Mj news for 06/10/2015


Jul 25, 2008
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Bill Clinton makes a marijuana joke

Former President Bill Clinton made a marijuana-related joke during a Clinton Global Initiative event on Wednesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

At the event discussing agricultural and rural issues, Vilsack called attention to the lack of things that one can plant in urban areas.

“Now with the exception of the state of Colorado and a few other states that legalized another product, there are not many commodities you can plant,” Vilsack said.

Clinton responded: “Dear Lord. That’s all I need. One more story. If only the marijuana growers would invite me to give a speech.”

He also joked that he does not send emails.

“I’ve found people have said embarrassing things on email and I didn’t want to be one of them,” the former president said


Jul 25, 2008
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Marijuana Legalization 2015: EPA Issues Guidance On Marijuana Pesticides Amid Industry Uncertainty

When he was managing a 3,500-plant medical marijuana grow facility in Denver, Adam Koh would have his staff thoroughly inspect his crops several times a week for signs of infestation. Tiny bite marks on the cannabis leaves could mean two-spotted spider mites were piercing the plant’s skin and sucking up nutrients. Small piles of what looked like powdered sugar could be the beginning of a mildew incursion.

Koh opted for natural crop management options, so if his staff spotted a problem, he’d isolate the infected plants or use organic pest control options. But a few times, when the infestation was out of hand, he’d destroy an entire grow room’s plants and start again. That option wasn’t cheap: His biggest flower room held 164 plants, and if he ever lost a whole crop in there, he could have been out 75 pounds of cannabis, which by the going rate for retail marijuana, would mean a quarter of a million dollars down the drain.

Koh wasn’t surprised that some of his colleagues would do anything they could to save an infested crop, even use pesticides that weren’t approved for marijuana use. “You hear about things where really intense chemical products were being used right before harvest to ‘save a crop,’” he says. “I unfortunately don’t think it’s uncommon.” It’s one of the reasons he got out of the grow-management business and now works for Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting, helping clients nationwide set up sustainable, all-natural marijuana grows. “I didn’t want to be associated with what I was hearing,” says Koh.

The legal marijuana industry is plagued by upheaval over pesticide use. In a business dependent on the health and vigor of a single plant, the lack of guidance over what kinds of cannabis pest-control measures are appropriate has left growers struggling to safeguard crops as they try to appease regulators and the public.

In recent months, tens of thousands of marijuana plants have been quarantined in Colorado over concerns they were doused in dangerous chemicals. Protesters in the state are picketing marijuana shops, claiming consumer health is at risk. And business owners are claiming that if the status quo continues, crops worth hundreds of thousands of dollars could sicken and die. “Under that situation, technically any kind of pesticide can’t be used on cannabis. So we have had a wild West when it comes to pesticides.”

But now, for the first time, some relief for growers is on the horizon. The Environmental Protection Agency is offering a process through which pesticides could be approved for cannabis in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. By applying to register certain cannabis-related products as a “Special Local Need” as defined under section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the marijuana industry could have a comparatively swift and cheap way to obtain appropriate pest control options without running afoul of federal law. “I think it is a very positive sign,” says Mitch Yergert, director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)’s Division of Plant Industry, who received the letter from the EPA detailing the process on May 19. “It allows us to move forward in a very normal manner on pesticides for marijuana, just like any other crop. I think it is a huge step forward for the EPA, the industry and us.”

But until marijuana pesticides are thoroughly vetted and fully registered by the EPA as safe for use wherever cannabis is grown, the 24(c) process is a stopgap measure at best. It remains to be seen whether pesticide makers will be willing to wade into the marijuana industry and attempt to register any of their products for marijuana use under 24(c) – and, if they do, whether the EPA will ultimately sign off on those attempts.

Lack of direction

Since pesticides are considered a potential public health risk, manufacturers work with the EPA to gain approval for each crop use for all but the most innocuous pesticides. But so far, the EPA hasn’t created a crop category for cannabis, and since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it’s unclear whether the agency is able to do so. EPA spokesperson Catherine Milbourn declined to comment for this story, noting, “The [24(c)] letter is all we can say right now.”

Even if the EPA allowed pesticides to be registered for use on marijuana plants, it’s unlikely major pesticide companies would stomach the cost of collecting all the scientific data necessary to register their products for cannabis, considering the industry is still in legal limbo. “A registration for a pesticide for a company can cost millions and millions of dollars,” says Yergert. “I don’t think any of those companies is willing to go down that road until there is a clear federal framework as to what they should be doing.”

For years, regulators in states that had legalized medical marijuana largely avoided the pesticide issue as cannabis growers used any means necessary to care for their plants. But as recreational marijuana has rolled out in several states, state agriculture officials, who usually work closely with the EPA on pesticide issues, have begun to tackle the issue themselves. Washington State, Colorado and California have provided guidance on what sorts of pesticides can be used on cannabis. But according to Erik Johansen, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WDA)’s policy assistant for registration services, in most cases these lists “don’t cover the synthetic pesticides that most conventional growers use on wheat or apples or corn or just about any crop you can think of. If you get in an area where you have an outbreak that you have to control, these products [on the current state lists] are not necessarily the most effective products you want.”

Marijuana growers, then, have turned into gamblers: Do they use approved products that might not fully protect their crops from pests, or do they opt for stronger stuff and risk running afoul of the law? This spring in Colorado, some of those gambles proved unwise. In March and April, the City of Denver ordered 11 local cultivation operations to quarantine tens of thousands of marijuana plants that they suspected of being treated with unapproved pesticides, meaning they could continue growing but couldn’t be sold. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition, a citizens group, has begun waving signs like "No Pesticides on My Flower” in front of the companies that were part of the sting, and most of the quarantined plants remain on hold. Some of the plants, which can fetch several thousand dollars each when mature, have already been destroyed voluntarily.

Circumstances are particularly vexing for growers because two of the pesticides used that led to the quarantine – Eagle 20 and Avid – aren’t listed in Colorado’s rules on marijuana pesticides, which means there wasn’t clear indication they were prohibited. “It’s been devastating,” says Sean McAllister, a Denver marijuana business attorney who represents four of the growers affected. “People have had to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover their lost inventory. People are having to scramble to adjust because they were doing something they had no idea was unlawful.”

Toxic tokes?

Are pesticide residues on marijuana a health concern? That question led Jeffrey Raber, a chemist who runs the Werc Shop marijuana testing lab in Los Angeles County, to analyze the smoke generated from marijuana treated with pesticides. The results, published in the Journal of Toxicology in 2013, were striking: 70 percent of the pesticides applied to the plants could be exposed to the lungs when smoked in a device like a glass bowl. “That is pretty much like injecting it into your bloodstream,” says Raber. “The smoking didn’t destroy the pesticide molecules, so you could have some pretty significant amounts of exposure.”

Findings like this, plus the fact that neither Colorado nor Washington, the two states that allow recreational marijuana, have yet to launch full-scale product monitoring programs for pesticide and other contaminants, lead some folks to think it’s only a matter of time until marijuana companies start facing lawsuits over pesticide contamination.

It’s why some people think the lack of approved pesticides for the marijuana industry might be a good thing. Without these chemical crutches, maybe cannabis growers could lead the way in developing an all-natural agricultural industry. “The reality is you can absolutely grow quality cannabis with organic methods,” says Chris Van Hook, a lawyer and USDA accredited founder of the Clean Green organic cannabis certification program in California. “Many of the pests people are talking about don’t necessarily damage the flower.”

But others think an all-organic marijuana industry is an impossible ideal when you have pests like spider mites, powdery mildew and root rot that can quickly decimate a finicky, closely spaced crop like marijuana -- and these risks might be exacerbated as the industry moves toward large-scale outdoor grows and porous greenhouses where it might prove even harder to manage pests. “It’s very difficult for someone growing outdoors to manage their crops without pesticides and get the yields they want,” says Kurt Badertscher, co-owner of Otoké Horticulture, a Colorado marijuana consulting company. “Frankly, if you talk to anybody who is in high-production agriculture and say, ‘I am going to take away most of your pesticides,’ they will say, ‘I am selling my farm.’”

EPA weighs in

The need for more guidance on pest control caused the Colorado and Washington State departments of agriculture to ask the EPA in February whether FIFRA section 24(c) could be used to approve marijuana pesticides as a Special Local Need, leading to the federal agency’s response in May. Special Local Need registrations are a state-based process designed for localized pest problems or minor crops, where an addendum to a pesticide’s registered use label is more practical than the full-scale EPA registration process. According to the EPA letter, to get a marijuana pesticide approved as a Special Local Need, a manufacturer would likely have to identify a product that is federally registered for uses similar to cannabis, such as those used on food or tobacco crops that are grown under comparable circumstances. Pesticides that have potential, according to CDA’s Yergert, include the insecticides Imidacloprid and Spinosad and the fungicide Azoxystrobin.

The section 24(c) registration process could provide a way forward for states struggling to manage marijuana pesticide use without violating federal law, says WDA’s Johansen. “It gives a little more flexibility to the state, and the EPA doesn’t have to approve the registrant; they just have to say, ‘We don’t have a problem with it.’ It’s not an ideal mechanism, but it is a step forward.”

What’s more, a Special Local Need registration usually requires far less time and money than a full EPA pesticide registration. “It’s a shorter process and cheaper. We are hoping six to eight months [for a registration], if there is a company that is really interested in moving forward with this,” says Yergert.

But that's a big if. While Johansen says he’s spoken with pesticide manufacturers interested in the marijuana industry, will any of them be willing to invest in even this abbreviated product registration process? It doesn’t help that unlike other Special Local Need registrations, states and manufacturers can’t rely on the expertise of state university agricultural departments or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, thanks to marijuana’s federal illegality.

And even if pesticide manufacturers move forward with the 24(c) process, no one knows for sure whether the feds will ultimately sign off on it. “The EPA note reads something like, ‘Sure, you can try, and here is some guidance on how to build the case,’” said Badertscher of Otoké Horticulture. “There is no statement that anything will get an exception.”

It’s possible, then, that the pesticide industry could end up like the banking industry, where even with tacit approval from federal regulators, businesses have been reluctant to wade into the developing marijuana scene without further federal guidance. In the meantime, while state agriculture officials and industry stakeholders search for potential pesticide companies to partner with, growers like Koh will have to keep searching their plants for bite marks and powdery mildew, hoping to catch the pests before it’s too late.


Jul 25, 2008
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Desperate Parents Of Autistic Children Trying Cannabis Despite Lack Of Studies

Parents of severely autistic children are turning to medical marijuana for relief. After seeing the results that epileptic children experienced, these desperate parents are beginning to wonder if it will work for them too. There are very few studies linking cannabinoids as a treatment for autism, but that isn’t holding these parents back. Most figure they don’t have anything to lose.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder known for its ability to impair communication and social interaction. Some children are able to function well with various treatments, while others suffer with the inability to speak and self-harming behaviors. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5% of the children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism as of 2014, so this is a huge patient population.

They are using CBD or cannabidiol, which can be derived from marijuana and hemp plants. Marijuana has higher levels of THC than hemp, which causes the “high” effect, while CBD contains the medical properties. Hemp has more CBD than marijuana, but less of the medicinal compound within CBD to have an effect. Marijuana plants can be bred to have higher levels of CBD and then those flowers are used to create CBD oil. It can also be extracted from hemp plants, which contains a large amount of CBD, but with less strength of the medicinal cannabidiol compound, according to the Hemp Industries Association.

The stories of autistic children that are helped with CBD oil sound very familiar to the stories of the epileptic children that have responded to CBD. A Brown University teacher Marie Myung-Ok Lee , author of Somebody’s Daughter, documented her autistic son’s response to using Marinol, a synthetic cannabis which is produced by the drug company AbbVie. She switched to an edible form of cannabis and then a tea version. Her son went from self-harming behavior like banging his head to being able to ride a bike. She calls her experiment a qualified success.

Another mother, Mieko Hester-Perez founded The Unconventional Foundation for Autism when she discovered that medical marijuana helped her autistic son. The story is similar to the famous Charlotte’s Web cannabis strain, so named after the little girl named Charlotte who’s epileptic seizures were dramatically reduced after using this particular breed of cannabis. The story became famous on a ’60 Minutes’ program. This version is called Joey’s Strain and it was created by Kushman Genetics for Ms. Perez’ son Joey. The website cites a Dr. Rimland and his editorial piece, ‘Is Marijuana a Valuable Treatment For Autism.’ However, this article contains no references to any studies and is only a collection of anecdotal stories.

More recently, Kalel Santiago, a child with autism so severe he wasn’t able to speak, started speaking his first words after simply spraying hemp oil in his mouth twice daily according to Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Puerto Rico. Dr. Martinez said, “He started using the product three weeks ago. He was a full non-verbal patient. He only made sounds. The only change in his treatments was the use of CBD.” The parents pursued the treatment on their own. Dr. Martinez has also been doing his own research on CBD and shared it with the parents. “I’m very impressed with the language he has acquired,” said Dr. Martinez. Dr. Martinez noted that when Kalel couldn’t communicate, his behavior became bad as he acted out due to his frustrations, but by opening up his communication abilities his conduct has improved. “He laughs every time he hears his voice,” said Dr, Martinez.

Hemp Health is a company that imports CBD oil from outside the country and sells it through the mail. Since, it is derived form hemp and not marijuana no prescription is needed. It was their CBD spray that the Santiago’s used for Kalel. Katerina Maloney, a co-founder of HempHealth said, “We have a lot of epileptic patients calling us. Patients with cancer and pain. There are lots of different conditions.” Maloney does believe more research needs to be done, but she has numerous testimonials from customers that believe in their products. The company now has sales of $150,000 a month.

The issue is that few doctors will recommend this is as a treatment because there is little scientific research to base it on. Unlike epilepsy, where references to cannabis treatments dated as far back as 1843 when Dr. William O’Shaughnessy wrote, “In Cannabis, the medical profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value.’ There is little research on autism and cannabis. Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, John R. Knight, MD and Sion Kim Harris, PhD of Boston Children’s Hospital write, “Given the current scarcity of data, cannabis cannot be safely recommended for the treatment of developmental or behavioral disorders at this time.”

A 2013 study by Dr. Siniscalco found signs to suggest compounds found in cannabis could help to treat autism, writing, “Our data indicate CB2 receptor as potential therapeutic target for the pharmacological management of the autism care.” Another study published in 2013 and dating back to 2011 by Dr. Csaba Foldy at the Second University of Naples associated with Stanford University Medical School is often cited. In the study out of Stanford University first author Dr. Foldy wrote, “Endocannabinoids are molecules that are critical regulators of normal neuron activity and are important for many brain function. By conducting studies in mice, we found that neuroliginb-3, a protein that is mutated in some individuals with autism, is important for relaying endocannabinoid signals that tone down communication between neurons.”

Piper Jaffray analyst Josh Schimmer who covers bio-tech companies has also made the connection. He noted that some forms of autism share similar features with epilepsy. He writes, “It’s possible that some children have sub-clinical seizure activity that result in developmental disorders, and there are also extremely exciting anecdotes of autism patients who thrive after CBD therapy.”

The Autism Research Institute starting connecting the dots too. They found that children with autism that used marijuana experienced an improvement in symptoms like anxiety, aggression, panic disorder, tantrums and self-injurious behavior. Martin Lee, author of Smoke Signals and founder of Project CBD said, “There’s substantive body of pre-clinical research and some anecdotal stories. There’s also some research from GW Pharmaceuticals on psychiatric disorders. It’s not autism, but there are overlapping issues.”

GW Pharmaceutical spokesman Mark Rogerson said, “I’m afraid we have no current research going on in this area. We are aware of the interest in cannabinoid medicines and autism and our plans may change in the future. But for the time being we have a very full clinical trials programme. We are only a small company in pharmaceuticals terms and regretfully, we have to make choices among therapeutic areas.”

The lack of research isn’t holding back the grassroots efforts. There are numerous pages on Facebook that have created autism and cannabis communities. There are several websites devoted to the idea. There are doctors that are writing about the stories they have heard. The one thing lacking is multiple scientific studies. But if drug companies like GW Pharmaceuticals believes it can tap into this large patient population, the studies will get funded and patients will be happy to sign up.


Jul 25, 2008
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National Cannabis Bar Association: Weed attorneys, unite (quite literally)

If a prominent American law school has a “professorship for marijuana law and policy” sponsored by a successful law firm focusing primarily on cannabis law, why shouldn’t there be a weed-only bar association for said practicing attorneys?

It was only a matter of time, of course.

The National Cannabis Bar Association launches today with the goal of becoming “a specialty bar association dedicated to providing attorneys in the cannabis industry with educational and networking opportunities to help them better serve cannabis businesses,” according to a press release.

“As more and more states decriminalize or legalize cannabis — and set up their own regulatory structures — the legal conditions cannabis industry clients and their attorneys face are likely to get even more complex before they get simpler,” Shabnam Malek, founding president and executive director of the NCBA, said in a statement. “The NCBA will offer support and advocacy for attorneys working with businesses in this rapidly changing, swiftly emerging industry.”

The NCBA’s founding board members hail from six states including California, Colorado, Washington and New York. Josh Kappel, a partner at Colorado-based Vicente Sederberg, will host the organization’s inaugural event for members during the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Denver on June 30.

NCBA membership, starting at $150 annually for individuals, is open to practicing attorneys, paralegals, law students and retired attorneys, according to the organization.

“Attorneys have long been at the forefront of the fight for cannabis legalization,” said Malek. “Now that 23 states and Washington D.C. have some form of legalized cannabis, there is a clear need for an organization focused on the business aspects of law and cannabis.

“Today cannabis industry attorneys are already busy helping their clients form new companies, negotiate agreements, complete license applications, comply with local and state laws, protect assets and more. Our members represent clients who are involved in a wide array of activities in the cannabis industry along with various ancillary products and services. The NCBA’s role is to help ensure that attorneys in the field are empowered to do their jobs well.”

Founding board members of the NCBA include:

Shabnam Malek – president and executive director, NCBA
partner, Brand & Branch LLP, California

Lara Leslie DeCaro – secretary, NCBA
partner, Leland, Parchini, Steinberg, Matzger & Melnick, LLP, California

Amanda Conley – treasurer, NCBA
partner, Brand & Branch LLP, California

Leland Berger
solo practitioner, Oregon

Josh Kappel
partner, Vicente Sederberg LLC, Colorado

David Kochman
solo practitioner, New York

Robert Raich
solo practitioner, California

Jonathan Robbins
partner, Akerman, LLP, Florida

Mary Shapiro
Mary L. Shapiro Law, PC, California

Mitzi Vaughn
managing attorney, Greenbridge, Washington


Feed the soil, not the plant
Oct 1, 2008
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Bill is always good for a laugh.
Everybody knows he was hitting it like it was his job, when he did not inhale. :rofl: