MJ News for 09/08/2014


Jul 25, 2008
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Legal Use of Marijuana Clashes With Job Rules

DENVER — Brandon Coats knew he was going to fail his drug test. Paralyzed in a car crash when he was 16, he had been using medical marijuana since 2009 to relieve the painful spasms that jolted his body. But he smoked mostly at night, and said marijuana had never hurt his performance answering customer calls for a Colorado satellite-television provider.

So when his employer, Dish Network, asked Mr. Coats to take a random drug screen, he was not surprised when the test came back positive for marijuana. He told his bosses why, but when he got to work the following week, he said, “my card wouldn’t open up the door.” He was fired for violating the company’s drug-free workplace rules, despite having a medical marijuana card.

“Why would they send me down there when they know I am going to test positive?” said Nick Stennet about the prospective employer that sent him for a drug test even though he had mentioned his use of medical marijuana.Medical Use of Marijuana Costs Some a JobAUG. 28, 2010
“There are a lot of people out there who need jobs, can do a good job, but in order for them to live their lives, they have to have this,” said Mr. Coats, who is 35. “A person can drink all night long, be totally hung over the next day and go to work and there’s no problem with it.”

But when it comes to marijuana, Mr. Coats and other users are discovering that marijuana’s recent strides toward the legal and cultural mainstream are running aground at the office. Even as 23 states allow medical or recreational marijuana, employment experts say that most businesses are keeping their drug-free policies. The result is a clash between a culture that increasingly accepts marijuana and companies that will fire employees who use it.

Even in Colorado and Washington, the country’s most marijuana-friendly states, a glance at online classified ads lays out an unwelcome landscape for marijuana smokers. “Please do not apply if you are NOT drug free or carry a medical marijuana card,” warns one job listing for a mechanic in Denver. A Chevrolet dealership in the suburb of Aurora tells applicants, “We do screen for medical or recreational marijuana.” In Seattle, a recycling company looking for a welder cautions that they are a “zero-tolerance company including marijuana!!”

Employers and business groups say the screenings identify drug-abusing workers, create a safer workplace, lower their insurance costs and, in some cases, are required by law. But marijuana advocates say the prohibitions amount to discrimination, either against people using marijuana to treat a medical condition or against people who smoke it because they simply have the legal right to do so, off the clock and away from the office.

The New York Times Calls for Marijuana LegalizationJULY 26, 2014
“It wasn’t like I was getting high on the job,” Mr. Coats said. “I would smoke right before I go to bed, and that little bit would help me get through my days.”

On Sept. 30, he will take that argument before the Colorado Supreme Court in a lawsuit challenging his 2010 firing. For years, courts in Colorado and across the country have ruled against marijuana users, saying that companies have the right to create their own drug policies. But legal experts say that if Mr. Coats prevails — he lost 2-1 in an appellate ruling — his case could transform how businesses must treat marijuana users.

Mr. Coats’s lawyer, Michael Evans, argues that Mr. Coats’s use of medical marijuana should fall under a state law that prohibits companies from firing workers for legal, off-duty activities that might rankle an employer. Dish Network argues that smoking marijuana can hardly be considered legal because it breaks federal law.

If Dish loses the case, the company wrote in a brief to the court, “Dish (and every other Colorado employer) can no longer maintain a drug-free policy” and companies across the state could risk losing federal contracts because they no longer complied with federal drug-free workplace laws.

After Colorado voted in 2012 to allow adults to buy, sell and grow their own recreational marijuana, scarcely any businesses relaxed their own rules, according to a survey by the Mountain States Employers Council, which represents 3,500 companies. Seventy-one percent left their drug-testing policies in place, and 21 percent actually imposed stricter rules.

“People were scared they were going to have a stoned work force,” said Curtis Graves, a staff lawyer for the group.

A survey by Quest Diagnostics, which conducts millions of drug tests across the country, found that positive results for marijuana rose in both Colorado and Washington in the year after legalization measures passed. In Colorado, the number of urine samples testing positive for marijuana rose to 2.3 percent in 2013 from 1.92 percent in 2012. In Washington, the rates rose to 2.38 percent from 1.94.

A positive test result can derail a career, say people who have been fired for marijuana use. In New Mexico, a physician assistant named Donna Smith who had used medical marijuana to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder lost her health care job in February after failing a drug test.

The health care provider where she had been working, Presbyterian Health Services, said Ms. Smith had worked for an outside staffing agency and had a temporary assignment with Presbyterian. One condition of that work was a drug screen. “Presbyterian is committed to patient safety and we believe that a drug-free workplace is a key component,” Presbyterian said in a statement.

Ms. Smith, who is suing Presbyterian, said she had been able to find only one sporadic job since then, and has cashed out an I.R.A. and spent her savings. “I can’t find any work,” she said.

Recently a handful of businesses in Colorado cautiously opened up to marijuana, said Mr. Graves of the Mountain States Employers Council. They decided their fears were overblown, and have asked the group to help them revise their drug-testing policies to remove marijuana from the mix.

In Washington State, the Titus-Will network of car dealerships and service centers now tells job applicants they will have to pass a “pre-employment profile test, background check and drug screen (excluding marijuana).” In Colorado, a handful of technology and marketing firms that do not test for drugs have told their employees: Do what you want off the clock, but come to work sober and alert.

Even the marijuana industry has grappled with whether to drug-test its employees. Outlawing marijuana use would be the height of hypocrisy. But in a closely scrutinized industry that deals with huge amounts of cash, potent doses of cannabis oil and marijuana-laced foods, businesses say their workers cannot be stoned at work.

At Open Vape, which sells marijuana vaporizers, employees take a computer test to determine their baseline cognitive skills. If a worker comes back from a break red-eyed and acting hazy, the company has them take the test, to see if anything is amiss.

“Just as we wouldn’t want folks going out and having a two- to three-martini lunch, we shouldn’t have folks going out and smoking a joint during lunch,” said David Kochman, the company’s general counsel.

But the message has not gotten through to everyone. Todd Mitchem, who runs a marijuana consulting business, said he recently got a phone call from an man interested in attending a marijuana job fair called CannaSearch in Denver later this month. But the applicant had one question: Would there be a room where people could smoke pot?

“The answer is no,” Mr. Mitchem said. “You can’t do that at the job fair.”


Jul 25, 2008
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Football’s in the Air, and in Denver, So Is the Sweet Smell of Herb

DENVER — Wait. Does that glittering stadium really look like a just-landed spaceship under a blueberry sky? Or is that just because, well, y’know. ...

I’m standing in a parking lot overlooking the stadium known prosaically as Sports Authority and poetically as Mile High. That handle is metaphorically apt, too, as I’m engaged in the all-American sport of tailgating, with Corey and the Wookie and four friends.

They’ve got the requisite awning next to their pickup truck, a grill and sweet microbrews. And they have stuffed righteous-smelling marijuana — the sativa variety — in a pipe that is detailed with a neat little Denver Broncos insignia.

The tall, red-bearded professional chef with excellent shades who insists his friends know him as the Wookie fires up the pipe and, amid clouds, talks legalized weed and the world that has followed on its heels. “Why do you think Peyton Manning invested in pizza places after legalization? Boom! Stoners love pizza.”

We hear the trill of an ice cream truck.

“Oh, man. I really need strawberry shortcake.” The Wookie jumps to his feet and with three bounds reaches the truck. “Catch you later, man.”

O.K., then. To toasted we can add baked.

Herbaceous tailgating, truth be told, is in its infancy. The Mile High Cannabis dispensary stands across the street from the stadium, and watching its game-day traffic of orange-clad customers calls to mind the week leading up to Christmas. “We’re glad to do our part in getting people amped for the game,” says budtender Erin Catalano.

The hipper sections of Denver are chockablock with allow-us-to-alter-you shops.

The N.F.L. insists it is enforcing Colorado law. Whatever. The Colorado Symphony has taken a laid-back path of no resistance whatsoever. It has “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series.”

(This is not to argue that all has gone well with legalization. Meth heads have embraced the herb and hash oil explosions have become a clear and present danger in Colorado, proving that stupidity grows apace with social change.)

Less comprehensible is why the N.F.L., that most gladiatorial of our major sports, continues to embrace reefer madness. It tests for pot in infinitesimal quantities and suspends repeat offenders for entire seasons.

And society marches in the opposite direction. The two teams that competed in last year’s Super Bowl hailed from the two states where recreational marijuana is legal. The president of the United States has acknowledged inhaling (“That was the point,” he noted sensibly).

In the inevitable confessional aside, I attest that in the distant past my Mets sometimes looked better under herbaceous influence. That outfield, it just radiated green. ...

Where was I?

A linebacker in Colorado can limp into the locker room with dislocated fingers, twisted ligaments and bruises like leprosy splotches. He will get legally shot up and prescribed various and many opiates.

Or he can grab a 12-pack of the N.F.L.’s official beer and drink himself into sweet oblivion.

But if he goes home and dips into his legal stash of cannabis indica and dozes off in front of his television? He is a threat to American sport, not to mention that one-armed bandit of an industry known as the N.F.L.

The players union is trying to force the league to negotiate a more sane policy on marijuana as part of a new drug testing program.

Colorado fans, let it be said, do not put herb in your face. No one gets gnarly.

“A joint?” Nick, a 20-something who prefers not to give his last name, looks at me. He’s standing under a small aspen, in a mellow partying fashion. “I had a joint earlier. It went away.”

I wander over to a Ford pickup truck. Tony Beltrano, long, lean and chill, is sitting on the back with his friend Russell Glass. Does he smoke a joint? Well, it’s not so legal. And ... he stops and looks at me. “If I had one, I’d fire it up right here, man.”

“Yeah, and I’d hit it too,” says Glass. “Smoke and chillax.”

The fans insist that pot leaves them mellower. They get their orange jerseys and scream fiercely and all that. But this isn’t New York or Philadelphia. Fighting is extremely unchill.

My colleague Ken Belson was in Seattle on Thursday for the Seahawks’ opener. Parking spots there go for $80 a pop, which is a buzz kill itself. And cops enforce the same sanctions against public consumption of weed.

That said, he reported that stoners tended to persevere. The sweet smell of herb mixed with the tang of organic, grass-fed, much-loved cows as they became burgers on the grill. After the game, he shared a Trickster IPA or three, and he reported having to first sweep a few grams of loose buds off his table.

A few days before the game, I dropped by Mile High Cannabis. The manager, Brian Waltman, a gregarious sort, was careful on the subject of the stadium, its parking lots and his customers.

“Now, you can’t use it in the stadium or the parking lot,” he said. “Are they at home on their couch or in the pickup truck in the parking lot? I’m left to believe, well, I’m not sure what I’m left to believe.”

Which brand, I asked, would you recommend? Sativa, he replied. “It’s always good to get people out and walking around and being active, right?”

That’s a fine goal, I agreed.

He let me smell two varieties: Sour Diesel and Golden Goat. Both were lovely. He said he also had the indica strain of cannabis available, but this is what’s known in the business as a “couch diver.” As in, you inhale or imbibe and dive to the couch.

“Then,” he said, “you fall asleep and miss kickoff.”

That would be a bummer, I replied.

“Yes, a bummer, exactly,” he agreed.

Correction: September 8, 2014
An earlier version of this article misstated the source of a marijuana policy in Denver. The policy is found on the website of the Colorado Rockies, not the site of the Denver Broncos.


Jul 25, 2008
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Leading Anti-Marijuana Academics Are Paid By Painkiller Drug Companies

As Americans continue to embrace pot—as medicine and for recreational use—opponents are turning to a set of academic researchers to claim that policymakers should avoid relaxing restrictions around marijuana. It's too dangerous, risky, and untested, they say. Just as drug company-funded research has become incredibly controversial in recent years, forcing major medical schools and journals to institute strict disclosure requirements, could there be a conflict of interest issue in the pot debate?

VICE has found that many of the researchers who have advocated against legalizing pot have also been on the payroll of leading pharmaceutical firms with products that could be easily replaced by using marijuana. When these individuals have been quoted in the media, their drug-industry ties have not been revealed.

Take, for example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University. Kleber has impeccable academic credentials, and has been quoted in the press and in academic publications warning against the use of marijuana, which he stresses may cause wide-ranging addiction and public health issues. But when he's writing anti-pot opinion pieces for CBS News, or being quoted by NPR and CNBC, what's left unsaid is that Kleber has served as a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).

Kleber, who did not respond to a request for comment, maintains important influence over the pot debate. For instance, his writing has been cited by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police in its opposition to marijuana legalization, and has been published by the American Psychiatric Association in the organization's statement warning against marijuana for medicinal uses.

Could Kleber's long-term financial relationship with drug firms be viewed as a conflict of interest? Studies have found that pot can be used for pain relief as a substitute for major prescription painkillers. The opioid painkiller industry is a multibillion business that has faced rising criticism from experts because painkillers now cause about 16,000 deaths a year, more than heroin and cocaine combined. Researchers view marijuana as a safe alternative to opioid products like OxyContin, and there are no known overdose deaths from pot.

Other leading academic opponents of pot have ties to the painkiller industry. Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a frequent critic of efforts to legalize marijuana. She is on the board of an anti-marijuana advocacy group, Project SAM, and has been quoted by leading media outlets criticizing the wave of new pot-related reforms. "When people can go to a 'clinic' or 'cafe' and buy pot, that creates the perception that it's safe," she told the Times last year.

Notably, when Evins participated in a commentary on marijuana legalization for the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the publication found that her financial relationships required a disclosure statement, which noted that as of November 2012, she was a "consultant for Pfizer and DLA Piper and has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer." Pfizer has moved aggressively into the $7.3 billion painkiller market. In 2011, the company acquired King Pharmaceuticals (the makers of several opioid products) and is currently working to introduce Remoxy, an OxyContin competitor.

Dr. Mark L. Kraus, who runs a private practice and is a board member to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, submitted testimony in 2012 in opposition to a medical marijuana law in Connecticut. According to financial disclosures, Kraus served on the scientific advisory panel for painkiller companies such as Pfizer and Reckitt Benckiser in the year prior to his activism against the medical pot bill. Neither Kraus or Evins responded to a request for comment.

These academic revelations add fodder to the argument that drug firms maintain quiet ties to the marijuana prohibition lobby. In July, I reported for the Nation that many of the largest anti-pot advocacy groups, including the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions for America, which has organized opposition to reform through its network of activists and through handing out advocacy material (sample op-eds against medical pot along with Reefer Madness-style videos, for example), has relied on significant funding from painkiller companies, including Purdue Pharma and Alkermes. Pharmaceutical-funded anti-drug groups like the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and CADCA use their budget to obsess over weed while paying lip-service to the much bigger drug problem in America of over-prescribed opioids.

As ProPublica reported, painkiller-funded researchers helped fuel America's deadly addiction to opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin. These academics, with quiet funding from major pain pill firms, encouraged doctors to over-prescribe these drugs for a range of pain relief issues, leading to where we stand today as the world's biggest consumer of painkillers and the overdose capital of the planet. What does it say about medical academia today that many of that painkiller-funded researchers are now standing in the way of a safer alternative: smoking a joint.


Jul 25, 2008
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Pennsylvania moves toward medical marijuana legalization

As the Pennsylvania state Senate is set to reconvene on Sept. 15, a hotly contested national issue sits near the top of its agenda: medical marijuana.

The bipartisan Senate Bill 1182, titled the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, passed the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee unanimously on June 27. When state senators return from their summer recess, the bill will go up for a vote in the Appropriations Committee, after which it could be voted on by the general body.

Currently, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of legalized marijuana for medical use. Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania all have pending medical marijuana legislation that could act as decisive issues going into the 2014 midterm elections.

“We are planning on hopefully moving out of appropriations on Sept. 15 and on to a full Senate floor vote on Sept. 16 ... and get it over to the House as soon we can,” state Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) and one of the bill’s sponsors said. “We have the votes, but we just need to get through the political process, and that can be very slow because our system of government is never really meant to be fast.”

While it remains unclear if the state legislature will pass the bill, Pennsylvanians increasingly favor medical marijuana. According to a poll by Quinnipiac University taken in March 2014, 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters support some form of medical marijuana. But even with public support and momentum in the state legislature, the governor is likely to veto any legalization legislation.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett stands opposed to broad medical marijuana legalization and has only voiced support for limited access for children with severe seizure disorders. Corbett’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

As a result of resistance in the governor’s office, advocates such as Folmer believe that “we need to get it out with super majority votes,” which could override a veto from the governor.

“The bill gives people an alternative to some of these other medications that are out there that are either not working, or people just don’t like the side effects,” Folmer said. “It’s probably one of the best pieces of medical cannabis bills in the country, and it could be used as model legislation.”

While the legislative debate has focused on the medical side of cannabis, legalization could affect the quality of recreational marijuana as well.

“At Penn especially, when people sell bud they have no idea how old it is, they have no idea what strains it is, they have no idea if it is sativa or indica, and I think that is a problem,” said a College senior who has a medical marijuana card in his home state of California and who preferred to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. “A card offers you a lot of information because it no longer is a black market thing.”

If the bill were to pass in Pennsylvania, he thinks smoking would be less stigmatized. “At Penn, it is fine if you smoke, but there are stereotypes of people who smoke,” said the senior — who got his first prescription at 18 for a shoulder injury, but has primarily used it for recreational purposes.

However, he predicts that the major effects would be more about mentality, rather than actually usage.

“Honestly, I don’t think that many kids would get cards,” he said. “All you’ll need is your dealer to get a card, he buys a few different types, he puts them in jars that show you the THC percentage, the freshness and that level of information that I appreciate will be available to everyone.”

Penn’s Code of Student Conduct prohibits the use of any illegal drugs on campus. Because use of marijuana remains a federal crime, it is unlikely that Penn will allow usage on campus, regardless of whether the Pennsylvania law passes.


Jul 25, 2008
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Marijuana Bill Effective October 1st in Maryland

HAGERSTOWN, Md - In less than a month, the marijuana-related bill that Governor Martin O'Malley signed on April 7th, will go into effect.

The bill decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana, turning possible jail time into fines.

The bill will make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense. For the first offense, individuals in possession will be punished by a fine of up to $100. For a second offense, a fine up to $250.

For third-time offenders and individuals under the age of 21, they will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

Many residents are not sure what to think about the bill. Izabela Cangemi said it's a very controversial topic and sways back and forth on what to believe.

"You have people who will overuse. I am a church goer and I believe drugs are bad and destroy the families," Cangemi said. "But there are definitely studies that marijuana helps people who struggle with particular diseases."

On April 7 of this year, Governor O'Malley released this statement:

"As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety. I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health."

Darlene Crockett said she understands why people would need it to manage pain, but still feels it could lead to other issues.

"It would cause several problems as far as misuse of it," Crockett said.

The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland is one of many organizations backing the Governor's decision, but other organizations, like the Maryland State's Attorneys Association hoped for a different outcome.

The Bill will take effect on October 1st.


Jul 25, 2008
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Illinois begins accepting applications for marijuana businesses

Illinois officials are now accepting applications for people who want to open a medical marijuana dispensary or cultivation center. The number of licenses are quite limited – only 22 available for cultivation centers and 60 for dispensaries.

Michelle West is hoping to be awarded a license to open a cultivation center. She’s a nurse who originally set out to research how legalization would affect her job, but instead she found a business opportunity.

“It’s not only a business opportunity for a person, but for economic development for a community, for a neighborhood,” West said.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will sift through the many applications that are expected to be submitted. Officials are looking at six specific areas: the proposed facility, staffing and operations, security, cultivation, product safety and labeling and business and financial disclosure.

West said she’s been researching the industry for the past year. Her 300 plus page plan includes economic growth all the way down to different types of cannabis plants. Most applicants have brought on consultants from other states that have already legalized medical marijuana. West is no different.

“A lot of the other people I met, they spent a ton of money on consultants. Consultants are important, yet I was hesitant. I found one because I have to know my plan, inside out,” she said.

In addition to attending conferences, West hired a consultant from Colorado who's gotten underperforming cultivation centers back up to top production.

The competition to run dispensaries and cultivation centers in the Chicago market will be very tough. West lives in the city, but decided to look elsewhere to set up her cultivation center. She eventually found a rural town in Police District 6.

She presented her plans to the town’s council members and that night they decided to support her. The town preferred she not disclose the name until a license is actually awarded.

“It was amazing the support because people want jobs. Everyone in the town, all the jobs had left. So people have to drive 40 miles away, 50 miles away. Some are driving into Chicago and then they’re driving back home,” she said.

West visited other towns that had mixed views on the legalization of medical marijuana. For this particular community, the cultivation center looks like a path to economic recovery. That’s part of the deal they have with West. Their decision to back her means their community members would get first dibs at the job openings.

“The plan that I have, it includes not only hiring younger people, but there’s been a lot of people over 50 that have been downsized or they couldn’t find a job and they keep trying to find a job. If they’re willing to be retrained or work within the facility, they’re going to have a job, too,” she said.

West has written an employee handbook that includes wages starting at around $12 an hour with benefits.

She found a potential property in the area. She’s already crafted plans for year-round growing and plans to scale in the years following.

Security Plan

State officials are making security a high priority for all applications. They see the future cannabis facilities as major targets for crime, since they will deal with large amounts of cash and drugs.

Joel Brumlik works in law enforcement and he’s been running his suburban security company, Tactical Security since 2007. He started researching how he could profit after the state legalized medical marijuana.

“Right now, we have a significant investment in this. A lot of time, a lot of studying, a lot of resources expended. We’ve been involved in two or three conferences. We’re going to be in one in Las Vegas. These aren’t cheap,” he said.

Tactical Security has been training officers specifically for medical marijuana, everything from use of force to patient hospitality, even how to inspect a facility according to the state’s rules and regulations.

Brumlik prides himself on the hefty 70 plus page security plan he’s written up. He says he’s fielded at least a dozen calls from potential medical marijuana businesses and already has a few signed contracts.

He says his competition seems to be based mostly on price.

“Yes, our company may be charging you a higher price per hour, but what is your cost? And when I say ‘what is your cost’, what I’m saying is, is that if you don’t have the right people, the highly trained people, then your cost might be a lot higher than you believe if you’re just going by the price,” he said.

But some security experts say it isn’t necessary to have such specific tailoring for the marijuana industry. Eugene Ferraro is a security consultant based in Colorado. He calls it a marketing ploy.

“The tailoring that’s necessary to provide services to a marijuana retailer have very small differences from other types of retailers or operations whether it’s manufacturing or distribution operations,” Ferraro said.

He says bigger security companies have been staying away from cannabis to avoid any potential legal issues. But he’s definitely seen specialized companies gaining a lot of business.

“The small operators, the mom and pop alarm companies, the mom and pop guard companies have some opportunity here,” he said.

Ferraro says Illinois’ emphasis on security is overkill and that the cost will be passed down to the consumers, which might create another problem of pushing people to the black market.

Brumlik doesn’t see it that way and says every dispensary he visited in Colorado had been broken into.

“We’re not interested in trying to compete on a level where we’re just trying to put warm bodies in there,” he said.


It’s going to take anyone who’s awarded a license a lot of money to open and operate the marijuana facility. For West, she needs to pay a $25,000 non-refundable application fee, and she also needs to show she has $500,000 in liquid assets. If she’s awarded the license, she’ll have to pay a $200,000 permit fee, not to mention the cost it takes to run any type of business.

Financing and banking has been tricky for business owners in states that are already well into their legalized marijuana programs. Illinois will be no different.

Even ancillary businesses are finding it difficult to find a bank just to make a simple deposit.

“Difficult is such an understatement. It was the bane of my existence for 90 days,” said venture capitalist David Friedman.

Recently, the Chicago businessman added another title to his resume; publisher. He started a news website called Marijuana Investor News.

“I don’t understand why Bloomberg can run stories about medical marijuana, but we can’t. And I’m sure, I understand now about the banking regulations and everyone’s just very cautious about anything that has to do with it. We did ultimately find a bank because it’s ridiculous that we shouldn’t,” he said.

Friedman is being approached by entrepreneurs for investments into their proposed dispensaries and cultivation centers. He says since the final rules were approved he hasn’t slept much.

Troy Dayton is CEO of the Arcview Group, a California-based national investment and research firm focused on cannabis. A lot of accredited investors in the marijuana industry are members of the group, including David Friedman. It has some of the first angel investors in the sector.

Dayton said Illinois’ program might be more difficult to finance with all the restrictions and a possibility of the pilot program sunsetting in a few years.

“[Business owners] had better have a lot of money in the bank because it may be a long ramp up before they can make their businesses profitable,” he said.

According to Arcview’s annual report, the industry is expected to grow to $2.6 billion in 2014.

“That’s a 68 percent growth in one year. Making it the fastest growing industry in America. And growing to 10.2 billion dollar industry by 2018,” Dayton said.

Another challenge businesses are likely to face is a high tax rate. Marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 illegal substance, next to heroin and LSD. The Internal Revenue Service has a code to tax illegal drug income, up to 50 percent.

Dooma Wendschuh, CEO of Ebbu, a Colorado cannabis company said it takes a lot of work to keep your business completely above board in this federally illegal industry.

“You’re really limited in who you can raise that money from. You can’t go to Sand Hill Road with a couple of baggies of your product and expect to raise your money. It just doesn’t work like that,” he said.

Sand Hill Road is an area in California with a lot venture capital companies.

But Wendschuh thinks the opportunity in marijuana is bigger than the Internet and tech boom if you’re willing to take the risk.

He looks at it like alcohol after prohibition. Laws were left for states to determine individually. Some counties remain dry even today. It took companies some years after prohibition to feel comfortable enough to even promote their product.

Wendschuh says for the first several years after prohibition, bootlegging was big and the black market thrived.

“Of course it was cheaper than buying alcohol at a licensed facility. But hey look right now. If you wanted to go buy bootleg alcohol could you even find it? I don’t know where you would find it,” he said.

He says eventually the alcohol industry became less taboo. People wanted to buy from a reputable source rather than a cheaper, criminal operation. Product pricing evened out and financing was easier.

Wendschuh believes the cannabis industry isn’t far from seeing relaxation of federal regulations, and marijuana could follow the path of alcohol.


Jul 25, 2008
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Tasmanian health minister Michael Ferguson backs cannabis trials

Tasmania’s health minister supports trials of medicinal cannabis in the state, he has told a parliamentary inquiry.

Michael Ferguson rejected a bid for a trial in the state in July, raising health and security concerns, but told an upper house committee on Monday a trial could be possible if subject to strong regulation.

The committee is examining legalised medicinal cannabis and the Liberal government has made its submission.

“We support appropriately conducted clinical trials, feeding into the existing national medicines regulatory framework,” Ferguson said in a statement.

“We will objectively consider any proposal regarding a trial of medicinal cannabis on a case-by-case basis.”

Ferguson said the government supported the potential use of medicinal cannabis, but it must be subject to an evidence-based approach and strong regulatory frameworks.

“This is a complex issue that requires research and evidence,” he said. “We are not going to put the cart before the horse as Labor and the Greens would have us do, compromising the safety of Tasmanians by making this a political decision rather than a medical one.”

Last month the Victorian health minister, David Davis, announced he would amend the law to allow clinical trials of medical cannabis.


Jul 25, 2008
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Is it easier for women to get stoned? Study finds oestrogen 'increases sensitivity to cannabis making females more prone to addiction'

Women are more likely to suffer negative effects of smoking cannabis - including depression, anxiety and paranoia - because their oestrogen levels make them more sensitive to its active ingredient, according to new research.

U.S. researchers found that female rats were at least 30 per cent more sensitive than males to the pain-relieving qualities of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, because of their increased oestrogen levels.

Experts said that the increased concentration of THC in today’s cannabis meant smokers are more likely to experience negative effects including anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, hallucinations or extreme paranoia, with women more at risk than men.

Previous studies have shown that women are more prone to cannabis abuse and dependence than men.

In women, cannabis withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleep disruption and decreased food intake were shown to be more severe.

Women were also more likely to relapse when trying to quit smoking the

The only effect of THC which appears to be more pronounced in men is in terms of appetite.

Studies in California found that THC stimulated the appetites of male animals more than those of females, meaning the ‘munchie effect’ might be stronger for men than women.

The new study, published in journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, looked at the pain-relieving effects of THC on male and female rats.

After ten days of treatment, female rats were shown to be significantly more tolerant to THC than males.

Tolerance occurs when the rat ‘adapts’ to THC so that larger doses are required to produce the same pain-relieving effects seen with the first dose.

Researchers expected females to be more sensitive to THC, so adjusted their doses to be 30 per cent lower than the doses for males. The females still developed more tolerance.

Lead author Professor Rebecca Craft, of Washington State University said:

‘This is the lowest dose anyone has ever used to induce tolerance.

‘What we're finding with THC is that you get a very clear spike in drug sensitivity right when the females are ovulating - right when their oestrogen levels have peaked and are coming down,’ she said.

Professor Craft warned that marijuana that exists today has much higher concentrations of THC than in previous years, meaning negative side effects are much more likely, with women at higher risk due to their increased sensitivity to the compound.

‘Marijuana is very different than it was 40 years ago,’ she said. ‘It's much higher in THC and lower in cannabidiol, so a little bit goes a very long way.
‘We're more likely to see negative side effects today like anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, hallucinations or extreme paranoia. And women are at higher risk.’

She added that despite the known differences in how marijuana affects women and men, most THC tolerance studies have been done on males as women’s hormone levels tend to vary throughout the month.

Researchers also found that a low dose of THC did not disrupt the reproductive cycle in female rats, which has been under debate.

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