MJ News for 01/26/2015


Jul 25, 2008
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Why a Mom Seeks Medical Marijuana Despite Pediatric Group's Opposition

A leading pediatric medicine group has come out against the use of medical marijuana for children in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement today that it is opposed to the use of marijuana for medical purposes in young people, except for drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There are two FDA approved drugs that contain synthetic compounds similar to the active ingredients in marijuana, which the group said could be used with children with "debilitating or life-limiting diseases."

Andrea Saretti said she believes her son Sam, who was diagnosed with epilepsy last year, should be one of the exceptions. He starts each morning by putting on a special helmet and medical bracelet to protect him in case he falls to the ground with a seizure.

Sam, 9, has suffered seizures that have not stopped despite multiple medications and even an electronic implant that is designed to prevent seizures by sending mild electrical pulses to the brain through the vagus nerve.

"He misses a lot of school," Saretti told ABC News. "He had a seizure in the road on the way to the bus stop. ... It happens at school and happens at restaurants and happens everywhere."

The medications Sam is currently on have helped somewhat but they have also led to side effects, including significant weight gain, Saretti said, noting that Sam, who is also autistic, went from 80 pounds to over 120 pounds in just one year of treatment after being prescribed adult doses of medication to try and stop the seizures.

While AAP and other pediatric medicine groups recommend caution when prescribing marijuana for children with epilepsy, patients have turned to the remedy as anecdotal reports suggest it can reduce seizures.

Sam's doctors decided last fall they wanted to try using low-THC cannabis to help Sam, his mom said, referring to the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. The timing seemed perfect as the Florida legislature passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act in June, allowing doctors to prescribe low-THC cannabis to patients with certain criteria in Florida.

However, while the medical use of the drug became legal as of Jan. 1, Sam and his mother are still waiting to get the medication.

The reason for the delay is that a Florida administrative law judge invalidated the Florida Health Department's plan to use a lottery system to choose marijuana growers. As a result, no one in the state is currently allowed to grow marijuana. The Florida Department of Health said it will meet again with potential growers in February to decide how to proceed, according to ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando.

Saretti said she's hoping something will change in the coming months so that Sam can stay in school rather than be stuck at home, where he can be more easily monitored. It's unclear if the new AAP statement will have any influence on the process.

"We're looking at [being] home-bound now for the remaining of the year," said Saretti. "You look at quality of life -- something like [the Compassionate Care Act] can give him back a quality of life."

The AAP's statement today reaffirmed the group's earlier position that more study is needed to determine the effectiveness and dosing of the drugs in young people. They are concerned that the risks outweigh the benefits, the statement said.

"We should not consider marijuana 'innocent until proven guilty,' given what we already know about the harms to adolescents," said Dr. Sharon Levy, chair of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse.


Jul 25, 2008
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Pediatricians Say Don't Lock Up Your Teenagers for Using Marijuana

Across the country, efforts to make marijuana more accessible have quickly gained traction. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational use is also legal in four states and the District of Columbia.

Science, however, hasn't quite caught up. Largely due to its illegal status, there's been very little research done on marijuana's health effects. And researchers don't fully understand how pot affects the developing teenage brain.

This may explain the why the nation's pediatricians have changed their recommendations on marijuana and children.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy on medical marijuana, saying pediatricians should avoid prescribing it to children until more research is done, except in cases where patients are suffering from chronic, debilitating conditions. The pediatrics group is also recommending the decriminalization of weed, but it's advising against legalization.

Well, that's confusing. So we called up Dr. Seth Ammerman, a pediatrician at Stanford University who wrote the policy paper. Arresting teens who use pot won't do them any good, Ammerman says. Hundreds of thousands of adolescents and teens have been incarcerated for marijuana possession, "and the vast majority of marijuana-related arrests are minority youths."

The pediatricians' stance is that marijuana use among young people is a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and it should be treated as such.

Its views on legalizing pot for recreational use, however, are more conservative.

"There's no evidence that legalizing will benefit youth," Ammerman tells Shots. "And the concern is that legalization will increase youth access to marijuana and maybe increase use."

Marijuana hasn't been legal anywhere in the U.S. for very long, so no one knows how these changing laws will affect teen usage rates. But if marijuana companies start marketing their products like alcohol and tobacco companies have done, kids and teens could be affected, Ammerman says.

"We would certainly be willing to revisit the issue as new data comes up," he adds. "But for now, let's not get into the position where we're looking back a decade from now and saying, 'Oh God, we've now addicted a bunch more kids.' "

Convincing kids that they should stay away from weed can get tricky, the pediatricians acknowledge, especially as support for legalization grows. Part of the issue is that campaigns to legalize marijuana often portray it as a benign substance, says Dr. Leslie Walker, chief of the adolescent medicine division at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"People make arguments that say, 'Oh, this is safer than alcohol, it's safer than tobacco, it's safer than heroin,' " Walker says. And all that may be true, she says. "But marijuana on its own is harmful for adolescents."

Preliminary research suggests that marijuana isn't good for teens' developing brains. And studies show that adolescents who use pot are more likely than adults to become addicted.

Of course, there is still a lot we don't know about marijuana, whether it's used recreationally or medicinally. The AAP policy paper recommends that the Drug Enforcement Agency remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 listing for controlled substances, so that it's easier for researchers to get hold of the substance and study it.

"In the meantime, there's definitely a risk of having a kind of mixed message for teens," says Brendan Saloner, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "The frank answer is we don't know the best ways to communicate with teens about marijuana."

Refer-madness style scare tactics probably won't work, Saloner says. But both Walker and Ammerman recommend that parents be firm with kids. They should feel empowered to tell kids that using pot when you're under 21 isn't OK, even if they themselves use it. The AAP also recommends that parents set a good example by not smoking around kids.

In Colorado, where adult use is legal, Children's Hospital Colorado suggests that parents "present the facts to your child objectively and use them to explain why marijuana use is still illegal for people under age 21."

In states where marijuana is legal, there are ways to mitigate teen usage, Saloner says.

States can and should control the extent to which companies can advertise marijuana products, he says. "The biggest concern here is edibles — candies and cookies can look really appealing to kids and adolescents," he notes.

Research also shows that the price of alcohol and tobacco can deter adolescents from using it.

"I don't think my position is to say whether or not it's right or wrong to legalize it," Saloner says. "Still, there are better and worse ways in which to legalize marijuana."


Jul 25, 2008
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Legal Marijuana Is The Fastest-Growing Industry In The U.S.: Report

Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry, according to a new report obtained by The Huffington Post.

Researchers from The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California, found that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013.

The group surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant, over the course of seven months during 2013 and 2014. ArcView also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace.

"In the last year, the rise of the cannabis industry went from an interesting cocktail conversation to being taken seriously as the fastest growing industry in America," Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group and publisher of the third edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets, said in the executive summary of the report. "At this point, it’s hard to imagine that any serious businessperson who is paying attention hasn’t spent some time thinking about the possibilities in this market"

The report also projects a strong year for legal marijuana in 2015 and projects 32 percent growth in the market. Dayton said that places "cannabis in the top spot" when compared with other fast-growing industries.

Over the next five years, the marijuana industry is expected to continue to grow, with ArcView predicting that 14 more states will legalize recreational marijuana and two more states will legalize medical marijuana. At least 10 states are already considering legalizing recreational marijuana in just the next two years through ballot measures or state legislatures.

To date, four states -- Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon -- have legalized retail marijuana. Washington, D.C., voters also legalized recreational marijuana use, but sales currently remain banned. Twenty-three states have legalized medical cannabis. Still, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

The report projects that, by 2019, all of the state-legal marijuana markets combined will make for a potential overall market worth almost $11 billion annually.

The report also breaks out some interesting marijuana trends from around the nation. California still has the largest legal cannabis market in the U.S., at $1.3 billion. Arizona was found to have the fastest-growing major marijuana market in 2014, expanding to $155 million, up more than $120 million from the previous year. Medical marijuana is already legal in Arizona and California and recreational legalization measures are likely to appear on the 2016 ballots in both states.

More than 1.5 million shoppers purchased legal marijuana from a dispensary, either medical or recreational, in 2014. Five states now boast marijuana markets that are larger than $100 million, and in Colorado and Washington -- the first states to open retail marijuana shops in the U.S. -- consumers bought $370 million in marijuana products last year.

Oregon and Alaska are expected to add a combined $275 million in retail marijuana sales in their first year of operation, the report projects. And while D.C. has also legalized recreational marijuana use, ArcView couldn't project a market size in the District because of an ongoing attempt by congressional Republicans to block the new law.

The huge growth potential of the industry appears to be limited only by the possibility of states rejecting the loosening of their drug laws. The report projects a marijuana industry that could be more valuable than the entire organic food industry -- that is, if the legalization trend continues to the point that all 50 states legalize recreational marijuana. The total market value of all states legalizing marijuana would top $36.8 billion -- more than $3 billion larger than the organic food industry.

"These are exciting times," Dayton said in the executive summary, "and new millionaires and possibly billionaires are about to be made, while simultaneously society will become safer and freer."


Jul 25, 2008
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7 states that are next in line to legalize marijuana

During a series of YouTube interviews Thursday, President Obama demonstrated a remarkably laissez-faire attitude toward marijuana legalization experiments in the states. And he signaled strongly that the Obama administration wouldn’t be taking to the hustings to try to beat back legalization efforts, as previous administrations had been wont to do.

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” the president said in response to a question from YouTube host Hank Green. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Indeed. Legalization bills are already popping up in state legislatures around the country, and while it’s unlikely—though not impossible—that any of them will pass this year, 2016 looks to be the break-out year for freeing the weed. One state is going to be the first to legalize it through the legislature, and next year seems reasonable. And the presidential election year is also likely to see successful legalization initiatives in several more.

Currently four states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—and the District of Columbia have ended pot prohibition. But that’s only about 18 million people. By the time they quit counting the votes on Election Day 2016, that number is likely to triple, and then some.

So, where’s it going to happen? Here’s where:


That California is the only state on the West Coast to not yet have legalized pot is an embarrassment to Golden State activists. They were first with medical marijuana in 1996, and they tried to be first to legalize it with Prop 19 in 2010, but came up short, garnering 46% of the vote on Election Day despite leading in the polls up until the final weeks. In 2012, with the big players sitting on their cash stashes, none of the competing initiative efforts even managed to make the ballot.

It will be different in 2016. The actors with deep pockets are all ready to get involved next year, the polling is good (if not great, hovering in the mid-50s), and the state’s disparate and fractious cannabis community is already working to forge a unified front behind a community-vetted initiative. The main vehicle for activists is the California Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform, which has already started holding meetings statewide to try to a unified marijuana reform community.

With 38 million people, California is the big prize. It’s also an expensive place to run an initiative, with the cost of getting on the ballot alone at around a million dollars. And it’ll take several million more to pay for advertising in the key final weeks of the campaign. But the money is lining up, it’ll take fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot (thanks to the dismal turnout in last year’s mid-terms), and once it qualifies, it will have momentum from (by then) four years of legalization in Colorado and Washington and two years of it in Alaska and Oregon. California will go green in 2016.


Nevada is the state that is actually furthest down the path towards legalizing it next year. The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada has already qualified a legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot. It would legalize the possession of up to an ounce by adults 21 and over and allow for taxed and regulated marijuana commerce.

Under Nevada law, the legislature now has a chance to approve the initiative. If it does so, it would become law; if it rejects it or fails to act on it, it then goes to the voters on Election Day 2016.

Nevadans approved medical marijuana in 1998 (59%) and again in 2000 (65%), but voted down decriminalization in 2002 (39%) and legalization in 2006 (44%). But it has since then effectively decriminalized possession of less than ounce, and it’s now been a decade since that last legalization initiative loss at the polls. Either marijuana will be legal by Election Day 2016 thanks to the legislature or the voters will decide the question themselves at the polls.


In Arizona, possession of any amount of pot is still a felony, but polling in the last couple of years shows support for legalization either hovering around 50% or above it. Those aren’t the most encouraging polling numbers—the convention wisdom is that initiatives want to start out at 60% support or better—but a serious effort is underway there to put the issue before the voters in 2016.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is teaming with Safer Arizona and other state activist groups for the 2016 initiative campaign and has formed a ballot committee to begin laying the groundwork for a Colorado-style initiative.

The initiative language is not a done deal, and there are some signs that local activists aren’t completely happy with MPP’s proposed language, but that’s why there are consultations going on.


The Marijuana Policy Project has been laying the groundwork for a statewide legalization initiative in 2016 with local initiative campaigns in some of the state’s largest cities in 2014 and 2013 and is working on final initiative language now. But it is also seeing competition from a state-based group, Legalize Maine, that says it is crafting its own initiative and is criticizing both MPP and Maine politicians for advancing “out of state corporate interests” at the expense of Mainers.

Whether MPP and Legalize Maine can get together behind a single initiative remains to be seen. If they can, good; if they can’t, well, Maine is a small and relatively inexpensive state in which to run a signature-gathering campaign. There could be not one, but two legalization initiatives in Maine next year.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Diane Russell has filed a legalization bill in the legislature this year. Maine is one of the states where the looming presence of legalization initiatives could actually move the legislature to act preemptively to craft a legalization scheme to its own liking.


Massachusetts is another. As in Maine, but to a much greater degree, Bay State activists have been laying the groundwork for legalization for years. Groups such as MassCann/NORML and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts have run a series of marijuana reform “public policy questions” in various state electoral districts each election cycle since 2000—and they have never lost! The questions are non-binding, but they’re a clear indicator to state legislators where voter sentiment lies.

The state has also seen successful decriminalization and medical marijuana initiatives, in 2008 and 2012, respectively. In both cases, the initiatives were approved with 63% of the vote. And again as in Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project is organizing an initiative, but local activists with similar complaints to those in Maine are threatening to run their own initiative. Organized as Bay State Repeal, which includes some veteran Massachusetts activists, the group says it wants the least restrictive legalization law possible. Whether the two efforts can reach a common understanding remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the issue could move in the legislature in the next two years. New Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says he’s opposed to legalization, but is praising Democratic Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s decision to appoint a special Senate committee to examine issues around legalization. Rep. David Rogers (D-Cambridge) isn’t waiting. He’s filed a legalization bill, and while previous such bills have languished in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, incoming committee head Sen. Will Brownberger (D-Boston) has said he will give it a hearing. Something could happen this year, although it’s more likely next year, and the voters doing it themselves on Election Day 2016 is more likely yet.


Vermont could be the best bet for a state to legalize it this year and for the first state to legalize it through the legislative process. There is no initiative process in the state, so that’s the only way it’s going to happen. And the state has already proceeded well down that path.

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) has endorsed legalization in principle—the devil is the details—and the legislature last year approved a RAND study on the impacts of legalization, which was just released earlier this month. That study estimated that freeing the weed could bring the state $20 to $70 million in annual pot tax revenues.

Other state officials have expressed openness to the idea, and a May 2014 poll found 57% support for legalization. There’s not a bill in the hopper yet this year, but one could move quickly in this state where a lot of the legislative groundwork has already been laid.

The Marijuana Policy Project has formed the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana to help push the process along. Stay tuned; this is one to watch.


And there’s a dark horse in the heartland. The Missouri activist group Show Me Cannabis has been running an impressive educational campaign about marijuana legalization for the past few years. The group tried to get an initiative on the ballot last year, but came up short.

They’ve already filed paperwork for 2016 for a constitutional amendment to make it legal to grow, sell, and use marijuana for people 21 and over.

One reason Show Me Cannabis came up short in 2014 was the lack of support from major players outside the state. Given the lack of polls showing strong support for legalization, the big players remain sitting on their wallets, but that could change if good poll numbers emerge. And there’s still plenty of time to make the 2016 ballot.


Jul 25, 2008
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7 celebrities looking to cash in on the cannabis industry's 'Green Rush'

While the alcohol industry has long had celebrities like Sean “Diddy” Combs and Bethenny Frankel endorsing brands, we’re just starting to see marijuana brands endorsed by musicians, actors and, well . . . Bethenny Frankel again.

Entrepreneurs across the U.S. are flocking to the burgeoning cannabis industry as more and more states pass legislation legalizing the sale of marijuana in some form. That proliferation of pot-related businesses means that business-owners are scrambling for ways to make their brand stand out in the minds of consumers. Cue the celebrities, who have been popping up across the marijuana industry recently with product endorsements as well as their own pot-related brands.

When you think of celebrities and pot, a host of well-known weed advocates likely spring to mind. Music icon Willie Nelson is an outspoken supporter of marijuana legalization who often throws his support behind political candidates with similar views. Meanwhile, actress and co-host of The View Whoopi Goldberg penned a column last year that details her love of her vaporizer pen — a tool for inhaling weed and other herbs — and comedian Sarah Silverman even showed off her own “vape” pen on the red carpet before attending last year’s Emmy awards.

In other words, there seems to be no shortage of celebrities who would surprise no one by jumping into the legal pot business. Here’s a look at several famous names who are already looking to cash in on the “green rush”:

Bob Marley

Sure, the reggae legend has been dead for more than three decades, but he’s still a household name and his fondness for marijuana was no secret. At the end of 2014, Marley’s family teamed up with pot-focused venture capital firm Privateer Holdings to announce a series of cannabis strains inspired by the legendary singer as part of a brand called Marley Natural. Fans could be enjoying the Marley-branded pot later this year in areas where marijuana is legal in some form.

Billionaire investor and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel appears to be a believer. Thiel’s investment firm, Founders Fund, recently committed “multi-millions” of dollars to a $75 million funding round for Privateer, which also counts a medical marijuana growing facility and a Yelp-like website for marijuana among its holdings.

Bethenny Frankel

The reality television star cashed in when she sold her Skinnygirl line of low-calorie alcoholic drinks — margaritas, vodka, wine, etc. — to Beam Inc. for more than $100 million in 2011. Now, Frankel, who still partners with Beam for the Skinnygirl line, is apparently trying to expand the brand into the cannabis industry by developing a line of marijuana strains. The kicker? Skinnygirl marijuana will reportedly be engineered to eliminate the munchies.

Melissa Etheridge

Meanwhile, musician Melissa Etheridge wants to cater to pot enthusiasts who want to feel the effects of marijuana without having to smoke it. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter is developing her own cannabis-infused wine. Etheridge is a vocal proponent of the medical benefits of marijuana, which she used during her battle with breast cancer. "I believe this is a huge opportunity," the musician recently told Bloomberg. "A huge business and a huge market."

Wiz Khalifa

The "Black and Yellow" rapper told talk show host Chelsea Handler last year that he's lined up a marijuana sponsorship through a San Francisco-based medical dispensary that sells the Khalifa Kush cannabis strain. One perk for Khalifa? He said the agreement ensures that he gets all of his (legal) weed for free.

Kevin Smith

Another reason for celebs to seek out a pot sponsorship? Marketing!

Last year, A24, the distributor for director Kevin Smith's bizarre horror film Tusk, helped forge a partnership with a Los Angeles medical dispensary to create two branded cannabis strains named for the movie: Mr. Tusk and White Walrus. "This movie was born in a blaze, and will be released in a blaze," Smith joked when The New York Times asked about his film's branded weed tie-in.

Snoop Dogg

The rapper — also known as Snoop Lion — has never been bashful about his marijuana-smoking habit, even going so far as claiming that he smoked pot in a bathroom at the White House. So it came as no surprise when Snoop Dogg teamed with a vaporizer company, Grenco Science, to create his own series of vaporizer products, called The Double G Series. For about $85, fans of both vaporized herbs and West Coast hip hop can buy a Snoop Dogg-branded vaporizer complete with a design featuring a roadmap of the rapper's hometown, Long Beach, Calif.

And, Snoop Dogg isn't the only rapper branching out into pot accessories. Rapper The Game has also designed a vaporizer and Lil Wayne has a line of cigars — called Bogey Cigars, formerly Bogey Blunts — targeted at marijuana smokers.

Tommy Chong

As one half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong (with fellow actor Cheech Marin), Tommy Chong lampooned countless stoner stereotypes in a series of successful films and comedy albums. He also spent some time in prison more than a decade ago for selling marijuana pipes and bongs online. Now, Chong — who recently competed on the reality show Dancing with the Stars — is back in the pot business with Tommy Chong's Smoke Swipe, a line of dry clothing wipes meant to eliminate the odor of marijuana or tobacco smoke from smokers' clothes.

And, there could be more coming from Chong, who is reportedly developing his own branded cannabis strain. Chong also recently told The Wall Street Journal that he and his longtime comedy partner, Marin, have been negotiating with "some hedge-fund people" about further potential branding opportunities, so stay tuned.


Jul 25, 2008
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New Dallas Store Selling Cannabis For Medical Use

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Cannabis is coming to Dallas. That’s how a new company is promoting products to sell to the public that has the same chemical ingredient as marijuana.

This is not a medical marijuana firm opening in Dallas, but it is promoting the health and medicinal benefits of marijuana’s cannabis cousin hemp.
Four-year-old Harper Howard became the local example of the benefits of using cannabis hemp oil. Her seizures are decreased, according to her mother, due to the cannabis hemp oil she takes orally. That same oil is now part of a series of skin and energy products marketed in a new Dallas office.

The makers can sell the items legally, and Harper’s mother believes others will benefit.

“Adding this product to her diet took us from 10 to 12 seizures a day to 3-5. It cut them in half,” said Penny Howard.

The products will be available for sale on January 24 at the Kannaway Company.

In Texas, it’s illegal to grow cannabis, but there’s state legislation on the table to change that so that epilepsy sufferers can use the oil.