MJ News for 06/16/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/world...ca7b3c-f53c-11e3-a08c-5779506f3051_story.html




Albanian police storm lawless marijuana village


TIRANA, Albania — Hundreds of police, backed by armored vehicles, stormed a lawless village in southern Albania Monday after suspected marijuana growers allegedly fired rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns at officers during a drug raid.

Police said no one was hurt in the hostilities in and around Lazarat, a major marijuana-producing center about 230 kilometers (140 miles) south of the capital, Tirana.

A police spokeswoman said officers managed to take control of the village of 5,000 people after exchanging fire with a nearly 30 armed men hiding in a four-story building complex. Laura Totraku said the gunmen fled Lazarat and were heading for a nearby mountain, pursued by police.

But more than three hours later, sporadic gunfire was still heard in the village. Authorities advised residents to stay at home, while scores of police in body armor guarded the entrances to Lazarat.

Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri urged the gunmen to disarm and surrender.

Gangs based in Lazarat are believed to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis a year, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) — roughly half of the small Balkan country’s GDP.

Around 500 lightly armed police, including special forces officers and the country’s police chief, surrounded the village overnight after a smaller force was repelled over the weekend by small-arms fire that injured one villager.

Albania’s private A1 channel said its TV crew covering the Lazarat operation was robbed at gunpoint by masked men who also burnt their vehicle.

Over the past few weeks, Albanian authorities have launched a nationwide operation to uproot cannabis plantations.

Marijuana-growing gangs in the village have long seen themselves as beyond the reach of the law. In 2004, shots from the village forced an Italian drug-spotting helicopter to make a hasty retreat.
 

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http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/medical_marijuana_cuomos_concerns.html





Cuomo, state troopers, have serious concerns about medical marijuana


SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Good Monday morning. It's going to be warmer today and rainier tonight, just in time to cozy up with Team USA at 6 p.m.

Talks about medical marijuana continued through the weekend, but by Sunday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still had major concerns with the legislation, the New York Daily News reported. The governor wants to bar smoking and sharing the prescribed marijuana. He also wants to make it a felony for people who fraudulently seek or prescribe the drug, the Daily News reported. And he wants to cut down on the 20 conditions listed in the current version of the bill that would qualify for marijuana use.

The union representing New York State Police also weighed in. It says allowing marijuana for medical purposes will make it harder for law enforcement to go after those people using pot for recreation.

Cuomo raised money in a real estate firm's luxury box during the NHL championship last week while watching the New York Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

Here's my run-down from the end of last week on five issues to watch as the legislative session draws to a close.

Hear from one lawmaker on one of those issues: an omnibus bill meant to improve laws and working conditions for women. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, is urging her Democratic colleague in the Assembly to approve some of the Women's Equality Act instead of holding the entire legislation up for a change to the state's abortion laws.

With primaries looming for some lawmakers and even Cuomo himself, will lawmaking really end in June?

Zephyr Teachout plans to announce formally today her attempt to primary Cuomo on the Democratic Party line.

Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, could face a challenge from Syracuse Councilor-at-Large Jean Kessner. "I'm prepared," Valesky said Friday. So are we, his fellow breakaway Democrats say.

Cuomo's campaign says the new assessment on his partner Sandra Lee's home was politically motivated.

Republican Rob Astorino, who is challenging Cuomo, plans to make the property assessment imbroglio at Lily Pond the cornerstone of his "first major policy platform." Astorino will say more about it at 10 a.m. this morning in Manhattan.

State Republicans are launching their first television ad attacking Cuomo, focusing on the governor's proclaimed economic turnaround.

Adoptees are again fighting for access to their own birth certificates.

Another last-minute effort by one lawmaker would make undocumented immigrants in New York state citizens.

A classic Upstate/Downstate fight over distribution is playing out in the state's Family Court system.

See how the Common Core teaching standards feel to one 9-year-old. One of the fastest counters in his class sunk to the bottom rankings.

Statewide, 82 percent of voters say the new curriculum was rushed; 58 percent want to take a "time-out" on testing.

City & State takes a look at the money lawmakers get to pay for expenses for each day they travel on government business.

How does the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center stack up? Three out of five stars for efficiency, an inspector general's report finds.

The cost of healthcare: A new pill that can cure Hepatitis C costs $1,000 a day.

If the Buffalo Bills leave, which Western New York politicians might crumble in their wake?
 

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http://articles.philly.com/2014-06-15/news/50600593_1_marijuana-laws-philly-norml-chris-goldstein




Marijuana activist shocked by his own arrest


Chris Goldstein sees momentum in the battle to legalize marijuana.

As a paid blogger with NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and an activist who later worked on New Jersey's medical-marijuana law and Philadelphia's decriminalization bill, he has been caught up in a swirl of hearings, media conferences, and street theater for more than a decade.

Goldstein, a 38-year-old Willingboro resident, says the groundwork has been laid. But for him, the effort came with an unanticipated setback.

Colorado and Washington opened the door to full legalization this year, and 22 states allow the sale of medical cannabis. Even the federal government, which still classifies marijuana as illegal, has softened its stance. The attorney general has said resources won't be spent on enforcing marijuana laws in states where there is a conflict, and President Obama said in recent interviews that he doesn't consider marijuana worse than alcohol or cigarettes.

That's why Goldstein was stunned when he was prosecuted for smoking, you guessed it, a marijuana cigarette, during a monthly public protest staged in the shadow of the Liberty Bell last August. He is appealing, and his court brief is due by the end of June.

"They really came down hard," Goldstein said in an interview. In March, a federal magistrate had fined him $3,000, sentenced him to two years of supervised probation, and ordered him to stay 100 feet from the Independence National Historic Park when "Smoke Down Prohibition" protests are held.

They had been held monthly for most of last year. Goldstein, the cochair of Philly NORML, was an organizer for many of the monthly protests that were held most of last year, which each included a moment when the group smoked marijuana en masse.

William Buckman, a prominent civil rights attorney in Moorestown, is taking on Goldstein's appeal, which he will base partly on a free-speech argument.

"The supreme irony of Chris' case is it took place at the very epicenter where America celebrates First Amendment freedoms," Buckman said. "Yet in other states and in other locales he would not have been prosecuted at all. And, it also came at a time when Barack Obama and his own attorney general were saying we have to look more realistically at the drug policy in this country."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Goldberg, who has overseen cases involving protesters in Philadelphia for the last 20 years, said that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has also instructed law enforcement to continue to detain people for possessing marijuana on federal land and parks and to prosecute them.

"The parks are filled with children on school trips, and parents bring their kids to see the Liberty Bell," Goldberg said in an interview. He said the visitors have the right to go to these parks without seeing people smoking marijuana and breaking the law.

"The parks are different from other public areas, and there are different rules," Goldberg said. ". . . They're to be maintained for the use of a large number of people and have grass and trees and historic artifacts that they can visit in a peaceful environment."

In his sentencing memorandum, he had urged the magistrate to issue a "substantial penalty" against Goldstein and his codefendant Donald DeZarn, 48, of East Windsor, because the two "have made clear their contempt for the law" by smoking a joint at the park on two different occasions and for encouraging others to do so during the protest. Both were fined $175 for their first offense but were required to go to trial the second time.

"There is no reason that the public which pays for police protection, and who rely on police and the Courts for services and the fair administration of justice, must suffer this lawlessness and the waste of government resources. . . . While the law can be changed, it cannot be flouted without consequence," the memo said.

The magistrate found the two codefendants guilty after a short trial. Goldstein said that under terms of his probation he cannot leave New Jersey without permission and that this has hampered his marijuana advocacy work.

He said he had to get approval from the judge before he could attend last week's marijuana decriminalization hearing in Philadelphia and then a legislative hearing on a medical-marijuana bill he is advocating for in Harrisburg.

Currently employed by a trucking company that makes local deliveries, he is also an online eBay seller and does marijuana reform work on the side. He also is a columnist who contributes to Philly.com, which is owned by IGM, which also owns the The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

Goldstein said his interest in marijuana reform began when he was a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and he noticed that minorities were being arrested disproportionately for simple possession and incarcerated. "I watched the prohibition and all the black people who were getting arrested," he said.

Goldstein said this was another reason he was shocked when a park ranger and Philadelphia patrolman detained him for smoking a joint during the August demonstration, which was attended by about 150 protesters. "I'm white, and white people don't get arrested for weed," he said. He says he was targeted because he is an organizer.

Though more states are considering allowing medical-marijuana sales, and a few others are weighing full legalization, Goldstein says there is still much more work to be done at the federal level.

"Prohibition doesn't end at the state level," he said. "Until the day comes when we change federal law, marijuana will still be a civil rights problem in America."
 

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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/cri...y-hides-marijuana-belly-fat-article-1.1830944




Florida man known as ‘Fat Boy’ hides marijuana in belly fat


Deputies found marijuana nestled in the stomach chub of a 450-pound Florida man known as “Fat Boy.”

The drug-running suspect and his driver were pulled over near Osteen on Friday for not wearing a seat belt.

The big passenger, Christopher Mitchell, 42, told the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputy he was too fat to wear a seatbelt, arrest records show.

Mitchell goes by “Biggie” as well, according to the Florida Department of Corrections’ website.

But the two men appeared nervous and the deputy called in a drug-sniffing dog that immediately picked up on cocaine in the front seat and traces of marijuana.

The deputies searched Mitchell and fount 23 grams of marijuana hidden under his fat.

Police also found a handgun in the middle console and $7,000 in cash stuffed in a tube sock.

The suspects tried to hide the smell of drugs with carpet freshener and scented dryer sheets, but that didn’t work.

The driver, Keithian Roberts, 38, was arrested for possession of cocaine and Mitchell was arrested for possession of marijuana and for not wearing a seat belt.

Mitchell was convicted in 2002 for conspiracy to traffic cocaine, but records show he has gained about 200 pounds since then.
 

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http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2014/06/washington_medical_marijuana_g.html




Washington medical marijuana grower opens farm to tours


BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. -- Tom Lauerman grows vegetables – sugar snap peas, corn, potatoes, salad mix -- on his five-acre farm in Brush Prairie, Wash., that supplies a handful of families with fresh produce through the summer and into the fall.

But vegetables don’t pay the bills. So Lauerman, a 54-year-old surfer who’s smoked cannabis since he was 12, decided to turn his small marijuana grow into a commercial one.

As part of that effort, Lauerman, known by friends as Farmer Tom, has gotten savvy about self-promotion, posting pictures of his freshly planted cannabis on Instagram, designing trading cards for some of his strains and uploading videos about his operation to his Facebook page.

Now Lauerman is opening up his medical marijuana farm, which he calls Garden of the Green Sun, to visitors, hoping Washington’s nascent cannabis tourism industry is a boon to growers.

Lauerman paired with Kush Tourism, a Seattle based marijuana-centric travel company, to organize and promote the tours of his farm, which cost $75 a person and include a walk through two greenhouses, a tour of the vegetable farm and a talk by Lauerman about organic farming practices.

“One of the goals of the tour is to bring people behind the scenes and let people talk to these folks,” said Michael Gordon, the 26-year-old entrepreneur behind Kush Tourism. “Any negative stigma is going to disappear. People are going to realize these are normal, hardworking people.”

The company also offers tours of glass blowing studios where artists make marijuana pipes and companies making marijuana extracts, a concentrated form of the drug. Gordon said he hopes Lauerman’s proximity to Portland proves a draw for Oregon visitors.

For now, Washington state’s tourism industry is taking a cautious approach to the potential for marijuana-related tourism.

The issue of where the shops can locate remains controversial. For instance, Washington has set aside six retail marijuana business licenses for Vancouver, but the shops are not permitted in unincorporated Clark County.

“From a tourism perspective, this means there are parts of our regional destination where pot is effectively banned and does not present a draw to visitors,” said Jacob Schmidt, a spokesman for Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office in an emailed response to questions from The Oregonian about the agency’s position promoting marijuana-related tourism.

Once the state issues licenses to recreational shops in Vancouver, Schmidt said his organization would “able to better assess the impact this could have on tourism.”

“This is a situation that is largely just starting to develop in the tourism industry, and we don’t have access at this time to any concrete date or measurable benchmarks as to the viability of pot tourism,” he said. “Until we can better assess the effects, we’ll be proceeding cautiously and keeping a close eye on it as it develops.”

Though he hopes someday to grow for Washington’s recreational marijuana market, Lauerman’s focus is medical cannabis. He grows for about 16 Washington medical marijuana patients and has a farm share-style agreement with each, offering a pound of cannabis for a $1,600 “donation.”

About eight people, a mix of Lauerman’s friends and media representatives, went on the first tour Saturday. He spoke with equal pride about his tasty sugar snap peas and his Chemdawg, a popular strain of marijuana.

In his greenhouses, plants are marked with signs that include the strain and a photo of Lauerman, who has a distinctive Santa-like beard.

“We’re just regular farmers,” said the genial Lauerman.

(Most farm tours, however, don’t begin with an offer of a complimentary joint.)

“I play in the dirt,” said Lauerman, who plans to offer weekly tours of his farm through September.

“I pride myself in (growing) the best tasting food around – and cannabis.”
 

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http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/...cle_8d836b6f-e090-522e-abf5-a4f81495a83d.html




Illinois investors jump into marijuana business


SPRINGFIELD — In a sign Illinois' new medical marijuana law could be a gold mine for investors, a politically connected Glenview attorney is hoarding pot-related company names in hopes of cashing in if the business takes off.

Sam Borek, a former college roommate of the lawmaker who sponsored the state's new law, says he reserved the company names to either sell them to others, or to start his own companies.

Included in his list of at least three dozen potential corporations and limited liability companies are Illinois Medical Marijuana Sales Inc., Illinois Cannabis Realty Inc. and Cannabis Medical Centers of Illinois Inc.

Just as political insiders cashed in when Illinois legalized casino gambling in 1990, Borek's maneuvers offer a behind-the-scenes look at the jockeying underway to grab a piece of the newly legalized medical pot business.

Take David Rosen of Chicago, for example. He helped get Gov. Pat Quinn elected in 2010, serving as the Democrat's chief fundraiser. Rosen's also raised campaign cash for Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.

In April, Rosen filed paperwork to open a medical marijuana establishment in Nevada. In a sign he wants to be a player here too, the company name — Waveseer — also has been registered in Illinois.

Rosen did not return multiple telephone messages left at his Chicago office. But Nevada records show a number of Illinoisans who've invested money in Waveseer's venture in Nevada venture, including:

• River Forest attorney Kevin Conway, who has contributed more than $7,300 to Quinn in the past year;

• Marcia Rayman of Big Rock, who gave Quinn $5,000 in September. Her husband, businessman Steven Rayman, has given Quinn $40,000 over the past five years;

• A trust controlled by retired businessman Howard Gottlieb of Evanston, who gave Quinn $40,000 during the 2010 election cycle; and

• Francesca Cooper, the wife of wealthy Edwardsville attorney Jeff Cooper, who helped bankroll a cancer treatment center at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

Although the actual implementation of Illinois' new medical marijuana law is still months away, various companies are in talks with communities to try and win the right to grow and dispense the drug.

Under the rules being written to regulate medical marijuana, companies applying to grow and sell it must meet a lengthy list of guidelines, including showing they have the capital to support one of the enterprises.

The applications will then be scored, with the highest score being awarded a franchise. There will be 22 marijuana growing centers and 60 pot dispensaries in the state.

In McLean County, an unnamed company approached LeRoy officials last month about starting a growing facility in the town. Similar entreaties have been made in Tazewell, St. Clair, Warren and Jersey counties.

Some firms have hired lobbyists to help them move forward in becoming one of the limited number of growing facilities and dispensaries. Jack Lavin, who was Quinn's chief of staff, is lobbying on behalf of a medical marijuana business owned by Effingham attorney Matt Hortenstine and Springfield lobbyist Christopher Stone.

Salveo Health & Wellness, a company pursuing a growing operation in Warren County, has enlisted Mark Boozell, former Gov. Jim Edgar's chief of staff, as its lobbyist.

Borek has political connections, too. In 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported he was a college roommate of state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who sponsored the landmark medical marijuana legislation. Records show Borek has given Lang's campaign fund $15,000 over the past 20 years.

Each of the company names he's registered typically contains some reference to the drug that eventually will be made available to Illinoisans who have certain medical conditions.

Based on standard state filing fees, Borek has spent at least $2,300 to reserve the various names for up to 90 days. If he wants to extend the time period, he'd have to pay a similar amount for all of the possible companies.

But just as there are no guarantees any of the entities will win the right to run a dispensary or growing operation, there are other pitfalls for investors.

In an interview, Borek said he recently tried to open checking accounts but was turned down because the banks are worried about being penalized under federal law if they deal with marijuana growers and sellers.

"We've got some checks to invest from investors and we can't deposit them," he said.

Under one scenario, he said he potentially could remove the words "marijuana" or "cannabis" from his proposed companies to appease the banks.

"We're looking at some names now. We've got some good alternatives," said Borek.
 

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http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/oregon-on-schedule-to-legalize-recreational-marijuana/




Oregon on Schedule to Legalize Recreational Marijuana


It has been an uphill battle for the supporters of the Oregon Marijuana Initiative, but petitioners say they are now on schedule for the legalization of recreational pot. New Approach Oregon, the group behind the initiative, has supported petitioners in gathering over 83,500 signatures, which were submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday. In order for the initiative to qualify for the November ballot, it needs 87,213 signatures by July 3. The initiative, IP 53, would legalize the recreational pot for adults, age 21 and over, granting the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the task of overseeing, and regulating marijuana, much the same as it does with alcohol. The legalization would allow for the personal possession of up to eight ounces, and the cultivation of up to four plants. It would then be taxed at $35 an ounce, and $5 per plant. Chief Petitioner, Anthony Johnson, believes that Oregon is well on its way to making sure voters have an opportunity to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, just like they do with beer and wine.

The measure is meant to be modeled after the legalization laws that were approved by voters in Colorado and Washington, but with a few differences. The tax Oregonians have purposed is less than Washington’s 25 percent tax, which applies to the whole of its pot production, retail, and procedures. The group says 40 percent of tax revenue, generated by the legalization of marijuana, would go to school funding, an issue that is a major need in the state of Oregon. State and local police would receive 35 percent of the purposed tax, and 25 percent would go to mental health, and drug prevention and treatment, also major issues. In a poll, approximately 51 percent of Oregonians supported the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana. The majority of those supporters remain younger voters, and are registered Democrats.

So far this year, New Approach has spent more than $620,000 to keep Oregon on schedule for the legalization of recreational marijuana. They have gained the support of financial heavy-hitters. These are the same financial supporters who were behind Colorado and Washington’s successful 2012 legal initiatives. However, the support does not stop there. Many other successful contributors are included in the support of Oregon’s marijuana legalization initiative. The Oregonian reports contributions from New York fragrance company heir, Henry van Ameringen; philanthropist, Phil Harvey; David Bronner, the CEO of a California-based soap company; and even the wife of one of Facebook’s co-founders, Cari Tuna. Liz Kaufman, Manager of the Oregon Initiative, said the group has also received $150,000 from New York based, Drug Policy Action, who had already contributed $200,000, previously.

While, this time around, there is no small show of support for the Oregon Marijuana Initiative, this is not the first time voters have had the opportunity to legalize recreational marijuana. In November of 2012, the initiative failed to gain enough support to pass, leaving Washington to become the first state to legalize the recreation use of pot, and Colorado to follow suit, shortly after. So, why do petitioners and supporters believe in its success this time? Political analyst, Tim Hibbits, stated, of the previous vote, that both Washington and Colorado had “considerably more funding behind them.” However, almost two years later, New Approach Oregon, and marijuana legalization supporters now have everything in place. Marijuana morale is high, financial support and funding is high, and Oregon is on schedule for the legalization of recreational marijuana, making it a possibility that, at some point, in the near future, Oregon will be high, too.
 

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http://www.marketwatch.com/story/no...abis-industry-2014-06-16?reflink=MW_news_stmp





Novus (NDEV) Aims to Fill Key Void in Cannabis Industry


Jun 16, 2014 (ACCESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- Whitefish, MT / June 16, 2014 / The U.S. legal cannabis industry is expected to reach $2.34 billion in size by the end of the year, according to ArcView Market Research. With additional states expected to legalize the drug over the next five years, the same group believes that the U.S. industry could reach $10.2 billion in size by 2018. These growth rates have attracted both investors and lawmakers interested in shoring up tax revenue.

Despite these gains, cannabis continues to be classified by the federal government as a Schedule I Controlled Substance alongside drugs like heroin and cocaine. Conflicting federal and state laws surrounding the burgeoning industry have been a source of widespread confusion, which has led many insurance companies to refuse coverage for medical marijuana treatments for patients in need.

In this article, we'll take a look at a company that aims to change those dynamics by introducing a health insurance program geared towards medical marijuana patients.

Lack of Insurance

Medical marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of different medical conditions, including pain, nausea, and appetite. In addition to these conditions, companies like GW Pharmaceuticals plc (nadsaq:GWPH) are extensively studying the drug for its potential use in treating major conditions like childhood epilepsy, Crohn's disease, and certain types of cancer.

Since many health insurance companies work with federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, they must adhere to all federal laws including those that classify medical marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. The result is a significant lack of insurance coverage for patients that require medical marijuana - legal on a state level - to treat serious medical conditions like childhood epilepsy.

Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. NDEV +9.03% aims to capitalize on the void in the marketplace by establishing a health insurance program for medical marijuana patients. These efforts are being led by Ms. Andrea Lopez, MSM, AHFI, who has more than 15 years of experience in healthcare compliance, delivery, and development of insurance policies for large companies.

In an exclusive interview, Ms. Lopez sat down to discuss the company's unique approach to providing health insurance to medical marijuana patients:

CannabisFN Executive Interview | Novus Acquisition & Development (NDEV) from TDM Financial on Vimeo

Click here if video does not appear.

Compliances Issues

Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. also aims to provide structured protocols for physicians that are compliant with each state's regulation and federal recommendations in order to ensure they are on the level. The team conducts full-scale risk management analyses in order to mitigate business liability and promote workplace safety for employers, municipalities, and businesses.

With its focus on the healthcare side of the business, the company's solutions differ from compliance-related solutions provided by other publicly traded companies like Integrated Cannabis Solutions Inc. IGPK +9.09% . ICS provides regulatory assistance to new and existing legal cannabis businesses - including dispensaries - that are trying to navigate their way through the heavily regulated industry.

The healthcare compliance side of the business also represents significantly less risk for investors than the growing side of the business. While growing operations under Canada's new MMPR are relatively safe, including companies like Abattis Bioceuticals Inc. ATTBF -16.35% or Creative Edge Nutrition Inc. FITX +0.83% , there may be risks associated with companies operating dispensaries in the U.S.

Growing Need for Compliance

The need for effective healthcare insurance and compliance solutions are only likely to increase as the medical benefits of cannabis become more apparent. GW Pharmaceuticals plc's GWPH -0.65% cannabinoid-based Sativex(r) has already been approved in 25 countries and received Fast Track status from the FDA and plans to release top-line Phase III cancer pain data towards the end of the year.

With medical cannabis use being increasingly justified, there's also growing concern among the public about the risks involved. Two high-profile Colorado deaths were recently tied to the overconsumption of cannabis "edibles" containing high levels of THC. These developments underscore the importance of additional risk management practices, especially in a new industry with few existing rules.

Businesses are also increasingly in need of compliance solutions. Employers cannot discriminate against employees simply because they possess medical marijuana cards, and no employer wants to face the prospect of a lawsuit for unlawful termination of an employee. Compliance solutions from companies like Novus can help businesses avoid these types of situations.

And finally, medical marijuana patients are in great need of insurance programs to help lower their costs and provide affordable coverage. The proven use of medical marijuana to treat conditions like childhood epilepsy has left many parents without a lot of options financially, which has created strong demand for insurance programs like the ones being developed by the company.
 

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http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-13/barcelona-is-fighting-an-overdose-of-cannabis-clubs




Barcelona Is Fighting an Overdose of Cannabis Clubs


Barcelona has a new tourist attraction that some locals wish would disappear: a burgeoning number of “cannabis clubs,” where people can legally buy and smoke pot.

Although selling marijuana is against the law in Spain, some regions allow local residents to set up nonprofit clubs whose members grow and share it for personal use. As recently as 2011, only a few dozen such groups were in the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona. But since then, the number has risen to about 400, with some clubs opening cafés, on Las Ramblas and other popular tourist streets, that offer menu items such as “New York Haze” and “Big Bud.” The clubs have drawn comparisons with Amsterdam’s pot-selling “coffee shops,” amid some predictions that Barcelona could even become the new pot capital of Europe.

Now the authorities are moving in. Police have shut down at least four Barcelona clubs in recent days for alleged violations that include sales to minors, drug trafficking, and hawking of memberships to passersby. Today, the city government placed a one-year moratorium on the creation of new clubs.

STORY: Europe Samples Sewage Water to Find Its Biggest Drug Cities
Longer-established clubs are applauding the crackdown. “We need regulation,” says Patricia Amiguet of the Federation of Associations of Catalonian Cannabis Users. The proliferation of clubs “is really corrupting the system.” Local authorities have lost track of the number of clubs, she adds. While authorities have estimated that 140 to 160 clubs are now operating in Barcelona, Amiguet contends there are many more. ”We think there are approximately 250 to 300 in Barcelona, and 400 to 500 in all of Catalonia,” she says.

Most of Barcelona’s older clubs kept a low profile and obeyed the law, which strictly limits membership to local residents, Amiguet says. Some newer ones, though, are clearly targeting tourists. “When you go to Las Ramblas, you find girls that are trying to get people to go into these places,” she says. Some have even set up websites in foreign countries where people planning to visit Barcelona can get memberships in advance. “People have seen a way of making money,” she says. “Some of the new clubs are getting investors from foreign countries.”

Despite the comparisons with Amsterdam’s coffee shops, Barcelona’s clubs have an ambiance that’s decidedly more pleasant, says Russ Hudson, who edits an online newsletter, MarijuanaGames.org, and has lived in both cities. Going into a Dutch coffee shop, he says, is like “entering a liquor store to make a purchase. It’s highly commercialized, and the marijuana there is not fresh.” In the traditional Barcelona clubs, he says, “it’s like you are a member of a private club. When you go in, you’re not buying, you’re simply reimbursing the club for the costs. You can spend hours hanging out at a club, and the staff sort of chills along with you.”

STORY: Hemp Enters the Mainstream
Some newer Barcelona clubs, Hudson says, are “really crappy,” with foreign visitors accounting for almost all their members.

One problem that Barcelona’s clubs share with their Dutch counterparts is a catch-22 in their nations’ drug laws. In both countries, it’s legal to grow and smoke pot but illegal to sell it. Technically, Spanish cannabis clubs are supposed to grow all the pot they provide to their members. But, says Hudson, most clubs end up buying at least some from other suppliers. Although that’s technically illegal, authorities “have no way to check,” he says. “Where’s the documentation? There isn’t any.”
 

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