MJ News for 08/22/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2014/08/legalized_marijuana_effect_on.html




Legalized marijuana: effect on teens looms large in Oregon campaign


Grace Ramstad, an incoming junior at Centennial High School, dismissed the idea that legalizing marijuana would increase teen use of the drug.

"When people don't want to smoke weed, it's not really because it's illegal, it's for other issues," the Gresham 16-year-old said. "And when they do want to, they don't really care about whether or not it's illegal. You can see that through the amount of under-age drinking."

That was the unanimous opinion of a group of eight teens from around Multnomah County involved in leadership activities. They were gathered by The Oregonian to discuss Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana for 21-and-over adults.

To this group of teens, at least, marijuana is such a common part of the landscape that it's hard for them to imagine that legalizing marijuana would change anything.

"The kids who are going to use it are already using it, whether it's legal or not" said Alex Zhang, 17, an incoming junior at Lincoln High School in Portland. He did concede that it might be easier for teens to get marijuana from older friends who could legally buy it – but he said it's not hard to find it now.

For all their nonchalance, however, teen use of marijuana is one of the central issues in the developing campaign over legalization.

Both sides argue heatedly over whether or not greater social and legal acceptance of marijuana will inevitably spark more teen usage – and whether youths will someday be bombarded with the cannabis version of the beer industry's babes-and-parties marketing.

Surveys already indicate that an increasing percentage of teens don't see marijuana as particularly dangerous, despite a growing number of studies raising concerns that the drug can have a harmful effect on brain development among youths. Researchers say their concerns have become heightened as more potent strains of marijuana became commonplace.

Krista Lisdahl, a brain researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said brain-imaging studies of teens and young adults who smoke marijuana regularly show abnormalities in parts of the brain affecting intelligence.

"It needs to be said that regular cannabis use," she said in a study, "...may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth."

Drug abuse officials have also widely cited a National Academy of Sciences study showing an average drop of 8 points in IQ following heavy use of marijuana in teen years. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that two-thirds of students who received mostly Ds and Fs were heavy marijuana users.

"The potential Achilles heel for marijuana legalization is the impact on young people," said Mike Roach, a Portland clothing store owner who helped form the Health Action Network at Lincoln High School after being concerned about drug and alcohol use there.

Roach, who has been involved in a number of liberal causes, said legalization might someday make sense. But he said there are so many unanswered questions now that he'd rather let Washington and Colorado, both of which in 2012 became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, act as pioneers.

Oregon, by some measures, has one of the highest rates of teen marijuana use in the nation. The Oregon Healthy Kids Survey from 2013 showed that 20.9 percent of 11th graders used marijuana in the last 30 days, as did 9.7 percent of eighth graders. Those rates are lower than they were in the early 2000s, but also a point or two higher than they were in 2006 and 2007.

Sponsors drafted the Oregon legalization measure with an eye toward reassuring voters who may be worried about the impact on kids. They've reserved 20 percent of the proceeds from marijuana taxes for prevention and treatment programs and would give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission broad authority to crack down on retailers selling to minors.

"People often confuse prohibition with control," said Amanda Reiman, who works for the group that helped write the Oregon measure – the Drug Policy Alliance -- and lectures at the University of California at Berkley on drug and alcohol policy.

Reiman argued that a tightly controlled retail environment, realistic education programs and more funding for treatment is the best approach for reducing youth consumption.

"We have an opportunity to create a responsible industry," she said, "and we're taking that very seriously."

Roger Roffman, a retired University of Washington professor studied marijuana policy for several years after having dependence problems on his own.

"I'm not one to understate or underestimate the potential harm from marijuana use," said Roffman, "particularly for people whose brains are still developing."

Nevertheless, Roffman became a sponsor of the Washington legalization measure after being convinced that the status quo wasn't working.

"I think a realist would agree that protecting public health and safety has not gone very well under criminalization," said Roffman, author of "Marijuana Nation."

Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug adviser who has become the nation's most prominent opponent of legalization, said he supports better treatment and prevention efforts and a more humane approach to marijuana crimes.

But he argued that a legalized marijuana industry would inevitably turn toward marketing and advertising to minors.

"There's only one way to get your best customers," he said, "and that is to make sure they start young."

He argued that the last several decades have shown that use is affected by social acceptance of the drug.

Surveys show that marijuana use rose sharply among youths in the 1970s as it became a mainstream part of American culture, dropped during the "just say no" era of the 1980s and began to climb again over the last two decades.

"What that tells us is that social messages are important," said Sabet, adding, "Kids don't live in a bubble – when something is a badge of adulthood, like beer, that is very attractive to them."

What's not clear, however, is the impact of changing legal approaches to marijuana. Since 1996, 23 states and the District of Columbia have allowed medical marijuana, providing something of a test case for legalization.

As it happens, those states also tend to have higher youth rates of marijuana, according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The 2011-12 survey found that just under 10 percent of Oregon teens aged 12 to 17 reported using marijuana in the last month – the sixth highest rate in the country.

However, one recent study concluded that the passage of medical marijuana laws didn't lead to increased use of marijuana among high school students. Instead, the researchers said, it may be that states that approved medical marijuana already had a social climate more forgiving of the drug.

Reiman, the Drug Policy Alliance official, pointed to another factor. Teens in states with harsher marijuana laws may simply be less willing to tell surveyors that they smoke pot, she said.

Marijuana legalization advocates also look to the experience in Colorado, where the state's main study of youth drug use showed a small drop in marijuana use from 2011 to 2013, which covers the period of the 2012 legalization vote. Officials cautioned that the drop was within the statistical margin of error – but in any case there certainly didn't seem to be any upward spike in use.

Bettina Friese, who has researched youth marijuana use for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Oakland, Calif., said that result might have been encouraging. But she said that "I don't think anybody knows at this point" what would be the long-term impact of legalization.

She said it could take years before anyone knows for sure the impact legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. In the meantime, she said, she hopes policymakers intensify their focus on discouraging teens from using marijuana.

"We've been fairly successful at changing the norms around tobacco," she said, "so it's important we do the same around marijuana."

Since the 2012 vote in Colorado and Washington, officials have scrambled to show they are dealing with concerns about youth usage.

Colorado has launched a $2 million campaign trying to send the message to youths that they shouldn't be smoking pot as scientists are learning more about potential brain damage. The tagline: "Don't be a lab rat."

In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee in June announced a $400,000 ad campaign encouraging parents to talk to their children about marijuana. And state officials announced new rules requiring stricter labeling requirements on edible marijuana products "to ensure they are not especially appealing to children."

The concern over edible products was raised by the well-publicized death of a 19-year-old Wyoming college student visiting Denver who leaped off a balcony after eating a pot-laced cookie.

The teens in The Oregonian's informal focus group nodded knowingly when they discussed the Colorado death.

Juan Perez-Torres, 17, an incoming Gresham High School senior, said he learned the dangers of edible marijuana products when three or four kids from his school went to the hospital after overdosing on that form of the drug.

Perez-Torres and the other teens say they realize that marijuana is something they'll have to figure out in their lives, just as they do alcohol and the array of other mind-altering substances.

"There is the common knowledge that things that are dangerous for you can still be legal," added Ramstad, the Centennial High student, citing tobacco as a leading example. "So there's not such an absolute concept that what is safe is legal."
 

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-...plits-u-s-in-two-as-travelers-get-busted.html




Marijuana Law Mayhem Splits U.S. as Travelers Get Busted


America is two nations when it comes to marijuana: in one it’s legal, in the other it’s not. The result is that people like B.J. Patel are going to jail.

The 34-year-old Arizona man may face a decade in prison and deportation following an arrest in 2012. On a trip in a rented U-Haul to move his uncle from California to Ohio, he brought along some marijuana, which is legal for medicinal use in his home state.

Headed eastbound on I-44 through Oklahoma, Patel was stopped for failing to signal by Rogers County Deputy Quint Tucker, just outside Tulsa. He was about to get off with a warning when Tucker spotted a medical marijuana card in his open wallet.

“‘I see you have this card. Where’s the marijuana?’” Patel recalled Tucker asking him. “I very politely and truthfully told him, ‘I’ll show you where it is.’”

That’s where things started to go bad for Patel. He now faces trial next month on a felony charge.

Possessing pot for recreational use is legal in Washington and Colorado, and allowed for medicinal purposes in 23 states. The other half of the country, which includes Oklahoma, largely prohibits any amount for any purpose.

Legal Checkerboard

While challenges may land the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court, what exists now is a legal checkerboard where unwitting motorists can change from law-abiding citizens to criminals as fast as they pass a state welcome sign. The difference is especially clear in states like Idaho. Surrounded on three sides by pot-friendly Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Montana, Idaho State Police seized three times as much marijuana this year as in all of 2011.

“The manner in which a person acquires the drug is not relevant,” Teresa Baker, an Idaho police spokeswoman, said. “This is important to know for those who may purchase it legally elsewhere, believing that it will be overlooked.”

James Siebe, a lawyer in Coeur d’Alene, put it another way:

“Come on vacation, leave on probation.”

Fourteen percent of Americans smoke pot, said Keith Stroup, legal counsel for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which he founded in 1970. Marijuana is the third-most popular U.S. recreational drug, trailing only alcohol and tobacco, according to his group.

Majority Support

A Gallup poll conducted last year found 58 percent of Americans think cannabis should be legal, the first time a clear majority had expressed that sentiment. Legalization was supported by 12 percent in 1969.

A handful of states, including Utah, Florida and Alabama, have legalized use of a cannabidiol, a marijuana extract, for treatment of seizures. Neither NORML nor the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, include those laws in their count of states where pot has been legalized for medicinal use, contending it’s useful only in extremely limited circumstances and difficult to obtain.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last August that federal prosecutors should pull back from pursuing low-level crimes, leaving that job to the states. The Justice Department said that while pot possession remains a federal crime, the government will defer to state and local authorities as long as legalization proceeds with a “strong and effective” regulatory system.

Stroup called that policy shift “an enormous gift” that gives his allies two years to prove pot can be legalized without mayhem.

“We’re winning this issue because we have won the majority of non-smokers,” said Stroup, 70, who said he started smoking marijuana in law school 48 years ago. The legalization movement must proceed in a responsible manner, he said, “Otherwise, I can assure you, the political climate can change.”

Increasing Tolerance

Amid the increasing tolerance for marijuana use in some states, the seeds of legal conflict, and unequal treatment, are being sown by region across the nation.

On the Eastern seaboard, Florida voters will be asked in November to decide whether their state should legalize it for medicinal use. If yes, they would join New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia. But between the Sunshine State and that group is a no-pot land, with possession deemed illegal in Georgia and Virginia and just CBD legal in the Carolinas and Alabama.

Among the 25 states where marijuana is legal in some fashion, Washington and Colorado have made small quantities allowable for personal consumption. Twenty-three of those states, including New York last month, approved its use for treatment of chronic health conditions. Fifteen states, including some of those that allow medical marijuana, have reduced the possession of small amounts to a ticketable offense, subject to a fine. Alaska and Oregon voters will consider legalization in November.

Referendum

In Oklahoma, where B.J. Patel ran into trouble, petitions have been filed seeking a referendum this year on the medicinal use of marijuana. A second initiative seeking broader legalization has also been proposed there.

Neither measure will help Patel, who is set for trial Sept. 15 in state court in Claremore.

Patel, who was listed when he was stopped in April 2012 as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing only 110 pounds, said cannabis was recommended by an Arizona doctor to help combat appetite and weight-loss stemming from hernia surgery.

Because he was prosecuted for marijuana possession in Arizona in 2004 and 2010, his Oklahoma charge was automatically raised to a felony. Both Arizona cases resulted in probation.

“I was just dumbfounded,” Patel said. “I had already done the time for the crime. Now they want to punish me again.”

Rolled Cigarettes

Patel, a U.K. citizen who said he’s lived legally in the U.S. for 26 years, said he helps his mother run an assisted living facility and pays his taxes. He said he doesn’t understand why Oklahoma considers him a criminal for the misdemeanor amount of pot he had, described in the police report as several “rolled cigarettes” and two bags of the drug.

Possession of any amount of pot is punishable by as long as one year in prison for first-time offenders under Oklahoma law. For those caught more than once, sentences run from two to 10 years.

Next door in Colorado, possession of an ounce (28 grams) or less isn’t a crime as long as you’re 21 years old, and having two ounces is only a petty offense subject to a $100 fine. To the west, New Mexico allows medicinal use of the drug. Unlicensed possession of an ounce of marijuana can bring 15 days in jail and a $100 fine.

Like Oklahoma, Idaho also has more tolerant neighbors, which provides a steady stream of pot-laden travelers crossing into its jurisdiction.

Medicinal Use

Washington State, which legalized medicinal use of the drug in 1998, made marijuana legal for retail sale last month. Possession of an ounce or less for private consumption is allowed, while smoking it in public is punishable by a $100 fine. If caught with between one and 1.4 ounces, the result could be 90 days in jail. Medicinal users, meanwhile, can have as much as 24 ounces.

Things are different in Idaho. There, possession of as much as three ounces is a misdemeanor carrying punishment of as long as a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. From three ounces, it’s a felony, with penalties of as long as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Nicolas Vieth, a criminal defense attorney in Coeur d’Alene, said Idaho has stretched a net across Interstate 90 to snare drivers from out-of-state.

Using license-plate recognition software, Idaho police regularly zero in on cars along the 74-mile east-west route, said Teresa Baker, the police spokeswoman. Plate readers are used for law-enforcement purposes only, she said.

Plate Readers

“We have found the use of these readers to be helpful in locating and apprehending suspects in all types of crimes including vehicle thefts, drugs, murders,” Baker said.

Idaho seized 131.2 pounds of pot in 2011, 645 pounds in 2012 and 721.5 pounds in 2013, Baker said. For the first six months of this year, more than 377 pounds had been seized, a 6 percent increase over the same period last year.

Idaho drug and paraphernalia possession arrests climbed from 14,671 in 2011 to more than 16,600 last year.

Drivers of vehicles with out-of-state plates, stopped for minor traffic violations, are often immediately asked about contraband, and not about their infraction, Siebe, the Idaho lawyer, claimed.

“Interdiction is more important in their mind than their statutorily defined duty,” he said.

Pungent Odor

Among those travelers stopped last year was Joshua Mularski of Washington State. He was pulled over in May 2013 because his vehicle registration lapsed two weeks earlier, according to a Post Falls, Idaho, police report.

“I noticed he was visibly shaking and nervous,” wrote Post Falls officer Christopher Thompson. The interior of Mularski’s silver 1996 Oldsmobile was littered with spent energy drink cans, clothing and garbage.

“I also could smell the strong, pungent odor of marijuana emanating from inside the vehicle,” Thompson stated.

After being ordered out of his car and handcuffed, Mularski, 36, told Thompson he had a Washington-issued medical marijuana card and a bag full of pot in his pants pocket. A search of the car revealed four fishing tackle boxes, each with what appeared to be marijuana residue, plus a small scale calibrated in grams, according to the report.

Marijuana Grower

Waiving his constitutional right to remain silent, Mularski told Thompson he was a marijuana grower who sold it to other licensed users, and that he had no plans to sell pot at the Post Falls bar that was his destination.

Mularski “stated bringing the marijuana into Idaho was a mistake,” Thompson said.

Cited for possession of a controlled substance and the paraphernalia, each crime a misdemeanor punishable by as long as a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, Mularski later agreed to forfeit a $500 bond and the case was dropped.

A marijuana conviction in Kootenai County, which includes Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene, typically means two to 10 days in jail and probation, said Siebe, Mularski’s lawyer.

Mularski’s dismissal was a “great” outcome, he said.
 

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http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2014/08/medical_marijuana_in_oregon_hu_1.html





Medical marijuana in Oregon: Hundreds of pot growers meet in Portland to talk about the industry (Twitter updates)


What is likely to be the largest ever gathering of Oregon medical marijuana growers is about to get underway in downtown Portland.

The event, organized by Amy Margolis, a Portland attorney, has drawn a crowd of about 300. Margolis is behind an effort to organize the state's medical marijuana growers, who supply the state's dispensaries but aren't subject to regulation and oversight.

In April, Margolis formed a political action committee for growers. The group plans to lobby the 2015 Legislature for regulation and legal protections for medical marijuana producers.

Friday's event, which is free to growers, features talks by Tom Burns, who directs the state's dispensary program, and Dave Kopilak, a Portland attorney who helped draft New Approach Oregon's initiative on the November ballot to legalize recreational marijuana.

Keep an eye on this post for updates from the meeting.
 

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http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Washington-just-says-no-to-marijuana-party-buses-272313231.html




(Washington) State just says no to marijuana party buses


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - There goes the marijuana party bus idea.

Washington state regulators have told charter and tour bus operators that marijuana use by passengers is prohibited.

A notice issued Thursday by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission cited the health and safety of drivers who would be exposed to smoke. It also said the buses and passengers are considered to be in view of the public, where marijuana consumption is prohibited.

Some people had dreamed that recreational marijuana could be enjoyed on party buses.
 

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http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-work-in-the-marijuana-industry-2014-8





Why These People Left Their Respectable Corporate Jobs To Work In The Marijuana Industry


In late 2010, Derek Peterson was fired from his job as a vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he had been managing a $100 million fund.
But instead of looking for another job on Wall Street, Peterson decided to dive head first into the marijuana industry side project that had gotten him fired in the first place.

Nearly four years later, he says it's working out.

By operating his own dispensary in northern California and selling hydroponic equipment to marijuana growers as CEO of his company Terra Tech, Peterson says he's helping people get a product that actually makes their lives better, a feeling he didn't necessarily have during his time on Wall Street.

"You saw what happened in the meltdown," he tells Business Insider. "I didn’t always feel super great about the products I was putting out into the market, but now I do. I happen to be selling something that is federally illegal, but oddly enough, I feel way better about what I’m selling than I did before."

Peterson is one of a growing number of people who have left their high-paying, stable corporate lifestyles to enter the legal marijuana industry — a sector that will bring in an estimated $1.5 billion this year, with potential for even greater riches as states continue to legalize the drug for medicinal and recreational use.

For Peterson, the decision to found GrowOp Technology, which later became Terra Tech after a reverse merger that took the company public in 2012, was based primarily on the massive entrepreneurial opportunity he saw in the industry. In fact, one friend of his was operating a dispensary that was pulling in $18 million a year.

Today, Terra Tech, which sells mobile trailers outfitted with technology to optimize marijuana growing — appropriate lighting, carbon filtration systems, temperature monitoring technology — has about 40 employees and has raised $7 million in 2014, alone.

Meanwhile, the dispensary he owns personally in Northern California sees 900 patients a day.

"We're starting to see some wind at our back at this point," Peterson says, referring to the recent legalization in Colorado and Washington, and the Justice Department's decision not to come after users in those states.

For Katherine Smith, formerly director of social media at Petco, the decision to join the dispensary review site WeedMaps was more about the chance to help people who use the drug medicinally at a historic moment in the push for legalization.

Smith, who became WeedMaps' chief marketing officer in July, says several of her friends were worried she would damage her career by permanently sullying her resume with the residue of a pot job.

But, she says, the issue was too close to her heart to ignore. When Smith was nine, her mother suffered an injury that left her with chronic back pain. Six years ago, she was prescribed medicinal marijuana for the pain, and it has helped her immensely.

"It really changed her quality of life," Smith tells Business Insider. "When I really started looking into medicinal marijuana and what it can do for people with epilepsy and other problems, it’s such an amazing opportunity to help push things along."

She pauses.

"Also, recreationally, I think it’s awesome.”

Indeed, there are plenty of people flocking to the industry simply because they love pot.

Al Olson, who announced earlier this week he was leaving his senior editor job with NBC News to become managing editor of the marijuana news site Marijuana.com, fondly recalls getting into pot in 1973 as a freshman at San Rafael High School in California's North Bay.

Two years prior, a group of San Rafael students began meeting up to smoke pot on campus at 4:20 p.m. every day, creating a ritual that soon became a lynchpin of marijuana culture.

"It's a dream come true," Olson tells Business Insider.

He fell out of the habit of smoking in his 20s and 30s, but later got back into pot when he found that eating edibles helped him sleep better.

Since 2010, he has been studying the industry intensely in preparation for an opportunity like the one he has received at Marijuana.com, a news site owned by Ghost Group, the venture capital firm that also owns WeedMaps.

For Peterson, the decision to found GrowOp Technology, which later became Terra Tech after a reverse merger that took the company public in 2012, was based primarily on the massive entrepreneurial opportunity he saw in the industry. In fact, one friend of his was operating a dispensary that was pulling in $18 million a year.

Today, Terra Tech, which sells mobile trailers outfitted with technology to optimize marijuana growing — appropriate lighting, carbon filtration systems, temperature monitoring technology — has about 40 employees and has raised $7 million in 2014, alone.

Meanwhile, the dispensary he owns personally in Northern California sees 900 patients a day.

"We're starting to see some wind at our back at this point," Peterson says, referring to the recent legalization in Colorado and Washington, and the Justice Department's decision not to come after users in those states.

For Katherine Smith, formerly director of social media at Petco, the decision to join the dispensary review site WeedMaps was more about the chance to help people who use the drug medicinally at a historic moment in the push for legalization.

Smith, who became WeedMaps' chief marketing officer in July, says several of her friends were worried she would damage her career by permanently sullying her resume with the residue of a pot job.

But, she says, the issue was too close to her heart to ignore. When Smith was nine, her mother suffered an injury that left her with chronic back pain. Six years ago, she was prescribed medicinal marijuana for the pain, and it has helped her immensely.

"It really changed her quality of life," Smith tells Business Insider. "When I really started looking into medicinal marijuana and what it can do for people with epilepsy and other problems, it’s such an amazing opportunity to help push things along."

She pauses.

"Also, recreationally, I think it’s awesome.”

Indeed, there are plenty of people flocking to the industry simply because they love pot.

Al Olson, who announced earlier this week he was leaving his senior editor job with NBC News to become managing editor of the marijuana news site Marijuana.com, fondly recalls getting into pot in 1973 as a freshman at San Rafael High School in California's North Bay.

Two years prior, a group of San Rafael students began meeting up to smoke pot on campus at 4:20 p.m. every day, creating a ritual that soon became a lynchpin of marijuana culture.

"It's a dream come true," Olson tells Business Insider.

He fell out of the habit of smoking in his 20s and 30s, but later got back into pot when he found that eating edibles helped him sleep better.

Since 2010, he has been studying the industry intensely in preparation for an opportunity like the one he has received at Marijuana.com, a news site owned by Ghost Group, the venture capital firm that also owns WeedMaps.
 

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http://union-bulletin.com/news/2014/aug/22/pot-retailers-finding-their-niche-cannabis-market/




(Washington) Pot retailers finding their niche in cannabis market


UNION GAP — Once a customer enters Mill Creek Ste. A, a new marijuana retail outlet in town, it isn’t long before they’re greeted by a clerk.

The clerk will ask if this is their first visit to the store, followed by questions to discern what the customer is looking for.

The one-on-one consultation at Mill Creek Ste. A, a retail pot store behind Mill Creek Natural Foods, is not unlike a boutique clothing store, which is exactly what owner Mary Van de Graaf wants.

“I want to keep that small, intimate shopping experience,” she said.

Yakima Valley marijuana retailers have been fine-tuning their in-store experiences and marketing strategies in hopes of capturing and retaining customers early in the sure-to-grow market for the now-legal recreational drug.

Building a solid customer base is challenging for any new retailer, but these retailers have the additional hurdle of complying with a number of rules under Initiative 502 — which paved the way for the legal sale of recreational marijuana — that greatly limit how they can advertise and market to potential customers.

But Todd Ellison, CEO of Weed Media, a Colorado-based company that has provided marketing and advertising services to marijuana businesses, including those in Washington, said it is important for retailers to figure out how to build a consistent strategy within the rules.

Retailers also face a stigma about smoking marijuana, he said, so establishing a reputation as a business on the up-and-up is essential.

“We have to make ourselves look good to the rest of the world or they won’t take us seriously,” Ellison said.

Marketing limitations
Among the advertising rules is a prohibition on anything that would appeal to children, such as cartoon characters, as well as placement of ads where anyone under 21 might see them.

What that means exactly can be open for interpretation, which the state Liquor Control Board acknowledges.

“There is some ambiguity,” said Brian Smith, Liquor Control Board spokesman.

As a result, the board plans to release a document that tackles frequently asked questions on marketing, including sponsorship, in-store promotions and selling store-brand items.

Smith said the document may not answer every question retailers have but it is a first step.

“We can’t be the ultimate authority on every possible question, but we’re trying to provide guidance for many of our licensees who are trying to follow the rules,” he said.

For now, local retailers are doing their best to craft marketing strategies within the rules.

For Van de Graaf, that means limiting advertising to its website and Facebook page. She is putting more stock in developing an in-store experience that she hopes will drive word-of-mouth.

Both of her employees are knowledgeable about the different characteristics of the marijuana products. The small space at 4315 Main St. is intimate and discreet to help customers feel at ease.

The store gets some walk-in traffic from customers who are shopping at Mill Creek Natural Foods, which is housed in the same building. But Van de Graaf, who also owns the natural foods store, is careful not to commingle advertising between the two.

Still, to Van de Graaf’s surprise, the two customer bases are similar.

“You wouldn’t know the difference,” she said, noting that customers older than 40 have made up at least half of her customers at the marijuana store so far.

‘People pay a premium’
Altitude, a retail marijuana store in Prosser, is seeing a similar customer base.

“The people who come into the store are really the same people who come into the wineries,” co-owner Tim Thompson said. “They have a great amount of disposable income.”

At the center of Altitude’s in-store experience is what Thompson calls a “cannabis coach,” an employee who will sit with the customer and assess his or her previous experience with marijuana as well as which products will best work for that individual.

Due to the numerous and heavy taxes retailers have to pay, such as a 25 percent state excise tax and local and state sales taxes, retailers have to compete on service rather than price, Thompson said. “We’re basically trying to give them a quality product with quality service, and people pay a premium for that.”

Altitude, with the guidance of lawyers, has done some outside advertising, including radio ads.

But the laws are murky enough that a retailer could inadvertantly catch the attention of regulators, so it’s necessary to proceed with considerable caution, Thompson said.

Supply coming around
Another challenge in initial marketing efforts is having product to promote. In the first few weeks, suppliers could not keep up with retailer demand, resulting in some stores closing temporarily or reducing hours.

After one week, Mill Creek Ste. A had to close for 10 days for lack of supply.

But now Van de Graaf has established relationships with three main suppliers and several smaller ones, which should allow her store to remain open.

Station 420, another marijuana retailer in Union Gap, also had to close for several days.

Altitude in Prosser stayed open, but had to cut operations to four hours a day until earlier this month. The store is now open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

And the store will soon start stocking a key item that many customers have asked for — edibles, like chocolates laced with oils infused from a marijuana plant.

It’s an item that Thompson, the owner, believes can be a key offering. “They have the potential to be half our income.”

While marketing is important, retailers have to make sure their product offerings are up to par, said Ellison of Weed Media. The idea that legal marijuana and other related products will sell themselves is a myth, he said.

There is a base of connoisseurs who have come to expect a certain quality of marijuana. “Once they find (a retailer) that has consistent product, quality product all the time, they will stick to it,” he said.
 

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http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140822-906885.html




Cannabis Science, Inc. (CBIS) to Sponsor 3rd International Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine in October 2014 in Strasbourg, France


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Cannabis Science, Inc. (OTC: CBIS), a U.S. Company specializing in cannabis formulation-based drug development and related consulting, is pleased to announce its sponsorship of UFCM iCare's third international medical cannabis conference taking place at the Faculty of Medicine of Strasbourg, France, on October 22, 2014. The multilingual conference brings together industry experts with other stakeholders, such as researchers, health professionals, and patients, to discuss the development of medical cannabis in Europe and North America.

"Cannabis Science is delighted to contribute to the UFCM iCare initiatives to encourage discussion and promote innovation in the medical cannabis arena as the Company strives to move forward in bringing cannabinoid-based medicines to patients on a global basis," said Dorothy H. Bray, Ph.D., Director, President and CEO of Cannabis Science, Inc.

French law provides for a regulatory framework for the research and development of cannabinoid-based medicine that will then be available to patients in mainstream pharmacies. The upcoming conference of international experts is intended to facilitate patient-driven dialog with the researchers and with the industry. UFCM has assembled a team of prominent speakers including Professor Raphael Mechoulam from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Israel and Professor Jerome Sèze from Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Strasbourg in France. Additional information about the conference and its speakers may be found here UFCM iCare Conference Speakers.

About the UFCM

Founded in 2009, the UFCM is the leading medical cannabis charity in France. Its mission is to promote medical cannabis by developing a network of doctors, patients and lawyers in France, organizing the primary French conference about medical cannabis, and providing information about medical cannabis in French. UFCM iCare Website.

About Cannabis Science, Inc.

Cannabis Science, Inc., takes advantage of its unique understanding of metabolic processes to provide novel treatment approaches to a number of illnesses for which current treatments and understanding remain unsatisfactory. Cannabinoids have an extensive history dating back thousands of years, and currently, there are a growing number of peer-reviewed scientific publications that document the underlying biochemical pathways that cannabinoids modulate. The Company works with leading experts in drug development, medicinal characterization, and clinical research to develop, produce, and commercialize novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment for illnesses caused by infections as well as for age-related illness. Our initial focus is on skin cancers and neurological conditions.
 
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