MJ News for 07/18/2014

7greeneyes

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http://dcist.com/2014/07/marijuana_decriminalization.php




Marijuana Possession In D.C. Is Decriminalized. Now What?


Possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in the District is now punishable by a fine cheaper than the one for littering. Now that D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law is in effect—despite the efforts of some members of Congress—the new question is: What's next?

The decriminalization bill was originally introduced by Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) as a way to address the huge racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests in D.C. Last year, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs released a report that analyzed arrest statistics in D.C. between 2009 and 2011, and found that an overwhelming majority of people arrested for marijuana-related crimes were black and male, despite that reported marijuana use was evenly split between white and black residents.

Now that the law is in effect, it's pressing to ensure that District residents are aware of what the legislation means and what they can and can't do.
Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, tells DCist that his organization is doing outreach to try and make sure people in D.C. know the facts. "It's going to be very similar to the outreach effort we did around the Good Samaritan Law," he says, which included a major Internet campaign. Under the marijuana decriminalization law, anyone caught possessing an ounce or less of pot is subject to a $25 fine and seizure of said marijuana. However, getting caught selling pot or smoking in public could still land you in jail, as can driving under the influence of marijuana.

Part of that outreach effort, Burnett says, involves educating residents in communities where marijuana arrests happen most, like Ward 8, about the law. If you need proof that there's a lot of misinformation about the marijuana decriminalization law, just looks at the wallet-sized explainer cards the Metropolitan Police Department is now distributing. It begins with the sentence: "You may have heard that marijuana is now legal in the District of Columbia. This is not true."

Although Burnett says he doesn't know if the DPA will be on the ground in those communities to make sure people know the law, he says their partners — including the NAACP, the ACLU and the Washington Lawyer's Committee — will have people in the city. Burnett says the ACLU is working to put together a interactive website about marijuana decriminalization "to let people know what they can and can't do."

The marijuana decriminalization bill won't completely reverse the statistics surrounding marijuana-related arrests in D.C. Seema Sadanandan, program director for the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, tells DCist that the focus now needs to shift to police reform. "We need to start looking at the incentive structure from top to bottom," she says, "from the federal government and the billions of dollars spent on drug enforcement to the local police districts. How are they being evaluated and is that producing the disparate results?" If the metric for rating success is arrests, she says, "you're going to see [officers] making as many arrests as possible."

Sadanandan says many of those arrests have been made through racial profiling and the controversial "stop-and-frisk" technique, in which officers may frisk an individual if they suspect that person is in possession of weapons or drugs, including marijuana. In 2010, more than 54 percent of marijuana arrests in D.C. were sole possession charges, and Sadanandan says that the police claimed it was because people were smoking in public. "When we FOIA'd it, that didn't seem to be the case," she says. "It was a result of war on drugs strategies used exclusively in black communities: community-based profiling and the aggressive use of stop and frisk."

Although the marijuana decriminalization law will help prevent these tactics—there's a provision that says police can't use the odor of marijuana as a reason to investigate individuals for other offenses or request a search warrant —it doesn't solve all of the racial disparity problems. Sadanandan says that the disparity will continue because the application of the new law will still be disparate; police will continue to aggressively patrol the same areas.

D.C. residents will likely get to vote on marijuana legalization this November.

The ACLU says it supports this, but remains focused on police reform.

"Hopefully we've advanced the conversation about good cops and bad cops, and we're talking about police reform," Sadanandan says. But currently, there's no legislation on the table that addresses police reform. She says the ACLU has spoken with a number of Councilmembers over the past few years who all agree something needs to change in the way local police handle drug-related arrests, but no legislation has been introduced yet. "The conversation with the Council is the same conversation we've been having for years," she says.

"Racism is much older than the war on drugs," she continued. "What's next has to be a focus on policing structures. We need to look at police department by police department and say, 'What are your metrics?'"
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140718_ap_1e70b1ade7c24aaa9d541e891874f033.html




Marijuana edibles burgeoning into an industry


MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Move over, pot brownies.

The proliferation of marijuana edibles for both medical and recreational purposes is giving rise to a cottage industry of baked goods, candies, infused oils, cookbooks and classes that promises a slow burn as more states legalize the practice and awareness spreads about the best ways to deliver the drug.

Edibles and infused products such as snack bars, olive oils and tinctures popular with medical marijuana users have flourished into a gourmet market of chocolate truffles, whoopie pies and hard candies as Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the past year.

"You're seeing a lot of these types of products like cannabis cookbooks," said Erik Altieri, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "They've always been popular among a subset of marijuana, but with the fact that more and more people from the mainstream are able to consume, there's a lot more interest."

Many pot users turn to edibles because they don't like to inhale or smell the smoke or just want variety. For many people who are sick or in pain, controlled doses of edibles or tinctures can deliver a longer-lasting therapeutic dose that doesn't give them the high.

And there's money to be made.

BlueKudu, in Denver, started producing marijuana chocolate bars for medicinal purposes three years ago. Since recreational use became legal this year in Colorado, owner Andrew Schrot said, the wholesale business has more than doubled its sales from several hundred chocolate bars sold a day through dispensaries to more than 1,000, at $9 to $17 a piece.

"There seems to be quite a bit of intrigue about the infused products from the general public and consumer, especially tourists," Schrot said.

Cooking classes have sprung up. One in Denver - led by a chef who has turned out chocolate-covered bacon and Swedish meatballs with a marijuana-infused glaze - has grown so popular that it will be offered every week in August. It's also part of a vacation package that provides pot tourists with a stay at a cannabis-friendly hotel (vaporizer and private smoke deck included), a visit to dispensaries and growing operations, and the cooking class.

Students are advised not to smoke before they come to class because there's a lot to learn about the dosing and they will be sampling foods along the way.

"By the end of the class, everybody's pretty stoned," said founder J.J. Walker.

Mountain High Suckers in Denver sells lollipops and lozenges for medical marijuana users and plans to release treats for recreational users at the end of August. The company hopes they will take off.

"People are turning the corner and making lots of money in the rec department, and we expect to almost double the business in a year," said Chad Tribble, co-owner of Mountain High Suckers in Denver.

High Times, a 40-year-old monthly magazine based in New York, has always featured a cooking column with a recipe. At least 40,000 people attended its Cannabis Cup in Denver in April, a sort of trade show that includes judging of marijuana edibles, said editor-in-chief Chris Simunek.

"Like everything else in marijuana at the moment, it's sort of experiencing a renaissance where the more people get interested, the more experiments they do with it," Simunek said.

The magazine said its "Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook" is the top-selling title of the five it offers.

It's not just a hobby or business; there's a science involved.

THC, marijuana's psychoactive chemical, must be smoked or heated - as in cooked - to be activated. When ingested rather than inhaled, it provides a longer-lasting and often more intense feeling.

Users of pot edibles, such as cookies, are often advised to eat only a portion so they don't get too high. Education about proper dosing has become a priority after at least one death and a handful of hospital visits were linked to consuming too much of an edible.

At the New England Grassroots Institute in Quincy, Mass., Mike and Melissa Fitzgerald conduct cooking classes on the use of marijuana as part of the daily diet.

"We really don't do this to be high as a kite," said Melissa Fitzgerald. "You really have to take people's health seriously and have a purpose."

The Washington state Liquor Control Board adopted rules to require recreational marijuana products to be labeled clearly as such; to be scored so a serving size is easy to distinguish; and to be approved by the board before sale.

In Vermont - one of 22 states that allow the use of medical marijuana, along with the District of Columbia - the Legislature this year passed a bill that allows more people to get medical marijuana and called for a study of financial effects if the state were to allow recreational use.

Bridget Conry, general manager of Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington, Vermont, and of Southern Vermont Wellness, another medical marijuana dispensary in Brattleboro, is already creating infused olive oils, tinctures and a gluten-free cracker. She expects soon to be making pestos and other infused foods, in manageable amounts that allow people to control dosing.

"We've always come from the perspective of like, who eats a quarter of a cookie?" Conry said. "We're trying to make our things portion-specific, because you know you want to eat the whole cookie."
 

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http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Edible-marijuana-products-recalled-in-Colorado-267578951.html




Edible Marijuana Products Recalled In Colorado


A popular Colorado brand of marijuana-infused brownies and other sweets has been recalled amid concerns of contamination from unsanitary equipment.

The Denver Post reports that several products from the company At Home Baked were recalled Thursday by the Denver Department of Environmental Health. The recall was prompted by concerns over the machine the company was using to produce water hash to go in the products.

The recalled products included infused brownie mixes, blondie mixes, rice krispy treats and Stixx candy.

The company co-owner says the company has acquired a new washing machine to comply with food-safety requirements.

The Department of Environmental Health verified that there haven't been any reports of illness from the recalled products. A food safety inspection was the reason for the recall.
 

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http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2014/07/15/136812/




Rethinking Marijuana Delivery In Seattle


SEATTLE (AP) — William “Jackrabbit” Large pulls his SUV onto the side of a downtown Seattle street, parking behind an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and carrying a product the online retailer doesn’t offer: marijuana.

The thin, bespectacled Large is a delivery man for Winterlife, a Seattle company that is among a group of new businesses pushing the limits of Washington state’s recreational pot industry by offering to bring marijuana to almost any doorstep.

“It’s an opportunity that should not be missed,” Large says with the kind of fast-talking voice meant for radio.

While delivery services have existed for years to supply medical marijuana patients, the rise of similar businesses geared toward serving recreational users in Washington and Colorado highlights how the industry is outpacing the states’ pot laws.

Winterlife’s business model is a felony under Washington state law, which allows only the sale of pot grown by licensed producers at licensed retail shops.

Lawmakers should consider changing that, said Alison Holcomb, the author of the 2012 voter initiative that legalized the recreational use of pot, because providing more ways to access marijuana will help push people to the legal pot market.

In Colorado, where marijuana regulations require sales to be done in licensed dispensaries, there’s a flourishing market online for marijuana deliveries made in exchange for donations.

The law allows adults over 21 to give one another up to an ounce of marijuana, provided it is done “without remuneration.”

The only known case of criminal charges brought against a Colorado delivery service came last year, when the owner of a pot-for-donations service in the Colorado Springs area faced felony distribution charges. He committed suicide before trial.

In Washington, where the legal pot industry kicked off last week, companies like Winterlife jumped into fill demand from consumers for marijuana while the state spent the past 19 months building the regulations and licensing growers and retailers.

Winterlife co-founder Evan Cox, a vegan and bicyclist enthusiast, began by advertising on Craigslist and made deliveries.

Now he has around 50 full and part-time employees, including 25 to 30 delivery personnel in cars and bicycles. Operators field between 400 and 600 calls a day.

“We found a way to really fill the need that the Washington voter said that there is,” he says from his company’s headquarters, where workers busily sort, cut and package their different marijuana products into branded clear bags.

The Winterlife model is simple. They have a website that features their products – marijuana flowers, edibles and pipes. After making a call, the consumer’s phone is relayed to a driver, who then asks them where they want to meet.

Cox is fully aware of the shaky legal ground where he stands.

All of the drivers operate under animal-inspired pseudonyms. There’s a jackrabbit, a wombat, a possum, among others.

Cox is also mostly staying within Seattle, where police have tolerated the company’s presence and voters in the city made marijuana crimes a low priority for law enforcement years ago.

As the business kept growing, Cox decided to visit an attorney for advice. The company hopes that by checking the identification of its customers and opting not to mail the product it will avoid legal trouble.

Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, said Winterlife is undermining the spirit of the legal marijuana law. So far, he said, the police department has bigger priorities.

But he said the department could change its stance if it receives information about underage sales or other complaints. The department recently seized more than 2,200 plants from a medical marijuana grow that was bothering neighbors.

Minnesota resident Kendra Davis heard from her sister about Winterlife and gave them a call on a recent visit to Seattle. She met Large behind the Amazon delivery truck.

“I figured while I’m here I might as well partake where it’s legal,” says Davis, who added that she did not start smoking until she was 30. “The kind of high we’re looking for is the giggly fun,” she tells Large.

Then she buys a handful of truffles and a quarter ounce.
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/illinois-medical-marijuana-rules_n_5588833.html




(Illinois) 6 Things You Need To Know About The Nation's Strictest Medical Weed Law


Patients awaiting access to medical marijuana in Illinois may have it by early 2015 after rules for the state's restrictive pilot program were approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Tuesday.

More than seven months after Illinois' medical marijuana law went into effect, Tuesday's approval outlines the steps and approximate timeframes qualifying patients and prospective entrepreneurs can expect before they get the green light to use, cultivate or dispense the drug.

The law that created Illinois' pilot program -- already more than halfway into the first of its four years -- is among the strictest in the nation, in part due to limits on medical conditions that qualify for treatment and the steep fees and startup costs required of medical marijuana businesses. Twenty-three states, including Illinois, have passed medical marijuana laws and legislation is pending in three others.

More than 10,000 qualifying Illinois patients may eventually sign up, Medical marijuana reform group The Marijuana Policy Project estimates, according to the Associated Press.

Here are six more things to know about the newly approved rules for Illinois' medical marijuana:

Patients have to wait just a little bit longer for approval: Prospective patients with last names beginning with letters A through L can apply to use medical marijuana in September and October. People with last names that start with M through Z can apply in November and December. According to WGN, it's expected that applications will take 30 days to review.

... And even longer for the actual drug: All medical marijuana must be grown in-state; since the crops take roughly four months to grow, state officials told the Chicago Tribune they expect it will be spring 2015 before the drug is available.

Businesses will be waiting, too: Medical marijuana entrepreneurs are expected to be able to apply for licenses to grow and sell pot by September, the Chicago Tribune reports. Once approved, businesses would have six months to get their operations up and running.

There's "sick" and there's "eligible for medical marijuana" sick: Patients are only eligible for a medical marijuana registry card if they suffer from one or more of roughly 30 qualifying conditions that include cancer, HIV and glaucoma. The state only recently passed a bill that would grant minors suffering from conditions that include epilepsy access to a cannabis-derived oil.

Medical weed won't be growing (or selling) like crazy: The approved rules uphold the limits on the number of cultivation centers and dispensaries that can exist around the state. Though most dispensaries will be located in the Chicago area, statewide rules allow for just 60 dispensaries and 21 marijuana cultivation centers (roughly one in every police district around the state) statewide.

The feds can still bust users, growers and cultivators of medical marijuana (but probably won't): Marijuana, medical or otherwise, remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law -- and punishable by fines and jail time. However, the Tribune reports federal prosecutors have indicated "they will not focus on individuals who are following state laws."
 
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