Mj news for 05/21/2015


Jul 25, 2008
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Washington State Marijuana Shops Caught Selling to Minors

Four of 22 stores tested for compliance were caught selling weed to underage shoppers in state-run stings

Washington’s retail marijuana businesses got calls from the state liquor control board before the sting operations began, warning them and reminding them about best practices when it comes to keeping weed out of kids’ hands. But when the board sent 18- to 20-year-old operatives into the first batch of stores this month to see if shops would sell them weed, four of them still failed the test. According to the board’s report released Wednesday, that amounted to 18% of 22 operations.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” says State Senator Ann Rivers, who has continued to work on reforming the state’s retail and medical marijuana industries. “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

By the end of June, the state plans to conduct sting operations at each of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington. “When the news is out,” the liquor control board’s Brian Smith says of these first numbers, “we’ll see a spike in compliance. That’s what happened on the alcohol side.” In the operations, the underage shoppers present their real IDs if asked but don’t offer an ID if they aren’t; if a store sells them marijuana, they complete the transaction and bring the contraband to officers waiting outside the shops.

Marijuana businesses in Washington that sell to minors face possible license suspensions and fines of up to $2,500. Businesses that fail three times in three years can lose their state-issued licenses, while the person who conducts the actual transaction faces a possible felony charge.

Reformers who wanted to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado—and who continue to pursue reform in other states—often argue that weed should be legal because it’s safer than alcohol. Regulations for alcohol, such as selling it only to adults ages 21 and older, have been used as scaffolding for nascent marijuana markets. Smith points out that similar sting operations conducted among liquor sellers in Washington always find slip-ups. Since 2012, monthly checks have found that an average of 85% of businesses, ranging from liquor shops to restaurants, don’t sell to minors.

In 2014, Colorado conducted similar stings among a sample of 20 retail marijuana shops in the state and found 100% compliance, but the vast majority of the state’s more than 250 shops were not tested. Since 2014, checks among liquor sellers in Colorado have found that an average of about 90% of businesses don’t sell alcohol to minors.

Smith chalks some failures up to “human error,” though drivers licenses for residents under age 21 are vertical rather than horizontal in the state. Many shops, he says, have someone stationed at the door and people working the register sometimes mistakenly assume that all shoppers’ IDs have been checked before they show up at the counter. “It’s early. This is a brand new industry that is finding it’s way,” Smith says. “There’s going to be some kinks initially.”

“Because this market is new, some business people don’t have all of their systems in place as much as we might like them to, so I’m going to cut them just the slightest bit of slack,” Rivers says. But she also emphasizes that “part of the expectation of the people of this state was that [a legal marijuana market] would be well taxed and very well regulated to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

While she’s neither thrilled nor deeply disappointed in these first results, Rivers says that attention shouldn’t just be focused on what happens in the stores: “The larger concern for me is people who are purchasing it legally because they’re the right age but then giving it to the underage people.”

A failure to follow the rules gives ammunition to those who did not want to legalize marijuana or who would like to see existing markets fold. But reform advocates point out that there is, at least, some oversight now occurring. “It’s always disappointing when there are isolated incidents of non-compliance, but it’s also a powerful example of how a legal, regulated market leads to more accountability and responsibility,” says Taylor West, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Because you can certainly bet no one’s checking IDs in the criminal market, and a regulatory process incentivizes legal businesses to play by the rules.”


Jul 25, 2008
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Cannabis Munchies on Display at Marijuana Trade Show in Chicago

Cannabis lemonade. Cannabis honey. Even cannabis krispie treats -- bottled, packaged and labeled like any other products.

A few years ago, they could have landed you in prison. But in Illinois, they’re about to become big business.

“When we first started in Colorado, there was no blueprint for this business,” said consultant Greg Gamet, walking the exhibit floor at Chicago’s Marijuana Business Conference and Expo. “We’ve seen real estate prices go from $50 a square foot, to $250 a square foot in three years.”

The conference is in Chicago for a reason. The state’s first medical marijuana licensees were confirmed in January, and product is expected to start flowing by year’s end.

“We’re hoping sometime in September or October,” said Edward Jauch, head of security for InGrown Farms, which is building a sprawling cultivation center near Freeport. “We came to this conference to support this industry. It’s new, it’s up and coming, and we’re here to learn from other people.”

There is plenty to learn. From cultivation, to packaging, to security and transport, marijuana is one of the few businesses which Illinois residents will witness from the ground up.

And one of the biggest learning curves, involves money.
“Marijuana is only cash,” said David Ellerstein, CEO of Jane Systems. “There’s no Visa or Mastercard.”

Because trafficking in marijuana is still considered a federal crime, many banks believe processing the cash from medical marijuana businesses will expose them to money laundering charges with federal regulators. Finding a bank willing to handle the millions of dollars the business is expected to generate, could be challenging. Ellerstein’s firm offers a hardened kiosk machine, which handles the cash inside the dispensary, and controls the entire point-of-sale experience.

“We think this is something the regulators would embrace,” he said.
The exhibit halls of the Chicago Hilton and Towers were packed with vendors offering a glimpse of the world as it’s about to become in Illinois. From growing lights, to child-proof bags, to marijuana labeling systems and safes for the cash, it’s all here.

“We get to change people’s perceptions of what cannabis is,” said Marco Hoffman of VCC Brands. “We take people and their preconceived notions, and knock down that wall.”

VCC produces marijuana edibles. Their “Cannabis Quencher” is a THC-infused lemonade. They also offer candies, olive oil, even rice-krispie treats, all carrying the active ingredient which gives marijuana its punch.

“This is the equivalent of six or seven beers,” Hoffman said, holding a bottle of his lemonade. “This is a THC delivery system. We extract the oils from the plant and infuse it into products that they don’t have to smoke or even eat.”

Hoffman has been in the business for 10 years and is considered one of the “graybeards” of the industry. He’s 40 years old. And because cannabis can’t be transported across state lines, all of his products have to be manufactured in the state where they’re sold. They would not be licensed, but would work with licensed growers here.

“We’d teach them how to extract and infuse it and how to make these brands, then they would become the distributor of these products in this state,” he said. “I am confident we are going to get into Illinois.”

By any measure, it’s a surreal experience to see exhibitors selling materials to legally cultivate a product which has put to many people behind bars. Perhaps Gamet, the Denver consultant, sums it up best.

“Financial institutions that wouldn’t even take our phone calls five years ago, are calling us now trying to lend us money in this industry.”


Jul 25, 2008
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Looks Good Enough To Smoke: Marijuana Gets Its Glamour Moment

When Erik Christiansen started smoking pot, he became fascinated by the look of different marijuana strains. But the photographs of marijuana he saw didn't capture the variety.

So he went to the hardware store and picked up two lights and a cardboard box. "I didn't even have a macro lens — I was shooting through a magnifying glass," he says.

Then Dan Michaels, a cannabis aficionado and strategist for the growing legal pot industry, contacted Christiansen about collaborating on a field guide. The result is Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana (Chronicle Books, $30). The high-end coffee table book documents over 170 strains of cannabis, explaining their medicinal and recreational attributes. (Though it's worth noting that the medicinal benefits are based on subjective reports rather than randomized clinical trials.)

The book is meant to appeal to the growing artisanal marijuana industry, describing each bud's tasting notes and effects much like a sommelier would describe a vintage wine.

We asked Christiansen about becoming a professional weed photographer, and what we can tell about a marijuana bud's effects by looking at it. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you source all of these buds?

I had a library of probably 300 to 400 strains that we were able to pull from. There's your popular strains that most people who enjoy cannabis have heard of, like your Blue Dreams and your Girl Scout Cookies. But we also wanted to include the rare ones. I searched through hundreds of dispensaries in San Diego, L.A., and the Bay Area to try and track down all of them.

Seeing the buds close up accentuates the variations — some have these wiry golden threads and others are tightly coiffed, like beehive hairdos. They seem to take on personalities. What does this tell us about the plants?

You can take the same plant and give a clone to six different growers and at the end of that grow cycle each will be unique in its own way, based on the nutrients that the growers us, the CO2 content of the air and the temperature of the room. Being able to get up close and see those differences is important.

If you look at any of the pictures, there are these little balls on the end of each plant— that's where the THC is stored. The more little balls, or trichomes, that are present on the buds, the more potent it can be. The color will also tell you a lot about the effect it will deliver. More amber-color trichomes will deliver a more body effect, where lighter-colored trichomes will be more of a head-y effect.

Do you have any favorites?

My favorite in the book is the strain called the Shire. I've only been able to find it once. The effect was so uplifting. It's the only strain that's ever given me the stereotypical effect where you're just sitting there laughing. I went back to that dispensary trying to get it again and was never able to find it again.

There's a certain legitimacy to field guides, or any reference book that documents variations of a species. Was legitimacy the intention?

Absolutely. It's not this stoner druggie culture anymore; it's becoming a real industry.

It's like the wild, wild West. Or craft beer. It's a bunch of little guys tinkering and creating new strains. Some of them totally take off and blow up and you see them all over the place.

What happens to the buds after you've shot them?

I usually get to sample them. Not all the time, but that's a perk of the job.


Jul 25, 2008
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Are There Unintended Consequences Of Marijuana Legalization? These Experts Weigh In

A panel discussion at the National Press Club Wednesday brought together experts in the field to discuss public health hazards as marijuana legalization unfolds across the country.

More than 50 percent of states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational use, and many governors and lawmakers in other states are still waiting to see how the experiment plays out in Washington and Colorado, two states that decided to allow full recreational use.

Experimentation is possible, says Scott Novak, senior developmental epidemiologist at RTI International, mostly because the federal government has backed away from enforcing drug policy against the states. There are clear benefits that accompany a softer policy stance, especially in terms of redirecting police to more serious offenses, in addition to the reduced burden on the criminal justice system.

Since decriminalizing marijuana in October of last year, Philadelphia saved $1 million in roughly just a month in 2015, when compared to the same time frame in 2013.

But according to the experts, there are still issues that need attention.

“An unrecognized issue marijuana is that toddlers get into things,” Rick Dart, director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, said at the event. “Colorado allows what are called edibles, and the problem is that edibles can look identical to gummy bears. Thankfully, no toddlers have died. They get hospitalized for a day or so before they can go home.”

Aside from toddlers is the second important study group: adolescents. For Dart, adolescents are most likely to experiment, but they’re also in the middle of an important stage in brain development. While there’s considerable controversy surrounding the idea that marijuana has major positive or negative effects, according to Dart, the chance of a psychotic episode increased when using the drug, and the earlier adolescents use, the more likely it is they’ll experience a psychotic episode from which they may never recover.

“There are also beneficial effects, too, that remain largely unproven,” Dart added. “That all is coming, but it’s very difficult unless we change the scheduling of the drug, so that it’s not almost impossible to use in a study.”

However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a creation of the federal government, admitted in April 2015 that, at least in animal studies, marijuana can “kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.”

The institute also has a monopoly on the production of marijuana for research, and even the Drug Enforcement Administration thinks that NIDA is a little too stingy, saying that the federal government should produce 400,000 grams of marijuana for 2015. That amount is three times higher than what was originally proposed.

Differentiating between medical and recreational use has proven difficult—especially among users. According to Novak, unlike tobacco and alcohol, which are clearly recreational drugs, marijuana does seem to have health benefits. The fact that it has a dual use “makes it a very challenging product to regulate and understand from a scientific perspective.”

This dual use, says, Kevin Davis, senior research economist at RTI International, means that many users don’t appear to understand the laws surrounding marijuana intake and driving. A little over 40 percent of marijuana users have reported driving while high, prompting Colorado to bolster campaign efforts informing the public about DUI laws. Research shows that since legalization came into effect in Colorado, about a quarter of marijuana users increased their use of the drug.

Some have urged caution, but voters in public opinion polls consistently support toning down strict laws against marijuana and even legalizing the drug.


Jul 25, 2008
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Legalizing medical marijuana will be an issue in 2016, S.C. senators say (+ video)

Because she has seizures every day and slams into the ground, 18-year-old Dixie Pace has worn a helmet since November.

Pace uses cannabidiol oil, an oil derived from marijuana that was legalized in South Carolina last year for certain forms of epilepsy, to reduce her seizures to an average of less than 10 a day, down from 50.

“That’s just one oil,” Pace’s mother, April Pace, said Wednesday during a State House rally Wednesday, urging the Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. April Pace says access to a different oil extracted from marijuana or the plant itself could control further — or possibly stop — Dixie Pace’s seizures.

Earlier Wednesday, April Pace testified to a panel of state senators considering a bill to allow use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

That proposal won’t pass this year, senators said. But the proposal’s lead sponsor, state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, told supporters: “This is going to get done.”

Senators postponed debate of Davis’ bill Wednesday, but they will hear more testimony from advocates and opponents before January, when the Legislature begins the second year of its current two-year session.

State Sen. Ray Cleary, the Georgetown Republican who heads the Senate panel that heard testimony Wednesday, said he hopes the Senate will pass a medical marijuana bill in the first few days of the 2016 session.

The proposal has high-profile opponents.

Both the State Law Enforcement Division and S.C. Medical Association previously have said they oppose legalizing medicinal marijuana.

Tim Pearce, past president of the Medical Association, told a committee in January that giving physicians the ability to write prescriptions for medical marijuana would make them gatekeepers for illegal drug use. He added there is little evidence, apart from anecdotes, that marijuana is effective as a medicine.

State law enforcement officials previously have said the illegal marijuana market thrives when medical pot is legalized.

However, Davis said his legislation would address law enforcement’s concerns that cannabis grown for medicinal purposes could be diverted for recreational use. Medical marijuana would be tracked from seed to sale under his proposal, Davis said.

The libertarian-leaning Davis was successful last year in getting legislation passed to legalize cannabidiol oil. That bill passed the Legislature, in part, because the oil is limited to having no more than 0.9 percent of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, supporters say the oil often is unavailable in South Carolina because it is illegal to produce it.

“Don’t you think the next logical step is to provide for protocols and procedures for the growing of that plant here in South Carolina?” Davis rhetorically asked the rally Wednesday of pro-medical marijuana supporters.

While cannabidoil now is legal, April Pace said obtaining the oil requires traveling out of state or searching the Internet.

Davis’ medical pot proposal outlines guidelines for licensing S.C. marijuana growers and dispensaries. Growers would be required to track all plants, products, packages, patients, waste, sales and returns with unique identification numbers.

Conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana use would include cancer, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If a physician decides that a substance based or derived from cannabis can help a patient, “why in the world is the state of South Carolina stepping into that relationship?” Davis asked the medical marijuana rally.

April Pace said her daughter’s seizures affect her entire family. For example, she cannot work because she has to stay at home with Dixie.

“Our life revolves on if she’s going to have a seizure at that moment.”

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

A proposal, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, would legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina. The bill would:

▪ Allow a patient to obtain a registry identification card as qualifying for medical marijuana, provided they are a S.C. resident and have a medical recommendation signed by a licensed doctor. The patient would have to be 18 or older, or their parent or guardian would have to sign for them.

▪ Require a patient to complete an application form and pay a $50 fee. The applicant also would have to provide a copy of a SLED criminal records check showing they have not been convicted of a drug offense in the past five years or a copy of a valid S.C. concealed weapons permit, which requires a background check.

▪ Require the applicant to sign a statement agreeing not to knowingly divert marijuana to anyone not allowed to possess marijuana and acknowledging that diversion would be a felony.

South Carolina state government could have $300 million in extra revenue, a state senator told the Senate Wednesday.

When filibustering a proposal to spend money from a state reserve account, Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said the state could be told by the state Board of Economic Advisers next week that it will have $300 million in extra revenue.

How does Davis know?

Davis cited his former role in the governor’s office, working for then-Gov. Mark Sanford, and said he had friends at the Economic Advisers.

Board chairman Chad Walldorf, another former aide to Sanford, said Wednesday he had not communicated the unannounced state surplus to Davis. The three-person Board of Economic Advisers must vote to confirm that surplus.

“Through April, we’re $200 million ahead of estimates,” Walldorf said.

That means lawmakers could add $200 million to this fiscal year’s state budget and an additional $200 million to next year’s budget.

Davis wants that added money – roughly $400 million total – spent to repair the state’s crumbling roads. The House and a Senate committee have proposed raising the state’s gas tax to pay for repairs, a proposal opposed by the Senate’s most conservative members, including Davis.

The added money also could be used to pay for $237 million in deferred maintenance projects at state-owned buildings and armories.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Ohio) DeWine rejects petition language for another marijuana issue

The petition language on another proposed marijuana legalization amendment — the third in Ohio this year — was rejected today by Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine gave the thumbs down to the Cannabis Control Amendment after determining the petition summary was not “fair and truthful” as required by law.

The rejection letter said the summary of the constitutional amendment petition language had “numerous inconsistencies...regarding restrictions on minors,” failed to include a provision allowing local authorities to ban sale of marijuana, and uses the phrase “marijuana concentrates” even though that wording is not part of the amendment itself.

Attorney Jacob Wagner of Concord, Ohio, filed a petition May 11 on behalf of Ohioans to End Prohibition. The proposal would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 100 grams of marijuana, 500 grams of marijuana-infused edible items, two liters of marijuana-infused liquid, and 25 grams of marijuana concentrate.

Two other marijuana legalization issues have already been approved by the state and backers are collecting the 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters necessary to get on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

DeWine’s letter and the petition itself are available online.

In a related development, the Ohio Elections Commission voted today to dismiss an elections complaint filed against ResponsibleOhio by opponents from a rival group, the Ohio Rights Group. The Ohio Rights Group claimed that Responsible was guilty of “Infiltration, interference and disruption” of its campaign to legalize marijuana, primarily for medicinal use.

ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James, against whom the complaint was filed, issued a statement calling the claim against him “a frivolous waste of time.”

James’ group has collected over 370,000 signatures so far and has until July 1 to submit its final tally.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Indiana) First Church of Cannabis could test RFRA

The newly formed First Church of Cannabis appears to some observers as an excuse for potheads to get together and light up.

But the "grand poobah" of what followers describe as a new Indiana religion insists there is sanctity in the self-described ministry.

"This is what I live by, and I have more faith in this religion than any other," said Bill Levin, the founder who plans to hold the group's first official service on July 1 — the day Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act takes effect.

"This is my lifestyle. This is millions of people's lifestyle."

Levin, whose church titles include grand poobah and minister of love, is daring police to arrest him and his followers in what will likely be one of the first tests of the state's new RFRA protections.

RFRA, designed to protect religion from being infringed upon by the government, drew unanticipated attention on the Hoosier state when it became widely viewed as a license to allow business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples.

Under intense public pressure, Indiana lawmakers amended RFRA to specify that it can't be used to undermine local human rights ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in Indianapolis and 10 other cities.

Experts say the act opens a new doorway in Indiana that invites a host of legal challenges from religious practitioners throughout the state. Challenges like this one from the First Church of Cannabis.

"It's not the type of plaintiff that was expected or that probably most supporters of RFRA had in mind," said Robert A. Katz, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

"He is not the first person to frame marijuana in terms of free exercise of religion, and he won't be the last."

It's still unclear where Levin will perform the service, but the group appears to have quickly built a following.

The church has raised more than $10,000 through GoFundMe.com, but Levin said local churches have not been eager to lease him space at any price. He said he is still shopping around.

Levin said his church believes cannabis is a holy plant imbued with far-reaching health benefits. Consuming marijuana, he said, can rid the body of poisons ingested through processed food and sugary drinks.

The service, Levin said, will start with harmonica music, then he will discuss the church doctrines and teachings. The First Church of Cannabis has 12 commandments called the Deity Dozen, the first of which is don't be a seven-letter expletive that means jerk.

Levin, 59, is a longtime marijuana advocate and has been a Libertarian party candidate for seats in the U.S. Congress and the City-County Council. A self-employed carpenter and concert promoter, he is easily recognized by his spiky white hair, glasses and the cigar he often holds and smokes in public.

"At the end of the service, we will inaugurate the church by saying the Deity Dozen," Levin said. "We will bless our church, bless our people, and we will spark up."

Levin and his laity are prepared to be cited for violating laws against the consumption of marijuana on July 1.

Police in Indianapolis do not typically arrest people accused of petty offenses, such as smoking marijuana. If officers do anything, it's likely Levin and church worshipers will get a ticket and a court date.

"The possibility of getting arrested will always be there because there are people who do not read the laws the way I read them," Levin said. "That's when we have this discussion in the courts."

Once a case gets to the courts, the state under RFRA must prove a compelling reason for government to interfere with religious practices, said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

This elevated legal scrutiny makes it "very difficult for the government to win," Falk said. "That's something the court will have to wrestle with."

Falk pointed to other well-established religious traditions that are allowed. Catholics, Jews and members of other faiths drink wine at their services. Sometimes that wine is consumed by people who are under age 21.

"If you're drinking wine (and underage) in a nonreligious setting, you would be breaking the law," Falk said. "What's the justification if you smoke marijuana as part of your religion?"

Katz, the IU law professor, said the First Church of Cannabis will have to prove it's a sincere religion, not just an excuse for users to get together and smoke.

Katz doubts Levin will be able to convince a judge that the religion is true.

"If the past is any guide to experience, he's not going to get very far," Katz said.

"That's mainly because these people, while they are nice and delightful, are from a legal perspective that I think most judges would view them as goofballs."


Jul 25, 2008
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(Australia) Norfolk Island decision sparks renewed calls to legalise drug for Australian patients

A decision to grant a licence to grow medicinal cannabis on Norfolk Island has sparked renewed calls for the drug to be made available to Australian patients.

Cannabis producer AusCann has become the first Australian company to be granted a license to grow and export medicinal cannabis to an international market.

The company will grow medicinal cannabis on Norfolk Island and export it for sale in Canada.

The company said it hoped it would soon be able to export medicinal cannabis to mainland Australia, with legislation due to come before Federal Parliament in the coming months.

Medicinal marijuana is still illegal in Australia, but many argue that has to change given the growing anecdotal and scientific evidence of its medicinal benefits.

AusCann founder Troy Langman says the company intends to export its entire first crop by the middle of next year and ramp up production from an initial one tonne to 10 tonnes by 2018.

"Obviously it's very exciting that we get the opportunity to be the first company in Australia to produce medicinal cannabis," he said.

"I guess for me one of the important things is that I'm pleased that it will be an opportunity for Norfolk Island.

"It's a place that my family lived for many years. They desperately need employment and industry so I guess I'm mostly pleased for them."

The Federal Government's Norfolk Island administrator Gary Hardgrave still has the power to stop the project from going ahead.

Mr Hardgrave vetoed a licence in 2014, citing safety and security concerns, but Mr Langman said he was confident this time would be different.

"The issue has advanced significantly since then, so I'm hopeful that this time around we might be allowed to proceed," he said.

Mr Langman said frustration was building among Australians who wanted access to medicinal marijuana.

"I'm Australian and when I set out to do this in the beginning, I was doing this for Australia... not that of course any human in the world is less worthy, but it would be certainly my dream to be able to help people in the country in which I live," he said.

Di Natale says laws in Australia need changing

Lucy Haslem has been a vocal campaigner for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana since her son Daniel used it for relief after being diagnosed with cancer.

It frustrates her that an Australian company is making medicinal cannabis available overseas, while it is still inaccessible to Australians.

"I've learnt to be really patient I suppose. I've just learnt that we're so tied up in bureaucratic red tape in this country that nothing happens quickly," she said.

"For Daniel, it didn't happen quick enough and for a lot of people it's not happening quick enough, but I do know that there are things happening behind the scenes that hopefully will evolve over the next couple of months and get us into a place where it's a level playing field for patients that need it."

Australian Greens leader Dr Richard Di Natale said it was beyond belief that an Australian company doing so much overseas in this area was unable to help Australians.

"It just demonstrates that we need to change the law here in Australia. We need to ensure that people who would get benefit from medicinal cannabis should be able to get access to it, and in fact I've got a bill before the Parliament that would allow that to happen."

Senator Di Natale is urging Prime Minister Tony Abbott to promise his support for the bill.

"I've been encouraged by the level of support I've had from members... on all sides of politics," he said.

"I'm really urging the Prime Minister to get behind this legislation. It's legislation that's modelled on the best examples of what goes on internationally, [it] makes it very clear that we're going to treat this separately from the issue of recreational cannabis, that we will have a very strict framework for licensing people to grow it," he said.

Senator Di Natale said the evidence on medicinal cannabis's benefits was clear.

"We've got to make sure now we just come into the 21st century, support the legislation that I've got in the Parliament, and make this a reality for those people who are suffering."


Jul 25, 2008
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Evidence Mounts For Cannabis to Help Curb Painkiller Overdose Epidemic

An average of 44 Americans die every day from an overdose of prescription painkillers, a trend the Centers for Disease Control calls a national epidemic.

Today, more evidence piles up that medical cannabis is part of the solution to the American health crisis.

A newly published study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 273 Michigan prescription painkiller users found cannabis to be more effective on pain that their prescriptions, and the patients “indicated a strong desire to reduce [pill] usage.”

The study also found that painkiller users who supplement with cannabis don't turn into omnivorous drug fiends, either.

“Use of [prescription pain medications] among medical cannabis users was not identified as a correlate for more serious forms of alcohol and other drug involvement,” the study concluded.

Early studies have shown states with medical marijuana laws have 33 percent less overdose deaths than non-MMJ states. Other early studies show cannabis allows opioid users to take less pills, which is probably contributing to their increased likelihood of living.

Roughly, 16,235 Americans died from painkiller overdoses in 2013. Cannabis has no overdose level, according to the National Cancer Institute.


Jul 25, 2008
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Cannabis Investors Growing Faster Than The Deals

The growth of the marijuana industry may be slowing slightly, but that isn’t stopping the millions of investor dollars circling the sector. Marijuana Business Daily has forecast that marijuana sales could hit eight billion dollars by 2019, not its previous forecast date of 2018. The recently completed 2015 MBD Factbook cited issues at the state level as the cause for the the slower growth curve. California was mentioned for its struggles with regulating its cannabis industry that has resulted in the closings of dispensaries. Massachusetts and Washington were both noted for their delays in instituting their medical marijuana programs.

However, eight billions is still a huge number and for this reason investment firms are clamoring to be a part of this nascent sector. “It’s changed dramatically,” said Steve DeAngelo of the Arc View Group. Arc View helps to connect cannabis companies with potential investors and has helped 54 companies raise $41 million. “It wasn’t until we got into the election of 2012 that we saw a whole new wave of investors and entrepreneurs entering the industry,” said DeAngelo. “That was really a signal for people that it was a lot safer.” According to the MBD Factbook, the amount of capital for funding start-ups and expansions has risen by an estimated 900% or more. This is creating a potential bubble situation where there are too many investment dollars chasing too few worthy companies. Douglas Leighton of Dutchess Capital agrees and said, “There is too much money and too few deals.”

The strategy for these investments firms is to get in early and establish themselves as the experts in the field. While 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, investing in the group still remains somewhat taboo. The group is lumped into the “sin” category of finance that includes casinos and tobacco. Plus, it doesn’t help the group when the Securities and Exchange Commission suspends trading on several publicly traded cannabis stocks. Another concern is that some of these funds create great fanfare when they start their fund or open their venture capital firm, but then get very quiet. Still, some of these financiers are pulling in big money and scouring the field for good investments and these are some of the top names in the group.

Privateer Holdings – This investment company made headlines recently when it secured an $75 million investment from the Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital firm. Founders Fund has picked some winners in the past including Facebook, Airbnb, Spotify and SpaceX. Getting an investment from this group is like receiving the investing seal of approval. This brings Privateer’s total funding to $82 million, which isn’t bad considering the company was just founded in 2010. It was also the first private equity firm to close a multimillion dollar funding round in 2013. Privateer has invested in the online cannabis review site Leafly and the Canadian cannabis grower Tilray. In addition to those, Privateer has invested in Marley Natural, a cannabis lifestyle brand that will sell cannabis and accessories. Privateer is the largest and most established of the funds. No secrecy here.

Dutchess Capital – This firm is not just a marijuana investor, but a manager for investment funds and was established in 1995 in Massachusetts. The founder Douglas Leighton decided to enter the cannabis space when Massachusetts legalized medicinal marijuana. Dutchess will be targeting consumer consumption devices and consumer use companies. Leighton said, “Our total portfolio is valued north of $25 million and we’ll probably add another $10 million in 2015. Dutchess has invested in the beverage company Dixie Ellixirs in its licensing side and the marijuana social media site Mass Roots (MSRT), which recently went public. Dutchess was able to return some value to its investors with a partial exit when Mass Roots went public. A trend that Leighton has noticed amongst his investors are that they tend to be in the 45-60 age group, are already successful businessmen and aren’t squeamish when it comes to investing in the sin category.

Poseidon Asset Management – This marijuana hedge fund was founded by the brother, sister team of Emily & Morgan Paxhia. The duo was drawn to the industry when they sadly lost both parents to cancer and the hospice treatment recommended cannabis. The fund was established in January of 2014 and they are hoping to raise $15-20 million, a more modest goal than Privateer. Emily Paxhia also expressed concern about the rapid increase in investors. “There is a lot of money circling the space and the deals aren’t always the best,” said Emily, “We want to find the ones that are worth it.” Poseidon’s focus is on the ancillary businesses. “One of our core beliefs is efficiency and utilizing technologies,” said Morgan Paxhia. So Poseidon is focusing on software for point of sale, seed-to-sale, lighting software and ways to help patients. The two also believe in good due diligence and are on the board of the Responsible Cannabis Public Companies or ARCPC.

Salveo Capital – Salveo is a private equity fund out of Chicago with Alex Thirsch as a Managing Principle. Thirsch initially applied for a pot dispensary license in Illinois, which he didn’t receive. So some of Salveo’s seed money is from the investors that backed him in his quest for a license. Salveo is still in the fund raising stage with a target of $16 to $25 million. Thirsch said, “I have no doubt we’ll hit that in a short time frame and I anticipate we’ll form a second and third fund.” Thirsch said he hasn’t had to do a lot of selling to find investors because “investors want to get in, but they aren’t sure how to do it.” He also hasn’t had to look hard for places to invest. “We’ve received more requests for capital and seen lots of business plans,” said Thirsch. “We have real money to invest.”

Greenleaf Joint Ventures – This company provides capital for cannabis and hemp start-up and existing companies. Greenleaf also does business consulting and is involved in real estate It has invested $250,000 in CrowdFundConnect, which will work with another Greenleaf company called CannaFundr for an equity based investment for accredited investors focused on cannabis. Greenleaf has also invested in Hemp Inc., Kraftwurx Technology and Common Bond Collaborative. It also posted a video on its Facebook site of a company called hempitecture that it helped fund. Hempitecture builds with hemp walls and was funded through Kickstarter. This very open and visible list of investment projects is definitely a positive sign for investors.

Emerald Ocean – This venture capital advisory firm was established in August of 2013. The management team includes Justin Hartfield the founder of WeedMaps.com and Doug Francis, the President of Ghost Group and a long time cannabis entrepreneur. Included in the team is Bonnie Goldstein, a doctor that specializes in cannabis treatments and is the Medical Director of Canna-Centers. Great lineup, but then very little information as to what the firm has done since it was established. Emerald says on its website that it will “acquire companies through vertical integration, own and operate the “Starbucks” and “Bacardi” of the marijuana industry, and be the first to market on many key industry verticals.” For now there is scant information on any companies that Emerald has invested in or helped fund. Emerald didn’t respond when asked for a comment.

High Times Investor – The High Times Growth Fund was launched in 2014 with plans to raise $100 million in 2 years. Investments are expected to be in the range of $2-$5 million making the company act like venture capital or private equity fund. The focus is said to be on ancillary businesses. However, there has been little information on the fund since it was established and requests for an update were not answered. The web page for the fund has no information regarding a portfolio or amount of money raised. In June, Bloomberg reported that the fund planned on raising $300 million. In October of 2014, MJ News reported the fund had looked at 30-40 deals, but again there is little real information regarding this fund.

All this investment money chasing small businesses is reminiscent of the dot com era and even the current silicon valley mood where start-ups are looking for funding even as they plan their exit strategy. The difference here seems to be the due diligence. These investor groups are very focused on the viability and future of their companies. They truly believe in this industry whether from an emotional point of view or from a strictly business outlook. “The cannabis industry is still young,” said DeAngelo. “There are great investment opportunities, but it takes time to find them. It takes experience and understanding,” said De Angelo, “and typically they require more management from the investor side than what you see in other types of investments.”


Jul 25, 2008
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Show-Me Cannabis Sues Fourth Missouri Drug Task Force

On May 20, 2015, Show-Me Cannabis announced the latest in a series of lawsuits aimed at requiring Missouri’s multi-jurisdictional drug task forces to obey state laws regarding open public records and open public meetings. The case filed today targets the MUSTANG Task Force, headquartered in Cole County and also operating in Boone, Callaway, and Cooper Counties, for its ongoing, unlawful refusal to properly allow Show-Me Cannabis access to open public records.

“The Task Force clearly understands that it is subject to Missouri’s Sunshine Law,” said Aaron Malin, Director of Research for Show-Me Cannabis. “But over the past year the Task Force has unlawfully redacted information from open public records, intentionally provided documents other than those we have requested and, more recently, ceased responding altogether to our requests for open public records.”

“It has been more than twenty-five years since Missouri courts firmly established that law enforcement officials are required to respond properly to Sunshine Law requests, and eight years since courts made clear that this obligation existed even if the same organization submitted multiple requests,” explained Dave Roland, the attorney representing Show-Me Cannabis in the lawsuit.

More than one month ago Roland sent a letter to Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane, the Task Force’s Custodian of Records, reminding him of the legal decisions affirming his responsibility under the Sunshine Law and warning that his continued refusal to comply with Show-Me Cannabis’s requests could result in litigation. Despite this letter, Crane has steadfastly refused to respond to at least three requests for open public records that Show-Me Cannabis made between December 29, 2014, and April 1, 2015.

“It would be one thing if the Task Force had claimed either that it had no records matching the requests or that the law prohibited it from producing the requested records – but the Sunshine Law does not give MUSTANG the option of flatly refusing to respond to citizens’ lawful requests for open public records,” Roland added.

Unfortunately, MUSTANG is not alone in its disregard for Missouri’s Sunshine Law. Earlier this year Show-Me Cannabis published a report entitled, “Secret, Dangerous, and Unaccountable: Exploring Patterns of Misconduct in Missouri’s Drug Task Forces” which detailed numerous examples of these drug task forces flouting state laws that demand their transparency and accountability to the public. The report is available at www.Show-MeCannabis.com/Report. Show-Me Cannabis also has litigation pending against St. Louis City’s Metro Multi-Jurisdictional Undercover Drug Program, the Kansas City Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force, and the East Central Missouri Drug Task Force, headquartered in Audrain County, for similar violations of the Sunshine Law. Details regarding these cases are available to the public at www.Show-MeCannabis.com/Media/Press.

“Missouri’s drug task forces are trusted to enforce the law, but they routinely ignore the laws designed to hold them accountable to the public,” plaintiff Aaron Malin said. “Missouri law gives citizens a right to know what their government is doing on their behalf. We are pursuing these cases to prove once and for all that law enforcers are not themselves above the law.”