By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon remained busy throughout the weekend after opening their doors to recreational customers on Thursday. The Oregon Legislature approved tax-free recreational sales through medicinal cannabis dispensaries through the end of the year.
Many of the shops opened at the stroke of midnight Thursday morning and were greeted with long lines of excited customers, reports Ted Shorack at The Bend Bulletin. Those lines continued all weekend, with thousands of customers checking out the shops.
"It was amazing," said Ben Hebert, owner of Dr. Jolly's in Bend. "We were totally busy all the time. I think we had a lot of happy people coming out of here."
Sales reached $55,000 on the first day alone, according to Aviv Hadar, cofounder of Oregrown Industries, which has a dispensary in Bend. As many as 2,000 customers shopped at his dispensary on the first day, according to Hadar.
"Our day two is bigger than most people's day one," Hadar said, reports Reed Andrews at KATU News.
Brothers Cannabis in Portland was one of the shops which opened at midnight; co-owner Nyno Thol said the shop is serving 600 people a day, about 20 times more than they usually do. "We're getting a lot of out of town folks and from Vancouver," he said.
By Steve Elliott
With legalization seemingly a near-certainty coming down the pike in California, there's a lot of excitement in the air. And the smell of money has joined the aroma of cannabis, stoking the excitement to a fever pitch. But there's a fly in that medicated ointment.
Inspired by successes in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, activists are hungrily eyeing California, the biggest prize of all in the recreational legalization sweepstakes, reports Dennis Romero at the L.A. Weekly.
Legalization fell short in the Golden State in 2010 with Proposition 19, and that sad outcome could see a repeat if multiple initiatives compete against each other to qualify, and if two or more reach the ballot and face off against each other.
What was supposed to be the unifying initiative -- ReformCA, from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform -- was the intended vehicle for all the big players in California cannabis politics to support; they almost pulled it off, too.
Patient Advocates Call On President Obama to Pardon All Defendants and Fully End Federal Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Patients
Kettle Falls medical marijuana defendants Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and Michelle Gregg on Friday were sentenced to one year and a day in connection to federal cannabis cultivation charges. Fellow defendant Rolland Gregg received a sentence of 33 months. All three were released pending appeal.
In March the trio was acquitted of all crimes they were initially charged with, except for the “lesser included” charge of cannabis cultivation. The defendants were arrested in August of 2012 after the Drug Enforcement Agency seized cannabis plants on their property, which had been grown for medical purposes.
They were barred from raising a medical necessity defense, despite Washington State law allowing for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
“Jail time for the Kettle Falls defendants is an embarrassment to the judicial system,” said Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We’re calling on President Obama to pardon all three defendants immediately.”
Following the DEA raid charges were brought against Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg as well as Larry Harvey and Jason Zucker. Charges were dropped against Larry Harvey who had been diagnosed with Stage IV terminal pancreatic cancer, but only a matter of days before the case went to trial, several months after his cancer diagnosis.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon's historic first day of legal cannabis sales on Thursday was a success, as marijuana consumers 21 and older statewide were, for the first time ever, able to legally buy retail weed without a medical authorization.
Lines snaked out the doors of many collectives at mid-day; the Tree House Collective on NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland had line of 8 to 10 customers out the door at around 1 p.m. By 5 p.m., the line was only a couple of people, and the wait had been reduced to around five minutes.
THC owner Nathan Roszina told Hemp News that creating separate queue and retail area for recreational customers was key in keeping down waiting times. Roszina said the shop wanted to address concerns from some patients that they might be subjected to long wait times due to the influx of recreational customers.
According to Roszina, the normal number of medicinal cannabis patients showed up for medicine; add to that all the first-time recreational customers, and it was a busy day. "It's been very steady all day long," Nathan told me. Many of the recreational customers, though, were curiosity seekers, according to Roszina, and only wanted to buy a gram or two.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy to Mobilize Activists Statewide in Effort to Inject Marijuana Policy Debate Into 2016 State Legislative Races; New Texas Lyceum Poll Finds Three Out of Four Voters Support Reform
First of several regional advocacy training events will be held Saturday in San Antonio; UTSA criminal justice professor and former corrections officer Michel Gilbert will be a guest speaker
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will hold an advocacy training event Saturday, October 3, in San Antonio that will mark the beginning of a statewide effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Dallas on October 31, Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12.
“Comprehensive marijuana reform saw tremendous progress this legislative session largely because families and regular Texans shared their stories with lawmakers,” said State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio). “The movement to change our antiquated and dangerous prohibition laws are gaining traction. However, that momentum will be lost unless citizens stay engaged with their lawmakers during the interim and campaign season.
“That's why these advocacy training events are so important because citizens will be the catalyst for change,” Sen. Menéndez said. “I'm excited the inaugural training session is taking place in San Antonio. Poll after poll shows Texans are ready for comprehensive marijuana reform.”
The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to change the perception of medical cannabis and its legislation, and humanize the perception of its patients, on Tuesday announced that it has exceeded 18,000 members.
"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages while raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," said founding Executive Director Dana Arvidson of The Wall. "One of our primary goals is to assist patients in every state to reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, and to end the needless suffering, before more people die.
"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.
According to Arvidson, The Walls' patient support group welcomes patient questions and offers loving support during times of trial and celebration. "We provide patients with a place to gather with others that feel the same way," Arvidson said. "It truly helps when a Patient knows they are not alone in their struggle.
"We also share patient's stories of healing or their search for healing, and many times their struggle for legalization in states denying them legal access," Arvidson said. "We also do our best to connect them with appropriate doctors and dispensaries in their area."
The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition on Thursday announced that Paige Figi will be introducing keynote speaker Melissa Etheridge at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo), Thursday, September 17 at 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Figi, a mother of three from Colorado, was desperate to find a treatment that would help her then 5-year-old Charlotte, who was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, live a better life. For years Figi tried numerous medications and treatments to reduce Charlotte’s seizures, some that lasted hours and required life support.
But none of the traditional pharmaceuticals and treatments were reliable or successful in reducing and helping Charlotte’s life-limiting condition. Looking for a final result, she researched alternative therapies, discovering a type of hemp oil that had no major side effects or psychotropic effects.
Figi started giving Charlotte a natural, therapeutic hemp oil with low THC and high CBD (cannabidiol), reducing her daughter’s epileptic symptoms and seizures from hundreds per week to less than three per month.
Finding the impact this type of therapeutic hemp had on Charlotte; the product now carries her name, Charlotte’s Web™ Oil. Figi co-founded the Realm of Caring 501c3 to assist families with similar disorders.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana activist Charlo Greene, who famously quit her job as a reporter on live television last year, is now working to increase diversity in the legal cannabis industry.
Greene recently talked with Ganjapreneur about her work to advance legalization efforts and protect medical marijuana patients in her home state of Alaska, along with lack of diversity in the industry.
Addressing several possible reasons for the racial disparity, Greene said she believes the cannabis activist community and industry as a whole is ready and welcoming to entrepreneurs of color.
"To be a true activist you have to know the cause you're fighting for and its history," she said. "All real cannabis activists know our drug policy is racist as fuck."
In the interview Greene also encouraged people of color to pursue business opportunities in legal cannabis, but warned of the "double-edged sword" of publicity.
To help promote a more inclusive industry, Greene founded GoGreene.org, a nonprofit intended to encourage diversity via education, networking and empowerment. GoGreene.org's stated mission is to "cultivate diversity in cannabis advocacy and industry" through events that promote "education, networking, and empowerment."
"We’re working to activate communities of color as we march toward the end of prohibition and to arm everyday citizens from all walks of life with the education and community backing they need to champion the movement in their areas," Greene said.
By Steve Elliott
Activists campaigning to allow marijuana to be legally used in adults-only businesses such as bars and nightclubs said on Thursday they are withdrawing a ballot measure that would have put the issue before Denver voters this November.
Sponsors said they were pulling the initiative because they hope to reach a compromise with city officials and business groups that could result in a local ordinance allowing some limited social cannabis use in Denver, reports Jack Healy at The New York Times.
Colorado's recreational marijuana legalization law doesn't allow "public use." But activists said restrictions had prohibited cannabis everywhere except in private homes and a few 420-friendly bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the state.
The ballot proposal would have allowed adults to consume cannabis edibles or inhale vaporized marijuana outdoors, if blocked from public view.
Organizers said it's still too early to know what might be included in any compromise ordinance. If that effort stalls, they said, the ballot measure might be reintroduced next year.
Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Women Grow, a professional networking organization for women leaders in the cannabis industry, is partnering with the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) in Los Angeles to produce 15 business-focused educational sessions at the September event.
CWCBExpo in LA will take place September 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The Women Grow tracks at CWCBExpo in LA will feature leading industry experts from the Women Grow Speaker's Bureau. These women and men will draw on experience to share entrepreneurial insight with the next generation of industry professionals.
Topics include "Upcoming States for New Licenses;" "Future Billion-Dollar Segments: Pets & Skin Care;" "New Technology for Efficient Grows;" "What Women Want From the Cannabis Industry;" and "Capitalizing on the Senior Market While a Providing a Service."
"Women Grow's ongoing partnership with CWCBExpo is an exciting opportunity for us to educate and inspire the next generation of cannabis industry leaders," said Jazmin Hupp, cofounder and CEO of Women Grow. "By offering expert-led educational programming that focus on the topics that matter to new entrepreneurs, we are setting the stage for the industry's long-term success."
Women Grow's national leadership team will be in attendance at CWCBExpo in LA, according to Hupp. They will network with attendees and share insights on investment, cultivation, retailing, brand marketing, advocacy, and more.
By Steve Elliott
Hempstalk 2015 is on! The Portland City Council on Thursday voted to grant Hempstalk a permit for its 2015 festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park downtown. "We will have our Hempstalk festival," said organizer Paul Stanford.
The Council, on a 3-1 vote, overturned the Portland Parks Bureau's earlier decision to deny the permit, reports Andrew Theen at The Orergonian. The Police Bureau also opposed Hempstalk, a free 11-year-old festival which celebrates and advocates the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.
The lone "no" vote came from Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Parks Bureau.
The decision means Hempstalk 2015 could occur around the same time as the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Oregon, on October 1. "If I had my preference, it would be the first weekend of October," said Hempstalk organizer Stanford of the Campaign of the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH).
Parks officials, meanwhile, claimed the event is set for September 26 and 27. Stanford said he had "no idea" where they got that date.
"It sounds like this event was imperfect," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Thursday. "It sounds like there were some people smoking marijuana there." But Mayor Hales added that most large events in Portland are imperfect.
It took a year to happen, but on Sunday, August 16, history was made as the Brownie Mary Democrats of California received by unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party, their statewide organizational charter.
"BMDC now joins only four chartered statewide organizations in representing the interests of its members to the Democratic Party," said Lanny Swerdlow, RN, president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County.
"I would like to thank all of you who took a minute and sent the California Democratic Party an email of support for the BMDC application," Swerdlow said. "Although there was no opposition of any kind to the application, the 66 supporting emails were duly noted and indicated to the Party the widespread support for marijuana law reform and for the Democratic Party to take a leading role in bringing marijuana prohibition to an end.
"Not only was there no opposition, but when approval of the application for the Brownie Mary Democrats of California was announced as part of the consent calendar, hundreds of people gave it a spontaneous round of applause which they had not really done for much of anything else that was announced as part of the consent calendar," Swerdlow said. "It seems Democrats like marijuana or at least ending marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
While internationally renowned astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan never publicly acknowledged his use of marijuana during his lifetime, the bestselling author and host of the popular TV series "Cosmos" did enjoy cannabis frequently and enthusiastically in private -- and he eventually convinced his straight-laced friend, Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Lester Grinspoon, to join in.
This happened, mind you, after Dr. Grinspoon, in 1967, had decided to research this marijuana stuff thoroughly enough to convince his best friend -- who was, you guessed it, Sagan -- to stop using the stuff, reported David Bienenstock of Motherboard in 2013. But what happened when Grinspoon visited the Harvard Medical School library, preparing to put together well-referenced argument against marijuana, was that he discovered he'd been brainwashed on the subject, as had just about everyone else in the United States.
Dr. Grinspoon encountered considerable pressure at Harvard to leave the subject of cannabis alone, but he didn't yield in his quest. In 1971, he published Marihuana Reconsidered to document his findings. The book, which described a decades-long government propaganda campaign to keep marijuana illegal, became a bestseller.
Melissa Etheridge, Grammy and Academy Award winning singer-songwriter, will be a keynote speaker during the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo), September 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles.
Etheridge's much anticipated keynote address will take place on Thursday, September 17, at 2 pm. The CWCBExpo in LA is an event for the legalized and medical marijuana industries.
“I was extremely honored to be asked to speak at the CWCBExpo because as a cancer survivor, who discovered the unparalleled medical benefits of cannabis during my recovery, I feel very passionate about helping to remove the negative stigma and educating people about its real medicinal value,” said Etheridge.
“We are thrilled to have Melissa Etheridge Keynote at CWCBExpo in LA,” said Christine Ianuzzi, managing partner of Leading Edge Expositions, LLC, and show director for CWCBExpo. "Not only is she an iconic rock star, but also a very successful entrepreneur and advocate within the legalized cannabis industry. Her historic keynote will be enormously well received and very captivating."
Known for her confessional lyrics and raspy, smoky vocals, Melissa has remained one of America’s favorite female singer-songwriters for more than two decades. She began her distinguished musical career in 1988 when she stormed onto the American rock scene with the release of her critically acclaimed self-titled debut album.
By Steve Elliott
Home cannabis growers in Alaska need a way to enter the legal marijuana market, a group of advocates said Tuesday at the first public hearing dealing with legal marijuana businesses in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
"Most of the entrepreneurs are wanting to start a small boutique-sized facility in their home," said Shuan Tacke of Fairbanks, treasurer of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, reports Amanda Bohman at the News Miner. "No one would even know that it is next door to them as they don't even know now most of the time."
Tacke was among seven people to testify before the Planning Commission on an ordinance, 2015-41, which defines which zones allow cannabis dispensaries and companies.
Under the measure, no marijuana commerce would be allowed in residential zones. The Borough Assembly will have the final vote on the measure.
The details of the measure, according to deputy planning director Kellen Spillman, are:
• Heavy industrial zones are the most permissive for marijuana commerce. Cultivation, testing, manufacturing and retail would be allowed in heavy industrial zones.
• Cannabis cultivation would be allowed in agricultural and general use districts, but large facilities would be conditional and involve public hearings.
• Retail cannabis stores would be allowed in commercial and industrial districts.