns say it helps people make the best use of cannabis for personal health and wellness
Hemp Health Inc., maker of hemp cannabidiol (CBD) products, on Tuesday released Pharma-CBD Twyns, which the company describes in a press release as "the first legal CBD and THC mixing kit."
Designed for sale at medical marijuana dispensaries, Twyns allows cannabis users to create a therapeutic blend of CBD and THC – without smoking anything.
Twyns will help patients and everyday users personalize cannabis supplementation to meet their health and wellness goals, according to the company.
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is a principal compound in medical marijuana, and while patients normally get THC by smoking the plant, this presents three problems.
First, many patients would prefer not to smoke. Second, most medical marijuana is rich in THC but very low in CBD. Third, individuals react differently to various levels of CBD and THC, but normally they can't choose the proportion of each compound.
According the Hemp Health, Twyns addresses all three problems by allowing users to ingest THC and custom blend both compounds in one liquid solution.
"Twyns" refers to the two bottles contained in the mixing kit. One bottle comes filled with Hemp Health Inc.'s pharma-grade CBD. The second bottle is for liquid THC, and law requires that it be filled by a local dispensary.
Californians for Sensible Reform (CSR), a new political organization founded by Weedmaps entrepreneur Justin Hartfield in support of common-sense fixes to California's marijuana laws, on Monday announced the formation of a new general-purpose ballot measure committee ("Californians for Sensible Reform") and a candidate political action committee ("Californians for Sensible Reform PAC").
In addition, the group announced the first $1 million contribution from Weedmaps Media, LLC, to the new ballot-measure committee -- dedicated to supporting politically-viable, consensus-supported ballot measures in 2016 -- pledged additional support for political candidates with pro-decriminalization voting records, and called on other members of this rapidly maturing industry to make similar commitments.
"Decriminalization of adult marijuana use in California is bigger than any business -- it's a generational cause and an economic imperative," said Justin Hartfield, founder of CSR and CEO/Founder of Weedmaps Media, LLC. "And, as California's Attorney General has indicated, there's 'certain inevitability about it' -- especially since California is now falling behind other states."
With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform
The Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday launched Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.
Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.
While civil asset forfeiture was originally conceived as an effective way to target and drain resources away from powerful criminal organizations, Above the Law discloses how these strategies and programs have now become a relied-upon source of funding for law enforcement agencies all across the state.
On Monday morning at the State Capitol, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Candace Lightner from Mothers Against Drugged Driving (MADD) are sponsoring a demonstration of a new roadside drug test that uses oral samples instead of blood, and that could be adopted by CA law enforcement agents if pending Assembly Bill 1356 is passed.
Dr. Christine Moore, a toxicologist with the manufacturer of the roadside Alere™ DDS®2 Mobile test, will test a medical marijuana user on-site, and will be available for questions. The Alere DDS2 screens for marijuana and other drugs of abuse in only 5 minutes using oral fluids.
Since there is no "per se" limit in California for levels of THC in the blood -- and since the new bill doesn't specify one -- AB 1356 would effectively be a "zero tolerance" law, meaning lots of non-impaired folks who may have smoked marijuana hours or days before will be ensnared in the trap.
The problem is that there isn’t a reliable test -- like breath testing for alcohol -- that can measure impairment for cannabis. The saliva tests used for roadside drug testing in only detect the presence of particular substances – a driver who tests positive is quite likely not impaired. (It’s also the case that many drugs that are known to cause impairment to driving ability are not tested for – including pharmaceutical medications like benzodiazepines and opiates.)
WHO: Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale
By Steve Elliott
If you've ever doubted that the deck is stacked, you can safely lay those doubts to rest. A federal judge in California on Wednesday unexplainably declined to remove marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the nonsensical ruling in response to a motion by defense lawyers to dismiss charges in a case the authorities claim involves a marijuana growing operation, reports Don Thompson at the Associated Press.
Marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act means the U.S. federal government officially considers cannabis to be roughly on par with heroin (also on Schedule I) in terms of danger. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.
It was the first time in decades that a federal judge seriously considered marijuana's classification. To rule that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance means ignoring the vast body of medical evidence that has accumulated in recent decades, including hundreds of clinical studies and thousands of patient testimonials.
Mueller's move to hold a hearing last year to look at the issue is considered a significant step reflecting growing skepticism about federal marijuana laws, according to Sam Kamin, an expert on cannabis regulation at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Cannabis Company Debuts Cannabis Vape Cartridge Using Co2 Extracted Oil from Indoor Marijuana Flowers
G FarmaLabs, a producer/processor of medical and adult use marijuana-based products, on Monday announced the launch of Liquid Gold Extracts NUG RUN Tanks, which contain what the company calls "the purest form of cannabis oil currently available within the medical/adult use marketplaces."
The brand has officially timed the product’s debut in observance of 4/20 to be made available on store shelves of all participating dispensaries carrying G FarmaLabs products.
The company’s NUG RUN oil is produced using a 100 percent blend of indoor marijuana flowers, thus breaking the status quo of traditional oil extraction processes. While most oils are created using the extracted byproducts of cannabis plants, NUG RUN uses the richest part of the plant, which carries the greatest amount of trichomes and terpenes. These are released into the oil during refinement and purification, resulting in much higher potency and longer lasting effect.
“We’re super excited about the launch of NUG RUN as a brand new flagship offering for our Liquid Gold Extracts line,” said Ata Gonzalez, CEO, G FarmaLabs Limited. "When we began development on the product, we were determined to set the bar higher than any other cannabis company currently operating in the market, and we’re confident that our NUG Run extraction process, which uses the actual flowers of the cannabis plant, will provide patients with an unprecedented option in terms of medical and adult lifestyle quality products."
By Steve Elliott
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is preparing for a 2016 gubernatorial campaign, and if an expected ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana meets his criteria, he will endorse it and effectively become the public face of the campaign, betting his political future on the popularity of cannabis in the Golden State.
Newsom, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking official in California to support recreational legalization, reports Seema Mehta at The Los Angeles Times.
Although legalization will almost certainly be popular with liberal and young voters, some political analysts believe his support for legalization could present a challenge.
"He could motivate large numbers of young people who aren't regular voters to turn out for him," said director Dan Schnur, of the University of Southern California's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. "But taking a leadership role on this could make older swing voters nervous, even if they agree with him on the issue. It's a potentially risky play."
Voters in California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 but in 2010 voted against recreational use, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Since then, polling has shown that public support for legalizing pot has grown, reaching 53 percent in a March survey by the Public Policy Institute of California — a record high in that organization's surveys.
Cannabis industry website findmybud.com on Friday launched with its dispensary management tools, MyBud Tools.
FindMyBud.com’s management team said it expects that this launch will help shape the medical marijuana industry and the way that both consumers and dispensaries utilize the internet and online resources to support their needs.
MyBud Tools is a an online management system that allows dispensaries to manage the business needs of their cooperatives, including online membership enrollments, patient verifications, online orders, fulfillments, documentation and product auditing along with communication tools.
MyBud Tools also allows patients to submit and track orders online, maintain account ledgers and provide research and resources, while giving them an easy and efficient method of selecting and joining their favorite dispensaries.
FindMyBud.com promised to give back to the marijuana community through donations to and promotions for various non-profits, including NORML, American Cancer Society, Glaucoma Research, and the Epilepsy Foundation, among others. The company said it also intends to maintain its commitment to environmentally friendly business practices.
FindMyBud.com began seven months ago as an idea to help patients find local legal medical marijuana in the state of California. Finding that the industry was vastly lacking in affordable business tools and resources, the company expanded into a full service industry partner.
By Steve Elliott
Medical cannabis freedom fighter Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry, 58, who was incarcerated on May 2, 2011 after more than six years of litigation and three years of appeals, and sentenced to five years in federal prison for "manufacturing and distributing marijuana" in California, a medically legal state, has finally learned of her release date -- and it's Tuesday, March 31, 2015, according to the website Can-Do Justice Through Clemency.
At the time of the raid on her family home, she was growing, along with her husband, Dale Schaefer, 34 plants in a small greenhouse on her rural property just north of Sacramento, medicating from a double mastectomy and subsequent chemotherapy treatments. She was also shearing her harvest with needful patients at no charge.
"We weren't selling the medical cannabis to my patients," Dr. Fry said. "We had staff and were charging $10 for delivery only, and that's a common practice today."
According to Schafer, the couple had never grown more than 44 plants in a given year -- well below the 99 plant limit set forth by the State of California for medical use -- and never sold a leaf. But under a little known facet of federal law, more than 100 plans grown in a five-year period -- accumulatively -- is cause for a mandatory five-year sentence.