By Steve Elliott
Lab tests from Colorado indicate that while the legal cannabis on store shelves is more potent than the marijuana of 30 years ago, it is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals.
"There's a stereotype, a hippy kind of mentality, that leads people to assume that growers are using natural cultivation methods and growing organically," said Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight labs in Colorado certified to test marijuana. "That's not necessarily the case at all."
LaFrate presented his findings this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.
LaFrate said his group has tested more than 600 strains of marijuana from dozens of producers. Potency tests looked at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component responsible for the high. They found that modern cannabis contains THC levels of 18 to 30 percent, double to triple averages from the 1980s.
Breeding for more THC has led to less cannabidiol (CBD), a compound which is also medically beneficial in treating anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Huntington's, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, seizures and other conditions. Much of the commercial marijuana tested had very little CBD.
"A lot of the time it's below the detection level of our equipment, or it's there at a very low concentration that we just categorize as a trace amount," LaFrate said.
"I've heard a lot of complains from medical patients because somebody claims that a product has a high level of CBD, and it turns out that it actually doesn't."
By Steve Elliott
A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed putting marijuana legalization on the Presidential election ballot next year for a statewide vote.
Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has filed a bill, HB 117, to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis and its derivatives on the Louisiana ballot November 8, 2016, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune. Voters would be deciding not just the Presidential race, but also Congressional seats that day.
In a Louisiana State University survey last year, 79 percent of Louisianans indicated support for some form of marijuana legalization. If Honore's initiative got on the ballot and passed, people 21 and older would be able to possess and buy cannabis without criminal charges.
"If I can get it to the people, it will pass with flying colors," Honore said.
According to Honore, criminal charges for marijuana have already ruined too many lives in Louisiana. As of June 2013, 1,372 Louisianans were serving prison sentences for simple cannabis possession. The average marijuana sentence in Louisiana is 8.4 years; more than 78 percent of these offenders are African American.
By Steve Elliott
Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.
Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.
But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.
"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.
"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."
By Steve Elliott
All cannabis legalization measures aren't created equally. Some of them, in fact, are written downright sloppily; the beleaguered medical marijuana patients in Washington state, for instance, could testify to that fact, with the problem-plagued implementation of I-502 seemingly headed toward shutting down safe access in that state.
The reason is that capitalism is beginning to eclipse activism in the race to legalize weed nationwide, as pointed out by David Downs on SF Gate.
The Ohio Ballot Board on Friday unanimously approved Responsible Ohio's amendment; Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the ballot petition's wording last week. That means the group can start collecting the 305,000 signatures it needs to quality for this November's ballot.
The amendment would legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, and set up grow sites around the state. It would allow adults 21 and over to grow up to four plants per household, give medical cannabis to patients at cost, and create 1,000 retail and manufacturing licenses available to the general public.
Unfortunately, that's not all the proposal would do. Just 10 companies who funded the initiative -- the 10 firms in question have thrown in $36 million so far -- would be allowed to cultivate and extract cannabis in Ohio.
By Steve Elliott
Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, now CEO of a marijuana company, on Sunday told an audience of cannabis industry representatives that voters, not politicians, are behind the legalization movement, and he called Washington state's troubled implementation of legalization Initiative 502 a "worst-case scenario."
Johnson, a vocal advocate of legalization and former Presidential candidate who plans to run again next year, gave the keynote speech at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. About 750 people attended the conference, according to organizers.
Johnson, CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a publicly traded company producing marijuana-infused products.
When it comes to Washington's botched implementation of flawed legalization Initiative 502, Johnson was very critical of the over-taxation of cannabis in that model.
"How are they going to regulate it and make it a legal product? They have screwed it up as bad as they possibly can," Johnson said. "They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It's the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington state."
"Pay attention to how you are taxing it," Johnson said. "You are moving the entire industry from a black market.
By Steve Elliott
A controversial amendment pushed by a state senator to ban all marijuana concentrates in 2017 will not survive, according to the head of an Alaska House committee that has spent much of the session reviewing cannabis rules under legalization.
House Judiciary Committee chairwoman Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage) said the amendment, authored by Sen. Pete Kelly, isn't what Alaskans voted for when they approved Ballot Measure 2 last November, reports Matt Buxton at News Miner.
"I would not go in that direction," LeDoux said. "To me, it is very important to adhere to the will of the people, and the people didn't say 'Let's have concentrates for two years and then two years later we'll stop being able to use them.' That was not the initiative."
The House Judiciary Committee held a few joint sessions with the Senate Judiciary Committee as the two worked through Senate Bill 30 and House Bill 79, which will regulate legal marijuana in the state.
The bill produced by the Senate Judiciary Committee was extensively rewritten by the Senate Finance Committee, and saw more than 20 amendments last week, including Sen. Kelly's controversial concentrates ban.
Grass Roots Organization Prepares for September Signature Drive While Gaining Momentum and Support
Rob Van Dam, world famous professional wrestler, is also an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He recently created a video that describes his opinion on this subject which can be found on Hashbar TV HERE.
"Marijuana should be legalized and taxed like beer and wine," Van Dam said.
The 2016 California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI 2016), a grass roots organization endorsed by the California Green Party, is seeking financial donations to pay for signature gathering and to promote the initiative. Volunteers are also needed, according to CCHI 2016.
Signatures will be gathered beginning around Sept. 10 this year. The signatures of more than 600,000 registered voters will be needed to qualify for the 2016 ballot within 150 days of signature gathering.
The California Cannabis and Hemp Initiative permits the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulates, enforces and taxes recreational marijuana sales like beer and wine.
The organization hopes to collect donations of $5, $10 and $20 as well as large donations to raise almost $1 million so that Californians to be able to vote on the initiative in 2016.
By Steve Elliott
Just a few days after it opened, the nation's only government-run marijuana shop was running low on weed. Open for just a few days, manager Robyn Legun, 36, was frantically trying to restock. "If I don't get this order in this morning, we're going to be out for the weekend," Legun fretted. Someone joked about a typical government operation, always running late.
But this government store is far from typical, reports Todd C. Frankel at The Washington Post. This store -- Cannabis Corner, in North Bonneville, Washington, deep in the Columbia River Gorge -- sells dozens of strains of marijuana, along with pot-infused cookies and coffee, glass bongs, and rolling papers.
And the store does all of this at the direction of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority, making the city government dependent on this once-illegal drug for cash flow.
Legun managed a Bed Bath & Beyond in a previous job, but now she leads a team of 10 city employees trained to sell marijuana. These days, she's placing orders for Blue Magoo, Purple Kush and Pineapple Express.
"I can't believe this is my life," she said.
President Obama has said that as more states move away from the criminalization of marijuana, pressure will increase on Congress to change federal pot laws.
"We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side," Obama said. "At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana.”
The comments come from an interview the President taped last week with VICE’s Shane Smith. The video is at https://news.vice.com/video/president-barack-obama-speaks-with-vice-news .
Even with the positive prediction about the future of federal policy, the President also seemed taken aback by Smith saying that marijuana was the #1 most suggested topic from VICE readers and that if Obama led the way toward legalization, it would be the biggest part of his legacy for young people.
“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama said. "Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana."
“The President is right that as voters force more and more changes to state marijuana laws, national policymakers will have no choice but to catch up," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, told Hemp News Monday afternoon. "But he should think again about how important this issue is.
Citizen-initiated ballot measure would end marijuana prohibition in Nevada and establish a legal marijuana market for adults 21 and older
The Nevada Legislature is expected to let voters decide in November 2016 whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
State lawmakers have until Saturday, March 14 to enact Initiative Petition No. 1, but chose to adjourn Friday without voting on it. They were tasked with considering the measure after supporters submitted nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
“Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will make Nevada safer by replacing the underground marijuana market with a tightly controlled system of licensed businesses.
"Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana,” Tvert said.
The initiative makes private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
When marijuana's popularity exploded on the American cultural scene in the 1970s, college students figured prominently among the early adopters. Conservatives even imagined institutions of higher learning as centers of subversion from which the cannabis culture reached out its tendrils into the suburbs.
But in more recent years, the pot market has become more economically downscale, according to the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports Keith Humphreys at The Washington Post. "Most of the marijuana market is more Wal-Mart than Whole Foods," said Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jonathan Caulkins, author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know.
The data show that "college grads account for only about one-in-six days of use," the measurement used for national marijuana use. The remaining five sixths of today's cannabis market comprises, from largest to smallest share, people who attended some college (more than 90 percent of whom are no longer enrolled), high school dropouts, and teenagers.
While U.S. marijuana laws change and society retracts itself from previous prohibitionist attitudes, the Baby Boomer generation is consuming cannabis at a higher rate than ever before. As of 2013, 44 percent of adults between ages 50 and 64 reported using marijuana, up from 9 percent in 1985, according to the Gallup Poll.
Weedy.com, a new dispensary discovery website, on Wednesday announced it is following these trends, and is specifically catering to the medical marijuana needs of the baby-boomer generation.
Weedy is the first platform released by Green Web Services, Inc., located in Silicon Valley, founded by Ryan Hunt, Charlyn McNamara, Trang Nguyen and Noosphere Ventures. Focused on consumer education, Weedy allows users to search for doctors, strains, and dispensaries for medical marijuana from any geographic location.
Medical marijuana has previously been stigmatized in the United States, especially amongst Baby Boomers. Weedy was deliberately created to fill the void in the lack of education within the medical marijuana space, and to counter that stigma with information—and an abundance of it. The education-based platform connects patients to dispensaries and provides in-depth information regarding which strains and methods aid various health problems.
Marijuana may be legal in your state for medicinal and recreational use, but are toxic pesticides used in its production?
By Steve Elliott
A study released on Wednesday of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana either for medical or recreational use finds a patchwork of state laws and evolving policy that define allowed pesticide use and management practices in cannabis production. This variety of state law is occurring in the absence of federal registration of pesticide use for cannabis production because of its classification as a narcotic under federal law.
The investigation, "Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production: Safety Issues and Sustainable Options," evaluates the state laws governing pesticide use in cannabis production where it is legalized.
"The use of pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis has health implications for those growing the crop, and for users who are exposed to toxic residues through inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "The good news is that five states and DC have adopted rules that require marijuana to be grown with practices that prevent the use of pesticides.
"State officials have an opportunity to restrict all pesticide use at the front end of a growing market, require the adoption of an organic system plan, and set a course to protect health and the environment," Feldman said.
Measure with bipartisan support would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older
Massachusetts lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
H. 1561, sponsored by Rep. David Rogers (D-Belmont), Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), and a bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors, would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. The bill would also establish a regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities.
“Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it ought to be treated that way,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, less toxic, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior.
"Adults shouldn’t be punished for making the safer choice,” Simon said.
The Marijuana Policy Project plans to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol if the legislature fails to pass such a measure sooner.
“Voters in Massachusetts are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” Simon said. “We hope their elected officials are, too. If the status quo is maintained in the legislature, change will occur at the ballot box.”
DirectView Holdings, Inc., a company focused on ownership and management of video and security technology companies, on Tuesday announced that it has been selected by Evergreen Properties, LLC, a Colorado-based owner and operator of cannabis facilities, to complete a comprehensive security and surveillance installation at three facilities to be located on a 10-acre parcel of land in Pueblo, Colorado.
DirectView was selected for the project by Evergreen after recently completing a security and surveillance installation at its Marijuana Infused Products ("MIP") facility in the Denver area. Evergreen is constructing three facilities it expects to open in 2015 including a 25,000 square foot greenhouse, a 5,000 square foot processing facility, and a 5,000 square foot dispensary and office.
Upon completion of the installation, DirectView will provide ongoing services including equipment maintenance and alarm monitoring.
"We are excited to expand our business relationship with Evergreen as they open these three new cannabis facilities in Pueblo, Colorado," said Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView. "We continue to work diligently to build our presence in this rapidly evolving industry and believe we are well positioned to experience continued growth in Colorado and several other areas of the country as well.
"We look forward to working with Evergreen to complete these projects and service any additional needs they may have in the future," Ralston said.