Recreational marijuana sales in Nevada have been scheduled to begin on July 1st, but a Judge ruled this week to continue the ban on licensing medical marijuana providers, but why? For some reason, the voter approved ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Nevada gives alcohol wholesalers the exclusive rights to marijuana distribution licenses for the first 18-months, and now the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada are concerned they might be cut out of the deal. If alcohol distributors were so concerned with selling marijuana you would think they would be prepared when the opportunity came, but only 5 liquor wholesalers have even applied for a license and none of them have met the legal requirements for the license yet. Compared to over 80 marijuana businesses who have applied for licenses, it's ridiculous that marijuana shops are being banned from their own business for the sake of supporting a competing industry's greed. Recreational sales are supposed to begin on July 1st and if alcohol distributors aren't prepared to fill that need, then they should step aside for those who are, the already established marijuana businesses. “There’s no recreational marijuana program if there’s no distributors,” Nevada Department of Taxation Director Deonne Contine testified during a hearing Monday before Wilson. “We cannot have sales on July 1 — or anytime.” Wilson agreed with the alcohol distributors’ argument they will “very likely be shut out of the marijuana business entirely if the department issues distribution licenses to non-alcohol distributors.” “We do not have any qualified liquor wholesale dealers to license as marijuana distributors at this time,” Klapstein said. She said the agency is notifying applicants about “what they need to do to make their applications complete so we can further process them.” The judge’s order limiting licenses strictly to liquor wholesalers is the biggest roadblock they have faced yet because only five liquor wholesalers have applied for pot distribution licenses — compared with more than 80 applications from existing marijuana businesses — and none has met the legal requirements.
In a turn of events, Mexico has become the next North American country to legalize medical marijuana. The Mexican Lower House of Congress passed the medical marijuana bill back in April, and this week President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the bill into law confirming legalization. Regulations will be decided and implemented soon by the Ministry of Health. Despite the drug violence problem in Mexico, leaders are hoping to turn some of the cartels' revenue into a legal industry benefiting Mexico's patients. The law will stop “criminalizing consumption” and also authorize the use of medicines made from a base of marijuana and/or its active ingredients, the Guardian reported in April. The initiative signals a shift for Peña Nieto, who says he has never smoked marijuana and has openly opposed its legalization, and could serve to curb drug violence in the country by legalizing and thus taxing one of the cartels' revenue sources.
Kentucky is one of the few states in the U.S. pushing to continue a heavy ban on medical marijuana, despite studies showing it can be a viable resource in fighting opioid and prescription pain killer addiction. Several Kentucky patients started a lawsuit against the state last week after lawmakers have repeatedly refused to lift the ban on medical marijuana. Cultivating or possessing any amount of marijuana in Kentucky can result in jail time, but the same would be perfectly legal in over half of the country. One plaintiff was prescribed medical marijuana while living in legal states, Colorado and Washington, but has now become the center of controversy as she moved back to Kentucky to take care of her sick mother. Does she and many other patients with valid prescriptions deserve to be in jail? Obviously not. But somehow patients allover the state must still defend their right to safe non-addicting medication that works. Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother. "She comes back to her home state and she's treated as a criminal for this same conduct," said plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Canon. "That's absurd, it's irrational and it's unconstitutional." Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: "I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I'm able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard." "Cannabis helps sick people," Curtis said. "It is safe, it is not addictive and it works." Kentucky had the nation's third-highest death rate from opioid overdoses in 2015, it said. Hospital admissions from opioid abuse have dropped in states allowing medicinal cannabis, it said. "Medical cannabis keeps people off of opioids," Canon said.
While over half of the United States have updated their laws to at least allow limited forms of medical marijuana for patients, states like Utah find lawmakers dragging their feet and getting nowhere. Rather than follow the majority of the country in allowing patients access to relief, they have taken the painfully slow route of letting colleges and institutions study the impacts of the medical marijuana before any changes can happen. For scientists to even begin conducting research, it can take over 6 months just to file the paperwork and apply for marijuana research, let alone the years it can take for a study to be completed and then be reflected in legislation. Americans have voiced their needs over and over again throughout the country by legalizing the drug, and it's time for the rest of America to follow. Too many have either uprooted their lives to move to an area with access, or will just wait in pain and be hopeful that their legislators will do what's best for them. The wait for legalization has sent Rice on regular trips to Colorado to get cannabis to treat his 24-year-old daughter Ashley. Nearly every drug they've tried, including cannabidiol, has failed to stop all of her seizures. Rice said the only time his daughter has a completely seizure free day is when he takes her to Colorado, where marijuana is legal, and gives her cannabis twice a day. "Epilepsy is a deadly disease," he said. "Every seizure takes away a little bit of her brain." Lawmakers and advocates have pushed for the drug to be declassified and grouped with such drugs as cocaine and opiates, which have medical uses but are still illegal for recreational use. Researchers now have to file applications with multiple federal agencies before they can request cannabis products from a university in Mississippi that remains the country's sole source of pot for federally approved research.
A new study by BDS Analytics finds that in Colorado, consumers of marijuana are more likely to be employed full-time and more satisfied with life when compared to those who do not consume cannabis. The long time stereotype of marijuana users has led many to believe that this erupting marijuana industry is only enjoyed by lazy hippies, when the reality is much brighter. Compared to those who might consider using cannabis and to those who would not consider it at all, cannabis consumers are shown to be more social, more satisfied, and more likely to enjoy outdoor recreation. This positive light on marijuana consumers is helping to create more acceptance in those who might have blocked out cannabis and it's users from their life. Full-time employment is enjoyed by 64 percent of Colorado consumers compared to 51 percent of acceptors and 54 percent of rejecters. Nearly five in 10 Colorado consumers agree they are more satisfied with life today than they were a year ago, compared to about four in 10 among acceptors and rejecters. “In fact, positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socializing, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California.”
The amount of people in the U.S. who have at least tried marijuana within their life has grown so great that the Secret Service is now relaxing their policy on past drug use for those looking to be hired. While Secret Service members won't be able to consume cannabis as employees, new criterea does allow those younger than 24 to be 12-months clean from cannabis, while those older than 28 must be 5-years clean. Without this change in policy officials were struggling to fill the necessary positions with qualified employees. If the Secret Service is having to loosen it's cannabis policy for qualified applicants, shouldn't that speak for other businesses and employers too? Now that marijuana has become legal in a growing number of states, and attitudes over the dangers associated with the substance have become more relaxed among the majority of civil society, it has become next to impossible for federal agencies, like the Secret Service, to track down qualified applicants that have not at least tried smoking weed.
As with anything dose dependent, anyone can overdo marijuana consumption, but with the knowledge of proper dosage you don't have to. In a recent study, researchers tested volunteers with a low-dose and high-dose of THC before putting them through a series of tasks, and the findings may be very useful to some! The subjects on a lower dose of THC showed reduced stress in the activites, while the higher dosed subjects instead became more stressed. Interestingly, physical stress indicators like heart rate and blood pressure remained the same between all volunteers, but the low-dose subjects did report being more relaxed than the rest. For some, the proper dose can equate to just a few puffs from a bowl or joint, and a few more can push some passed their preferred dose, but ultimately everyone is different and should find their ideal dose one puff at a time. "We found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect," Emma Childs, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author of the study, said in a press release. People on the low dose reported being more relaxed than those on the placebo, and their stress levels dissipated more quickly after the tasks. But people on the high doses paused more in the job interview and reported the tasks to be stressful, challenging, and threatening. "The doses used in the study produce effects that are equivalent to only a few puffs of a cannabis cigarette," Childs said. In other words, a few hits of a joint or bowl is enough to hit the low dose. And just a few more hits could easily bring THC levels in line with the "high" dose.
A California bill to be considered this week would finally set regulations for the incoming recreational marijuana industry which will merge with the state's current medical marijuana program. The law demands that rules and regulations be finalized and ready for implementation by 2018. The goal is to treat marijuana like alcohol and allow adults to grow, possess, and use the drug responsibly. Included in the necessary regulations are official marijuana varietals and growing regions, similar to how wine and craft producers designate their brand off of unique conditions. In general, the state will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants at home. "There are thousands of businesses currently engaged in this type of commerce," Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association. "The more of them that can get licensed, the better off the state is going to be, the faster we'll be able to get rid of the criminal element and the faster we'll be able to make sure the product is safe and tested."
In light of Attorney General Session's continued attack on the medical marijuana industry, several U.S. Senators have reintroduced the CARERS Act, which would remove CBD from the Controlled Substances Act and allow for certain types of medical marijuana to be imported and exported between states. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS) would also protect medical marijuana businesses from federal prosecution for possessing and distributing medical marijuana in legal states. If passed, the bill would also allow VA doctors to recommend the drug to veterans as well as allow further studying of the plant for medical purposes. The introduction of the bill comes days after news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to leaders of Congress asking that they undo protections for the industry under the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment. That amendment, which is tied to the federal appropriations bill, prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds to enforce federal prohibition in states with legal marijuana laws. The act, which was first introduced in 2015, would also allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where its legal and it would give researchers more access to cannabis to conduct studies, which has been an issue in the industry.
In a twist and turn of events, Arizona's medical marijuana law has incidentally incriminated one of it's young patients due to a federal marijuana ban on college campuses. One student faced felony charges simply for possessing .3 grams of cannabis on university property. While the state Court of Appeals eventually tossed his marijuana conviction, legislators are still pushing for heavy bans on the medically legal drug on university campuses or threatening to terminate the school's federal funding. The ban of marijuana on college campuses may be necessary strictly for the purpose of keeping federal funding, however a college ban should be handled by the college rather than bypass state law which allows for patients to possess their medicine. The state's new petition argues that by failing to ban marijuana from universities and college campuses, the schools risk the elimination of their federal funding. Federal law stipulates that in order to receives federal funding, colleges and universities must ban illegal drugs from their campuses. Dean said the state's new argument is no better than the old one thrown out by the Court of Appeals in April. As the court ruled then, Dean pointed out, a ban is fine as long as it's not a criminal ban. Criminalizing possession for patients on university campuses, when the AMMA called for no such thing, doesn't further one of the AMMA's main purposes, which is to prevent the prosecution of state-authorized patients. Not a single U.S. university has ever had its federal funding pulled because its state decriminalized marijuana, Dean said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed two new bills into law this week in an effort to fight black market marijuana in his recreational marijuana state. Language in the bills would help reduce the amount of over-sized and non-commercial marijuana grows as well as grant local law enforcement about $6 million for prosecuting black market marijuana crimes. Currently, medical marijuana patients can grow up to 99 plants with a physicians approval, but the new law limits both medical and recreational grows to 12 plants per household, unless more is approved by local government. Colorado is ramping up efforts to try and prevent marijuana from being diverted to the black market. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two bi-partisan bills into law Thursday. "I think we’re protecting neighborhoods from the violence often associated with organized crime," said Hickenlooper. "We’re no longer the Wild West. I don’t think it’s good for Colorado to have the loosest laws."
Arkansas is nearly ready to begin accepting applications for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, but the available space for marijuana businesses is extremely limited. Due to the excessive distances needed from schools, churches, and daycares that the regulations demand, many smaller towns and cities may not be able to host a medical marijuana business, leaving many Arkansans without local medical marijuana options. The state will start taking applications on July 1st. Dispensary applications require a $7,500 fee and cultivators a $15,000 fee with a $100,000 fee placed ontop for selected applicants. Up to 32 dispensary licenses and 8 cultivation licenses will be given out to those chosen. Marijuana business workers must be 21 or older, a state-registered marijuana cultivator, and void of certain felonies. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is set to begin accepting applications for cultivation and dispensary licenses for on July 1. Applications will be accepted for 90 days, and then officials will score and process them before awarding licenses based on merit. The cultivation license application fee is $15,000, and a $100,000 fee is required from an applicant who has been selected to receive a license. "Fayetteville was the only choice for me besides central Arkansas because they have the population to draw from for a labor pool," he said. Under the state's guidelines, workers must be at least 21 and registered as a marijuana cultivator by the state. Those convicted of certain felonies are not eligible to apply. "This isn't some backwoods, little industry," Faught said. "It's going to be run by very successful business people."