MJ News for 07/07/2014

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http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/07/07/new-york-becomes-23rd-state-to-allow-medical-marijuana/




New York Becomes 23rd State To Allow Medical Marijuana


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York has become the 23rd state in the U.S. to authorize medical marijuana – though the state’s program is one of the nation’s most restrictive.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law Saturday and held a formal signing ceremony in New York City on Monday to highlight the new law.

When the program gets up and running in about 18 months, patients with diseases including AIDS, cancer and epilepsy will be able to obtain nonsmokeable versions of the drug.

Instead, the drug must be ingested or administered through a vaporizer or oil base.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said prohibiting smokeable marijuana will help keep the drug out of the wrong hands.

“It was almost oxymoronic that a health department would operate a program allowing smoking – which they spend a very significant amount of their time trying to stop people from smoking,” Cuomo told WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola. “Second, you don’t need the smoking to get the benefits of the drugs.”

The compromise was one of the final measures passed by lawmakers in Albany before they adjourned last month.

“We have the medical benefits of marijuana,” Cuomo said. “We also have public safety and public health concerns that are addressed.”

Nine-year-old Amanda Houser, of Suffern, spoke at Monday’s signing ceremony. She has a form of epilepsy and suffers dozens of seizures every day.

For her, medical marijuana could be a life-changer.

“I want to be a normal girl, and I want my seizures to stop,” she said.
Larchmont resident Polly Vanderwouce, whose 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Olivia, has a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy, told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer the medical marijuana bill signed into law provides a ray of hope that her daughter can live a more normal life.

“She’s never gone more than two days without having a seizure,” Vanderwounce said. “Having a child with severe epilepsy means that you’re always on alert and every seizure can turn into an emergency and a life-threatening situation, so anything that helps reduce that sense of fear would be huge.”

Under the law, the state will approve and regulate up to five businesses authorized to grow and distribute the drug. The operators could each have up to four dispensaries statewide.

“From this day forward New Yorkers will now have access to the same life-changing treatment that other patients across the country have had,” state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, who sponsored the legislation, said in a news release. “This is an historic victory for the countless health care professionals, physicians, advocates, families and patients who know that the safe and reliable use of medical marijuana is a sensible, compassionate course of treatment for debilitating illness and disease. I stand with the thousands of New Yorkers who now will no longer have to suffer needlessly through their courageous medical battles.”

Patients would get prescriptions from physicians approved by the state to participate in the program.

Patients who sell their prescribed marijuana could face a misdemeanor. Patients would be required to carry registration cards showing they are authorized to possess the drug and can be prescribed a maximum 30-day supply.

The governor could shut down the program if it does not work out.
“If it goes bad, these’s an escape,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo insisted the program is not an indication that the state will soon legalize marijuana for recreational use.

“I am against legalizing marijuana, and that’s not what this is,” Cuomo said. “This is medical marijuana.”
 

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http://www.tampabay.com/news/politi...st-hearing-on-medical-marijuana-rules/2187464




Florida holds first hearing on medical marijuana rules


TALLAHASSEE — The race to cultivate and distribute marijuana for a limited medical use began Monday when state regulators opened a day-long hearing on draft rules for the new law to allow non-euphoric, non-inhalable cannabis to be developed.

The standing room only crowd in the Tallahassee hearing room was chock full of some of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbyists as well as growers from Israel, Colorado and California, and farmers from throughout the state as regulators work to enact the law passed last spring by lawmakers.

The plan is to create a statewide lottery, whose eligible participants would include the 41 eligible nurseries and representatives of doctors who also want to get on the cannabis train.

The mother of Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl whose parents worked to get the low THC strain of marijuana, was also in the crowd, as was Joel Stanley, the marijuana grower who developed the "Charlotte's Web" strain.

The proposed criteria is strict: the plants must adhere to the formula of no more than more than .8 percent THC or less than 10 percent CBD – or all of the product would be destroyed. Growers must inventory their plants, cuttings and seeds daily or be subject to penalty. Chemical additives must be screened and carefully controlled and the entire operation must be under lock and key.

The potential industry has already spawned a rush of businesses waiting to strike it rich in Florida. The law is intended to help patients with severe epilepsy and other muscle diseases, as well as patients with cancer, but an amendment pending on the November ballot would allow for medical use of the plant for a much broader array of ailments.

Regulators hope that the process they put in place this summer for the limited strain could be a blueprint for the wider law if voters approve it. It requires that a license will cost $150,000 and the grower must post a bond of $5 million. The investment also involves immense security and technology, including a requirement that growers fingerprint and screen their employees.

The law envisions growers becoming store owners, creating a series of dispensaries in each region of the state. The proposed rules suggest their stores be open at least 30 hours a week, and no later than 10 p.m. and the products they sell are limited.

Several people testified that room must be made in the rules to allow the growers to get to the product without being subject to federal crimes for possession of the illegal drug. Others warned about the requirement that the growers be able to offer their product in any region of the state so as to allow price competition.

"Essentially you're creating not an oligopoly but a monopoly in that region,'' said Bill Pfeiffer, a former state administrative law judge. He also suggested that one dispensing organization can offer it in multiple locations within a region.

"I think the Legislature has made it very clear they can offer it statewide or regionally as determined by the department."

Stanley, one of the five brothers who developed the Charlotte's Web strain in Colorado, said that there are many misconceptions that abound about the special strain. Every plant is unique and it is important to retain that genetic composition to obtain quality control, he said.

"What makes Charlotte Web particularly special is it does have that track record,'' he said.

He noted that the agricultural practices are important, as some applicants will be able to produce the strain more quickly and safely than others.

"If five make it through a lottery process and they all qualify under the applicants qualifications within the rules, they are still going to have extremely different levels of teams that they've assembled to prove that they can put this product out in bulk but also safely,'' he said.
 

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http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/07/louisiana_state_bar_associatio.html




Louisiana Bar Association backs marijuana sentencing reform


The Louisiana State Bar Association has endorsed efforts to reduce the sentence for simple possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor charge.

The association passed a resolution to support reducing sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor during its annual meeting in Destin, Fla. last month. The group's proposal is very similar to an unsuccessful bill introduced by state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, during the 2014 legislative session.

Bar Association president Larry Shea told The News-Star that the state's spending on marijuana prosecution and incarceration is a concern of the organization, given the state's limited financial resources. The bar association is calling for the cost of pursuing marijuana charges to be put toward more serious offenses.

Current law punishes possession of marijuana -- from a single joint up to 60 pounds -- with a $500 fine and six moths in jail (a misdemeanor) for a first offense, a $2,500 fine and five years in jail for a second offense (a felony) and a $5,000 fine and a 20-year jail term for a third offense (a felony).

Morrell and the Bar Association's proposed change would bring all marijuana sentences for possession of small amounts of the drug down to a misdemeanor level, even when they involved repeat offenders.

While the Bar Association's resolution is helpful, Morrell said it is likely marijuana sentencing reform efforts will continue to be stymied until the Louisiana District Attorneys Association or Louisiana Sheriffs' Association bends on marijuana sentencing. Both groups came out against Morrell's bill to lighten marijuana sentences this spring.

The state Senator said every other state in the region, including Texas, already has lighter sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana than Louisiana does. "We don't discriminate between a small amount [of marijuana] for personal use and a large amount. ... No other state around us has this law this way," said Morrell.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...al-recreational-colorado-washington/12286057/




Colo., Wash., differ in legalizing marijuana


While the recreational marijuana systems in Colorado and Washington state are broadly similar, here are seven differences between the two:

• Colorado permits residents to grow a small number of plants for their personal use. Washington requires all marijuana to be grown by licensed farmers. In Colorado, it's legal to give away pot if you have extra. Washington requires all recreational marijuana to come from a store.

• Washington set a cap of 334 recreational marijuana stores statewide, distributed by population, although not that many will open because cities and towns can bar them. Colorado has no cap on the number of stores - about 200 are licensed now -- but some cities and towns have barred them from opening.

• Colorado built its recreational marijuana system atop a closely regulated medical marijuana system but has allowed the market to largely decide where stores can open. Washington's medical marijuana system is less regulated, but it's launching retail sales far more cautiously. Colorado, for example, gave medical marijuana stores the first crack at opening recreational stores, while Washington required everyone to start from the same point.

MORE: Washington state joins Colo. in legal pot business

• Colorado allows licensed operators to grow, process and sell marijuana to consumers. Washington separates producers and growers from retailers, banning vertical integration.

• Colorado and Washington allow buyers to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at any time, but Colorado limits non-residents to buying a quarter-ounce at a time. Washington doesn't make a distinction between resident and non-resident sales.

• Washington initially limits overall marijuana growing to 2 million square feet, while Colorado doesn't limit how much private space can be dedicated to growing operations. Washington's limit effectively caps the amount of marijuana that can be grown and sold, while Colorado has chosen to let the free market decide. Washington state officials say that cap is designed to provide an adequate supply of retail marijuana while limiting the amount illegally diverted for black-market sales.

• Washington requires quality-testing for all marijuana -- including edible products -- on the first day of sales. Colorado's sales began without mandatory testing, although those requirements are now in place. Washington's approach means people will be assured of what they are buying. It also means no edibles will be available Tuesday, because no edibles makers have yet been licensed by the state.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...uana-research-university-of-arizona/12127139/




Marijuana study backed by feds delayed after researcher's firing


As legal marijuana expands in the USA, with recreational sales starting Tuesday in Washington state, a first-of-its-kind pot study approved by the federal government is hitting a snag.

A researcher who received federal approval to study medical marijuana's effects on veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome was terminated from her university position, further delaying the long-awaited research.

Dr. Suzanne Sisley's termination, effective Sept. 26, means her research could be postponed by at least 1-1/2 years until she is appointed at another university and passes another university's review process, Sisley said in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

It has already taken her four years to get the federal government to approve her study, she said.

"We were on the cusp of finally implementing this study and helping veterans answer the question of what role marijuana can play in treating PTSD," Sisley said.

Sisley said she thinks her dismissal from the University of Arizona was "political retaliation" -- a result of her pot-related work, Sisley said.

Specifically, Sisley said she had informal meetings with elected officials about the medical importance of marijuana research and the need to pass a state bill that would make some public funds available for marijuana research.

The University of Arizona declined to provide further information for Sisley's dismissal, saying it does not comment on personnel issues, according to George Humphrey, university spokesman, in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

Humphrey said "several individuals" received non-renewal notices, not just Sisley.

"However, you should know that UA has not received political pressure to terminate any employee," Humphrey said in the e-mail.

He added that U of A "championed" other bill that passed the state legislature last year allowing medical marijuana research to be conducted at public universities.

Sisley had three part-time roles at the University of Arizona: assistant director at the Arizona Telemedicine Program, a special projects coordinator at the medical school and a non-tenured clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the position that allowed her to do the marijuana research.

In notices sent to Sisley on June 27, the university said Sisley's three contracts would not be renewed. The decision was "final" and not subject to further review, according to the notices.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2010. This year, a bill was introduced that would allow the state to use fees collected from the medical marijuana industry to go toward pot research.

This bill, which Sisley supported, cleared the House but was never brought up in a Senate committee.

Sisley said she received a phone call in April from the university's vice president questioning what she said the university described as "political activity."

Under university policy, employees are allowed to participate in political activity outside the classroom but cannot allow that activity to affect their objectivity on the job. They also cannot use the university name or affiliation in supporting or opposing a political issue.

In an April e-mail to university administrators, Sisley said she never used university resources to participate in this activism and conducted her advocacy work outside of work hours.

In 2011, Sisley received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to be the principal investigator of a triple-blind, randomized trial of 70 veterans with PTSD.

The study cleared a major hurdle in March when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Public Health Service also approved the study.

Study participants will receive marijuana grown by the federal government with five varying amounts of the active ingredient, THC — anywhere from the placebo of no THC to 12% THC. The study will also examine the differences between smoking the drug versus vaporizing it.

In May, the University of Arizona signed a contract with Sisley and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a non-profit research and educational organization sponsoring the $1 million research, that would allow Sisley to do her work at U of A, The Arizona Republic reports.

However, in order for Sisley to begin, she still needed approval from a third federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA approval hinged on the university providing her a research space, she said.

To date, the evidence that medical marijuana could help with PTSD symptoms has been on a case-by-case basis.

"I can tell you it's good for me until I'm blue in the face, but nobody's ever going to know that until the research is done," said Ricardo Pereyda, a combat veteran with PTSD. "It's all anecdotal and rhetorical as far as anybody in a policy-making position is concerned."

Sisley said her hope is that she will be reinstated to her former positions at the university. If that doesn't happen, she said she worries that her marijuana research has made her so "politically radioactive that no university wants to touch me."
 

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http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jul/07/vancouver-issued-two-marijuana-store-licenses/




Vancouver issued two marijuana store licenses


Two Vancouver marijuana stores received their licenses from the Washington State Liquor Control Board at 2:30 a.m. Monday as part of the first group of 24 stores to get them around the state.

After approval, stores and their processors or producers must file a manifest for transporting product to the store location. After a 24-hour quarantine, the product can be transported and once received, it can be sold.

Main Street Marijuana, 2314 Main St., plans to open at 11 a.m. Wednesday, said Ramsey Hamide, a manager.

The store has, as of Monday morning, secured 10 pounds of marijuana for opening day, with other shipments coming later in the week, Hamide said.

New Vansterdam, 6515 E. Mill Plain Blvd., plans to be open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, said Brian Budz, one of the owners.

“We have the clock ticking and we’re moving forward,” Budz said.

A total of 334 licensees have applied to the state for retail stores, but many are not yet prepared to open. The board has approved six stores in Vancouver, including the two that have been licensed.

The board said that locations receiving licenses were selected with consideration of population, geographic dispersion and the individual applicant’s readiness to be licensed.
 

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http://www.medicaljane.com/2014/07/...ts-university-of-arizona-ptsd-study-in-limbo/




Firing Of Medical Marijuana Researcher Puts University Of Arizona PTSD Study In Limbo


Earlier this year, Dr. Sue Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, received groundbreaking federal approval for conducting clinical trials on how cannabis may be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This study, fought for extensively by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), had a long journey until its final approval. But it may be delayed – or even dismissed – after Dr. Sisley’s termination.
“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers.” – Dr. Sue Sisley

According to Sisley, her research and personal advocacy regarding cannabis created unwanted attention for the university from legislators.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley stated. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

In response, University of Arizona officials rejected any claims of political pressure. “The university has received no political pressure to terminate any employee,” said Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for the University of Arizona. He went on to say that the university is accepting of medical marijuana research, citing its support for a 2013 measure allowing similar studies to be conducted on the campus.

However, university officials have yet to clarify why they chose to not renew Dr. Sisley’s contract. Stuart Flynn, Dean of University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, emailed a memo to Sisley stating that the decision is final, and “is not subject to further administrative review.” The relationship between Dr. Sisley and the university will officially end as of September 26.

Future Of PTSD Study Remains Unclear

After receiving federal approval for her PTSD study in March, many advocates believed it to be an indication of the shifting perception of cannabis on behalf of lawmakers. However, the firing of Dr. Sisley will cause the study to pushed back.

“What happened here is the repression of science for political purposes. It is astonishing in this day and age.” – Rick Doblin

“This is just going to delay everything for a year or two,” said Sisley. “It is just another awful delay for this study.”

It is unclear how long the study will be delayed for, or whether it will be revived down the road at all, but advocates are disappointed with the university’s recent decision to say the least.

Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS, had the following to say: “What happened here is the repression of science for political purposes. It is astonishing in this day and age.”
 

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http://time.com/2963500/california-drought-marijuana-plant/




Thirsty Marijuana Plants Draining Drought-Wracked California


Marijuana crops are guzzling so much water, the state's fisheries and wildlife could be at risk.

California cannabis growers may be making millions, but their thirsty plants are sucking up a priceless resource: water. Now scientists say that if no action is taken in the drought-wracked state, the consequences for fisheries and wildlife will be dire.

“If this activity continues on the trajectory it’s on, we’re looking at potentially streams going dry, streams that harbor endangered fish species like salmon, steelhead,” said Scott Bauer of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...ling-legal-cannabis-is-pot-nation-on-the-way/




As Washington state begins selling legal cannabis, is Pot Nation on the way?


Sales of recreational marijuana begin today in Washington state, bringing to two the number of states where adults are allowed to legally buy pot whether or not they have a medical condition (real or feigned) for which it might be helpful. The experience of Washington and Colorado is going to accelerate the acceptance of legalization, and make it more likely to pass elsewhere.

Don’t be surprised if within a decade we saw legal pot in half the states.

That’s true even though even though there have been problems in Colorado and there will be problems in Washington as well. Indeed, an accelerating trend in legalization may take place partly because of those problems. We’re getting two different case studies in how to go about legalizing, and every state that considers it from this point forward will be able to learn from what they did right and what they did wrong.

Meanwhile, those who oppose legalization are going to continue to be undermined by the hyperbole in their own arguments, a problem that has existed as long as there has been a debate about illegal drugs. When the head of the DEA can’t bring herself to admit that crack and heroin might be worse for a person to use than pot, it makes it harder for the millions of Americans who have been exposed to the latter to take seriously the case being made by anti-legalization advocates. As the years pass and more and more of the older generations who had little exposure to pot die off, the proportion of Americans who view it as something evil and terrifying will grow smaller and smaller.

In Colorado, the sky has not fallen since people started buying recreational cannabis six months ago. The predicted increase in crime didn’t materialize, and there is no evidence that Coloradans are dropping out of school and leaving their jobs en masse to get high and play video games all day. While tax revenues from the new recreational system haven’t been as high as some predicted (in part because the state still has lots of medical marijuana stores operating), thousands of new jobs have been created in the nascent industry.

However, we’re already learning things that can and should be applied in other states. For instance, when a new crop of people began trying cannabis in Colorado, a lot of them found edibles appealing. But since there wasn’t a strict system for labeling and packaging that would let people know exactly what they’re getting and make it easier to keep the products away from children, some people have gotten sick, including some kids who got their hands on their parents’ edibles. In Washington, despite the fact that they’ve had a year and a half to prepare, they’ve only licensed a few shops and growers, so there isn’t going to be much legal pot available — meaning the black market is going to persist, at least for a while.

Any state considering its own legal cannabis regime will be watching these two states closely, to figure out where the potholes are and how to avoid them. But (depending on how things go in Washington) it’s going to be very difficult for legalization opponents to argue that the two states have suffered outright disaster, particularly the kind of disaster the anti-drug forces warned about. So when new states join the debate, the discussion may well focus more on specifics, like how products should be labeled and how an existing medical marijuana system should be integrated with a new recreational commerce system. That kind of debate assumes that the problems are solvable if you fashion your policies with enough care.

In 2016, we could see anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen initiatives on the ballot in various (mostly liberal) states legalizing cannabis in one way or another. The most important of these is California, with its population of 38 million and an already permissive attitude toward marijuana. This is a debate that’s only going to accelerate in the next few years, and if the anti-legalization advocates don’t find a way to cast off their old habit of arguing with frying eggs and apocalyptic warnings that don’t come true, they’ll find themselves increasingly marginalized.
 

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http://5newsonline.com/2014/07/07/arkansas-medical-cannabis-act-reaches-deadline-for-2014-ballot/




Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act Reaches Deadline For 2014 Ballot


With the deadline to collect supportive signatures vastly approaching, the Arkansans for Compassionate Care group is counting signatures Sunday night in hope that they will have the legalization of medical marijuana on this year’s November ballot.

As of right now, the use of marijuana is illegal in Arkansas.

“I think it would be a big mistake[ to legalize it],” Dr. James Bledsoe said.

“The Controlled Substance Act, passed in the 1970’s, lists the cannabis drugs as a dangerous drug that should not be used for medicine,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

Dr. Bledsoe is a physician in Northwest Arkansas. He says the drug is not as proven as a medication as some may think.

Dr. Bledsoe says he wouldn’t prescribe the drug to someone today if it was legal.

“As a physician, I have to be sure about what I am prescribing,” Dr. Bledsoe said. “I don’t want to legalize something, I don’t want to go through the legislative process and bypass what we do with all drugs, going through screening through the FDA, clinical trials, and so on.”

But, those who are for the initiative to legalize medical marijuana say they think it is proven, and possibly even safer than other doctor-prescribed medications.

“I believe it is more natural,” said Sidney Woods, who signed his name on the initiative. “You can’t overdose on it like you can with some of the other medicines that are prescribed by doctors. And, it doesn’t have any of the negative side effects that a lot of the medicines have.”

Woods signed his name on the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act earlier this year.

He says his family has seen marijuana work for medical purposes, as his aunt tried it after injuring her back.

“She takes really high grade OxyContin and Valium, and all those pain killers, and they don’t really work for her,” Woods said. “But, she has tried marijuana once or twice, and its worked wonders for her.”

Many supporters believe that the drug should have age restrictions on its usage in substitute for other medical pain killers.

“I think, once you get to a certain age, it’s a lot safer [than current prescribed drugs],” Woods said.

However, some, like Dr. Bledsoe, say it is worse.

“It is addicting. If you use it daily, approximately 17 percent of people will become addicted to it,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

Dr. Bledsoe tells 5NEWS there are only a couple small reasons that marijuana plants are useful or, and he doesn’t believe one of them is to replace common pain killers.

“I hope people understand what they are getting into if they vote for it,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

5NEWS reached out to the Arkansans for Compassionate Care group for comment.

However, they were unable to speak at the time, as they were busy counting signatures for Monday’s deadline.

If they indeed obtain enough signatures for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act by Monday, the initiative would be on the November 4 ballot this year.
 

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http://www.fastcompany.com/3032774/...zation-will-increase-number-of-cannabis-users




UN DRUG REPORT: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION WILL INCREASE NUMBER OF CANNABIS USERS (duuuh!)


egalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado is expected to drive prices down, resulting in an increase in the total number of pot users, says the United Nation's 2014 World Drug Report.

The cost of cannabis production is said to decrease with legalization, putting a downward pressure on prices. According to the UN report, for every 10% drop in the cost of marijuana, there will be a 3% rise in cannabis users, including a 3% to 5% increase in youths trying cannabis for the first time. With growing acceptance of marijuana, the report says the number of cannabis-related hospitalizations has increased as well. Between 2006 and 2010, there was a 59% jump in marijuana-related emergency visits as well as a 14% increase in cannabis-related treatment admissions.

Though the legal sale of cannabis will provide additional revenue to state coffers, Washington and Colorado have incurred significant costs to regulate the industry and prevent abuse of the drug, the report found. According to some experts, drug cartels have lost close to $3 billion in revenue due to the legalization of cannabis in those two states. The decline of prices in the U.S. could also spill over to Mexico, further driving down the going rate of the drug.

However, the report notes that Washington and Colorado make up a very small percentage of the cannabis market, so the overall impact on cartels appears to be modest, especially around other drug markets, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
 

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