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The latest in marijuana news, culture and politics
  • News Posted Mar 2017

    Synthetic pot, or "fake weed," much riskier than marijuana, study finds

    It's that time of year again where the public needs reminded that a regulated product sold as "synthetic weed" or more commonly known as "spice" is being used by youth as an alternative to federally illegal and much safer, marijuana. These cheap dangerous drugs sold at gas stations to teenagers are readily available and labelled "not for human consumption" for legal purposes. The product's toxic ingredients have been repeatedly outlawed, but manufacturers simply slip through a loophole by choosing  other chemicals like pesticides to cover the synthetic buds that create a high for the user. Teenagers using this unpredictable and dangerous drug have shown to be more likely to be involved in violent behavior and dating violence and more prone to seizures, coma, and even death.  Marijuana is often seen as a relatively benign drug that produces a typically mellow high, but new U.S. government research shows that the drugs called synthetic pot appear to be much different. Teens often turn to synthetic agents because they are easily available, cheap, offer sensation-seeking thrills and are hard to detect, Krakower noted. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, “Teens who use synthetic [substances found in marijuana] are essentially playing a game of Russian roulette.” Fake pot is often sprayed with dangerous chemicals or even pesticides. These chemicals can lead to unpredictable -- and sometimes deadly -- outcomes, he warned

  • News Posted Mar 2017

    Government marijuana looks nothing like the real stuff. See for yourself.

    The federal government not only makes it extremely difficult to begin researching marijuana, but the sole source of marijuana used in research must be grown and supplied by the government's only official cannabis farm. A new clinical trial to test the effectiveness of medical marijuana on veterans with PTSD is underway, but a researcher from the study, Sue Sisley, has shown her concern that this government supplied marijuana hardly resembles the retail cannabis that patients are recieving around the US. A picture of the government grown cannabis next to commercial or medical grade marijana makes the difference clear as the former is filled with stems and leaves, which could be comparable to eating an apple with the seeds and branches. The max potency of the government marijuana is 13%, while the average commercial buds are around 19%, and some stronger strains even go up to 30%. The government regulated marijuana program is clearly out of touch with what real marijuana product is and therefore wont be able to properly test for the drugs effects in the real world. In light of these findings, officials hope to bring a better quality government cannabis product to research communities later this year.  A quick glance confirms it looks nothing like the commercial marijuana depicted above. While the real stuff is chunky and dark green, the government weed is stringy and light in color. It appears to be full of stems, which most consumers don't smoke. “It doesn’t resemble cannabis. It doesn’t smell like cannabis,” Sisley told PBS NewsHour last week. Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post's Cannabist marijuana news site, agrees. “That is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis,” he said. Browne should know: He's reviewed dozens of strains professionally and is running a sophisticated marijuana growing competition called the Grow-Off. But NIDA's weed doesn't pass muster if you want to know how marijuana use is affecting people in the real world. Or if you want to run highly controlled medical experiments, like the one Sisley and Doblin are working on. It's not even tested for some common contaminants, like yeast and mold, that many states now check for as part of their regulatory regimes.

  • News Posted Mar 2017

    Israel Officially Decriminalizes Marijuana Use

    Last week officials in Israel approved a proposal decriminalizing marijuana use, lowering offenses of those caught smoking in public from criminal action down to a fine. Legislators agreed that criminal prosecution should only be used as a last resort and that a new campaign with emphasis on education would be more effective. First time offenders caught smoking in public will be fined 1,000 shekels ($271), with the fine doubling on a second offense. A third offense leads the offender to probation and a fourth includes criminal charges. Revenue from fines will be used towards antidrug education and treatment.  According to the proposal formulated by the Public Security and Justice ministries, any first-time offender caught using marijuana in public would receive a fine rather than face criminal action. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who led the reform, said that "the government's approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement.

  • News Posted Mar 2017

    Study: No Increased Crime In Medical Marijuana States

    The University of Victoria and a New Zealand Research Institute used FBI crime data from the last 30 years to conclude whether or not medical marijuana laws in the United States are associated with any rises in violent or property crime. Most people are probably not surprised to see hear that neither the establishing of marijuana dispensaries nor the increased rate of adult marijuana use are linked to any rising crime. While some legislators might still tout the idea that incoming marijuana legalization will harm public safety, the data has been found by multiple studies now that the legalization of medical marijuana laws are actually associated with a decrease in violent crimes such as homicide and assault. "We do not find evidence that medical marijuana laws consistently affect violent and property crime," authors concluded. "Our results suggest that liberalization of marijuana laws is unlikely to result in the substantial social cost that some politicians clearly fear."

  • Legalization Posted Mar 2017

    Vermont bill streamlines recreational marijuana legalization, focusing on home grows

    Marijuana advocates in Vermont were ambitous last year with the proposed recreational marijuana bill that failed to pass, but they're back this year and with better odds. Last year's failed bill involved a retail system similar to Colorados and promising high tax revenue, but this year's bill is bound to gain more traction in smaller steps. If passed, adults in Vermont would be able to grow their own marijuana at home and possess up to 1 ounce of the drug, but there would be no program to establish retail sales. This year's proposal has promise to pass with the bill's simpler structure and fresh members within the legislature.  The new bill, much shorter in length, would be framed more like the system in Washington DC, where there are no provisions for sales but people can possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. “Vermonters can now easily go down to Massachusetts and get it, then they come back and suddenly it’s illegal. That’s not a dichotomy we want to set up,” said Democratic Rep. Chip Conquest, another bill sponsor. Prospects for the bill are better than they were last year, Conquest said. It’s likely to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee, he said. “We have a lot of new members this year and it’s a very different proposal,” Conquest said.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Mar 2017

    Georgia House passes medical marijuana expansion

    Georgia lawmakers are pushing a medical marijuana bill that would bring many current policies more in line with other medical marijuana states. If passed, House Bill 65 would nearly double the list of qualifying conditions for patients to be elible for medical marijuana, adding conditions such as: AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. The bill would also remove the one-year residency requirement as well as allow registered patients from other medical marijuana states to legally possess their medicine in Georgia. One feature of the bill not supported by advocates is lowering the max THC limit in cannabis oil from 5% to 3%. Under Georgia’s 2015 law, patients and, in the case of children, families who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. The oil can have no more than 5 percent THC, the component in the drug that makes people high. The House vote comes two weeks after the state Senate passed a medical marijuana measure that would add autism to the list of eligible conditions, but also reduce the allowable maximum THC level in the oil to 3 percent — a mandate unpopular with many of the law’s advocates.

  • News Posted Mar 2017

    Federal: Bill Introduced To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

    After establishing Jeff Sessions as the US Attorney General there has been worry of his historically negative view of marijuana and how he might effect the state legalized marijuana industry. Luckily, some concerned lawmakers have introduced legislation that would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, resolving any of the issues of state legal marijuana and the current federal prohibition on the drug. Not only are states plenty capable of handling their own marijuana policies, but current polls show that American voters overwhelmingly approve of medical marijuana at 71% and even recreational approval is at 59%. This bill is vital to keeping the current marijuana industry alive and protecting the many patients who rely on the medical marijuana industry to find relief.  The intent of the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 is consistent with the view of most voters. According to recent polling by Quinnipiac University, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.  With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, and with comments from the Trump administration warning of a coming federal crackdown in adult use states, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference. 

  • Fun Posted Feb 2017

    Marijuana meets matrimony at Cannabis Wedding Expo

    Weddings are filled with traditions that make lasting memories for all included, and what could be better for celebrating love and bringing friends and family together than a wedding with marijuana. The first ever Cannabis Wedding Expo was hosted in Littleton, Colorado last weekend to open people's eyes to the many ways a bride and groom can incorporate cannabis into their special day. The Cannabis Wedding Expo will be headed to Oregon in March, followed by San Francisco in April.  On Sunday, the expo showed people the possibilities of marrying marijuana and matrimony. Booths were set up, showing off a lot of different ways that you can incorporate cannabis into weddings – from just having hair and makeup artists who are cannabis-friendly to full bartending services and special edible chefs.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Feb 2017

    Legislative panel advances medical marijuana expansion

    Legislators in Iowa are hoping to pass new legislation to expand on the state's currently limited medical marijuana program. While it's legal in Iowa at the moment to possess medical marijuana for epilepsy, it's not legal to grow or sell the drug, leaving patients in the dark without help. House Bill 132 would legalize the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis oil to patients with epilepsy, but new qualifying conditions can be recommended by the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine. Though an expansion on the current program, the new medical marijuana program would ban any smoking or vaping of cannabis oils. The public approval of medical marijuana has risen allover the country including in Iowa from 58% in 2013 to 80% approval this year.  "This is medicine," said Rep. Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota who led the three-person subcommittee. "This is about helping folks.” Currently, Iowans are allowed to possess cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. However, a separate law currently makes it illegal to manufacture or distribute that oil in the state, and federal law prohibits its transportation across state lines. In practice, that makes it illegal for Iowans to obtain the product. Legislators said they wanted to be clear with Iowans: This is not recreational marijuana. The bill bans smoking and vaping of medical cannabis oil, and it creates criminal penalties for patients and producers who intentionally violate the law.

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Feb 2017

    Medical marijuana growers and dispensaries can now apply to operate in Pennsylvania

    Starting this week the future growers and dispensaries of Pennsylvania are able to apply for a license to grow and sell medical marijuana. Licenses will be accepted until March 20 and limited to 12 growers and 27 dispensaries to be spread around the state. There are 17 conditions that currently qualify a patient for medical marijuana including ALS, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDs. The Department of Health will continue to write the state's medical marijuana regulations. Both patients and doctors must be registered with the state before seeking treatment. The first phase of the rollout will see the issuance of 12 permits for growers and processors of cannabis and 27 permits for dispensaries to distribute medicine to registered patients. Pennsylvania will accept applications from prospective growers/processors and dispensaries until March 20. For more information, visit the state Medical Marijuana Program website. Under Pennsylvania's new law, doctors and patients must first register with the state before participating in a treatment program. Patients can qualify to use medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with one of 17 conditions, including ALS, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDs

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Feb 2017

    Medical marijuana bill moves ahead in South Carolina

    A House of Representatives panel in South Carolina has passed a bill with bipartisan support that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. After hearing patients and family members plead that marijuana is able to relieve those suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD, and more, the panel voted 3-0 in favor of the bill. Law enforcement agencies have voiced their opposition to the bill calling marijuana a 'street drug', but they seem to forget that drugs on the street are purely a symptom of prohibition. It was less than 100 years ago that alcohol was considered a street drug after legislators signed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, establishing the prohibition of alcohol. It wasn't long before the underground market was born inciting violence alongside illegal alcohol. After signing the 21st Amendment once again legalizing the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alcohol, it was easy to see that regulating the drug, despite it's health concerns, was a far better solution. The patients that would benefit from medical marijuana are not gangsters, they are not associated with street drugs, they need medical treatment and marijuana has the ability to give them that relief.  A House panel voted 3-0 on Tuesday to after listening to dozens of patients and their family members tell how marijuana can relieve their suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD and other ailments. Supporters argue the government shouldn’t prevent people from getting relief from a plant, while the synthetic opioids they’re otherwise prescribed are killing people. The bill’s opponents include law enforcement agencies. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says the proposal essentially asks the state to endorse a street drug to treat nearly everything. He asked legislators not to “be swayed by those who play upon your sympathies.”

  • Medical Marijuana Posted Feb 2017

    Marijuana commission finalizes licensing rules

    The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission approved it's final rules this week for the state's new marijuana business licenses. 32 dispensaries around the state will be awarded licenses as well as 5 cultivation facilities. Applications for a dispensary license will cost $7,500, and the culivation licenses will cost $15,000, with both offering a 50% refund to applicants not chosen. A hearing will be held March 31 at the University of Arkansas where public feedback will be heard. Legislators have until May 8 to approve the rules. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday approved its final draft rules for awarding licenses to operate dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The commission will initially award 32 dispensary licenses to be divided evenly across eight geographic regions. It will also award five cultivation facility licenses, which do not have any geographic restrictions. Cultivation facility licensees will be selected based on the merits of their application. An application costs would-be growers $15,000, with half that amount being refunded if the applicant is not awarded a license. Successful applicants will pay a $100,000 yearly licensing fee.