Mj news for 06/12/2015


Jul 25, 2008
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(Michigan) Marijuana legalization could be on 2016 ballot

LANSING – Two measures to legalize marijuana could appear on the November 2016 state ballot after the Board of State Canvassers approved petition wording Thursday.

At least one and possibly two more measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use could still be on their way to the ballot.

The board on Thursday unanimously approved petition wordings for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition and the Cannabis Law Reform Committee, though board members expressed concern that the petition wording for the Cannabis Law Reform Committee — though apparently meeting legal requirements — was too small and narrowly spaced to make it easily legible for members of the public.

Each group must now collect close to 253,000 signatures to send legislation to legalize marijuana before the Legislature. If not approved by lawmakers, the proposed laws would then go before the public in November of 2016.

Matt Marsden, a former Senate Republican staffer who is the spokesman for the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, said his group's proposal would provide for the licensing of cannabis growers and retailers and provide tax revenues for the state. Legalizing marijuana could also significantly reduce the Michigan prison budget because the state would no longer lock up marijuana violators, he said.

Attorney Jeffrey Hank, chairman of the Cannabis Law Reform Committee, rejected suggestions his group's petition was too hard to read.

"I think it's perfectly readable and the wording is publicly available and has been for some time," Hank said.

Hank said unlike Marsden's group, his group would not leave ongoing control in the hands of a Legislature, which he said has failed to adequately manage an earlier state law that made medical marijuana legal for those who need it.

Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state, Colorado and Washington, D.C., and is expected to become legal in Oregon this summer.


Jul 25, 2008
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SANTA ANA, CA -- Surveillance video shows a raid conducted by Santa Ana police officers at an unlicensed marijuana dispensary last month.

The edited video shows officers telling everyone to get on the ground. It also shows officers removing surveillance equipment, but the lawyer for the dispensary says hidden cameras caught much more, including officers eating marijuana edibles and joking about kicking an amputee.

"Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?" one officer says.

"I was about to kick her in her ****ing nub," a female officer replies.

Marla James volunteers at the Sky High Collective. She's legally blind and says several medical issues keep her confined to a wheelchair.

"How can I respect someone like that? It just makes your stomach turn -- maybe she doesn't know what it's like to have an amputation. I don't know what was going through her head, but man that was so disrespectful," James said.

She now plans to sue the city for the actions of the female officer in the video.

"Obviously, we're concerned about what we saw in this edited video. Anytime we get an allegation or indication that our officers might be engaged in misconduct, we want to make sure we conduct a thorough administrative investigation," said Santa Ana police Cmdr. Chris Revere.

James lawyer, Matthew Pappas, says he plans to include other alleged misconduct from the video in his lawsuit. He's unhappy with the force officers used. He also alleges the video shows officers playing darts and eating what he believes is marijuana edibles from the store.

"He's eating it right there in the marijuana collective. If you're a police officer, you probably shouldn't be eating things from a marijuana collective," Pappas said.

The Santa Ana Police Department says every allegation will be thoroughly investigated.

"We expect our officers to hold themselves to a certain standard and represent the department and the profession well," Revere said. "If that wasn't done in this case, it's certainly something that, as part of the administrative investigation, the chief will make the appropriate disciplinary recommendation if it's warranted.

As for James, she says all of the officers involved in the raid need to be disciplined in one way or another.

"I think there's some sensitivity training that needs to be done here," she said.


Jul 25, 2008
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Glowing report on pot legalization in Ohio criticized as biased, incomplete

An Ohio marijuana-legalization analysis released on Thursday offered glowing numbers about potential job creation, but it was ripped by critics who said it failed to provide a balanced view of the ballot issue voters will likely see this fall.

One problem was immediately clear: the “Marijuana & Ohio, Past Present and Potential” report unveiled by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters was funded entirely by ResponsibleOhio, the group promoting the marijuana-legalization amendment.

Deters, a Republican former state treasurer from 1999 to 2004, said the marijuana-advocacy group did not have editorial control over the report. He also brushed off concerns about his ties to Chris Stock, an attorney and prime architect of the marijuana proposal, who works at the same law Cincinnati firm as Deters.

Deters said the report by the task force he established last month shows legalization would create nearly 35,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and generate annual economic output of $7 billion. He said it would help balance the scales that penalize people — many of them minorities — for possession of small quantities of marijuana, provide medicinal help for those with certain health conditions, and channel much-needed tax money to local government.

“Legalization is coming to Ohio. We need to accept the reality is going to happen,” Deters said during a news conference at the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law where the report was released.

“Why in the world, knowing this is coming, would we let the bad guys make all the money?”

The report immediately came under fire from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, who charged that the task force was “hand-picked to come to a particular conclusion.”

Yost said the report downplays significant concerns about legalization, including that a driver under the influence of marijuana is twice as likely to be in an accident. He said it highlights positive impacts of legalization, but not offsets caused by accidents, health problems, and lost work productivity.

“This is like balancing your checkbook by only putting in the deposits and not putting any of your checks you write,” Yost said.

The 187-page task force report did not take a position on the ResponsibleOhio proposal, but it views legalization as generally positive.

“Research suggests that legalization has not led to drastic increases in crime, adult or teen use, workplace injuries, or negatively impacted of aspects of public safety” the study said.

In another section, the report downplays concerns about impaired driving by marijuana users, saying, “evidence indicates that the risks associated with driving under its influence are dramatically less than those that accompany driving under the influence of alcohol.”

Using the IMPLAN economic forecasting model pioneered 30 years by the U.S. Forest Service, the task force projected nearly 35,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created, the majority in the 1,000 retail marijuana sales locations ResponsibleOhio would permit. Other jobs would be generated in cultivation (5,853), refinement and edibles production (3,393), and medical dispensaries (981).

The economic analysis also included specific projections on 10 growing sites, three of which are in central Ohio. Delaware County (Delaware) would gain 1,400 jobs in construction and sales, with economic impact of $137 million and wages of about $21 million. Franklin County (Grove City) would see about 550 jobs, an economic impact of $144 million, and wages of $25 million. Licking County’s (Pataskala) projection was 500 jobs, $136 million economic impact, and $18.8 million in wages.

ResponsibleOhio has collected nearly double the required 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters needed to qualify for the ballot, although their validity must be verified. The issue would permit 10 investment partnerships that contribute to the campaign to operate marijuana growing farms around the state. Sales of marijuana would be taxed at all wholesale and retail levels, with proceeds going primarily to local government. There is a provision for operation of dispensaries for medical marijuana for qualifying individuals.

Other critics voiced concerns about the task force’s work.

“It lacked transparency through the process, community and expert input, and reads like a document filled with campaign propaganda that this monopoly hopes will dupe Ohio’s citizens into voting for the worst public policy to ever come before the Ohio voters,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Drug Free Action Alliance. “There was nothing fair and balanced about it.”< /p>

Not all marijuana legalization supporters are behind the ResponsibleOhio plan. Sri Kavuru, president of a competing group, Ohioans to End Prohibition, said he finds it “offensive that the people of Ohio are being asked to vote for an amendment to the Constitution that gives the exclusive right to 10 investment groups to grow and manufacture marijuana for sale. It is simply un-American for corporations to manipulate our state's foundational document in this way.”

The full report is available online at www.mpotf.org


Jul 25, 2008
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Senate Committee Approves Protections For State Medical Marijuana Programs

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a provision Thursday that would protect medical marijuana operations from federal crackdown in states where the substance is legal.

The committee passed the measure, by a vote of 22-8, as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. The amendment blocks the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using appropriated funds to interfere with medical marijuana programs in the states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes.

The amendment was offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and is a companion to an identical amendment introduced in the House last week from Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), which passed the chamber overwhelmingly.

The same measure passed through both houses of Congress last year and ultimately made it into the federal spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in December. Unless Congress renews the medical marijuana provision, however, it will expire later this year since it was part of an annual funding bill.

To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 15 others have legalized the limited use of purified marijuana oils for medical purposes. (In addition, four states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.) Still, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as one of the "most dangerous" drugs, alongside heroin and LSD, with no allowance for medical use.

The states that have legalized marijuana in any capacity have only been able to do so because of federal guidance urging prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. However, under the Obama administration, the DEA and several U.S. attorneys have raided many marijuana dispensaries and sent people to prison, even though the operations were in compliance with state laws. According to a 2013 report released by the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, the administration has spent nearly $80 million each year cracking down on medical marijuana, which amounts to more than $200,000 per day.

The committee's passage of the provision follows its approval of a historic measure in May to allow Department of Veteran Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients. Currently, VA doctors are banned from doing so.

The medical marijuana amendment still has a long road ahead before it becomes law. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto multiple spending bills, including the Commerce, Justice and Science bill, primarily because his administration believes the bills underfund various programs. If the bills are vetoed, however, the medical marijuana protections are still likely to make it into a larger federal spending package later this year, since the measure appears in both the House and Senate versions of the CJS bill.

“This is another resounding victory for medical marijuana patients, their families and their care providers," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the DEA have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws."

The American public overwhelmingly supports the use of medical marijuana: Last year, a CBS News poll found 86 percent of Americans believe doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to their patients. A majority of Americans also believe the federal government should not interfere with states that allow marijuana use.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Australia) Record donation of $30 million for (MMJ ) research at University of Sydney

Sydney University scientists will be given more than $30 million to research the medical applications of cannabis, the largest research donation in the university's history.

The $33.7 million donation, from Barry and Joy Lambert, is among the largest research donations to any university in Australian history.

The Lambert Initiative will bring together three of the university's leading researchers who argue cannabis is the next frontier for medical discovery and a potential treatment for obesity, schizophrenia and drug addiction.

"This is something that is going to reverberate around the world," Premier Mike Baird said. "We are now leading this country and, in many respects, the world".

Mr Lambert – a BRW rich-lister who made his fortune in financial planning - said the family was inspired to make the donation after his granddaughter Katelyn found relief from epileptic seizures through cannabis-based medicine.

"When you get to the end of the road you try desperate measures," his wife Joy said. "I never imagined she would be able to go to preschool".

Psychopharmacology Professor Iain McGregor said the centre's research will focus on 10 key "cannabinoid" compounds found in marijuana and their potential use to treat a range of illnesses, including childhood epilepsy.

"Only one [THC] is psychoactive," Professor McGregor said. "This gift will allow us to explore one of the most exciting questions in modern medicine.

"The new science of cannabinoids has incredible potential for relief of human suffering … and to repair damaged bodies and brains".

Pre-clinical research in Sydney has found one of marijuana's compounds improves memory in mice with Alzheimers-like symptoms.

Researchers say only about 10 of its roughly 100 compounds are sufficiently well known for trials to be feasible. The scientific potential of the others remains unexplored.

Professor McGregor said the centre could grow its own cannabis for the research, under licence from the state's chief pharmacist and will also seek to synthesise cannabis compounds in a lab.
Some parents use a cannabis tincture to treat children with epilepsy. It often contains a very low level of the drug's psychoactive component but must still be obtained illegally.

Intractable childhood epilepsy is one of three conditions for which the use of medical cannabis will be trialled by the NSW government. Trials are expected to begin next year and, if successful, could be a prelude to the drug's eventual decriminalisation for medical use.

Researchers will also study the drug's use for end-of-life pain and chemotherapy-related nausea.

Medical marijuana advocates have welcomed the trial but also said Premier Mike Baird is moving too slowly, while sufferers are forced to seek out black-market marijuana for relief.

But the Premier said yesterday the state government was moving as quickly as it could to extend relief to sufferers and hinted at further announcements.

"We have more announcements upcoming in relation to the trials," he said. "We've been buoyed by the response".

It remains to be seen how the trial will be supplied but the Premier has said he is open to all options, including having the government grow its own supply.

The state government created in December a register for terminally-ill users of medical marijuana. Police have the discretion to not charge them for possessing small amounts of the drug.

But six months after it was announced fewer than 50 sufferers had registered, prompting criticism the scheme had been poorly advertised.


Jul 25, 2008
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Canada's Supreme Court Outrages Bureaucrat by Letting Patients Have Their Cannabis and Eat It Too

Last year legislators in Minnesota and New York approved medical marijuana laws that will let patients eat cannabis but not smoke it. Across the border in Canada, meanwhile, the government has decreed that patients may smoke cannabis but not eat it. Sounds pretty arbitary, doesn't it? The Supreme Court of Canada agrees. Yesterday it unanimously overturned federal regulations that say dried buds are the only form of cannabis patients can legally use.

"We conclude that the prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marihuana limits liberty and security of the person in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice," the court's decision says. "It limits the liberty of medical users by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution....By forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one, the law also infringes security of the person."

The case involved Owen Smith, a baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club who was arrested in 2009 after police caught him with marijuana cookies, extracts, massage oils, and lip balms intended for patients. "I'm proud and really happy today for all those people who are going to benefit from this ruling," Smith said at a press conference. As the Canadian Press reports, those people include patients with severe epilepsy who can benefit from low-THC, high-CBD cannabis extracts that will no longer be treated as contraband:

The outpouring of gratitude since the ruling was handed down has been overwhelming, said Smith. He received a phone call from a mother who used cannabis-infused oil to treat her daughter's epilepsy.

"She was just overjoyed and in tears about the decision," he said. "It's been emotional, that's for sure."...

Cheryl Rose, whose daughter Hayley takes cannabis for a severe form of epilepsy, said the 22-year-old's seizures have dropped dramatically.

Under the previous law, Hayley had to take 15 capsules of dried cannabis daily. Now, she will only have to take one concentrated capsule made with oil.

"Without having extracts available for her, I don’t think we'd be able to keep it up. It's way too much for a person to consume," she said. "She's finally going to fully have her life back."

Alex Repetski, of Thornhill, Ont., could have been charged with possession and trafficking for converting dried bud into oil for his three-year-old daughter, Gwenevere, whose debilitating epilepsy has left her developmentally delayed.

Since starting on the low-THC marijuana, Gwenevere has seen an incredible recovery, Repetski said. He no longer fears prosecution.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose sounds decidedly less pleased. "Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," she said. "Let's remember, there's only one authority in Canada that has the authority and the expertise to make a drug into a medicine, and that's Health Canada."


Jul 25, 2008
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(Minnesota) Key state official to become CEO of medical cannabis company

A Minnesota health official instrumental in getting the state's medical marijuana program off the ground is leaving to become chief executive of one of the two marijuana producers in the state.

Manny Munson-Regala, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health and overseer of the state Office of Medical Cannabis, is switching roles in the business, from regulator to regulated, as he moves to Cottage Grove-based LeafLine Labs.

"He was not actively seeking this position and our recruitment of him did not start until June 3, 2015 — just eight short days ago," said Dr. Andrew Bachman, an emergency medicing physician and LeafLine co-founder, in a company statement.

Munson-Regala said his new job "gives me the chance of ensuring Minnesota's medical cannabis industry is developed the right way, grounded in science and compassion."

The company wouldn't disclose his salary.

Minnesota Department of Health spokesperson Michael Schommer said the agency was notified Wednesday. "Munson-Regala was immediately recused from his responsibilities related to the medical cannabis program," Schommer said in an email. "From what we've been able to determine, no policy or operational decisions were made in the last week. Rollout of the state's medical cannabis program will continue as scheduled."

The Office of Medical Cannabis was responsible for day-to-day operation of the program but its director was beneath Munson-Regala in the agency's hierarchy.

Schommer's email noted that Michelle Larson, the director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, will continue to provide day-to-day management of the office and the program, as she has since her hire last year. The long-term succession for the assistant commissioner position will be determined in the weeks ahead.

Approved patients are just a few weeks away from being able to buy cannabis from LeafLine and another approved manufacturer.

Move raises eyebrows

Munson-Regala has worked in the private sector before, including stints with UnitedHealth and Ceridian. He has been with the Health Department for nearly three years, and also helped establish the state's health insurance exchange. He has worked for the state's Department of Commerce and served as senior counsel for the St. Paul Companies and as a UnitedHealth executive.

"This is my sixth start-up," he said. "Four in the private sector, two in the public sector. I like the pace and energy of creating something from scratch. But its also really important to be the one in charge."

While he's moved between the private and public sectors before, Munson-Regala's latest move involves one of the most controversial recent state initiatives, and his exit is raising questions about the propriety of his newest job.

"He's now an executive and, I would assume, a highly paid one at that, working for a corporation that's going to be one of the few providers in the state of Minnesota," said state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who opposed the medical marijuana legalization measure passed by the Legislature last year.

"It seems all too convenient."

Critics are comparing Munson-Regala's move to that of state Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, who was recently hired by an Iron Range local government board. Tomassoni later turned down the new job after complaints about potential conflicts of interest.

Critics have also compared the move to the recent promotion and pay raise given to the chair of the Metropolitan Council. Adam Duininck, who holds the job now, is married to Gov. Mark Dayton's chief of staff.

State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said Munson-Regala's new job should give the public pause.

"I think they question whether their government is representing their interests or not," Marty said. "And, no offense to Mr. Munson-Regala, but this is clearly the type of situation that bothers people, and should bother people."

Marty said he plans to again introduce legislation aimed at former government officials moving to the private sector who then lobby on behalf of their new employer.

"I fully get the concept of conflict of interest," Munson-Regala said.

LeafLine, he added, only approached him last week about taking the job. He accepted the job two days ago, he said, and didn't take part in any state action over medical cannabis once he'd been approached by LeafLine.

Munson-Regala also said he played no direct role in selecting LeafLine as a one of the state's two cannabis providers last fall, and hasn't had a direct role in regulating the medical cannabis industry since then. The Health Department says he's been relieved of his responsibilities related to the medical cannabis program until he formally leaves the department next Thursday. He'll join LeafLine in early July.


Jul 25, 2008
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(Australia) International Goldfields signal move into medicinal cannabis market

Perth-based metal explorer company International Goldfields will head to market within weeks to raise money for its foray into medicinal cannabis in South America.

The company is acquiring an 85 per cent stake in Uruguayan pharmaceutical company Wintergarden, giving it access to laboratories and cannabis plantations there.

It might be unchartered territory for a company more familiar with golden nuggets, but director David Tasker said it was a necessary step with markets unwilling to fund exploration.

"It's diversifying out of something that the capital markets aren't supporting," he said.

"We have mining assets that we like but we just couldn't get support for them, so ultimately what we're looking to do is invest in something that the capital markets will support."

The company has already managed to raise money for the project and Mr Tasker expects to receive more support, aiming to raise up to $5 million in the next two months.

"We have raised some money here in Australia to support the investment into Wintergarden, and we are seeing a lot of interest out of the Australian market," he said.

"But additionally, and more importantly to our shareholders, we're seeing a lot of support and interest in the investment globally as well.

"Although as an ASX-listed company, a lot of the support will come from the global capital markets."

Mr Tasker said his company had an advantage because it was investing in Uruguay, the only country in the world to legalise the entire production process of cannabis, from cultivation to exporting.

He said investing in the pharmaceutical company also made sure it was producing the best medicinal product it could to export into the US and Europe.

"What Wintergarden is looking to do through its lab work is to create proprietary products that can then either be licensed, on-sold or collaborated with big pharmaceutical or agricultural companies," he said.

"Wintergarden is currently establishing its plantation facility on land it loans or is currently leasing and plans to be in production within the month."

Medical pot boom taking US by storm

In the United States, 23 states have legalised the drug to treat health conditions.

Annual sales in the US have grown to $2.6 billion with predictions of it trebling within five years.

Some have estimated sales in the US alone could eventually reach $37 billion, if the drug was to be fully legalised.

International Goldfields is not the only junior Australian explorer to see the potential in the medicinal marijuana market, with Erin Resources and Capital Mining also taking a punt.

Patersons Securities head of research Rob Brierley expects more to follow suit, with more than 800 juniors currently on the ASX all competing for the same small pool of funding.

"There's far too many small mining companies around, they're trying to reinvent themselves and what better way than in a new risk capital market such as biotechnology," he said.

"They all morphed into exploration during the glory times and there's just not enough capital around at the moment so they need to transform.

"It is a case of survival, competition for capital is quite extreme."

Funding boost for cannabis research in Australia

Legalising medicinal cannabis has been met with resistance in Australia, but New South Wales is set to become the first state to start clinical trials next year.

The WA government has backed the move but will not declare support until the results are in.

Sydney University researchers studying medicinal cannabinoids today received a $34 million donation from businessman Barry Lambert.

Mr Lambert said he decided to make the donation after seeing his three-year-old granddaughter, who has epilepsy, benefit from the drug.

"She's been having medical cannabis for six or seven months now and it appears to be working wonders for her," he said.

"This condition is a debilitating one so it usually gets worse before it gets better, but in the last seven months she's never been so good.

"The only problem of course is we don't know exactly what it is, what the impacts might be in the long term etcetera, and that's why the research needs to be done.

"The funding will enable them to do things that hasn't happened around the world in part because of the stigma of marijuana."

The record-breaking donation will allow researchers to test the drug's affects on a range of conditions including epilepsy, cancer, dementia and chronic pain.

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