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MJ News for 06/19/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.coloradoan.com/story/new...retail-marijuana-sales-begin-friday/10711517/




(Colorado) Fort Collins’ retail marijuana sales to begin Friday


As of Friday, anyone looking to get their hands on recreational pot and marijuana-infused edibles won’t even have to venture outside downtown Fort Collins.

Organic Alternatives, 346 E. Mountain Ave., will open its doors to retail sales Friday at 10 a.m., making it the first Fort Collins dispensary to venture into the growing market. The day will mark the culmination of years of campaigning for pro-pot regulation and public education efforts by the business’s owner, Steve Ackerman.

“We expect it to be popular. We’re not just inside the city limits of Fort Collins, but we’re in Old Town. We’re very central,” Ackerman said Tuesday.

The City of Fort Collins on Sept. 17, 2013 adopted a temporary ban on retail marijuana establishments within the city. While hundreds of retails shops have sprouted across Colorado since New Year’s Day – and only a few within Northern Colorado, primarily Garden City near Greeley – Fort Collins staffers took additional time to fine-tune a regulatory framework and conduct more public outreach.

That temporary ban on marijuana establishments lasted until March 31, 2014. Organic Alternatives jumped at the opportunity, and on Friday, Ackerman received the license from the city.

“We’ve been preparing for this for a while,” he said, adding that he and his staff were still working to determine where final prices for cannabis and related products would start. Those prices will be firmed up in coming days, he said, adding they would mirror those across the heavily taxed retail market.

The city of Fort Collins is already home to nearly a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries, but Organic Alternatives is the only one that has obtained its retail license from the state, according to Colorado Department of Revenue listings. That nod from the state is mandatory and separate from getting the retail go-ahead from the governing city or county.

Larimer County’s first retail marijuana business, Choice Organics, 813 Smithfield Drive, opened its doors near Interstate 25 to recreational sales in April. County officials in May approved retail sales for Flower Power Botanicals. While closer to the city’s core, the business at 1308 Duff Drive sits just outside of Fort Collins proper and won’t begin selling retail products for a couple more months.

Ackerman said there’s clearly a growing market in the region, but his shop will be the first and only business in Larimer County to offer cannabis-infused candies, baked goods and similar edibles.

That demand, especially among first-timers who don’t want to “pull smoke into their lungs” has the possiblity to draw a big crowd, but it’s hard to know ahead of time, he said.

“We’ll have all hands on deck and see how it goes.”
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.delawareonline.com/story/firststatepolitics/2014/06/18/marijuana-committee/10767475/




(Delaware) Softer marijuana penalties advance in House


DOVER -- A state House committee gave approval Wednesday to amended legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley, a Wilmington Democrat, would replace criminal penalties with $250 civil fines for anyone 21 or older in Delaware found possessing an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. Fines double if unpaid after 90 days. The marijuana also would be turned over to police.

Anyone under 21 would face unclassified misdemeanor charges under the substitute bill, which replaces legislation that would have legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Parents of minors would be notified of an offense. But none of the charges would be entered into the criminal history database.

The legislation heads to the full House for consideration with just over a week left in the current legislative session. Nineteen members of the General Assembly, all Democrats, are backing the legislation.

Keeley said in committee testimony that it's not appropriate to saddle Delawareans with criminal charges, which could prevent them from finding a job, for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Buying and selling the drug would remain illegal under her proposal.

"The main reason I'm doing this is day in and day out, I see folks who are applying for positions and they are denied employment based upon something they did many years ago," Keeley said.

Under current Delaware law, possession of even small amounts of marijuana is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $1,150 and up to six months in jail.

In 2013, law enforcement made 2,632 arrests for petty marijuana possession, charged as an unclassified misdemeanor, including 298 charges involving juveniles, according to an analysis performed by the Criminal Justice Council's Statistical Analysis Center.

Nine of those charges resulted in jail sentences; 102 charges resulted in probation.

Delaware State Police are opposing the legislation.

Marijuana advocates, including a representative from the Marijuana Policy Project, testified in favor of the measure on Wednesday.

"Cannabis prohibition is as problematic as alcohol prohibition," said Zoe Patchell, legislative correspondent for Delaware NORML, adding that marijuana penalties improperly divert criminal justice resources and arrest records can prevent young people from obtaining financial aid for college. Criminal penalties also are "not preventing teens or anyone else from obtaining cannabis."

The marijuana proposal comes after a March poll showed more than two-thirds of Delawareans supported the removal of criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Nineteen other states, including Maryland, have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Gov. Jack Markell has said he is open to discussion on marijuana decriminalization.
 

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http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-06-19/pot-scientists-brace-for-marijuana-meltdown-as-laws-ease




Pot Scientists Brace for Marijuana Abuse as Laws Ease


The only marijuana available for research in the U.S. is locked down by federal regulators who are more focused on studies to keep people off the drug than helping researchers learn how it might be beneficial.

Marijuana is a trend that “will peak like tobacco then people will see their error,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which serves as the gatekeeper for U.S. marijuana research through its oversight of a pot farm that grows the only plants that can be used in clinical trials.

Meanwhile, marijuana advocates say NIDA’s control over research has made almost impossible their ability to test the drug against ailments such as pain, cancer-related nausea and epilepsy.

The federal researchers aren’t “set up to study potential medical benefits, so it’s inappropriate for NIDA to have a monopoly on supply,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based group that lobbies to change marijuana laws.

Twenty-two states have approved medical marijuana use, two allow recreational use and the House of Representatives voted May 30 to block the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican, will lead an oversight hearing tomorrow in Washington on pot research as part of an examination of changing societal attitudes about the drug.

Pot Farm

NIDA contracts with the University of Mississippi to grow the only pot that researchers in the U.S. can use in studies. To obtain the product, scientists must be working on an NIH-funded project or pass review by a Department of Health and Human Services panel.

Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies are pushing for the Drug Enforcement Administration to grant additional licenses to grow research marijuana.

The Epilepsy Foundation has called for an end to DEA restrictions that limit research on marijuana’s effect on seizures. The Landover, Maryland-based group wants the drug agency to change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 product, which means it’s considered highly addictive with no medical benefit.

Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the psychedelic studies association, has worked since 2001 with a University of Massachusetts professor to expand the number of growers. He is now looking to growers approved by the Canadian government to help in the cause.

Supply Shortage

NIDA doesn’t have enough marijuana supply even if the agency would support trials on the medicinal benefits, he said. After a three-year battle, Doblin’s association was approved in March to conduct a study on marijuana and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. NIDA can’t get the group enough of the type of pot it needs until 2015, he said in an interview.

Scientists, including Doblin’s group, are increasingly seeking marijuana that is high in cannabidiol, a compound found in pot plants, and low in THC, the mind-altering substance in marijuana, to study the effects of both without an intense high. The University of Mississippi is trying to produce more of the plants researchers are seeking, said Mahmoud ElSohly, the professor who presides over the federal government’s pot farm.

ElSohly said the goal is to grow as many as 5,000 plants by the end of this season, equivalent to about 600 kilograms of final product. Now the farm has about 250 kilograms of plant material on hand, he added.

‘Unbalanced’ View

“I think we need all sorts of research into the risks of marijuana,” Doblin said. “But what’s unbalanced is the obstruction of research into the benefits of marijuana.”

Three out of every four dollars spent this year on pot studies funded by the government will go toward studying abuse and addiction, according to a review of federal spending by Bloomberg News. The government has spent $69 million studying cannabis in fiscal 2014.

The National Institutes of Health has funded 196 projects on marijuana in fiscal 2014, according to an NIH database. NIDA is the lead on 142 of those projects, which make up 75 percent of the spending.

Volkow said that long-term pot use, as well as some experimenting, can lead to addiction. About 4.3 million people ages 12 and older abused the drug or had marijuana dependence in 2012, about the same as in 2002, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“I’m open to the data, that’s why we do research,” she said in an interview. “But based on what I’ve seen, I predict that it’s going to be negative and we’re going to be in a position of trying to deal with the consequences.”

Therapeutic Use

The NIH is funding 54 active grants on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, Volkow said. Half of those grants are led by NIDA, she said, and include studies examining pot’s effect on seizures and pain.

Some of NIDA’s studies on therapeutic uses also include developing treatments for marijuana addiction.

NIDA awarded McLean Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, $248,000 this fiscal year to study a synthetic cannabis called nabilone against marijuana dependence. Meda Pharmaceuticals markets nabilone as Cesamet to combat cancer patients’ nausea and vomiting.

The drug institute also provided $502,000 to Yale University to study a treatment for cannabis dependence that uses a fatty acid enzyme to inhibit the body’s signaling system and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Staying Ahead

“We’re trying to do what interventions we can do now because we don’t want to wait until it’s proven harmful,” Volkow said.

There have been 15 studies on marijuana that weren’t NIH funded since 1999. The University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research conducted all but two though it isn’t doing any active studies. The San Diego-based group is funded by the state government in California and looked at pot’s use in different kinds of pain and its effect on sleep.

Mica, the congressman, said he hasn’t made up his mind whether marijuana is harmful or helpful.

“States can choose to do what they’re doing,” Mica said in an interview. “My job is to sort through the smoke and the haze created by all the different implications it proposes.”

NIDA and the Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to testify at Mica’s hearing. The FDA declined to comment on its position because agency staff didn’t want to pre-empt their testimony, Jeff Ventura, an FDA spokesman, said in an e-mail.

NIDA published a review of research on marijuana’s negative effects this month in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article summarizes studies that have found teens who regularly use marijuana have lower IQs in adulthood, it increases the risk for being involved in a car accident and the drug’s addictiveness is higher for daily users and youth.

The researchers also said marijuana may help treat chronic pain and pain associated with multiple sclerosis as well as glaucoma though more study is needed.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27916026




Albanian police battle cannabis growers in Lazarat


Albanian police have seized more than 10 tonnes of marijuana in a major operation against cannabis growers in the southern village of Lazarat.

Police say about 800 officers were needed to bring most of the village under control by Wednesday evening.

One officer and two civilians were hurt in an exchange of gunfire, they add.

Lazarat produces 900 tonnes of cannabis annually, worth 4.5bn euros ($6.1bn; £3.6bn) - equivalent to almost half of Albania's gross domestic product.

Police have besieged the village, about 230km (140 miles) south of the capital Tirana, since Monday.

They were met with heavily armed men firing rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells.

Smoke was seen rising above the village, with some witnesses saying it was caused by locals burning marijuana plants before police closed in.

The operation is still in progress. The alleged gang leader surrendered and 10 others were still holed up inside a house, AFP news agency reports.

Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri told AP news agency that the operation would continue until "every square centimetre in Lazarat is under state control".

The operation comes as part of the new Socialist government's campaign to stamp out the marijuana economy in its bid to become part of the European Union.
 

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http://www.hcn.org/wotr/cannabis-could-go-champagne-in-western-colorado




Cannabis could go Champagne in western Colorado


In the garden of my cousin, Sepp, in Germany’s Black Forest, there is a big tree that produces lots of yellow plums every year. Sepp, a retired forest worker, keeps the grass cut very short around his Mirabellenbaum, so he doesn’t miss a single fallen fruit. Every evening in the fall, he gathers the plums and throws them into a big barrel to ferment. When winter comes, Sepp brings the barrel to a local distiller, who will return him some 10 bottles of Mirabellengeist, clear plum spirits. It is a unique and wonderful drink.

I thought about Sepp and his plums during a recent visit to the small town of Paonia, population 1,600, in western Colorado, where I met a handful of local marijuana growers during a reporting trip for a Swiss newspaper. Their pride as cultivators, their fierce dedication to quality, reminded me strongly of the farmers and vintners I have met in the Black Forest. But unlike traditional growers such as Sepp, the cannabis cultivators in Delta County acquired much of their expertise working alone, learning their trade over decades of trial and error.

“We learned to grow world-famous pot from nothing,” one of them told me at the town’s microbrewery, Revolution Brewing.

To this German reporter, they seemed like good examples of American self-determination. And while the “guerilla growers” I met disliked the idea of “working for the tax man,” they said that the legalization of marijuana has now brought them, their state and the country to a historic juncture: Colorado’s rigid regulation of cannabis legalization smartly squeezes them into either giving up or going legitimate.

The growers I talked to all expressed a desire to take this opportunity and go legal. All of a sudden, I had a vision of this place’s future. Given the ideal microclimate around Paonia, many small fruit farmers struggling to maintain their operations could start growing cannabis, maintaining their families’ and the region’s way of life that way. As their production expands, new jobs and opportunities would be created.

Legalization of recreational marijuana has already created a new reality in Colorado. From my interviews with elected officials, growers and investors in Denver and Boulder, I came away with the impression that there is a massive “green gold rush” underway in the state. Growing cannabis in Colorado has begun to attract capital from all over the country, and the state is becoming a laboratory for the rest of the United States and perhaps for other parts of the world as well.

Investors and politicians expect national legalization to become a reality in the next 10-15 years. As state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, told me, growing cannabis could quickly turn into an industrialized, nationwide endeavor controlled by big corporations.

While this train gets under steam, though, a window is opening for the town of Paonia and Delta County, one of the poorest counties in the state. Growers can’t compete in an industrialized market that handles cannabis as just another agricultural commodity, but they could build on the global renown of locally grown marijuana, and follow the example set by the wine and liquor industries.

Think Oregon pinot noirs, French Champagne, single malt scotch or small batch bourbon. Paonia cannabis could have that same cachet and pedigree, as an artisanal, “premium” agricultural product grown by local farmers in a sustainable fashion.

One way to achieve that and preserve the North Fork Valley’s unique characteristics would be to found a cultivators’ cooperative, create and protect a brand such as “Paonia Grown” (along the lines of the Italian Denominazione di origine controllata — DOC — for wines such as chianti) and then establish their own labels, just like a Glenfiddich scotch, a Knob Creek bourbon or a Taittinger Champagne. This would put Paonia on the map globally for generations to come, much the way the monk Dom Pérignon did in the 1600s for Champagne and the Champagne region of France.

I was told that there is an intense debate underway in Delta County over cannabis cultivation, and a referendum on how marijuana will be handled will be held in November. Marijuana comes loaded with symbolism, be it as the “evil weed” or a “food of the gods.”

As a reporter, I was captivated by the tensions over the issue, which seems to have grown out of deeply ingrained -- and antagonistic -- cultural and political convictions. For my part, I look forward to a place called Paonia and the North Fork Valley becoming the Champagne region of cannabis. This would benefit all of the region’s inhabitants.
 

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http://www.wncn.com/story/25814880/house-committee-approves-medicinal-cannabis-oil




(North Carolina) House committee approves medicinal cannabis oil


RALEIGH, N.C. -
Stephen Carlin wept Wednesday after a House committee approved a measure to legalize hemp oil manufactured from a marijuana plant to treat people like his daughter, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy.

Carlin's daughter, 5-year-old Zora, could be one of thousands of North Carolinians to use hemp oil extract to help subdue intractable epilepsy.

The bill would allow hemp oil extract taken from a marijuana plant to treat intractable epilepsy, a seizure disorder unresponsive to three or more treatment options. It would also prohibit doctors from being prosecuted for dispensing the medicine and would direct universities to research it.

Carlin, who lives in Clayton, helped draft the bill. He said he and his family have tried every kind of medication to treat their daughter, including potent 40 milligram doses of valium daily, which her body eventually became unresponsive to. Zora doesn't speak and she has such violent seizures she harms herself and has tried to rip off her skin, her father said.

"The medicines that we are giving her right now are ripping her apart," he said. "I'm asking you to please support this legislation I am on my knees for thousands of kids."

Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret sponsored the bill and says it is intended to be very narrow in who can use the oil. She says it will go through the House Finance Committee Thursday morning and be on the House floor in the afternoon.

"These children have been suffering for many years," she said. "Some of them have seizures up to 200 to 300 a week and their parents have to sit there and watch them go through it."

If the bill becomes law, Carlin says he will stay in North Carolina, otherwise he will move to Colorado to get treatment for Zora.

The marijuana extract under the bill would consist of less than .3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical found in a marijuana plant. It would include at least 10 percent cannabidiol by weight, a chemical compound in the marijuana plant more commonly used for medical treatments for people with epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

"It would make a drug addict very disappointed if they got a hold of it," said McElraft.

Colorado has already started using a form of medical marijuana similar to the one proposed in the state, and looks like cough syrup, McElraft said.

To use the oil, a person or caregiver would have to register for a compassionate use registration card. The cardholder would have to be 18 years old. The patient would have to be a North Carolina resident and be examined by a neurologist who recommends hemp extract oil. The patient would also have to pay $50 the Department of Health and Human Services, apply for a permit and submit their contact information to a government database for patients who are using the hemp oil for medicinal purposes. The database would be accessible to law enforcement agencies.
 

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