MJ News for 05/15/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/20...ijuana-treat-theres-now-a-food-truck-for-them




The Latest Food Truck Theme Is Marijuana For Lunch


Food trucks have been steadily multiplying in cities across the country for a few years now. So their collision with the brave new world of marijuana edibles — from brownies to gummy candy — was probably inevitable, at least in the states where the drug is now legal.

In late April, a company called MagicalButter unveiled the country's first food truck specializing in pot-infused eats at Denver's Cannabis Cup. MagicalButter, based in Seattle, already sells a machine of the same name that extracts nutrients and other chemicals from herbs for use in food.

On the Samich menu at the Cannabis Cup were peanut butter and jelly, pulled pork and grilled cheese sandwiches along with tomato soup. Each dish contained oil, butter or cheese infused with THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.

"[The food truck] gives a good platform to educate people about how to eat with cannabis, finding out what works, what might not work," Garyn Angel, CEO of Magical Butter, tells The Salt. "It's a non-threatening way for people to discover if it helps them at all."

The truck's Colorado debut was more marketing ploy than true launch. After serving the festival goers in Denver, the truck headed back to Washington state, which is just starting to tax and regulate recreational weed sales. It's now parked near the company's headquarters, but there are plans to develop a fleet to spread the spiked lunch items to other cities.

The truck's timing is apt. While Colorado's experiment in recreational marijuana closes in on the six-month mark, lawmakers are tightening rules for the rapidly growing edibles market. New rules will limit the potency of foods infused with THC and require companies to explicitly label edible products.

Cooking with cannabis can be a tricky feat because it's easy to overdo it, Angel says. MagicalButter's chef controls for potency and dosage, making sure that grilled cheese doesn't deliver too much of a punch, he says.

"We have to work on [these things] to make sure no one has an experience they're uncomfortable with," Angel says.

Overindulging in THC-laced treats can lead to stomach aches, headaches, vomiting and day-long highs, according to Colorado Public Radio. Doctors in Colorado say more people are now being admitted to the emergency room after consuming large quantities of edible marijuana treats.

Angel of MagicalButter says the food truck is just one of his pot-infused culinary ventures. He is exploring a line of cookbooks and the company is planning to back a brick and mortar restaurant in Seattle that serves pot-infused fare with a tentative opening date in June or July.
 

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http://kstp.com/news/stories/S3436971.shtml




Minnesota Lawmakers Strike Medical Marijuana Deal


Minnesota lawmakers have a deal on a medical marijuana bill that would set up eight distribution sites and allow qualified patients to access the drug in oil, pill and vapor form.

The agreement announced Thursday was crafted to suit concerns of Gov. Mark Dayton, who backs it.

The compromise bridges differences between a restrictive House bill and a relatively expansive Senate bill. Under the agreement, two manufacturers would be able to grow the drugs and run a total of eight distribution centers.

Leaf or plant form of marijuana wouldn't be accessible. Smoking the drug wouldn't be permitted.

It represents the culmination of a years-long effort by advocates to make the medical use of marijuana legal in Minnesota. Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.
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Gov. Mark Dayton released the following statement after the deal was announced:

"This bill is citizen government at its best. It has been led by parents, who deeply love their children, are anguished by their pain, and insist their government try to help them. As a father and grandfather, I both understand and admire their devotion.

"I also congratulate the bill's authors, Representative Carly Melin and Senator Scott Dibble, for their extraordinary efforts. I thank them for their willingness to bring together groups with very different perspectives and to work with them to achieve this result.

"Finally, I want to credit Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, who added his invaluable medical and public health expertise to the bill's final deliberations.

"I look forward to signing this bill into law. And I pledge that my administration, led by Dr. Ehlinger, will do everything possible to implement it as swiftly and successfully, as is possible."
 

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http://www.tampabay.com/news/website-launches-to-fight-medical-marijuana-in-florida/2179942





Website launches to fight medical marijuana in Florida


A political action committee fighting medical marijuana in Florida launched its website Thursday, including a nine-minute video laying out potential pitfalls with how the system might work.

Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriff's Association, says the proposed constitutional amendment is a stalking horse for legalizing pot and enriching dope dealers.

He notes that Floridians with various conditions would qualify, contending that even sleeping problems or stress might do the trick.

Other legal and community leaders contend that children will be able to acquire medical marijuana without parental consent and that pot docs will set up shop next to schools.

Amendment 2's ballot language indeed allows licensed physicians to certify patients by determining that they have a "debilitating medical condition" and that potential benefits of pot outweigh potential risks.

The amendment language is also silent on issues like parental consent and location of dispensaries. If the measure passes in November, the Florida Department of Health will create the regulatory structure on such matters and may well require parental consent for minors and buffer zones for schools, as is common in other states.

But that is not certain. Under the amendment, implementing regulations must be "reasonable" and "ensure the availability and safe use'' of marijuana for certified patients. Anyone who considers the regulations to be unreasonable could sue the state to change them.

The website — www.voteno2.org —was created by the Drug Free Florida Committee, a PAC underwritten by St. Petersburg developer Mel Sembler. It describes the effort as "a grassroots campaign bringing the truth about Amendment 2 to the voters of Florida."

Included is a way for people to contact the committee or make donations.
 

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsu...ting-commercial-cannabisall-in-the-same-city/




Feds Prosecute Medical Marijuana Patients While Tolerating Commercial Cannabis—All In The Same City


Sean Green grows marijuana at 1919 East Francis Avenue in Spokane, about six miles from the courthouse where the federal government plans to try Larry Harvey, a 70-year-old retired truck driver, for growing marijuana. Green’s operation is a lot bigger than Harvey’s: up to 21,000 square feet of plant canopy, compared to the 45 plants that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found on Harvey’s property in a rural area of northeastern Washington about 10 miles from Kettle Falls. The difference in scale makes sense, because Green is growing pot for Washington’s newly legal recreational market, while Harvey and four other medical marijuana users were growing it for their own consumption. Both kinds of cultivation are allowed under Washington law, and both are prohibited under federal law. Yet Green’s future as a cannabis entrepreneur looks bright, while Harvey and his co-defendants face prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.

The case of the Kettle Falls Five highlights the gap between policy and practice in the Obama administration’s approach to medical marijuana as well as puzzling inconsistencies in the prosecution choices of Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Since 2009 the Justice Department has been saying that prosecuting patients who use marijuana in compliance with state law “is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” Last August the department extended this policy of prosecutorial forbearance to state-licensed suppliers of recreational marijuana, saying it will not interfere with legalization in Washington or Colorado as long as the markets are properly regulated. While Ormsby seems to have gotten the second memo, he seems to have missed the first one. “This case is another glaring example of what’s wrong with the federal policy on cannabis,” says Kari Boiter of Americans for Safe Access. “If the Justice Department can continue to aggressively prosecute individual patients without any consequences from the White House, none of these DOJ memos are worth the paper they’re printed on.”



The Harvey trial, which was originally scheduled to start this week, has been postponed until July 28, at which point at least some of Spokane’s eight state-licensed pot shops should be open for business, selling marijuana grown by state-licensed producers like Sean Green. It will be a surreal juxtaposition. Last week the judge overseeing the Kettle Falls Five case ruled that the defendants may not so much as mention the reason they were growing marijuana, which under federal law does not matter. Meanwhile, on their way home from the courthouse, jurors will be able to buy pot from openly operating businesses licensed by the state of Washington, approved by the city of Spokane, and tolerated by the federal government.


The seeds of this bizarre situation were planted in July 2012, when the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from the Civil Air Patrol that someone was growing marijuana near the Colville Airport. A few weeks later, Sgt. Brad Manke flew over the area and spotted about 70 marijuana plants. Based on that evidence, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for the property, which it served on August 9. Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Larry’s wife, told the officers that she, her husband, their son, their daughter-in-law, and a family friend were using the marijuana to treat various conditions, including gout, osteoarthritis, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain from severe back injuries. All five have medical recommendations, which under a ballot initiative approved in 1998 gives them an affirmative defense against possession and cultivation charges.

The 74 plants found by the sheriff’s office were within the limits set by Washington law, which allows each patient to grow up to 15 plants. But the sheriff’s deputies, after consulting with local prosecutors, decided to apply the limit set by a 2011 law that gives patients immunity from arrest (as opposed to an affirmative defense) for “collective gardens” as long as they grow a total of no more than 45 plants. The deputies therefore confiscated 29 plants and left.

But that was not the end of it. A week later the deputies were back, this time with DEA Special Agent Sam Keiser, serving a federal search warrant. Keiser seized the remaining 45 plants, about five pounds of pot, and a freezer full of cannabis-infused butter, cookies, and teas.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Harveys’ lawyers say the amounts seized by the DEA were consistent with typical medical use. “Considering one to two ounces are needed to make a pound of butter,” they write, “it’s easy to understand how a cookie at night and some tea in the morning could quickly diminish one’s supply. The point being, of course, that there would be no cannabis left over to sell or distribute because these patients needed all of it and then some to properly treat their medical conditions.” One of the lawyers, Douglas Hiatt, sat down with Ormsby in November 2012 to explain that Larry, Rhonda, and the others were legitimate patients complying with state law—just the sort of people the Justice Department had indicated it would not be prosecuting. Hiatt brought along a medical marijuana expert who had reviewed the patients’ records: Greg Carter, medical director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane. “They have a perfectly valid state defense,” says Hiatt, and “there’s no evidence they ever sold an iota of anything to anybody.”

That meeting did not deter Ormsby from indicting the five medical marijuana users a few months later. The latest version of the indictment charges all five with four felonies: conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacture of marijuana, distribution of marijuana, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Larry and Rhonda are also charged with maintaining drug-involved premises (i.e., their home). Although the sheriff’s deputies found just 74 marijuana plants and the DEA seized just 45, the indictment alleges that the defendants grew 100 or more, based on evidence of a previous harvest. That triggers a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. So does the firearm charge, which is based on the Harveys’ possession of a pistol, a rifle, and a shotgun in an isolated area of Washington where they hunt for food and where, according to their lawyers, they have “encountered black bears, cougars and coyotes at their front door on several occasions.” The two mandatory minimums mean the Kettle Falls Five face at least 10 years in prison. The maximum sentence for four of them is 40 years, and Jason Zucker, the family friend, could get life because of a prior marijuana conviction.


Hiatt, who is not currently representing any of the defendants but consults with their lawyers, says the indictment illustrates a broader problem in eastern Washington, which has always been less hospitable to medical marijuana than the western side of the state. “It’s open war here on medical marijuana patients,” he says. “When local law enforcement sees a marijuana grow, and there’s a gun there—which in eastern Washington there almost always is—they give the DEA a call.” He describes a case in Yakima where the local sheriff inspected a medical marijuana user’s garden, ostensibly to make sure he was complying with state law. According to Hiatt, “The sheriff tells him, ‘Yeah, you’re in compliance, but I have to let the DEA know.’ He doesn’t have to let the DEA know. There is no such duty. They are basically depriving people of their state rights. They are just trampling on democracy. This state, through a democratic initiative, said, ‘We want people to have this defense.’”

Since that defense is not available in federal court, Harvey et al.’s only chance to avoid prison seems to be convincing the jury to ignore the law, which will be tricky. Last week U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle granted the prosecution’s request that he “prohibit the defendants from eliciting testimony concerning their motives, justifications, or beliefs as to why the marijuana was being cultivated at the residence in question.” Prosecutors argued, and Van Sickle agreed, that “any evidence of medical purposes as well as the Defendants’ belief that they were lawfully engaged in marijuana cultivation is inadmissible.” The judge explained that allowing such evidence, even to rebut the government’s allegation of a conspiracy to distribute marijuana, would be too risky, since it “could confuse the jury with respect to whether compliance with the state [Medical Use of Cannabis Act] is a defense” or even “tempt the jury to disregard federal law.”

Hiding the facts from the jury, of course, may create a different sort of confusion. “If a trial is a search for the truth,” says Hiatt, “this is a very perverted form of trial. We are telling the jury they can’t consider the truth. Justice is not possible without truth.”

There may be ways to hint at the truth without violating Van Sickle’s order. “You may not be able to say ‘medical,’” Hiatt suggests, “but you can sit there and look at the jury and say, ‘I was growing this for personal use. This was for me and the other people to use.’” But if the government argues that there was too much pot for personal use, the defendants won’t be allowed to explain why they were consuming more than recreational users generally do, except perhaps in response to a direct question from the prosecution, which will strive to avoid any such invitation.

Assuming the jurors figure out why the defendants were growing pot (which is entirely possible in a state that has allowed cultivation and possession of marijuana for medical use since 1998), will they have the guts to ignore the judge’s admonition that they must follow the law exactly as he explains it to them? “There’s a lot of pressure on the jury not to do that,” says Hiatt. “He’s virtually telling them to convict.” Still, he says, “that’s the only hope they’ve got, that the people understand what’s going on and stand up for them.”
 

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http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/colorado-marijuana-sales-up-crime-down/




Colorado Marijuana Sales up, Crime Down


Five months ago, Colorado made history by being the first state in the US to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Opponents were worried that this decision would cause an increase in crime rates, but as sales of marijuana have been increasing, instances of crime have actually gone down in the state. Some local businesses, such as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO), have even begun to incorporate the drug into advertising as a means of increasing revenue.

Sales of recreational marijuana in the state reached almost $19 million for the month of March, almost a $5 million increase from February. The first three months of recreational sales have earned roughly $7.3 million in taxes for Colorado, with taxes from medicinal weed bringing the total up to $12.6 million. Another way that this legislation is generating taxes for the state is through fees and licensing of growers and sellers, which have earned an additional $903,000 for the first three months. The fact that sales are steadily increasing indicates that the financial benefit of legalized marijuana could be a lasting one. However, lawmakers are still unsure of this, and are choosing to only plan their spending with the money that has already been earned.

Compared to the January-April period from 2013, 2014 has seen an overall reduction in both violent and property crimes since legalizing marijuana. This strikes down the statements made by opponents of the bill that legalization of the drug would lead to an increase in crime in the state. Notable reductions were seen in homicide (down by over 52%) and theft from motor vehicles (down by 36%), and all forms of violent crime saw a reduction in their incidence over this period.
As Colorado sales of marijuana are heading up and crime is heading down, another boost that the state is receiving is through job growth. There are at least 13 different jobs that have been created by the industry, ranging from marijuana journalists to grow site operators. The increasing demand for employment can also act as a boost for students, who are taking advantage of the booming industry to help cover tuition costs, according to a study published by Humboldt University. With the cannabis business projected to keep growing, the need for jobs within the industry will continue to expand as well.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is one group who has taken advantage of the legalization of cannabis to promote their work. The group has four shows planned for this year that will mix the musical experience with marijuana, in the attempts to draw in a younger audience and expand the appreciation of classical music. Edible Events, one of several cannabis-based event companies in the area, is organizing these events. The company provides services for private and public events involving marijuana, and also gives tours of local dispensaries and growing sites. The hope of the CSO, as well as music venues and other musical groups, is to entice a more diverse crowd to come out and experience traditional arts, such as ballet and theater. With attendance at these types of events dropping, and reaching a primarily aging audience, performs within these art styles believe that incorporating marijuana into the events could aid in making the art form popular again.

Colorado has experienced many benefits to the legalization of marijuana, which include seeing sales numbers go up and crime rates go down. In addition to these, the new market for jobs and a new marketing angle for the arts prove to be potential boosts to the economy of the state.
 

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http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2014/05/15/alcohol-marijuana-use/




Why alcohol companies should warm up to cannabis


According to recent polls, a majority of Americans now support legal, recreational pot use. But not everyone's on board. Count big alcohol companies among the naysayers.

Though booze purveyors are not universally opposed to legalization, alcohol distributors were one of the main forces fighting California's 2010 push to legalize recreational cannabis use. And the beer, wine, and liquor industry has donated tens of thousands of dollars to vocal opponents of pot proliferation in Congress, like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

The logic behind this opposition is pretty simple: If pot is more widely available, then consumers might choose it as a substitute for alcohol.

But according to a study published Wednesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it appears that in places where medical marijuana became legal in recent years, alcohol consumption has actually increased.

Emory University-based researchers used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2004 to 2011, looking at states that implemented some form of medical marijuana legalization over those years.

Legalization of medical marijuana increased the probability of marijuana use among adults over 21 by just over 1%, and the researchers wrote that there's reason to believe that some of this use is coming from recreational users as well as patients. These states also saw a slight increase in the use of marijuana by young adults aged 12-20, but the frequency of cannabis use among this group is pretty low, leading researchers to conclude that:
"these findings are consistent with a scenario in which adolescents and young adults who experiment with marijuana use because of the potentially increased availability and social acceptance and reduced penalties brought about by an MML are not transitioning to regular use, at least in the short term."

The more surprising finding was that the availability of medical marijuana increased the number of days in which adults over 21 binge drank (defined as having more than four drinks per day) by 6-9%. It did not, however, have any effect on underage drinking.

In economic jargon, it appears that for some folks marijuana is a "complementary" rather than "substitute" good relative to alcohol, especially when alcohol is consumed in larger quantities. For alcohol companies, this is good news. It appears that the liberalization of marijuana laws isn't related to a decrease in drinking but, in fact, may be leading some to drink more.

From a public health perspective, however, these results are potentially troubling. As the writers of the report concluded, "The complementarity between marijuana use and binge drinking among adults of legal drinking age could magnify the expected harm of [medical marijuana]."

Supporters of marijuana-law liberalization can take solace in the fact that the study found that the availability of medical marijuana did not lead to increased use of harder drugs like heroin or cocaine. But it would be naive to think that relaxing legal restrictions on marijuana wouldn't lead to more marijuana use, or the use of intoxicating substances in general.

In the end, however, the argument for ending marijuana prohibition isn't that pot is good for you, but that it's a prohibition that creates more social harm than legal pot would. Freedom, as the saying goes, isn't free.
 
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