By Steve Elliott
A new poll shows that Amendment 2, the Florida ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to allow medical marijuana, falling short at the polls next month.
Even supporters acknowledged on Thursday that the drive for medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State is struggling in the face of well-funded conservative opposition, reports Bill Cotterell at Reuters.
After a two-week barrage of attack ads, the poll showed just 48 percent of Florida voters supporting the amendment to allow doctors to authorize cannabis for medicinal purposes. As a constitutional amendment, the measure needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.
The University of Florida Poll found 44 percent of voters were opposed to medical marijuana, with just 7 percent undecided.
"It's like a cliche in political races, but we're at a point when the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," said Ben Pollara, who runs United For Care, the group behind Amendment 2.
Florida entrepreneurs hoping to learn more about opportunities in the medical marijuana industry have the opportunity to do exactly that at a conference in Orlando on November 1.
The event, hosted by DispensaryPermits.com, will bring together leading medical cannabis entrepreneurs and industry experts to provide information and guidance to dispensary and cultivation application hopefuls.
Attendees will get a chance to learn more about operating professional dispensary and cultivation facilities, how to connect with the medical marijuana patient community, navigating industry legalities, selecting suitable real estate, and generating community support.
"When we decided to apply for a permit, we didn't know where to begin," said one client of DispensaryPermits.com. "With all of the misinformation that was circulating among media and other interested entrepreneurs, our team realized we needed professionals to help guide us through the application process."
"DispensaryPermits.com has an outstanding track record of success in assisting clients apply for and obtain dispensary licenses in multiple states," said DispensaryPermits.com Executive Director Sara Gullickson. "We look forward to providing valuable information about the complex medical marijuana industry at this upcoming conference in Orlando."
By Steve Elliott
Federal marijuana prisoner Randy Lanier, 60, a former race car driver, will be released from prison after serving 26 years of a life sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida for a 1988 conviction on leading a marijuana drug ring.
U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert has granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier's life sentence and has approved his pending release, reports Jon Saraceno at Autoweek.com. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal to reduce sentencing for convicted drug dealers, while seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
"He has served his time with dignity and respect," said Stephen Ross Johnson, lead attorney for Lanier since 2002. "He has helped mentor young people in the prison system."
The brief order issued by Judge Gilbert gives no reason for the sentence reduction. In addition to his life sentence, Lanier was given an additional maximum of 40 years on a distribution charge and another five years on an IRS fraud charge.
Lanier's release comes with heavy restrictions, including drug-and-alcohol tests, no consumption of alcohol or patronizing of establishments that sell it, no firearms, and no lines of credit without approval from his probation officer.
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online advertisement to launch its survey drive for for this year's election-cycle educational campaign. (You can view the ad at the bottom of this article.)
The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning TV cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, Sacramento, South Florida, and Washington State. As part of its groundbreaking "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, ASA has sent out more than 2,000 candidate surveys to help patients and the general public make more informed electoral decisions based on candidates' positions on medical marijuana.
More than 100 candidates in federal and state races across the country have sent in responses so far. The "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign will focus on as many as 435 U.S. House races, 36 U.S. Senate races, 36 gubernatorial races, and 31 state attorney general races, as well as more than 360 state legislative races in California, Florida, and Washington.
"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "We hope this outreach effort will show our country’s leading politicians how significant medical marijuana is to their election campaigns."
Earth Science Tech, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on nutraceuticals, bioceuticals and dietary supplements, on Tuesday announced that its Leafstrain.com mobile application, for use on iOS devices including iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, is now available for immediate free download in the iTunes App Store using this link (click here).
Users can also find it by simply searching the iTunes App store using the key word search "Leafstrain.com."
"ETST is extremely enthusiastic to be approved and now listed in Apple iTunes as an approved developer and now having its first iOS mobile application 'Leafstrain.com' ready for download," the company announced in a prepared statement. The new Leafstrain.com mobile iOS app can be downloaded free of charge and installed in the user's mobile device of choice.
Using the Leaftsrain.com app, users can leverage the power of iOS mobile devices by searching, finding, sharing, reviewing, commenting and mapping the best cannabis strains and dispensaries, plus more, according to ETST. Right from a mobile device, users can search the Leafstrain.com social network and online community as well as its large online database of 3,000+ medical marijuana dispensaries and 300+ cannabis strains.
Users can use their zip code or city and state names to search for dispensaries, which are then displayed on a map of the area. The dispensary profiles contain store locations, hours, photos, reviews and much more.
The Strategic Alliance will enable U.S.-based AltMed and Canada’s Vida to collaborate on clinical research, quality assurance, and the cultivation of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis
AltMed, a Sarasota, Florida company which says it is "bringing pharmaceutical industry precision to the development and production of medical cannabis," has signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with Canada’s Vida Cannabis.
The two companies plan to collaborate on research, quality assurance, and technical expertise. They’ll also pool business development know-how to capitalize on complimentary strengths in their respective markets.
"We’re deeply impressed with the level of sophistication, and operational know-how designed into the Vida Cannabis team as they work toward building the most advanced medical marijuana facility in Canada," says David Wright, CEO of AltMed. "We have a parallel commitment to excellence in Florida, and we’ve identified vital complementary strengths and best practices that will guarantee that both of our companies excel."
Headed by former pharmaceutical executives, AltMed is focused on the science of medical cannabis. AltMed is forging skill-building alliances to lead in the delivery of effective, safe and well-tolerated alternative medicines. AltMed says its ultimate goal is to help people live better lives.
"With a strong team coupled with complimentary values and a focus on rigorous quality assurance and research, AltMed shares both our scientific DNA and our commitment to patients," says Greg Wilson CEO of Vida Cannabis.
As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, entrepreneurs believe they'll get rich from cannabis businesses that comply with the laws of a particular state. However, marijuana businesses that comply with state laws are still breaking federal law and, therefore, are criminal enterprises.
Business advisory and advocacy law firm McDonald Hopkins addresses this issue in a special report designed to help potential investors, vendors, and professionals, such as lawyers and bankers, understand the risks involved in participating in the so-called "legal marijuana business."
The report, authored by Bruce Reinhart, co-chair of McDonald Hopkins' white collar and government compliance practice group, details how federal law regulates controlled substances, and that only certain persons registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can manufacture, distribute, and dispense controlled substances.
Reinhart outlines the tremendous risks businesses and business owners take on when dealing with legal marijuana businesses, including exposure to criminal prosecution, loss of assets, civil penalties, loss of licensure, and fiduciary duty litigation. These risks are assumed in an environment with limited -- if any -- protection from legal counsel or insurance.
Given the current legislative landscape, the report warns that the decision to enter the legal marijuana market should be made cautiously and with the advice of legal counsel experienced in criminal, civil, and forfeiture law.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana advocates might have an extra reason to celebrate if Florida voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment which would legalize cannabis for medicinal use: Passage of Amendment 2 would also preempt Florida's "bong ban," which forbids the sale of pipes or paraphernalia used to smoke pot, according to the head of the organization which backs the amendment.
Amendment 2's definition of marijuana's medical use includes "related supplies," points out Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, reports James L. Rosica at The Tampa Tribune.
Anything currently outlaws as "drug paraphernalia" in Florida, including "metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes," may be legally sold if used to smoke cannabis to treat medical conditions, Pollara said.
That would even include "2-liter-type soda bottles," which Florida lawmakers somehow found it necessary to ban when used with a controlled substance.
The former University of Florida Levin College of Law dean who drafted the language for Amendment 2 didn't disagree with Pollara's interpretation, but said it would probably be sorted out in the courts.
By Steve Elliott
An anti-marijuana group in Florida is making new claims that legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes could lead to date rape.
The group "No On 2" recently posted an ad on Facebook asking, "Will the face of date rape look like a cookie?" In the ad, a man and a woman are portrayed hugging, with an arrow pointing to a Photoshopped cannabis cookie in the man's back pocket, reports Jeff Skrzypek at WPTV.
"I absolutely thought it was fake," said Florida state Senator Jeff Clemens, who supports medical marijuana. "I thought it was a joke."
The ad opposes Amendment 2, which will appear on the Florida ballot in November. If the amendment gets 60 percent or more of the vote, it would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
Clemens said he simply couldn't believe No On 2 would post such an outrageous ad.
"I think any woman should find that offensive to somehow suggest that if you use medical marijuana to deal with a health issue ... that somehow that's going to make you more susceptible to rape," Sen. Clemens said. "It's really beyond the pale."
Hundreds commented on the ad on the No On 2 Facebook page, with many claiming it was inappropriate and offensive.
Florida MMJ Seminars on Wednesday announced in collaboration with HighDrive Digital Group, marketers for the medical marijuana industry, a seminar in Florida on the benefits and science of medical marijuana and the importance of voting “Yes” on Amendment 2 to make it more accessible to patients in need.
Educators at the seminar have more than 150 years of combined experience, according to the group, which called it "a must attend for everyone who will be involved in the medical marijuana industry – doctors, lawyers, nurses, educators, and entrepreneurs."
"Growing medical marijuana can be very lucrative, and there are only a couple of hundred seats available for the seminars," reads a prepared statement from Florida MMJ Seminars.
Florida is experiencing a huge demand for the cannabinoid medical treatment, especially considering that it is the largest homestead for baby boomers and holistic medical centers. The Florida Veterans Affairs department is one of the largest in the country with more than 1.5 million veterans residing and many in need of the medical marijuana treatment.
The topics covered in the seminars will be aimed at potential patients, clients, business partners and medical professionals:
• The role of Endocannabinoid System in the medical treatment
• Potential use of cannabinoids and a general overview of the history, licensing, and Charlotte’s Web
• Proposed Florida law guidelines and business growth
• Economics of dispensaries, grows, security systems and holistic treatments
By Steve Elliott
The Miami-Dade Police Department on Friday morning invited news media to an event so secret, only two members of the media were actually allowed to watch. The event was the burning of 225 55-gallon barrels of marijuana at a secret location.
The department organizes such top-secret burns of cannabis and illegal drugs several times a year, reports Emma Court at the Miami Herald. How many times? Well, we don't know, since that's a secret, too.
Multiple police stood guard at the secret Broward County location with machine guns while the marijuana was burned. Clearly, this was Serious Business.
Two or three pallets of boxed narcotics were destroyed along with the 225 barrels of marijuana, said police spokeswoman Elena Hernandez, who said the drugs were no longer needed as evidence.
It wasn't possible to calculate how much marijuana was burned, since the weight of each barrel differed, according to Lt. Alberto Somoano, who works in the evidence section of the Miami-Dade Police Department's forensics bureau.
That, of course, makes it mighty convenient for pot to be pilfered by partying police. If they don't know how much they're destroying, it would be mighty easy for some uniformed oinker to stuff his pockets full, don't you think?
By Steve Elliott
As Floridians get ready to vote on medical marijuana in November, months of campaigning by both sides hasn't moved the numbers at all. A new poll shows 88 percent support for medicinal cannabis, the exact same level of support shown in May.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's numbers are significant, reports Dan Sweeney at the Sun Sentinel, because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll -- "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot," a disinformation campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No On 23, a project of Drug Free Florida.
As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass in November.
An incredible 95 percent of voters age 29 and younger support the measure in the new poll.
Notorious anti-pot activist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, claims the amendment would result in an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, shady doctors authorizing it for almost any ailments, and access for minors. But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana, and that there are already state laws in place which would require parental consent before minors could be authorized.
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana has found its natural audience in Florida -- senior citizens. A big majority of the Sunshine State's older residents say they will vote yes this November on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2. It would legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Florida.
Among those older than 65, a whopping 84 percent support the initiative, according to Quinnipiac University poll this spring, reports Florida Today. Support across all age groups is even higher, at 88 percent.
The same survey found that 62 percent of respondents ages 50 to 64 have admitted to smoking pot at one time, the largest of any demographic, according to Phil Ammann at SaintPetersblog.
To amend the state constitution, the measure needs at least 60 percent of the vote in November.
Floridians have come a long way in the past few years when it comes to knowledge about marijuana, according to Robert Platshorn, who hosts Meet the Experts medical marijuana seminars.
By Steve Elliott
It was bound to happen, and now it has: The first of a planned national chain of medical marijuana dispensaries has opened. The very first Kaya Shack opened Thursday morning in Portland, Oregon, and began sales to licensed medical marijuana cardholders.
The Kaya Shack dispensary opened at 10 a.m. in a 1,000-square-foot storefront near Southeast 17th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. As required by Oregon law, the company has a state resident responsible for the dispensary.
The planned Kaya Shack chain is owned by the Florida-based Alternative Fuels Americas, Inc. (AFAI) majority owned subsidiary Marijuana Holdings Americas, Inc. Marijuana Holdings Americas is one of only a handful of out-of-state companies that have ventured into Oregon's medical marijuana market in the past 16 years, since voters approved medicinal cannabis at the polls in 1998.
"Our analysis showed that Oregon was the next state of any significance," CEO Craig Frank told the Portland Tribune's Kevin Harden in May. "So we focused on Oregon."
The opening places AFAI as the first publicly traded company in the United States to own a majority interest in a marijuana dispensary conducting legal sales of cannabis, according to the company.
"We are very excited to be opening the first Kaya Shack," said Frank. "We believe our brand is unique and inviting, and out staff is well trained to provide a friendly and knowledgeable consumer experience."
Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, is leading with a lop-sided margin in the polls. With change seemingly on the way, the Florida Medical Marijuana Institute's Regulatory Seminars are aimed at entrepreneurs and investors, doctors, lawyers and pharmacy owners across Florida, who seek insight into Florida's likely regulatory landscape.
"People ask us, 'How will your Regulatory Seminar address regulations that haven't yet been issued?'" said Jan Frel, director at the Florida MMTC Institute, a business education school offering a Regulatory Seminar on July 12 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami. "There is an abundance of useful information to use as a guide for Florida's likely regulatory scenarios; the right mix of experts can provide invaluable business guidance."
Regulatory seminars will be offered every three weeks through November, according to the Institute.
The Institute draws its analysis from the Amendment 2 language on Florida's November ballot, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act approved by the Florida Legislature in May, regulatory approaches in other medical marijuana states, and current Florida statutes regulating related industries, such as the production and distribution of alcohol and pharmaceuticals.