MJ News for 06/24/2014


Jul 25, 2008
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A guide to NY’s medical marijuana law

ALBANY—The State Legislature voted last week to legalize medical marijuana, making New York the 23rd state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow use of the drug for medical purposes.

Each state has unique restrictions on the drug, which remains illegal under federal law, and New York's program is particularly unique, in that it does not allow for smokable forms of the drug and sunsets after seven years.

Here's a guide to some of the lingering questions about the law.

1) Who can use medical marijuana in New York State?

New York’s program would allow medical doctors to prescribe marijuana for about a half-dozen serious or life-threatening medical conditions: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, A.L.S. (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, neuropathies, spinal cord injuries, cancer and HIV/AIDS. Within 18 months of the bill becoming law, the state’s health commissioner must decide whether to allow the drug for several other conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis. The list of conditions for which the drug can be prescribed is very narrow. That was intentional—lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo said repeatedly they didn’t want New York’s program to end up like California’s, where medical marijuana can be prescribed for milder conditions like chronic back pain.

2) How much money will it bring in for the state?

The state is planning to levy a 7 percent excise tax on businesses’ gross income from the sale of medical marijuana, but state budget officials said last week they don’t yet have a clear sense of how many people will use the drug. That means they don’t have an estimate of how much tax revenue it could yield. The tax will be collected in a special account managed by the state comptroller, and half of it will go back to the counties where the drug was manufactured and sold (22.5 percent to the county where it was grown, and 22.5 percent to the county where it was sold). Another 5 percent of the revenue will go to the state’s drug abuse prevention programs, and 5 percent will be handed over to the state’s criminal justice department for law enforcement projects.

3) How will people pay for medical marijuana? Can they use cash, checks or credit cards?

A medical marijuana patient in New York State will almost certainly have to pay for the drug with cash. Under New York’s law, insurers aren’t required to cover the drug as part of their policies. And marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, where it’s been listed since 1970 as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning it has both a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, under the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.

Despite the proliferation of state laws legalizing marijuana in recent years, banking institutions and credit card companies are erring on the side of caution when it comes to marijuana.

Banks and financial institutions won’t yet allow customers to pay for illegal substances with their cards, and won’t allow businesses to deposit their marijuana revenues at their branches, because it could be prosecuted as money-laundering. The federal government doesn’t have a clear policy on banks’ transacting with marijuana companies, and in fact has given conflicting statements in recent months.

In 2009, U.S. Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memo to U.S. attorneys across the country that said, essentially, that they didn’t have to prosecute marijuana companies in states where the drug had been legalized.

Then, in 2011, the Department of Justice reversed itself. Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole issued a memorandum saying the 2009 memo was never intended to shield marijuana dispensaries from federal enforcement actions or prosecutions.

In February of this year, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder wrote a memo saying banks could work with marijuana industries, without fear of being prosecuted for money laundering. Shortly afterward, the Justice Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a more tortured advisory: It told banks the choice of whether or not to work with marijuana businesses was up to them, but warned them they would still be required to file “suspicious activity reports” to the federal government of any activity that could be a violation of federal law, including activity involving marijuana.

Sanette Chao, a spokeswoman for American Express, told Capital in an email: “American Express does not allow card acceptance for medical marijuana. It is our policy to adhere to federal law in such matters.”

4) If marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, how can it be legal at the state level? Can’t this get tricky, for patients, doctors, businesses and other people involved?

Yes, this could get weird, in a lot of different ways.

First, for patients. The state’s law contains a non-discrimination clause that says you can’t be fired from your job or discriminated against for using medical marijuana because it’s a covered “disability.” But in reality, that hasn’t always protected employees. In Colorado in 2010, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient named Brandon Coats was fired from his job at the Dish Network over his legal use of the drug. He appealed his firing and the case is still playing out in court.

Just because the federal government has adopted a sort-of laissez-faire attitude toward marijuana prosecutions doesn’t mean that that will always be the case, said Ed Roche, a professor of tax law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.

“Obviously we’ve got this dichotomy where it’s legal for state purposes and illegal for federal purposes,” Roche told Capital. “Right now, the federal government says we will not make it a priority to prosecute you. But there’s no grandfathering of marijuana business," Roche said. Under a new presidential administration and new attorney general, the policy could change, and prosecutors could start aggressively coming after marijuana businesses.

In theory, the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution means that what the federal government says, goes.

But in practice, discrepancies between states’ marijuana laws and the federal laws tend to play out in court. So any federal prosecutor who wants to go after a marijuana business for violating federal law would be within his or her right to do so, even with New York’s legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes. Whether the prosecutor would win the case is another matter.

5) Back to the taxes. How can the state collect taxes on businesses that are cash only?

“The biggest problem facing medical marijuana is the same problem Tony Montana faced in Scarface — What are you going to do with all the cash? ” Roche said. In other states, like Colorado, marijuana businesses pay state and federal taxes on their sales in an old-fashioned way—literally loading cash into a suitcase or other vessel, and handing it over to the government.

While New York State is levying a 7 percent excise tax on gross marijuana income, marijuana retailers are also going to have to pay taxes to the federal government, which is hard-nosed about collecting its due, even if marijuana is still illegal. The Internal Revenue Service demands tax payments from marijuana businesses, but won’t allow the companies to deduct their business expenses when filing returns, under a Reagan-era federal tax regulation designed to prevent drug dealers from exploiting the tax code.

And medical marijuana manufacturers and dispensaries will have to negotiate with labor unions in New York to use organized union workers in their facilities, raising the question of how the businesses will deal with things like income tax deductions and Social Security payments to the I.R.S. The manufacturers actually can’t walk over to a local I.R.S. agency branch with a suitcase full of cash, because new rules implemented at the federal level require employers to deduct those expenses electronically. That could be very difficult for marijuana companies unable to deposit their funds in banks or other financial institutions.

6) Where will I be able to get medical marijuana?

The state will authorize as many as five manufacturers and 20 dispensaries to grow and sell the drug statewide. The law doesn’t spell out where those manufacturers and dispensaries can be located, but gives the state discretion to control where licenses are issued to help ensure geographical diversity. Any patient who wants to use medical marijuana must receive a prescription for it from a doctor or caregiver who has received a special state training on the drug and its potential side effects.

7) Who will decide which companies get the licenses to grow and distribute marijuana?

The state health department has a lot of leeway to pick the companies that could end up with lucrative marijuana manufacturing licenses. And with so few licenses available for New York State manufacturers, expect fierce competition from companies hoping to do business here, despite the burden of heavy regulations. Last week, the state health commissioner said the state will draft regulations outlining the process by which manufacturers and dispensary operators will be chosen. The bill sets forth some requirements for potential manufacturers and dispensers. Any manufacturer seeking a license must possess “good moral character,” and anyone who comes into contact with or otherwise handles the drug can’t have any prior convictions or jail time for drug felonies in the past decade. The bill also requires any manufacturer or dispensary to enter into negotiations with organized labor to use union workers at its facilities, and potential manufacturers must demonstrate they can post a $2 million bond, or that they would already own the land and facilities they’d use to grow the drug at indoor farms.

8) How different is New York’s limit on the number of manufacturers and dispensaries from the law in other states?

States’ rules vary widely, but they tend to follow a pattern. States where the drug was legalized by referendum are more likely to allow more manufacturers and dispensaries, while states that legalized the drug through an act of the Legislature are more likely to restrict their programs, an analysis of state laws shows.

For example, Minnesota, whose Legislature passed a bill last month authorizing medical marijuana, will allow just two in-state manufacturers to grow the drug, and limit the number of dispensaries to four statewide. Connecticut is similarly restrictive, allowing just 10 dispensaries statewide.

Other states regulate the number of dispensaries and manufacturers on a percentage basis. Arizona, which enacted a medical marijuana law in 2010, put regulations in place to cap the number of dispensaries at 10 percent of the total number of pharmacies in the state, or about 124 dispensaries statewide.

9) What are the other ways New York’s law will be different from the ones in states like Colorado or California?

One key difference between New York’s law and those on the books in most other states is that New York will prohibit patients from smoking marijuana, instead restricting its use to oils, vaporizers or other ingestible forms of marijuana.

And New York’s program would be largely under the control of the state’s executive branch. The law gives the state health department, state police and governor a wide berth in developing several aspects of the program. The health commissioner would be able to decide how much to charge for medical marijuana, and has the power to add or subtract diseases the drug can be prescribed to treat. And the program could be shut down at any time. If the health department or police departments decide the program is out of control and resulting in diversion of the drug for illegal uses, the commissioner or state police superintendent can issue a recommendation to the governor to end the program immediately. Even if the program is successful, the law has a built-in sunset provision: The law will expire after seven years if the Legislature doesn’t take action to renew it.


Jul 25, 2008
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First group of retail marijuana stores expected to open on July 8 in Washington

Now there’s a date: The first group of “20-ish” retail marijuana stores will open on July 8 … if it all goes according to the latest plans.

The Liquor Control Board is planning to issue the first licenses Monday, July 7, and those new licensees will have to use the first 24 hours getting the marijuana into their store tracing program. Then they can open on the 8th, said Brian Smith, the LCB’s communication director.

One retailer who expects to open a store in Seattle on July 8 is Michael Perkins. He’s planning to open in a former state-run liquor store location at 14343 15th Ave. NE. And then by the end of July, he hopes to have a second store open on Aurora Avenue.

Perkins, who has extensive experience in the medical cannabis market and still runs several medical dispensaries, says he will have I-502 product to sell in his retail shop, though he isn’t exactly sure what they’ll charge per gram or how long it will last.

Quick note on buying pot: All dried marijuana will be sold to consumers at one-ounce or less sizes, so “a 1/4” is … well … 7.08 grams. “An 1/8th” is 3.54 grams and so on. Some retailers will sell an 1/8th or a 1/4 for less than if you bought each gram separately. And, of course, a wide variety of edibles and other infused products will also, eventually, be available.

“I would assume $20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices,” he said. ”I expect to see demand for the 502 (marijuana). I expect to run out of product. And, I expect the people coming to run over and try to get a (medical) card … so they can go to a medical store next door.”

And therein lies the rub, some say. The black market and the “gray market” or Washington’s largely unregulated medical market, will continue to undercut the I-502′s high prices. But not everyone in the game thinks that’ll be the deciding factor.

“I don’t see it as competition,” said one I-502 retail hopeful in Seattle, who asked not to be named because while his store should be among the first to open he has a final inspection this week and doesn’t want to jinx anything.

“I think it’s something completely different,” he said. “Ultimately the 502 market, at least at this point, you look at Colorado, it’s really geared toward the tourist market. Colorado still has their medical system and their recreational system and they are booming. So, I see them as completely different. I don’t think medical and the recreational, tourist market is the same thing.”

Open among the first or wait?

“It’s gong to be kind of a blood bath,” said one retail hopeful who will not be among the first and asked not to be named. “You have to compete against the medical and black market with super high prices and limited supply.”

Todd Shirley, whose application for a retail license in Shoreline made it into the top of the lottery for King County, says he is unlikely to be in the first wave … and that’s okay.

“The last thing we want to do is open and have very little inventory, run for a couple days and then shut down for three days. I really do think that will be a problem,” Shirley said. “Once we open, I would like to be able to supply our clients. And to have to shut down for a few days could cause them to go elsewhere.”

Shirley is also hoping to get ahold of marijuana at a lower price than what some growers are trying to charge.

Story on growers and prices – Growers will have retail marijuana available for sale in early July.

”The first wave could have first-mover advantage,” Shirley said, “but it’s gong to be tough.”

We’ve heard of some growers pushing for $5,000 or more per pound to the retailer, but we’ve also from a number of growers who are selling at less than $3,000 a pound.

“Our products are all top shelf and we are asking $2,800 per pound and we are asking the retailers we work with to cap their price at $420 per ounce to consumers. We are avoiding the temptation of price gouging,” one grower told us.

Steve O’Neill hopes to have his I-502 store open Seattle in a few month. But he does expect the black and medical markets to give I-502 a run for its money.

“I’m very excited about” opening, he said, “but I think it’s going to be a shocking eyeopener for many people in the state, most especially the Legislature.”

If retail sales fall off and taxes aren’t generated … “The Legislature will be strongly motivated and must do something, otherwise they will lose their golden goose,” O’Neill said.

“If you want a successful 502,” adds Perkins, “you have to beat the black market. You have to be price competitive. You have to be selection competitive. You have to be convenience competitive. You have to be legitimacy competitive. You’re guaranteed to get all of the customers who would never shop with an illegal street dealer … but you’re not going to get that group of people who shop from their friends unless you bring that price down enough to where the convenience is completely worth it.

“It doesn’t have to completely beat their price. I mean people are still trying to sell black-market alcohol but it doesn’t have any market share. “

Where will the first stores be?

“We’ve kept in mind geography and population, and retail licenses will be spread around the state,” Smith of the LCB said.

Once the licenses are out, the board will publish a list of its new licensees.

Spokane Green Leaf — at 9107 N. Country Home Blvd, Suite 2 in Spokane — responded to our inquires via email. That business wrote:

“On Friday, June 20th, we underwent the final inspection from the WSLCB Enforcement Officer. We passed all the required elements. We will be awarded our Retail License the week of June 30th. We were told that we will be among the first 20 licensed retail stores in the state-wide opening the week of July 7th.

The retail pricing for top-shelf product could be in the $20-$25 range. Lowest prices expected in the $12-$15 per gram range.”

The Fresh Greens store in Winthrop also expects to be among the first, said owner Austin Lott.

“I’ve had my final review and passed and now I just need to finish my front, get fingerprinted, and pass my inspection, which is supposed to happen in about a week,” Lott wrote us last week. “I’ve contacted a few processors through email and received no response yet. And that means I don’t have much info on prices – it’s all just speculation at this point, but I expect them to be higher than black market, certainly. They’ll come way down next year come November/December when the big outdoor crops come in.”


Jul 25, 2008
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Comparing the prices of marijuana gets easier

Wikileaf, also known as the Priceline of pot, allows medical marijuana patients to compare pot costs at 1,100 dispensaries in six states.

Website founder Dan Nelson, a financial blogger, said he was inspired by the interest rate comparison model for banks.

"I thought the same dynamic could be applied to the medical and legal marijuana businesses," Nelson told USA TODAY Network.

Wikileaf users set the amount of money they want to pay and how many miles they are willing to travel for their weed. Marijuana patients won't be able to order the marijuana online, so they'll have to go to the dispensary.

Users can limit their search by marijuana strain. Afghan Kush, for example, is described as 95% of the indica strain and 5% of the sativa strain.

A lot of dispensaries have only a "bare-bones" website, and marijuana businesses are barred from advertising on Facebook and Twitter, said Taylor West, spokeswoman for the National Cannabis Industry Association.

"If you try to get the paid promotion, it will often get flagged as inappropriate content," West said.

Sites such as Weedmaps, Leafly and Wikileaf give businesses the opportunity to advertise, West said.

Nelson said his site is different from Leafly and Weedmaps, which are focused on user ratings.

Nelson, a medical marijuana patient in Seattle, said his site, which was launched in January, is the first to offer price comparisons.

"I'd go to a dispensary that offered me a strain for this amount of money, and I'd walk two blocks down, and a dispensary would offer me twice as much for the same amount of money," Nelson said.

In the USA, 22 states and D.C. have legalized medical marijuana. Wikileaf lists dispensaries in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

As Seattle's retail market is set to open next month, Nelson said the site will include recreational pot price comparisons, and those pages will have a different look from the medical comparisons. Only Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana.

Dispensaries can be listed for free, but Nelson said the site will start charging businesses in 2016.


Jul 25, 2008
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Marijuana legalization in Oregon: Just one pot measure now in running for November ballot

Medical marijuana businessman Paul Stanford is giving up on his campaign to qualify two ballot measures for the November ballot that were aimed at giving adults broad rights to grow and possess marijuana.

Stanford announced on his Internet video show, Cannabis Common Sense, that it was clear he can't gather the needed signatures by the July 3 petitioning deadline.

Although Stanford is ending his campaign, it appears highly likely that a marijuana legalization initiative sponsored by New Approach Oregon will qualify for the November ballot. Peter Zuckerman, a New Approach spokesman, said the campaign may turn in signatures to the secretary of state this week.

The New Approach measure has stricter limits on marijuana possession and is backed by several major out-of-state donors -- including those who had also played a big role in helping pass Washington state's 2012 initiative that legalized marijuana there.

Among the major donors is the family of the late Peter Lewis, a billionaire insurance magnate, and Drug Policy Action, a New York-based group critical of the nation's war on drugs.

Stanford, who runs a chain of medical marijuana clinics, was unable to attract these donors when he had a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot in 2012 because they were concerned that it wouldn't attract mainstream voter support. It wound up losing 53 percent to 47 percent.

This time around, the donors once again decided to bypass Stanford.

"I liked ours better," Stanford said in his video, "but the big multimillionaire funders didn't."

In the video, posted Friday, Stanford said he had gathered about 50,000 signatures for each of the two measures. His proposed constitutional amendment, which needed 116,284 signatures, would have given adult Oregonians the right to possess marijuana.

A companion statutory measure, which needed 87,213 signatures, provided the framework for how marijuana could be grown, sold and taxed in the state.

Stanford's measure would have allowed 21-and-older adults to possess up to a pound and a half of marijuana, while the New Approach measure would allow possession of up to one-half pound in a residence. Adults would be limited to possessing one ounce in public and would not be allowed to consume it in public.

Stanford's group had been gathering signatures for several months, but it had sometimes had trouble paying canvassers on time. Earlier this month, some of the petitioners went on strike.


Jul 25, 2008
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Uncertainty surrounds marijuana ‘Green Rush’

As Sam Calvert prepares to open one of the state’s first legal marijuana stores next month, he sometimes thinks of a historic parallel from a previous century.

Washington may be about to experience a marijuana “Green Rush” similar to the Alaska Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century, when discovery of gold in the Klondike prompted thousands to seek their fortunes in unfamiliar territory. Only a small percentage of the miners who went into the frozen hills came out with enough gold to get rich, Calvert said. More people got rich by selling them picks, shovels and other supplies before they went in, and food and alcohol when they came out.

“There’s an endless array of people who want to provide me with supplies or services,” said Calvert, who formerly operated a commercial property company and plans to open Green Star Cannabis on North Division in mid-July.

Other prospective marijuana businesspeople – some call them “ganjapreneurs” – report similar appeals. Lawyers and accountants offer specialized service for the tightly regulated and heavily taxed businesses; software companies offer systems to track the plants from startup to sale; and security businesses offer advice on protecting against robbery or internal theft.

With no sales yet, the would-be marijuana merchants see plenty of money flowing out with none yet coming in.

“The real gold rush seems to be with the producers,” said Cathy Smith, part of a partnership that expects to open Sativa Sisters in Millwood in mid- to late July.

One producer, however, says he hasn’t made any money yet. Sean Green of Kouchlock Productions, who received the first license to grow and process marijuana issued by the state Liquor Control Board, said his expenses have piled up for months for a product-tracking system, security, soil, growing mediums, lights and labels and worker salaries – with no income to offset them.

“I’m speculating that I have the first crop,” Green said, and it should be available in the O’Neil Industries store that adjoins his production facility on East Francis Avenue when that store opens the first week of July.

Suppliers, too, have high hopes for an economic boost from recreational marijuana without ever touching the weed. But there are no guarantees.

Into the unknown

Some of the state’s newly licensed ganjapreneurs have little or no experience with the drug. Others have worked for years growing, processing or distributing medical marijuana, which remains separate, and largely unregulated, from the drug voters approved with Initiative 502.

But no one has any experience with a legal recreational marijuana industry the way Washington is setting it up, because it has never been done before. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in the same 2012 election as Washington, but that state built its new system on an existing regulated medical marijuana infrastructure.

Washington has had to create a new industry from scratch, said David Rheins, a business journalist who is the founder of the Marijuana Business Association and publisher of Cannabis Now magazine. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Some people compare it to the dot-com boom, but that was built on established technology with some well-financed and well-established companies, Rheins said. Others compare it to the 1930s when Prohibition ended, but even then there were known brands and products that were brought back.

“There is no such thing as a strictly recreational cannabis industry anywhere else,” he said.

Taking a chance

Some marijuana license applicants said the opportunity to be in on the ground floor prompted them to apply for one of the state’s 334 retail marijuana licenses. The city of Spokane was allotted eight licenses for its 58 applicants; the city of Spokane Valley three licenses for 27 applicants; and the remainder of Spokane County seven licenses for 13 applicants.

“I threw my hat in the ring,” said Jeff Steinford of Northwest Cannabis Co. “I wasn’t putting too much hope in it.”

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” said Carol Ehrhart of Four Twenty Friendly. The application was something like a lottery ticket with a higher price tag – she and a partner spent about $600 getting the application ready – but better odds of winning, Ehrhart said.

Both had their applications drawn in the Liquor Control Board’s lottery last month but have experienced some bumps along the way.

Steinford’s lease fell through for his intended location on East Francis, and he had to find a new one. Most landlords wouldn’t rent to a marijuana store, and many who would wanted too much for rent. His company found a storefront on North Market, but the building needs a new roof, and the store might not open until the fall, so he’ll miss the expected rush of customers eager to buy their first legal marijuana when a few stores open in early July.

Ehrhart owns the property on South Lewis in the West Plains where her store will open, but she has faced what she considers exorbitant fees for tracking software and security services.

“Most of us are moms and pops investing everything we have,” she said.

She probably won’t open before the end of August but isn’t too worried about missing the rush because she’s planning a “boutique” store with specialty products. She doesn’t expect to give up her existing accounting business anytime soon.

A handful to open

Being drawn in the lottery does not guarantee the applicant a license. They must set up a store in an area approved by state regulations and local zoning rules, with the required security, tracking systems and training, and pass an inspection by the Liquor Control Board before any marijuana is allowed in the shop. The board said it will start final inspections at the beginning of July, but with a limited staff, only a dozen or so shops are expected to open statewide that first week.

Only two Spokane-area store owners contacted for this story said they expect to open at that time: Instant Karma near the North Division Y and O’Neil Industries on East Francis. Both owners are concerned that they won’t have enough marijuana to meet the demand and stay open every day.

That’s because the Liquor Control Board must also inspect and approve licenses for growers and processors. As of last week, only 61 of the 2,554 applications for I-502 grower licenses had been approved. The majority of licenses are less than two months old, which is the average time it takes to bring a marijuana plant to harvest. That means most won’t have products available when the first stores open in early July.

“A lot of people are getting in that have no idea what they are doing,” said the owner of Nettles Unlimited on East Sharp, a former medical marijuana grower who asked that his name not be used because he has young children whom he doesn’t want stigmatized if their friends’ parents found out what he does. “There’s a huge learning curve in this industry. People are thinking there’s a little plant that grows dollars on its leaves.”

Nettles won’t have any marijuana available until sometime in August, he said.

Other growers said they would have only limited amounts available in early July, or none until later in the summer. That’s prompting store owners to bid up the price for the marijuana that will be available and try to lock up future supplies with contracts for future crops.

That’s risky for new growers who don’t know all the problems that can affect marijuana, said Wesley Tutle of Yield Farms in the Spokane Valley. “If they’re not careful, they could end up losing a big crop.”

Tutle has experience in growing for a medical marijuana collective but still had significant expenses getting his I-502 operation running. It needed labels and packaging to meet state standards and software to track the plants. But the biggest expense was about $41,000 for the 32 cameras and accompanying computer and software for the security system.

Other growers mentioned major expenses for dirt, nutrients and electricity. “Avista, they’re getting paid,” said one.

Ripples in the economy

Paul Mihara of Spokane Organic and Hydroponic Supply provides soil, growth media and lights that producers will need for indoor operations, and a staff with the expertise on how to use them. In the last year, he opened the company’s third store, which is attached to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse, anticipating a jump in sales from the new recreational marijuana law.

“We’re starting to actually see some positive benefits,” Mihara said. The massive growth in demand he envisioned hasn’t materialized yet, although he was working on an order for 150 lights on the morning he was contacted recently for this story.

Many of the customers aren’t brand-new, they’re medical growers making the switch, and possibly expanding. He’s in competition with online suppliers around the country, and has to offer bulk discounts to the large growers and a knowledgeable staff who can help troubleshoot problems for new growers.

“It’s not like we’re getting rich here,” Mihara said. Marijuana supplies are his mid-term business plan; backyard greenhouses for homeowners growing vegetables may be the long-term moneymaker, he said.

Kathleen Sullivan, a Spokane lighting consultant, is branching out with an offshoot company that offers low-energy, high-intensity grow lights for indoor marijuana growing operations. The technology was developed by a former NASA scientist and puts out less heat, she said. It has the potential to increase yields while cutting energy use by about 50 percent. Indoor marijuana grows use large amounts of electricity, so Sullivan is trying to convince pot farmers they can save money if they switch. To help the calculations, she worked with Avista to ensure that marijuana growers would be eligible for rebates or energy credit programs.

The utility studied the matter and concluded they would, said Avista’s Doug Kelley. The programs are based on energy efficiency, not the type of business being operated, he said.

A mother of teenagers who doesn’t smoke marijuana, Sullivan said she wasn’t really familiar with how it was grown before I-502 passed. Since that time she has attended trade shows and conferences hosted by various marijuana business organizations where people are “aggressively networking – everybody wants your business card.”

Canna Con Northwest, described as the largest marijuana business trade show ever, is planned for the Tacoma Dome in August, with four days of seminars and space for as many as 350 vendors. But it won’t be a giant hempfest under the dome, said organizer Bob Smart.

There will be no cannabis at Canna Con, no smoking, no edibles, said Smart, a longtime grower: “It’s strictly business.”

Cliff Albert had moved his security and home theater installation business from Arizona to Montana a few months before he got a call this spring about setting up security for a marijuana grower in Eastern Washington. After learning the Liquor Control Board specifications for high video resolution and memory capacity and designing a system for that grower, he has set up one more and is doing estimates for five others.

“There are so many hoops to jump through to qualify,” Albert said. He won’t give up his theater and sound system business, but I-502 security is “a good arrow to have in our quiver,” he said, particularly if the Washington model for recreational marijuana expands into other states.

Green, of Kouchlock Productions, is trying to establish a brand name for his marijuana while offering consulting services to other growers and processors. Last week, he and O’Neil, who expects to open one of Spokane’s first marijuana stores, held a job fair for prospective employees. But it’s hard to say who has the best formula for success in the coming Green Rush, he said.

“Everybody’s got a different view on what’s going to make money,” Green said.


Jul 25, 2008
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Medical Marijuana 101: Mass. Doctors Head To The Classroom

“I’d like to start helping people get their mind wrapped around what are we talking about today with a case,” Dr. Alan Ehrlich said, looking out over an auditorium packed with doctors, lobbyists and advocates for medical marijuana. They’d gathered for the Massachusetts Medical Society’s first continuing education course on the use of marijuana to treat medical issues.

“Marilyn is a 68-year-old woman with breast cancer,” said Ehrlich, the senior deputy editor at DynaMed, a website that reviews medical research for doctors.

Marilyn’s cancer had spread and she was undergoing chemotherapy. She did not have any energy, she’d lost her appetite and she was having a lot of back pain.

“So she comes in to a visit with you as a primary care physician,” Ehrlich continued, and “wants to talk about the possibility of using marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of nausea, pain and fatigue. How many people think this is a good woman to certify for the use of marijuana?”

About three-quarters of the audience raised a hand. Well, Ehrlich said, let’s look at the evidence.

For this course, Ehrlich gathered studies on the benefits and risks of marijuana for medical treatment. The U.S. government controls the use of medical marijuana for medical research. There are more studies on the risks than on the benefits.

For Marilyn, who wants to relieve nausea and vomiting, two effects of chemotherapy, there are “no randomized trials of smoked cannabis versus placebo,” Ehrlich said. “So everything I’m going to present from now on, if you’re thinking about using smoked marijuana for this, you’re talking about extrapolations.”

In other words, tests the FDA would require before approving a drug to treat Marilyn’s nausea have not been done for marijuana. Doctors may hear stories from patients who find that marijuana helps, Ehrlich said, but there is almost no scientific proof.

Ehrlich described one 30-year-old study of 20 patients that compared the effects of smoking marijuana to swallowing a synthetic pill. It shows mixed results, with less vomiting among patients who smoked pot but more adverse effects. The pill seemed to work a little better.

There are two medications, each based on one compound found in marijuana, that are approved by the FDA to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Pharmaceutical firms are testing other compounds and applications.

What about the intense pain in Marilyn’s middle and lower back? Might marijuana help that? Yes, Ehrlich said, but the research is extremely limited.

Of the eight debilitating conditions named in the Massachusetts law, Ehrlich told these doctors that the best evidence for relief of symptoms with marijuana is with HIV, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and pain tied to nerve damage. The research shows little benefit for glaucoma, ALS and Parkinson’s disease.

The possible benefits of marijuana are not a doctor’s only concern, Ehrlich cautioned.

“Anytime you are certifying [a patient], you have to assess risks and benefits,” he said. “It’s not just, do you qualify? [It's also] what are the risks?”

The course touched on possible side effects of marijuana including dizziness, vomiting and psychosis for patients who have some personal or family history with this problem.

Dr. Kevin Hill, director of the substance abuse consultation service at McLean Hospital, said 9 percent of adults become addicted to marijuana, long-term use may lower a patient’s IQ and some patients experience withdrawal when they stop the drug.

“The problem,” Hill said, “is that the majority of people out there believe marijuana is harmless. Unfortunately that’s not the case.”

Hill said patients who use marijuana should seek strains with balanced amounts of THC, the compound that typically produces a high, and CBD, a compound that offsets the effects of THC.

The Massachusetts Medical Society opposed the statewide ballot question that made marijuana legal for medical purposes. But the society offered this course because the drug is legal now for some medical treatment and doctors are seeing patients who want a marijuana certificate. Doctors do not prescribe marijuana under the Massachusetts law; they only certify that their patient has an illness for which marijuana might provide relief.

“Given the state of the science on [marijuana's] effects and side effects, many of these physicians have turned to us to help them sort out the evidence,” said Dr. Richard Pieters, MMS president.

But some doctors in the audience said the society’s bias against medical marijuana was evident in the course.

“It was a little skewed,” said Dr. Susan Lucas, who has epilepsy and uses marijuana to help control her seizures.

“Many of these physicians or many people here are of the sort of Reefer-Madness era,” Lucas said. “I agree that [marijuana] should be in addition to regular medications, but I don’t think it should be written off as just THC and people sitting around with their kids getting high.”

Dr. Karen Munkacy, who has applied to open a dispensary in Newton, said she was “just very happy that the Massachusetts Medical Society was putting on this conference.”

Munkacy, who is on the board of the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the course concluded “that for some very serious medical conditions [marijuana] can be very useful. I’m very happy that [MMS is] getting this message out to their members. It’s going to help a lot of very sick patients.”

The course included a review of state regulations that apply to “qualifying physicians.” MMS attorney Bill Ryder said it’s not clear yet if nurse practitioners will be authorized to sign marijuana certificates.

Some of the roughly 80 physicians at this course came because, as of July 1, they will need to complete a continuing education course in marijuana for medical purposes if they want the option of certifying patients. Others came because they’ve already been asked to sign the forms and don’t feel prepared.

“It’s very frightening as a physician,” said Dr. Marisa Bochman, who practices family medicine in Hamilton. “You know a lot of us have been put in the position where we had to kind of swim on our own, and I wish we had a lot of this information a long time ago.”

Bochman has certified two patients with chronic pain to get the maximum amount of the drug, 10 ounces for 60 days. She was stunned to realize how much marijuana she had authorized.

“I’ve never used marijuana,” Bochman said. “I have no idea what an ounce or 10 ounces mean. Now I know. Ten ounces is about 600 joints.That’s 10 joints a day. Sounds like a lot to me.”

Her voice trailed into nervous laughter.

Many doctors worry about how a marijuana certificate will translate into treatment for their patients.

“When I prescribe [the patient] a medication that is FDA approved, I’m telling you to get a specific medication with specific doses: how many times to take a day and for how long,” Hill said.

There are no universal, approved recommendations in place for marijuana.

“When you don’t have those safeguards in place, that’s when things can go quite badly,” Hill warned.

In addition, doctors don’t know whether to suggest that patients smoke marijuana, vaporize it, eat products infused with pot or take a pill. For the moment, it may be trial and error for patients and doctors testing this treatment option.


Jul 25, 2008
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Study finds genetic links between schizophrenia and cannabis use

Genes that increase the risk of a person developing schizophrenia may also increase the chance they will use cannabis, researchers said on Tuesday after studying more than 1,000 users of the drug.

The results chime with previous studies linking schizophrenia and cannabis, but suggest the association may be due to common genes and might not be a causal relationship where cannabis use leads to increased schizophrenia risk.

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the world, and its use is higher among people with schizophrenia than in the general population.

"We know that cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia. Our study certainly does not rule this out, but it suggests that there is likely to be an association in the other direction as well – that a pre-disposition to schizophrenia also increases your likelihood of cannabis use," said Robert Power, who led the study at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.

Schizophrenia is a common and severe psychiatric disorder that affects around one in 100 people. People who use cannabis are about twice as likely as those who do not to develop it.

The disorder typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and its most common symptoms are disruptions in thinking, language and perception. It often includes psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices or delusions.

While the exact cause is unknown, research to date suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make people more likely to develop it.

Previous studies have found a number of genetic risk variants associated with schizophrenia, each of which slightly increases a person's risk of developing the condition.

Cannabis use has frequently been associated with it, but there is much debate about whether this is because of a direct cause, or whether there may be shared genes which predispose people to both cannabis use and schizophrenia.

A study published in March 2011 found that people who use cannabis in their youth dramatically increase their risk of psychotic symptoms, and that continued use of the drug can raise the risk of developing a psychotic disorder in later life.

And earlier research found that young people who smoke cannabis for six years or more are twice as likely to have psychotic episodes, hallucinations or delusions.

This latest study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on Tuesday, included 2,082 healthy people of whom 1,011 had used cannabis. Each participant's genetic risk profile - the number of genes related to schizophrenia each of them carried - was measured.

The researchers found that people genetically predisposed to schizophrenia were more likely to use cannabis, and to use it in greater amounts than those who had no schizophrenia risk genes.

Power said the result "highlights the complex interactions between genes and environments" when it comes to cannabis as a risk factor for schizophrenia.

"Certain environmental risks, such as cannabis use, may be more likely given an individual's innate behavior and personality, itself influenced by their genetic make-up," he said, adding that this finding was important to consider when calculating the economic and health impact of cannabis.


Jul 25, 2008
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Cannabis Gains Ground after Favorable GWPH Data & Ongoing MMJ Legalization

Jun 24, 2014 (ACCESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Marijuana Index(TM) traded higher last week amid GW Pharmaceuticals plc's GWPH -0.29% rally higher as well as broader gains across the industry.

WHITEFISH, MT / June 24, 2014 / Top gainers included GW Pharmaceuticals plc GWPH -0.29% , which rallied more than 20% last week after reporting favorable preliminary data on its clinical trials, and Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. NDEV +4.99% , which extended its rally by about 11% this week. Losers last week included Tranzbyte Corp. ERBB -7.50% , which fell 8.3% on no news, and Fusion Pharm Inc. FSPM -8.70% , which gave up some of its strong gains from the prior week.

Cannabis regulatory initiatives also continued to gain ground last week. In New York, the legislature and governor agreed to a last-minute deal to legalize limited forms of medical marijuana for limited numbers of patients. Florida lawmakers reached a similar deal to legalize medical marijuana in a limited way as well, helping open the doors in more U.S. states. And finally, Hillary Clinton's stance on the legalization of marijuana also appears to be lightening up.

What's New?

- Novus Aims to Fill Void in Cannabis Industry - CannabisFN profiles Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. NDEV +4.99% and its plans to introduce a health insurance program geared towards medical marijuana patients.

- Hillary Clinton Lightens Stance on Cannabis - Possible Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton recently made comments that suggest her attitudes towards cannabis are evolving to be more liberal over time.

- Intelligent Highway Solutions Targets Cannabis - After licensing a proprietary lighting solution for commercial applications, Intelligent Highway Solutions Inc. IHSI -2.91% unveiled plans for cannabis growers.

- New York Legalizes MMJ after 20 Year Battle - New York State legalized limited forms of MMJ for limited patient conditions, which if signed off on by the governor, would make it the 23rd state to legalize the substance.

- CannLabs Expands into CT Testing Market - CannLabs Inc. SDSPD +3.57% announced that it signed exclusive agreements with two of the four licensed cannabis businesses in Connecticut to provide lab and analytics services.

Exclusive Interview Series

In a recent episode of CannabisFN's Executive Interview Series, Mike Elliott sits down to talk with Novus Acquisition & Development Corp.'s Andrea Lopez about the company's plans to enter the medical marijuana insurance and compliance markets.

Click Here: Watch the Full Interview

CannabisFN's Mike Elliott also profiled Intelligent Highway Solutions Inc.'s new lighting solutions that it has licensed for the cannabis industry, which could help growers reduce their electricity costs and improve their yields.

Click Here: Watch the Full Product Overview

What to Watch This Week

The cannabis sector moved higher last week after GW Pharmaceuticals plc reported its bullish news. While medical marijuana gains ground in the U.S., Canadian companies are also starting to see the fruits of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations ("MMPR") that went into effect earlier this year. Investors could see more licensed producers become publicly traded over the coming quarters.

Upcoming Events

WeedStock Conference - June 29 to July 1, 2014 - The 1st Annual Cannabis Investor Conference in Denver, Colorado will feature networking events, industry speakers, expert panels, and more.

About CannabisFN

CannabisFN.com is a dedicated financial network covering new, emerging and established companies operating in the burgeoning multi-billion dollar medical marijuana ("MMJ") and cannabis industries. CannabisFN's coverage is syndicated on the leading industry specific and mainstream financial websites and social media. To learn more and request a media kit, visit http://www.cannabisfn.com/market-defining-companies-program/


Jul 25, 2008
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Philadelphia Decriminalizes Cannabis, Reduces Penalties

The City of Brotherly Love just got a little more loving. On June 19, the Philadelphia City Council approved a cannabis decriminalization bill. The possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis is now a civil offense with a penalty fine of $25. This bill was passed 13-3, making it a veto-proof majority.

The mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, must take action on the measure by this coming September. Hopefully it's a no-brainer for him: according to Philly NORML, the new policy should result in annual savings of $4 million in the Public Safety Budget and as well as a decrease in simple possession arrests by 4,000 individuals.

Congratulations to Philadelphia for making some great progress in further legitimizing cannabis -- next up, legalization in Pennsylvania!

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