MJ News for 05/08/2014


Jul 25, 2008
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New rules in Uruguay create a legal marijuana market

Can you imagine legally growing marijuana in your backyard? How about walking down to the corner pharmacy to buy a gram or two of ready-to-smoke pot?

Starting Tuesday, this scenario will no longer be a pot smoker's fantasy in one South American country.

Uruguay has published regulations for a new, legal marijuana market, a measure approved by lawmakers there in December.

The law and the new regulations make Uruguay the first country in the world to have a system regulating legal production, sale and consumption of the drug.

In announcing the marijuana regulations, presidential aide Diego Canepa reminded everyone that the state will control the marijuana market from beginning to end, starting with setting prices.

"The value of the gram of marijuana sold at pharmacies in the regulated market will be set by the President's office through the control agency," Canepa said.

That's right. The Uruguayan government has created an agency whose mission is to regulate the pot market, known as the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

The proposed price starts at 20 Uruguayan pesos per gram (about 87 cents in U.S. dollars), Canepa said.

People can grow as many as six plants at home and produce a maximum of 480 grams per year, according to the published rules. Cannabis clubs of anywhere between 15 and 45 members will be legal.

Another rule allows people to buy as much as 40 grams of marijuana per month at state-licensed pharmacies.

Julio Rey, founder of a cannabis club and a spokesman for the National Association for the Regulation of Marijuana, told CNN in December, shortly after passage, that his organization was very pleased with the legislation.

"We will take care of the tools of this law to demonstrate that we, as the public, can objectively look at this project and comply with its proposed
legality," Rey said.

This isn't about creating a free-for-all system, Canepa told reporters. It's about creating rules that will refocus government efforts on prevention and taking the market from the hands of ruthless drug traffickers that only care about money.

"What we now know is that we had a sustained increase in consumption during prohibition. This new reality, as we understand it, is going to change that, and it will be possible to implement better public policy to take care of those who abuse drugs," Canepa said.

For anyone considering traveling to Uruguay to smoke marijuana legally, President Jose Mujica, a big supporter of the law, says go elsewhere.

The law doesn't give foreigners the right to smoke or even buy the drug. In fact, consumers, sellers and distributors all have to be licensed by the government.

In an interview with CNN en Español in 2012, Mujica explained his reasons for promoting the legislation.

"If we legalize it, we think that we will spoil the market (for drug traffickers) because we are going to sell it for cheaper than it is sold on the black market. And we are going to have people identified," he said.

With the help of state-of-the-art technology, authorities will track every gram or marijuana sold, according to Canepa. Bags will be bar-coded. The genetic information of plants that are legally produced will be kept on file. This will allow police to determine whether illegal marijuana is being commercialized.
Governments and drug policy experts will certainly be watching closely how the Uruguayan model develops. The marijuana legislation places the South American country at the vanguard of liberal drug policies, surpassing even the Netherlands, where recreational drugs are illegal but a policy of tolerance is in place.


Jul 25, 2008
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Colorado lawmakers OK co-op banking option for marijuana sellers

The Colorado legislature on Wednesday voted to create the nation's first state-run financial cooperative for marijuana sellers, with the aim of giving newly legalized cannabis retail outlets access to key banking services through the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The approval of the so-called "cannabis credit co-ops" came on the final day of the legislative session, as lawmakers seek to address problems marijuana retailers face in having to operate on a cash-only basis, such as burglary threats.

The proposal's chief sponsor, Representative Jonathan Singer, said the cooperatives are needed because traditional banks and credit unions have been hesitant to serve the burgeoning marijuana industry as long as the drug remains outlawed by the U.S. government.

"This is the final piece to our pot puzzle," said Singer, a Democrat.

The final approval on Wednesday came after both chambers of the General Assembly cleared their own versions of the bill. The bill now heads to Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper for his signature.

Voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis by adults for recreational purposes in 2012. Both states are among 20 that allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons.

The first recreational cannabis shops opened in Colorado in January, and Washington is set to follow suit later this year.

Singer said the cash-only nature of the industry makes pot businesses targets of crime, limits owners' access to credit and capital and hinders the state's ability to track revenues for tax-collection purposes.

Under the bill, the financial cooperatives would operate similarly to credit unions - without a deposit insurance requirement - and would be governed by the state's financial services commissioner.

But to gain access to banking services such as credit card processing and checking accounts, the Federal Reserve would need to approve the plan, which critics say is unlikely in the absence of a deposit insurance mandate.

Republicans who voted against the measure said such complex legislation needed further study and should not have been rushed through the legislature at the end of its session.

The Obama administration in February issued new law-enforcement guidelines aimed at encouraging banks to start doing business with state-licensed marijuana suppliers, even though such enterprises remain illegal under federal law.

The guidance stopped short of promising blanket immunity to banks, and financial industry officials have said they doubted many banks would begin to accept cannabis suppliers as customers without changes in federal law.

Another bill headed to the governor's desk allocates tax revenues derived from retail pot sales to marijuana enforcement, and to fund education programs designed to prevent youths from using the drug.

Also on Wednesday, Colorado legislators approved a requirement that cannabis-infused edibles be readily identifiable as containing THC, the psychoactive property in marijuana.

A bill to limit the amount of concentrates inside cannabis products also won passage this week, an issue that gained attention following two deaths possibly linked to the ingestion of marijuana products.


Jul 25, 2008
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Colorado Marijuana Legalization Highlights Potential Alaska Problems

In the Mile High City, a street corner conjures up images of home for Alaskans. On Nome Street and 49th Avenue, you’ll find Medicine Man, a shop employees have dubbed the “Costco of weed.”

Inside, customers are lined up to buy recreational marijuana or, in Daniel Layne’s case, medical marijuana.

“It always smells so good in here,” said Layne, who has a spinal contusion that causes back pain. “I work in manual labor, and I work very hard and a lot, and medical marijuana helps me deal with the pain while I work.”

The man behind the counter, Brian Land, is a budtender. He recently moved to Colorado from Kansas.

“I moved away from the state because they weren't going to provide me with my medicine and I was tired of feeling like a criminal,” Land said.

He, too, is a medical marijuana user.

“When I was younger, they had me on prescription medicine for ADD and bipolar (disorder), and I was just a zombie,” Land said. “I couldn't stay awake for my classes, and basically ended up having to drop out and get the GED because I couldn't perform in school. I quit taking my medicine and I lost 40 pounds in one month. It just shed off me like water. And I started smoking. I've been balanced ever since.”

Now that recreational marijuana is also legal in Colorado, businesses like Medicine Man are flourishing.

“Legalization, honestly, I didn't expect it this quickly,” said Elan Nelson, who’s in charge of business development and strategy at Medicine Man. “I didn't expect it in my lifetime, to be honest. But then you see how it's progressed, and the sky hasn't fallen in Colorado. Things have been going very smoothly.”

Medicine Man is one of more than 500 businesses cashing in on the new law, which in January allowed the sale of recreational marijuana. The marijuana industry has generated more than $5.5 million in revenue for the state of Colorado.

“Things have been going very well for us,” said Lewis Koski, director of Colorado’s marijuana enforcement division.

Backers of Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 say Alaska could have a similar success story. The initiative is similar to one voters approved in Colorado.

But Colorado had a four-year advantage Alaska doesn’t have: a regulatory infrastructure, set up in 2010, for medical marijuana shops.

All of the retailers licensed to sell recreational marijuana began as established medical marijuana dispensaries, as required by law. So when legalization went into effect earlier this year, they simply expanded.

“We had the advantage of learning a lot by having already been in a similar regulatory environment with medical marijuana businesses,” Koski said. “So we applied a lessons-learned approach to retail marijuana, which I think ultimately helped with our implementation.”

In fact, Koski himself got his start four years ago as chief of medical marijuana investigations. He now leads 55 people since the division grew in January. The division’s No. 1 priority is public safety, he said.

“We want to make sure there's not diversion of marijuana products outside of the regulated environment,” Koski said. “We're working really hard to ensure our licensees are not selling the product to anyone who's under the age of 21.”

But critics of legalization say the industry has exploded and regulators can’t keep up.

“This is a big deal for me, because I know first-hand what addiction does in people's lives,” said Ben Cort, a former addict who now counsels other addicts. “I've seen it in my own life and my peer group.”

Cort said retailers are breaking rules about store hours and advertising to children.

“You can’t be open after 9 (yet) we’ve got 24-hour home delivery,” Cort said. “We’ve got take-out. I’ll show you as many pictures as you want of cartoons doing this, but you can’t have open advertising. We’ve got billboards. We’ve got stuff on the sides of taxis, we’ve got sign-holders, we’ve got sign twirlers. Because who’s regulating this?”

Cort is also with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national group that’s helping Alaska’s "No on 2" campaign.

Where the "Yes on 2" camp cites the healing aspects of marijuana, the "No on 2" camp highlights the harm.

“A 2-year-old girl two miles from my house, I think it was January 3, ate a (marijuana-laced) cookie and ended up in the (emergency room),” Cort said. “We've had instances, several instances, of toddlers having to go on artificial respiration because they've consumed so much inside of these things (marijuana edibles).”

Cort said Alaska should learn from Colorado’s mistake in legalizing pot. For one thing, Alaska has no dispensaries that sell marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“Colorado, we had the medical marijuana regulatory agency in place,” Cort said. “In the short period of time that we had to build all the regulation around it and figure out how to enforce it, at least we had a foundation. Alaska has nothing.

“That is an entirely new regulatory body that you guys will have to build from scratch, and if it's not working out with us building it when we already had some infrastructure, good luck.”

If Alaska voters approve Ballot Measure 2 in November, the state would have to set up a regulatory infrastructure within nine months. The commerce department, which oversees the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, would be tasked with spearheading the transition.

The state would also have to spend up to $7 million and hire dozens more people in the first year to get the system up and running.

As for revenue, the state does not have an official estimate on how much it could potentially get in taxes. The initiative calls for a tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana.

Then there’s the issue of tracking an industry that’s entirely cash-based. Because marijuana is illegal federally, banks don’t accept those earnings.

“Within this industry we call it the banking crisis and that truly is the correct title for what's going on,” Nelson said. “We're dealing with a very cash-heavy business, and because of that we're put at risk. Any time we have large amounts of cash here in the building we have to make sure that we're transporting it away so we're not putting our employees at risk. Of course, any time we're transporting it, wherever we're at, we're causing a public safety issue as we're out on the streets with large amounts of cash.”

Koski also said it’s a challenge.

“It makes it a little more difficult for them to be as transparent as we want them to be because that component is really cornerstone to the entirety of our regulatory framework where our licensees are required to be transparent on every front -- how they track their inventory, how they keep up with their books and records, who they're hiring,” Koski said. “Almost everything needs to be fully transparent. Banking is something regulators use to help substantiate that the regulatory community is doing what they're supposed to be doing and keeping accurate books and records.”

In six months, Alaskans will decide whether a store like Medicine Man should be in Nome or anywhere in the 49th state.

“The world is watching us to see whether or not we're successful,” Koski said.

Cort said legalization has turned “my state into an incubator.” He said he will continue to speak out against legalization, despite being the target of criticism.

“Everybody's saying Colorado's the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “Give us a year and then come back and check to see if we're dead or still singing.”


Jul 25, 2008
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(IL) Committee approves measure allowing medical marijuana for child epilepsy

Children who suffer from epilepsy would be able to use medical marijuana to treat their disorder under a measure that sailed through a House committee today.

In a packed room full of supporters clad in purple for the cause, Margaret Storey of Evanston testified in support as a mother of a child with severe epilepsy. Her 10-year-old daughter, Josie, has four or five seizures a day with each lasting several minutes, Storey told lawmakers.

The mother pleaded with lawmakers for help, saying the seizures “significantly impact Josie’s daily life.”

The measure would add epilepsy to the list of ailments treatable under the state’s medical marijuana program and specifically allow children to have access. It moved to the full House on a 15-0 vote of the Human Services Committee. When it passed the Senate last month, opponents voiced concerns about allowing children to have access to THC—the part of marijuana associated with getting high.

But Rep. Lou Lang, the chief House sponsor, said the part of the cannabis plant that would be used is the oil, and it contains “little to no THC.”

Storey, a history professor at DePaul University, said she has no concerns about giving her child medical marijuana because her “daughter is stoned every single day” from medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration and prescribed by Josie’s doctor.

Another supporter of the measure who testified in committee, Adam Frederick, said his 2-year-old daughter, Michaela, has been suffering from seizures since she was 2 months old due to lack of oxygen at birth.

Currently, Frederick said he lives with his family in Colorado, where they have been using cannabis oil to treat Michaela. The family, he said, injects the oil under her tongue three times a day. He said if the measure does not pass, he will move back to Illinois but his wife and daughter will stay in Denver where she has access to “medicine that actually helps.”

“The day that she started the oil, she went from 50 seizures down to approximately five,” he said. In contrast, he said, the pharmaceuticals she takes have very harsh side effects like blindness, liver problems and early signs of puberty. He said he “can’t say enough amazing things about this oil.”

“When they’re on these cocktails of pharma meds, they’re drug addicts,” he said. “We’re starting to meet Michaela for the first time. She’s so much happier.”


Jul 25, 2008
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‘Charlotte’s Web’ Cannabis Oil Showing Great Results For Girl

One of the dozens of families who moved to Colorado in order to treat their kids with a cannabis oil that helps combat seizures says they are seeing outstanding results.

Jenna, 8, and her family moved to Colorado in January from Minnesota. She has epilepsy and had been on a waiting list for the cannabis oil known as Charlotte’s Web, which is now legal to use under Colorado’s new marijuana laws.

Charlotte’s Web, which has less than .03 THC, is named after a Colorado girl who was the first to receive the treatment. It is a custom-cultivated marijuana strain with a high amount of a compound shown to help control seizures in some children.

Jenna has extractible epilepsy due to brain malformation and — until this year — surgeries, diets and medications weren’t helping control her daily seizures.

Her parents told CBS4 partner CBSMinnesota.com this week that they started Jenna up on the Charlotte’s Web treatments two months ago. Since then, there has been a shocking reduction in seizures, plus some unexpected benefits beyond that.

“She was having around 300 seizures a month, and currently we are down to 50,” said her mom Marie Jay. “She’s definitely developing a personality that we’ve never seen, so it’s been very awesome.”

The full scope of the changes in a seizure sufferer once they are on Charlotte’s Web aren’t supposed to manifest themselves until about nine months of treatments, but Jenna has already been able to reduce the amount of medications she’s taking and is sleeping better and has fewer headaches and stomach aches.

“It almost chokes you up sometimes. You get really excited and happy, because she’s hilarious,” said Jason Jay, her father.

Minnesota lawmakers are working on a bill that would allow the treatments in that state, and the Jays say they would move back if such a bill was passed.


Jul 25, 2008
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The mother's story anyone who still says cannabis is harmless MUST read: Henry came from a wealthy family and had a golden future but his life is now in tatters thanks to the drug

The phone call from British Transport Police came one night in the summer of 2005. It was about my son, the officer said. He told me that Henry had jumped on to the Tube line at Baker Street in the thick of the rush hour and my legs buckled under me.

The officer explained they had rescued him just before the train had come in and was now with the police at Goodge Street station in central London.

Why had he jumped? It was weeks before Henry told me about the voices in his head that had urged him to. He had leapt from the platform on to the track, and as he lay there waiting for the train, he imagined he was in heaven.

The phone call from British Transport Police came one night in the summer of 2005. It was about my son, the officer said. He told me that Henry had jumped on to the Tube line at Baker Street in the thick of the rush hour and my legs buckled under me.

The officer explained they had rescued him just before the train had come in and was now with the police at Goodge Street station in central London.
Why had he jumped? It was weeks before Henry told me about the voices in his head that had urged him to. He had leapt from the platform on to the track, and as he lay there waiting for the train, he imagined he was in heaven.

A psychiatrist judged him well enough to come home. I felt trapped by fear and hopelessness. I did not know how to protect my son. Nine years on, I still don't.

For Henry - my beloved only child - endures a life bereft of purpose or meaning. Nine years ago, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since then his promising young life has been on hold.

A psychiatrist judged him well enough to come home. I felt trapped by fear and hopelessness. I did not know how to protect my son. Nine years on, I still don't.
For Henry - my beloved only child - endures a life bereft of purpose or meaning. Nine years ago, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since then his promising young life has been on hold.

For the past two months, he has been locked in a secure ward at a psychiatric hospital in South-West London because he was failing to take his medication.

Each day when I visit, Henry, now 28, paces the room like a caged animal. He still talks to the imaginary voices that bedevil him. He must be persuaded to drink, to wash, to clean his teeth.

He is thin, ashen-faced and as dependent as a baby. What breaks my heart is that it could have been prevented.
His psychosis was caused by that most pernicious of drugs, skunk cannabis, and psychiatrists have confirmed it.

Henry was a sporty, academic teenager before he started to smoke skunk.
But his development was arrested when, at 16, he started smoking cannabis, and became mentally ill. The precious years when he should have been studying for a degree, dating and embarking on adult life, have all been denied him.

His is not an isolated case: psychiatric wards are full of people like him.
Henry now suffers from schizophrenia: A doctor said cannabis use contributed to his psychosis

Henry now suffers from schizophrenia: A doctor said cannabis use contributed to his psychosis

This is why I was enraged by Nick Clegg backing a report that suggests the Government should legalise cannabis.

The Deputy Prime Minister has endorsed a paper from the London School of Economics that condemns the war on drugs as a costly failure and recommends experiments to legalise it.

I would first urge him to read my son’s story and consider how dangerous it would be to send out a message to children that cannabis is not harmful.

It has destroyed my son's life, contributed to the breakdown of my marriage and turned my once happy life into one of constant stress and anxiety.

Henry was a cherished and privileged child. My husband Lloyd - Henry's father - had his own household and hair products company and we had glorious homes in London and Monaco, where my work with charities brought me into contact with royalty.

Henry could not have been more loved. Happy, well-adjusted and sensitive, he was also artistic and musical. When he was nine he sang at a charity event I organised at London's Savoy Hotel.

I still remember blinking away tears of pride as an audience of the great and the good gave him a standing ovation.

Henry wrote wonderful poems, too and every Mother's Day card contained a little verse he’d written for me.

He hated being separated from us, and when Lloyd and I toured the Far East for a few weeks, and Henry, then five, stayed with his granny, he festooned the house with balloons and a 'welcome back' banner for us. I remember how he launched himself at me and squeezed me until I was breathless.

He loved acting, was a brilliant mimic, I thought one day he might be an actor.

...I have lost count of the times he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals in the past 11 years

But all those hopes are destroyed now.

I still remember the day in February 2003 when I discovered Henry, then 16, was smoking cannabis on our annual skiing holiday in Courchevel in the Alps.

An accomplished, enthusiastic skier, he was still in bed when the rest of our party was ready to go. I knocked on his door. He opened it and went back to bed.

Urging him to get up, I went into his bathroom and found a bag containing what looked like herbs. I knew it was cannabis and almost choked with anger.

Shouting, 'What on earth do you think you’re doing?' I flushed it down the loo.

Lloyd was not with us - he doesn't ski - and I decided not to tell him because I knew he'd be furious. So I watched, horrified as my sporty, outdoorsy son slumped into inertia and spent most of the week asleep.

I don't know if he had other supplies - but he only roused himself from bed to ski once that week.

And during one meal there the full force of his odd behaviour struck me for the first time: he burst into manic laughter for no reason then dissolved into tears.

When we got back home - we were then living in Monaco - I hoped Henry would revert to his old self. He was among the academic high-achievers at his private day school, the International School of Monaco.

He passed his GCSEs with top grades but a new lassitude set in. He stopped playing sport. He became pallid and thin. I asked if he was still smoking, but was met with silence.

Months later, I discovered more drugs in his bedroom. I told him how disappointed I was. He just shrugged and said: 'Everyone smokes it.' I endlessly lectured him on the dangers to his health and wellbeing.

Lloyd, meanwhile, was an absent father and husband. When he wasn't building up his successful business he was out drinking and socialising with his friends. His life was remote from mine and Henry's, but on rare occasions
he was home, I protected him from what was happening.

When Henry turned 18, however, he became more overtly defiant. We'd arranged to fly the family and a group of his friends to London for a party.
We stayed at Claridge's Hotel, and when Lloyd went to Henry's room where he'd been celebrating with his mates, it was clear from the manic laughter and distinctive smell they'd all been smoking cannabis.

Lloyd was beyond furious. He said he didn't recognise him as his son - Henry called his father a hypocrite because he smokes cigarettes and drinks whisky.
We flew back to Monaco: it was the start of Lloyd's alienation from Henry and the beginning of the end of my 25-year marriage which finally fractured, acrimoniously, in 2007.

I suppose I neglected Lloyd in my efforts to help our son, and the strain on our marriage was intolerable. He wanted life to run smoothly: Problems irritated him. We divorced on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour.

Henry's behaviour became even worse when he began conversing with imaginary voices. Our GP suspected he was suffering from schizophrenia and we arranged to take him to a private psychiatric hospital in Northamptonshire, but when we were due to fly, Henry was gripped by the most horrifying psychosis.

In the end we had to charter a private jet costing £16,000.

In Northamptonshire, he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He had to be carried, protesting violently, to a secure unit. As he was locked up he screamed, 'Mum, Dad!' It was the worst day of my life.

When he was discharged after three months I thought the worst was over. How wrong I was. Over the next two years, we shuttled between Monaco and England, where Henry's life was punctuated by recovery and relapses. He still smoked cannabis covertly.

After just two terms at a business school in London, he gave up, and descended into a black pit of drug dependency and mental illness. By then I knew that he used skunk, a very potent version of cannabis.

I have lost count of the times he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals in the past 11 years.

Our health insurance now refuses to pay for private treatment; so our son, now 28, is now in the care of an over-stretched, under-funded NHS.

In 2007 I saw the eminent psychiatrist Professor Sir Robin Murray at London's Maudsley Hospital and he confirmed that Henry's cannabis use had precipitated his psychosis.

Henry started smoking skunk when his brain was still developing, so the damage was especially profound.

Studies have shown the cannabis smoked in the Sixties and Seventies had a THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol: the mind-altering ingredient) content of 1 or 2 per cent. It has mostly been replaced by skunk - produced by selective breeding of cannabis plants - with an average THC content of between 16.2 per and 46 per cent.

On sensitive and still-developing young minds like my son's, its effect can be utterly devastating.

The notion that cannabis use only destabilises poor families and is 'cost-free' for the educated and prosperous is evil and dangerous nonsense. Our lives have been blighted by it.

In 2007, believing Henry would be safer out of London, I bought a house in Henley, Oxfordshire, and found a flat there for him. Months later, two thugs who dealt in drugs - whom he naively counted among his 'friends' - broke in while he slept, beat him badly, gagged him and robbed him.

It almost broke me when I found him, his eyes black, his face ballooned and bloodied, his flat ransacked.

Four years later, Henry lives in a state of terror: of the voices that plague him, of being attacked, of life.

He tells me he no longer uses skunk. But it's too late. His mental illness is now so entrenched he is incapable of independent living. Henry often tells me he wishes he was no longer alive. Then my sadness almost destroys me.

I lie awake each night consumed by anger that my son's life has been reduced to dust by this awful drug. Had he never taken it, I firmly believe he'd still be the bright, beautiful boy he once was.

I intend to move back to London now. When he is well enough to be released, he will live with me. Once again I shall be his carer as well as his mother. I see no other way forward.

Meanwhile, if I cannot hope for a cure for Henry, I can pray for remission from the abiding tragedy that is his life. All I ask for is a little normality: a modest enough hope.